Spotlight: The Applecross Saga + Giveaway

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The Wideawake Hat
The Applecross Saga Book 1
by Amanda Giorgis
Genre: Historical New Zealand Fiction


From the Scottish Highlands to the South Island of New Zealand, life was harsh for the early pioneers who ventured into a new land far across the seas where opportunity beckoned for those who could endure the hardships.
On Boxing Day, 1848 Sophia steps ashore with her new husband, George, and begins her perilous journey inland to seek a place to call home. Her hope for the child she carries to be born in a house that they build together does indeed come true. And Sophia and George are joined by other young folk who form a small but growing community of fellow pioneers banding together to forge a life in this land of promise. However, not all pioneers are honest and true, as Sophia discovers to her cost. When tragedy strikes, an enigmatic Scottish shepherd steps in to help our family and Sophia’s life takes an unexpected turn.
James Mackenzie is not a character of fiction. There is no doubt he existed. In fact, the high plateau where Sophia settled now bears his name. But the tales that surround his conviction and imprisonment for sheep rustling are shrouded in mystery. No-one knows what became of him for sure, though stories abound. Along with his clever and faithful collie dog Friday, his exploits have become legends. Perhaps there is more to tell of James Mackenzie and his influence on the remotely beautiful high country, surrounded by snow-capped mountains…
**Get it FREE!!**


Shepherd’s Delight
The Applecross Saga Book 2


Following on from the success of The Wideawake Hat, Shepherd’s Delight is the second book in the spellbinding Applecross Saga by Amanda Giorgis.
A fictional tale, set against the stunning scenery of New Zealand’s Mackenzie Basin, using true historical events surrounding the European settlers in South Canterbury in the late 1800s.
Someone is looking for James Mackenzie. Our hero is beset by dark thoughts. Worried that his past deception may catch up with him, and depressed by the death of his first true son. But, through thick and thin, his wife Sophia sees the good in everything and everyone, and together they are making a success of their lives at Applecross station.
Visitors come and go, some becoming welcome additions to their circle of friends, and some who give more pleasure when they leave. But, the final and unexpected guest, someone who has been searching for James Mackenzie for a very long time, will be the one who changes things forever.
**Only .99 cents!!**


Guy Pender
The Applecross Saga Book 3


Eligible, handsome, witty and charming, Guy Pender is looking for a purpose in life, maybe even a wife to join him in his desire to return to New Zealand, where he hopes to be reunited with his friends at Applecross Station. His experience of romantic love, so far, has been one of misunderstood passion from an unexpected quarter.
It is 1867, and he finds himself biding his time in Switzerland, taking portrait photographs of the wealthy folk of Zurich, whilst sorting out his much loved aunt’s estate, to which he is the sole heir. He is lonely and homesick for his friends on the other side of the world. Suddenly, a strikingly beautiful woman, Amelie Von Truber, comes into his studio and from that moment on nothing is the same. Their future together seems impossible as Amelie is betrothed to the black-hearted Tobias Linburg, heir to a powerful business empire.
Life could not be more complicated, Amelie and Guy’s future together looks impossible, but apart, their prospects look grim. Join us in this sweeping tale to see if they can find a way through the web of intrigue, dishonesty and revenge to build a future together in a foreign land.


Three Cedar Trees
The Applecross Saga Book 4


What happens to the trees happens to the boys…
Three cedar trees grow beside the Applecross homestead in New Zealand’s South Island. Precious trees, carried from Scotland across the world as seedlings. A poignant reminder of home. As they mature, so too do Freddie, the eldest son of Sophia Mackenzie, and Ben and Ed, twin sons of Nancy Lawton.
To Atewhai, the wise old Maori woman, the growth of the saplings into mature trees is matched by the passage of the boys into manhood. Will Sophia and Nancy allow their sons to strike out into the world, or will they hold them back with their roots set firmly in the farm soil?
And, when one of the precious cedar trees is damaged in a storm, does it foretell of tragedy involving one of the boys? Atewhai certainly thinks so……
Join us as our settlers embrace the late 1860s, a period of rapid change in New Zealand. Railways, improved roads and better communications are beginning to open up this remote and spectacular corner of the world to visitors. Some fall in love and find it hard to leave the basin, while others are torn between love and a desire to be involved in this exciting period of progress.
 Who will stay, and who will leave for ever?
Three Cedar Trees is the 4th book in The Applecross Saga.


