Category Archives: Bound A-Z

K is for Kel


Raise your hand if you were waiting for this one.

Don’t be ashamed. He’s one of my favourites, too. As someone said in a comment on my Facebook page, “The struggle is real! Between he and Aren, I’m thinking polyamory is the perfect choice.”

That commenter is not alone.

For anyone late to the party, Kel is a mer man who befriended Aren when they were both children (though Kel may be a little older). Kel’s band of merfolk are secretive about the exact extent of their territory, but it definitely covers a portion of the sea in the north of Tyrea and several lakes in its interior, which they access via a magical system of caves. It was in the caves near Glass Lake that a young and adventurous Kel met Aren, who was almost old enough to be developing a chip on his shoulder. Kel was never one to pass up a challenge, though, and found the young human interesting enough that he decided to befriend him.

Aren resisted at first, but few people have ever been able to resist Kel’s charms–certainly not a kid with no friends or family willing to show him the kind of affection that Kel tends to.

I mean yeah, Kel’s physically attractive. Like… super hot. But that’s not what makes him appealing. You see, many merfolk have some level of ability to see beneath the surface of people. Not to read their minds as Aren does, but to see into what lies beneath the teeming, confusing, contradictory swirl of thoughts. He may not know what you’re worried about, but he’ll see the depth of your concerns. You may have built up layers of emotional armour, but Kel might see the fear beneath that, and see that it’s an act that you’ve been putting on for so long that you believe it, yourself.

Not all of the merfolk are as perceptive as Kel, and even those who are don’t always care what they see. Some believe that a person’s actions are what matter, not what lies beneath. Maybe they’re right. Seeking out the bright spots in a person’s soul is a dark and sometimes dangerous journey, and not one that even Kel chooses to undertake with many people.

But once in a while, he finds someone he connects with on that deep level, as though they were destined to meet. Sometimes he meets two of them in the same family, though with slightly different outcomes. And when Kel finds that connection, his loyalty goes beyond anything most of us have ever had the pleasure of experiencing.

He might not be the flashy hero, bold and brave, rushing into battle–at least, not when we’ve seen him. But Kel has saved lives.

And he will affect the course of Tyrean history.

Fun Fact: Kel’s name was originally Kai, which means “ocean.” I changed it when I realized how many YA/NA books coming out right now have characters with that name. I think this one suits him a lot better, and I apologize to him for getting it wrong.

Tell me: What character have you fallen in love with for reasons other than a hot body and a cocky smile?


Bound A-Z: J is for “Jumpin’ Jehosephat”

Okay, so that title is a lie. No character in the Bound trilogy has ever said “Jumpin’ Jehosephat,” and I guarantee they never will. What we really want to talk about today is cussin’, but that doesn’t start with J.

I probably don’t need to put a disclaimer here, right?

Every author has to make decisions regarding swearing: How much is appropriate, whether it will sound silly if characters in life-threatening situations don’t swear in order to keep a “clean” rating (see the aforementioned Jehosephat). For some of us it’s not a tough decision, at least until our grandparents and people from church start reading our books.


Others have to do a bit more soul-searching.

On top of that, some genres offer additional restrictions or opportunities. Writing middle-grade fiction? Yeah, we all know first-graders who drop f-bombs like Samuel L. Jackson (if with considerably less flair), but it’s not considered appropriate to include that kid as a character in a MG book, even as the bully. Historical fiction writers will have to take into account the historical accuracy of slurs and swears. This might sound restrictive, but judging by the insults Shakespeare’s characters tossed out, I’m guessing the research there could be rather interesting.

And Fantasy and Sci-Fi allow us a range of possibilities. This article from Book Riot has a great run-down of the options authors choose. There’s the vaguely-dirty-sounding substitution, the straight-up swear, religious curses based on the world the story is set in, and more.

Anyone who’s read Bound and Torn knows I let my characters swear when it seems appropriate for the situation. As my editor said in his comments on Torn*, “You gave more shits this time, and it worked.” He thought it felt realistic for characters to swear when everything is… well, when the shit hits the fan, so to speak, to not pussy-foot around to keep things universally palatable.

