Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Guest post by Jill Archer + Giveaway


Dark Light of Day’s Humans: the “Hyrkes”
by Jill Archer

Sometimes non-magical characters can be just as interesting as the ones who have magic. (Think of what Frodo accomplished!) In every fantasy story there will be a group of people who are human, or who lack the special skills that set other characters apart. That group of "normal" people may be half of the world's population, nearly all of it, or possibly -- in post-apocalyptic stories where large parts of the plot are focused on day-to-day survival -- the smallest group. Humans may hold positions of power (especially if the characters with the magic or the special powers are trying to hide it) or they may be part of the untold masses. My point? How fantasy writers handle humans is as varied as humans themselves.

In Dark Light of Day, my debut urban fantasy novel, humans without magic far outnumber those with magic. And they are well aware (for the most part) of the existence of the humans who do have magic. It's not an exact comparison, but the humans with magic in Dark Light of Day are similar to European royals or the ancient Roman patricians and the humans without magic are like, well, everyone else. But that doesn't mean the human magic users in Dark Light of Day get to act like spoiled despots. On the contrary, they are only too aware of their patriotic, religious, ethical, and legal obligations to use their powers for the greater good. It's like noblesse oblige on steroids -- with fifty cups of espresso and a twenty pound bag of M&M's thrown in.

How did I name my humans without magic? According to one of my favorite naming resources, the Online Etymology Dictionary, the term "Hyrke" is a Greek word meaning "earthen vessel." I came across the word under the definition for "Urn." I liked that "Hyrke" started with "H" as does "human" and I figured a word that refers to an empty container was a good name for people who have no magic.

Two Hyrke secondary characters play enough of a part in the story that I mentioned them in my synopsis: Ivy Jaynes, "a gazelle-like splotchy redhead" and Ivy's cousin, Fitz, "a carrot-topped constant talker." Want to hear more about them? Here's an excerpt from when Noon first meets them at St. Lucifer's Law School:

The Hyrke working the Student Affairs desk had a cold. A box of tissues, a bag of throat lozenges, and a bottle of aspirin lined her desk like charms. If the charms were supposed to ward off students, it wasn’t working. The line was at least six students deep when I took my place. The woman in front of me mumbled something under her breath to the man in front of her. He turned around to reply and caught me staring. I didn’t want to be rude and was just about to look away when he winked at me and then said to the woman in front of me, “Ivy, she’s ill, for Luck’s sake. Give the woman a break.”

“Like Hell,” Ivy muttered. “That bottle of aspirin has been sitting there since summer and those lozenges look so old they’re probably from the pre-Apocalyptic days.”

A few of the other students snickered. I gathered from their collective impatience they’d been there awhile. The man in front of Ivy interpreted my staring as an invitation to chat. He pushed past her and extended his hand to me.

“I’m Fitz,” he said.

“Noon,” I replied, shaking his hand. His grip was firm and quick. The woman named Ivy turned around. With flaming red hair, a mottled complexion, and light green eyes, she looked every inch a Mederi. And with that name I had to wonder . . . but what would a Mederi be doing in law school? They were all about healing and growing.

“This is Ivy, my cousin,” Fitz said.

So readers, how about you? Who's your favorite fantasy character who doesn't have special powers? Do you like fantasy stories where the magic is hidden or out in the open? Would you want special powers or magical abilities if you were ethically and legally obligated to use them? Would it depend on what those powers were and what you were supposed to do with them? Have you ever struck up a conversation with a stranger while waiting in line? (Come on, who hasn't?) If so, what did you talk about? (Books, I hope! ;-))

A big thanks to Stella at Ex Libris for inviting me to guest blog today! I appreciated the chance to share more about Ivy and Fitz from Dark Light of Day with your readers.


Raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Jill earned a bachelor of science from Penn State University and later moved to Baltimore to attend the University of Baltimore School of Law, where she graduated magna cum laude. She went on to practice law as a “dirt lawyer” for ten years, specializing in real estate law, municipal development, commercial leasing, and anything involving exceedingly lengthy legalese-like contractual monstrosities.

Jill now lives in rural Maryland with her two children and husband, who is a recreational pilot. Weekends are often spent flying around in the family’s small Cessna, visiting tiny un-towered airfields and other local points of interest.

Connect with Jill at her 


Excerpt

Failing is not an option...

“I’ve been watching you, wondering, waiting to see where you’d end up. After all, there are other demon law schools,” Seknecus said, making a moue of distaste that made it clear exactly what he thought of them. “But I was happy to see that you chose St. Lucifer’s.”

Technically my mother chose St. Lucifer’s . . . But there seemed no reason to interrupt just to clarify that bit of misinformation. Seknecus wandered around the room, picking through papers, flipping open and quickly shutting the front covers of various leather-bound books, never meeting my eye. I had no doubt, however, that his attention was fully focused on me.

“So, you see, seeing your name on my List wasn’t exactly a surprise, although it appeared much later than I would have liked.”

He did look at me then, with a frown of disapproval. I did my best to look expressionless because none seemed appropriate. It wouldn’t do to look amused, bored or, Luck forbid, rebellious. Seknecus stared at me with narrowed eyes and then went back to wandering.

“You’ve got some catching up to do,” he said, addressing a copy of Sin and Sanction: Codification & Case Law. “It doesn’t matter why or what excuses you’ve got for yourself. You will be held to the same standards as everyone else, regardless of whose daughter you are. And you’ve missed a lot of class already.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but he cut me off with a wave.

“Manipulation class,” he clarified. “You’re going to have to work ten times as hard as everyone else just to pass. Quintus Rochester doesn’t go easy on students and he’s likely to see your absence during the early part of the semester as a challenge. You know, failing is not an option. Not if you want to live.”

Dark Light of Day by Jill Archer 

Book #1 in the Noon Onyx series

Armageddon is over. The demons won. And yet somehow…the world has continued. Survivors worship patron demons under a draconian system of tributes and rules. These laws keep the demons from warring among themselves, and the world from slipping back into chaos.

Noon Onyx grew up on the banks of the river Lethe, the daughter of a prominent politician, and a descendant of Lucifer’s warlords. Noon has a secret: She was born with waning magic, the dark, destructive, fiery power that is used to control demons and maintain the delicate peace among them. But a woman with waning magic is unheard of, and some would consider her an abomination.

Noon is summoned to attend St. Lucifer’s, a school of demon law. She must decide whether to declare her powers there…or to attempt to continue hiding them, knowing the price for doing so may be death. And once she meets the forbiddingly powerful Ari Carmine—who suspects Noon is harboring magic as deadly as his own—Noon realizes there may be more at stake than just her life.


GIVEAWAY RULES:

Blog giveaway

Answer one of Jill's questions in a comment and you could win one Ace/Roc Science Fiction and Fantasy 2012 Sampler! 

These are bound, print samplers with a color cover and the first few pages of new work from the following authors/titles: Benedict Jacka's FATED, Alex Hughes' CLEAN, Jacqueline Carey's DARK CURRENTS, Steve Bein's DAUGHTER OF THE SWORD, Anton Strout's ALCHEMYSTIC, and Jill Archer's DARK LIGHT OF DAY. 

Giveaway is only open to US and ends on 17 October 2012!

Jill will choose and announce the winner in the comments, so check back the next day (so on Oct 18th), winner will have 48 hours to send Jill their shipping address.


Tour Wide Giveaways

Those who comment on the blog tour are entered to win one of the following prizes:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveway is open worldwide and ends on 15 November 2012!

Good luck!

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