Amanda Giorgis is the creator of the fictional Applecross sheep station in New Zealand’s beautiful Mackenzie Basin. Here you will meet Sophia, who settled in New Zealand with her husband, George in the early 1850s. After George’s tragic death, Sophia marries James Mackenzie and the couple build their home together in the Basin. James is not a character of fiction, though the stories that are woven around Applecross are not necessarily how things turned out in real life for the man who was convicted of sheep rustling and later pardoned for his crimes. The truth is, nobody knows what really became of him. 

Amanda likes to weave well-researched, true historical facts into her stories while building credible and likeable characters amongst the ordinary folk of rural New Zealand in the late 1800s. She would love you to join her in their adventures, triumphs and tragedies. 

Oh, and did we mention dogs? The collies who worked so hard on high country farms feature in our stories too. Meet Friday, James’ favourite collie and all her descendants. They deserve their fame too!

Amanda was born in Somerset, England. She emigrated to New Zealand in 2008 and now writes while looking out onto the flat plains with snow-capped mountains beyond. It is a place where it is easy to find inspiration for stories of early pioneers, who made this unique place their home.

She shares her home with her husband, Terry and three rescued huntaway dogs, Nemo, Jess and Ted, some chickens, who are more ornamental than productive, ten acres of wild garden and the dark skies of the Southern Hemisphere.

When not writing, Amanda rings church bells and enjoys photography, gardening and finding out about her family history. On lazy days, when not reading a book, she gets the knitting needles out.



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Spotlight & Excerpt: Crown of the Sundered Empire, by JC Kang


crown of the sundered empire

Crown of the Sundered Empire
by JC Kang
Series: Heirs to the Sundered Empire (#1)
Published: October 9, 2019
Genre: Epic Fantasy, Military Fantasy
Pages: 596
CW: Graphic Violence

POSSIBLE ULTIMATE TOUR EXPERIENCE TICKETS: Represent, Elves and Dwarves and Orcs, Oh My!, It’s All About the Journey, Snark It Up, The More the Merrier

Only the demon in Tomas’ glass eye can save his village.
It might cost him his soul.

In a broken land where conquerors dream of empires, Tomas dreams of a day when the townsfolk won’t taunt him. After all, he’s the fishing village kid with a misshapen face.

Only the Rune vendor’s daughter treats him well. To win her heart, he relies on a quick wit and local superstitions to convince her he has Diviner’s Sight.

But if he did, he would’ve foreseen magic-fearing invaders plucking out his mismatched eye.

Or the demon trapped in the glass replacement. It reveals a world beyond human vision, while whispering temptations in his mind.

Now, with his village caught between the advancing armies of the Sun God’s mortal descendants and His Chosen People, Tomas must use a combination of calculation, cunning, and demonic insight to maneuver the forces of his world against each other—prince against prince, princess against princess, army against army—or see his home crushed forever beneath the wheels of war.

But to do so carries a dire risk.

Because using a demon could condemn your soul.

