FRIDAY SF & FANTASY – Call to War
THE PULP AND MYSTERY SHELF!
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CALL TO WAR
Author: Andi O’Connor
Publisher: Purple Sun Press
companions and a devastating battle in Mystandia, Darrak’s talents are
desperately needed by the citizens of both Earth and Dragonath. Torn with the
decision of where his loyalty should remain, he finally decides to confide in
Andillrian. Together, they craft a plan they hope will save Darrak’s home
planet, but their optimism is short-lived.
The Hellborn’s army has begun the march to war.
With less than two weeks of preparation
remaining, their weaknesses become unavoidably apparent. Planning for defeat
suddenly becomes as important as planning for victory. Darrak’s insecurities
continue until the moment the first arrows begin to fly. He can only hope that
help from a few unlikely sources will be enough.
For if they fail, Dragonath will fall.
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What initially got you interested in writing?
It was actually a fluke. I’ve always been a big reader with an overactive imagination, so one summer during college, I got an idea for a book and started writing for something fun to do. It took me nine years to finish, and once it was done, I decided I might as well try to get it published. Everything ballooned from there, and now, this is what I do full-time.
What genres do you write in?
Fantasy, mostly epic/high although I have a series of short stories that’s dark fantasy.
What drew you to writing these specific genres?
I’ve always been a huge reader of Fantasy ever since I was a child. I loved that it was make-believe, yet still real. When I got the idea for my book, it naturally followed the genre that I read the most.
How did you break into the field?
My first book, The Lost Heir, was published through a small press in 2013. I disliked the experience and the control I lost regarding the cover, editing, formatting, etc. I also quickly realized that even when going through a publisher, much of the marketing falls on the author themselves, so I decided that if I was going to do most of the work myself, I’d self-publish and retain control over the entire process. I created my own imprint and have released the rest of my titles since, hiring editors, cover artists, formatters, etc. I even re-released The Lost Heir once the contract with the other publisher ended and the rights reverted back to me.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
That nothing in life is black and white. There is always another side to a story and a reason for people’s actions.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
The most rewarding thing about writing is knowing that my work touches others and helps them through some of the most difficult times in their lives. For example, I had one woman tell me that she had cancer and certain scenes from Silevethiel helped get her through her chemotherapy sessions. While sitting there for hours during her treatments, she’d picture my elf city of Silverden, and it would help her lose herself and forget where she was and why she was there. Stories such as that touch my heart profoundly and are the most humbling and rewarding aspects of my career.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Managing my time between promotion, marketing, administration, traveling for personal appearances, and then actually writing, is one of the most challenging things about my career. Many people don’t realize how much work goes into being an author. It’s not just sitting down and writing. I would be amazing if that’s all it entailed! All of the hidden aspects are quite time-consuming, and being able to organize everything well is still something I struggle with.
What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?
Do your research and make all aspects of your book professional. Hire editors and cover designers. Distribute your book through various markets, not just Amazon. Research the best ways to market yourself and your book on social media and in person. Taking a shortcut in any of these areas will reflect poorly on you and will produce a subpar book.
What type of books do you enjoy reading?
I read mostly fantasy and science-fiction, though I do enjoy some mystery and suspense books every once in a while!
Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?
I have neon-green hair that glows under a black light, and a continually growing collection of tattoos! I just got my latest two in May: “Seize The Day” and “Maximum Effort.” I’m a total Deadpool fangirl and adore the new Ghostbusters (Holtzmann is by far my favorite!) I’m also an avid ballet dancer and go to class at least 3 or 4 times a week.
What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?
SHIVERING DESPITE the intense heat radiating from the flames. Three days had
passed since he’d read the entry in Mionee’s journal revealing the spell to
save Earth. And he had yet to tell anyone.
the spell that first day, bewildered that he’d been handed the very thing he’d
spent weeks tormenting over. Despite everything happening here on Dragonath,
he’d never lost sight of saving his home planet. He’d spent almost every waking
moment obsessing over finding a way to nullify the effects of Mionee’s spell.
the very woman who’d caused his people so much suffering, and who had ordered
the murders of his parents, provided him with all of the answers he’d needed.
In an instant, she’d lifted a tremendous weight from his shoulders. He could go
home. He could save his people. He could help those on Earth repair the damage
that had been done to their planet.
