Karen Tomlinson is the Young Adult Fantasy author of two books in The Goddess and the Guardians Book Series, A Bond of Venom and Magic (October 2016) and A Bond of Blood and Fire (June 2017). The third in the series, A Bond of Sovereigns and Souls is scheduled to be released in early 2018 and she is already working on the forth book. Karen loves reading and writing fantasy, and creating magical worlds that are very different from her home in Derbyshire, England.
SR: You read in many genres. Why did you decide to write in this genre?
KT: Fantasy is my favourite genre to read, so it seemed natural to write in this genre too. This series started when I began telling my children a bedtime story. It was magical and fantastical and the characters fast became real to me. I decided to adapt and change it for an older audience, I figured if I enjoyed the characters, then other people might too. It’s exciting to imagine a new world and to build it from scratch.
SR: Tell us something about the series. How did you come up with the characters and story? And why did you decide on 5 books for the series?
KT: When I decided to write the story down, I intended it to be for children. I quickly discovered that my writing ‘voice’ is not suited to that age range but feel it fits the mature Young Adult and above, reader. My daughters helped me name the characters and the dragons whilst it was merely a bedtime story for them. Some of those names I have kept, others I’ve changed. (You can’t have a dragon called Sparkles!!)The main series is four books and follows seventeen year old Diamond Gillon from when she realises her heritage is not all it seems to be and the wraith lord’s hunters come for her. Her whole town is decimated and this attack becomes the catalyst for her magic to manifest. Whilst fighting for her life she meets Commander Hugo Casimir, an armoured winged warrior, whom she discovers is a queen’s Elite Guard. The rest of the series follows their relationship through betrayal, love, war and grief; and the intricacies of how the realm of the gods, the mortal world and Chaos are connected.
The fifth book-A Bond of Destiny and Dragons, is a full length prequel. It is set one thousand years earlier and covers the lives of two best friends. Erzion who is half-wizard and half-fae and Prince Lexon Arjuno who is a fae warrior. Both take a blood pledge to their goddess when their home is attacked by a betrayer to the throne. The story then follows how their lives are changed by that pledge and how they must survive when their destinies take different paths. This book covers events that are integral to the series with Diamond and Hugo.
A Bond of Destiny and Dragons will be released exclusive to the Wrath and Ruin Sci-Fi and Fantasy box set on the 2nd January 2018. It will remain in the set with 24 other stories for the following three months.
SR: You trained as a nurse and work in Health Care. You see pain and helplessness in the people you treat on a regular basis. Is writing fantasy a way of escaping from reality?
KT: A good question. Yes, I love to escape into a fantasy world, but not necessarily because I dislike reality. It’s a temporary journey that gives me an opportunity to experience new worlds and meet new characters. Reading (and Writing) is a fabulous way to unwind and learn or experience new things through my imagination. However, I have been a nurse for many years and now work as part of the Resuscitation and Clinical skills team. I spend much of my time teaching both nurses and doctors but also go to cardiac arrests. Yes, life can be cruel and I have seen grief and pain on almost a daily basis for a long time but I also see happy endings and how much love is out there too.
SR: How do you build your worlds? Is it easier because you don’t have to be accurate about getting details about places right, or is it harder since you have to convince your readers more?
KT: Hmm, both of the above, I think. The thing with making a world is, as you say, you have to convince the reader it is a viable place for people to live, that there is history and timelines that people love and hate in a similar way to our own world. Readers need something to relate to but at the same time use their imaginations with. If I want to write in the use a weapon, or talk about a war horse, or want to ‘show’ how someone uses a certain fighting style or even how a character reacts to grief etc, it still has to be researched to make it more ‘real’ for the reader. What I like about magical stories is you can make things up, but you have to also make them somehow believable! I mean armoured winged Fae warriors flying around the sky….of course that would work, didn’t you know fairies exist and that they can defy gravity with their metal wings!?
SR: Tell us something about your writing process? How do you know when you have got it right?