Goodreads / Universal Purchase


Chapter 1: Inauspicious Start to the Day

Despite his mismatched eyes, sixteen-year-old Tomas Larelli had never seen the future. That didn’t keep everyone from assuming he could, nor did his scruples prevent him from denying it. After all, with a face that only a monkey could love, he had to find ways to get people to like him.
“Oi, Tomas.” Old Gian waved from a neighboring boat. “Thanks again for teaching me that knot you invented. It’s helped secure my nets. How did you ever figure it out?”
Tomas raised his oars and tapped under his green eye.  “Diviner’s Sight!”
Or, a little bit of imagination. His mind had painted the image of the rope, weaving its way through its own loops. The result was the dozens of fish flopping at his feet. With a nod, he resumed his rowing.
His boat glided through the Inland Sea’s placid blue waters, passing between his island village on the right, and the Barrows on the mainland to the left. He shuddered and formed a ring with his thumb and finger to ward off evil. Tortured spirits of humans, sacrificed to the orc gods a thousand years ago, still haunted the towering mounds.
On the other side of the Barrows, the wooden pyramid of Solaris came into view; and then beyond it, the red-tiled rooves in the town of Lorium.  His stomach fluttered.  Soon…
“Oi, Tomas,” a croaking voice called from the docks.
Tomas squinted as he rowed closer. A sablewood bireme flying a crimson flag with a nine-pointed silver sun loomed large over the far wharf. Its black hull made it difficult to pick out the figure waving from the closest dock. Probably Mauritizio, since he was always the first out to buy the best catches. The fine linen shirt and trousers he wore didn’t match his sun-roughened skin.
Mauritzio craned his neck. “Another bumper catch, I see.”
Grinning, Tomas tapped beneath his eye yet again. “Diviner Sight can’t go wrong.” Nor could studying the currents and tides, the way they swept lines through the Inland Sea. Nobody else had to know his secret, though. He gestured to his boat’s bottom, where the fish continued their desperate thrashing.
Mauritzio took hold of a pylon and leaned over. “Whitefins.  Very nice. I’m feeling generous today. I’ll give you a copper draka for two.” He tossed a rope.
Catching it, Tomas moored his boat to the pylon. He looked up and grinned. The foreign bireme in town would drive up the price of fish. “Two copper drakas for three is generous.  What you offer is banditry.”
Mauritizio looked over his shoulder to where the other fishmongers were now approaching like sharks to blood. He turned back. “Deal.”
It was a fair exchange, and though he could’ve waited for the other fishmongers to come and haggle for more, Mauritizio had always been kind.
Not to mention, there was somewhere Tomas had to be.  His hand strayed to the vial in his pocket. “You’ll find thirty-three fish in there.”
Making a show of counting with his finger, Mauritizio nodded. “Then two silver and one copper draka for you.”
“Two coppers.” Tomas chuckled.
Mauritizio threw his hands up. “Ah, can’t get anything past your nets. Darn Diviner’s Sight!”
Or math. Coppers grouped in tens in his mind’s eye.
Imitating the Diviners of old, Tomas looked past the setting Blue and White Moons, to the Iridescent Moon. It waxed toward its third crescent.
The market would open soon.
“Good for both of us,” he said. “I know where the fish will be, and you get to sell them for profit. My Diviner’s Sight says you’ll make at least four silvers from them today.”
Mauritizio bowed.  “You’re never wrong, of course.”
If only because Tomas paid attention to market prices. He held out his hand with an arch of his eyebrow.
Mauritizio opened his purse, pulled out two silver and two copper coins, and pressed them into Tomas palm. “Nice doing business with you.”
Tucking his slingshot into the back of his pants, Tomas climbed onto the dock. He hurried along the main road deeper into town, trusting Mauritizio to collect the fish. Again, he looked up at the Iridescent Moon, never moving from its reliable spot in the sky, always cycling through its twenty-four phases in a single day. There wasn’t much time left. His heart pattered.
The creaks, thumps, and fish reek of the docks gave way to the rich textures of the marketplace.  The earthy smell of spring vegetables from several stalls. The hammering of the blacksmith on the east.  The bright colors of cloth in the shops to the south.
Burly men, whose crimson tunics marked them as rowers from the Serikothi ship, mingled among the townsfolk and catcalled the women. Ethnically Arkothi, like the locals, these foreigners had olive complexions.
It stood in contrast to their officers in high-collared jackets, who had lithe builds, brown hair, and bronze complexions. These smaller, shorter men belonged to the Eldaeri, a long-lived race which proclaimed to be the sun god’s Chosen People. In his limited experiences, Tomas had found them to be as arrogant as their claim.
“Tomas!” cried a farmer from a vegetable stall as he entered the marketplace. “Can you tell me when the next rain will be?”
“Two days,” Tomas said. At least, that’s what the earthworm activity suggested. He locked his eyes on a kiosk at the far end.
A shock of golden hair flashed among the trays of magic light baubles and lamps.
A smile tugged at his lips. Patting the vial in his pocket, he quickened his pace.
“When will a Runemaster Imperator return with the Crown of Arkos?”
After three hundred years since the sundering of the Arkothi Empire, probably never. Tomas laughed. Let them believe in long lost emperors and their equally missing crowns. “I can’t have you betting against me in the gambling dens.”
“Tomas,” yelled out the baker from across the way. “Are we safe from the Teleri?”
“I’ll be back with your answer, and I expect a fresh loaf of your best bread in return.” Tomas flashed a smile. It would give him time to ask around and find out more about the aggressive empire’s latest positions.
In this, Constable Antonius would know more.  The mayor’s son, and indeed, the town’s favorite son, was striding from the other end of the market.  The shiny buttons on his crisp blue uniform glinted in the morning light, and a sword dangled from his hip. Their eyes met, and the constable’s smirk punctuated his strong jaw, heavy brows, and high nose. Then, his gaze shifted toward their mutual destination, just ten paces away.
