I got an interview with Holly Evans, author of ‘Stolen Ink’!

“Who’s our first client?”

He curled his lip and looked up from his sketchbook. “Some prissy boy in an expensive suit.”

I read Stolen Ink a while ago, and absolutely LOVED it, and I’ve been lucky enough to get an interview with the author, Holly Evans. If you haven’t already, read this book. There will be links at the bottom of the page to the author’s Amazon page and Twitter for anyone interested, and you really should be. I reviewed ‘Stolen Ink’ here. I’m also now reading an ARC of the second book in this series, Blood and Ink, which is shaping up to be as good as the first! (review coming soon). Holly Evans has also written a series called Infernal Hunt, which is on my to-read list! So, without further ado…

1) What influenced and inspired you to write your novels?
Stolen Ink really came from my love of tattoos. I think they’re an incredible art form. I have two at the moment but I have plans for four more.
There are so many subconscious influences and inspirations buried in there. My fae come from the Celtic and Norse mythology, there are twists of course, but I adore the predatory tricksters that they had there. None of the fluffy Disney stuff. The really tight friendship between Dacian and Keirn (also the one between Evie and Elise in the Infernal Hunt books) comes from my friendship with my bestfriend. We’ve been through thick and thin, we’d do anything for each other. The city and setting comes mostly from Prague as I was living there when I wrote the IH books and Stolen Ink. It’s such a gorgeous, multi-faceted city. There are so many layers to explore, it’s hard not be inspired there.
I think one of the big things that influenced the books was the fact that I see a lot of people saying they don’t see enough platonic relationships in books. There’s so much focus on rivalry and romance. I wanted to show the strong familial and friendship bonds. That came through more in the IH books, but there’s plenty of time with Dacian and co. yet.

2) Most writers put themselves into their characters, to an extent. Out of your own characters, were there any in particular that you felt you identify with more than others? Were there any that you found yourself particularly liking or disliking as you wrote them?
I really love Vyx. She’s such a fire-cracker! She’s strong, self-assured, and yet still very definitely feminine. She loves her pretty dresses, she has quite a strong maternal instinct (as can be seen in her cooking for the hopeless boys), but she’ll still stare down an alpha wolf shifter. She isn’t the combat model so to speak, but that doesn’t take away any of her strength or fire, if anything it adds to it. And she doesn’t compensate for her lack of combat effectiveness with feminine wiles or overt sexuality because she’s very much asexual. She’s so much fun to write. Don’t get me wrong, I love kick-ass woman, Evie and co were fantastic to write, and my favourite women in fiction are all kick-ass, but Vyx is wonderful. She makes me smile so much.
As to those that I put myself into… Up until Stolen Ink I made very sure to strip out every scrap of myself from my fiction. I allowed something of myself to creep into Isa though. I have an abusive past and some of that came through with him. I like to hope that I have Isa’s strength. I identify with Dacian a bit as well, that feeling of wanting a quiet life but the gods just won’t quite allow it lol.

3) If you had a day in the world of Stolen Ink, what would you do and where would you go? Who would you be in that world?
That’s so hard!! I’d love to go up into the skies with the knowledge merchants. They enjoy such freedom flying around the world trading information and using their wits and wiles to get all they can from the world. I think I’d like to fly over Northern Africa and some of the magical cities over that with them. To see the cultures that are so different to my day to day life.
4) Are there any bits of worldbuilding that never made it into the book that you’d love to share with everyone? If so, what?
There’s so much! This world is huge. I’m planning another 4+ series in this world so there’s a lot left to explore and share yet. I adore the knowledge merchants, they’ll be shown in Blood & Ink. There’s another branch to the dreamwalkers that’re very cool too, I have a series planned with one of those as a protagonist. Where Ben was very much half in the dream world with his bright colours and vacant expression, the other branch is more military. They’re kick-ass investigators. Oh! And I want to share the non-magic cities where they have magical creatures in zoos to stare at. The ethics and views around that will be fun to look into. To see how they view magic so very differently to Dacian and co. There’s so, so, much left to share! I could go on for pages, but I think it’s best put into the books.

5) If there was something you want people to get from the books above anything else, what would it be?
Hmm. I think it’s probably the importance of your chosen family. The people that you pull around you, that you choose to give your all to. The relationships with those people are so important. As I mentioned above I think those relationships are quite often put aside in fiction, but, as scary as it is to open up to people and establish those bonds, they’re life-savers (literally) when you have them. Dacian has trouble trusting people, but the people around came through for him. When he opens up a bit more he’s so much happier and freer. It’s terrifying to do that, to take the risk, but it’s absolutely worth it. It’s also worth putting our efforts into those bonds and being the best friends that we can be. It makes our lives richer.

6) What’s your next step? Tell us a little about the next thing you are planning to work on.
I’m currently writing Ink Bound (Ink Born 3). That continues Dacian’s story. After that I’m starting a new series, Hidden Alchemy. That follows the bisexual treasure-hunting alchemist Kaitlyn Felis. That’s set in the same world as Dacian and there will be a couple of cameos from Kaitlyn in Dacian’s books and vice versa. That’s far more an Indiana Jones type of book. I want to capture the adventure that I feel in the Stardust movie. Once those two series are established I’ll start my next series in the ink world. There are a few options for that, the dreamwalker I mentioned above, a blood magician, and there’s an air elemental that’s been calling to me for a while too. We’ll see what happens!

