Welcome to September Q & A where I’m thrilled to be featuring Fantasy writer and world-builder extraordinaire, Diana Peach on blogtour now with her hot new release, Liars and Thieves – the first of another riveting trilogy, in the Unraveling the Veil series. And of course after the book intro, Diana will share some of her own thoughts on her writing.
D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two dogs, bats, owls, and the occasional family of coyotes.
It looks as though Diana fans are in for another riveting read! I already have my copy and for all you fantasy reader addicts, Diana’s book is still on pre-order price, so grab your copy for .99 cents!
Behind the Veil, the hordes of Chaos gather, eager to savage the world. But Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, is untroubled by the shimmering wall that holds his beasts at bay. For if he cannot cleanse the land of life, the races will do it for him. All he needs is a spark to light the fire.
Three unlikely allies stand in his way.
A misfit elf plagued by failure—When Elanalue Windthorn abandons her soldiers to hunt a goblin, she strays into forbidden territory.
A changeling who betrays his home—Talin Raska is a talented liar, thief, and spy. He makes a fatal mistake—he falls for his mark.
A halfbreed goblin with deadly secrets—Naj’ar is a loner with a talent he doesn’t understand and cannot control, one that threatens all he holds dear.
When the spark of Chaos ignites, miners go missing. But they won’t be the last to vanish. As the cycles of blame whirl through the Borderland, old animosities flare, accusations break bonds, and war looms.
Three outcasts, thrust into an alliance by fate, by oaths, and the churning gears of calamity, must learn the truth. For they hold the future of their world in their hands.
Reviewed in the United States on August 29, 2020
D. Wallace Peach’s latest fantasy novel, Liars and Thieves (2020), Book 1 in her new fantasy series, Unraveling the Veil, is one of those stories you wish you could read again for the first time. The concept is simple–bad guys cause havoc and good guys must stop them. What makes it a story you won’t forget is how Peach reveals the characters, the plot, and the amazing world where they live:
“…they fed the Veil’s mass with heat harvested from the mountains’ core, from pristine forests and wildflower meadows, from creatures of hoof and wing. All withered, browned, and blackened. Then they stole the light from the dawn.”
“The Veil thinned and solidified, releasing the energetic mass that had fortified it against the storm.”
Her choice of words, always spot on, are never wasted:
“…the ambition of a well-fed cat on a sunny sill.”
“Then they stole the light from the dawn.”
“He sniffed the air. Scents of blue snow and dank earth mingled with something new—the electric tang of power.”
The stunning reality she has built includes an eclectric mix of elves, changelings, and goblins, some purebred and others mixed, and all the problems and challenges that go with different cultures intermingling. To stop chaotic events that could destroy the world, these folks find themselves working with old enemies, relying on those they previously distrusted, and discovering new alliances. Though presented as a fantasy world, it will remind you of real-life. As you read, you will never really know what the truth is, when something you thought you knew turns out to be upside down. This made for an excitingly fresh tale like few I’ve ever read. The detail she includes is riveting and in large part why you will think this world could really exist. To give you an example, read Diana’s explanation of what happens to an individual’s bones, hair, organs, and muscles when switching from animal to human.
“The skeletal changes came first. He sank to his knees as his oblong skull crushed inward at the muzzle and bulged in the cranium. His neck compressed. Shoulder blades and ribcage shrank while hip bones expanded and rearranged their connections to fibulae and spine.”
As with every book Peach has written, her world building is believable, her characters likable, and her plot never stops surprising readers. Grab a copy, sit back, and enjoy.
(In this scene, my characters just discovered that they’re stuck with each other. It’s not
A shower of sand rained from Alue’s hair as she scraped her fingers over her scalp. The endless heat and humidity, the dirt and sweat, fouled her mood as much as it fouled her nose. She needed a hot soak with oils and soap, a hair wash, and something to eat that didn’t taste like an unwashed shirt.
Arianna had released the three of them onto the trail heading north to the railway spur, a three-day walk. Any deviation from the path, any mention of what had occurred in the jungle would result in a gruesome death, and Alue didn’t doubt the queen’s willingness to see the threat through.
Still a day from the spur, Talin led them to another tree-stand, the changelings’ method of spending a night safe from cats if not insects, snakes, and monkeys. She sat on the platform’s edge, one leg dangling, while she attempted to lob balls of light from her fingers—without them disappearing the instant she let go.
The goblin wrinkled his nose.
“What is your problem?” she snapped.
He scowled at her. “You have the odor of an ape.”
She gaped at him. “I haven’t had a chance to bathe.”
“Elves always smell like apes.”
Talin blurted out a laugh. He sat at the platform’s other end, eating some kind of hideous, withered root.
“Is that so?” Alue was tempted to push Naj over the side, but he sat against the tree in the middle of the platform. “And I suppose goblins smell like jasmine petals.”
“Goblins don’t sweat,” Naj informed her. “Changelings bear the scents of animals, but not as pungent as elves.”
“You can’t smell your own breath,” Talin said. “It reeks from eating meat.”
“Speaking of food…” Alue plucked up one of the roots Talin had gathered for her and tossed it over the edge. “I’m famished.”
“Don’t throw good food away,” Talin muttered. “You’ll be forced to ask Naj to spear you a snake.”
“Don’t make me vomit.” Alue shook her head when Naj glanced her way. His glaive had been confiscated in Glenglisan along with her pulser, and though he acted as if its loss didn’t matter, the ropey muscles in his neck tightened at its every mention. “I thought changelings forbade the killing of animals?”
“We do.” Talin brushed the dirt from a flesh-colored root. “We never know when one of us might be mistaken for a wild creature… like a panther.”
