Book Tour and Giveaway! HARBINGER by Lee French and Erik Kort

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Title: Harbinger
Series: The Greatest Sin #2
Authors: Lee French and Erik Kort
Publication Date: October 2014
Genre: Fantasy

Harbinger Adjusting to her new life as a soul-bound agent of the Fallen has Chavali pushing herself harder than ever before. Between learning to fight, dealing with idiots, and climbing stairs – lots of stairs – she has little time to waste on thoughts of the future. Or the past.

When another agent fails to report in, Chavali is sent on the mission to discover her fate. Ready or not, she saddles up for a new adventure with new dangers.

The search takes her to Ket, a coastal city slathered in mystery. There, she faces ghosts from her past and demons of her future as she seeks answers. All she seems to find are more questions.

Plague, murder, lies, espionage…this city harbors much more than meets the eye, and maybe too much to handle.

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Lee French Lee French lives in Olympia, WA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer and active member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is known for her fondness for Angry Ninja Squirrels of Doom. In addition to spending much time there, she also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with one dragon and absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don’t get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.

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Erik Kort Erik Kort abides in the glorious Pacific Northwest, otherwise known as Mirkwood-Without-The-Giant-Spiders. Though the spiders often grow too numerous for his comfort. He is defended from all eight-legged threats by his brave and overly tolerant wife, and is mocked by his obligatory writer’s cat. When not writing, Erik comforts the elderly, guides youths through vast wildernesses, and smuggles more books into his library of increasingly alarming size.

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Author Interview

Why do you write within your chosen genre?

I’ve always been attracted to fantasy and science fiction. It validated the bizarre stuff going on inside my head to read stories with equally or more bizarre ideas and events. There’s nothing like a talking pig and spider to say ‘hey, that talking clock idea doesn’t make you a freak’. More than that, though, the genre is about the human condition, in a way that’s disguised enough to make teenagers not realize they’re reading about important things. I learned a lot about empathy and morality and behavior, just like one does reading other genres of fiction. In fantasy and sci fi, it’s just wrapped in robots and elves and dragons and space ships and magic. Which are all way cooler than reality.

Do your characters sometimes surprise you with their behavior? Or do you always have complete control?

Control. I’ve never been in a situation where I put a character into a situation and then was somehow surprised by what I decided they should do to get themselves out of it. The idea of a character somehow acting on its own is a little ridiculous, when you stop and think about it. It’s a fictional creation of my brain that exists entirely in my brain. It doesn’t do anything unless I make it do that thing. Plots, on the other hand, do surprise me, in the sense that I frequently find myself saying (to the air, because I talk to myself out loud), “What would make for the best story here?”, and the answer isn’t always my first instinct. The character’s behavior follows what the character would do in that situation. if that surprises me for some reason, I’ve made a grave mistake somewhere along the line.

Do you outline first or take an idea and run blindly?

Yes! I make notes and outlines, and then have a brilliant idea in the middle and run off the rails into the unknown. Right now, I’m in the middle of transitioning to a more structured, professional writing approach, with hard deadlines and plans for the next 1-3 years. It’s a difficult change to make from ‘OMG! I wrote a book! OMG! I have another idea and must barf it out now!’, so it’s slow going on that front. My hope is to set myself up with a schedule that includes time specifically set aside for outlining and other planning work, which will make everything flow smoother.

Do you set your books in real locations or do you make them up?

I’ve done both. The Greatest Sin books are set in an entirely fictional world. The Maze Beset trilogy is set in the real world with real locations. I also have my own fantasy setting, called Ilauris, for which each region is inspired by the flavors of a real world culture. The first book from that setting, Damsel In Distress, takes place in a region inspired by Celtic myth and Arthurian Legend. The second book from Ilauris, which I am writing the first draft of now, takes place in a region inspired by Ancient Persia.

Having done both, neither is easier than the other. Using real world locations means either visiting/living there, or looking up details on the internet. It can get time consuming if true accuracy is important, which it tends to be. Having a fantasy world means making up every single little detail. This kind of effort is easy to get lost in, as new and interesting thoughts lead the mind down a rabbit hole of setting minutia – this also gets time consuming.

Where do your ideas come from?

Like anyone else, I watch movies and TV, and read books, have friends and loved ones, and go places and do things. There’s nothing new under the sun, just different ways to tell all the same stories. I’ll be out someplace and see an image that makes me think of something, then something else, then a cascade event leads me to a story idea. Someone posts a thought on a social media site, and it’s inspiring in a tangential way. One of my kids says something while playing with Legos or dolls, and it strikes me in some way. It all starts with a single moment that grabs some demented neuron and shakes it until a kernel idea falls out. I write that down, and build out from it until I have something interesting enough to pursue into a full story.

Do you edit as your write? Or do you write an entire rough draft before doing any edits?

As I write, no matter how much prep work I’ve done, I always find myself coming up with details that I didn’t think of before. They almost always have to be inserted prior to the point I’ve reached, and in order to find those points, I wind up re-reading earlier parts. Those earlier parts tend to get some light editing as a result of that tendency. On the whole, though, I prefer to keep moving forward until I get to the end. When I finish a first draft, I set it aside for at least a month, then come back to it and begin the revision process. Trying to hack into it sooner than that is difficult, because I’m generally convinced the whole thing is trash by the time I’ve written an ending I know will be redone ten times before it works properly. I need some space from it to evaluate the ideas and flow without just deleting the entire file and starting over again.

When you first begin writing a new book, is your main focus on the characters or the plot?

I begin with a character, not a plot. The main character is my focal point, the piece of the story that I’ll stay with the entire time. (I happen to prefer 3rd person limited as a POV.) That character’s wants, needs, desires, flaws, goals, relationships, and capabilities are where the plot comes from. As such, the plot serves the character, not the other way around. Along a similar vein, the setting is, in the initial stages of planning, more important to me than the plot, too. Take a basic plot and put it into two different settings, and you have two different stories. When it comes time to actually write, though, the setting becomes the background, having already had its effect on the plot by then.

Do you write a book sequentially, from beginning to end? Or do you sometimes write scenes out of order?

For the most part, I write sequentially. It’s hard for me to write a scene without knowing what happened prior to it. That said, I do sometimes leave parts out intentionally in a first draft, using a placeholder of some kind, like {insert x type of scene bit here}, because I know that working the details of it out right then would disrupt me too much as I’m going along. That piece typically gets added as part of revision. Aside from that, I often find that I skip over parts I think will be boring, only to come back after the fact and realize something important needs to happen there.

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