Why use our curses rather than making something fantastical up? Because everything else is translated, too. My characters don’t speak English in their world. If the words “cup,” “hunting,” “dragon,” and “love” are translated, I also translate the swearing when it works. It’s what works for me as a writer, though I do look forward to writing about species that use less-conventional oaths in the future. That should be fun. And there are cases where the world impacts choice of curses. “Gods” instead of “God” for a character who believes in more than one. “Harpy” instead of “bitch,” because that’s really the more vile insult in that world. It’s all about conveying meaning, not going for shock value.

Do some readers hate swearing? Yes.

Do some readers hate “clean reads” that seem awkwardly contrived to avoid realistic language and references to sex?

*raises hand*

It’s all personal taste, and you can’t please everyone. I’ll write what feels right for my stories and characters, as I expect other writers do with theirs. I do think swearing can be over-used to the point where it becomes irritating, or the reader becomes numb to it. I love creative curses, as long as I don’t have to spend too much time figuring them out. But used properly, a well-placed cuss can add a flash of depth or colour to a serious scene, or a bit of humour to another.

“Bad words” are one of many tools available to a writer, no different from metaphors and adverbs and varied sentence length. Just like anything else, we can choose to use them, to over-use them, or to not use them at all to create mood in a scene, establish character, or add impact to a moment in a story.

They just happen to occasionally be a lot more fun than most tools. 🙂

Fun Bonus Fact: The first draft of Sworn included what I (quite modestly) considered the most perfect f-bomb ever. It came from an unexpected character, and in context no other word would have delivered the same impact or meaning. It was absolutely perfect. I was certain my alpha readers or editor would tell me to cut it, but I had to have it just for my own satisfaction. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), the story changed, things shifted around, and that moment was no longer essential to the story, so the Big Bad F-Bomb got cut.

This is what they mean when they say “kill your darlings.” Even when something pleases you as a writer, sometimes it has to go for the good of the story as a whole.

*Paraphrased, I can’t find my notes. Okay, that’s a lie. I haven’t had coffee, I’m lazy, and searching through those notes seems like a poor use of time I could be spending on getting the next book ready for edits.

Bound A-Z: I is for… “I”


Go on any writing forum, whether it be a big one like KBoards or a little Facebook genre writers’ group, and you’ll see the question:

“First or third-person point of view. Which is better?”

I can tell you exactly how the responses play out, too: Someone will state that they flat-out refuse to read anything written in first person (and may admit in a later comment that it can be done well, but usually isn’t). Someone else will say that they really prefer to read stories in first person, but third is okay if we’re deep in one character’s viewpoint. Someone will say either is fine as long as it’s done well. Someone else will insist that omniscient POV is the best, but they’re the only person who knows how to do it right, so back off, NOOBS. Another person will say first person POV is cool and all, but it’s just so damned limiting to be stuck in one character’s head for a whole book.*

And then I jump in and I’m like, “You know you don’t have to stick with one…”

It’s a tough question for a writer, and an important one.

For anyone not familiar with the terminology, POV (or point of view) is how the story is told. First person is an “I” story–a character is telling is what happened to him/her, or what is happening in the case of a present-tense story. Third person is the writer or narrator telling us about the characters and what’s happening to them. He said this, Kelly said that, Marcus gesticulated wildly.

Dammit Marcus, stop being dramatic.

Third person POV might be “deep third”, where we’re anchored in one character’s thoughts and experiences, seeing the world through their eyes, even hearing their thoughts. We can’t see what other characters are thinking, or what’s happening in the next room. At the other end of the spectrum is omniscient third person, in which we can see everyone’s thoughts and know anything that’s going on.

As a reader, I dislike omniscient, or anything that involves jumping from character to character with nothing more than a paragraph break. I’ve seen it done well, it’s just not my preference.

And that right there? That last sentence? That’s how a lot of people feel about first person POV, which is what I chose to use in the Bound trilogy.

I’m not here to defend that choice, as I don’t think it requires defending. I just thought it might be interesting to look at why the heck I’d do a thing like that when some people refuse to buy if the Amazon “Look Inside” pages feature the dreaded “I”.

1) I write the stories I want to read, and I prefer reading first-person POV stories. I love how clearly character voice can come out. Yes, this is possible in very deep third-person POV, but I still feel a sense of distance from the story in that format. That’s not to say I don’t love me some third-person POV books. I do. But there’s something incredible about being right there with the character, hearing their tale straight from their lips and minds, that I’ve yet to find elsewhere.

