I’m excited to have the amazingly creative and talented author, Azaria M.J. Durant, on the blog today showcasing her Young Adult fantasy novel, Broken Arrow with you today. I wanted to take a moment to thank Giselle @ Xpresso Book Tours for letting me be part of the book blitz for this intensely awesome and adventurous epic fantasy novel, that I CAN’T WAIT to read.
Who wouldn’t love a fantasy world where magic is illegal, half-breeds are hated, and the four countries are on the brink of destroying one another?
Azaria M.J. Durant has been generous enough to share an excerpt from this tantalizing tale of daring adventure and thrill-seeking danger with us, along with a few of her own thoughts on bringing these magical characters to life, and offering an AMAZING giveaway too!
But first, I’m dying to tell you a little bit more about Broken Arrow.
Book Title: Broken Arrow
Author: Azaria M.J. Durant
Series: (Darkened Destiny Saga #1)
Publisher: Imperatrix PublishingPublished: July 29, 2018
Age Demographic: Young Adult
An ancient power long kept dormant stirs in the shadows once more as one boy embarks on a quest to earn his freedom and the freedom of his world!
Magic has turned to myth, the Vaelhyreans of old to legend, and the power wielded by the ancients has long been forgotten. However, with Ealdred, a mere half-breed slave boy, myth becomes real, the forgotten remembered, and the power of legend is reborn within him.
Ealdred is merged into a world of mystery, brimming with deceit, where the remaining Vaelhyreans are in a desperate fight for their very survival. When Ealdred is kidnapped by the power-mongering dark lord Zeldek himself, he must make a choice; to commit his newfound magic to Zeldek’s service or die. But when he meets Bellator, clever yet treacherous servant of Zeldek, an alternative is presented to him: to escape from Zeldek’s stronghold and embark on a quest to find a cursed arrow and free the Vaelhyreans from the spell that keeps their powers at bay.
Yet how can he survive in a world where magic is illegal, half-breeds are hated, and the four countries are on the brink of war?
Fire and Blood — Bellator’s Story
Written by Azaria M.J. Durant
A flicker of torchlight spread across the floor of the cold cell, almost reaching the small form that huddled in the shadowy corner. All that could be seen was the edge of a tattered cloak partially blanketing a pair of small, dirty feet. Footsteps echoed in the foul-smelling air, which – upon first breathing in, stung the nose – but one could get numb to it over time. The shadow of a man blocked the light, before the bars of the cell, his golden hair outlined in the light.
“Good evening!” a masculine voice greeted cheerfully.
The feet recoiled into the shadows.
A rattle, a click, and the door swung open. The man stepped into the room, richly dressed, a cloak sweeping the floor behind him, though he picked it up daintily between two fingers.
“I think you and I should come to an understanding, little one.”
There was no response. Nor had the man expected one. He sighed, resting his hand on the hilt of the fancy sword that hung at his side.
“Let’s start with your name. Can you tell me that?”
Again, no reply.
He sighed. Clearly, this was going nowhere. It was time for a new approach.
“Where did you get that brand on your hand?” he demanded gruffly.
A shuffle of feet. The man squinted into the shadows, but the glaring torchlight made the shadows even deeper.
“Look, missy, I can’t help you if you won’t cooperate!”
“Don’t call me that.” The voice was soft, feminine, and very young. Yet the childishness it carried was hollow.
The man was too wrapped in his own self-importance to notice. “At last. She speaks!”
A face materialized from the shadows as the girl moved forward. Her gaze sent a chill down the man’s spine. He wasn’t sure if it was because of the way the torchlight caught her eyes, or the fierce hunger and rage trapped behind them.
“I know who you are,” she said, her soft voice becoming harsher. “You are King Leonel, and you’re a despicable coward who gorges himself while his people starve!”
“And you’re a loose tempered brat, apparently,” he said evenly, smiling in an attempt to keep his bearing.
“Your people hate you,” she continued, just as calmly, yet venomous all the same. “I’ve seen it. I feel their hunger. You’re going to die if you keep ignoring them.”
He gritted his teeth. “Do you know what that symbol on your hand means? It is a brand, given to you by one far greater than you or I. It means that he is your master. You belong to him, and so I’m going to take you to him.”
