Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Tours virtual book tour for Allegra Pescatore’s Gaslamp/Epic Fantasy novel Where Shadows Lie! I’ve been very keen on reading this for a while, so I was so excited when the opportunity came up for us to take it on tour!
Today, I am excited to share an interview with the author, Allegra Pescatore, but you can also count on a review of this wonderful book very soon! For now, you can find our Q&A below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, links to purchase a copy, and a giveaway opportunity where you could win a copy of Where Shadows Lie in virtually any format you could think of. Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule at the bottom of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
Where Shadows Lie by Allegra Pescatore
Series: The Last Gift, Book 1
Genre: Gaslamp/Epic Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: March 1, 2022
Publisher: AO Collective Publishing
The Chosen One is Dead.
Disabled since childhood, his little sister never expected the weight of a crown. Now, she might lose it before ever sitting on the throne. Beset by rebels, scheming politicians, and cutthroat bankers, Elenor must choose between accepting her father’s despotic rule or risking everything for her late brother’s lofty ideals.
Meanwhile, from the rainy streets of Lirin to the scorching dunes of the Mondaer Desert, the ripples of her actions have inadvertently broken a chain of events five centuries in the making. Ancient forces move in the shadows, calling in debts and striking deals. A monster with a thousand faces fingers his knife, ready to kill, and a pair of fugitives run for their lives, unaware of the danger they carry with them.
Where Shadows Lie is a non-stop epic fantasy ride, featuring an lgbtq+ and disabled protagonist and filled with court intrigue, sizzling romance, and adorable baby dragons. Dive in and get swept away!
Mother Knows Best • “Thank you for nothing, you useless reptile.” • #CancelStudentLoans
Authors Direct: https://shop.authors-direct.com/products/where-shadows-lieBook Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhdgbhb9NoY
Thank you so much for joining us for this short Q&A! Before we get going, please tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, legend has it I’m actually three cats in a trench coat, but I’m actually just an Italian-born author currently living in Pittsburgh, PA under a pile of cats and trench coats. I’ve been writing since I was a little kid, and published my debut in 2020. I have a rare genetic disease called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, so a lot of my work focuses on bringing disabled characters to center stage and telling their stories through the lense of fantasy and science fiction.
I want to start things off by asking: what is a great book that you’ve read recently and why should we give it a go?
I recently finished The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi and laughed until I cried most of the way through. It was light and clever science fiction at its best, and exactly what I needed to break out of a reading rut.
Do you have any hobbies or interests outside of reading/writing? Do you care to elaborate?
I love to cook (and actually used to be a chef)! I’ve traveled all over the world learning about naturally occurring fusion cuisine, and am fascinated by the intersection of food and culture. I also like to prance around the woods of Western PA in Renaissance clothes as part of the SCA.
Tell us about your road to writing. What made you want to become an author?
I was raised by parents who decided that instead of TV, they would read to me. From the age of two, my father started me on Tolkein, Lewis, Herbert, and all the classics of fantasy and sci-fi. I’ve been drawn to storytelling since my earliest memories, but what really got me typing was online forum-based fan RPGs. I wrote hundreds of thousands of words in Middle Earth and beyond, and found both my love of solo writing and my delight in co-authoring there.
Writing is a hard and lonely affair in the best of circumstances. How do you achieve a good work/life/writing balance?
One of the joys of co-authoring is that you get to spend hours and hours with your best friends getting super excited about the things you both love. However, even with that, writing is hard to balance. I work full time, freelance, write, and am disabled (which anyone will tell you is a full time job by itself). This means that most of my writing happens between midnight and 2AM, after up to 12 straight hours of work. It’s exhausting, but I’m a workaholic addicted to the rush that words give me, so I keep on doing it and keep on smiling. It’s my hope that in the next year or so, I’ll be able to go full time and regain some semblance of work-life balance.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
It’s my first published book, but I wrote a LOT before it. I have at least two novels that I simply threw away. They were my practice books, written for NaNoWriMo while I was in highschool and summarily executed upon completion. I don’t regret it at all. I also wrote Where Shadows Lie three times from scratch before even starting on the draft that would become the finished product. Each version was wildly different. A few shorter versions that never took off even had the roles of some of the characters reversed! So if anyone wants to know what the world would have looked like with Elenor as a rebel leader and Gabriel as a prince, you can search for it at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where it deserves to be.
What made you want to write in Epic Fantasy? Do you write (or plan to write) in any other genres?
Genre straddling is the love of my life. Project Ao, of which Where Shadows Lie is part, is a genre-spanning speculative fiction multiverse written by a team of authors. When I first imagined Project Ao, I was deep in my fanfic reading days and wondering why we didn’t see the sort of wildly imaginative crossovers and AU mashups in published fiction that we did all over the internet. Why weren’t our dragon-riding wizards using smartphones to lock their castles? Why did spaceships not run on wishes? I take great delight in straddling genres, and get very excited every time a reviewer notices that my fantasy rebels are using modern American vernacular. I won’t give you spoilers, but I promise it’s not incidental.