2) It doesn’t have to be limiting, especially if you use more than one character’s point of view. Bound features what’s called “dual POV.” Torn has three characters. This gives us the opportunity to not only see the world through multiple sets of eyes (and therefore not be trapped in one place), but it changes the way we see our POV characters. The first draft of Bound was almost entirely told from Rowan’s POV. Readers’ view of her changed when we had a chance to see her as Aren did, and his character changed and deepened when I climbed into his head.

3) It’s fun. Writing in first person, and especially in multiple first, brings challenges. Characters have to have different voices as they tell their story, even more in first person than in limited third. They’ll use different words, different idioms if they’re not from the same place. Two characters will look at an autumn forest and see two completely different things. One might be flooded with emotions while another barely registers them. A thief’s daughter from the back alleys of Luid won’t think the same way as a princess, even in sections of text that seem on the surface to be narration.

4) It’s how the story wanted to be told, how it naturally started when I finally got over my stupid nerves and started writing. I tried it in third person, and it didn’t have the same feel. It felt flat and distant, and that was the last thing I wanted. Other stories have worked well as third-person tales in the past, but Rowan most definitely wanted this one told in her own words. Aren was a little more reluctant, but he came around.

I guess the take-away from this is a piece of advice to writers. Wait… I hate giving advice. Okay, it’s a bit of experience that I want to share in case it helps you.

The reason I tried writing Bound in third person that one time was because I heard it would sell better.

Had I chosen to follow that advice, to make my story bend to what someone else wanted, I would have ended up with a book I didn’t like. To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have finished writing it.

There are times when it makes sense to take advice, like when it comes from your agent, or an editor who has bought your book (or who you’re paying to make it bleed red).

And there are times when you have to go your own way and write the story that’s in your heart, bring your vision into the world in a way that only you can.


Tell Me: …no, I don’t want to start the “first vs third” debate here, because the truth is that there is no right or wrong answer. What I want to know is this: what’s the strangest perspective, point of view, or method of getting a story across that you’ve encountered. Epistolary storytelling? Strange framing of a story within a story? Second-person *shudder*?

*The other objection people frequently have to first-person narration is that it decreases tension because you know the narrator lived to tell the tale. I would respectfully argue that multiple first-person POV alleviates this, as well… as long as there’s one person left to finish the story, anyone could die. OR BE A GHOST nope that’s a bad idea. Bad Kate.


H is for Heartleaf

Story ideas come from some weird places.

The inspiration for Bound came from two places: the first was a desire for a story that started with a decidedly non-badass girl saving a hero’s life… an idea that I quickly rejected in favour of her saving a villain’s life, because that’s far more interesting to me. And hey, I write what I want to read.

The other was my headaches.

I get a lot of them. My husband would call that the understatement of the century. All told, I’m insanely grateful if I get through a full day without any kind of pain. Most of the time it’s pain that’s very manageable with drugs, coffee, cold packs, and more drugs. I get through the day, I get my work done, the house doesn’t end up a complete disaster area.

Then there are the headaches that send me to bed because the light and noise of daily life are too much.

It’s not always the same kind of pain. Sometimes it’s a feeling like nausea, but in my skull. Sometimes it’s ice-picks stabbing at my eyes or my temples. Sometimes it feels like someone whacked me with a 2×4 on the back of the head, and sometimes it’s a seething, creeping, crawling pain that oozes around like a tiny monster trapped under the bones of my head.

It’s quite pleasant.

Wait… no. No, it sucks.

But the thing is, something good came of it. Something great, I think. I found a story. As I lay in bed with these monster headaches, or when my head was clear but I was too exhausted to do much else, I started to wonder what it would be like if there was a reason for the pain.

What if it had something to do with magic? What if it somehow hurt someone, made her feel pain like I felt?

What if it led to great adventure? To love, to self-discovery, to danger and wonder and a huge, wide world of possibility?

Well, my own headaches didn’t lead to any of that, but they did lead to me puzzling out a story that’s become a favourite of more people than I ever could have imagined.

Now, to work our way around to today’s topic…

In Bound, Rowan experiences headaches much like mine. At the beginning, she has no idea what’s causing them. No one does (which, it turns out, is probably a good thing for her). Doctors have been no help. The only relief Rowan can find from her pain is heartleaf tea, made from the inner bark of a tree that grows wild throughout Serath. The sweet-smelling, bitter-tasting tea keeps the pain at bay, at least for a while, and she’s learned to ask for nothing more than that.

