Waaaay back in my infanblogcy, I stumbled upon D. Wallace Peach. Maybe I followed a trail of adoring fans; maybe I read an entry she did for Carrot Ranch; or maybe her reputation guided my searchings. I still recall the very first blog post I read: a snippet from a book she wrote about a girl witnessing an execution and feeling emotions where she was not supposed to. The idea was that people did not feel and the girl was an aberration.
At that point, I vowed I would purchase and read one of Diana’s books. This year, I did so. In fact, I did so twice because she released a brand-new series: Unraveling the Veil.
When I asked D. Wallace about my doing a review and Q&A after reading the first book, she agreed! D. is one of the most genuine and nicest people I’ve ever corresponded with; the sort I know would invite me in with a smile and an invitation to dinner if I e-mailed her that I happened to be near her secret writing room.
Liars and Thieves, the first book in this trilogy, begins with an omniscient POV of one Kalann il Drakk, First of Chaos, who is launching psionic canons or somesuch in order to break something called The Veil. His attack is rebuffed and his damages repaired, buuuuut his efforts cause energy lapses in the lands beyond The Veil.
We’re then thrown into the perspective of a goblin -a half-goblin, actually- named Naj’ar, then that of Elanalue Windthorn the elf, then that of a changeling who mostly goes by Talin Raska.
Yep; this is a fantasy novel.
The story unfolds through these three different characters and the parts where their adventures intersect and intertwine. Each represents and reveals the good and bad of their distinct, interesting races. Each has personal powers, personalities, and flaws. Each is intriguing to read.
After I finished reading the book, Diana agreed to answer a few questions:
1. Where did your initial inspiration for the races in your world come from?
First, thanks so much for inviting me to your blog, Chelsea. And for the great questions. I love chatting about books and writing.
The inspiration for Liars and Thieves had its origin in US politics where blaming, racial bullying, and blatant lies had crept from the shadows and become unabashedly mainstream. Rather than deal honestly with the nation’s challenges, children and families became targets, sacrificed in order to instill fear and amass power.
I started thinking… what would happen if this situation occurred in a fantasy world where a god (the First of Chaos) was responsible for an inciting event—the disappearance of a group of people? And instead of working together to determine the truth and find a solution, the different races began blaming each other. And what if all this unjustified blame started magnifying existing challenges and creating new ones that subsequently grew out of control?
Now, this is a work of fantasy, so like most fiction, it developed a life of its own. The races are elves, goblins, and changelings. There are monsters and gods, and plenty of magical talents. No one is innocent, and together they almost destroy their world… all because it was easier to assign blame than take responsibility, work together, and learn the truth—which was that none of them were at fault in the first place.
2. Some fantasy authors invent languages; but, with the exception of the mountain peoples (goblins) speaking in the royal we, you’ve kept them at a universal lingo. Why?
My book Sunwielder has a made-up language. But not much of it. I love designing languages, but it’s something I do sparingly, because, quite literally, no one can read it! Sentences of “fake words” end up being skimmed, and an author needs to decide why those skimmed words are so important to the story. The author also has to take the time to translate without awkwardness and without bogging down the prose.
I think different languages can be implied through dialect, a sprinkling of made-up words, more formal dialog, or stumbling “second language” speech. Even these approaches have to be carefully applied, since too much tweaking can draw the reader’s attention to the writing and away from the story. In this series, the goblins are a collective society so they use “we” instead of “I,” and “us” instead of “me.” They also don’t use contractions in dialog. That seemed like plenty to establish that goblins had a different way of speaking.
3. Do you feel it’s important to have rules and limits to magic, and how have you applied that to your races?
Absolutely! Some of the best magic systems I’ve read are those created by fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (Mistborn, Elantris). Sanderson distinguishes between “soft magic” and “hard magic” and suggests that they lie on a continuum. Soft magic is full of wonder and has few rules. The magic users have mysterious abilities and can do whatever they wish with little limitation.
Hard magic lies on the other end of the spectrum, and here is where the rules come into play. In the case of hard magic, it becomes an integral plot device in the story. Two critical requirements of hard magic are 1) strict limitations and 2) flaws or costs to the user.
In most of my books, magic is centered around one magical item (a book or an amulet) or one ability (the power to manipulate emotions or swallow souls).
In the Unraveling the Veil series, the magic system is based on the manipulation of energy, and it’s much broader, with each race possessing different kinetic talents.
- Goblins are terrakinetic and can manipulate earth-matter.
- Changelings are biokinetic and can alter their biological patterns.
- Elves have various kinetic abilities, singularly or in combination: photokinetic (light), pyrokinetic (fire), and hydrokinetic (water), to name a few.
As I designed the magic system, it became apparent that changelings had the most powerful talent, and therefore they needed the most challenges when using it. I imposed these limitations/costs:
- Shifting is physically agonizing
- Shifting leaves the user temporarily weak and vulnerable
- Too long in a foreign shape makes the shift permanent
- And a significant change in mass requires the absorption or release of energy. This generates temperature changes in the atmosphere, which, at worst, can start disastrous fires. In other words, don’t shift from a man into a bug in the middle of the forest!
4. What is the best dessert ever invented?
Oooh. This is the hardest question of all! Lol. Can I pick 3? In summer, I love strawberry shortcake. In winter, I want warm berry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. And I won’t turn down a creamy cheesecake any time of year! They all have to be sugar-free and low-calorie though.
Thanks again for the invite, Chelsea. This was great fun. Happy Reading!
D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked. Diana lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
Amazon Author’s Page: https://www.amazon.com/D.-Wallace-Peach/e/B00CLKLXP8
©2020 Chel Owens. Responses ©2020 D. Wallace Peach
As a side note, this book is clean enough that I promptly handed it to my twelve-year-old to read. He’s burned through all my fantasy series and needed a wonderful, new book to read.
-This is also why I couldn’t flip through the book to remember specific character names and references.