He’d stayed on Dragonath, training to fight a war by day and mulling over his
predicament at night. He couldn’t leave. The people here needed him as much as
those on Earth. Only he stood a chance of defeating the Hellborn, and even
then, he’d need the help of every single person in Krémarra.
all over Dragonath would be forced into slavery or killed. But if he stayed,
he’d send billions of people and animals on Earth to extinction. His home would
be a barren planet devoid of any life.
fingers through his shoulder-length hair, he groaned, suppressing the scream
lingering on the edge of his tongue. For three days, he’d kept knowledge of the
spell a secret. Détaldin had pointed Darrak to the last page of the journal,
obviously knowing it contained the spell. But Darrak hadn’t told anyone, and he
knew the warrior had remained silent. It was his responsibility to inform the
others, not Détaldin’s.
his deceit had begun to take its toll. He barely slept, averaging less than two
hours a night. He scarcely ate, and the tiny amount of food he did manage to
consume was hardly sufficient for a child less than half his size. Between his
intense training and lack of calories, he’d lost so much weight over the past
few days that his companions had to notice soon. It wouldn’t be much longer
until one of them confronted him.
have to own up to his deception.
thought of telling his dearest friends that he’d kept a key piece of
information hidden from them made him want to cry. Putting an end to Earth’s
annihilation was partly what they’d fought for. They deserved to know their
efforts hadn’t been in vain. They had the right to know the spell had been
couldn’t bring himself to tell them.
had been nagging at his conscience for days, admonishing him with its candor.
He knew the answer. He feared admitting to his friends that he’d been
considering abandoning them, leaving them to fight the impending war on their
own. They had stood by him, following him unquestioningly even when he couldn’t
give them any concrete reasons for doing so. They protected him, repeatedly
putting his life above their own.
contemplating repaying them by doing something they’d vowed never to do to
him—desert them in their darkest hour. That wasn’t something any decent person
would do, let alone someone who claimed to be a dear friend.
his gaze to his hands and stared at his bony fingers with disinterest. He
recalled how angry and confused he’d been when Ipzaag and Anarra had abandoned
him. They’d been completely unwilling to accept Andillrian’s account of the
dragons’ history or welcome Wystra into the company.
betrayal particularly stung. She’d been the first person outside of his parents
that he’d ever felt comfortable opening up to. She’d seemingly cared enough to
persist with her questions and break through the walls he’d built around
himself. He’d felt an unexplainable connection to her. A sudden connection. At
the time, he thought it was love, but he’d been mistaken. Still, they’d shared
something special. Something he’d believed would never be broken. Something
he’d been looking forward to cherishing for the rest of his life.
matter of seconds, it had vanished.
losing that connection was almost as bad as the pain he’d experienced when he
realized his parents were dead. No,
he thought, ashamed that the comparison had even popped into his mind. That
wasn’t quite accurate. Nothing could ever equate to the deaths of his parents.
Anarra’s betrayal had left him with an overwhelming sense of loneliness. It
reaffirmed part of why he had always been reluctant to befriend anyone. He’d
trusted Anarra when she told him that she’d always be there for him. But he
shouldn’t have. Instead, he should have followed the instincts that had served
him well for the first nineteen years of his life.
pondered becoming the very thing he despised. He sat on the edge of his bed,
having practically convinced himself to turn his back on those he loved.
popped into his mind so forcefully it took him by surprise. Letting Earth fall
victim to Mionee’s spell was an unforgivable act. But with his parents dead, he
didn’t have anyone on his home planet that he cherished. Hardly anyone there knew
of him, and no one was aware of his power to save them. If he turned his back
on Earth, he wouldn’t betray anyone’s trust in him.
wasn’t the case. Here, everyone in Krémarra knew him and expected him to lead
them to victory. Here, he had friends he cared deeply for: Wystra, Iornwen,
Selantia, Rorend, Thraklauz.
her name caused his heart to flutter. He honestly had no idea why. After the
failure of his relationship with Anarra, he was reluctant to call any emotion
love. But something definitely existed between him and Andillrian. Whatever it
was, he couldn’t tell her he’d decided to return to Earth. He couldn’t leave
her and the others here to die knowing all his words of loyalty had been utter
up in surprise when a knock sounded at the door adjoining his room to
said, staring straight ahead into the fire. He was taken aback at how weary his
voice sounded. The tone was almost hollow, as if he’d been drained of his soul.
squeak of the door opening resounded from behind him. Keeping his gaze fixed on
the dancing flames, he listened to the sound of Andillrian’s footsteps as she
made her way across the stone floor. Expecting her to sit next to him like she
usually did, he met her gaze in confusion when she stopped before him. Even
though she was only about five feet tall, she seemed to tower over him.
eating,” she stated pragmatically.
don’t mince your words, do you?”
sleeping either,” she continued, ignoring his statement. “I hear you pacing
around your room at all hours of the night. You can’t go on like this, Darrak.
