The Book of Shadow Curse of the Unnamed Book 1 by Bruce Blake Genre: Epic Fantasy
Llyris Fildarae is an outcast tainted by a sliver of magic in a world terrified of the supernatural. Loathed and distrusted, she uses her ability to control a magical Unnamed to survive.
Caedric Carpera is desperate to save his son from a deadly illness. He enlists Llyris to locate a lost tome containing secrets capable of healing him, but its location is a mystery that’s already claimed lives. Thrust into a hostile world, Llyris and her companions risk everything to find the relic and return before the child’s sickness prevails.
But who is the enigmatic old man who appeared out of nowhere to set them on this dangerous expedition? And what does he really want?
Only a perilous mission to an untamed land can save the boy and reveal the truth.
Except some truths are too shocking to be exposed.
Get ready for an epic fantasy adventure full of twists and turns from the author of the Khirro’s Journey trilogy and The Books of the Small Gods. Scroll up to one-click purchase your copy and start reading right away!
Florida Authors and Publishers’ President’s Book Awards Gold Medal Winner!
The Book of Shadow was found, but the quest continues…
Llyris Fildarae is still reeling with the news of her heritage imparted by an old man claiming to be the great mage Amnayel Prisma—doubtful, though he’s proven able to perform unusual wonders even a magik couldn’t. He cured a boy, yet now demands a stave to aid in healing a fallen knight.
The quest she and her companions embark on requires them to travel to the Obsidian Fields, a place no one has visited since time immemorial. Even Prisma himself—if that is who he is—cannot tell them what it may look like or what to expect once there.
What dangers will they face? Magic? Deadly curses? The undead again?
No one knows. Not even a Shadow Scarred.
Scroll up and one-click purchase to follow the exciting journey of Llyris and her companions as their adventure continues in Shadow Scarred.
Bruce Blake lives in a small town on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. When pressing issues like shovelling snow and building igloos don't take up his spare time, Bruce can be found taking the dog sled to the nearest café to work on his short stories and novels. Actually, Victoria, B.C. is only a couple hours north of Seattle, Wash., where more rain is seen than snow. Bruce is the father of two amazing humans and does his very best to keep a bearded dragon alive and healthy, though he doesn't have much success at doing the same with house plants. He spends too much time work a traditional job and not enough time writing but hopes to change all that soon.
Tell something about yourself and how you came to be an author
Like many writers, the genesis of my love for the written word begins in grade school. From the first story I recall writing (The Mystery of the Blue Marble—a sci-fi short in grade 5 that was strangely about a mysterious blue marble), the act of creating pictures with words filled me in a way nothing else before or sense. I wrote consistently right through graduation and into my early 20s until life, and my desire to be a famous rock and roll drummer, got in the way.
I didn’t return to writing until my early 30s. I wrote a few short stories, took some craft courses, and then dove into writing novels. My latest release, A Shadow Upon the Land (Curse of the Unnamed Book 3) is my fifteenth book and I constantly have several more floating around my brain encouraging me to write faster so they can see the light of day.
Where were you born/grew up?
I am Canadian and was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The middle child of a military man, I moved back and forth across the country a couple of times, having lived about equal amounts of times on both coasts before I graduated school and moved out on my own, land bound in Ontario by that time. There, I got the pesky desire to be a rock drummer out of my system before relocating to Victoria, British Columbia, where I have been lo this past quarter century.
What are you passionate About these days?
Outside of writing, I don’t tend to have a lot of passions. When one is as all-consuming as churning out novels, it doesn’t leave a ton of time for other things. I did, however, recently purchase an aquarium and start keeping fish. It started off with a small, 5 gallon job and a single Betta, but I soon thought he might be lonely, so I graduated him to a new, 20 gallon home. Now he has live plants in which to play, 2 neon and 6 ember tetras for company, a snail named Beau and 2 plecostomus (Frank and Sal) to clean his tank, and two dwarf frogs (both named Kevin because it’s impossible to tell them apart) to provide entertainment.
And now I have my eye on a 55 gallon tank so they can all have more friends.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less
Me in five words: tall, bald, creative, caring, sensitive, charming, and poor at counting.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I think I first considered myself a writer after I finished my first novel. More specifically, it was when my wife at the time read it and cried with relief when she got to the end because she didn’t have to tell me it sucked.
What inspired you to write the book?
Questions about inspiration are probably the ones writers get asked the most. Sometimes, they’re tough to answer. Some stories kind of pop to mind without warning or explanation of from whence they came. The short story that got me back into writing is an example of that. I was lying in bed one night when a scene of two men having a discussion about the ins and outs of time travel came to mind and wouldn’t leave, I tossed and turned until my them-wife kicked me out of bed and wouldn’t let me back in until I wrote it.
