Circle of Conspiracy Book One: The Challenge
fourth book in the triple-trilogy
Artesans of Albia fantasy series
Friend against friend, lover against lover, ally against ally. Conflict is coming …
Nine months have passed since Brynne Sullyan helped forge an alliance between the realms of Albia and Andaryon. A fragile peace reigns as both sides recover from the events of the previous year. Then mysterious raiders strike Andaryon villages. Attempts are made on the life of Albia’s High King. As Sullyan scrambles to find those responsible, unseen enemies threaten to pull apart everything she has worked for, including her marriage.
The alliance begins to crumble, and Sullyan finds herself caught between two monarchs: the king she’s sworn allegiance to, and the man she loves as a father. To betray either one would break her heart, but if conflict is inevitable, she must make a choice …
“Cas Peace has a most beguiling method of pulling you into this very well thought out world she has created. You simply fall in love with her characters, and then you cannot put the book down.” – P C Dodge, Amazon Reviewer.
“If you enjoy being whisked away to the realm of fantasy, I strongly suggest this unique, special read! Hands down, one of the best fantasy series I have ever read!” – Ashley L. Knight, author of FALWYN
“I have just loved this entire series. Cas Peace is a master storyteller, providing a depth and breadth of information about her worlds and their people that is just staggering. Her characters are complex and multi-dimensional, and I have very much enjoyed reading this series. I am also looking forward with great anticipation to her next novel in this series. I heartily recommend this series to anyone who enjoys epic fantasy, strong world-building and beautiful storytelling. Highly recommended!” – K. Sozaeva, Amazon Vine Voice and Top 1000 Reviewer.
“Cas Peace’s Artesans of Albia trilogy immediately sweeps you away: the drama starts with King’s Envoy, continues unabated in King’s Champion, and climaxes in King’s Artesan, yet each volume is complete, satisfying. The Artesan series propels you into a world so deftly written that you see, feel, touch, and even smell each twist and turn. These nesting novels are evocative, hauntingly real. Smart. Powerful. Compelling. The trilogy teems with finely drawn characters, heroes and villains and societies worth knowing; with stories so organic and yet iconic you know you’ve found another home—in Albia.
Now there’s a fourth book on Albia’s horizon: The Challenge, also Book One in Peace’s forthcoming sub-series, the Circle of Conspiracy trilogy, proof of more Albian tales on the way. So start reading now. I, for one, can’t wait to find out what will happen next.” – Janet Morris: The Sacred Band of Stepsons; the Dream Dancer series; I, the Sun; Outpassage
It is my pleasure to welcome Cas Peace, author of The Challenge, book one of the Circle of Conspiracy fantasy trilogy and fourth Artesan book overall, to Room With Books.
First I’d like to say a big ‘Thank You’ to Patricia Green of Room With Books for hosting me on her blog today and helping me promote The Challenge, book one of the Circle of Conspiracy fantasy trilogy and fourth Artesan book overall. I appreciate it!
What do you do when you are not writing?
Many things! I have two rescue dogs, so I love taking them out for walks. We own a sailing boat, so sometimes we sail. I’m a folk singer and songwriter as well as an author, so singing and playing the bodhran are favourite things to do. I’m also a freelance editor, so that keeps me busy. I have a large collection of cacti to care for, and I also like gardening. Sometimes I wonder how I find time to write!
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I was introduced as a teenager to Anne MacCaffrey’s Pern series, and her novels and writing style definitely influenced me. Then of course, I discovered Tolkien, another huge influence. I also admire Stephen Donaldson (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and other works).
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Getting published was an odd journey for me because I never intended to write a novel, let alone a whole series, and once I had, I didn’t really know how to go about finding a publisher. I began serching in 2002, and I think I made every mistake in the book, including sending a large “reading fee” to an agent who promptly absconded with my money! Once I learned how to go about submitting properly though, I found it quite frustrating, because I received many encouraging letters telling me that my wrting was good and that I’d eventually find a publisher, but I got no actual offers. However, that all changed in 2010 when an American indie publisher offered me a contract. It was so exciting, and it was a lovely experience. I learned such a lot from them, and was sad when they were forced to close in 2012. I used that experience to help me self-publish, and have never looked back.
