Sunday, April 10, 2011

Lovers and Beloveds - MeiLin Miranda

Fantasy Book Critic 2010 Top 6 Indie Fantasy Book: "[V]ery strong Kushiel Legacy vibes...If you are a fan of Jacqueline Carey I would definitely urge you to try this one."

Naive and sheltered Prince Temmin, Heir of Tremont, is newly arrived from his peaceful childhood home to his father King Harsin's intrigue filled court in the City. He quickly finds himself the target of assassins sent by enemies he didn't even know he had, confronted with his past mistakes by his family's immortal advisor Teacher, and falling for the beautiful twins Allis and Issak.

But there's a complication. The twins are holy figures, the embodiments on earth of the Gods known as the Lovers. To be with the twins, Temmin must serve in the Lovers' Temple for two years, the fulfillment of a prophecy so old it's moved into folklore. Harsin believes its fulfillment will mean the end of the monarchy, and does everything he can to stop it.

Haunted by stories of his ancestors found in a magic book, Temmin must choose a path: one will lead to ultimate glory for Tremont, one will lead to its end, and Temmin must discover which path is which.

Set in a place and time where magic is nearly forgotten and a new industrial age is dawning, "Lovers and Beloveds" is the first book in the series, "An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom."

MeiLin Miranda is the pen name of a longtime professional nonfiction writer who finally got past the saying that every journalist has a book inside him--and it should stay there. Once she did, she started posting draft installments of her series-in-progress "An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom" as a webserial, eventually ending the draft at 300,000 words! In the process, she accrued a fan base of more than 2,000 people and an understanding that what she was working on was not sustainable as a serial; it had to become a series of novels.

MeiLin is a successfully crowdfunded author; her readers pay to keep her content online and freely available. When it came time, fifty of her fans bought special packages and raised $2500 to get her first book professionally edited and produced. The result was "Lovers and Beloveds: An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom."

MeiLin licenses her work under Creative Commons, and believes strongly that if readers love her work, they will support her. So far, they do.

When she's not scribbling, MeiLin spins and knits, plays D&D, reads way too much PG Wodehouse and Patrick O'Brian, fiddles with fountain pens, collects BPAL perfume, and hangs out with her husband, two daughters, two cats and a small floppy dog.

What will readers like about your book?
"Lovers and Beloveds" is the first book in a series called "An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom." Book one is the coming-of-age story in which a young, rather sheltered prince makes a pretty big if private mistake and gradually comes to realize what he's done and how he can begin to make it right. The great theme of the series is redemption: can a person--or a kingdom--be redeemed? If you like intrigue, rich world-building, some elements of sexuality and sprawling family sagas, you'll like this series.

Why did you self publish?
Quite frankly, I wasn't sure if I had the time to wait out the publishing world, and not because I'm impatient. I was critically ill and almost died in 2006--the year before I started writing this book--and the shadow of my illness followed me a very long time. It still does.

What is your writing process?
Outline and fill it in, making adjustments as things come to light. I sometimes write in order, but increasingly I'm writing scenes as they come to me.

How long does it take you to write your first draft?
Judging by this second book, about six months. I have children and a husband, so I write when I can.

What inspired you to write this particular story?
It started out as a serial daydream I had over years. I'd always wanted to write fiction but was afraid; I wasn't sure I had any ideas, and if I did I wasn't sure I had the subtlety to explore them without bashing people over the head. Turns out that life experience was what I needed, that and a quotation from Neil Gaiman to the effect that writers are the ones who notice their daydreams and write them down.



Temmin and his guard emerged onto the rosy marble steps. The air was cold; he could see his breath. Halfway up stood his father, flanked himself by Royal Guardsmen in a respectful standoff with a line of Temple’s Own. A few steps behind him stood that dratted Winmer with a small knot of others including, to his surprise, Teacher. Behind them gathered a small crowd made up mostly of late visitors to the Healer’s House across the Promenade, drawn by the unexpected martial sounds at the Lovers’ Temple.

Temmin drew a deep breath, hoping to quell his shaking. “Well?” he called down, with a creditable attempt at bravado.

“Well, indeed,” said Harsin. “I’ve come to take you back.”

“I don’t think so. This is my choice, and I’ve made it. You can’t come in and cart me off bodily. No one’s allowed in tonight.”

“He’s right. Pagg’s Law, sir,” murmured Brother Mardus at his side.

“Do not think to lecture your King on Pagg’s Law,” snapped Harsin. “Even were it an ordinary night, I would not dream of defiling this Temple--any Temple--by bringing Guards into it to cart you or anyone else off bodily. You will walk out on your own.”

“Will I,” said Temmin, his temper rising.

“Don’ you do it, sir!” a young woman called in a sweet, familiar voice. “Don’ you do it! If we come to harm, that’s as it should be!”

Torches had finally been brought, and a young man’s flaming red hair blazed plain in their light. Fen flexed against the Guards pinning his arms back, but made no move; they held Arta far too tightly for him to risk it.

Who had betrayed them? Jenks didn’t know where he was going, and fully believed Arta and Fen were his lovers; Ellika knew they weren’t, but had no idea he’d decided to join the Temple and wouldn’t have stopped him if she had. That left Teacher; he glared into the strange silvery eyes. Teacher didn’t look away, and gave a barely visible shake of the head, as if knowing Temmin’s mind.

“I’m not for the idea of us dyin in general,” said Fen, “but I don’ beg anyone for anything, and I’d rather die than be damned. This whole thing is blasphemy, and I want no part in it. Go ahead, sir, and let the Guards be damned, not us!” At this, the men holding him shifted uncomfortably, looking at one another and then at the Temples surrounding them.

“You’d kill them to stop me?” said Temmin to his father. “You’d place their deaths on your soul?”

“We are King, Temmin. We do what we must, and we must stop you. Their deaths will be on you if you don’t come down from there.”

“You speak to me as if I’m a child up in a tree!”

“When you act like a child, I’ll speak to you like one!” roared Harsin.

By now, the Most Highs had joined the flock of Lovers and Beloveds at the top of the stairs, Gan leaning on Senik in his sleepiness. “What do you wish to do, Your Highness?” said Gan.

Steel glinted against Arta’s throat, and in Temmin’s imagination red bloomed against the white of her skin. ...



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