Spotlight & Author Interview: Servant of the Lesser Good

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Servant of the Lesser Good
Feyrlands Collection, #1
by Shaun Paul Stevens
Out: 2nd December 2021
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Page count: 270 pages
Pitt Norton Publishing

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A cursed symphony and magic which tells stories in your mind.

High Mistress Talia is a hellraising socialite with a murky past. But she has a bright future. Beautiful, rich, and a virtuoso harpist, she’s betrothed to the Count of Brecht. In short, she has it all. Or so it would seem.

Marla Holst is the new lady’s maid, but never has the ‘help’ been so unhelpful. Marla, real name Mist, has only one mission: to stop the high mistress’s marriage. By any means necessary.

But complications abound. Talia’s disturbed daughter, a girl who can see into the future, is cursed with the stigma of a devil-worshipping father. The count’s father, the Duke of Rizak, is a recluse, too afraid of assassins to show his face. And all the nobility want to do is duel.

Meanwhile, the highlight of the season—a recital of the famous ‘Cursed Symphony,’ draws ever closer.

servant of the lesser good
Servant of the Lesser Good is the latest book by SPFBO finalist Shaun Paul Stevens. Set in his Feyrlands universe, this standalone story follows the deadly but delightful Mist (one of the main characters in Nether Light) in her covert mission to avert civil war by destroying an alliance between two of Sendal’s most powerful southern duchies.

Read a preview here.

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Author Interview:

1. What inspired you to write this book?
I love the character of Mist, who featured in Nether Light, and wanted to explore her earlier life within a royal court, period drama setting.

2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
I learned a great deal about period dress, 18th century etiquette, and how to tell a fast-paced, explosive story.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
How the story took on a life of its own.

4. What does the title mean?
The main character, Mist, plays the role of a servant with a none-so-pure, ulterior motive.

5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
Not at all, and although that may have made portraying them easier, they wouldn’t have felt as real to me if I’d based them on people I knew.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
Yes. There is always a price to pay for selfishness.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?
I love the regatta – a beautiful, hot summer afternoon on the river, sipping champagne and playing dress-up, dodging snide comments and watching the upper class’s insecurities play out.

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
The most challenging character to create was High Mistress Talia—trying to make someone so vile at the same time likeable proved quite hard.

9. What are your immediate future plans?
I’m currently working on books 2 and 3 of my other Rankers series in the Feyrlands Collection, featuring the grizzled warrior, Villa Kiprik.


About the Author:

Shaun Paul Stevens was born in October 1972 in London. He spent his formative years in the shadows of the dreaming spires of Oxford, before moving to Nottingham, where he graduated university with a degree in English and Media.

Navigating a path through music, art and the internet, writing came calling and he found himself ensconced in alternate realities and gritty fantasy worlds. He has written several books to date.

Shaun now lives in Brighton, on the south coast of England, with his patient family and ungrateful cat, generally being a nerd.

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Email: contact@shaunpaulstevens.com

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Spotlight & Excerpt: Demon Riding Shotgun + Giveaway

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Demon Riding Shotgun

by L.R. Braden

Genre: Urban Fantasy

 

Possessed by a demon since she was eleven years old, Mira Fuentes maintains a fragile alliance with the snarky soul who shares her body. Together they hunt down unstable Rifters– demon-controlled humans bent on causing chaos in the mortal realm. But when a routine hunt leads to a powerful Rifter with plans for Baltimore, Mira quickly finds herself in over her head and at the top of the city’s Most Wanted.

Recently retired from the PTF after losing his partner, Ty Williams now works for the Baltimore PD and keeps his distance from cases involving magic. But when a person dies of clearly magical causes and the PTF doesn’t have any agents to spare, Ty is the closest thing the department has to an expert. Saddled with a new partner he doesn’t want and a mountain of self-doubt, it’s his job to track down a suspect who looks suspiciously like the one-night-stand he brought home from the bar last night.

Mira will have to set her trust issues aside and enlist the help of a man determined to uncover her secrets if she hopes to learn the identity of the demon’s host and prevent the human race from becoming meat puppets for the denizens of the Rift.