If you could have any superpower what would you choose?
It would have to be the power to make people see sense – especially where wars and abuse are concerned. I’m sick of the way humanity is going – becoming this greedy, uncaring, overbearing destroyer of peace, the world, and anything perceived as weaker or inconvenient. It’s time we learned how to care for our world and to stop destroying ourselves!
What was your first job?
When I was at school, I had no real sense of what I wanted to do in life. I wish the Internet had been around then – it would have been far easier finding out about all the available careers! I had wanted to be a vet, but I’m not too good with figures so that wasn’t an option. As I adore horses, I decided to become a teacher of equitation. I joined a riding stable and trained for a year, finally passing my teaching and riding exams. I stayed with the stables for three more years before leaving to find a job that paid better wages!
What types of books do you write?
I write in the Fantasy genre, although I have also written a non-fiction book about a dog I owned some years ago. But Fantasy is what I love to read, and so I write the kind of books I’d enjoy reading myself.
Who’s your main audience?
My characters are mainly adults, so the books are aimed at adult readers. However, there isn’t really any bad language, or any overtly “adult” content (there is mention of rape but it’s not explicitly described), and I have had readers aged 12 who thoroughly enjoyed the series. I’ve also had many wonderful comments from people who’ve never picked up a fantasy novel before, so my books have wide appeal.
Out of all of your characters, which is your favorite?
That’s actually pretty hard to answer. When I began writing the series, the main character was going to be a guy called Taran. Taran is born with a power he doesn’t know how to use, and the whole premise of the book was ‘who do you turn to if you’re born with a special talent no one else has? How do you learn to control it, use it?’ Taran is like me in that he has no self confidence, and during the series the reader gets to see Taran grow and develop as a person and as an Artesan. However, as the first novel progresses, a new character, Sullyan, appears. She ends up being the other main character, and she’s the opposite side of the coin to Taran: Confident, beautiful, powerful, totally in control – almost exactly how I would like to be! Yet Sullyan has her flaws. She’s not perfect by any means, and the series explores the relationship between Sullyan and Taran, both in terms of their personalities and their Artesan powers. They are very important characters to me.
Having said that, I have other very strong characters and I think I like them all equally. I certainly had great fun with some of the villains. 🙂
What does your writing schedule look like?
Because all nine novels in my Artesans series were completed some years ago, I’m not actively writing novels at the moment. I have a publishing schedule, though, so each year I have two of my novels to self-edit, and then send to the editor I use to get them publication-ready. So there’s never a time when I’m not involved with an Artesans novel. I also sometimes write short stories, and will have one coming out in 2015 in an anthology collated by another author.
As I’m also a freelance editor, I’m always working on someone else’s novel or short story, so my schedule’s pretty full!
Do you use your OWN experiences?
I think every author has to draw on their own experiences if they want their writing to have authenticity. Sure, you can do research and learn about things you haven’t done, but I’m speaking more from an emotional viewpoint. How can you write about emotions if you haven’t experienced them yourself? How can you NOT transpose your own reactions and feelings onto your characters when they experience strong emotions or traumatic events? I don’t think anyone can realistically portray the deeper or more catastrophic life events without having gone through something similar themselves. Not even speaking to close friends or family members can replace the visceral effects of actual experience. In my opinion!
Was it easy to pick the title for your book?
I didn’t find it too hard, even though I had to discard the first title I chose. My series title, Artesans of Albia, was originally going to be Masters of the Matrix. I thought it was a very catchy title. But that was in 1999, just before the first Matrix film came out. I was furious – how dare the Wachowski Brothers ruin a perfectly good series title? I had to rethink – I didn’t want people thinking my books were trying to take advantage of the Matrix franchise. Then I hit on Artesans of Albia, which I like just as much. The individual book titles were quite easy too, once I decided I wanted a two-word title for each. The first three books all have titles beginning ‘Kings—’, and the second trilogy, Circle of Conspiracy, all have titles to do with circles. The third trilogy, Master of Malice, was a tad trickier, and I’m still not 100% the individual titles will stay as they are.