Too bad for her when it becomes illegal to grow or possess it because of suspicions that it’s a magical substance.

For the record, I didn’t intend to make any statements about controlled substances there. Maybe I did… but I didn’t mean to.

Here’s a picture from my notes of the leaves that give the heartleaf tree its name.

Okay, so it looks a little like a tongue in my drawing… it’s way prettier in real life, I swear.

Tell me: When have you found inspiration in an unexpected place? What was the outcome?


G is for Griselda…and Going Places


Griselda Beaumage is a teacher at Ernis Albion’s school on Belleisle.

As we know from Torn, she’s a powerful Sorceress–an omnilinguist and an illusionist, to be precise, though she has other skills that Rowan knows nothing about. She’s tall and intimidating, and fiercely intelligent. She’s a bit of a hero for Rowan, who hasn’t really had a Sorceress to look up to. Sure, there are a few other female students at the school, but a true Sorceress is a rarity, and Griselda has had a lot longer than those students have to hone her skills.

She’s an adventurer, and has been spending significant time in Luid as the guest of the Tiernal family and as an ambassador.

She’s more than that, though.

Griselda is a scholar of magic. She’s far older than she appears (one of the benefits of strong magic), and has spent decades exploring the world outside of Serath. Her gifts with languages have allowed her to travel as she pleases, communicating with people and intelligent species the world over. She spent years among centaurs–previously a misunderstood and nearly legendary group, as far as her people were concerned. She has loved, and she has lost far more than she will ever let on in front of her students.

She’s also a character whose history I’d love to dig deeper into some day. She’s not the only one. If I were to write every story I wanted to that branched off from the Bound trilogy, I’d be looking at…

*counts on fingers*

*takes off socks, counts on toes*

A hell of a lot of work ahead of me. I’d love to follow the merfolk to their world, to explore new lands with Griselda, to seek out the Aeyer and witness their clan wars. A dragon’s story would be a challenge, but an interesting one.

And then there are the two trilogies I’m actually planning to set in this world, one historical and one set in the near future.

There was a time when I worried I’d run out of stories to tell. That was before I met my characters and realized that each one of them is the key to a door that opens up new lands, new worlds, and new adventures.

Have I mentioned that I love my job?

Bound A-Z: F is for Fairy Tales

A selection from my kids’ room, since mine are packed away. *sniffle*

If you’ve read Bound, I probably don’t need to explain why this entry is included here. Fairy tales are a big thread running through the story: talk of adventures and happy endings, of life not measuring up to fairy tales, the books that Rowan reads even though they’re as good as banned in her country.

I adore fairy tales. I loved them when I was a kid, and cried when I thought I was getting too old for them (my mom set me straight, thank goodness). I still love them now, though my interest has broadened somewhat. As a child I had only a few books to look through, mostly containing the familiar European tales that Disney tends to adapt. I found more as I grew older. My brother and I got a book for Christmas one year that had stories from all over the world. Though I’m ashamed to say that at the time I only wanted the same old stories, having access to tales from Africa and Australia and Asia helped me understand the range of stories there are to be told.

It’s deepened, too. Have you looked back at the history of fairy tales? Read older versions, read analyses of the intent and meaning behind them? It’s a journey I’m only starting on in my free time (feel free to laugh…), but it’s fascinating.

And yeah, I like to play with them. While I’ll probably never do a full novel-length re-telling of a fairy tale (the market seems pretty saturated with those these days, and people are doing amazing things), I did enjoy trying it with flash fiction (my urban fantasy version of Cinderella is posted here), and hope to do more in the future.

And of course, my Fantasy world that I’m working in these days is stuffed to the mer-gills with fairy tales. Myths, legends, superstitions, children’s stories and folklore would spill off of every page if I wasn’t afraid of readers being bored.

We all carry stories with us in our memories and our beliefs. My characters do, too, even if they won’t admit it.

Maybe some day the fairy tales of Tyrea will see the light of day. Anyone interested in hearing that story about the young woman who fell in love with the dragon? Want to hear about Pourana, the woman who guides the souls of the dead? What about the story of the Gryphon’s tear, or a little mer folklore?

I really need more time to write…

Tell me: What’s your favourite fairy tale? What is it about that story that you connect with?

