Cate: Yay, Susan Gourley is here to help us Celebrate Amore. Susan, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Susan: I’m a school teacher by day and a writer all the time. I’m published in epic fantasy and fantasy romance.
Cate: What do you love most about Valentine’s Day?
Susan: I always enjoy the goodwill. My husband usually sends me flowers at work or has them waiting by the coffee machine in the morning. Love does make the world go around.
Cate: Aw, he's a keeper. :) Do you have a favorite Valentine’s Day memory?
Susan: I really loved those days in elementary school when we would exchange valentines and sometimes I would get an unsigned card declaring love and admiration. It was such fun trying to figure out what boy was brave enough to admit he loved a girl. And of course, the cards that included candy were great.
Cate: Oh I used to love those too. :) Do you have any romantic Valentine’s Day traditions?
Susan: At school, the kids can buy carnations and send them to someone with a message. I usually get a few from some of my students, but I always make sure to send a few anonymous carnations to a few students I think could use a happy thought.
Cate: That's so sweet! Tell us about your latest release, and where readers can find it online.
Susan: Beneath the Mountain is book #3 in The Futhark Chronicles. It was released in December and the fourth and final book will be out later this month. It is an epic fantasy with the continuing character leads of half-elf Cage Stone and sorceress, Sabelline Shelton, as they battle a god-like entity bringing murder and chaos in the kingdom of Futhark. This volume will reveal more of the history of the land and how the long ago evil is once again awake.
Cate: Care to share a blurb or excerpt?
Susan: Here’s a short excerpt:
Sabelline glared at Bonnet. “Now tell us who assigned you to do in my Marshal, or you’ll find out if the silver buttons on the front of your pretty pants heat to the same glowing temperature as the ones on your belly.”
Bonnet struggled to move back from her, but Berton shoved him forward. “Do it, Lady Sabelline. He’ll have no use for those body parts where he’s headed. Burn them off.”
Cage could tell the others in the room thought Berton spoke to frighten Bonnet. Cage knew it wasn’t so. Berton would level the torture himself if it would protect his family. Cage’s throat tightened with a fierce surge of love for the man. And followed on that was his own anger that fate should take Berton’s unborn child from him. The baby had been the one bright shining thing to come of the last months. And now the child was dead.
Cage slipped out his knife and leaped on Bonnet. He could do nothing against fate or even capture Valans, but this son of a bitch was in his hands. He had Bonnet flat on his back and the knife in the man’s mouth before anyone else in the room moved.
William cursed, but Berton laughed. Darrellon watched in his curious way while Jonared pulled Sabelline out of the way of Bonnet’s flailing legs.
Berton knelt down on the other side of Bonnet. “Cut his tongue out, Cage. If he’s not going use it to answer our questions then he at least won’t be able to use it to spread lies.”
Bonnet struggled but his soft, city man strength was nothing to Cage. He tried to talk around the blade kissing his tongue but made only whimpering sounds. Tears ran from the corners of his eyes and tracked damp paths into his bright hair.
“Maybe he’s ready to say something, son,” Berton said.
“I don’t know if we can trust anything he spouts.”
“Let’s hear him and if we think he’s making a tale to us, we can take a slice of that ghastly thing. He can still talk with half a tongue.”
“The last time we tried that the sorry fool drowned in his own blood. You know how much tongues bleed when you slice them.”
“We’ll sit him up after you take a piece so it doesn’t all run down his throat.”
Cage listened to Bonnet’s gurgling sobs as he considered Berton’s suggestion. “It would still mean a lot of blood on the king’s floor. It might ruin it.”
“I give my permission. This is an old rug taken out of storage to replace the ones Borak sold off,” Jonared said, trying for nonchalance. The king would have no experience in this sort of game.
“One chance then, Bonnet. You better convince us you’re speaking the truth or you’ll be learning a new way to talk. If you survive.” Cage pulled the knife from Bonnet’s mouth.
The sobbing man took a few deep ragged breaths. His hair looked like flames surrounding his white face. Tears ran freely down his cheeks as he swung his frantic gaze from Cage to Berton and back.
“Who gave you the coin to see Cage dead?” Berton barked.
Bonnet took another deep gulp of air before answering. “Twas your wife’s kin. Count Thrum.”
“There is no Count Thrum,” Jonared snapped. “I stripped Witbier of his title and lands.”
Bonnet eagerly corrected the king. “No one knows outside the city, your highness. Thrum collects his rents and taxes as ever he did and then some. He gave me enough gold to see Stone dead and then after the uproar calmed down, I was to hire the death of Sir Berton also. You believe me, don’t you?”
“Was there anyone else involved? A stranger who might have advised Witbier?” Jonared asked.
Bonnet looked confused. “Thrum takes guidance from no one, your highness.”
“Sir William, see this traitor to a cell beside Borak Rosmer.” Jonared glared at Bonnet. “Should his words prove untrue, I’ll nail his tongue to the castle gate.”
Sir William lifted the defeated man to his feet and dragged him out the door to where other guards waited in the hall.
“That was a damned convincing ruse,” Jonared said after the door closed.
“Your highness, there was nothing of trickery in it,” Berton said.
Jonared laughed. “Come now. You weren’t really going to cut out his tongue.”
Cage laid his hand on Berton’s arm, but it was too late.
Berton corrected Jonared. “Just a piece of it. Loosens their lips every time, doesn’t it, Cage?”
Horrid comprehension replaced Jonared’s amusement. Cage dreaded seeing Sabelline’s similar reaction to the barbarism of his life as an outlaw hunter. But she only raised an eyebrow.
Cate: Ha! Love that Sabelline surprised him. She sounds like a feisty heroine - my favorite kind. What inspired you to write about the theme?
Susan: I’ve loved epic fantasy since my 9th grade English teacher made us read The Hobbit. There are so many great fantasy authors out there today and the genre if very popular in books and other media. I can’t get enough of it.
Cate: I'm a huge Hobbit fan as well! Anything else you’d like to share?
Susan: I think epic fantasy, sometimes called sword and sorcery, will always be around even though civilization has long moved beyond medieval times. Something about mere men using archaic weapons like swords against magic and great evil will appeal to the love of heroes in all of us. The genre may wax and grow in popularity but it will never go away.
Cate: Oo, you lucky readers! Susan has a surprise for you.
Susan: I would love to give away a print copy of the first book in The Futhark Chronicles, The Keepers of Sulbreth to one commenter. I will also include some other sweet goodies to the winner. Open only to people in the US. Visit my blog also and earn another entry into the giveaway.
Susan Says Or at any online retailer. Learn more about my book on my blog:
Thanks so much for having me, Cate. Remember every great story is actually a love story. I hope everyone finds their story this Valentine’s Day.
Cate: Thanks for joining the party, Susan!