Goddess of Limbo
The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles Book 1
by Lea Falls Genre: Dark Epic Fantasy
Free will is a relic of the past. Souls have a prewritten path to heaven. If they miss it, they are doomed to roam the lost realm of limbo as splinters of their former selves or worse—as demons.
Their only hope is the reaper Alames, whose own soul shattered when her celestial lover, Balthos, usurped their creators to make them gods. In her absence, he builds a pantheon of monsters and tricks the mortals, whom he blames for his grief, into worshiping him. But when a new generation defies Balthos’s law, Alames’s splinters appear among them.
Brilliant physicist Ally longs for progress and innovation, but the Council controlling her nation strips the “Mad Princess” of power. Pregnant and uncertain, the unrivaled Captain Se’azana abandons her career for the false promises of love. The starving serf Richard makes a deal with a Fae demon to save his son. And teenage rebel Vana trades her guitar for a blade when faced with ruthless nobility.
When worlds tear and hearts break, will they defy the gods’ narrative to create a brighter future or will they obey the lies preached and doom their soul forever?
For fans of THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE and THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE comes an epic rollercoaster ride of demons, rebellion, and dark magic.
Excerpt from CHAPTER 6 – ALLY (Bored Reginald’s show)
“Silhouettes again. How original. I get why they call youBored,”Josefine snarled from across the table. Ally’s eyes narrowed. Her daughter loved putting people down to raise herself up. Ally was just about to chide her when Reggie responded.
“My most humble apology, dear Lady Verdain. I did not know you needed more thrill.” He led the shadow figures closer to Josefine and snapped his fingers again. Both grew in dimension and color until they turned into illusions of two muscular, sparsely dressed men. The courtiers’ eyes widened, for they were both undeniably attractive. Reggie’s fan from earlier whistled. The jester himself crossed his arms and grinned.
“So you’re longing for excitement, my dear Lady Verdain? I think they are too.” Another snap, and they performed a provocative dance that soon turned into a striptease. Ally shook her head, barely able to contain her laughter.What are you doing, Reggie?The look on her daughter’s face was priceless. Josefine turned burgundy and finally behaved like the teenager she was. Heidegger would surely recognize her immaturity, and the ridiculous discussion would be over. Reggie always managed to turn conflict into humor.
“I-I command you to stop this, jester,” Josefine stuttered. Reggie clapped his hands, and the figures turned back into shadow silhouettes. “Thank Alames you were satisfied already. My illusory phallus game is weak. Total flop, if I may say so.” Ally burst into laughter not fit for a princess, but the courtiers’ howling drowned it out. Several whistled. Reginald had a talent for making nobles forget their nobility. It surely worked on her.
“Now please, gentlefolk, you can finish this story later in your privates with your privates. If you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get back to my boring old art.” A dramatic gushing sound quieted the room. The rhythm of haunting drums followed. He changed the atmosphere of the room in an instant. Not with the cowardly methods Heidegger used, but simply with his brilliance. The rhythm connected to Ally’s heartbeat until her breath steadied and new strength streamed through her veins. For the first time since seeing Subira, she was certain about the path ahead. She had allowed the Heideggers to take whatever they wanted for too long. They had robbed her of her youth, of raising her own daughter, of her crown’s power. It ended now. She’d take Silberfluss, take Agathe’s throne, and build an Elfentum nation too strong for the Council to meddle with. Reggie’s eyes met hers, and she sensed a chemical reaction between them, an energetic charge that she would never tire of studying. He stepped to the side of the stage and gestured for the silhouettes to take their place inside the snowstorm, far enough to be enclosed by it without becoming invisible. An illusionary scaffold rose from the floor and lifted them until they almost reached the hall’s high ceiling. They took each other’s hand and bowed to the audience as the construction shook underneath them. The blue-tinted figure spun the lilac one. Their circles reminded Ally of a sped-up clock until the figure spun out of time and collapsed onto the scaffold. The blue one picked them back up, and the two drifted into a pulsing dance. They pulled together and apart like a silent accordion. One pull was