My guest today is Dreamspinner Press author Tali Spencer. Tali’s book, Sorcerer’s Knot, was just released by Dreamspinner Press. It’s also queued up on my Kindle (can’t wait!). So when I invited Tali and she suggested she blog about tentacle monsters, I said, “Bring it on!” Nothing like sexy men and tentacles. I loved this amazing book! For my review, click here. And, that cover! Nothing like an Anne Cain cover to make me drool.
Welcome, Tali, and congratulations on the new release! -Shira
Thanks to Shira for having me stop by to talk about my new release, Sorcerer’s Knot. If you turn a sickly shade of green at the thought of rugged cliffs and crashing waves, this might not be the book for you. But if you enjoy magic and wizards and windswept islands, you just might love Sorcerer’s Knot.
You should know going in, though, that the story has a tentacle monster. The publisher didn’t put one on the cover, because the cover wasn’t big enough.
And why does it have a tentacle monster, you might ask? Well, here are the ten top reasons for a writer to put a tentacle monster in their book.
10. Your book will stand out in a crowd. How many books feature vampires? Werewolves? Firefighters? How about tentacle monsters? I rest my case.
9. Tentacle sex.
8. Readers won’t have to worry about a threesome or possible cheating, or whether the relationship happens too quickly. Almost no one expects the usual rules of courtship to apply to a tentacle monster.
7. Negative publicity. It’s better than none.
6. Some readers will try to understand the motives of the tentacle monster and make apologies for it. This is always fun.
5. Describing a tentacle monster is challenging and requires cracking out the old thesaurus so you can dredge up words like membranous, pustule, carapace, squamous, tenebrous, prehensile, and proboscidian. Using such words to describe most villains would be outrageous, but is expected when the villain has tentacles.
4. There’s no question that your protagonist is in trouble when he’s dangling by his ankle in front of a tentacle monster.
3. Great conversation starter for social occasions: “Meet my wife. She writes books about tentacle monsters,” starts a conversation every time.
2. Did I mention tentacle sex?
1. It’s a tentacle monster!
All kidding aside, though…
Sorcerer’s Knot is a dark book, with a gritty love story and grittier plot. It takes place in a world where primal forces still rule and magic can be stolen. The hero may not be who he at first seems. And there’s real danger in unburying secrets.
Blurb: In a world where pleasure unlocks even the best-guarded magic, Cian has a long list of magical talents—and an even longer list of sorcerers he slept with to acquire them. He even seduced a dragon. There’s just one arcane power left for him to master: command over the sea. Now Cian has learned where to find Muir the Scarred, the only man known to have mastered that power—and he is determined to wrest it from him by whatever means necessary.
But completing the task isn’t so easy. First, Cian’s boat is wrecked on the shores of Muir’s desolate island. Then he learns an enchantment will keep him there forever. And when he tries to seduce Muir, he finds himself being seduced by the mysterious sorcerer instead. But the source of the power Cian seeks is also trapped on the island, and it will stop at nothing to break free, even if that means forcing pleasure—and magic—from Cian’s unwilling body.
The sea cradled the moon and shattered against a silvered coastline. Froth churned on rocks that gnashed at the water like teeth. Barely seen on the horizon, a single island, shaped like a horn, lifted above the ink-black surface. Cian saw no way to the beach but to climb down the bluff on which he stood.
There was no way to the island at all.
Sea magic, the most elusive of the seven arcana by which a man might order the elements, was tightly guarded. Fresh water belonged to the sky or the earth, and could be ordered by those who knew their words of power, but the ocean was its own domain, answerable to its own gods. Only one man had ever mastered its secret language.
Many great mages had tried to find the sea’s master and failed, but Cian hadn’t let that stop him. At the age of six, he had confounded his village’s elders by transmuting iron into gold, a talent that, a few years later, had attracted the attention of an avaricious monk. Sequestered in a mountain monastery, he had toiled in captivity, making gold until he was seized by an even more avaricious king, whose sorcerers had refined his gifts. Under their tutelage, he had learned the keys of magic.
At sixteen he became restless and, sensing that his usefulness was limiting what others allowed him to know, began delving into arts his masters would not teach. With single-minded dedication, he had burned his hours until he had learned the language of dragons, necromancy’s black secrets—and of the sea’s one master.
He had escaped every one of his keepers, and now he was in the full prime of his adulthood. His skills were such that he could draw knowledge through the thick skulls of kings and mages, adding to his trove of lore, but no matter to what land he traveled or what power he touched, the man he sought was never to be found except in the form of a rumor, a myth. At last, from the mind of a sea creature dragged from the ocean’s depths, he learned a name.
Muir the Scarred.
That was the man Cian sought. A man who commanded the oceans, their currents and creatures, whose fell whispers gave birth to whirlpools, storms, and tides. A man who, decades before Cian had been born, had destroyed a great civilization in an hour, sending it to the bottom of the Twice-Gated Sea.
I have found you, old man, Cian exulted as he climbed down to the beach. The sea creature had told him to seek Muir on an island at the edge of creation, the place where the sea had first given birth to land. This was that place. But once on the beach, he stood confounded. A wide channel separated this tongue of primordial headland from the island. Even if he could swim strongly enough to break across swift, dangerous currents and whorls, the water here was too cold for him to survive long.
