A Study of Ash & Smoke

is the first book in the new series, Fall of the Mantle, and should be published soon. I’m working on Book 2 ATM.

I drew inspiration for the world from real countries on earth, and the initial drafts even included phrases in French, Farsi and Norwegian, among others. This has since changed, though the place and character names still originate from those languages.

When the story starts, the Seven Kingdoms have been engaged in a long and futile war with Sanshouo, the emperor of the Desolation. Six of the Seven Kingdoms have been defeated and have been absorbed by the Salamane Empire. Some rebel groups still resist the emperor, but they aren’t strong enough to come out of hiding.

Meanwhile, the seventh kingdom, Aelland, is cut off from the rest of the world by a force field – the Mantle – and the Aels don’t even know if the war is still raging outside their dome. This is where our story starts.

Cara is a physician’s apprentice. She’s timid and her main purpose in life is to hide, though circumstances beyond her control have led her to Roicester, Aelland’s capital. Here, she studies medicine under Duke Magnus Cutter, a respected physician, until he hands over her apprenticeship to his son Nathan–one of Aelland’s best and most famous surgeons. Magnus is good to her and she loves him like a father, while Nathan intimidates her. And… What will he do, knowing her secret?

Nathan wants to understand Cara. How has she managed to hide in the open for so long, when he took one look at her and knew she wasn’t what she claimed to be?

Lance, a slummer, is there when a mysterious corpse is discovered at the foot of the Mantle. He doesn’t like the looks of it and employs the help of a physician to figure out from where the body came.

Seraphine is a prisoner in the palace, but nobody can know that–she is the queen, after all. She plays the political game as easily as breathing and has a few more tricks up her sleeve. She won’t be bested by anyone, not even her father.

Varda is our only viewpoint character who isn’t inside Aelland. She sails the Norden ocean with her mother and queen, Vendla, and they fight against the emperor’s reign. But Varda knows it can’t last. They’re weak and isolated, and in dire need of protection and food. An alliance with the Mordian resistance cell will save them, but can she convince her proud, stubborn mother to ally?

What happens to a group of physicians and their apprentices when a deadly plague breaks out under the Mantle, and people are dying faster than they can help? To make it worse, there’s a rigid class system and the accompanying politics involved. Still not enough for you? How about some thrown in spies, intrigue, action, lies and romance?

If you’re keen on catching up with Ash & Smoke related news, follow this link to blog posts specifically mentioning, or about the novel. Do note that it used to be called The Physician’s Apprentice, so in most of the older posts, that’s the title you’ll read.

In other news

my short story, Manasahari, has been selected for the Dragon Writers anthology, Elements. Science fiction or fantasy stories between 3000 and 5000 words in length could be entered.

This was my first try at a short story and writing in the present tense (which was actually easier to do than expected, though I believe I have blogging to thank for that). The story is a little darker than my usual stuff. I never dreamed Manasahari would be chosen, so I figured I’d experiment while working on it.

The anthology is currently under construction, but I’ll let you know as soon as it’s available for purchase. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this.

The old stuff

is changing. Slowly. I’m reworking The Evangellion Trilogy, and this might mean a big shift from the original way the story was told. At the time of publishing, I was full of first-timer’s pride and in excitement overdrive. I’ve learned so much about writing since then that I can’t in good conscience allow people to keep reading my first novels.

At this stage, I can’t honestly guarantee that the trilogy will ever be republished. The plot holes are enormous and I don’t know how to plug them. Still, I’ll give it my best shot. Thank you to the handful of die-hard fans out there, who still swear Evangellion is awesome. You’re mostly family, blinded by goggles of love, but I appreciate you. 🙂