Shade and Sorceress: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 1
Eliza knows for certain what she isn't: the powerful Sorceress the learned Mancers think her to be. Or is she? Eliza is stunned to learn her father has been keeping important secrets. Her mother's death wasn't from pneumonia, but the death of all great Shang Sorceresses: killed in battle against evil forces.
Even so, Eliza's lessons with the Mancers at their Citadel prove to them what she has always known she can't do any magic.
The final brave act of Eliza's mother was to trap the evil Xia Sorceress in an Arctic prison. But the witch is still strong enough to use her minions to capture Eliza's father. Escaping the Citadel with her best friend Nell and new friend Charlie, Eliza sets off to rescue him.
They seek help from the Triumvirate, an uneasy alliance of ultimate power the Oracle, the King of the Faeries, and Swarn, the witch who delivered Eliza as a baby. They try to stop her, but she is determined. She knows she's connected to the Xia Sorceress somehow.
What awaits Eliza in the Arctic prison is worse than she could have imagined. Abandoned by the Mancers and the Triumvirate, she must rely on her friends and her own wits and common sense to succeed in her quest and find what she is destined to become.
Catherine Egan is a debut fantasy novelist with Shade and Sorceress, the first in the Last Days of Tian Di trilogy. Her short fiction has been published in Canadian and US journals. Catherine is a world traveller who has lived in Canada, the UK, Japan, and China.
Shade and Sorceress: The Last Days of Tian Di Book 1
John Reed Books
Author: Catherine Egan
Interview with Catherine Egan
Question: Can you tell us what inspired The Last Days of Tian Di series?
Catherine Egan: I was deeply stuck with revisions on my first attempt at a novel (for adults), about an expat in Tokyo with a sleep disorder. It wasn't working, and I needed a break, so I decided to write a fantasy story as a Christmas present for my niece and nephew. It was October, so I was planning to knock something out pretty quickly, 100 pages or so. I started brainstorming, making notes. The first thing I wrote down was a conversation between my heroine Eliza and her nemesis, Nia. Something just clicked while I was writing it. A very big click. Sort of like an explosion that doesn't blow anything up (except for my plans to complete the previous novel). I felt like I'd found my genre. My little Christmas-present story turned into a full-length novel, which turned into a trilogy. Once I started writing it, I couldn't stop.
Question: What did you enjoy most about creating the character of Eliza?
Catherine Egan: Finding her. When I was revising my first draft, I felt like she was just terrified the whole way through and it was a bit much. On the one hand, she is a girl with no powers up against the greatest forces in her world, so of course she's going to be scared and overwhelmed. But I was afraid it would be exhausting to read about. I was trying to balance the terror I felt her situation called for, and also a strength that wouldn't seem unbelievable. I added the scene at the end of the first chapter when the Mancers confront her and she throws a bunch of cookies at them. I found her natural defiance there, and that helped me strike the balance I needed.
Question: How many books will we see in this series?
Catherine Egan: Three. The second one is due to be published next fall (2013).
Question: What research went into Shade and Sorceress?
Catherine Egan: Well, the beauty of writing fantasy is that you make it all up! Nobody can call me out on Faery history or my description of the Ravening Forest! That said, I did make some use of ancient Chinese cosmology in writing about the Mancers. My husband's field (he actually does do research!) is ancient China, and when I was still in the outlining stage with Shade & Sorceress, he was reading to me about The Five Phases. It sounded so fantastic and otherworldly that I immediately cribbed what I wanted to make the magic and culture of the Mancers distinctive.
I can't actually call it research, as I am still fairly ignorant about the Five Phases. As best I understand it, the phases (metal, fire, earth, air, and water) function more as categories than as substances, and every force and element in the universe belongs to one of these categories. They exist in balance and keep each other in check. I wanted the Mancers to have a limited, specific magic and a very rule-bound way of living, so it worked well to adapt the Five Phases as a kind of structure to their way of being and working magic as a group.
I also used Chinese for some of the place names. Tian Di actually means Heaven / Earth. Di Shang (the human world) could be translated as Above Earth, and Tian Xia (the magical world) as Under Heaven.
Question: What can you tell us about the second book in The Last Days of Tian Di series?
Catherine Egan: The second book takes place two years after the first book ends. Eliza, now fourteen, has been training with the Mancers, and also secretly with Swarn, the warrior witch. The Sorceress Nia breaks free of her Arctic prison and begins to blast through her enemies one by one, incapacitating all of Eliza's allies. The book was great fun for me to write, because it has lots of Nia in it, and I love writing her. The reader will learn some secrets about the Supreme Mancer, Kyreth, while Eliza has to face a particularly horrible (and personal) challenge that Nia has devised for her.