The little girl’s eyes narrowed. “No one owns me!”
“My master does.”
Her breathing quickened, and she backed into the shadows again.
“That’s right,” he chuckled, using the ground he had gained. “I’m taking you to my master. Not that I know what use a scrawny, pint-sized brat—what the-!”
A foot hit him square in the throat, throwing him back into the wall. The girl had darted from the shadows, and now used his momentum to climb up him, wrapping her legs around his chest, and beat him about the head.
“G-guards!” the king bellowed when he could finally breathe again, his voice squeaking pathetically. His voice was quickly silenced as she grabbed his coveted hair in one fist and his beard in the other, and slammed his head back against the wall.
The guards rushed into the cell and grabbed hold of her, trying to pry her off of him. It was a few minutes before they succeeded. Still she struggled, trying to get at him again, shouting at the top of her lungs, “No one’s ever going to own me! You hear? No one!”
King Leonel reached to comfort a deep, bleeding scratch across his face. “Throw that little brat into the pit! Fire and blood is how it’s going to end, missy. Fire and blood!”
She was dragged from the room, kicking and screaming insults back at him. Fighting, biting, and scratching, she was half-dragged, half-carried through dark passageways until at last they stood on the edge of a deep, dark pit. Though she struggled to hold on, they grabbed her wrists and dangled her over the pit.
“Don’t!” she squeaked, just as they let go.
The girl fell for a brief moment, quite sure that she’d be dead at the bottom. But then she landed, her legs crumbling beneath her. There was a snap as her ankle twisted the wrong way beneath her, and her scream echoed from the abyss.
Only the darkness replied, and that was to envelope her in its cold grip as the torchlight slipped away.
Along n the dark she lay, her foot throbbing as the pain grew only worse. The walls around her seemed to come alive and press in on her, and she was sure that she heard a dull hiss from somewhere close by. A hiss which grew louder, and louder, until it was coming from all around her. Something brushed against her, and she froze, gritting her teeth. Another something coiled around her broken ankle, and yet another slithered up her arm to drape itself over her chest. A tongue flicked against her face. She could practically smell the poison in their fangs.
As the night passed by slowly, she remained still, taking only light, shallow breaths. Her skin was pale, and every breath felt like her last. All the while, hatred as strong as a raging fire burned in her veins, filling them until they ached more than the pain of her injury. All her life, she’d been pushed around, and she was done. She’d show these people they couldn’t own her, or break her for that matter.
Swallowing hard, she slowly started to pick herself up. A snake hissed threateningly as it slid off of her arm, and she froze. But it soon got bored and moved on. She managed to pick them all off one by one and rose steadily to her good foot.
When King Leonel returned the next morning, he threw a torch down into the pit. It hit the bottom, sending snakes slithering away in all directions. But instead of finding a lifeless body on the floor, he found the space empty. He gasped, stumbling backward, which was the only reason he didn’t fall into the pit when the rock struck his scalp. Black spotted his vision, and a cry of rage echoed in his ears as the girl grabbed him and dragged him to the ground from behind.
A deep chuckle rocked the ground, and the girl felt a shudder of fear. She looked up, mid strike, and saw a cloaked man standing in the shadows.
“I believe you have underestimated her, Leonel,” the man’s chilling voice said. “She’s quite the fighter.”
“Who are you?” she demanded, pressing her knee into Leonel’s chest.
He stepped into the torchlight, pushing back his hood to reveal a crown of black gold on a head of braided white hair. “My name is Zeldek. I am your master.”
She swore, leaping to her feet. Leonel tried to move, and she stamped her broken foot into his neck, ignoring the pain.
Zeldek raised an eyebrow. “How old are you, exactly?”
“Not your business!”
“You look quite young. No older than ten, I’m guessing? And yet,” he took a step forward, a sinister light in his eye, “you just took down not only a grown man, but a skilled warrior. I see great things in your future.”
“Go crawl back to whatever hole you came out of!”
A smile twisted his pale lips. “I’ll take her.”
“Excuse me?” The little girl’s fists clenched.
“You did well to call me here, Leonel. For once, I am not disappointed.”
