There are books that hit your emotions SO hard they stay with you long after finishing. Immortal is one of those and if I could have tripled it’s star rating I would! I was blown away. Today we’re honoured and thrilled to welcome Amy Lane to Sinfully where I was excited to get her on the Sinfully couch for a fabulous chat, and to congratulate her on the release of this wonderful, dark fairy tale.
Plus one lucky reader could win a copy of this beautiful gold star book by entering the Rafflecopter below. Don’t miss your chance… Enter now!
An Interview with Amy
Macky: Hi Amy, first of all congratulations on the release of Immortal (which I absolutely loved!) and thank you SO much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join me on the Sinfully couch for a bit of a chat. You'll probably get sick of answering this particular question, Lol...but how did Teyth and Diarmuids story come about? I'm still thinking about them days after finishing and all the other wonderful characters who managed to steal a part of my heart.
Amy: Hi, Macky-- nice to be here! And *bounces* what a wonderful couch!
I think this fantasy romance came about because of some very real, very practical thoughts that had sort of been riding me for a long time. I write in chaos-- because I don't have time to clean the house. For many years, I spent my entire evening as "that voice in the kitchen" while the rest of the family spent family time. I've sacrificed spring days and holidays to writing--and you have to wonder, why? What makes this job, this art, this passion, worth it? Is the art that you produce worth the blood you've spilled (literally in Teyth's case) to produce it? A long time ago-- probably in junior high, when we were learning about the apprentice/journeyman system, I remember hearing a story about how pre-adolescent girls would try to become apprentices. They would literally starve themselves to prevent menses so they could have a different life. This story was originally conceived as a non-romantic tragedy, wherein a girl starved herself to produce just one small piece of jewelry, something beautiful and fantastic that far outlived her. But that was when I was younger. As I've grown older, I've had to ask myself about the relationship of the wider world-- of politics, for lack of a better word-- to art, and given that I do write gay romance, this story, and Teyth and Diarmuid, were the result.
Macky: And what a brilliant result! I knew going in it was going to be an emotional read, but OMG! This really did tear my heart to pieces, before putting it back together again, as the copious amount of tears I shed proved! I don't think I've cried and sobbed all the way through a book as much for a long time. Do you actually get physically moved to tears yourself Amy, when you're writing the deeply emotional parts of your characters story?
Amy: OMG YES! A story like this one, I'm still crying in the third edit, which means I've read it about fifty, sixty times. That's how I know it's going to be good.
Macky: Yes! Definitely a 'Tissue Alert' warning for this one...although that's pretty much a foregone conclusion with an Amy Lane book! Lol...
So…There are magical, mystical and otherworldly elements about Immortal that definitely make this an adult fairytale and not just high fantasy but it's certainly not the stuff of fairy godmothers, magic wands and handsome princes...Gah! The prince in this is far from charming! In fact the words cruel, heartless and bastard come to mind. It's raw, earthy and at times graphically dark but I still thought it was a beautiful, moving story even though some of its scenes and themes are quite harrowing and distressing. Would you say this is a completely different venture from your usual fantasy/paranormal novels and because of the harshness of some of its subject matter were you a bit more nervous about this book than others you've written in the past?
Amy: Am I nervous? Yes. This is a rather brutal portrayal of art as it effects the artists and the people he loves. But I think my AU-- alternative universe writing, like science-fiction or fantasy or urban fantasy-- has always been a bit brutal and raw. For me, the fantasy landscape gives me a chance to scale away some of the veneer we have in contemporary society-- we're rougher, yes, but are our hearts still pure? Sometimes, I hope.
A personal favourite about Immortal, was the unique dialect you wrote the story in. I'm a lass from the North of England and some of the expressions, and style of voice, felt very familiar to me, so I fell into it quite comfortably. But there were also hints of Celtic colloquialisms and jargon in there. It's very different to the norm but definitely gave a more credible feel to the story, and once I got used to the cadence, totally enhanced my enjoyment. Did you actually research Old English regional accents for authenticity or was it all your own imaginative creation?