Tomas had to get there first.
At the kiosk, stocky Julius spread out rune-inscribed antiques and modern light bauble lamps.  He stepped to the side, revealing his daughter.
Time seemed to slow as Sofia tossed her hair over a shoulder. Sunlight caught silver highlights in the sea of gold. Unlike everyone else’s sun-darkened olive skin, hers was as fair as the sandy beaches back home.  It made her bright blue eyes stand out. The neckline of her green velvet dress plunged low enough to hint at her budding curves.  She was like the Goddess Ayara arriving on earth for the first time. Temple bells chimed in Tomas imagination.
You brighten my day more than the sun.  Tomas rehearsed the greeting in his mind, gulping hard in hopes he’d actually be able to articulate it. You brighten my day more than the sun.  He covered the last ten paces in just eight strides. You brighten my day more than the sun. Math, logic, market trends, and tides were easy compared to talking to a woman. “You… sun. Brighten… Good morning, Sofia.”
She flashed him a radiant smile, that indeed brightened the day more than the sun. “Good morning, Tomas. How are things on Twins Island?”
Tomas’ gut twisted. While everyone else asked him about their future, the town beauty was the only one who ever inquired about his well-being. “Fine… uh, just wonderful.”
“You said you’d have a surprise for me today?” She batted her eyelashes.
Tomas’ face flushed as hot as sand in afternoon sun. He reached for the vial in his pocket. “I brought—”
“Ah, Monkey Face Tomas, ever the rube.” A deep laugh boomed behind him. A huge hand clapped him on the back.
It just about knocked his heart out of his chest. Tomas gritted his teeth. Every instinct screamed to lay a fake curse on Antonius, but it would only make Tomas look petty. He relaxed his jaw. “Good morning, Antonius.”
Sofia’s father, Julius, paused from polishing a rune-infused fire starter and turned around.  His wide shoulders bulged from his blue vest.  With his thinning black hair, crag nose, and small eyes, it was hard to believe he’d sired such a beauty. A friendly smile formed on his lips. “Good morning, Antonius. Sofia, give Antonius a trinket, will you?”
Tomas stifled a growl. Of course, Antonius was the most desired man in town, son of the mayor, who was mayor only because he’d married some lord’s cousin’s nephew’s sister-in-law. With Antonius’ good looks and status, he already had enough girls to fill the long-departed Runemaster Imperator’s harem.
Meanwhile, Tomas was just an ugly fisherman from a provincial island. He forced a friendly smile. “So, Antonius, what’s the latest news of the Teleri advance?”
Antonius smirked. “Trying to squeeze out every last fish sale before they come and you flee back to Twins Island?”
“Of course not,” Tomas said. “I just wanted to know. Last I heard, they’d encircled Mykos.”
“Encircled? It’s called a siege.” Antonius puffed out his chest, his eyes flitted sidelong toward Sofia.
Sofia just blinked her long lashes at him.
Tomas’ gut knotted even more. “Right, a siege. It’s just two days’ march from here.”
Antonius snorted. “Stick to Divining, and leave soldiering to soldiers. They have to capture Mykos first, or leave their supply lines exposed. Mykos can hold out indefinitely, because the Teleri’s dumb Bovyan brutes lack the siege engines to breach the city walls. On top of that, they have no means to deny Mykos access to the Inland Sea and trade with the Serikothi.” He lifted his chin to one of the crimson-uniformed rowers at the tanner’s.
Tomas cocked his head. It didn’t make sense, because… “Couldn’t the Teleri leave soldiers back to protect their supply lines? Or send cavalry ahead?”
Gasping, Sofia covered her mouth. “Is that what Diviner’s Sight is telling you?”
Antonius’ bellowing laugh just about shook the stall over. “If it is, I’d tell him to get a new eye. Teleri Bovyans might be able to overwhelm anyone in the open field, but there’s no way they’d risk sending troops here without first securing—”
Shouts and screams erupted from the west end of town and grew louder.  Here in the marketplace, the merchants all pointed and chattered among themselves.
“What’s going on?” Sofia came out from behind her stall and peered toward the commotion.
Hand on his sword hilt, Antonius straightened. “I’ll go see. I think—”
A tide of townspeople rushed into the square, first from the main road, then from the four side streets. Some tried to leave toward the docks, only to turn back.
The press of humanity surged like a wave, taking Sophia with them. Tomas snatched her hand, only to be pulled along. Antonius waded through to reach her, until another surge of people crashed in from the other side.
“Sofia!” her father yelled, hand outstretched from the stall several paces away.
Above the stutter of desperate feet came clopping hooves. Tomas looked to Sofia, to make sure she was alright, then to Antonius. “Horses!”
“Where? Oh!” Antonius gawked.
Behind the flood of people from the main street trotted a column of enormous horses, ridden by enormous men. Chainmail jingling, they carried spears with black banners emblazoned with a nine-pointed gold sun.
“Bovyans…” Antonius gasped.
Bovyans! Tomas could only shrink back. Descended from the mortal son of the Sun God, Solaris, they’d once been noble protectors of a land torn apart by the Hellstorm. Originally a source of hope and order to replace the Runemaster Imperator who’d abandoned his sundered empire, they’d since transformed into the barbaric rulers of the Teleri Empire. Until now, he’d never seen one.
Let alone dozens.
Most had dark hair, though there were a handful of blonds. With their fair to olive skin tones, the majority could be mistaken for any of the three indigineous ethnicities of the North. A handful had darker complexions, ranging form bronze to light brown. Their main difference from other humans was sheer size. Ranks of Bovyans now blocked the six entrances into the marketplace, preventing anyone from leaving.
Tomas’ forehead scrunched up. Something didn’t make sense. Bovyans were nothing if efficient. If Antonius was right, that they wouldn’t risk attacking Lorium without first taking Mykos, why were they here now?
“Eldaeri from Serikoth.” A Bovyan pointed at a small, crimson-uniformed officer not ten feet from Tomas. He lowered his spear and dug his heels into the horse’s flanks.