farther than the blue figure expected, so the lilac one slipped off the scaffold’s edge. Ally let out a shriek. She knew the Council members were watching her, but they didn’t understand. The silhouette was sure to fall to their death. The blue figure caught the short one in the last moment. They were safe for now, but the scaffold trembled beneath them. It couldn’t hold the imbalance for long. The lilac one swung from one side to the other with all her might.Yes, focus on the momentum. It’ll create force. The blue one didn’t let go. The lilac figure’s swinging was desperate yet beautiful. They looked like a bird, soaring higher and higher in the hopes to land again. Every time they tried, the scaffold threatened to throw them both to their death. Reggie flicked his finger. Flames emerged next to the scaffold, reaching toward the ceiling until they stopped half an arm’s length under the lilac figure. The figure must’ve felt the heat, but they kept swinging, focused only on the blue one. Hands crept out of the flames. When they had built enough momentum to land, the blue one’s arm ripped. The strain of holding them had torn the figure apart. Ally hadn’t noticed until that moment. Her eyes and concern had been with the lilac one. The fragments of the blue figure broke down on the scaffold, and the lilac figure fell toward the flames. But before the lilac one could be ravaged by the hands, wings grew out of their back. The figure became the free bird they were meant to be and flew up to the top of the scaffold. The lilac one gently picked up the halves of their lover, and they ascended into the snowstorm together.
Lea Falls is a writer, actor, and passionate lover of stories. Equally drawn to page and stage, she’s written plays, screenplays, poetry, short stories, and two novels, and has acted in numerous short films, plays, and improv shows. She earned her BFA in Acting at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and attended the Yale Writers Workshop. After a brief call and response with Londontown, she now lives in NYC with her wife, two cats, and a slither of skyline that never fails to inspire her. There, she spends her days murmuring lines over a keyboard or a script.
GODDESS OF LIMBO is her debut novel. Her short story EMILY'S HEIRS will appear in Hansen House's ELIXIR: STORIES OF HOPE AND HEALING (AN LGBTQ+ SFF ANTHOLOGY), set to release in January 2022.
What inspired you to write this book?
GODDESS OF LIMBO guided me out of a tough time. I’ll always be grateful for the spark of inspiration that led to where I am now.
I’ve always been an actor/writer, but I focused on acting first. After I finished college, I ended up in a difficult financial spot, couldn’t get any roles because of my accent, and struggled with chronic illness. I felt completely creatively depleted. That’s when my wife started a Dungeons & Dragons game for my friends and me. I fell in love with both my character and her love interest. The storytelling of the game rekindled my imagination and I ended up writing “fanfiction” about my character and her girlfriend. My wife and I created a whole canon outside of the game and kept adding characters to it. We basically came up with a world of our own and played improv scenes set in it every evening after work. Every bathroom break at work turned into me typing out little scenes for the characters and before I knew it, we’d created an epic, intricate fantasy world. Then, when I was sick one day, I decided to write the origin story of my character’s dad. That is now chapter five of GODDESS OF LIMBO. I dove into the love interest’s mother--Ally--next, and suddenly the parents became the true story.
The first draft barely resembles the book now. My Dungeons & Dragons character and her love interest will only be children in the overall series. In the end, it wasn’t their story.
It took me five months to realize that what I was writing might become a book, and another year to truly commit to becoming an author.
I’ve always wanted to be an author, but I thought I couldn’t pursue it until I was in my fifties. I thought I had to establish my acting career first. Writing one book seemed like an impossible journey to me. Now I don’ want to stop. I love this series, but I’m excited about all the other stories I plan to tell as well. I was so lost when the first inspiration for GODDESS OF LIMBO came to me. I don’t want to know where I’d be if I hadn’t followed it.
What can we expect from you in the future?
The Forgotten Splinters Chronicles is currently planned as a five-book series, although the next part will be a prequel novella that takes place right after the prologue. It’s still in the drafting phase, but I’d like it to stand on its own, so people can read it before or after GODDESS OF LIMBO.
