I don’t know if you know this, but A Study of Ash & Smoke is officially available for pre-order. Can you even? I can’t even.
Everything is happening so quickly now, it’s almost unreal after all the time I’ve spent working on this book. And let me tell you, it’s looking good. I’ve been assisted by a team of extraordinary people, who have really taken this thing I wrote to the next level.
I’m out of my little mind with excitement.
In honour of my book baby’s upcoming launch day, 20 May 2019, I figured I’d introduce you to some of the characters. I even made some art for the occasion!
I’ve always associated the characters with certain animals, and some of them have even earned nicknames from fellow characters based on their spirit animals, if you will. While this book does contain a few animal characters, they aren’t a part of the main cast. Maybe I’ll write that book one day, but this is not that day. 😀
An apprentice who must hide at all costs.
Cara Lenoir is the twenty-one-year-old protagonist of Ash & Smoke. She was also the apprentice in The Physician’s Apprentice, back when that was the title.
She’s still an apprentice, mind you, and is months away from the start of her fourth year of apprenticeship at the beginning of the book.
It’s a lucky accident that she loves healing. The only reason she’s an apprentice in the first place, is to hide her dark hair under the hood all medical apprentices must wear.
You see, dark hair is a trait highly sought after in a world where almost everyone is blond, and in Cara’s case, it also makes her royal heritage obvious. A fact that complicates her hiding for her life from her father, Grand Duke Laroche.
Everything changes for Cara when her mentor, Magnus Cutter, hands over her apprenticeship to his son, Nathan. How can she trust a man she’s never even met? And what will he do with all her secrets?
A physician drawn into a web of lies.
Nathaniel Cutter is a thirty-three-year-old physician, formerly the best heart surgeon in Aelland. Now he’s a general surgeon and just wants to live out his life in peace.
He’s more than a little upset when his father burdens him with the apprenticeship of a woman pretending to be a boy to hide from her murderous father.
How has she managed to parade as a boy for so long when he took one look at her and knew the truth? Who has time for all these lies? And can Cara even be trusted?
Lucky that Nathan comes with a close-knit group of friends, and he doesn’t have to face this insanity alone.
The question is if anyone can help him when his heart skips the proverbial beat whenever Cara’s near.
A queen held hostage by a killer in her court.
Seraphine of Aellor, formerly Laroche, is a prisoner in the palace. Nobody can know that she’s caged, however. She’s the queen, after all.
And what a queen she is. She plays the great political game as easily as breathing, and will do whatever it takes to keep her sister alive. Even if that means hiding her as Magnus Cutter’s apprentice.
Sera must find a way to best her adversary in court, no matter the cost.
Let the people think she has little to offer besides a singing a song from her balcony or planning the perfect event. It’s all a part of the game.
And she won’t lose to anyone, least of all her conniving father.
A slummer threatened by a plague.
Life in the slums isn’t easy, but for Lance, there’s no other way than to make it work. Death is not an option. He’s a survivor, and must also keep his good-for-nothing adopted brother alive.
He’s one of the first slummers to see the mysterious corpse at the foot of the Mantle.
Lance certainly doesn’t need an ugly-looking dead man to further complicate his already difficult task of survival, so he does what he can to help the physicians make sense of the corpse and the illness that comes with it.
Rot, they call this plague.
Shit knows it’s a good name, and Lance will do whatever it takes to avoid getting sick.
A warrior weary of battle.
Varda is the maiden-heir of Dvara, but the bloody emperor has burned her homeland and killed most of her family. Only her mother and queen, Vendla, a handful of Dvaran sailors, and their bond-animals made it out of the inferno with their heads still attached to their necks.
Varda will be damned if she rolls over and accepts the emperor’s exile, though. She sails the Norden ocean with her mother and soldiers, fighting against his reign.
Still, Varda knows it can’t last.
They’re caught between two evils. Considering how weak and isolated they’ve become, it’s either death by starvation, or death by emperor. For he will find them sooner or later.
An alliance with the Mordian resistance cell will save them, but can she convince her proud, stubborn mother to ally?
I have a pretty big cast, so I haven’t been able to make these stained glass inspired artworks for all of them. Having said that, I made some for five of my favourite secondary characters.
From left to right: Vendla, Pointy, Nita, Laroche, and Magnus.
Vendla’s the rightful chief-queen of Dvara, and mother to the stubborn and wilful Varda, who’s too much like her bloody mother.
Pointy is Nathan’s best friend, but don’t let his whimsical, excessive lifestyle fool you. Also, don’t trust him at cards.
Nita may be an outcast, but she refuses to let anyone take her joy. Let those arseholes shun her, she’s made sure they also need her.
Laroche’s daughter hates and fears him. As long as she does what he says, he doesn’t care.
Magnus is old and wants to retire. First, he just has to see to a few things.
And that’s all of them, for now. These artworks are all in the form of bookmarks. Do you smell a giveaway in the near future? I’ll let you know how to participate as soon as I’ve crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s.
Eek, are you as excited as I am? The countdown to release date has officially started!
Have a good one.