I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on blog tour for POISONED BLADE by Kate Elliott! I freaking adore this fantasy series!! I have an interview with Kate to share with you today! And make sure to enter the awesome giveaway for a finished copy of the book!!
Haven't heard of POISONED BLADE? Check it out!
Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes's only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes's traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country's enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal's life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion...She must become a warrior.
Now on to the interview!
Hi Kate! First I want to say welcome to Two Chicks on Books! POISONED BLADE was absolutely fantastic and I can’t wait for everyone to read it! Also I can’t stop seeing Manu Bennett at Esladas ;)
I am so happy that you could stop by for a visit!
KE: Thank you for inviting me aboard! And, yes, although I was actually going for a slightly different appearance, once I saw that photo of Manu Bennett I knew he had the perfect world-weary loyal soldier look for Esladas.
For the readers: can you give us a little recap about COURT OF FIVES and the characters? And what we can expect in POISONED BLADE?
Kirkus Reviews wrote: “After the death of the highly placed aristocrat whose patronage ensured their safety, Jessamy’s mixed-race family is targeted by political enemies; spared thanks to her skill at the game of Fives, she must find a way to save them.”
Jessamy is one of four daughters of Patron-born Captain Esladas and Commoner-born Kiya, who by law are not allowed to marry. The other girls are the eldest, Maraya, Jes’s twin Bettany, and the youngest, Amaya. In the course of her adventures Jes also meets Lord Kalliarkos, who also runs the Fives, and – less pleasantly – Kalliarkos’s uncle Lord Gargaron, who has his own plans for the family. That covers the main characters.
In Poisoned Blade you can expect a lot of action and blood ç that’s the least spoilerish thing I can write.
Slightly spoilerish è Jes has to deal with the fallout from her choice at the end of Court of Fives. She is also desperate to find her lost sister Bettany but the only way to do so is to travel outside Saryenia in the company of Lord Gargaron, the man she hates the most. It’s possible there may be interaction with a giant mechanical spider. And maybe a kiss.
So is there a title for book 3 yet? And if so can you share it?
There is a title for book three and also a preliminary cover, but they are both under wraps for now. The title will make perfect sense to everyone who has finished POISONED BLADE.
Were any of the characters in the book inspired by people from your real life?
I don’t generally write characters as analogs of people in life (with one exception in my Crown of Stars series). However I do often take qualities I have seen in individuals and examine them through the lens of fiction. So for example, when I watch a competitive, confident young athlete like snowboarder Chloe Kim or tennis star Serena Williams I imagine how a girl with that drive would find a way to become an adversary in Efea. In the mid 90s I remember reading an interview with one of the players from the UConn women’s basketball team the first year they went unbeaten, in which she said that she played so fiercely because she hated to lose. That statement stuck with me, and “hating to lose” became part of Jes’s character.
Who was your favorite character to write? What about your least favorite?
Jessamy has always been my favorite character to write in the Court of Fives books precisely because she is so competitive, she never lets us, she isn’t ashamed of being confident and assertive, and she is so determined to win despite the odds.
Least favorite is harder. I usually really enjoy writing villains because they are so despicable. So my least favorite character to write may often be the character who was hardest to “get right” and who I had to really dig into during rewrites to get exactly the nuance of personality I was hoping for. In Poisoned Blade I think Bettany was the hardest character to write. I don’t really have a least favorite character though; good or bad, if the characters shine then I enjoy writing them.
What is your favorite passage/scene in POISONED BLADE?
Probably the sequence in the desert, and the last paragraph of the book. To give more details would be spoiling.
What kind of research did you have to do for the story? There’s a lot of American Ninja Warrior like courses, did you marathon the shows for inspiration? (Love that show btw)
Yes I was forced to watch a lot of American Ninja Warrior and Sasuke (the original Japanese show). Also training montage clips like this of Stephen Amell in tv show Arrow. Believe me, I have really suffered for my art:
I also did a lot of reading about Greco-Roman (Ptolemaic) Egypt, a period two thousand years ago when first the Greeks (Macedeonians starting with Alexander the Great) and later (after the death of the last Ptolemaic ruler, Cleopatra) the Roman Empire ruled Egypt. The society of Efea is loosely inspired by that era although it’s not an historical novel but a made up fantasy world. The setting was originally inspired by my spouse’s work at the archaeological site of Tell Timai in the Delta Region of Egypt, which was a flourishing provincial capital at that time.
Who is your ultimate book boyfriend?
Mr Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice
What inspired you to write YA?
I’ve spent much of my career writing in the genre of adult sff. When I was young most of the stories centered around men and boys, who were considered the “appropriate” subjects of adventure and action fiction. To be honest, it’s always been a bit of an uphill climb for me to place women and girls at the center of the action without feeling like I have to prove that it’s “historically accurate” (in fantasy!) or “realistic” or “interesting” for them to be there. I knew that in YA I would never ever have to defend my desire to write stories about a fierce heroine.
Lightning Round Questions
What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
I am dying to read Cindy Pon’s SACRIFICE, the follow-up to her YA fantasy novel SERPENTINE, which came out last year. Her protagonist, Skybright, is an obedient lady in waiting in a fantasy setting based on historical China who finds out something monstrous about herself. I can’t wait to continue her story.
What Hogwarts House would the Sorting Hat place you in?
My daughter says I’m a Ravenclaw and the Pottermore Sorting Hat placed me in Griffindor, so I’ve decided I’m a Griffinclaw
Twitter or Facebook?
Favorite TV show?
Sweet or Salty?
Venomous eight-inch centipedes.
Song you can’t get enough of right now?
“This is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris (feat. Rihanna). In fact I think of this as Jes and Kal’s theme song.
Fall Movie you’re most looking forward to?
Moana and Rogue One (Star Wars): Please, please let them be good. Mostly I am so waiting for the sequel to Pacific Rim, which was my favorite film of 2013 but isn’t due for a while.
Thanks so much Kate for answering my questions! I can’t wait for everyone to read POISONED BLADE!
Kate Elliott has been writing stories since she was nine years old, which has led her to believe that writing, like breathing, keeps her alive. As a child in rural Oregon, she made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, science fiction, and YA, including recent works Black Wolves, Court of Fives, and Cold Magic.
It should come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight. When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely new set of adventures amid dusty Mexican ruins and mouthwatering European pastry shops. Eventually her spouse’s work forced them to move to Hawaii, where she took up outrigger canoe paddling. With the three children out of the house, they now spoil the schnauzer.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of POISONED BLADE, US Only.
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If you haven’t started this series yet now’s a great time!