Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Spotlight: Death's Queen Janeal Falor

Title: Death's Queen
Author: Janeal Falor

An assassin without a name, born to kill. Owned by a vicious man who refuses to call her anything but girl, she is forced to commit atrocious acts of violence. Vowing to take her future into her own hands, the seventeen-year-old decides to risk everything on one act of defiance—drinking from The Death Drink. The beverage kills most whose lips touch it—only allowing those who are destined to be royalty survive the first sip.

To the astonishment of the nation of Valcora, she imbibes it and lives, which crowns her queen. Thrown into a life of royal intrigue, she now has a purpose—to rule with the fairness she was never shown. Despite her altruistic plans, it becomes apparent that someone wants her dead. The new queen must use her training from the former life she only wants to forget in order to stay alive long enough to turn her kingdom into something she can be proud of. She’ll hold onto the crown… or die trying.

Chapter One

“You will kill who I tell you to kill.” Daros's voice is low. Threatening.

My insides quiver. I'm not the type to stand up to my master. He's not just larger than me; he also holds such power over me that I shake to think about it. Yet after everything I’ve seen, stand up to him I must. “No. No more.”

He comes around his massive desk, forming a fist. “What did you say?”

“I will not kill for you.”

He steps up, his favorite jeweled dagger in hand, pressing it against my throat. A man enters the room, and Daros gives a quick glance at him before turning back to me.

“I don't have time to deal with this.” He snaps his fingers. “Go up to your room. Consequences will come later, but know you will do what I say. That's the only reason I ever took you in to begin with.”

I slink away, unrepentant, passing by the unfamiliar man. No matter what he says, I'll never kill again.

It might be harder if he takes me into the room.

Still, after last time, I'm determined to stand free. To not do it again.

The house is as grand as ever, even if I am not in Daros's good graces. I wish I could get my hands on one of the many hundreds of books I pass, but there’s no touching Daros’s things, especially books. I hurry my way through the house toward my room. The swirling wooden staircase is silent beneath my steps. I don't touch the carved banister. If I can't get up the stairs without touching it, I've got bigger problems than falling down.

At the top, I move toward another, less lofty, staircase. As I climb, the thought of leaving comes to me. The house is empty of all others except guards. I'm the only assassin Daros owns. The only person foolish enough to stay.

Not that he's given me other options.

He hires a handful of assassins from time to time, but I’m his tool. Or I was. I no longer wish to remain so. I’ve thought of this before, but not with such vigor.

I open the door to my room. It's sparse—only a few blankets on the floor. I plunker down on them and let my idea stew. Should I really leave? This is the only roof I've known over my head. Until now, Daros’s threats and punishments were enough to keep me here.

If I go, there will be no more shelter. No more food. But then, there will be no more killing. No more following his orders.

Ever since I can remember, I've either been training to kill or killing for him.

The world outside isn't a kind one. It will be hard to get food. Hard to find shelter. Hard to find a useful life, according to Daros. But is a life really what I want?

After all I've done, I'm not sure I deserve it. I'm sickened, except for the parts of me that are hollow.

I open my window and look outside. It's a beautiful street, full of neatly arranged Kurah class houses. The rich can find no better neighborhood than this, unless they go to the palace.

The stones used to make the Kurah houses glimmer in the light. A cobblestone road with grass in front of the buildings and precise lines lies in front of the homes. There's a faint scent of flowers in the air. Nothing to match the turmoil inside my soul.

The ledge outside the window is meant for decoration, but I can climb on it easily. It wouldn’t be the first time, but it may be the last. I've been here all seventeen years of my life that I can remember. Is now the time to leave? Yes. I believe it is.

Decision made, I grab my daggers and stash them on my person. Once they're situated, I check to make sure my pouch of poisons and antidotes is hanging around my neck. Its presence is a bittersweet reminder of things that are in my control—which aren't many.

