Welcome to my last Q & A post for 2021. I know I have been sparse this year with Q & A features due to my world turning upside down, but I couldn’t end off the year without sharing the news here from one of my oldest blogging friends, Deborah Jay, who has just released Book 4 in her 5 Kingdoms series – The Prince’s Heir.
About Deborah Jay:
Deborah Jay writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy featuring complex, quirky characters and multi-layered plots – just what she likes to read.
Fortunate to live near Loch Ness in the majestic, mystery-filled Scottish Highlands with her partner and a pack of rescue dogs, she can often be found lurking in secluded glens and forests, researching locations for her books.
She has a dream day job riding, training, and judging, competition dressage horses and riders, and also writes books and magazine features on the subject under her professional name of Debby Lush.
A lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, she started writing her first novel aged eight, and has never stopped. Her first published novel is epic fantasy, THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in the Five Kingdoms series, and winner of a UK Arts Council award. #2, THE PRINCE’S SON and #3, THE
PRINCE’S PROTEGE are both available with the concluding book in the quartet, THE PRINCE’S HEIR, released December 14th 2021.
Read the gripping conclusion to The Five Kingdoms series…
King Marten’s reign balances on a blade’s edge. Chel’s Casket, symbol of his right to rule, is missing. Can master spies, Rustam and Risada, recover it before someone notices its absence and challenges Marten’s sovereignty? Or is there a more sinister motive behind the disappearance of the casket—a relic that could be used to raise the demon god, Charin.
As a series of natural disasters besets the kingdoms, evidence points towards interference by the meddlesome deity, and the terrifying prospect of war between its two opposing aspects.
When Marten’s beloved wife, Betha, and their infant daughter vanish, Marten faces a stark choice: save his family, or try to save his kingdom from a conflict that threatens all humanity.
Excerpt from Prince’s Heir
“Risada,” said Marten in a tone that sent ice crawling down her spine. “There’s something we didn’t tell you last year. We thought it would never be an issue once we’d destroyed Charin’s Cult.”
The king paused, pursing his lips. Blood pounded through Risada’s head, filling the silence. She felt nauseous. What had they kept from her, and why?
Marten drew a deep breath, then continued. “You know they wanted our child. What you don’t know is that things came to a head when you returned with Halson. Charin wanted a child of the royal bloodline, and it seems Hal’s would have satisfied Him as much as mine.”
Risada gripped the back of a nearby chair, clinging to that spot of reality in a world turned hazy.
Halson! Charin wanted her son!
A fierce rush of protectiveness blasted through her. She would die before she allowed that to happen. Staring into Marten’s eyes, she saw the same intent reflected there. Of course, he and Betha had been willing to sacrifice themselves before, and now he feared Betha might be forced to make that call again.
“We won’t let it come to that; I promise.” She took one of his hands and squeezed it, but he shrugged and disengaged his grip.
“Sadly, that’s not something you can promise. Not where Charin’s involved. I’ve faced Him, remember? I was lucky to survive, and I don’t give much for my chances if it comes to a rerun.”
“Marten.” Risada employed the same tone she used when Halson was being difficult. “You’re not alone in this. You will never be alone to deal with such an attack again; that I can promise.
Let’s get to know more about Deb’s writing and dressage life in our Q & A session:
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite of your books and if so, why?
Nine so far, plus novellas and short stories. Two non-fiction books on horse training (my day job), one SF (not published), five epic fantasy (one not published) and one urban fantasy. The unpublished books were where I cut my writer’s teeth, learning about plot, pace, and technique. One day I’d love to revisit them, but with so many other projects on the go, who knows if I’ll find the time?
My favorite book will always be the last one I finished. If you are anything like me, as we write more books our style changes, develops and (hopefully) improves. I am still proud as punch of my first published novel – THE PRINCE’S MAN – which in the early days before self-publishing, netted me two agents and a slew of positive feedback from the Big Six (as they were in those days) publishers, although no contract. Now, I’m really happy it didn’t sell – I would never have been allowed to write the sequels the way they’ve turned out, and I wouldn’t have control of my own career.
D.G. – You’ve certainly come a long way my busy friend. And yes, you are spot on, the more books we write, of course, our styles change as we learn new things. How many of us would like to go back and rewrite all our published books? Lol 🙂
What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
As a hybrid author – both traditionally and indie published – I can definitely say the latter is far and away my preferred route. Not only do I get to write what I want, when I want, I also earn a markedly higher percentage of the income from my indie published books (70% from Amazon, 60% from some other platforms, paid each month) than I do from my trad published books (10% from my publisher, paid annually).
Sure, traditional publishers can get you into bricks-and-mortar stores, but that’s far less important since Covid struck, closing so many, or forcing them to sell online. Publishers also have extremely limited funds available for marketing, and contracted authors are expected to do most of the grunt work themselves – marketing, networking, selling in person, etc. – so I’d rather put my efforts into my indie books for a higher return.