Muir guarded his island well.
Cian looked around. He might command rock to fill in the channel, but the sea here was deep, the natives said, and it might take the whole headland to do it. Even for him such an endeavor would take many weeks, and such activity would surely attract Muir’s notice. However, the beach was not entirely barren; the tides had left behind drifts of battered wood, planks and masts from ships that had foundered on the rocks.
Form of a boat, he spoke the language of the earth, material of a sail. Wood and seaweed, errant roots and living creatures buried in the sand, released their previous natures and reformed as stout timber, canvas, and rope. The boat was large enough for sea duty and small enough for one man to command. Cian pushed it out past the breakers and hauled his soaked body aboard. Taking the helm and manning the lines, he turned her out to sea.
The sea struck before he could reach the island. The water turned furious, hurling black waves at the small boat, spilling over its sides with claws of white spume that threatened to drag it under. Soon the violence would break the masts and weaken the hull. Muir had warded his hiding place against vessels. Cian cursed, though he had predicted the precaution. No matter. The boat had done what he needed: brought him close enough to the island he could now commit his body to the task of reaching its shore. He pulled off his boots and jacket.
As he dove into the water, seeking to distance himself from his sinking boat, he heard the mast snap. There would be more peril, but he did not turn to look. Muir would not content himself with waves; there would be vortices, also. The cold water filled his clothing and threatened to cramp his limbs, but he stroked toward the island that reared before him now like a great black stair. He was a strong swimmer. And he’d learned all there was to know about Muir.
The waves got the best of him. No mere man could overcome the sea, and Cian, in the sea, commanded no magic that could help him. He managed to mouth a spell that created a shell of air in which he might breathe, and it held for a minute, then a wave bigger than all the others pushed him under with such force his bubble struck bottom. The bubble cushioned the impact so his body was spared, but the cold dark currents of the sea ripped it free. Tumbled by currents, Cian flailed desperately in search of the surface until at length his strength gave out and his lungs opened, inhaling water.
This, he thought, was death.
Battered against the sea floor, his body exploded with pain as he tumbled over smooth, eroded rocks and tangled in weeds, rolled over time and again until he lay sprawled in water and opened his eyes to see a man in a billowing black robe, hooded and terrible, striding toward him along a path above which the sea towered on either side, churning white froth. Cian watched black boots treading seaweed and sand underfoot, coming closer and closer; then a giant hand reached for him, and he sank into merciful blackness.
Cian awoke from nightmares of drowning to the sweetness of air on his lips and cheek. A welcome warmth and the smell of burning wood let him know he had a fire to thank. He began to whisper the air to moisture on his parched lips when he remembered he should be dead, and his eyes flew open.
He was under a roof, within stone walls. A brazier sat nearby. The man seated beside his bed and illuminated by those coals had black hair and the remote face of a king such as Cian had served and fled. He might even have been handsome once. Now, however, the most striking thing about his appearance was a pattern of ridged, circular scars upon his forehead and left cheek, continuing in a puckered line to his neck. A beard somewhat concealed those on his jaw. The scars, while startling, had been with him long enough to have paled. One scar over the left eye had healed badly and sealed the lid partly closed, but the orb within, as black and penetrating as its twin, peered at him alertly.
“There you are,” the man said. “Well worth the effort.” He had a rough voice, perhaps from disuse.
“Where am I?” Cian prompted. Simple questions were the best to start.
Well-shaped lips pulled tight. “You’re on my island; you’re in my house, in fact. The real question is, who are you? No one comes to this island unsummoned, because no one not of this island knows it exists or has the skill to find out that it exists. Yet here you are.”
“My name is Cian. My boat was swept into these waters.”
“The winds and currents usually carry boats away.”
To that Cian said nothing. From what he knew of the island, it was true. He had commanded a change in the wind to get here.
His host turned to a table and lifted a bowl, stirring its contents with a bone spoon. “Soup? I eat plainly, but will share what I have for a day or two.”
Though his body hurt all over, the rich aroma wafting toward him persuaded him to sit. “Many thanks,” he said, accepting the bowl. He had been stripped of his garments—no surprise there, as they’d been soaked and ruined—but had been given a blanket. It slid to his hips and he noticed that the scarred man perused his torso for a long moment before looking back to his face. “I don’t suppose you get many guests.”
“No, not many at all. I prefer people stay away.”
“Why? Aren’t you lonely?”
“Often. I address that on occasion. You ask a lot of questions.”
He had one more. “I told you my name. Will you tell me yours?”
“Muir.” The sorcerer rose and walked away, tall and straight, his long robe displaying a stride that was limber, almost youthful. Cian knew him to be fifty years old at least and had expected a more decrepit man.
He finished his soup and the sorcerer took away the bowl, then left him alone while his battered body pulled him back toward sleep. He dreamed of the cold deep, of sinking ships and beaked, ravenous things that moved through the water on boneless limbs.
Thanks for reading and having a little fun with tentacle monsters!
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