Spotlight & Author Interview, The Sword & the Savage, by Elexis Bell

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the sword and the savage

The Sword & the Savage
by Elexis Bell
Dark Fantasy
Out: Dec. 6, 2022

Enemies turn to allies turn to lovers as they unite against a man bent on purifying the world of savages, but what are they willing to sacrifice to save the ones they love?

When Lessiyara saves Ronan from a crumbling cliff, she reluctantly welcomes him into her camp. But having struggled to hide her secrets even among the emotionless Vaikahlen people, she fares no chance of hiding from a Soorahk man who understands the expressions on her face.

Having trekked up the mountain to kill Lessiyara’s leader, Ronan eyes her warily. But his family and friends must be avenged, and the future of his tribe is at stake if he can’t rejoin his Sword Siblings and take the Vaikahlen leader down.

When he learns the truth of her parentage and the bruises on her back, he realizes they may have a common goal. But just as a connection sparks between them, the coming battle threatens to tear them apart. Can they save the innocent lives in the valley from a man bent on ‘purification?’ Or will they pay for revenge with their blood?

The joy of found family weighs against the need for justice in this story of survival and self-expression, plumbing the depths of the human (or… not quite human) heart as enemies turn to lovers.


Author Interview:

1. What inspired you to write this book, or how did the idea start?
Sometimes, if I can’t sleep, I imagine a character, any random character. I just make them up on the spot. Then, I just kinda… see what they do. It helps center my mind and get it to stop racing from one topic to another so I can actually get to sleep. If I like the character or the scene that I came up with enough, I come back to it the next night. Then, when I have enough, I write it.

2. What, if anything, did you learn when writing the book?
Mostly things about myself. I researched various healing plants and things like that, but it was more of a refresher on research for previous books. So the things I learned were mostly revelations about my own hesitation to be open with people in my own life.

3. What surprised you the most in writing it?
The moment when I realized the magic in the book was alive, sentient and fully self aware, not just energy. I don’t plan my books, so things like that can just develop, gradually or spontaneously, and that was probably the biggest surprise.

4. If it’s not a spoiler, what does the title mean?
It’s kind-of a play on words, but not really. Both parts of the title can refer to either MC, depending on perspective. Ronan is a Child of the Sword (his tribe’s name for warrior), and Lessiyara is seen as a savage by her people because of her emotions and the fact that she doesn’t have perfect control over them like they do.

But her people also consider Ronan, and his entire race, savages because they embrace not only their emotions, but the fact that the magic is a living entity with a will and rights of its own. And since Lessiyara doesn’t know about that (the reason for that is a spoiler), and she can’t control her emotions to control her magic, she uses a sword to protect herself instead of forcing the magic to do her bidding.

5. Were any of the characters inspired by real people? If so, do they know?
Nope. I don’t typically base characters off real people. I’ve drawn loose inspiration for aesthetic for a couple characters, but they weren’t in this book.

6. Do you consider the book to have a lesson or moral?
It’s main focus is on the importance of self-expression and letting people in, but it also looks at what is (and is not) worth sacrificing for.

7. What is your favorite part of the book?
It’s kind of a spoiler because it happens toward the end. Lol. So, I can’t really say.

My second favorite part is, and this is going to sound terrible, when Lessiyara is revealing some of what’s happened in her past to her newfound family, and she says it was better to have been beaten with the cane than the whip as the cane was more likely to break and absorb some of the force. Their shock as she said it, and her complete and total sincerity in her preference for one weapon over another, really highlighted how accustomed she was to the abuse, how normal it was to her. Not good, but normal in her life.

It really highlighted how much abuse a person can internalize, even though they shouldn’t have to, and that’s not something that’s shown often in books.

8. Which character was most challenging to create? Why?
They all just happened, honestly. There weren’t any that were a struggle. The characters are my favorite part of writing, partly because they take over and lead the way.

9. What are your immediate future plans?
As far as writing is concerned, I’m hoping to finish this round of edits on my literary sci-fi/fantasy series, The Regonia Chronicles, soon, and I’m steadily forging ahead in the first draft of book three of my literary zombie apocalypse series, Blood is Thicker. I’m hoping to dive back into the first draft of my literary paranormal fantasy romance, A Song of Sorrow & Sirens, soon after the release of The Sword and The Savage.

Outside of writing, playing with my kitties, playing Dying Light, working in a factory, and hopefully building a greenhouse to make starting seeds easier in the spring.


About the Author:

Elexis Bell writes gritty and emotional novels. Born and raised in the midwestern United States, she dreams of a cabin in the woods rather than a house surrounded by cornfields.She loves writing well-developed characters facing real problems in vibrant, magical worlds. Armed with a degree in psychology and a rollercoaster past, she sprinkles gut-wrenching emotions over high fantasy romance, science fiction, and the occasional thriller.