Amy: Not so much research as sort of a long term education. When I was a kid, I read the old Harlequin Presents-- and most of those were written by British authors. Most of the fantasy authors I read were British, and I was fascinated by the subtle differences in the language. When I got my English degree, I took a couple of classes in phonetics and the history of the English language, as well as a lot of classes in early British literature. And I love to listen to people just talk to see if I can hear the differences in inflection that make an accent an accent. So I sort of brought all this to the table when I started writing-- but I realized with books like Truth in the Dark and Hammer & Air that you can't bring too much to the table, or it will really confuse people. So I had to sort of limit the dialectical rules to a handful of standout things, and try not to oversaturate the book with them. You'll notice that the narration has far less dialect than the dialog-- that was on purpose. On the one hand, the narrator is speaking at a vast remove than his younger self when talking, and so the thinner dialect makes sense--but on the other, it was a good excuse not to inundate the reader. I was also-- and this was so difficult-- trying to show that Diarmuid spoke a slightly different accent than the rest of the village. I used my reading experience--and my joy of listening to British films, of course-- to choose two words that Diarmuid would say that nobody else would. One of the words was "dinna" and the other was "yeah"-- and believe me, that was enough. I'm sure I failed at keeping them consistent (and some of that can be blamed on the fact that Teyth would have been imitating Diarmuid at every turn) but just the effort of that kind of subtlety was, I hope, sufficient to mark that he was different.
Macky: Teyth's fantastic organic sculptures, the blood, sweat, tears and other bodily fluids he physically sheds that literally become a part of them, and the gods of the forest who add both a chilling and beautiful element to the story, brought pagan aspects into the mix. Again, was that something you looked into, or was it just pulled from the imagination?
Amy: Again, not so much "researched" as "steeped in"-- I've read a lot of fairy tales, and a lot of them from different places. When I wrote my Little Goddess series, I sort of boiled down the source of all magic to the three elements I saw in pretty much every fairy tale I read-- touch, blood, and song. Touch was simple human touch-- and it's a powerful thing. Blood--or tears or come-- are parts of the human body, and they too are VERY powerful. And song is not just poetry, it's will-- it's intent. These three things-- on a very human level, they seem to accomplish VERY human magic. So when I write fantasy, this interaction of the hard physical world with the magic of the human imagination always feels to me to be the organic heart of what is fantastic in this world I've build. So, you know. Touch, blood, and song.
Macky: I don't want to give too much away, but I never saw that ending coming! As I said the tears were flowing, I was a snotty mess and I could hardly see past them to read. Haha...I'm such a big softie...but seriously, I went back and read it three times because as emotionally tear inducing as it was, I just loved how you resolved everything and brought in that beautiful, unexpected twist! Did you work with that particular ending in mind, or did you have no idea at all when you started, how it would all plan out?
Amy: LOL-- actually, it was hard. I kept wanting to find another way to resolve it--but from the very beginning, this was the story I wanted to tell. Mary Calmes, who is my beta reader, would get all sucked in and start talking about a very different ending, and I'd call her back and go, "Uhm… hon… we talked about this…" She'd be like, "Shit. Shit shit shit shit shit… why do you DO this to me!"
Macky: Hahaha...you had me doing a fair bit of "Shit, shit, shit shit shit shit '" too! Which makes me wonder....you must grow to love all your characters, but there was certainly something special about these two. Is it hard to let go of some characters more than others, and do you miss them?
Amy: I do love all my characters--but yes. Teyth and Diarmuid haunted me more than most. Every time my husband goes to bed without me, I'm going to hear it in my head. "Ye be coming to bed soon, yeah-yeah?" "Soon, aye."
Macky: *Sigh* I loved Diarmud's "Yeah, Yeah's".... Anyway, back to the grilling! <Grins>
You write across the board in M/M but if you could only choose one sub genre to write in for the rest of your writing career, which would your heart tell you to pick? Contemporary, paranormal or fantasy?
