Today I am so pleased to welcome Kathryn Sommerlot to Joyfully Jay. Kathryn has come to talk to us about her release, The Life Siphon. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
When I started writing ‘The Life Siphon’, I set out to write a single fantasy story, nothing more. Originally planned as a standalone, once I’d gotten to the end of the first draft, I realized there was no way I could end everything there! And honestly, after self-publishing books 1 and 2 in the series, I simply couldn’t afford to publish the half-written third novel, no matter how much I wanted to. That was when I started looking for another way; I didn’t want to give up on the series, because I loved it too much, but finding a way around financial hurdles was daunting.
Fortunately, when I sent books 1 and 2 to my editor at NineStar Press, who I’d published a WLW novella with, she told me they were happy to publish them, and everything was set into motion. The prequel short story I’d written got woven into book 1 as a long prologue, and we combed through the book, working on edits and alterations to the prose.
One of the questions I got asked was whether or not I wanted to drop the main character’s prior female romantic relationship or not. I definitely didn’t want to do that! Tatsu’s journey is in a lot of ways my own bisexual journey, and I wanted that to be a big part of the story, so we added in sections to expand his bisexuality into a far more explicit part of the text. I’m so grateful and pleased that Tatsu’s identity is further explored, because I really don’t think explicitly bisexual characters get to lead nearly enough genre books. ‘The Life Siphon’ is a fantasy work first and foremost, it just happens to feature several LGBTQ+ characters. That’s the thing I wish I saw more of in fantasy—I want to see more characters who share this part of my identity getting to be the protagonist of rich, multilayered fantastic tales.
I hope new readers can enjoy this expanded and revised edition of the book, which I’m really proud of, because my editor helped make this shine. I’m including here an exclusive look at the unreleased prologue, a brand new introduction to Tatsu’s world and the spiral of destruction awaiting it.
You can find the newly expanded edition of ‘The Life Siphon’ available for pre-order at both Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07RD8GH5W) and NineStar Press (https://ninestarpress.com/product/the-life-siphon/), as well as from a variety of other retailers.
Curled into a ball at the bottom of the stairs, the servant lay shaking like a leaf.
As hiding places went, it wasn’t the best—a high traffic area, the connected hallway linked the guest rooms with the kitchens, and the boy hadn’t scooted back far enough to be hidden in the shadows. I stopped by the doorway to stare at him, assuming he’d glance up and see me waiting, and he did nothing of the sort. He just sat with his arms wound tight around his knees, trembling like his bones were threatening to jump out of his skin.
It was only when I crept closer that the burn marks along the tender inside flesh of his arms became noticeable. The blistering skin summoned a sharp wave of irritation; Zakio had been playing again.
The servant didn’t notice me until I was standing directly over him.
“What’s your name?” I asked, more frustrated than anything else.
He leapt to his feet as if his heels were on fire, and the shaking he’d gotten under control erupted again. He looked like a willow tree caught in a summer storm the way his limbs were flailing to either side, and I had to take a step back to avoid being hit.
“I’m so sorry, Prince Yudai,” he sputtered, “I wasn’t being lazy, I was—”
“Hiding from Zakio,” I interrupted. “I know.”
Gods, he was young. His bottom lip jutted out as his eyes started to water, and I moved away because I didn’t particularly want a servant crying all over me. He attempted to pull himself together in the breaths that followed, though he wasn’t nearly quick enough in twisting his burned arm out of sight. Even though I’d already noticed the red welts, he gave me ample time to note them again before remembering it was evidence.
But he didn’t lack common sense; I’d give him that. He knew showing off the bubbled skin would only result in worse treatment the next time around.
“Do you need something, Your Highness?” he asked.
Two fat tears rolled down his cheeks, smudged with kitchen grease. All I’d wanted was to get to return to my room and avoid my father’s endless parade of nobles practically throwing themselves down to get the chance to kiss his boots, and instead, I found this. Zakio assumed himself above the rules of common decency, and my father had never put the mages on a short enough leash. This was the worst.
I sighed. “Where is he?”
“What?” The servant’s eyes went so wide I could see my reflection suspended in them. “Who?”
“You know who,” I said. “Zakio. Where is he?”
“Your Highness, I don’t—”
“Either you tell me, or I set the whole castle on fire to smoke him out.”
I’m not sure the boy really believed me, but his fingers were trembling against his thighs again, so maybe he did. I wondered what stories about me were circulating the servants’ quarters in whispers that week; at the very least, I hoped they were more flattering than the last bunch.
Of course, if the visiting nobles and their daughters got wind of a few more inventive rumors, the lot of them might go running for the hills, but I’d never get that lucky. I doubted anything less than my death would stop my father from bargaining away the princess crown that would come twin to my own.
Honestly, he’d probably conduct a grotesque marriage auction around my corpse.
“He’s…he’s in the mages’ quarters,” the servant said, which meant he either believed my threat or simply wanted the conversation to be over.
“Lovely,” I replied, and I meant it; blowing off steam was exactly what my black mood needed. “That’s just where I would have thought to search first.”
A magical energy drain is siphoning life from the land and leaving a twisted, decaying wasteland in its wake.
Safely isolated in his forest home, Tatsu wants nothing to do with the drain or the other citizens in the kingdom of Chayd. The only people he cares about are his childhood friend and her strangely prophetic sister, but there’s no avoiding the threat once Tatsu is arrested and taken to the capital. The Queen of Chayd offers Tatsu his freedom—but only in exchange for sneaking into the neighboring kingdom of Runon and stealing whatever is powering the siphon.
Ravenous trees and corrupted predators lie between Tatsu’s team and their prize, but the drain’s destruction is nothing compared to Runon’s high mages, determined to protect their weapon. As the truth of the siphon’s power reveals itself, Tatsu faces an impossible question: how much is he willing to sacrifice to save one man’s life?
What if that one man could destroy everything?
(This revision includes an important new first chapter, previously unreleased.)
Kathryn is a huge fan of genre fiction featuring LGBTQ+ protagonists. Her goal in life is to be surrounded by 60 Yorkshire Terrier puppies.