KT: Ha! I don’t think any writer truly knows when they’ve got it right! Because I work full time it’s very hard to fit writing in around family and life commitments. I don’t have a routine because I can’t. I think this makes it harder to maintain consistency and flow. When I have written the first draft of a book, I go through it at least four times before I send it to beta readers. I then change /rewrite/edit or revise dependent on their feedback. Once I’ve done that and reread another 2 or 3 times, I send it to my editor. The process of rewrites/revisions and edits then starts again. Once I’ve completed this, it goes back for a final read through with the editor and then I do the copy edits she has found. Once that is complete I send out to willing Advanced Read Copy reviewers and ask them to pick up any copy edits we may have missed. Despite the long editing process, there are always a few spaces after full stops etc, missing.
As you can see it’s a long winded process but an absolutely necessary one. I think working in education and giving and receiving feedback as part of my role, has helped me to accept editorial and beta feedback, and not get upset by it.
I know a manuscript is right when I’ve read through my work and I enjoy reading it, despite how many times I’ve read it before.
SR: A bond of Sovereigns and Souls will be released next year. What can readers expect from this book that is different from the other two?
KT: This book follows Diamond and Hugo through their own separate challenges. It shows their personal struggles and how they prepare for the war that is brewing throughout the Eight Kingdoms. I’m not going to say more as I don’t want to spoil things for readers.
SR: Some writers write in several genre or move to another genre after completing a series. Do you plan on writing in any other genre or will you continue to write fantasy?
KT: I already have book ideas which follow some of the secondary characters in this series, and the children of other characters. I am excited by my ideas and the characters I have in my head, however, my next book/series is going to be Dystopian/sci-fi but set in a different world. I don’t want to say more yet. I also have another fantasy series in mind that I am excited to write. Too many books and ideas…not enough time!
Here’s an excerpt from the soon to be released prequel A Bond of Destiny and Dragons
“As if summoned by his thoughts, Lunaria stood before him. Her blue eyes glowed as she stared at Lexon, then Erzion.
Her silver hair floated around her shoulders, alight with magic. White, impenetrable dragon scales hugged her figure. Over the places she needed more flexibility, a white fluid covering moved with her body and shimmered like liquid silk.
Her brow furrowed, then she lifted her chin. “I will let you out from this prison, Lexon, but first I need your word and bond to do as I ask,” she said.
Steel honed her words, but Lexon could hear the slight shake in her voice. He peered closely at her. The goddess appeared unchanged—unless you knew her well, which Lexon did. He had spent hours studying her, and that was before she was constantly by his brother’s side.
A slight sheen of sweat covered her top lip, and her skin had a waxy appearance.
With a knot in his stomach, Lexon realised Lunaria was not immune to the hardship of childbirth, goddess or not. She was weaker than he had ever seen, both physically and magically.
Lexon stared, dread tightening his chest. Then he lifted his own chin and clenched his teeth. It did not matter what she asked of him, he knew he would follow her every order. He didn’t care if he died. She was his goddess and queen, and he would fight until he died for her and his brother.
“Of course, my queen,” he answered, dipping his head and shoulders before raising his eyes again.
Lunaria swallowed but held his sapphire gaze steadily as she spoke. “I want your word that if I release you, you will protect my daughter. That you will guard her forever. I will make you immortal, but you must take her far away from this city.”
Lexon stared at his queen.
Lexon suddenly understood Noan’s reluctance to live forever. Living without the ones you loved was not living at all. He didn’t even want to live now, let alone forever.
Lunaria narrowed her eyes. “Accept my terms for your freedom, Lexon. My daughter needs you.”
“I can’t,” he whispered, regret making his voice shake. The thought of living forever without his wings was abhorrent.
“So be it,” she replied, her blue eyes sad. “I’m sorry you will not accept my gift of immortality, but you will not die today. Your bloodline, your destiny, will shape our future.”
Lexon slowly lifted his eyes to hers. “Erzion. If I am to do this, he must come with me. I will not leave him here to die.”
Lunaria shook her head sadly. “No, Lexon. I am afraid Erzion’s path is to be a different one than yours.”