Amy: That's hard. I used to think that ALL I wanted to write was fantasy-- but after writing M/M contemporary for so long, I have so much love for it. And the truth is, I can only pull one novel like Immortal or Truth in the Dark or Under the Rushes out of my brain every so often. These are the books I get lost in-- and I think some of the point in Immortal was that getting lost in your art isn't always healthy. When Teyth wasn't working the regular things in the smithy, that's when he lost himself and very nearly, his lover. So I think I'd have to say contemporary, because there is still artistry in the every day, but there is also a sense of time, and a sense of who and what I am now. When I'm working on contemporary, I'm less likely so sacrifice television time or outing time with my children for the voices I hear in my head.
Macky: Amy, thank you! it's been an absolute pleasure chatting to you today. You're a busy lady so I'll wrap up now and let you go but I hope you'll take time in the future to come back to see us again at Sinfully. You're always welcome. Good luck with Immortal and I hope everyone falls in love with this poignant fairytale as much as I did. Everything about it will stay with me for a long time!
Amy: It was lovely of you to have me here--and I'm so glad you loved this story. It's not a light and easy read, by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm so glad it's powerful enough to touch your heart!
Macky: *Waving goodbye to Amy* Hmmm, 'touch' is a bit of an understatement Amy! Assaulted my heart is more like it *Winks*
Immortal by Amy Lane
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 8th May 2015
Genre ~ Fantasy M/M Dark Romance, Non Con
When Teyth was but a child, a cruel prince took over his village, building a great granite tower to rule over the folk. Greedy and capricious, the man will be the bane of Teyth’s existence as an adult, but as a boy, Teyth is too busy escaping his stepfather to worry about his ruler.
Sold into apprenticeship to the local blacksmith, Teyth finds that what was meant as a punishment is actually his salvation. Cairsten, the smith, and Diarmuid, his adopted son, are kind, and the smithy is the prosperous heart of a thriving village. As Teyth grows in the craft of metalwork, he also grows in love for Diarmuid, the gentle, clever young man who introduces him to smithing.
Their prince wants Diarmuid too. As the tyrant inflicts loss upon loss on Teyth and Diarmuid, Teyth's passion for his craft twists into obsession. By the time Teyth resurfaces from his quest to create immortality, he’s nearly lost the love that makes being human worth the pain. Teyth was born to sculpt his emotion into metal, and Diarmuid was born to lead. Together, can they keep their village safe and sustain the love that will make them immortal?
I'm writing this literally after just finishing Immortal and really should take a few minutes to compose myself before starting this review because my thoughts and feelings are in a jumble about this wonderfully dark, but still enlightening fantasy tale which has left me in a state of emotional overload. Normally I take time to wind down and process everything but I don't want to lose the intensity of the feelings I’m still experiencing; I'm almost at a loss of how to put in words how jaw droppingly good a read this was! I'm in tatters...sobbing profusely and once again in awe of this diverse, unpredictable and emotionally affecting, authors writing skills!
Written in an old worldly dialect that suits it's subject matter down to the ground; Immortal conjures up a mix of the fairy tales of long ago, and Celtic myths and legends with their ancient pagan gods of old: who dwell in magical, mystical forests and accept the blood, tears and other bodily juices of their followers as sacrificial fodder for the continuation of life, protection—and sometimes—revenge.
Like all fairy tales it starts off in true storytelling mode; setting the scene and introducing the reader to its two main characters and the people who play an important part in their lives, through the eyes and distinctive voice of a ten year old Teyth; whose miserable start in life at the hands of his reprehensible, sexually abusive stepfather changes dramatically when he's sold to the burly village Blacksmith Cairsten, and his charge and apprentice smithy, sixteen year old Diarmuid who he had found (as a young boy) wandering in the forest years before, mysteriously orphaned.
Thinking he's being sold to another abusive adult Teyth is frightened and wary, but comes to realise that this change of circumstance is actually the best thing that could ever happen to him. Cairsten's gruff but caring nature makes him the perfect father figure for Teyth who... bless him...has never had much kindness in his life before. Not even from his mother, who beaten down by circumstance had taken the easy way out, by turning a blind eye to what was happening to her son at the hands of the cold hearted, lazy bastard she'd married after the loss of her husband in the battle against the heartless prince who now rules over them.