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Spotlight, Excerpt & Interviews: I Walk With Monsters + Giveaway

CHILLING HOLIDAYS

I WALK WITH MONSTERS

Title: I WALK WITH MONSTERS: The Complete Series
Authors: Paul Cornell & Sally Cantirino (Illustrator)
Pub. Date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: Vault Comics
Formats:  Paperback, eBook
Pages: 128

Find it: Goodreads, Book2Read

 

In her past, the Important Man took away Jacey’s brother. Now Jacey has David, who is sometimes a monster. Together, they hunt those who prey on the vulnerable. But the Important Man is still out there.

MONSTERS WALK BESIDE US ALL, AND SOMETIMES LURK WITHIN.

In Jacey’s past is the Important Man who took away her brother. Now Jacey has David, who sometimes transforms into a terrifying beast. Together, they’ve found a way to live–and to hunt, sniffing out men who prey on the vulnerable. But Jacey and David are about to run into the Important Man again.

From Paul Cornell (Wolverine, Doctor Who, Elementary) and Sally Cantirino (Human Remains; Door to Door, Night by Night; Last Song, We Have To Go Back) comes a haunting story about the monsters that walk beside us all, and sometimes lurk within.

Collects the complete six-issue series.


Praise:

“Really looking forward to it.”   – Neil Gaiman (The SandmanAmerican GodsAnansi BoysGood OmensCoralineThe Graveyard Book, and more)

Named one of “The Best Comic Books and Graphic Novels of 2021” – Thrillist

“Like many of the best horror stories, I Walk With Monsters forces us to ask what it really means to be a monster, and whether it’s ever possible to escape from the realm of the monstrous. Equal parts character study and gory thrillride, this comic left me both disturbed and desperately eager to see where the story goes next.” Charlie Jane Anders (All The Birds in the Sky; Winner of the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Lambda Literary Awards)

‘Tender and terrifying, deeply horrible and deeply human, ‘I Walk With Monsters’ is Cornell at his finest- and his finest is very dark indeed. Which is surprising, because he seems like such a nice man.’ Louise Penny  Award-winning author (Armand Gamache murder mystery series), State of Terror (with Hillary Rodham Clinton), columnist, journalist, and screenwriter


Sample Page:


Interview with Paul Cornell & Sally Cantirino:

PAUL CORNELL – I WALK WITH MONSTERS – writer

  1. What Winter holidays do you celebrate in December and January … and how do you celebrate them?

We celebrate Christmas, with hampers and dark beer and chocolate oranges, but mainly, since my wife is a vicar in the Church of England, she celebrates by getting completely exhausted with Christingle, Midnight Mass, etc.  This year she’s had to move Nine Lessons and Carols so as not to clash with the World Cup Final.  It’s all go here at the holidays, let me tell you.

  1. What traditions are old family traditions?

Our son leaves out a mince pie for Father Christmas and a carrot for Rudolph by the chimney, and gets a stocking full of presents.  We decorate as well.  The halls get decked.

  1. What traditions are ones that YOU’VE started?

We take our son to the local Arboretum, where every year they have a gorgeous festive trail of lighting effects and bouncy young actors playing elves.

  1. What sort of activities during the holidays are your favorites?

I love seeing our son get excited on Christmas Eve.

  1. What activities do you like the least?

Because of my own past, I’m not one for big Christmas meals with extended family, so I duck out of those as soon as I can.

  1. What are your favorite holiday memories from adulthood?

I love festive gatherings with friends, either in the real world or on Zoom.  So many great parties.  And there are various writers’ get-togethers I go to every year, some of which are dear to my heart.

  1. What are your favorite holiday foods?

I love mince pies, and those sandwiches made up of all the bits of Christmas lunch that are left over.

  1. What makes these Winter holidays so special for you?

It’s the winter feast, the light in the heart of darkness, and that’s a very numinous thing for me.

  1. Anything else you’d like to talk about that is holiday-related?

Every year I do the 12 Blogs of Christmas on my website, paulcornell.com, where, from the 13th December, I post a new piece every day.  Check it out!

The Winter Holidays and with Paul’s characters

  1. How do your book’s characters celebrate the holidays? Do they celebrate with family & friends?

There aren’t really any left for them to celebrate with, and if there were they wouldn’t want to see them all.  Of course, the found family father and daughter combo at the heart of this book have each other, and I’m sure they celebrate beside their tents, out there in the woods somewhere.  I have a feeling David sneaks into a midnight mass somewhere, shaped like a dog, but doesn’t stay to the end.

  1. What do they eat?

Whatever they can afford or steal or scavenge.  I think a ‘dog’ running off with a turkey would be hard to intercept.

  1. What do you think they’d like to do?

Probably something that didn’t remind them too much of the past.  David would try to give Jacey some sort of celebration, and she’d go along with it ‘just to make him happy’ but secretly appreciating it.  There would definitely be presents.

  1. If your book’s characters visited during the holidays, how would you celebrate with them?

I’d really want to take care of them, so lots of food and the opportunity to talk.  I’d make sure Jacey knew where all the exits were and that she could leave whenever she wanted to.  It would actually take a lot of effort to make those two comfortable, but I’m there for that therapy.