Townsfolk jostled and made way as the Serikothi drew his naval sword. It looked flimsy compared to the Bovyans’ arming swords. Indeed, the officer looked flimsy compared to the behemoth bearing down on him.
Hooves thundered across the ground. People screamed and pushed. Shielding Sofia with outstretched arms, Tomas found himself on the edge of the panicked circle, so close that the rush of air and smell of horse battered him as it charged by.
The Serikothi officer stood frozen in place, his eyes rounded. The spear punched through his chest with a sickening thud, and he let out a straggled cry. His broken body crumpled to the ground as the horse slowed and wheeled. A pool of blood spread under him.
Bile rising, Tomas shielded Sofia’s eyes with one hand, and covered his mouth with the other.  She pushed his hand aside, and gasped.
“Serikothi!” a voice boomed across the square.
Why were the Bovayns targeting the Serikothi? Tomas craned to get a better view.
Horse hooves thundered. Swords rasped from scabbards. Bovyans rode among the running and screaming people, cutting down unseen victims.
“I surrender,” a voice pleaded somewhere nearby.
“A galley!” yelled another Bovyan. “Secure the docks!”
The docks. Tomas’ heart joined the bile in his throat. If the Bovyans swarmed the docks, there’d be no escape.  He had to get there first. Because rumor had it that horrible things happened to the women in the Teleri Empire.  He took Sofia’s trembling hand. “We need to escape the town.”
Face sickly pale, she gave a tentative nod.
Tomas closed his eyes and envisioned Lorium’s layout as if he were a bird flying above. With the Bovyans attacking the Serikothi galley on the west end of the docks, they might be able to sneak to his boat on the east.  He pulled her along, working through the terrified throng. More people emptied into the square from the six entrances. Several Bovayns circled the area, but none patrolled the space between him and the small alley between two shops on the east side.
“Sofia! Tomas!” Antonius’ voice carried over the people. “Come back!”
Tomas hazarded a glance back.  In the arc of his vision, at least three Bovyans met his gaze.  He froze. From their positions, their plan was clear: the invaders were herding people into the square. Now, the sobbing townsfolk had mostly stilled.
With just a handful of constables armed with rapiers, and only a few knives among the locals, there was no resisting. Not after the Teleri shocktroopers had made short work of the Serikothi officers.
Tomas tucked his slingshot deeper into the back of his pants. His village was famous for its sharpshooters, but he wasn’t one of them, and a couple of rocks would do nothing against so many armored men.
A hush fell over the townspeople as one of the Bovyans rode forward.  He was a head taller than the others, the squared shoulders of his black tabard giving him the look of a demigod. When he spoke, his voice boomed. His accent sounded so… official, as was to be expected from a people originating in the Sundered Empire’s heartland. “Captain, bring the Serikothi forward.”
Bovyans pushed through, prodding a dozen of the crimson-clad rowers and two of the shorter Eldaeri officers into the space before the leader, and pushing them to their knees.
“I am Governor Keris.” He loomed over them like a storm cloud over a tiny boat. “I will soon be in possession of your galley, and I need a crew.  You will be paid a gold draka per month with bonuses for good work. If you agree, rise.”
Tomas exchanged glances with Sophia. The Serikothi didn’t even pay that much to ship crews. Their Eldaeri rulers were also famous for their harsh treatment of their Arkothi subjects.
All but one of the rowers and one officer stood, heads bowed.
Keris pointed to the kneeling rower. “You do not wish to join?”
The man raised his head. “Begging your pardon, Governor, but I have a family in Serikoth.  If word got back that I served the Teleri… well…” his meaningful glance fell on the officer at his side.
“I understand. Surrender your weapons, swear on Solaris you will never take up arms against the Teleri Empire, and you may return home.”
What? So easy? Tomas scanned the townsfolk’s faces.
The rower’s eyes widened, and a murmur went through their ranks.  The crowd, too, chattered at this development. Two of his compatriots returned to their knees.
Keris motioned to one of his underlings. “Take these recruits and record them into your register.”
The henchman thumped his chest with a fist, and gestured for the rowers to rise and follow him.
“Not you.” Keris set his spear in the path of the Serikothi officer. “The Eldaeri race has falsely claimed to be the Chosen People of my ancestor’s divine father. This is an insult to the gods. Captain, execute him, and the other.”
A collective gasp just about sucked the air out of the square. Eyes panicked, the Eldaeri turned and started to run, only to meet the thrust of a Bovyan sword. The other officer scrambled to his feet, but two Bovayns dispatched him with brutal efficiency. Blood pooled where their bodies fell.
The people cried out again. A sour taste rose in Tomas throat. Before today, he’d never seen someone brutally murdered; now, he’d witnessed three. And, there were other slain Eldaeri Serikothi elsewhere in the marketplace. The Bovyans were ruthless.
Governor Keris pounded his fist to his chest.  “Now that we’ve gotten that ugly business out of the way… People of Lorium. You are now under the protection of the Teleri Empire.”
Protection? Occupation was more like it. Tomas had to sneak to his boat with Sofia, and row back to his village. It might be within sight of Lorium, but the Teleri would have to find someone who could get them past the Jaws first.
If these invaders could reach the island, though, the governor looked like he could conquer it all by himself. His gaze raked over the locals.  “Our protection comes with a price, but it is a fair one. We shall buy your surplus grain and fish directly from the farmers and fishermen at market prices, and we will never take more than the town can spare.”
A handful of groans broke out from the middlemen like Mauritzio, and the tax collectors from Mykos, the seat of government.
Keris scowled, quieting the throng.  He pointed north across the water to the Lyara’s Golden Bowl, gleaming atop the mountain that overlooked Tomas’ village.  “I also need someone who can take us to Twins Island.”
A pit sank in Tomas’ stomach.
His home. The Bovyans wanted his home.


