Leora has a book to give away today, so leave your contact emails with a comment :-)
Welcome Leora !
What is your Hot New Release?
My new release is called "A Matter of Timing." It's the second book in The Binding Trilogy. Book 1 was released in May. I'm pretty excited about Book 2, like Book 1 it mostly takes place in a contemporary urban setting but with this book there is also an interconnected storyline set in ancient Egypt - so that's pretty different!
Release Date: October 3
Author: Leora Stark
Author Website: www.leorastark.com
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre : M/M Fantasy Romance
"When human couple Javier and Robin have a relationship-threatening disagreement about raising a family, the benevolent Felan Council dispatches newly trained Rilke to help them sort it out. But the Felan Council doesn’t know Rilke has problems of her own.
Somehow Rilke has developed a psychic bond to Gimle, the founder of the bond on which the Felan culture is based. Thousands of years ago, he bonded with a human man named Isa. Now Rilke sees their passionate love story firsthand through her dreams—but the dreams differ greatly from the Felan teachings. Convinced she must be crazy, Rilke flounders in her quest to help Javier and Robin communicate and struggles to find the confidence to tell the Felan Council what she’s learned."
2- Can you tell us a little about yourself and your books?
I'm a big fantasy geek so it's been really exciting for me to delve into that genre in my writing. The first few things I wrote were contemporary romances so this Trilogy is a totally different ballgame, I loved being able to fully unleash my imagination!
3- Have you ever used events or stories contemporary or historical in your work?
Well, there is a historical element to "A Matter of Timing" in that half the story takes place in Ancient Egypt. I did some research to ensure that there weren't any glaring anachronisms and I tried to ensure I captured some of the flavour of that period. Other than that I would say that my stories are mostly based on my own fantasies rather than any real event - past or present. I am really interested in writing a straight up (no pun intended) historical romance though. Since writing doesn't pay the bills (yet!) I moonlight as a history professor so it's definitely an interest of mine.
4. Is there anything you find particularly challenging/ rewarding about writing?
Finding the time to write is pretty challenging. I have a new baby and other work responsibilities so that's the real issue for me. Then. once you've carved out the time and space what if all your inspiration leaves the room? Ack, that's the worst. When it's going well though it feels amazing, it just flows - those are the best days and they make it all worthwhile.
5. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? How has that childhood dream affected your current career?
I think I wanted to be a marine biologist (like half the other kids I knew!). Obviously that never happened. Once I realized I would have to study science I gave that up. Then I thought about being an archeologist which is a little closer to what I'm doing now (the professor bit anyway)! I think that's probably why I liked writing "A Matter of Timing" so much, reading about Ancient Egypt took me back to the seventh grade when I was obsessed with that period. I definitely never thought I'd be a writer and if you'd asked me even two years ago if I thought I'd ever have a book published I would have said no…so you never know where things will take you.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule?
Not really, I try to ensure I devote at least a couple of hours a week to it at this point but having a four month old really messes with any kind of attempt I make at planning stuff! I'm hoping that changes.
Q: What kinds of books do you like to read?
I'm a book junkie, so I dabble in all genres - historical fiction, literary fiction, chick lit, mystery - but my heart probably belongs to fantasy.
Q: What can readers expect from you in the near future?
Well, I'm working on Book 3 of The Binding right now so that'll be next up!
It's been great having you here today. before you go would you like to share an excerpt?
Sure. Here's an excerpt from "A Matter of Timing."
10 BC, Somewhere in the desert outside of Thebes
GIMLE hit the ground with an almighty thump. His breath whooshed out of him, and daggers of light pierced his eyes as they adjusted to the bright sunlight. It took several moments before he was able to stand and orient himself. When he did, his eyes widened in wonder. He stood in the middle of a small cluster of gnarled trees, their sparse branches curled up toward the sky, providing little shade from the white-yellow heat of the sun. Around him stretched an arid landscape of sand and scrub, broken only occasionally by another small copse of trees. It was like nothing he’d ever seen. His skin quickly began to shine with sweat as his body fought futilely to cool itself. To say he was inappropriately dressed for the weather would be an understatement. Used to the cold and crisp climate of his native Asgard, Gimle wore tightly fitted woolen leggings, a long belted tunic of multilayered and insulated silk, and sturdy, fur-lined boots. Asgard in its warmest season could only be described as “temperate.” Over the millennia his people, the Felan, had developed a certain level of immunity to the cold. Unfortunately for Gimle, they were ill-accustomed to the heat. Gimle eased himself back into the shade of the trees and undid the laces of his silk tunic. He briefly contemplated removing his boots, but one look at the baking-hot sand around him had him reconsidering the idea.
He’d done it. There could be no other explanation for the sights around him. He’d made his way through the portal. Ever since a rift between Asgard and an alternate world—what the elders called the Morkaland, or “dark land”—had been discovered a few years ago, Gimle had been unable to think of anything else. The earliest reports from those who’d been approved to voyage through one of the stable portals the elders had created had not been promising. They described a world full of pain and suffering populated by a race of creatures who, though they looked not unlike the Felan, were cruel and thoughtless. The elders had been shocked by what they’d heard and had been debating ever since how they should best proceed.