Bound A-Z: E is for Ernis & Emalda


They say that it’s a mistake to give two characters names starting with the same letter.

I say it’s a bigger mistake to give kids in a family thematically-matching names, but I did both.


Man. I’m still a little disgusted with Lucilla over that one, but whatever.

What was I saying?

Oh, right. The Albions.

SPOILERS AHEAD if you haven’t read Bound or Torn. Fair warning.

We meet Ernis and Emalda at the end of Bound, when Aren follows Rowan to Belleisle to make sure she’s okay (awwww…). He finds several surprises there. The first is that these people are genuinely kind and generous, willing to take in a stranger and care for her–and that it doesn’t make them weak. It’s a confusing notion for Aren, who’s always been taught that kindness and love are weakness, and that one gains respect through fear. He’s learned otherwise from Rowan, but meeting Ernis Albion is another step along the path to realizing that his family’s ways aren’t necessarily the right ones.

The other surprise is, of course, that–AGAIN, SPOILERS–Ernis Albion, the peaceful and powerful Sorcerer and headmaster of that school, is Aren’s grandfather. Aren’s mother Magdalena left Belleisle to marry the king of Tyrea, and never returned home.

Emalda is not his grandmother, though. Potioners don’t live as long as Sorcerers, and Ernis’ previous wife was Magdalena’s mother. No, Emalda is a talented Potioner whose sister was a magic-user…who Aren accidentally killed when he started a riot that got out of control.

Family reunions are swell, aren’t they?

Ernis and Emalda aren’t major characters in the trilogy, but they’re among my favourites. Emalda may be vindictive toward Aren, keeping him tightly leashed and making his life miserable for a time as punishment for his crimes, but she’s also open to forgiveness and letting go of past hurts…eventually. Ernis brings warmth and humor, and displays a beautiful willingness to take the good from a bad situation. He lost his daughter to a horrible man who ended her life, but when his grandson shows up–cold, mistrustful, evasive and trapped in his father’s ways of thinking–Ernis embraces him in any way Aren will allow.

They’re not perfect people, but they love their family, their students, and their people. One seems weak on the outside (at least to Aren) and has steel within, and one is an enemy who learns to forgive.

Sometimes I feel like I could learn a lot from my characters.

Tell me: What minor character in a book has had a major impact on you?


Bound A-Z: D is for Dragons


Top-notch office security

We’re going to do something a little different today.

Instead of me telling you about dragons (most of which you’ll have learned on your own in the books, or will learn), I’m going to dig up something from a deleted scene from Bound.

In early drafts, Aren explained far more about dragons to Rowan than he did in the version you all have seen. It was more interesting if she walked in mostly unprepared, and in later drafts Aren got more reserved, and so handing out fun facts and stories willy-nilly really would have been out of character for him.

I hated to cut this part, though. One of the things I like about the world of these books is the folklore and the mythology. Most of it only gets mentioned in passing: the Tyrean children’s stories that Rowan doesn’t read to us, the ballad sung by a Wanderer girl, the many gods of Tyrea, the legends of the Dragonfreed Brothers.

This was a story told in full…and unfortunately, the larger story was better off without it.

From an old draft of Bound, here’s what the original conversation looked like, complete with a little bonus Tyrean history for you. Enjoy, and please forgive the lack of editing. It was a work in progress…

“This might be a silly question, but is the treasure cursed?” she asked. She was looking at me so intently that she almost got knocked off of her horse by a low-hanging branch, which she ducked under at the last moment.

“It’s not silly.” Her ignorance was infuriating, but it wasn’t her fault. Better that she know the dangers of the land we’d soon reach. “A dragon doesn’t intentionally do anything to its possessions, as far as we know. Something gets into them, though. There are stories about people who possess something as small as a gold coin from a dragon’s hoard going insane, killing strangers or loved ones out of rage or envy. There was a king hundreds of years ago who took possession of a dragon’s gold after it died; it’s said he was a great king before that. He was generous in sharing the treasure with his household and his friends, even his servants. According to the stories, barely a month later the idea of ruling the kingdom had been thrown out in favour of decadent feasts, drunkenness, experimenting with potions and exotic entertainments. That was only the beginning. Soon they wanted more and stranger diversions, and they became cruel, reaching levels of depravity a nice person like you wouldn’t be able to comprehend, I’m sure. They lost all respect for life, lost whatever inhibitions they once had. You probably don’t want to hear those stories.”