The three form a close bond and for the first time in his life Teyth finally has ‘family’ in the true sense of the word, and for the most part life is good. He learns from Cairsten and Dairmuid how to manipulate metals, sparking his artistic side and he begins to create; unaware in his joy of sculpting, that later the gifts of his talent will gravely affect his, and the lives of his loved ones, forever.
The relationship between Dairmuid and himself starts out as kinship and a touch of hero worship from Teyth for the older boy, whose sheltering nature and innate kindness endears him to the younger impressionable lad and everyone who knows him. Over the next decade, as Teyth matures, Dairmuid has to sacrifice his first love Kaspar, to save him from their oppressors creepy advances and friendship inevitably turns to a love so deep they eventually handfast and become husbands.
The only person Teyth truly misses from his earlier life is his much younger brother Aubrey, who he only sees spasmodically, until the grisly, but welcomed death of his stepfather, forces his mother to take Aubrey away from him forever when she enters the service of the much hated prince, who resides in his foreboding tower; only making trips into the village when he wants to satisfy his twisted, perverted needs.
It's a move that inadvertently leads to the thwarted, spiteful royal using the love Teyth has for his estranged brother against him in such a heinous way it sets off a chain of heartbreaking events that from that moment on snowball…cruelly taking away things in his life that have given him stability and a sense of place. Threatening to tear apart the seemingly unshakeable love he and his lover have for each other, by pushing an incensed Teyth—who had already spent hours sculpting a stunningly beautiful symbol of his joy and love into a representation of freedom for the town—towards an obsessive need to pour the pain and grief that now overwhelms him, into a contorted version of his original creation.
A piece that is the antithesis of his first work, but still beautiful in its own way beneath the facade of the twisted limbs forged using his anger, the magics of the forest and its spirit, who demands physical payment for its gifts of the materials needed to finish it. Seeing it as yet another defiant act of disrespect, it angers the sadistic prince even more and he exacts an act of retribution so horrific it leaves Teyth broken in ways that had Diarmuid and myself in pieces. Ripped to shreds emotionally!
Throughout the tale, Amy Lane took me to places that touched me. Keeping me in an emotional maelstrom that at times gently moved me but when it reached its epicentre broke my heart as I watched the two men who had endearingly made me fall in in love with everything about them suffer humiliation, physical harm and degradation, overwhelming grief and the near loss of a passionate, soul bonded love that luckily managed to transcend the trials thrown at them. But as heartrending as this was, interwoven among the darkness was always the underlying sense of light, love, hope and redemption which in itself was poignant and tender… and I cried for that too.
I can't go anywhere near the ending...can't even tell you if in true fairy tale style it has a HEA. What I can tell you though is that for me it was a heart stoppingly beautiful, completely unexpected and genius! In retrospect I now can't imagine it ending any other way and have been back and read the last chapter three times just to experience its wonder all over again. A book that made me feel...made me live every emotional onslaught these men suffered! Bravo Amy Lane and thank you for giving me an unputdownable, gold star read I won't forget. It's an old chestnut but this story blew me away!
Meet Amy Lane
I am creative, distracted, and terribly weird. I love my children to distraction, and I love my hobbies even when they piss me off. I come from a double line of extremely creative, intelligent people who hated authority so much they dodged higher education, and I married a wonderful man who is quiet, conservative, devastatingly funny, and perfect. Our children are constant reminders that God and Goddess have a profound sense of humor, and that all of the things you dislike most about yourself but pretend don't exist really do come back on the karmic wheel to kick your ass when you least expect it. My family keeps me young and humble and I try every day to make them proud. I've written seven books, VULNERABLE, WOUNDED, BOUND, & RAMPANT which are all part of the Little Goddess series, BITTERMOON I and II, and Keeping Promise Rock, found at Dreamspinner Press. I write to placate the voices in my head, profanity is the element I swim in, and knitting socks at stoplights has become my twitch.