“The girl is all yours,” the king choked. “Take her, please!”
“No!” the girl growled, picking up the rock from the ground and clenched it in her fists. “You can’t have me!”
Zeldek’s eyes flashed red. “Do you really think you have a choice?”
“Yeah,” the girl tossed her head of straggled, chestnut hair. “I do.”
Leaping forward, she hurled the rock at his head, and then sprinted at him. But however quick she was, this man was quicker. He caught the rock in his hand without so much as flinching, and it broke unto flaming pieces, dashing sparks into her eyes. She stumbled, and he struck her to the ground with the back of his hand.
“You will learn to respect me,” he said coldly. “Or you will suffer greatly until you fear me.”
Blood filled her mouth, and she spat it out. Yet there was no fear in her eyes as she glared at him. She pushed herself back to her feet, only to be kicked back again. The air was thrown from her lungs as she hit the opposite wall. A sharp pain penetrated her lungs, and her broken ankle twisted at an odd angle.
Again, she tried to pick herself back up.
Zeldek raised both eyebrows in astonishment. Leonel, who had picked himself up, drew his sword and raised it to run her through.
“Leonel, stay your hand!” his master ordered in a voice like thunder.
“She’s dangerous, sir!” Leonel protested. “Too dangerous to be kept alive! If this girl is allowed to grow up, she’ll be—“
“Perfect,” his master finished for him, casting his dark eyes over the girl. “She is going to be perfect. I see a warrior so strong and fierce that legions flee before her. I see a devouring darkness that cannot be stopped, a resolve that cannot be shaken.”
“I see a stupid old man trying to plan my life out for me,” the girl said through her teeth.
He bent down beside her, his hand glowing like embers. Heat radiated from it, and he held it close to her face. “And a will bent entirely to my command.”
She gritted her teeth hard as the heat blistered her neck and sizzled the edges of her hair. Darkness seized her vision as the pain grew unbearable, and she was left with the echo of his voice to haunt her nightmares.
Fire and Blood — Bellator’s Story © 2018 by Azaria M.J. Durant
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
After reading that *fans self* I know that I’m going to be MADLY IN LOVE WITH Bellator once I’m able to get my hands on a copy of this brilliant written work of fantasy. I love how the name “bellator” is Latin for “warrior” and that Azaria M.J. Durant wrote such a strong, yet conflicted and deeply tragic character heroine. These are the types of characters that I live for.
Don’t lie, you know you do too.
But, if that isn’t enough to convince you, I’ll let Azaria M.J. Durant tell you all about how she created these stunning and epic characters that are sure to leave a lasting impression on you, once you’ve read the book.
Bringing the Characters of Broken Arrow to Life
Written by Azaria M.J. Durant
Written by Azaria M.J. Durant
When I think back on the creation of the cast of Broken Arrow, it looks less like Aslan singing the people of Narnia into existence, and more like the orcs being ripped from their sacks roaring and kicking. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
Me, creating the main character: She will be beautiful (but won’t know it), flawless, everyone will fall in love with her, she’ll be good with the bow, with a fiery temper that gets her into trouble, and is ‘not at all like other girls’.
Bellator, looking at herself: What the heck is this? This isn’t me! Where’s the personality? Where’s the fear, the respect I call with just a flash of my eye? This perfect do-gooder with irrational emotional breakdowns is pathetic.
Me: Oh, sorry… I’ll give you a cute love interest. Is that good?
Bellator, her temper boiling: You think a love interest will fix this? And who even is this idiot? This guy’s unbearably perfect! And since when do I need saving?
Ealdred enters with the script, taps me lightly on the shoulder: No offence, but I’m not like this. This guy is… well, he’s a bit of a jerk, isn’t he? I get what you’re trying to do – you know, make me dashing and all that – but it’s just… not working. It isn’t me.
Me: You’re right, you’re right. I knew something was off. You need a better character arc.
Bellator crosses her arms: This’ll be good.
Me: You need more pain, more suffering…
Ealdred: That isn’t what I—
Me: But there’s still a problem. How can I express all of this through Bellator’s unfeeling eyes?
Bellator: Just forget about that idiot. What point is he anyways? I don’t need a love interest.
