I'd like to chat a bit today about OF DEEDS MOST VALIANT and particularly about some of the inspirations for the story.
I've been mulling on this idea for a long time. I love the idea of holy knights. I love the thoughts about what would it mean for a warrior to have allegiance to faith as well as polity, to have to struggle with a power that isn't really theirs, but is their responsibility to direct. to have to reckon with the idea of being designed to take lives but possibly working for a church that doesn't condone such deeds.
On top of that, I've been particularly annoyed by the representation of some aspects of faith and the faithful in fiction. For instance, I read a book where a paladin was a primary character and I was so excited to dig into that, only to realize that it was going to be used as something more like a fetish than a look into life as a warrior who must give an account to a god. The idea in that book was that the paladin's chastity was something he needed to be saved from. I was less than thrilled.
On top of that, I've been reading a great deal of adult fantasy lately. (I should be clear here, since some people think "adult" means erotica. That's not what I mean. I am referring to fiction written for an adult market rather than a young adult market as most of mine has been.) I think my authorial voice may have finally developed to the point where it can support an excellent adult market story. And I wanted to try my hand at that kind of a fantasy book.
You'll possibly recall that I wrote Married by War around this time last year and was delighted to feature a dog in the story -- a dog which almost died, but didn't. You can thank my critique partner, Melissa Wright (who, I might add, is an excellent author in her own right) for urging me not to kill any dogs in my books. Her please were heard then (and also now) and writing that story about a knight and a dog just made me want to write more stories like that.
I also found some delight in the Bluebeard books in offering and solving puzzles and riddles for my audience. It's a stretch, to be sure, since I cannot offer any puzzles too difficult to solve myself, but I found that intriguing and I wanted to offer it to my readers again. You will find I have gone above and beyond in the puzzle of this story -- or perhaps I should say the nesting-doll aspect of puzzles inside puzzles inside puzzles. If you enjoy a clever read that makes you pay attention, you will enjoy that aspect of this book.
Of further inspiration was a friend of mine who is deeply into conspiracy theories. I went on a hike with him in the summer and he spent most of the lovely walk elaborating things he believes about the world and history and while he did not convince me that the earth is flat, nor that a map of it can be seen on the moon and that as the moon changes so does the earth, nor that all of our history is entirely manufactured to disguise a much more advanced society that came very close in history behind us, he DID succeed in inspiring a fantasy world in me, a world that you will find in this book, for what better place to play out such cleverly constructed ideas as in a world of knights and ladies, of dogs and demons?
This book starts with what Melissa has told me is the most grim of all the chapters herein. It's stark and gripping -- I think, at least. It's engaging in that it is a puzzle, and a murder mystery, and an epic fantasy story. And it is also a sweet, powerful romance, as I think you've come to expect from me by now.
When I first started my career, my books appealed to men and women equally and to all ages. It is my hope that this story leans that way again.
It has wisdom woven within if you can find it, my brand of humor (though I am assured by my love ones that I am most certainly not funny) and the kinds of people I like to tell stories about.
In short, if you have enjoyed my other books, you will not want to miss this one.
And it's long. You -- my readers -- told me that these days it's hard to keep up with series. You get tired. You forget what happened between books. You're worn out from too much everything. I heard you. Instead of writing this as three books and drawing out the publishing over six months or a year, I wrote it all in one.
I wrote it for you.
And I hope that you love it as I do.
Please add it to your wishlist or pre-order so that you don't forget and keep reading these emails. I have more for you to dive into every week from now until June 6th when the book launches.