She looked like I’d insulted her, but said, “I suppose not. And the court fell?”

“More than that. They had to pay for all of this somehow, and the gold made it into the hands of nearly everyone in the city. It was complete chaos. People outside eventually realized what was happening. They burned the city to the ground, and everyone in it. The next king rebuilt far to the south, in Luid, and no one has resettled the old place since.”

That bought me another few minutes of silence. “Does it affect everyone the same way?” she asked at last.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, does one dragon’s treasure make everyone who possesses it murderous, and another’s make people…” She paused. “Gluttonous?”

That’s not what you were going to say, I thought, but let her continue.

“Or does it depend on the person? Last question for now, I promise.”

Thank the gods. “People used to think it was the former, that a dragon’s particular influence would cause everyone to act like that dragon. We think now that it’s more a case of it bringing out whatever darkness is already in a person so that it drowns out everything else that a person was. We don’t test that theory, though. There was one scholar who thought that if a person who was completely without vice were to take the treasure, the magic wouldn’t affect him or her. Then they could melt it down and make it safe for others.”


“And then they realized that there’s no such person.”

Rowan smiled sadly. “Good point.”

TELL ME: If you stole a dragon’s treasure, what would it bring out in you? Lust? Envy? A willingness to literally kill for the last Oreo in the box?

Bound A-Z: C is for Cave Fairies & Creatures

Here comes a post that makes me wish I were a better artist.

Cave fairies were introduced in Bound when Rowan met Jasper. Actually, I’ll just let her describe him for you:

The moth thing buzzed closer, and I saw that it wasn’t an insect at all, but a tiny man with a round belly and long, thin limbs. The wings that fluttered on his back were the color of dust, and a thin layer of fuzz in the same shade covered his body. His disproportionately large, black eyes studied me, and then he grunted and buzzed back to sit on Cassia’s shoulder.

Not exactly Tinkerbell or a dainty little garden fairy.

This is one of my favourite things about world-building: the creatures. It’s fun trying to find a balance between the familiar and the new. And balance is a good thing. It’s not all that exciting to read about species that are just as they’ve always been portrayed, with nothing new added. On the other hand, when every creature is new and novel, I find it’s incredibly difficult as a reader to keep them all straight.

“Was the fanglorious dobblewowser the one that has six legs and two teeth, or the thing that looks like an elf, talks like an elf, and acts like an elf, but TOTALLY ISN’T AN ELF BECAUSE IT GLOWS IN THE DARK AND IS NOT CALLED AN ELF?”

Next week we’ll take a look at the dragons of Serath (the larger land where the bound Trilogy takes place, though dragons exist in other places in that world, as well*), but today I thought we’d look at some of the creatures that may seem familiar in some respects, but hold a few surprises, as well.

CAVE FAIRIES: See above. These guys are frequently grouchy, as they hibernate much of the year. Or they just really like their naps, we’re not entirely sure. They’re reclusive and well-camoflaged, and rarely leave their caves. They’re not attractive creatures, but useful if you can get on their good side. There are other types of fairies around, but these are the only ones we’ve met so far.

HORSES: There are a few types of horses in Serath. The first would be nearly indistinguishable from the horses of our world. These horses have little to no magic in their blood, just as the Darmish people like things. At the other end of the spectrum we have the Tusker, an apparently demonic creature with hoofsteps that shake the earth, an ear-piercing scream, and a thirst for blood. In the middle are the “regular” horses of Tyrea and Belleisle: horses that look much like those in Darmid, but with heavier jaws and teeth designed for consuming meat as much as vegetation. Highly adaptable, intelligent, and hardy, they’re perfect travel companions–if you can earn their trust.

Then we have the flying horses, fine-boned creatures of the sky, blessed with the ability to speak. And there are rumors of unicorns, though few are so lucky as to see one.

MERFOLK: The merfolk of this world are not half-fish, as they’re generally depicted in our world. They’re warm-blooded, but able to breathe underwater as well as on land. They appear entirely human when in that form, and nearly human from the waist up when in true mer form, if you can get past the greyish skin tone. Their tails are covered in smooth skin and end in thick flukes. Picture them as half dolphin if that helps, though they’d prefer not to be thought of as half-anything. The merfolk are a proud species all their own, and existed in that world long before the arrival of the first humans.