Me: That’s it! This story needs a gentler perspective. Someone people can actually care about. *glares at Bellator* Ealdred, you’re now the main character.
Ealdred, in shock: Oh… um, thanks?
Bellator in her quietest, deadliest voice: WHAT!?
Ealdred, backing away: It wasn’t my idea!
Me: It works better this way, Bellator. Now you can be the mysterious and terrifying assassin that you’ve always wanted to be.
Bellator, narrowing her eyes at Ealdred: Fine. But I’m not going to forget this, half-wit.
And that’s pretty much how it was creating all of the characters. Hamish was the big bad villain, but begged and pleaded until I changed my mind. Uri was in an entirely different book, but stole his way into the pages of Broken Arrow when my guard was down. Annalyn was a random extra in one scene that turned into one of the six main characters. Banner was a normal, mysterious bagger when I realized he was hiding his true life from me. Jambeau was both good and bad without reason, so to fix it I had to split him in half, one remaining Jambeau, and the other becoming Ralcher. Leonel was a good and wise king before he showed his true colours. And on it goes.
Looking at it, Marianna and Zeldek are the only ones that haven’t been difficult so far and have stayed in the roles they were originally placed. We’ll see how long it lasts.
I’ll see if I can narrow down each step…
For this cast, I started with pulling out a pad of paper and googling “medieval baby names” with a bit of an idea of the cast of characters that I wanted for the story. I went through a couple of different sites, and wrote down every one that caught my eye, felt right, or that I liked the meaning of. A couple of names popped off the screen right away, and fit perfectly with the ideas that I had. Hamish, for example, which means “usurper” or “to supplant”, was the perfect name for the villain I had in mind. Elroy was another one that fit well with the heroic love interest, though I also liked Ealdred a lot too, so I decided on both. Bellator was actually the last character named, and it took me five years to finally figure out the perfect name for her. Before that, Briella, Bree, and Gailene were names I alternated between using, but she hated all of them. It was about a year ago when I integrated using Google Translate to find names that I discovered the word “bellator” which is Latin for warrior. And it was perfect. She has never been happier with me than she was that day.
Once the names were figured out, and I had a (very large) cast in mind, I then had to figure out the ages. At the time, I was fourteen, but I wanted the book to be relatable to all teens, so I had all of the main characters be sixteen. Not that I knew how to write a sixteen year old at the time, but I thought it couldn’t be too hard. Since then, pretty much all of the ages have changed to have more or less variety, and I have the experience to be able to write a proper sixteen year old. Even if Ealdred is now fifteen, as he is quick to point out.
After all of the ages had been established, I started coming up with faces. At first, Pinterst was my guide, and I came up will all the face claims that I could. But as my art started to progress, I was able to start to work out the details of each character, and the face claims no longer worked. The clothing style of my world was also something I worked on at this point as I tried to think up each character’s signature outfit. I had to settle with signature style, though, because I’m not sure I’ve ever once been able to draw a character in the same outfit. I have a designing streak, as it turns out.
Discovering the roles and personality of each character was something that happened as I started writing. And even when I thought I had them all figured out, roles switched, personalities changed, and back stories formed. I’m still trying to work out a lot of their back stories and personalities, to be honest. But now I used character development lounges to work out most of that. Character development lounges are where writers put their characters in scenarios along with another person’s characters and watch as they interact, go on crazy adventures, and find who they are.
As my characters changed, so did the story, until it all became the epic tale that it is today. Though the story may be good, it is the characters that make it so good.
If you love a fantastical character driven epic tale, then Broken Arrow is definitely the book you’re going to wait to pick up!
Don’t forget to enter the awesome giveaway!
About Azaria M.J. Durant Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
Azaria M. J. Durant is a young, passionate writer of fantasy with plans to branch out into sci-fi and dystopian. She enjoys writing stories with action, adventure, unexpected plot twists, and fleshed out characters that challenge gender roles and expectations.
Azaria lives in Atlantic Canada with her family, cats, and dogs, and her big dreams to travel the world. In the moments when she isn’t writing, she is sketching concept art for her stories, participating in community theatre, or curled up with a good book and a bag of mint chocolates.