I swing out the window and creep along the wall, sticking to it like a spider. I shimmy down the wall and use stones that are jutting out when I reach the corner of the house.

It's this part that's dangerous. If Daros looks out the window and sees me, I'll be lucky if I get an arrow to the shoulder. I can’t go back. Can’t return to the room of horrors.

I breathe in and out three short times to find my courage and make a break for it. Once I get to the cobblestone street, I slow to a walk.

Somehow, I made it away from the house.

Then I hear a shout. Fear punctures my lungs, making it hard to get air.

One of Daros's guards is headed after me. The pounding of my heart matches the pace of my feet on the ground. He'll give chase as long as it doesn't draw attention. I've got to get to people.  

Still, escaping this guy won’t matter.

Daros will know how to find me.

Fear pushes me harder. Makes me stronger. Faster.

I weave through the streets, my back burning with his gaze. He is fast, but I am lighter. Swifter. At least, that's what I tell myself.

I swing to a street on the right, my feet slapping against the stone path beneath me. Houses seem to fly by as I run, each different than the last. The sunlight is bright. I should have left at night. Or maybe I shouldn't have left at all. But if I go back now, Daros will torture me. Scar me with his hatred.

I push forward, toward the market, swerving through several more streets. A glance over my shoulder shows no one trailing after me, though others are on the street, most headed the same way as me. Still, nerves claw at my chest. He could be coming in at a different angle, to head me off.

I turn down another street, and the market comes into view. I hasten to it. I've done it so many times before, but always on Daros's errands. Thinking of the jobs he's sent me on makes me shudder.

Pushing the thoughts aside, I follow the flow and get lost in the crowd. Numbness consumes me. Fills me to the brim with its frigidness.

I seem to have lost the guard for now. This doesn't mean I'm clear. There are still ways Daros could follow me. Find me. Torture me. Force me to kill for him again.

I clench my jaw. I've been trained to play a part. It won't be hard to act like I'm living off the streets. If only I’d learned something about Daros, all that time at his house—a secret to give me an advantage over him…

But there is nothing.
Author Q&A

1.How did you come up with the concept for Death's Queen?

Death's Queen came in a different way for me. I just had the main character's voice come into my head so strong as she started telling her story. She said:
"One taste—that's all that's between me and death.

Failing now means I’ll never fail again."

Those two lines made me very curious about her story and what was going on. The lines ended up being tweaked a little, but the intent remained the same. Everything from there developed into a story about a nameless assassin who unwittingly becomes queen. Through all the changes, my main character remained strong in my head.

2.What are you working on now?

I'm working on a sequel to one of my books, Mother of the Chosen. This series has been a lot of fun to write, and I'm excited to be getting it out into the world! It's about a woman who becomes pregnant only to discover that there's an edict that says all children two and under must be killed, and she has to go on the run from her soldier husband. The story has been in my heart for a long while, so I'm excited to be getting it out into the world.

3. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

Honestly, both. I set a plot, but then I don't look at it unless I get stuck. Usually, I end up with much better ideas then what I planned out.

4.Which reading format do you prefer: Paperbacks, Hardcovers or E-books?

Hardcovers. I feel like they're more sturdy. Having said that, I usually read E-books because of convenience.

5.Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

In a way, my children did. When my oldest was born, I wanted something to do that would give me a break from being mom all the time. Because of how much I love books, becoming an author felt like a natural thing to do.

6.Anti-hero or hero?  Why?

Hero. What can I say? I'm a traditionalist. Anti-heroes can be very interesting though, I still enjoy them, but heroes definitely win out for me.

About the Author

Janeal Falor lives in Utah with her swoon-worthy computer geek husband and three children. In her non-writing time she teaches her kids to make silly faces, cooks whatever strikes her fancy, and attempts to cultivate a garden even when half the things she plants die. When it’s time for a break she can be found taking a scenic drive with her family or drinking hot chocolate.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Popular Post