Author Info

JC Kang’s unhealthy obsession with Fantasy and Sci-Fi began at an early age when his brother introduced him to The Chronicles of Narnia, Star Trek, and Star Wars. As an adult, he combines his geek roots with his professional experiences as a Chinese Medicine doctor, martial arts instructor, and technical writer to pen epic fantasy stories.



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Spotlight, Excerpt, & Author Interview: Frostborn + Giveaway



by Michael Haddad
Genre: Young Adult / Fantasy

The Frostborn—the one destined to end the war, the one blessed by the magic of Aether—was supposedly nothing more than a hopeless fairytale, a myth lost to time. But as the centuries-long war between the kingdoms of Eljud and Surtrol forces Elias Jökull to evacuate his village, a run-in with the fearsome Gjallarhorn army awakens within him a dormant power long since forgotten by the people—a power signaling the existence of the Frostborn.

With such critical news, hope of victory against Surtrol becomes contagious, yet Elias’s former life of slavery leaves him apprehensive about lending a hand to his own flawed kingdom. Even still, knowing the world will soon be in search of him, the newfound Frostborn must choose his allegiances quickly. And after encountering a ranked Surt captain, he does just that.

But while acting as a double agent, feeding intel to Eljud’s southern enemy and working both sides of the same border, his conflicted self struggles to anchor his loyalty to a single kingdom as buried secrets begin to unearth.

The incessant clash between the north and south is soon coming to an end and Elias will have to find a side to stand on. The hard question is: which side? Everyone wants the Frostborn for themselves, but for how long can Elias let the world string him along?



The Gjallarhorn positions her weapon above her head.

The hand-axe plummets with a snap of her wrist.

Dalia has her arms up, but she knows they will be paper under the sharp edge of the axe. The life of a slave is not easy, yet Elias made it bearable. Seeing him with his ghostly face half in the mud, beaten down by someone who is supposed to protect the kingdom, enraged her. At this point, it is no longer a matter of survival. This is what has to be done. She needs to show the people of Brimir the corruption that spoils the ranks of the Gjallarhorn Army. Her death may inspire a movement of change. The chances are slim, but it is all she has left to give her life some droplet of meaning, of purpose.

Seconds pass and the axe has not run her through. She opens her eyes.