On COURTING DARKNESS: “This book was a fantastic second installment to the Magicsmith series… Truly brilliant writing!”–Richelle Rodarte, NetGalley Reviewer

“The plot was engrossing, fascinating and action-filled.”–Pam Guynn, NetGalley Reviewer on Faerie Forged

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Want more magic, mystery, and mayhem?
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**A Drop of Magic (Book 1) is On Sale for Only .99 cents!**

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Mira scooped a handful of shockingly cold water into her palms and splashed it on her face. She gasped and shook. Icy drips trickled down her neck, soothing the raw skin where the collar had burned her. The distorted reflection on the tumbling surface of the water threw back swathes of color with little detail, but Mira could still see that half her hair was white and her left eye shone a brilliant gold. She and her demon were matched equally at the moment, or near enough, each with one hand on the steering wheel—which might seem like a balanced partnership but was a sure recipe for a wreck.

Because her demon was naturally so much more powerful than her, their balance needed to be far from even, like a heavy-handled knife balanced on a fingertip. There was a lot more material on one end because the other was so dense. In Mira’s case, the demon could only keep the smallest portion of itself manifested or the body they shared would be torn to pieces by the force of its presence. Even now, after the feedings that had temporarily stabilized her, Mira could feel the strain on her cells. Purplish stains were starting to form around her fingernails and trace up her fingers like ground cracking in advance of an earthquake.

She pressed her palms to the damp earth and took a deep breath of moist air.

<We need to reset the anchors.> The demon’s voice swelled and faded, as though she was rapidly changing positions, flitting about Mira’s mind, unable to hold still—the incorporeal equivalent of pacing.

Nodding, Mira shifted so she was sitting in a more comfortable position. They hadn’t had to reset their anchors in years, and she wasn’t sure how long it would take. She relaxed her neck and shoulders until her chin rested against her chest, closed her eyes, and took another long, steady breath.

She opened herself up to the energy around her—not in unshielded abandon as she had in the police van, but by allowing a thin trickle to funnel through a specific point that she controlled like a sluice gate. She could feel the rift energy, the energy her demon was made from, seeping into her, filling her reservoirs. At the same time she could feel the pull of the demon’s power, tearing away the energy that kept her alive, the physical bonds of her mortal form.

This was the balance they maintained—the cannibalistic partnership—each devouring the essence of the other for the power they needed to perform magic.


L.R. Braden is the bestselling author of the Magicsmith urban fantasy series, the standalone novel Demon Riding Shotgun, and several works of short fiction. Her writing has won the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Sci-fi/Fantasy, the First Horizon Award for debut authors, and the Imadjinn Award for Best Urban Fantasy (twice). She was also honored to be a finalist for the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers 2021 Writer of the Year award. She and her family live in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies, where she spends her time writing, playing, and weaving metal into intricate chain mail jewelry that she sells in her Etsy shop.

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Spotlight: Dark Oak, by Jacob Sannox

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Dark Oak
Series: The Dark Oak Chronicles (#1)
by Jacob Sannox
Published: April 27, 2017
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Pages: 313
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CW: Suicide, infanticide, violence, death, prisoner abuse, degenerative illness, gore
POSSIBLE ULTIMATE TOUR EXPERIENCE TICKETS: It’s All About The Journey, A Villain You Love To Hate, I’m Not Crying, You Are Crying


Humanity has finally defeated the Dark Lord, but Morrick fought on the wrong side.

Though he was a slave, he is branded a traitor and must earn the trust of new lords in order to return to his family – if they are still alive.

Now that their common enemy is dead, the nobles begin to forget old loyalties, and Queen Cathryn’s realm looks set to plunge into war once more. But there are older and more terrible powers dwelling within the forest, and when they are awakened, Morrick will decide who lives or dies.

An SPFBO 2018 semi-finalist.

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Author Info

Jacob Sannox is a 37 year old writer from the sunny climes of Bedfordshire, England. In his spare time he is generally writing, thinking about writing or berating himself for not writing.

He loves to play the acoustic guitar, but wishes he was better at it, and he has recently taken up Dungeons & Dragons. This is dangerous, as he has a propensity for disappearing into fantasy worlds. Nobody saw Jacob Sannox between 2000 and 2010, during which time he was LARPing.

Do not judge him.

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