If you were to pick one profession if you were not an author which would it be?
I would be a professional show-jumper, or possibly carriage-driver. I adore horses (which is why there are so many in my books) and I always hoped to be good at show-jumping. However, although I passed all my equitation exams and qualified as a horse-riding instructor, I don’t have very good balance. I did do a bit of show-jumping at low levels, but don’t have the balance to ride the higher jumps. I also did some carriage-driving with a Welsh pony I used to own and loved it. I can’t think of anything nicer!
What are you currently working on?
As I mentioned earlier, I’m still working through the final five books in my series to get them publication-ready over the next two years. I do have another project in mind once that’s done, though. I plan to write a series prequel, aimed at the YA or NA market, telling the story of my main character Sullyan from birth until the appears in King’s Envoy, aged 23.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream? Vanilla. Sorry if that’s boring!
Night owl or early bird? Definitely early bird – I’m asleep by 10 pm!
Red, or white wine? White, although I love a good rosé.
Roller Coasters or Water Rides? I’m not much for either but I’d go for water if pushed.
Swimming in the ocean or a pool? Definitely not a public pool – ewww! (Hence why I’m not keen on Water Rides.) And I’ll only go in the sea if it’s warm, and I can snorkel.
Walking or fitness club? I do both and really enjoy it!
Any last words?
Besides writing, I’m also a singer/songwriter. I belong to a local church choir and also a village Music Group. Because I love folk music so much, I decided to write some into my novels. The first three books have songs in them, and I’ve recorded them, so they are available for fans to listen to. I’m now writing and recording songs or instrumentals for each of the other books in the series. The first three songs can be heard on the official Artesans of Albia trilogy trailer, see the link below, and also on my website, where they can be downloaded for free. Once the whole series has been published, I will collect the songs into a special CD which will accompany the series. Among the links you will also see a video of me performing the first song, The Wheel Will Turn, live at the King’s Envoy book launch. It was in a shopping mall, and was great fun!
Cas Peace was born in Hampshire UK, in 1957, and has lived there most of her life. Her first career was as a horse-riding instructor, and horses remain very close to her heart. She then spent 13 years working for the British Civil Service before leaving the UK to live in Italy for three years, 1991-1994. She speaks passable but by no means perfect Italian, and loves to return to Italy whenever she can.
Cas’s other great loves are anything to do with animals, especially dogs and horses, (she supports many animal charities) and also singing.
Cas loves folk songs and along with her husband, who plays guitar, has performed in many a Southern England folk club. Sometimes they even asked her back! She writes folk songs to accompany her fantasy novels, and offers them as free downloads from her website.
Book Songs: http://www.caspeace.com/downloads/songs
Artesans of Albia Series
On a foolhardy foray into a foreign realm, Taran Elijah is attacked by a terrible weapon known as the Staff. Killing its wielder, he escapes into Albia, inadvertently carrying the Staff.
Concerned by the vicious raids that follow Taran’s actions, Major Sullyan of the High King’s forces crosses into Andaryon to seek diplomatic resolution to the crisis. She is captured and tortured by Lord Rykan, aspirant to the Andaryon throne.
Slowly dying, Sullyan escapes his clutches. She offers her skills to the Hierarch in defense of his throne, finally confronting Rykan on the field of battle.
Her handsome Captain and lover, Robin Tamsen, embarks on a desperate quest to recover the Staff. But Rykan’s greedy General, Sonten, is two steps ahead of him. If Robin cannot lay hold of the weapon before Sonten does, Sullyan’s life and the lives of all Artesans are forfeit.
The race for the Staff has begun.
Artesans of Albia Book 1 King’s Envoy
Artesans of Albia Book 2 King’s Champion
Artesans of Albia Book 3 King’s Artesan
Circle of Conspiracy Book 1 The Challenge