"A Candle Loses Nothing By Lighting Another Candle" - Father James Keller

Friday, April 30, 2010

Friday Favorites with Kelly Harmon, Author of "Blood Soup"

Favorite Genre(s): (can be a mix of them)

My favorite genres are fantasy and science fiction.  I also like a good juicy romance, and by that I mean the story has got to be really good. If the story is lush, there’s no need to spice it up with erotica.  I’ve been known to flip past the sex scenes to get back to the story.

List of at least 5 Favorite Books in that Genre:

In fantasy, my all-time favorite fantasy series is the Shannara story by Terry Brooks.  As a teen, I read the original trilogy  (The Sword of Shannara, The Elfstones of Shannara and the Wishstone of Shannara) – especially the first book -- over and over again.  I have to admit I haven’t read the most recent books.  There are too many others catching my eye.

Lately, I’ve been reading Lynne Ewing’s Daughters of the Moon Series and Gail Z. Martin’s Chronicles of the Necromancer Series.

Oh! And I’m really excited by Alan Campbell’s Deepgate Codex series.  Scar Night sucked me in and held me hostage until I finished it.   I normally read several books at a time, but I had to put all the others down while I was reading Scar Night.

As a kid, I liked Half Magic and Seven Day Magic by Edward Eager.  As an adult, his stories still resonate with me.  I just finished re-reading Half Magic again.  I can’t wait to introduce them to my daughter.  These days I’m getting into the Charlie Bone series by Jenny Nimmo.

In Science Fiction, I enjoy almost anything by Robert J. Sawyer.  My favorite is Calculating God. There’s nothing like using an alien to prove the existence of God to an atheist.

Also, in science fiction I love Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.  Some of their writing leaves a lot to be desired, stylisticly I find it a bit on the juvenile side.  But their ideas rock! They really make me think.  I like that in a story.

Favorite Author in that Genre, and Favorite Book by that Author:

It’s so hard to pick one that I like over all the others! My favorite book seems to change with my mood...or whatever seems to be on my radar at the time.  Right now, I’d have to say it’s
Campbell’s Scar Night.  Ask me again next week, I’ll probably have a different answer.

Favorite Book of All Time:

Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.  I just happened to be in that impressionable teenage phase when I discovered it....at least a decade after it had been published.  I think it shaped me as a reader and as a writer.

Favorite Book Read Last Month:

Kim Harrison’s White Witch, Black Curse.  Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of urban fantasy. I don’t like that genre as much as “sword and sorcery” fantasies, but it’s really hot right now and that’s what you’ll mostly find on the shelves.  Kim Harrison tells a great story.

Favorite Book You Wrote:

Blood Soup, of course!  Omera is a fantasy city based on my Italian heritage, the recipe for Blood Soup comes from my Polish roots, and the city of
Borgund allowed me to use the knowledge obtained with my minor in German.  It’s truly a story created by “writing what I know.”

The curse, the witch, the catacombs, the prophecy...that’s all icing on the cake!

Give Us One More Favorite Thing Beyond Books:

Favorite Snack:

My favorite snack is a peppermint patty with an ice-cold Diet Coke.  I love that cool, burning sensation in my throat as the soda washes down the peppermint.  If the Coca-Cola company decided to put out a Peppermint-Coke product, I’d leverage some cash to buy stock.

Kelly A. Harmon


A tale of murder, betrayal and comeuppance.

King Theodicar of Borgund needed an heir. When his wife, Queen Piacenza, became pregnant, he’d hoped for a boy. His wife, along with her nurse, Salvagia, knew it wouldn’t be so: with each cast of the runes, Salvagia’s trusted divination tools yielded the same message: “A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.” The women were convinced that the child would be a girl.

When the queen finally gives birth, the nurse and the king are equally surprised. The king is faced with a terrible choice, and his decision will determine the fate of his kingdom. Will he choose wisely, or will he doom Borgund to ruin? 