The Book of Shadow has a more definitive beginning. It started out with me toying around with the old fable about the king who wants to marry off the princess, so invites suitors from across the land to undertake quests to prove their suitability. From that beginning, I simply asked myself questions. What if this happened? Or that? What if it wasn’t a king and a princess, but someone who had a more nefarious reason to send people on quests? What would they be after? Why?
I have the better part of journal full of questions and answers as I developed the story, but I like to think that, without having read this explanation, most people would never guess where the story began.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have a number of projects waiting in the wings. With the release of A Shadow Upon the Land, I’ve begun work on the fourth book in the Curse of the Unnamed series, In the Shadow of the Dragon. My goal is to have it released for April, 2023. After that, I’ll be picking from series centered around fairies, a one-off novel retelling the creation myth, or finishing the half-written fourth book in my Icarus Fell dark urban fantasy series. I’m leaning toward this last because I don’t like having incomplete projects languishing on my laptop.
Where did you come up with the names in your story?
Naming in books happens for me in one of two ways: a name generator, or naming with intent. Many of the character names were generated on one of a number of name generators I use. I simply press the bottom over and over, collecting a list of potential names, then I pick the ones I like best. Other characters (and places) are named with more intent, either with obvious meaning to their names (book 3 introduces us to a troll named Vyle), or with meaning one might need to search a little deeper to unravel (Vyle has an acquaintance who is a were-bear and is called Hispid, a zoological term meaning covered with stiff hair or bristles).
Who designs your book covers?
My book covers for this series were designed by a company called MiblArt. They are very easy to deal with and have done a great job at bringing my ideas for covers to fruition. They have also done the covers for my Icarus Fell urban fantasy series.
Tell us about your main characters. What makes them tick?
I’d love to do this, but I think part of the attraction of reading my books is to find out what makes the characters tick. One of the things I’m very particular about in my writing is only revealing things to the reader as they need to know, or as the characters find out themselves. I consider Llyris Fildarae to be the main character, and I’ll see that she is at first motivated by a need to do well at her profession, but also to care for her Unnamed. Beyond that, other characters are motivated by guilt, a need to prove themselves, jealousy, anger…all the good stuff!
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I like to think I learn something with every book I write. Sometimes it’s about the craft—sentence structures, paragraph constructions, word choices—other times it’s a development in my style, or realizations about how I need to organize my life to accomplish the goals I’ve set out for myself. Life is about learning and everything is an opportunity to.
What is your favourite part of the book and why?
This is a very difficult question to answer. Which of my children do I like best? I love them all the same, but if I were forced to choose, I’d say there are two types of characters I most like writing: those with a secret, and those who go against type. Using that as a parameter, I guess Viden Misk’s parts are some of my favourites. The third book introduces a troll named Vyle who I very much enjoyed writing, as well. (Sorry Llyris, Hinter, Tesfira, Rein, et al. I love you…I swear I do!)
Are your characters based of real people or entirely imagined?
If you are a human who writes, I think it’s impossible not to have characteristics of people you know creep into your story, as your own experiences inform what you write. Things that have happened to the writer will tend to creep in as well. We are all taught, after all , to write what we know. Having said that, I don’t have any characters who are taken whole-cloth from reality…only bits and pieces cobbled together with whatever my imagination cooks up.
Mind you, people who know me say there is more of me in the Icarus Fell character from my urban fantasy series than I like to admit.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reins?
This is a more complicated question than it appears. This is asking me whether I am a plotter or a pantser (someone who writes by the seat of their pants, hence the name), as writers like to refer to themselves. Do I plan out my story, or do I discover it as I write?
Honestly, I’m a little bit of both. I tend to do a fair amount of research and planning before I start writing, and that informs a great deal of the plot, but not everything. I like to discover things about my characters as I go, and the things I find out as I write partially determine the direction of the story.
So I guess the answer to both parts of the question is yes. Sometimes I’m the captain of the ship, sometimes I’m there as a ride-along.
My Top 10 Favourite Books/Authors
Wow…that’s a tough question, but I’ll give it a try. Both of these lists are in no particular order, because actually rating them on a best to worst scale is a ludicrous thought.
Books American Gods by Neil Gaiman Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card The Stand by Stephen King The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin The Road by Cormac McCarthy The Lord of the Rings (we’ll count the entire trilogy as one entry) by JRR Tolkien The Fifth Element by NK Jemisin Dawn of Fear by Susan Cooper The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Authors (after reading my list of favourite books, some of these might sound familiar)
Robert E. Howard
George RR Martin
Edgar Allan Poe
Do all the characters come at once, or as writing?
Typically, the main characters of my stories are planned ahead of time. For instance, in The Book of Shadow, Llyris, Rein, Hinter, Tesfira, Jai, Cirril, Mikol, Emeryn, Ilkari, and Viden Misk were all chosen and named before I began writing, as were lesser characters like the Carpera family. More secondary characters are more often added as needed and frequently dreamed up on the fly as the direction of the story evolves. An example of this is that you will meet a character named Vyle in the third book of the Curse of the Unnamed series (A Shadow Upon the Land) whom I had no idea would exist until he introduced himself to me. Now, he’s one of my favourites.