These reports had done nothing to dampen Gimle’s enthusiasm. An unexplored world! He was young enough to be unconcerned about the reported dangers—by Felan reckoning he was only eighteen. He had been seeking a way to traverse across one of the portal’s well-guarded barriers ever since.
Perhaps it was his youth that had made the guards overlook, or dismiss, his presence day in and day out at the site of the newest portal. He wasn’t the only young Felan who gathered there to stare into the shining abyss and wonder what could possibly lie on the other side. His patience had been rewarded eventually when a large animal had unwittingly crossed over to Asgard. It looked nothing like the native animals found on the plains of Asgard or the beasts who inhabited the mountainous peaks to the north. It was covered in fine, soft hair, brown and black in coloring, with thickly lashed eyes, and a large wet snout. It made a distressed lowing sound when it stumbled through the portal. The guards had been thrown into a frenzy, unsure whether to attack the animal, herd it back through the portal, or alert the elders. In the end, the resulting confusion had allowed Gimle, who had stood watching, fascinated, on the sidelines, to sneak through the portal. That had only been a few minutes ago, or had it been hours? Days? The trip across had been disorienting, and he found himself unsure how much time had passed since he’d left Asgard. Long enough that his stomach was rumbling pretty aggressively, but then again, Gimle was always hungry.
He knew his absence would eventually be noted by those who shared his dwelling space, but he hoped no one would guess what he’d done. He wanted time to explore this new world before anyone came to seek him out. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been at all prepared for the trip. The carefully gathered bag of supplies he’d been hoarding lay abandoned under his bed at home, and so here he stood with nothing but the uncomfortably hot clothes on his back.
For a brief moment he considered turning back. The climate seemed spectacularly hostile, and he had no idea what sort of inhabitants he’d find in this land. Given everything the elders had told them, the people here were to be approached cautiously—if at all. He swallowed the lump of fear in his throat, took a deep breath, and began walking. In an attempt to stay slightly cool, he chose to walk with the sun at his back toward a distant hill. Around him he could see little evidence of civilization, and he hoped this particular portal didn’t open into an uninhabited area. While he was fascinated by the plants around him and alternately fearful and excited by the feel of the hot sun on his neck, what really interested him were the people he might encounter here in this new world. What would they look like? Would they be friendly? Would he be able to communicate with them? From all accounts, the people here spoke an indecipherable language. The previous visitors had been able to communicate, but only with great difficulty. The Felan had an unerring ear for languages, and Gimle only hoped he would be able to learn the local language somewhat successfully. He had a lot of questions to ask. After all, it wasn’t everyday that you found yourself in a new and alien world on the other side of a portal through space.
THE house lay in a shallow valley. It appeared to be made of hard-baked mud of some sort and was conical in shape with a round entranceway. It looked spacious, and there were several other buildings surrounding it. One seemed to house animals while another, judging from the smoke pouring out, was a sort of cooking space. A few rangy trees surrounded the house, and several aimless birds pecked the ground outside the main entrance. There was no one in sight, but Gimle approached with caution nonetheless. He had no weapons to speak of, and the Felan didn’t believe in violence in any case, so he had to trust that whoever lived here would prove reasonably welcoming. He made his way around to the first building and stepped inside. The air smelled of animal waste and hay, a sharp tang that made Gimle recoil. In Asgard, domesticated animals were rare, and those that existed were purely for amusement. The Felan existed on a diet of protein-rich plants flavored by spicy flowers and supplemented by a variety of grains. Gimle cursed himself for his squeamishness and re-entered the building. He saw a collection of creatures not unlike the one that had enabled his trip through the portal. However, one was larger than the others, with a longer snout and legs. It looked dignified and… intelligent. Gimle approached it slowly. He knew the elders had said the inhabitants of this world were similar in physiognomy to the Felan, but he wondered as he regarded the creature if perhaps this area had a different species. He cleared his throat and addressed the creature.
“I am Gimle. I come from Asgard. I am here to learn your ways and help develop a friendship between our peoples,” he said in a dignified voice as he extended his hand to the creature. The creature made a whuffing sound out of its nostrils and nuzzled Gimle’s palm. It seemed to be expecting something. Gimle cursed himself. An offering! Of course, it was the height of rudeness to enter a dwelling without a gift. But he’d had no time. In a flash of inspiration, he untied one of the sashes attached to his silk tunic and bowed as he presented it to the creature. It regarded him with impassive eyes, then stomped its foot. Perhaps that was a sign of acceptance? Gimle moved cautiously forward and tied the sash around the creature’s neck. There was no reaction, but Gimle felt pleased. The violet sash looked quite lovely next to the creature’s dark hair. He bowed again and congratulated himself on a positive first encounter with this new world’s inhabitants. This was going rather well.
He was startled out of his reverie by a noise behind him. He spun around, his heart in his throat. A man stood in the doorway. The bright sun behind him threw him into stark relief, and Gimle was unable to properly see his face. When the young man stepped forward, Gimle was surprised. Though the man’s face was still largely shrouded in shadow, Gimle could tell he was young and very dark in coloring, but he looked remarkably… like a Felan. Gimle was reassured by this and decided to address him.
