Salutations, friends! Welcome to Week Four of the Tasha Turner Coaching/MasterKoda VBT!
This week’s scheduled guest is the lovely, talented, generous and outright amazeballs author of the “The Birth of an Empire” sci-fi series, Catrina Taylor! Without further ado or anymore blathering by yours truly, I give you… Ms. Taylor.
Favorite Contemporary Author
I am an avid reader. When I get my hands on a book, I consume it with hungry desire. My appetite leans toward the stories that tickle the mind, push the edge of reality and create a drive to turn the page. I know, sounds like something all authors strive for, and all readers enjoy. With my reading patterns, I find that I read a bit from many genre but most recently the genre I am reading from and loving is the Fantasy realm. This is primarily because of a talented author who reminded me why I love it so much. Her name is Sarah Barnard.
She and I connected first as authors, then on a project to raise money for Doctors Without Borders, and then I was compelled to read her books. Noting it was a series I opted to read the first in the series. The next thing I know, I consumed all three books a short and the start of her new series. The Portal Series is incredible. She has created a world that exists separate from our own, but certain members of the nobility are able to travel between ours and theirs. These magic wielders are bound to the land they come from and responsible for helping it flourish, while caring for the people.
Each one of her characters are identifiable, understandable and relatable. Her main characters are women that you can look at and know are a lot like the friend, sister, or yourself. You can see why they make the choices they make. Without question you have to follow each page, each story and each person through until the book’s conclusion. As an author, I know that is a talent that takes refinement, and it is something Sarah Barnard has made an art of.
With permission I’ve included an excerpt from her short story that is a prequel to the series I began reading. In this section, Heather and Lily come together at the birth of Lily’s eldest child. Lily has become mistress of their land, and her twin sister, Heather has been living among ours.
Heather ran the damp cloth over the dusty shelf where she kept her favourite books. She hated to see the dark wood of the shelf obscured by the pale layer, and a damp cloth was the only thing that really got rid of the dust. She lifted the pile of books and rearranged them as she put them back, straightening the spines and making sure no pages were curled, or caught and folded. She paused to breathe the bound pages, so special, so distinctive, the smell of a loved paperback.
Sometimes she thought books were the best part of this world. She loved curling up in the comfy armchair in front of the fire, and losing herself in the story contained within the pages.
Samuel wouldn’t be home until the weekend almost a week away now, and this was the life she’d chosen. To be with him, to walk away from her family and her home. She missed her old life, but was happy here all the same.
Loud, urgent hammering on her door startled her from her thoughts.
“Heather! Are you there? Heather, I need you!”
Heather stopped, froze in position at the voice shouting from outside. A voice she’d not heard in years, but that was as familiar to her as her own.
“Lilith,” she breathed softly, dropping the cloth to the shelf and racing to the door. She flung it open and there she stood, outside, out of breath and pale. With dark hair shot through with strands of shining copper, pale, ice blue eyes, Lilith was taller than Heather but not by much. Heather was older, only by a few minutes but it should have mattered. The oldest daughter should have inherited the title, the power and the magic. A few moments younger, and Lilith had shown the magic since she was a child where all Heather could do was heal. The rest was closed to her. Lilith glowed with the power and the range of what she could do outshone even their mother.
“Come in.” Heather took a step away so Lilith could enter. She frowned. Her sister was unsteady, and clearly in some sort of trouble. Heather stared. Pregnant. Very pregnant, and her healer’s sight showed that the baby was close to coming, no more than a day at the most. A girl, and a strong one. “Whose?” she asked as she steered Lilith to a chair and made her sit.
Lilith sat awkwardly and leaned forwards onto the kitchen table. “Not his.”
Heather sat opposite, understanding the problem. “What can I do?” she offered.
“The child must be born here, she must be kept safe from him.” Lilith’s eyes were hard, determined and that scared Heather more than she cared to admit. Heather let her healer’s instincts expand to see more.
Lilith looked away. “He’s not the man I thought him to be.” Her hand shook. “He knows the child is not his and he wishes her gone. If he finds out who her father is, he’ll kill him too.”
“And you?” Heather reached across the table to clasp Lilith’s hand.
Lilith shook her head with a small smile. “He won’t hurt me.”
Heather raised an eyebrow, unconvinced. A small expression that, for Lilith, was still like looking in a mirror. Lilith smiled, a small curl of her lips but it lit up her eyes.
“Still so like each other,” she whispered. “I’ve missed you, Heather.”
“I miss you every day”,” Heather smiled in reply. “Can he come here?” She gripped Lilith’s hand tighter.
Lilith shook her head. “No. He doesn’t have the portal magic, I didn’t give him that. I’m the only one who can use it, and the only one who knows where you are.”
Heather’s eyes widened as she took in the full impact of Lilith’s words. “Give him?” she repeated, hardly able to believe what she heard. “You gave him magic?”
“Yes!” Lilith snapped, “and I was a fool to do it but it’s done now and I won’t undo it.” She pulled her hand free and wrapped her arms round herself, hands resting on the rounded swell of her pregnancy. “And I won’t give him my daughter.”
Heather pushed back from the table, stunned at what she heard. She looked hard into Lilith’s face and saw pain, fear and regret edged in hard determination. “Your magic is weak.” It was barely spoken, barely heard but they both knew it to be true. Their mother had warned them both that pregnancy weakened them, lessened their power for a time, but that motherhood would strengthen. Heather had not yet had children of her own. Although she’d seen many births, none had been for women in her own family so she had no way of knowing if their mother’s warning had been based in truth. Until now. The proof sat across the table. Lilith’s magic was so thin that Heather wondered how she’d managed to focus the portal to reach her.
“Are you hungry?” Heather asked, knowing that her own stomach was empty. “I was about to make some lunch.”
Lilith chuckled. “These days I’m always hungry. This baby is very demanding.”
“I wish Elder could be here.” Heather rose and pulled open her fridge to fetch bread, cheese and salad.
“Me too.” Lilith came to stand beside her, buttering the bread as Heather sliced tomatoes. “I wish I could take you home and we could all be together for the birth. I wish he was the man I thought he was. I still wish you’d taken the title from Mother. But wishes won’t change this.”
Heather said nothing. She’d never liked Ametsam, always said there was a cruel side to him. But saying anything now would do no good. Her sister needed her and Heather would be there for Lilith. And then Lilith would leave her, again. Heather’s shoulders slumped. Accusations didn’t help, judgement did no good. Lilith would find her own way in her own time. Heather was as happy as she hoped for the most part, even if she missed parts of her old life.
As you can see, she is a very compelling author. All of her books yield the need to read more. I love them and I can’t get enough of them.
Catrina Taylor is a single mom of two, and a science fiction author. Her debut series is Birth of an Empire, a three part series that details how Xarrok came to be, and how the formation of an Empire based on a love brings an end to a war that has lasted more than a century. She released book one in December 2011 with two and three expected this summer and fall, respectively. She currently has two free books also available in the same universe.
Find her on Facebook, Xarrok on Facebook, at Xarrok.com or on Twitter: @theladywrites.
So who is your favorite author? Contemporary or classic? Can you not choose just one? If not, why not? My own post about the writer who influences me the most will be up soon and I’ll update the post with a link to it. Comment below, people, and show Catrina some love!
Love & Rainbows,
[Editor’s Note: My Guest Post is up at MasterKoda.com. Who Touched My Breast? by P.P..]