A disgraced assassin. A sinister plot. Will her one shot at redemption send her to the grave?
Dhani Karim is furious. Wrongfully expelled from the Imperial Assassins, the snarky killer is forced into a lowly unranked position in a remote desert colony, working with a guy who’s clearly damaged goods. And when they barely survive an attack on what should have been a routine assignment, she fears clearing her name could cost her life.
Struggling to navigate a land where she’s the only person who can’t wield magic, things get worse when she receives a death threat and her unwanted partner vanishes. But when the clues lead to a violent cult, Dhani finds herself in a race against time to stop a bloodbath that will consume thousands of innocent lives.
Can she expose a deadly conspiracy before it causes a massacre?
City of Whispers is the thrilling first book in the Imperial Assassin fantasy adventure series. If you like kickass heroines, high-octane action, and off-the-charts snark, then you’ll love Katt Powers’ gritty tale.
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’m an Australian and I’m both an anthropologist and an archaeologist. For Americans, it’s really important to note that archaeology and anthropology are totally separate disciplines in Australia – like chalk and cheese.
I’ve always made up stories in my head, even as a small child. In fact, I preferred my own company and my toys even when I was very small, and amused myself for days.
My author journey started when I was about 12. I was horse-mad (yes, I had horses) and wrote horse stories, longhand, on foolscap paper.
Then I started reading fantasy. This was the early 1980s (ok, I’m old), and I read books like The Sword of Shannara, then Lord of the Rings, Duncton Wood, The Belgariad, The Dragonlance series…I was hooked.
From there, it was just natural that I started writing fantasy.
Long story short, I got my first publishing contract in 2002 with Magellan Books. The following year I got an agent, and had an offer on a novel from one of the Big Five publishers.
Unfortunately two things happened. My marriage fell apart, and then I became very ill from a hereditary illness. I almost died four times.
I stopped writing fiction until 2015. City of Whispers is my first novel since 2003.
I live on a 24 acre bush property on the Murray River in the state of South Australia. There’s no street lights, we’re about 30 kilometres from the nearest town and we can’t see our neighbours. I despise streetlights with a passion, so this is heaven for me.
I’m married, have two children and a fabulous step-daughter and son-in-law (who are both huge fantasy readers). We have two very naughty dogs, Wiley and Scout.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’ve lived most of my adult life in outback Australia, which means when I’m doing fieldwork, I’ve had to camp alone. This doesn’t bother me in the slightest. Cities are far more scary than anything you find in the outback.
I’m of Aboriginal (Wiradjuri) descent, speak an Aboriginal language (Arrernte, pronounced uh-RUN-duh), and have been through Women’s Law (women’s initiation) for the Two Women Dreaming near Watarrka (Kings Canyon), in the Northern Territory. This means I have pretty serious kinship and spiritual responsibilities to both the land and the ladies who put me through Law. They are my aunties, mothers and grandmothers Aboriginal way, even though they are not blood relations as white people have family.
Tell us something really interesting that’s happened to you!
Probably the most interesting thing? Hmm. I’ve climbed halfway up Mt Everest. That was the travel highlight of my life.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in Sydney and spent some of my younger life growing both there and in a very famous country town called Bowral. Anyone who’s a cricket fan will know that Bowral is the hometown of the legendary Aussie cricketer, Sir Don Bradman.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I exercise – no joke. Everyday, I walk or run between 10-15 kilometres. Partly I do this to unwind and I also do it to keep fit for my archaeology job. A lot of archaeology is field surveys, where you might have to walk up to 30 kilometres in a day.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started winning short story competitions – then I knew I was at a place in my writing where other people thought I could write.
Do you have a favorite movie?
I have a few! Independence Day, LoTR, all the Indiana Jones movies (except the fourth one), Himalaya, Amelia, Love Actually, The Day After Tomorrow, The Lion King, Avatar.
You can probably tell I have eclectic tastes.
What inspired you to write this book?
City of Whispers came about as I was REALLY annoyed by how so-called kickass female characters were being written by some female writers. Snarky, stick-thin glamazons who never seemed to train, had no muscles or scars, but were somehow experts with weapons…and they were usually 17 years old.
So I set about creating a totally believable, kickass female character. She’s 28 at the start of the series, snarky, ruthless, morally grey, and a little world-weary. There’s scars, both inside and out, she’s not angsty, knows what she wants but life keeps screwing her 50 times sideways and kicking her down.
I was writing another book (which I will publish), and in it, I had a minor character who was an assassin-bodyguard for an empress.
In 2016, I was out bush doing fieldwork in an Aboriginal community called Wingellina (Google it. I assure you it’s REMOTE), and as I was going to sleep, the idea for the Imperial Assassin series featuring the empress’s bodyguard came into my head.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’ll finish off the Imperial Assassin series and at this stage have three more series planned. Some are in the same world, but others are not.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Yes, I do. I share them as short stories or and extra scenes to my newsletter subscribers.
After a time living in the NSW Southern Highlands, she worked as an anthropologist in the Northern Territory for many years.
A decade ago, she retrained as an archaeologist specialising in human remains and Aboriginal archaeology. She now works as a senior archaeologist for a large ecology and heritage consultancy. She is of Aboriginal descent and is deeply grateful to have spent over 20 years protecting Aboriginal heritage.
She is currently writing two series:
The Imperial Assassin series follows the adventures of Dhani Karim, wrongly expelled from the Imperial Assassins for a murder she didn’t commit. Demoted to a rankless covert operative, she fights to prove her innocence and regain her place in the Assassins.
The Children of Dust and Flame series involves Nimala Sirasena, a young woman forced to become the Empire’s secret weapon to save her adopted family. Nimala must overcome hate, prejudice and her own mysterious background if she’s to succeed and save the people she loves.
Katt currently lives on 24 acres in the Murray-Mallee region of South Australia with her husband, two very naughty dogs and lots of prickles.
She does not like Vegemite and has never seen the movie Titanic.