D.G. – My sentiments exactly Deb. And I’ve heard same thoughts from a few different authors who left trad to take control of their own books. 🙂
Did you have a passion to write as a child? Do you remember the first thing you wrote?
I don’t know about a passion, I just always assumed I would write. It seemed the natural progression – read other people’s stuff, then write your own.
As a child, comics took my interest, and my earlier attempts at writing were accompanied by awful illustrations (I’m no artist). When my mother died a couple of years ago, in amongst her papers (she was also a writer) I found what must be my earliest attempt, aged about 6 – ‘The travels of Sammy Snail – Scotland here I come’. Weirdly prophetic, as at that time I had never been to Scotland, nor had any of my family, and yet that’s precisely where I now live.
After that, came ‘The Adventures of Galloper’, another illustrated comic book, and then ‘Samantha the Adventurous Poodle’, a novel which failed at chapter 3 because it had no plot!
D.G. – What a gorgeous find! I know you have tons on your plate and agenda, but wouldn’t it be fun if you revised and published her work in a children’s book someday, authored by both of you? Food for thought. 🙂
Would you like to share with us what upcoming projects and/or ideas for books you’re working on?
While this week’s release brings to a conclusion the main story of one set of characters, I still have plenty of other tales to tell about them. One of the best aspects of self-publishing is the option to publish books of any size. I already wrote one short story that fits in between books #1 & #2, with another underway. I plan to write a set of them, with the ultimate goal of gathering them into a book of their own.
I have also plotted out and started a novella, telling the back story of a minor character who grew to become a major force in books #3 & 4. In addition, years ago, I wrote the novel that takes place before this set, so I plan on going back and rewriting that to a publishable standard too.
Beyond that, I have a rough outline for the next sequence of books, featuring the next generation. I’ve set up a lot of worldbuilding ready for them to walk right into, so, although the over-arching plot appears to end in book #4, it has a lot further to go – I’m thinking maybe 10 books in all?
Next up is putting together a boxset of books #1 – #4, and start editing for audiobook production – something I still have to dip my toe in. I also have one novel and a short story published in an urban fantasy series, with 6 chapters of the next book already done and just waiting for me to pick it up again.
Finally (as if that lot wasn’t enough!), I am currently writing a commissioned non-fiction book on horse training to go with the two already published, and sketching out two new in-person presentations now we are allowed to do such things again.
I’m certainly never short of stuff to do!
D.G. – You’re a machine girl! I hate to add to your plate, but I was hoping you would come out with a sequel to Desprite Measures with your Cassie character. 🙂
Do you edit and proofread your own work solely or do you hire an editor?
I’m really fortunate to have worked with an awesome writer’s group for many years – thirty, to be precise! Members have come and gone, but the core has remained. New members have to put in an audition piece, so we can assess the standard of their writing. If we feel they aren’t ready to join us yet we point them towards where they can find more basic help to develop.
The group consists of (almost) exclusively published authors – some short fiction writers, some novelists. We do include a uni student, reading creative writing (what else?), but fundamentally we all write professional pieces that sell. We used to meet in person once a month, now we do it on Zoom, which means a couple of former members who moved away have rejoined.
One of the best aspects is that between us we cover a wide range of professions and interests, such as a medical doctor, a computer programmer, a travel writer, and a stand-up comic! Between the lot of us, we’re pretty darned good at the whole gamut of editing. And knowing we will all be on the receiving end at some point, we’ve become well practiced at constructive critiquing – the best sort of group.
D.G. – Sounds like a great plan and a wonderful and eclectic bunch of writers! 🙂
What was the inspiration behind the series you’ve just completed?
I was always frustrated that the super-spy, James Bond, was never allowed (until now!) to develop as a character. Enter my leading man, Rustam Chalice – a shallow, womanizing, spy. During THE PRINCE’S MAN, alongside the action and politics, everything he thought he knew is challenged and proven to be false, bringing about profound changes to his life, which continues to develop through the entire series.
I chose a fantasy setting partly because of my love for Lord of the Rings, but also because of the incredible scope available to my imagination. I can do whatever I want with the world (provided it’s consistent and makes sense), which allows me to put my characters through a crucible unlike anything they would experience in a real-world setting.
Out of these two things came tagline for the series: Think James Bond meets Lord of the Rings.
D.G. – Brilliant concept! 🙂
It was a pleasure having you over today Deb. I wish you much success with your new release, and no doubts the Prince’s Man fans for this series are anxiously awaiting this new release.
Connect with Deborah:
Newsletter sign up and FREE short story: http://eepurl.com/bPZcmT
Amazon author page: https://viewAuthor.at/DeborahJay