Elias is up on his feet, his fingers curled over the hand-axe’s blade, locking it in place. The shackles once constricting his wrists are busted and Rayna’s eyes grow wide, her jaw stuck in alarm. “How? You were as good as dead.”

“Elias?” Dalia says.

There’s no answer. His face is empty of emotion, with an expression as rigid as stone.

Rayna releases her weapon, stepping to the left then bolting forth, her fist ready to hit. Elias reacts, moving with a dexterity Dalia has never seen. He shifts his weight, using the back of his hand to guide the Gjallarhorn’s strike past his flank. He then tosses the axe away to free up his other hand and at a dizzying speed, he rams Rayna’s throat with the heel of his palm. The impact unleashes a blast of icy wind that rockets Rayna into the crowd, knocking over people nearby.

Dalia brushes her tears away and struggles to stand with her quaking knees. “Elias, what are you doing?”

The winds start to roar, loose snow picking up from the earth in a flurrying storm. The gales rotate around Elias and the very mud he once laid in has frozen over into a sheen of ice. The remaining Gjallarhorns circle him, fighting against the blustering wind as they close in.


1. What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve talked about this quite a lot recently and each time I do, I’m astonished at how I was able to complete a full novel with an inspiration that seemed aimless at the time. Most of my passion to keep going stemmed from my desire to publish. Becoming a published author is one of many items on my bucket list and I’m excited to say that I can cross it off, at such an early age no less. I thought it was this impossible task that only the best of the best can achieve. But it turns out that even someone like me can publish if they have the enthusiasm and dedication to pursue it. I think seeing my goal become more and more realistic with every word written definitely helped generate inspiration.

When it comes to obtaining inspiration for specific ideas in the book, much of that came from previous fictional works and a lot of hours spent creating character sheets or adventures in roleplay. A lot of people view roleplay as something childish and immature, but I don’t think I’d have the vernacular and skill to tell a story like Frostborn without it. Inspiration can strike from anywhere. I will also admit that reading similar novels helped hone my own style of writing, but roleplay became the factory that manufactured each incredible idea. It became a platform for me to test out concepts before applying it to my plot. There are many incredibly talented people that roleplay and I gained a great deal from those experiences. They were amusing and they were entertaining—it was like a book written by dozens of people. Until now, I never truly sat back and appreciated what roleplay did for me. They were a necessary company and a fantastic community. Without roleplay, I wouldn’t know how to translate my imagination onto paper for the world to read.

2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?

I’m not the best with dialogue. Trying to find organic ways for dialogue to be carried out in a scene is honestly challenging. It’s also difficult to incorporate a unique culture from a fantasy world into that dialogue as well. For example, one general aspect of conversation that pops up a lot in most stories is cursing. In this new world, what is cursing? I had to answer all sorts of these questions and research quite a bit before establishing proper exchanges. When it comes to that department of writing, I learned a ton. And it was not solely about what characters said, but how to also format and punctuate what they’re saying. There are quite a few technicalities to adhere to when writing. I did try my best and at the end of day I think it turned out pretty well.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?

I think most of my surprise comes after writing. When I look back to certain pages with intense and powerful quotes, it’s so shocking to see that I actually wrote those lines. I’ve read Frostborn over and over, but it has been a long while since I read it completely, cover to cover. Some parts I won’t forget because of how memorable they are, but there are certain details I’ve already lost track of if I’m going off of memory alone. I love when people remind me of those forgotten details and when they express their appreciation of the effort that went into drafting each sentence. That is a surprised feeling I wish I could experience all the time.

4. What does the title mean?

I guess I could of used a less obvious title, but it’s basically a reference to the Frostborn legend mentioned throughout the story. War between the Eljud and Surtrol Kingdoms has been ongoing for years. Legends spoke of a single person, born from the ice of the land, who could turn the tide of battle and win against the southern enemy. Parts of the prophecy were later manipulated and translated poorly in order to trick the royals of Eljud, but the tales of the Frostborn’s power remained true. Whoever it may be, it was public knowledge that the Frostborn was blessed by Aether and could use it without being Gifted. Briefly, Gifting refers to the act of anointing someone with the ability to manipulate their inner Aether through what’s called a Relic. Relics are physical objects that act as vessels for controlling energy output and weaponizing it. Since the Frostborn is overflowing with Aether, they don’t require a Gift, therefore becoming a dangerous exception. That is why Elias is so unique to the world.

Further in the plot, more truths become unearthed and (SPOILER) the world never held just one “Frostborn”. There were always more just like Elias, similar in strength and power. In the novel, they are later described as the Children of the Yggdrasil. But for some currently unknown reason, the prophecy of the Frostborn was the only one to stick. Hopefully, if a sequel is to come, more cosmology and lore surrounding those blessed by the primordial energies will be revealed.