Excerpt One:
    Theodicar looked down at the mewling infant in his arms, and felt the anger rise up. Even in death his wife defied him, the nurse ensuring her success. Women did not rule. He would not allow it. They had created a male  child, and that child would take the throne upon his death.
    “You can save the boy,” he said to Salvagia.
    She slitted her eyes at him, her stare mutinous. Her words were loud and hard in the wake of Pia’s death. “I have the power to save one at the expense of the other, Sire. The girl is stronger. And eldest. She was born to rule.”
    Theodicar watched the girl curl up in his arms, her birth fluids staining a brown patch on the dyed-yellow wool of his tunic. She burrowed into the crook of his elbow, trying to achieve the comfort of the womb.
    “I will not hear those words again,” he said. “That absurd idea died with my wife. My son will rule.” He reached for the boy, thrusting the girl child back into the nurse’s hands. “There’s no need for a daughter. And no need for anyone to know of her.”
    “So be it,” Salvagia said, wrapping the weary girl in a square of wool, covering her face. She reached for her basket.
    “Kill her now,” said Theodicar.
    Salvagia looked stricken.
    “Sire, if we kill her now, she will be of no use to her brother. Once dead, the blood won’t flow, and we need her blood to strengthen his.
    “Then drain her now,” he snapped. “I will not have her crying out when we call the witnesses back to cut the boy’s cord.”

Excerpt Two:
    “Do you want to learn about your sister?” King Theodicar asked.
    “Go on.”
    “Salvagia had a set of runes, and she cast them over and over and over as Pia’s pregnancy advanced. Always, the answer was the same: ‘A girl child must rule or the kingdom will fall to ruin.’”
    “Do you believe that, Father?”
    “Your mother did. And so did Salvagia. They came from Omero, where the eldest born ruled, not just the eldest male. They believed your sister should rule.”
    “But, did you believe?”
    “I think your mother wasn’t meant to bear children. She was little and frail. Her labor arrived early—almost too early for you to survive. Your sister was born first. She was tiny, and just as delicate as your mother. Pia died the moment she was born, without even seeing her. Salvagia cut the girl’s cord and handed her to me. Then your mother’s belly contracted, and we realized there was another babe: you.”
    “So, you killed my sister so she wouldn’t take the throne.”
     “It wasn’t like that at the time.” Anguish washed across Theodicar’s face. “The girl was
frail, but you were worse. Salvagia could only save one of you. She was certain you wouldn’t last through the night, and she tried to convince me that your weakness fulfilled the prophecy. I wouldn’t listen to her. I told her to sacrifice the girl so you could live.”
    “The girl, the girl, the girl. Has my sister a name?”
    “Her life was given for yours before she was named. I’d asked Salvagia to remove the body afterward, so there would be no question about who would rule after me.” He looked down at his feet. “I’m fairly certain Salvagia named her, though she never told me so.”
    “How did my sister save me?”
    “Her blood, Amal. You drank of her blood to strengthen your own.”
    Amalric’s hand tightened on the glass in his lap. He swallowed hard, imagining he could taste the tinny flavor of blood on his tongue. It was worse than he first thought: not only was he winner by default, but he was beast—some variation of an incestuous cannibal—alive only because he drank his sister’s blood.

Excerpt Three: (A Little Longer. This is condensed from a much longer passage...)