“I am Gimle. I am here from Asgard. I am here to learn your ways and help develop a friendship between our peoples,” he said, hand outstretched. The young man cautiously took Gimle’s hand in his own. Gimle was reassured at this positive sign and decided to continue. “I would welcome the opportunity to discuss your world and your customs. I am sure I can offer useful knowledge in exchange.” He felt quite sure about this last bit. Though the buildings seemed clean and well-constructed, they were rather primitive, and what he could see of the young man’s clothing was… well, ugly was the best word to describe it. Gimle knew with a few tips he could help these poor people out, allow them to foster a more civilized lifestyle.
The young man said something in a guttural language. Gimle flushed. He had momentarily forgotten that there would be a language barrier. He repeated his words, but this time slowly and slightly more loudly. This had little effect. Then he tried one of the other Felan dialects. The young man replied again, but Gimle could no more make out the words than the first time. Gimle sighed in exasperation. He’d been so eager and impatient to learn about this world that the setback frustrated him. He took a moment to collect himself and thought hard about what the elders would do in this situation. How could he connect with this man without a shared language? A shaft of sunlight pierced through one of the round openings in the wall and blinded Gimle momentarily. When his eyes adjusted to the change, he was able to finally see the young man’s face properly. Though he was rather plain, his skin was a warm coffee color and his eyes…. Gimle met his eyes and felt a pull deep down inside—it was almost painful. It felt like a part of himself had been removed, then suddenly it was back. He felt different. Larger, fuller, more complete. He gasped. The man seemed to be suffering a similar reaction. He bent slightly at the waist and clutched his heart for a moment; then he straightened, his eyes watering, and regarded Gimle with wonder.
Gimle felt compelled to speak even though he knew an attempt at communication was fruitless. “Did you… did you feel that?” he said tremulously.
The man stepped back in surprise and stared at Gimle for what seemed like eternity. Finally, he took a deep breath and crossed the space between them. He took Gimle’s hands in his own and looked at him in wonder.
“Who sent you?” he asked.
Gimle started in confusion. He’d understood the man perfectly, and it seemed the man had understood him.
“I… ah, I sent myself… that is.” Gimle gathered his dignity purposefully. This was, after all, his first real contact with the local inhabitants (he didn’t count the unproductive moment he’d had earlier with the silent, brown-haired creature). “I am here from Asgard. I am here to learn your ways and help develop a friendship between our peoples,” he said with a flourish.
“Asgard?” the man said, a puzzled and slightly disappointed expression on his face. “Where is that?”
“Across the portal. You, of course, will have never been there. It’s very difficult to travel between our worlds, actually,” Gimle said modestly.
“You are from another world?” the man asked. His expression brightened at that.
“Yes, from Asgard,” Gimle said. Perhaps the elders had been right about the people here; the young man seemed a trifle slow. “I am Gimle.”
The man smiled shyly. “I am Isa,” he said.
Well, that’s progress, Gimle thought.
He was suddenly aware that the young man’s attention had been drawn to the brown-haired creature next to Gimle. The man regarded it with a puzzled and slightly amused expression on his face. Gimle flushed, certain all of a sudden that he had committed a faux pas. The young man’s expression bordered on outright laughter as the creature managed to grab hold of one end of the silk tie in its teeth, and the elaborate bow Gimle had tied came undone. What was worse, the creature then began to chew on one end of the tie. After a moment, perhaps finding it unsatisfactory in some way, it dropped it and looked at the two men. Gimle was determined not to let his embarrassment show. He saw now that the creature was not perhaps as advanced as he had supposed and hoped desperately that the young man had not heard him address it so formally, nor try to shake its… hand.
“You like horses very much, Gimle?” the man said, his eyes dancing.
“Horses?” Gimle asked. He’d never heard the word before. “Yes, well, I… yes, I suppose it appears that I do….” He couldn’t think of a thing to say. He felt laughter bubbling up inside him. He met Isa’s eyes and saw that he too was struggling to contain himself.
“He’s my favorite. His name is Rasal. He doesn’t speak much, though…,” Isa said before collapsing into giggles. Gimle could hold back no longer, and he laughed long and hard. Each time he came close to controlling himself, he imagined how he must have looked addressing the impassive Rasal so formally and adorning him with his sash. Eventually the two quieted. Gimle regarded Isa, not sure how to proceed.
“Gimle, from Asgard, I have never had a visitor from another world, nor a visitor who accorded so much respect to my beloved Rasal,” Isa said with a smile. “Welcome to my home. I am happy to have you here. I… I would like to welcome you more formally, but….” Isa stopped speaking, a shadow passed over his face, and all trace of laughter was gone. “It is complicated here. My father, he will not welcome you. Normally I warn visitors away, and for your safety I should do the same for you, but I feel I cannot send you away.” Isa stopped, took a deep breath, and regarded Gimle hopefully, his brown eyes wide with wonder. “You see, Gimle, I believe it was I who brought you here.”