GRYPHONS: Half lion, half eagle, the gryphons of Serath are actually pretty typical of what we’re used to… so far. But then, the characters we’re visiting with don’t have a lot of experience with them. Who knows what secrets they’re hiding?

AEYER: The winged people of the northern mountains in Tyrea. I still have a lot to learn about these guys, who are most decidedly not angelic types. A fact-finding safari may be in order. Wish me luck.

SEA MONSTERS: We’ve only seen one (called “Fangface” by Kel, though I doubt that’s what the natural history books would say), but the seas are full of dangerous, beautiful, and fascinating creatures. Between the fresh-water dragons and the threats below the surface of the sea, life on land can seem tame in comparison.

CENTAURS, ELVES, GOBLINS, TREE FAIRIES, AND OTHERS: The world is so large, and one story so little time to experience all of it. Perhaps some day…

TELL ME: Did I miss anything you were curious about? What creatures do you love to read about, and what twists on traditional favourites have been your favourites in your reading adventures?



*You didn’t think these stories covered everything, did you? There’s a big, wide, wondrous world out there we’ve yet to explore, friends…

Bound A-Z: B is for Belleisle


This isn’t the topic I wanted to cover today, but I realized that the one I wanted to do would have been either spoiler-laden or super boring.

And we don’t want “B for Boring.” Nope, nope, nope.

So Belleisle it is, that peaceful island off the east coast of Tyrea.

They do things differently there. Whereas Tyrea is ruled by the most powerful Sorcerer, Belleisle has no king, but is rather watched over by a governor–a position that’s easily lost should it be determined that the governor isn’t working in the best interests of the people. Their decision-making processes tend to be more democratic than those in Tyrea. While final decisions rest with the governor, open meetings where people can speak their minds are frequently held in the city, and residents from towns and villages all over the island travel there to have their say.

There’s magic on the island, and plenty of it. In fact, there’s far more mid-level human magic in Belleisle than in Tyrea. Some people, and powerful ones at that, believe that this is because Belleisle sits far from the choked-off magic of Darmid, but that’s not the only theory. Others place the blame squarely on the ruling family of Tyrea*, on the lay of the land and the types of creatures living there, or on the whims of the gods.

The truth of that (or whichever version of the truth is most widely accepted) will have far-reaching implications for all three countries.

In any case, the magic there is strong, and is more widely spread out through the population than it is in Tyrea. A peaceful nation, Belleisle is nonetheless equipped with impressive defenses thanks to generations of Sorcerers who made it their mission not to rule, but to defend. And though the people of Belleisle try to stay out of Tyrean business, you’d have to be a fool to threaten them. The people of Belleisle don’t trust people from Tyrea, especially those with great political or magical power.

The aspect of the island most relevant to the Bound trilogy is the school run by the Sorcerer Ernis Albion and his wife, the Potioner Emalda Albion. They take in the most promising students from the island and guide them through their schooling, helping them identify natural skills and develop others, and educating them in matters that go far beyond magic. Languages, history, magical theory, religion, and a host of other subjects go hand-in-hand with the development of magical power in the hopes that these students will become well-rounded and capable citizens. Brains are as important as magical brawn, and humility is encouraged. Magic is a gift not to be taken lightly, nor abused in a blind quest for power.

That’s not to say that every student becomes a model citizen. The school has seen its share of troublemakers, back-stabbers, and jerks. Wherever there is power, there is potential for its abuse. The headmaster only hopes that careful guidance will help the most troublesome students come out all right on the other side.

Things you didn’t know #1: On a few occasions, the school has accepted students from Tyrea. It’s a dangerous proposition, as these students come from families the king might see as a threat, who don’t want to send their children to Luid for training. There are strict conditions placed on the students’ enrollment, including being completely cut off from their families for the duration of their stay.

Things you didn’t know #2: Nearly all of the students at the school are of near-Sorcerer level magical power, but Emalda also occasionally allows young Potioners to train under her. Only the most promising make the cut, though, and she only takes on one apprentice at a time. When Aren and Rowan arrived at the island, she was between apprentices.


*Their tendency to breed the strongest magic into one family and to kill off rivals is thought to not be great for human magic, overall. Funny thing.

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