Today I am so pleased to welcome Kim Fielding to Joyfully Jay. Kim has come as part of the GRL Blog Tour to talk to us about her latest release, The Pillar. She has also brought along a great giveaway! Please join me in giving Kim a big welcome!
Hi, I’m Kim Fielding, and I’m really happy to be visiting Joyfully Jay today! I’m going to give you a pep talk and tell you about my newest book.
Earlier this summer, we took a family vacation. We had lunch at this fun place where you order your pancake batter, mix-ins, and toppings, then cook your pancakes yourself on a griddle built right into the table. My younger daughter, who’s 11, sat across from me. When her batter arrived (in a squeeze-top container) I told her to make her pancakes. She looked at me with horror in her eyes and said, “I’m not allowed to.”
“No,” she insisted. “I’m not allowed to.”
I ended up making the pancakes for her.
The reason I’m telling you this story is that I think sometimes we all have that voice inside us, telling us we can’t do something. That voice used to tell me I couldn’t write a novel. It told me that I couldn’t handle living in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language.
Sometimes you gotta listen to the voice. Like if it tells you that you can’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute, you should probably listen. But here’s the thing—often, that voice is a damned liar. My eleventh novel, Bone Dry, will be out in October. I ended up living in Europe not once in the past four years, but twice.
So here’s the pep talk part: learn to ignore that voice. Write your novels. Live somewhere new. Cook your own damn pancakes.
During my more recent European stay, I managed a few days’ side trip to Bosnia & Herzegovina, a beautiful country with a fascinating (and sometimes tragic) history. That trip inspired my newest novella, The Pillar, which released this month from Dreamspinner Press. It takes place in 15th century Bosnia and concerns two men—one a former thief, one a brutalized slave—who may just learn to ignore their own internal doubting voices.
And to celebrate The Pillar’s release, I’m doing a giveaway. One lucky (and randomly chosen) commenter to this post will receive a free copy of the audio version of my award-winning fantasy novel, Brute. It’s narrated by K.C. Kelly, who did an amazing job.
He came to know his patient’s body. The man had thick, straight hair, light brown where it wasn’t darkened by sweat, cut unevenly short as if it had been hacked with a knife. His eyes were a startlingly light gray-blue, his cheeks were broad, and his chin was square. He was, Faris realized uncomfortably, quite handsome. The man had sparse body hair, which made it easy to see not only his current wounds but also many old scars and calluses. Like most slaves, he’d led a hard life. Because he was uncircumcised, he must have been Christian—either Orthodox or Roman Catholic, there was no way to tell which. Judging by the state of his feet, his owner had not provided shoes. For no good reason, it was this final detail that made Faris so angry that he slammed a fist into the stone wall, bruising his knuckles.
“Fool,” Faris growled at himself as he awkwardly medicated his own hand. “As if injuring yourself will help. This slave was abused for years and left to die. Your anger can’t change anything.”
He didn’t see slaves often; there were very few in Zidar. But there were a few wealthy families that owned quarries or large farms not far away, and they tended to find slave labor cheaper and more versatile than horses and mules. Occasionally when members of these families came into town, they were accompanied by a slave or two, someone to tend to their needs or carry burdens. And of course he saw slaves at the pillar, where those who defied their owners were tied and stripped and lashed, then left to die.
“What did you do?” Faris asked as he spooned yet more tea between slack lips. Not that it mattered, but he couldn’t help being curious. Had this man been as stupid as a youth who thought he might cure his constant hunger by stealing a heavy bracelet from a goldsmith who’d briefly turned his back? Unlikely.
By the time darkness fell, the fever was raging despite Faris’s efforts. The man shook and thrashed and mumbled incoherently in spite of the cool cloths and additional doses of medicine. Faris couldn’t do any of his planned work on compounding tinctures. In the brief moments when the patient was still, he simply sat on a stool at the bedside and listened to the wind blow.
The patient had settled for a few minutes, so Faris decided to eat a bit of a stew and brew some coffee. He was tired. But just as he put the first spoonful in his mouth, he was interrupted by shouts.
“No! No! Please God, no!”
Faris let the spoon drop back into his bowl and rushed to the man’s side. The man’s eyes were wide open, but he didn’t see Faris. He must have seen something terrible instead, because the whites of his eyes were showing and he continued to scream hoarsely. “No! No! No!” He moved so violently that Faris had to lay himself over the writhing body to keep him from tumbling to the floor. Faris’s weight couldn’t have been good for the deep bruises and open wounds, but Faris remained and tried to soothe him.
“Hush, hush,” Faris murmured into the man’s ear. “Hush now. You’re safe. Rest. Hush.” He didn’t think the man could understand him, but maybe the tone helped, because after a few minutes, tense muscles relaxed, eyelids closed, and the screaming faded to moaning and then stopped.
Faris carefully removed himself from his patient. “It’s going to be a long night,” he said, then went to prepare more tea.
During his youth, orphaned thief Faris was flogged at the pillar in the town square and left to die. But a kind old man saved him, gave him a home, and taught him a profession. Now Faris is the herbalist for the town of Zidar, taking care of the injured and ill. He remains lonely, haunted by his past, and insecure about how his community views him. One night, despite his reluctance, he saves a dying slave from the pillar.
A former soldier, Boro has spent the last decade as a brutalized slave. Herbs and ointment can heal his physical wounds, but both men carry scars that run deep. Bound by the constraints of law and social class in 15th century Bosnia, Faris and Boro must overcome powerful enemies to protect the fragile happiness they’ve found.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
Kim has brought a copy of the audiobook version of Brute to give away to one lucky reader. Just leave a comment at the end of the post to enter. The contest ends on Friday, August 29th at 11:59 pm EST.
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