  1. Would your character like to say anything to readers for holiday cheer?

David: ‘I just want to say sorry.  Or not.  You know, I do what I do to… terrible men… to make sure what happened to her doesn’t happen to-‘

Jacey: ‘It’s meant to be a festive greeting, asshole!  Can we not mention that we can kill serial killers?!  That’s not really very… holly and candy canes and whatever else… people… do.’

David: ‘We do that stuff too.  You get all that stuff.’

Jacey: ‘I don’t want to talk about that.  You just tell them… happy holidays or whatever.’

David: ‘Happy holidays from all of us… out here.’

Jacey:  ‘We had to clean up for this?’

***

SALLY CANTIRINO – I WALK WITH MONSTERS – artist

The Winter Holidays and with Sally’s characters

  1.   How do your book’s characters celebrate the holidays?

I don’t imagine Jacey growing up celebrating Christmas. David might have celebrated Christmas or Hanukkah (or both, depending on his family’s background! We don’t really discover that much in the series).  I feel like they would be the type to say “we’re not celebrating, we’re not doing gifts” and then end up giving each other a gift anyway. Maybe they’d hunker down at a movie theatre for the day and sneak into as many movies in a row as they could, and order an extravagant amount of take-out that night. On New Years Eve they’d get some fireworks and shoot them off at midnight.

  1.   If your book’s characters visited during the holidays, how would you celebrate with them?

I would make a big, home-cooked meal of winter comfort foods, and send them back out into the world with hand-knit gifts to keep them warm.

  1.   Would your character like to say anything to readers for holiday cheer?

Sometimes the family you make is better than the family you’re born into- spend the holidays with whoever makes you feel the most loved and cherished.


About Paul Cornell:

Paul Cornell has written episodes of ElementaryDoctorWhoPrimevalRobin Hood and many other TV series, including his own children’s show, Wavelength. He’s worked for every major comics company, including his creator-owned series I Walk With Monsters for The Vault, The Modern Frankenstein for Magma, Saucer State for IDW and This Damned Band for Dark Horse, and runs for Marvel and DC on Batman and RobinWolverine and Young Avengers. He’s the writer of the Lychford rural fantasy novellas from Tor.com Publishing. He’s won the BSFA Award for his short fiction, an Eagle Award for his comics, a Hugo Award for his podcast and shares in a Writer’s Guild Award for his Doctor Who. He’s the co-host of Hammer House of Podcast.

Hometown: Gloucestershire, UK

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

About Sally Cantirino:

SallySally Cantirino is a comic artist and illustrator currently based in New Jersey. She has been self-publishing comics and zines since she was a teenager. Her recent comics work includes I Walk With Monsters and Human Remains for Vault Comics,  “The Final Girls”, “Last Song”, and “We Have To Go Back”. She has also done artwork for World Champ Game Co and bands like La Dispute and Murder By Death.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | TikTok | Goodreads


Giveaway:

1 winner will win finished copies of every book featured in the CHILLING HOLIDAYS from VAULT tour, US Only.
1 winner will win eBooks of every book featured in the CHILLING HOLIDAYS from VAULT tour from iBooks, International.h

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ends January 17th


Tour Schedule:

Week One:

12/5/2022

Mythical Books

Feature HUMAN REMAINS/IG Post

12/6/2022

Sadie’s Spotlight

Feature I WALK WITH MONSTERS /IG Post

12/7/2022

Lady Hawkeye

Feature SHADOW SERVICE /IG Post

12/8/2022

Author Z. Knight

Feature RESONANT EXCERPTS/IG Post

12/9/2022

Two Chicks on Books

Feature THE PLOT/IG Post

Week Two:

12/12/2022

Book Sniffers Anonymous

Feature THE AUTUMNAL /IG Post

12/13/2022

A Dream Within A Dream

Feature HEATHEN

12/14/2022

The Momma Spot

Feature THE RUSH

12/15/2022

Jazzy Book Reviews

Feature BLEED THEM DRY /IG Post

12/16/2022

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Feature ROCKSTARS

Week Three:

12/19/2022

Nerdophiles

Review

12/20/2022

Bookdreamr

Review/IG Post

12/21/2022

the book near me

Review/IG Post

12/22/2022

GryffindorBookishNerd

Review/IG Post

12/23/2022

Brandi Danielle Davis

IG Review/TikTok Post

Week Four:

12/26/2022

Never
Hollowed By The Stare

Feature- Heathen

12/27/2022

Ohyouread

IG Review

12/28/2022

See Sadie Read

Review/IG Post

12/29/2022

@froggyreadteach

IG Review

12/30/2022

A Blue Box Full of Books

IG Review/LFL Drop Pic

Week Five:

1/2/2022

The Litt Librarian

Review/IG Post

1/3/2022

The Book Countess

Review

1/4/2022

Lifestyle of Me

Review

1/5/2022

@shangread_la

Review/IG Post

1/6/2022

OneMoreExclamation

Review/IG Post

Week Six:

1/9/2022

Books and Zebras

Review/IG Post

1/10/2022

The Real World According To Sam

Review/IG Post

1/11/2022

@enjoyingbooksagain

IG Review

1/12/2022

Vamplit

Review

1/13/2022

Two Points of Interest

Review

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