You’re killing yourself.”
began to race, and he tried to control his breathing. This was the moment he’d
been dreading. “I knew it wouldn’t be much longer until you said something,” he
said something. I noticed almost immediately and thought perhaps you’d come and
talk to me. But I couldn’t stay silent any longer. I’m surprised you haven’t
yet collapsed during your training, and I wasn’t about to wait for you to do
held up her hand, and for the first time he noticed she held a yal fruit, a
small, yellow fruit similar to an apple, but with a distinct bitterness that he
had yet to learn to enjoy.
ordered, dropping the fruit into his open palms.
to his lips, he reluctantly took a bite. His lips puckered as the sour juice
rushed into his dry mouth. Closing his eyes, he chewed, wishing away the horrid
taste. It usually took two or three bites until he became accustomed to the
bitterness of the fruit, but somehow, he knew this instance would take longer.
cringing when the fruit slid down his throat. He looked up expectantly at Andillrian,
hoping that since she had seen him take a bite she’d be satisfied, but her
stern expression didn’t budge. It was like she’d taken on the role of his
mother waiting for him to eat his peas, prepared to stand over him for the rest
of the night until he’d finished the task.
shoulders forward in defeat, Darrak braced himself and took another bite.
Andillrian continued to stand over him while he begrudgingly ate the rest of
the yal fruit. It seemed like hours until he finally had nothing but the core
remaining. Doing his best to suppress a burp, he wrapped the remains of the
fruit in a hanky and placed it on his bedside table.
felt like it was seconds away from bursting, and he had to force himself to
ignore the pains beginning to ravage his abdomen. He didn’t want Andillrian to
see how much discomfort eating one small piece of fruit had caused him. It
stood as proof that he’d been more reckless with his health than he wanted to
admit, particularly to Andillrian. He
didn’t want her to know exactly how delicate his situation had become in just
three short days. She worried enough about him as it was. He didn’t need to add
to her concern.
to prove more of a chore than it should have been,” Andillrian said, still not
budging from her spot. “I’ve seen you eat those before. You may not be fond of
them, but it’s never taken you that long to finish. Your stomach can’t even
handle that tiny amount of food, can it? Were you planning on starving yourself
know. I just…I’ve had a great deal on my mind lately. It’s taken away my
desire to eat. I’ve developed an aversion. Even the thought of food makes me
queasy.” He looked up at her. Her rich brown eyes overflowed with a combination
of sternness and compassion. “I know that’s not really an excuse,” he admitted,
suddenly feeling like the most selfish prick in the universe.
in her tone didn’t abate. “No,” she said, “it isn’t.”
what to say, he averted his gaze and stared at his hands in silence. No words
seemed appropriate. An apology didn’t make up for how self-centered he’d been
acting. Nothing could take away the pain he’d caused both himself and
Andillrian. Talking with her had brought everything to light and made his
dilemma over leaving seem so straightforward.
wallowing in self-pity and mulling over the situation himself, he should have
discussed it with her and worked to come to a logical solution. In doing so, he
would’ve saved both of them a great deal of emotional grief, and he wouldn’t
have put himself in such a physically fragile position. Rather than taking the
sensible course of action, he’d allowed everything to become more convoluted
and stressful than it needed to be.
another for later,” Andillrian said, breaking the silence. She tossed him a
slightly larger yal fruit; he caught it, unable to keep his lips from creeping
into a slight smile. “I’ll sit here again and watch you eat if I have to.”
escaped his lips. “I know you will. And I appreciate it more than you’ll ever
letting down her guard, she sat next to him on the bed, like she’d done every
night since their arrival in Krémarra. Their shoulders were less than an inch
apart, and her warmth seeped through his thin linen tunic to his skin beneath.