    Almaric didn’t know what he had expected to see—what he expected to feel—once he pushed aside the curtain. But it certainly wasn’t the empty void he experienced. Surely, these two women should mean something to me, he thought. He should feel sad for their passing. Or relief at his own existence. Or anger at his sister’s senseless murder.
    But he’d never met them, and they meant nothing.
    “Mother,” he whispered, trying to feel the relationship. He touched her loose brown hair, satiny in death, as if it had been oiled. Mummified flesh clung to her skull, her mouth hung slack with decay. But he could make out her features, even in abstract.
Piacenza’s arms crossed her chest, holding onto the baby she’d died birthing.  The child lay on her stomach, her face turned out to the corridor. Smooth in death, the babe’s skin  was stretched taut across her skull, her tiny mouth open as if searching for a breast. He couldn’t picture this small babe as his twin.
    “Sister,” he said, failing to convince himself of an emotional connection to the babe. He smoothed a thumb across her forehead, touched a finger to her puckered lips.
    A scowl wrinkled his forehead, and he felt a tightness behind his eyes.
    Now that he knew about them, how long would he continue to feel the emptiness that knowing them should have filled?
    Had his father confirmed his sister’s existence in order to wring sympathy from his heart? Didn’t he realize that a man who had never known the loving touch of his mother nor felt the bond of his long-deceased sister would find nothing but apathy amid these moldering bones?
    Amalric gazed at the wispy hair, the withered skin, and suddenly, he made a fist and drove it into his mother’s side. He felt her ribcage shatter beneath his knuckles, and saw his sister’s small frame sink as the bones of his mother failed to support her. A puff of dust rose above his sister’s head like a small halo in the torchlight.
    He laughed, finding sudden humor in the situation. He should be rejoicing, he thought. Perhaps he should feel some harmony with his sire—the man who removed all obstacles from his path to the throne.
    How pathetic of him, thought Amalric, if he felt any pride at all for getting rid of these women. Women! Who should be seen and not heard, who should do the bidding of their husbands without fail, who are required to take the brunt of a man’s anger and return it threefold with a submissive demeanor. Women, he thought, who are frail beyond measure and easily subdued. How pitiable that Father should take pride in such an achievement. And worse, how contemptible that he might think my seeing the mortal remains of these women would create in me a sudden change of heart.


  1. Hi Kiki!

    Thanks for having me here today. I'm looking forward to the conversation.

  2. I agree with you that excessive sex isn't necessary if the plot is well developed. There are plenty of very exciting books out that have little to no sex. Also, the charcters have to have chemistry and dimention or the plot can fall flat.

  3. Hello Thanks for inviting me I agree you don't have to have sex for a story to be good. And I read the excerpts and they are very DARK.

  4. Hi Stormy

    Not enough plot is my most frequent complaint in some recent romances.

    I agree with you: characterization is everything...if they don't sizzle, neither will the story.

  5. Hi Melanie

    Yes, well...the entire book is dark. :)

    If you want to get a better feel for it, head on over to Scribd where I've put the first two chapter up:


  6. Hi Kelly,
    I have heard many good things about Blood Soup. Such a fitting title. :) I have enjoyed reading the excerpts to Blood Soup and it's on my TRL.
    Carol L.

  7. Hi Kelly, Blood Soup sounds like my kind of book and loved the excerpts. I am glad to have been able to read the articles and add my comments. I must say you are a new author to me but you go on my list to look for which is a great list to be on. ha Have a good day. susan L.

  8. Blood soup sounds awesome

    pepermint coke it could happen


  9. I thought I was the only one who skipped past the sex scenes to get back to the story. Since I've had to start writing sex/love scenes I've gone back and read a lot of them, but if I'm reading for pleasure, I'd just as soon move on.

  10. Hi Carol

    Thanks for telling me you've heard such good things about Blood Soup. It just tickles me. I don't think I'll tire of hearing it. ;)

    Thanks for putting it on your TRL.

  11. Hi Susan

    I'm so glad you liked the excerpts. I'm honored to be on your "author to look for" list. Thanks!

  12. Hi Jennifer

    Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words. Peppermint Coke: would you buy it?

  13. Hi CJ

    There's probably only a handful of us that skip past the sex scenes! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  14. I my Self Rush up to the Sexy Scenes.But then I'm not Getting eny in my life so that is as Close as i get latly.

  15. Hi Stacey

    Best wishes on a change of luck in that department! Thanks for stopping by.


In accordance with the new FTC Guidelines for blogging and endorsements, Kiki Howell of An Author's Musings, would like to advise that in addition to purchasing my own books to review, I also receive books, and/or promotional materials, free of charge in return for an honest review, as do any guest reviewers.