Alue stared at him, her empty stomach rolling over. “Was that… was the panther…”
“A man named Janu.” Talin slouched, dark eyebrows lowered in her direction. His chin bristled with rough scruff, and his long hair needed a comb almost as much as hers. “You shot him near the falls, and Naj finished him off.”
“I ate his…” Alue’s hand slapped to her mouth, and she closed her eyes, reeling. If Naj hadn’t gripped her arm, she might have fallen.
“He was the aggressor,” Naj said as if somehow that justified chewing on a man’s heart.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” Alue shrieked. “I ate a changeling, a person!”
“Thank you for acknowledging that we’re people,” Talin said.
“Gah! I never said you weren’t. We’re all people. And that’s beside the point. You tricked us.”
“I saved your life,” Talin yelled back. “I didn’t need to do any of it. I could have left you in the pit, left you in the cell. Gone on with my life.”
“Why did you help us?” Naj asked.
Talin crossed his arms. “I thought I knew. Now I don’t remember.”
And now that we’ve all had a delicious sampling, let’s get to know a little bit more about Diana and her personal thoughts on why she prefers self-publishing, and she shares some worthy advice for writers – seasoned and new.
What’s your opinion on self-publishing?
I love self-publishing. I started out on the traditional route, and overall, the publisher was honest and cooperative. But after six books, I cancelled all my contracts and self-published. I haven’t regretted it for a moment.
In some ways, self-publishing is more work. I’m responsible for every step of the process and every cost from engaging with an editor to hiring a cover designer. I have all the responsibility for the final product, and there’s definitely more upfront cost. But here’s the thing… after I switched, not only did my sales and margins go up, my covers improved, I didn’t have to pull teeth to promote, and marketing was much LESS work. A lot less.
How is marketing less work? I was responsible for that chore either way. Marketing is easier if you have control over pricing, which allows you to discount and promote. Traditional publishers control pricing, and in my experience, they don’t like low prices and are resistant to discounts. At full price, promotional opportunities are limited and a lot of work. Low prices, discounts, and promotions are a great way to get readers if that’s your goal. You’ll have a much larger distribution, and though your prices are lower, you’re not sharing the profits… which meansyou have more revenue for more promotion and more readers and more revenue. Thus, the cycle continues.
D.G. – I appreciate your thinking, these were my same thoughts when I decided to do my own thing on my own time. Oye! Nope, I’m happy to control my own publishing too and not collect 1000 rejections waiting, lol. But it’s nice to hear it from someone who moves from trad to indie.
Do you have any advice you can share for new writers?
I’d suggest that every serious writer seek out criticism, not from our moms or best friends, but from other writers. Join a local writer’s group, find critique partners online, pay for an in-depth edit of your first three chapters if it’s all you can afford. Ask for tough love, soak it up, and painstakingly apply the principles.
Of course, positive comments are nice. But the most valuable feedback you’ll ever receive is constructive criticism. I was a member of a writers’ critique group for five years, and I never would have landed a publisher without feedback from my fellow writers. I longed to improve and grow, and to accomplish that, I needed to know everything I was doing wrong. I learned a tremendous amount about the craft and had an opportunity to find my voice.
Now, I’m not suggesting that anyone provide an unsolicited critique of someone’s blog post! But when requested, private, constructive feedback with contextual examples encourages growth. Though I’m no longer part of a group, I do swap editing projects with a writing partner or two. I’m still learning!
D.G. – I love your answers Diana. We are always learning, and if we aren’t then we’ll get left behind. The best education came from my own editor, teaching me how to properly self-edit learning from her feedback.
If you’ve published more than one book, do you find or notice your writing changes or evolves with each new book?
Oh, yes! Practice makes… better. It’s no secret that the more we write the better we become. Hopefully we are lifelong learners, seeking tips from bloggers, reading books about our craft, taking classes, sharing critiques, and writing our little hearts out. That can’t help but change how we write.
But I also think we’re influenced by the things happening in our lives and environments. Our stories change with our moods and perspectives and age. We’re influenced by what we watch on television and what we read, what we care about and what interests us. I’m very influenced by my reading selections. It’s one reason why my writing has become darker with time. I love reading dark fantasy. At the same time, I don’t think inspiration follows a straight line. So who knows what the next story will bring.
D.G. – I so agree with you on how we grow. I think many writers can agree, we can see how our writing evolves with every next book. And yes, we are influenced by what we read as we grow and learn and what hangs around our minds. It has certainly influenced my poetry.
You have a new release: Liars and Thieves, Book 1 of the Unraveling the Veil series. What was the inspiration for this story?
US politics to be honest. I’m disclosing this on your site, Debby, because we’ve shared rants, and you haven’t “unfriended me.” Lol. I started this series in 2017. Blaming based on untruths had started taking the national stage in the US, not for the first time, but in blatantly disturbing ways. Bias and blame ran (and runs) rampant through my country as opposed to taking responsibility, working together, and making the hard choices for positive change.
So, I created a world where the First of Chaos, a god named il Drakk, creates an inciting event. It stirs old biases and activates cycles of blame. My three groups of people – goblins, elves, and changelings – don’t seek the core truth of the situation. Instead, accusations escalate. Civilization spirals downward because truth and cooperation aren’t valued or are too hard. Il Drakk gets to sit back and watch the people become the “Lords of Chaos.” Only by coming together and seeking the truth can they overcome the dire mess they’ve created. There is hope
for my characters, and perhaps for my country as well.
D.G. – OMG I got goosebumps reading this. And I have to tell you, when I first saw the title of your book, I couldn’t help but wonder what inspired it! Of course we write about what’s at our forefronts – if we aren’t digging back to the past for something else. The way you described your story sounds eerily similar to Sinclair Lewis’s book – It Can’t Happen Here, written in 1935 similar idea, fiction, but not fantasy, the take-over of America. My review written two years ago.
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