The faint vanilla scent of her hair wafted through the air. Breathing in
deeply, he relished the simple yet glorious sensation with every part of his
put his arm around her and hold her close, clinging on to the moment for all
eternity. But instead, he sat rigidly next to her, continuing to stare at his
hands resting in his lap.
seriousness of Andillrian’s question jerked him away from his thoughts,
reminding him that until this mess was sorted he couldn’t allow himself to
indulge in even the simplest of pleasures. People on both planets were dying.
He needed to save them.
he reached beneath his pillow and slid out the worn leather notebook. “This
belonged to Mionee,” he said in answer to Andillrian’s quizzical look.
“Détaldin gave it to me shortly after he arrived with Katriel. It’s Mionee’s
personal journal and contains some extremely interesting and rather
heartbreaking information. Some of what she’s experienced, particularly at the
hands of King Denthald, are the most horrific accounts of abuse and rape I’ve
ever read about. Though, I don’t think her experience under the Hellborn will
fare any better.”
in Andillrian’s voice touched his heart. “I’ve always known you to be an
extremely empathetic person, Darrak. I can only imagine the graphic details of
Mionee’s entries. It’s natural for something like that to affect you so deeply.
with Détaldin a number of times over the past few days. Despite all of the
atrocities Mionee has committed, he loves her. He sees the honesty in her
repentance. He saw the good in her when no one else did. Truthfully, it’s
appalling and rather unfortunate that most of the people throughout Dragonath
will never come to see her as anything but the villain she once was.
only recognized her mistakes but admitted to them—not just to others but to
herself. She rose above the despicable path she’d set for herself and
transformed into a better person than most who will continue to judge her long
after she’s dead. Like Détaldin you’re a truly wonderful man to recognize the
person Mionee has become and sympathize with the terrors she’s faced. But you
can’t allow the recounts of her torture to rule your life. Use it. Learn from
it just like Mionee did. Use it to make our world a better place.”
his head. “No. You don’t understand. Although what you say is true, that’s not
what’s been consuming my mind.”
leather notebook to the last page, he handed it to Andillrian. Cocking her head
in an unspoken question, she took it and began to read. Long, gut-wrenching
moments passed before she closed the journal. Looking up, she met his gaze, a
sense of understanding finally evident in her large eyes.
know where to go,” she said, compassion evident in her voice.
for his hand but pulled it back quickly. Her eyes widened in horror.
know who to save.”
journal from her and clutched it against his chest. Standing abruptly, he
started pacing before her.
save both planets and the billions of people suffering! I want to help those on
Earth rebuild their communities, and I want to do the same for those here on
Dragonath. I want to make sure neither world endures the same kind of carnage
again. I want to make sure Halla or any
magic is never again used for such corrupt motives!”
frustration began to run down his gaunt cheeks. “How can I? How can I be on
both planets at once? I can’t! I can’t turn my back on my people! But I also
can’t turn my back on my new home and those I love!”
pulled him toward her before wrapping her arms around him and holding him
tightly. He buried his face in the crook of her neck, sobbing uncontrollably.
Stroking his hair, she gently rocked him back and forth. “It’ll be all right,
Darrak,” she whispered into his ear. “I’m here for you. We’ll find a way to
save both planets. I promise.”
seemed an eternity, his sobs slowed to short, pathetic whimpers. Grasping his
shoulders, Andillrian pushed him away slightly and lifted his chin, forcing him
to meet her gaze. She had such a look of determination in her eyes he couldn’t
help but believe her words.
award-winning author The Dragonath Chronicles, The Vaelinel Trilogy, and The
Legacy of Ilvania. She’s written multiple books, including the critically
acclaimed Silevethiel, which is the
2015 Best Indie Book Award winner for Science Fiction/Fantasy, and the 2015 New
Apple Official Selection for Young Adult. Silevethiel
was also named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013. Andi’s short story
collection, Redemption, is a 2014
Kindle Book Awards Semifinalist.You can frequently find Andi as a guest panelist at Comic Cons throughout the
country including the Rhode Island Comic Con, Philcon, Conclave, WizardWorld,
and Chessiecon. Andi also writes for Niume where she provides writing tips,
advice, and insight on her career as an author. You can connect with Andi onFacebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For more information, visit Andi’s website.