In terms of other novels--I have about thirty-five stories on my “to be written” pile right now and it’s steadily growing. While I really enjoy writing fantasy, I’d like to branch out into other genres as well. One of my current projects is a contemporary coming-of-age story about two queer runaway kids growing up on the streets of San Francisco. It’s in the second draft stage now. After that, I’m not sure which one I’ll choose from my idea pile. The close contesters are a space mermaid Sci-Fi, an underwater fantasy romance, and a pirate adventure. 2022, however, will be dedicated entirely to GODDESS OF LIMBO’s sequel. I’ve already written a few chapters for it..
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in GODDESS OF LIMBO?
I have a large cast of characters as their stories are all interconnected, so when people ask me to talk about my protagonist, I’m tempted to give a dozen ted talks. But seeing as occasional restrain is a virtue, let’s just touch on three of the main ones.
Ally, or the elvish Princess Alexandra Verdain, has endured many hardships--the Council stripping her power exiled her grandmothers, her mother died during Ally’s mysterious birth and her father disappeared when she was ten, she was married off as a child to a ruthless magic-bearer, and her nation ridicules and infantilizes her because of her schizoaffective disorder. Despite all that, she’s brilliant, snarky, endlessly curious, and undeterred once she’s set her mind on something. She’s had a long-term affair with her court jester and cares about Elfentum’s future, even if it doesn’t care about her.
Captain Subira Se’azana is still trying to understand who she truly is. She grew up in a noble family in Fi’Teri, deeply religious and set to advance in court, but she ran away to Virisunder as a child and became the mentee of Ally’s grandmother who runs a military academy. When we meet Subira, she’s on the cusp of change--in a war declared lost that she’s determined to win, pregnant and in love with a man who only noticed her after she saved his life, and torn between the military career that gives her purpose and dreams of becoming a dancer and having a loving family, unlike the one she came from. She’s a serious person with a sharp-edged wit, strong on the battlefield but uncertain in her private life.
And lastly, let’s talk about Vana Ackerman. She’s a feisty farm girl that lived through famines and wars and is sick of her town’s ruthless nobility. Even as a six-year-old, she talks about revolution, and by the time she’s sixteen, she’s known around town for her rebel band The Spirit and the Enforcer. The Spirit is her best friend Jules and when we met her, they’ve just broken up, because she’s realized she’s gay. Nevertheless, they plan to take down their nation together. Unfortunately, the beautiful teenage daughter of the local duke gets in their way. Vana has a big heart and a strong sense of justice, but she tends to jump the gun and hasn’t fully understood what the reality of revolution entails.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I came up with character names in three different ways. Some were named by my wife, back when we first explored their storylines in D&D and improv scenes. My favorite of those is Vana, because it’s not actually a real name, but she thought it was and I loved it, so we’ve kept it. Other names were inspired by real people in history. General Makeda, Ally’s grandmother and principal of the most prestigious military academy, was named after an Ethiopian queen. She’s from Fi’Teri, which is loosely inspired by Ethiopian culture. The last and most common way I found names was by searching baby name suggestions from cultures most closely aligned to the fictional nation the character is from. Sachihiro, for example, is a Mayan name meaning “broad happiness”. He’s from Tribu La’am, which is inspired by Mesoamerica.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Writing GODDESS OF LIMBO has been an incredible journey. There are so many moments I treasure from the first four-day mini-vacation I took to focus on writing to the coffee-fueled everyday hustle of finishing the second draft on a deadline. It truly taught me how to write a book, how to become an author, and how to wholeheartedly embrace my imagination.
One of the aspects I’ve enjoyed the most from the very beginning was the jester’s tricks and his dialogue. He always has a turn of phrase or a silly pun on his lips, and despite his overall tragic character, he’s a joy to write.
I also love Martín’s chapters, because his internal monologues are the funniest to write. They’re less fun to edit because I need to delete a lot of his profanity.
Every POV character has its own perks though. Ally’s chapters always require me to pull up “Physics for kids” sites to try and understand the way she’s thinking, so progress is slow, but I also love it because her perception of life differs from mine. Sachihiro, on the other hand, perceives things similarly to me (even though his personality is very different from mine) so his thoughts tend to flow nicely. I love writing Subira for the fierce fight scenes, and Vana for her big ideas and grand speeches on justice. So really, every character has its own perks and I shall dearly miss writing the ones that didn’t survive the first book…