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I love how SFF (especially indie) is pushing the boundaries of representation further than they’ve ever been. I love all the disabled and neurodiverse characters introduced as an integrated and normal part of fantasy worlds. I love the diverse casts full of POC and LGBTQ+ characters, and the playful and poignant way real world issues are being discussed through the medium of fiction. We are living and writing in exciting times!
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
This one is hard, because it’s difficult to be objective about one’s own writing. I guess I would say that I am a utilitarian and unapologetic writer. You probably won’t find memorable quotes of brilliant turns of phrase on every page, but you may find yourself not noticing the prose and getting swept up in the story.
I think my strength is that I’m playful and not afraid to get real. I let my characters make mistakes and fall flat on their faces, but I also allow them the space to get back up and learn. The worlds I create are dark and twisty with squishy hopeful centers. They are full of ethical dilemmas and quiet moments of compassion, followed by loud explosions, sex, and cursing. I enjoy the mess and cacophony of humanity and try to capture it as best I can.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter. I hate massive plot-level revisions and avoid them as much as I can, therefore I plot heavily, revise the plot, have my editors and co-authors revise my plots, and only then start writing. A plot hole spotted early can save hundreds of hours of effort later. Once I get to the actual typing, though, I usually go off-script at least a few times a chapter!
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
I write a lot of my experiences into my stories, but I don’t like putting too much of myself into any one character. Elenor, for example, has my pain. It’s mine. When I describe the way she walks, or how her skin burns when fabric touches it, that’s usually because that day I was feeling it too. Whereas Fay’s propensity toward cursing is just how my inner monologue plays out all the time. After a while, though, characters become their own people. Sometimes I hit a block while writing because I was convinced they would go one way, and instead they have evolved enough that it no longer works. When that happens is when I’m happiest with my writing, because it means the causal chain of their decisions and experiences has become solid enough to push the plot on its own.
For those who haven’t read Where Shadows Lie, give us the elevator pitch.
The Chosen One dies, leaving his disabled little sister to step into his shoes.
Describe your book in 3 adjectives.
Inclusive, Interconnected, Irreverent
What do you think is the overarching theme?
That one’s easy: honesty in the face of fear. Every character, in one way or another, has to face their greatest fears over the course of the book. Some are incapacitated by them, others work through them and come out the other side as stronger people. They have to learn to admit hard truths about themselves, their beliefs, and each other. Even though the cast is spread out geographically for much of the story, that common thread touches all of them.
They say to never judge a book by its cover and maybe that’s true in the philosophical sense, but it certainly happens with books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of Where Shadows Lie?
I’ve gone through several covers over the course of this book’s life. Part of that was that I kept improving as an artist, and part of it was because my understanding of marketing and design changed. Mostly, though, I knew that I needed to represent Elenor’s disability front and center, and the cover was the best place to do that, so I kept working at it.
Elenor is an ambulatory wheelchair user (much like I am). She mostly uses canes, but in times of great pain or stress, her chair is easier. That’s not something that is talked about much. Most assume wheelchairs are an all-or-nothing affair, but for many, they are simply one item in an arsenal. While she only uses her chair a couple times in the text of the book, I wanted it there. It’s so easy to forget invisible illnesses are there just because they are not in your face; this was an opportunity to show her not at her most stubborn when she’s running around despite the pain, but rather when she isn’t hiding who she is.
What can you tell us about what’s coming up next for you?
Book 3 of the Last Gift is coming out on my birthday this July! After that, the 2nd and 3rd Mountain Fell books are coming out in the fall, making it my first year publishing more than two books! 2023 is going to be a little slower, as I plan to mostly write, but I expect you’ll be seeing a lot more out in the years that follow.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! I always enjoy this little peek behind the curtain. Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?
Thank you so much for having me, and thank you to anyone who’s still reading! This has been a blast!
About the Author
Allegra grew up in a small village in northern Tuscany as the daughter of two artists. She was raised on the works of J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Phillip Pullman, Frank Herbert, and many others, all read aloud to her while she drew and played make-believe. She began to write at the age of eight and hasn’t stopped since.
After many moves and dozens of countries visited, she now lives in a cozy cottage in Western PA. She is accompanied in her current adventures by husband Job, co-conspirator and long-time writing partner Tobias, and a small army of furry and scaly pets. When not writing or daydreaming, Allegra rules her kitchen with an iron first and feeds everyone who walks through her door. She also gardens, dabbles in various art forms, and spins stories for her tabletop gaming group.
As a disabled woman and staunch LGBTQ ally, Allegra hopes to write engaging, diverse, and representative Fantasy and Science Fiction, where people who do not often see themselves center stage get the chance to shine.
Her debut book, Where Shadows Lie, was an SPFBO Semi-Finalist and is a CIBA award finalist. It is the first book of The Last Gift series, and the first title of Project Ao, by Ao Collective Publishing. Other titles in Project Ao include NACL: Eye of the Storm (2021 SPFBO Semi-Finalist) and A Bond of Thread.
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