So, thank you to the wonderful Holly Evans for the interview, and for anyone who wants links to her work, here you go!
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/Holly-Evans/e/B01ESEZALC
Twitter: Http://twitter.com/KhaosFoxe
-K Hart



Red Right Hand – Levi Black Review

Charlie Tristan Moore isn’t a hero. She’s a survivor. On a night when her demons from the past are triggered, she arrives home to something even more harrowing-an attack by three monstrous skinhounds, creatures straight out of nightmares. She fights but is outmatched. Just as hope seems lost, in sweeps The Man In Black, a rescuer even more monstrous and unlikely, dressed in a long, dark coat that seems to have a life of its own and with a black-bladed sword held in his terrible, red right hand.

Her rescue comes at a cost. She must become his new Acolyte and embrace a dark magick she never knew she had inside her. To ensure she gives it her all, he takes her friend and possible love, Daniel, in thrall as a hostage to her obedience. The Man in Black, a Lovecraftian chaos god, claims to be battling his brethren gods, other horrors who are staging an incipient apocalypse. But is he truly the lesser of all evils or merely killing off the competition? Either way, will Charlie be strong enough to save herself, Daniel, and possibly the entire world?

I really liked this book in the end. Lovecraftian monsters, a ‘heroine’ with a survivor attitude and a hell of a kick. I usually like ‘mysterious guy/girl turns up out of nowhere’ stories, too, and this one fits the bill. For me, it was a short, easy read with enough to keep me reading on and enough characterisation to make me decide who I liked and who I didn’t, which is pretty key for me. I probably will read the next one, but it’s not a must like some others I’ve read. I’d be willing to wait a little.

-K Hart

Lost Illusions – Honore De Balzac Review

Progress on Alternate: EEK.

Current Review:

I want to talk a bit about this book. I picked it up primarily due to three reasons: a) it’s by a French author, and right now I’m taking a particular interest in French literature, b) an assurance of a vain, almost unlikeable protagonist, and c) a lot of people talked about it in relation to the Romantics, the prose and poetry movement.

As expected, I really do like Lucien. It’s odd. Perfect, ideal characters are NEVER for me. Give them flaws any day. I’m flawed, they should be too dammit. I love his mistakes, his naivety as well as his vanity and pride. There was a moment where his friends offered to lend him money and he immediately gave it back where I just sort of went ‘okay, other people feel like that too’.

I also loved the detail. As far as I know, Honore De Balzac (excuse the lack of appropriate punctuation, it’s not possible on this keyboard) was involved in the printing business, which explains all of the talk of how it works… but as a writer and someone interested in old methods of printing, I loved that.

Lucien’s friends, poor things, were long suffering and beautiful. Good lord. I wanted to tell them to get out of there. Such beautiful souls. And a shining contrast to this conceited man character. But at the same time Lucien wasn’t, or I didn’t find him, unlikeable. He had his soft side. He was vain, but at the same time truly vulnerable. I love that.

Finally, I have to talk about the social commentary here. I love that sort of thing, particularly in classics, because I find that world fascinating. Full of politeness and careful phrasing, hidden meanings and subtle hints. People tell me today’s world isn’t like that, but sometimes I feel it is. And understanding it can be so difficult, especially if you feel outside of it in some way.

I can really understand why some people don’t like this book. There is a lot of printing detail, there’s a lot of back and forth, political opinions, things that we wouldn’t necessarily include in a book today. But at the same time those are the very reasons I like it. I would consider attitudes to this a little like attitudes to Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables… In that the prose is sometimes interrupted with detail that appears odd, or the characters appear to be mouthpieces for the author’s own opinions… but to me, that’s FUN. I very much LIKE to see that sort of thing when I’m reading, because I enjoy the ideas that are put forward. If I was looking for a light, fun read, however, I would pick up something entirely different.

-K Hart

Spirit’s End – Rachel Aaron Review

Progress on Alternate: The beta-readers have it!

Current Review:

So, the final book. Now usually I don’t really muster much enthusiasm for the final book in a series. The problem is, the things I love about a story aren’t the big end battles or the huge stakes… it’s the tiny things. Character-building, little moments, things that touched my heart.

When I read the very start of this book, I was struck by a very weird uncomfortable feeling. It was so well-written, and Eli’s experience (no spoilers here!) was something that once in a while in my life I have felt too. And it is SO ACCURATE. And I’ve never seen it written down like that, in such a way, before.

And then everything moved on. Big things were happening. A storm was brewing. Literally as well as figuratively. And they have to find a way out of it. It’s not really a spoiler to say they do. That’s like saying ‘the story ends’. Yes, it ends in one way or another, but how we get there is the important part. Who we meet along the way.

I guess I just inadvertently made a metaphor for life in trying to review a genre novel. Oh well.

I think the main thing to be said with this novel is that the characters are incredible as always, and that I really want Eli and Nico on my side. Just saying. Josef would be handy in a fight, too. But Eli and Nico I want as friends.

-K Hart