Spotlight Sunday – Alicia Wanstall-Burke

We’re excited to share this interview with Alicia Wanstall-Burke. Her novel, Blood of Heirs, is set for releasem on Saturday, 27th October.

You have a book release coming up – can you give us the details?

Blood of Heirs releases on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited on October 27th! The hardcover will be available not long after that.

I’ll be travelling to the UK for BristolCon to launch the book and I’m really excited to finally meet so many of my writing friends who I have known for years online. They are my book-family!

What is Blood of Heirs about?

It is the parallel tale of two young people who have lived their whole lives knowing exactly where they stand in the world. Their purpose is to inherit, and they are determined to make damn sure they are good at it.

But life has other plans for Lidan Tolak and Ranoth Olseta.

Lidan is the eldest of ten daughters to the daari of the southern Tolak clan. She hopes to lead her people one day, but her life is turned upside down when her father’s fourth wife falls pregnant with what he hopes is a long-awaited son. Lidan’s mother views the child as a threat to her daughter’s position and Lidan has to decide how far she is willing to go to protect her future.

Meanwhile, in the northern duchy of Orthia, Ranoth is eager to prove himself to his father, the Duke. He takes on a military command against the Woaden Empire, which fails spectacularly, ruining his standing with his father and forcing him to beat a hasty retreat to the capital. On the way, he stumbles on the horrific scene of a decades old massacre, and his latent magic flares to life. Magic is outlawed in Orthia, a filthy Woaden curse, and he flees his home and the swords of his father’s soldiers.

But deep in the southern bush and the frigid northern mountains, an unknown, bloodthirsty threat lurks in the shadows. It emerges to slaughter South Lands rangers and stalks the mountains of Orthia. It will threaten everything Lidan and Ran hold dear, and they have to fight, not only to save their futures, but their lives.

 

According to your blog you have done a fair bit of world building for Blood of Heirs, including making a map. How has this helped your writing?

I started building the continent of Coraidin back when I was in high school, pulling together bits of inspiration from the fantasy novels I had read and the places my parents took me on our travels. The map was a way for me to visualise the world, to understand weather patterns and distances travelled. Orthia and the South Lands are at the two extremes of the map, lending the story geographical diversity, rather than the entirety of the narrative taking place in one area. Also, I like drawing maps. I’m a map nerd from way back!

Can you tell us about your journey in publishing?

It’s been… interesting! Blood of Heirs was originally started under the guidance of an editor at a publishing house. To cut a long story short, the editor eventually left the publisher and the project was orphaned. I had a finished draft, and I shopped it to agents, received great feedback but no definite bites. I knew then something wasn’t quite right, so I gave it over to a structural edit.

Around August this year I had some big upheavals at home and decided it was time to self-publish. I can do this, right? Get a cover, slap it on the book, throw it to the world. Easy peesy!

Yeah, no. It’s been a manic three months since I made that call. Navigating the trials of The Mighty Amazon as an Australian author has not been the most enjoyable thing I’ve done recently! I have had the great privilege to work with some amazing colleagues and my friends in the writing community have just gone out of their way to help launch this thing.  


That book cover – Amazing. Can you tell us about it?

Pen Astridge has been a mate of mine via the online SFF community for a number of years now. I’d seen her work on other books and loved all of it, wondering if one day I would have a chance to get her to make a cover for me. Luckily, she was keen to work with me and smashed this cover for six.

She drew on Lidan’s story, and the bush of the South Lands, capturing the darkness of the mood and the challenges the characters face. I love it! I can’t wait to see the print copies (both hardcover and paperback). I may just sit and stare at them for a while.

How long have you been blogging? Has it helped build your fan base?

I’m not sure blogging helped build a fan base, simply because I don’t normally blog about ‘writing’. My recent posts are the most I have ever published about the process or the book, and I’ve had a long break from it because of emotional and physical exhaustion. Sometimes, you just have nothing to say!

I certainly feel that it helped me keep my eye in with writing while I was away from the book for any length of time, and it’s a therapeutic way to scream into the void about a given topic. Screaming into the void is a very effective stress reliever. 10/10 would recommend.

 

What was the best money you ever spent on your writing career?

Oooooh – that’s a tough one… Probably structural edits, closely followed by travel to conferences and conventions. Social media is great, but nothing beats getting in a room with writers, food and booze and realising you are part of a tribe. You belong, you matter, your work matters, and you suddenly have a support network of people who get you. Also, booze and food are good.

Any advice you would give your past self or any writers just starting out?

John Birmingham has a chapter in his book How to be a Writer: Who Smashes Deadlines, Crushes Editors and Lives in a Solid Gold Hovercraft, called “Kick Self Doubt in the Dick”. Self-doubt will hobble you faster than blowing the plugger out of you Havaianas on the walk home from the pub, and you have to find ways you manage your mental health around that. Don’t write everyday if it exhausts you, or do write everyday if it fuels your fire. Whatever! Figure out who you are as a writer and paddle that canoe. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing, how fast they are writing or how successful they seem. Fly kick self-doubt in the dick, roll that sucker into the gutter and get going.

What is your goal/dream for your writing career?

Once upon a time it was a traditional publishing contract and my books in stores all over the world. Now days, I just want to write books people enjoy reading and hopefully earn enough from that to feed myself and keep the lights on.

But if HBO want to turn the book into a show, I’m not going to complain!

What would be the title, subtitle and tagline of your biography be?

Anxiety Alicia: The Tale of an Unlikely Super Hero Who Swears Too Much

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

The sequels to Blood of Heirs are due to drop in 2019! Legacy of Ghosts is due out in April, and Empire of Shadows in August.

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