What kind of research do you do before beginning a book?
I typically spend between 2 weeks and a month planning a book, though it’s hard to gauge because I typically do it in fits and starts while I’m finishing up another project.
What that panning looks like varies from book to book. If I’m beginning a new series, I have to look at world building and character planning, magic system design, and then researching any creatures or elements that already exist in popular culture (for instance, in the Curse of the Unnamed series, you will find unicorns, dragon, trolls, ogres, piskies, and more).
Some demand even more research. I am currently planning a book that will take place around Mount Kilimanjaro, so I’ve had to do some real-world research, something I’m not too used to as a fantasy author.
Do you see writing as a career?
It’s not my full-time gig yet, but it’s going to be.
What do you read/your favourite genre?
I mostly read in the arena of speculative fiction—fantasy, science fiction, and horror—with an emphasis on the particular genre I’m writing, so mostly epic fantasy these days, though In try to mix up style and settings. I just finished reading Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy and started on The Poppy War by RF Kuang. In the same time period, I also listened to Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal, A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Rage of Dragons by Evan Winter, and The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones (see, I like to get outside my current writing genre, too).
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise?
Definitely with noise. Before the days of Covid, I used to always write in a coffee shop, just like a good little writerly cliché. I find them a nice balance because there is a little bit of distraction from the music playing and other people around, but nothing that demands your attention. When I started having to write at home, I had to readjust and rediscover what worked for me. The one constant is coffee, or what I like to call creativity juice. After that, I write best with music on, usually listening through earbuds, but it has to be music I have no chance of wanting to stop and bop along with. To this end, I mostly listen to Nordic fold music…it sets the atmosphere and tone I lie, but there is no chance I’m going to try to sing along.
If anyone’s interested in a playlist, drop me an email.
I’m moving at the beginning of December, so my place is a shambles and I lost my office space for now, so it’s thrown me off completely. I can’t wait to get settled again.
Do you write one book at a time or several?
I only ever actively write one project at a time so I can immerse myself in the world without distracting from it. I write best, and most productively, when I can get into the world as much as possible. When the idea for The Book of Shadow became too much for me to bear to keep from writing it, I stopped work on a book in my Icarus Fell urban fantasy series so I could concentrate on it.
I do use spare time to plan future books while I’m writing, but I don’t work fully on more than one project at a time.
Pen, typewriter, or computer?
The first novel I ever wrote (though it wasn’t the first I published) was Blood of the King, the first book in my Khirro’s Journey trilogy. I didn’t have very good keyboarding skills at the time, so I wrote the entire first draft longhand, thinking it would be faster than typing it. While it was probably true, I quickly realized that, after I finished it, I was just going to have to type it into a word processor, anyway. I’ve written on a computer ever since. My laptop is for nothing but writing and web research. In fact, its designation is “Bruce’s Novel Writing Machine”.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
The best piece of advice for anyone who wants to write is to just do it. Find at least a few minutes every day and write, even if it’s only a couple of hundred words. Creating is a muscle that needs to be flexed and the more you use it the stronger it becomes.
But that’s advice you’ll hear from every author, so I’m going to add a second suggestion…
You are going to get bogged down in the middle of your book. It happens. The solution is not to go back to the beginning and start editing, hoping that doing so will prompt what should come next. Editing is a different skill from writing and I’ve seen a number of first-time authors who end up with a great first half of a book that is never blessed with a second half. When the dog days of the middle come, keep writing. It doesn’t have to be good, or even anything you keep—that’s where those editing skills come in later—you simply need to keep moving forward.
Do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
My usual MO is to take a tried and true trope and crank it on its ear. Give the reader what they want, but in a fancy envelope, or delivered by a stork. The premise of my Books of the Small Gods series is based on the old trop of scroll, prophecy, chosen one, except my story contains several scrolls, with several different prophecies that can be interpreted in a number of different ways.
What’s most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
Avoiding stereotypes. Not only is it difficult, but if you don’t accomplish it, you’re likely dead in the water. When I write female characters as a CIS, het man, I always make sure I use predominantly female beta readers. It’s one of the reasons why I’m proud of The Book of Shadow—it has three female viewpoint characters and has been very well received by my female readers.
How long does it take you to write a book?
So far in my career, this doesn’t have a straightforward answer. The quickest I’ve ever written the first draft of a book was When Shadows Fall (the First Book of the Small Gods). I writing full-time when I penned it and the first draft took fourteen days. I wish I could say that was typical, but the longest it’s taken me to write a book is measured in years. These days, I’d say it’s about three months.