Today I am so pleased to welcome Jackie Keswick to Joyfully Jay. Jackie has come to talk to us about her latest release, Healing Glass, first in the Gifted Guilds series (which we reviewed here and loved). Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Hi all, I’m Jackie Keswick and I’m very grateful to Jay for having me on the blog to share the world of my latest fantasy novel, Healing Glass, with you. Readers who know me will associate me with contemporary action adventure and suspense stories. But the first novel I ever wrote was historical fantasy, and the first novel I was ever brave enough to hawk around agents and publishers – in 2006 – was a dystopian time travel fantasy. It was only a matter of time until I returned to my fantasy roots, and the result is a world of women and men with special gifts, and the story of three very different guilds and a semi-sentient floating glass city.
What attracts me to fantasy is the chance to build unusual worlds and societies, to play with concepts that intrigue or bother me. Healing Glass started from the concept of a medieval society, but my world has three guilds that no self-respecting medieval person would recognise.
Members of the Craft Guild, Merchant Guild, and Warriors Guild all have special talents beyond those skills that recommend them to each guild. Craft masters design and create, but they also enhance the pieces they create so they cheer, heal, or calm. A merchant’s talent shapes circumstance, changes one reality into another as needed. And warriors are aware of one another and able to aid, comfort and support each other from a distance.
In the world of the Gifted Guilds, each guild has its place, and each contributes to the shaping and running of everyday life. If they don’t fulfil their function adequately, then they’ll put their society in danger. In Healing Glass, the Craft Guild is under threat. Craft Masters are dying, and the floating city the guild has made its home, is dying with them.
“Weeping is the only way to describe it, Wark. I’ve never seen anything like it. There’s liquid glass welling up out of the column and trickling down its length. What do you think will happen if the glass wears away doing that? Or if the whole column turns to liquid? Will it continue to support the upper level in that state, or will it run into the sea and disappear?”
There’s a reason for that the peril they find themselves in. Or rather, there are choices made over several generations that finally add up to disaster. Little pebbles that – over time – grow into a landslide. And while it may appear that – at the end of Healing Glass – the problems are fixed, I would like to invite you to think again. ?
The guilds and their gifts are closely linked and in the continuation of the story, Embracing Fire, it’s not the glass city that’s under threat, but all those who have special talents.
As soon as Dorian relaxed his control, he sensed the ebb and flow of gifted souls. To his inner sight, the world was a firmament filled with tiny lights… green and gold for warriors grown and tuned to their gifts, and red pinpricks for those whose souls held the potential. The colours shifted as warriors gained their powers, as men and women died, and children were born. Dorian was familiar with the constant flow, but only once before had he seen what he saw now. Blood-red gaping holes marred the starry blanket he cherished and protected, pulsing as rapidly as panicked heartbeats. And their number was growing.
What Dorian’s gift allows him to witness is nothing less than torture. Someone is unlocking soul gifts by force, and the consequences threaten all three Gifted Guilds.
On a more personal level, Embracing Fire tells the story of Rien, who’s just joined the Warriors Guild after been banished by his father because he’s gifted. Most of the men and women you’ve met in Healing Glass will be around to help him find his feet and destroy the threat to the Gifted Guilds. It will be quite a ride, and before I head back into the writing cave, I’d like to share a little taster from the next book, a discussion between Falcon and Rien.
“The Northlanders don’t acknowledge any gifts,” Rien tried to explain. “A fighter’s prowess lies in the mastery of his weapons.”
“Granted. But if your gifts can aide you in a fight, why not take the advantage? You’re positively brimming with potential. How could they not see it?”
“You don’t get it.” Rien sighed. “Betraying I was gifted got me banished. At least, my father sent me here. He could have sent me up into the hills and a few good archers after me.”
“That makes no sense.”
“To you. It’s perfectly logical in the Northlands.”
They rode in silence, and Rien was grateful for the respite. For the first few days, meeting people who wanted to talk to him had be an enjoyable novelty. But how many questions could he answer before he said something that set everyone against him? How many answers before he was no longer safe? He slept with his weapons in reach as he’d done every night since he’d earned his dagger. He’d been eight.
“I’d wager when we get back Master Dorian will give you Javier for a mentor. He’s good with the hidden arts, and your eyes spell trouble.”
That brought Rien’s head up. “What do my eyes have to do with anything?”
“Warriors with eyes like yours often have elemental powers. It’s the very rarest gift, and most Elementals we’re aware of have been Northlanders. Elemental powers are said to be hard to reach and devastating if unleashed. So… I bet Javier’s going to be the one teaching you.”
“D’you think I’m too old to learn?”
“Not really. You’re not the first Northlander who joined Master Dorian’s troop. And they’re all in control of their gifts. Talk to Siyo, maybe. He can tell you.”
Now Rien was intrigued. He’d seen Siyo around Master Dorian’s hall, but he hadn’t spoken to him yet. Had Siyo’s family thrown him out as his had done? Had he left of his own accord? “What’s his gift?” he asked, curious.
“I should let him tell you,” Falcon grinned, “but… he’s a Berserker.”
Rien tried to imagine it. Berserkers were legendary in the Northlands. Capable of great feats of strength, fast, and completely fearless, a Berserker was a one-man army. They were feared by most fighters and shunned by everyone. Siyo’s life must have been even lonelier than his. Though if Rien had been a Berserker, his father would never have banished him. Chained him in a cave somewhere, maybe. But parted with the advantage that having a Berserker to hand could bring him? Never.
“Any idea what my gift might be?”
“Well, there’re only five elemental powers… water, wind, earth, fire, and lightning. Do you like one better than the others?”
It seemed a ludicrous way to test for an affinity. Falcon could be serious, of course, though judging by the way his lips twitched, it wasn’t likely. And really, controlling wind or lightning? Rien burst out laughing when something occurred to him. “I love hot baths when I can get them. Does that make me half fire half water?”
Falcon pulled an acorn from his pocket and threw it at Rien’s head. “Half mad is what it makes you. And greedy.”
A dying city.
An ancient, forgotten accord.
And two gifted men caught in a web of greed and dark magic.
Despite belonging to different guilds, glass master Minel and warrior captain Falcon are friends. Their duties keep them apart, but when Minel falls ill and chooses death rather than the only known cure, nothing can keep Falcon from his side.
As their friendship grows into more, old wrongs and one man’s machinations threaten the floating city and leave both Minel and Falcon fighting for their lives. Can they learn to combine their gifts to save the city and its magic, or will everything they know and love perish before their eyes?
Healing Glass is an LGBT fantasy adventure love story with its head in the clouds for readers who love medieval backdrops, complex world-building, and a touch of magic.
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurring dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who write their own rules. She blogs about English history and food, has a thing for green eyes, and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.