5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?

I get this question a lot. Many people I know want to be the source of my inspiration, and maybe they are subconsciously, but I try to avoid basing a character off someone I know. At most, I’ll use their name because I like the way it fits, or I use a little personality quirk that I find entertaining. However, my characters are created for the purpose of the plot and not to mimic a real person. I’m not sure why I do this, but I guess part of the reason is to avoid unintentionally insulting someone’s character.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?

There are a lot of messages throughout the story if you look close enough. One of the most prominent lines, for me at least, is the one on the front cover. “The world bends to the strong” can be taken in a literal sense, but it means a little more than just physical strength or how much damage one can inflict upon those who don’t submit. Strength comes in several varying forms. The ones with the strongest will, the strongest resolve, the strongest mind, the strongest spirit—they have the capacity to bend the world to their liking. They have the tools to guide themselves to the top and unify what lies before them. They have the aptitude to fill in that leadership role. There are, of course, other less obvious messages. I encourage you to find them and let me know what you think.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?

The upcoming answer to this question is most probably a spoiler. Avert your eyes if you don’t like spoilers!

My main character Elias had his fair share of hardships in life. Circumstances put him in many compromising positions which lead to a lot of manipulation and abuse by authorities. He wasn’t born into slavery, but spending most of his teenage years imprisoned and in chains likely broke any strength he had left to think for himself. Being so malleable and gullible, he was toyed and played with by those who sought his inherent gifts. He was pumped with lies to become both the hero and victim in a war he didn’t wage. He was the scapegoat for everyone else’s problems.

At the very climax of the story, even though he already had a sickening idea of who killed his mother (resulting in his subsequent life of slavery), when his hypothetical theory was confirmed true, he snapped. All that latent anguish within him, all that physical and emotional torture, broke him in a final revelation. So he opted to show just how relentless he could be and obliterated the very pride of his homeland with every ounce of the Frostborn’s divine power—bringing down an ancient wall that stood as a symbol of defense for his capital.

I think it’s my favourite part because of the scene’s dual purpose. That moment is meant to highlight a turning point for Elias’ character and also illustrate a symbolic blow to the entire kingdom. It signaled both destruction and renewal. For the first time, it gave us an Elias that acts on his own volition, something the readers are most likely begging for by this point.
I like how it’s also a hyperbole for what can occur if corrupted authorities continue to reign unchecked. I even find it highly topical considering modern day issues.

…but most importantly, I find that scene super cool to read.

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?

Elias was a challenge to write and to keep consistent because he was such a multi-faceted character. Someone acting as a savior while posing as a double-agent, but then doubting his own loyalty at the same time is not an easy character to write about. He took on a handful of roles and my biggest struggle was trying to show who he really was underneath all the intentional deceit. He had to be brave, he had to submit, he had to play the slave, he had to hide his power, he had to be a spy, he had to be a monster, and, most importantly, he had to know the truth. Trying to fit it all into one young adult while maintaining logic and reason was indeed difficult. There were moments where his actions felt uncharacteristic, but I wrote it that way for a reason. I think it takes some time to properly understand Elias, but once you do, the pieces fit together nicely.

9. What are your immediate future plans?

I think I want a sequel to Frostborn, but I’m not sure whether I should write a new book altogether or continue with what I have. Personally, I’m at a crossroads. One thing is for sure, I’m going to attempt to create a manuscript for book 2, but whether it gets published is still in the air. However, Frostborn ended with the potential to keep going and also stop right there. It could go either way. I’m leaning towards the sequel because I hate seeing such potential for more lore to be wasted. What do you think I should do? Catch me on my social media platforms if end up reading it and come to an answer to this question on your own. I’d like to hear what my readers have to say!

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Hardworking university student and recent John Abbott College graduate, Michael Haddad doubles as a fiction author of the fantastic who throws himself into his own writing—who can’t stop imagining new worlds, new ideas, new characters. His passion for roleplaying games has earned him his fair share of teasing, but he’d be lying if he said it didn’t open his imagination. When not at his computer, typing away, Michael is often with his friends and family, losing terribly at tennis, hunkering down for movie marathons, and trying to get a good night’s sleep. As someone born and raised in Montreal, he is no stranger to having ice rinks for streets and snow up to the knee—but that’s nothing a warm cup of coffee can’t beat.

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Michael Haddad will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Plus, he is giving away 100 ecopies through Goodreads.

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            Giveaway ends June 27, 2021.

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