Monday, July 16, 2012

Spotlight and Interview with Firedancer Author S.A. Bolich

S. A. Bolich
Masters of the Elements, Book 1

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Sky Warrior Books

ISBN: 978-0615592916

Number of pages: 394
Word Count: 133,000

Book Description:

What do you suppose that fire thinks about as it cooks your dinner behind its cage of containment stone? Jetta ak'Kal knows—but no one listens to a Firedancer who has failed to protect her assigned village from an assault by living flame.

The Ancient, the strange, elemental fire imprisoned at the heart of the world, took her lifemate, her reputation as the most talented Dancer of her generation, and nearly her life. Now her clan demands she redeem herself, yet seem strangely indifferent to her insistence that the Dance itself that has always bound the Ancient seems to be failing. Assigned to Annam, a village with no previous experience of fire, Jetta and her new partner, Settak, find themselves battling the naive ignorance of the villagers, the hostility of arrogant Windriders whose mastery of air could kill them both with the flick of a finger, and occasionally each other as they struggle to find new and more powerful forms of the Dance.

Pursued by fire crawling up through every crack, by a new love she does not want, and a nagging suspicion that there is more to her assignment than her clan bothered to tell her, Jetta must forge unprecedented alliances in this high and beautiful place before the Ancient breaks free—for if it does, there will no longer be anything left to fight for.

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Go ahead and Take A Sneak Peak at Firedancer...You Know You Want to. :-D

Fire rose that night. Jetta jerked awake to a deep booming horn shivering the glass in the windows and Nuurn's voice shouting, "Fire, Jetta ak'Kal! Fire at the storehouses!"

She scrambled out of bed, throwing a harried look out the window. She could not see the fire but she saw a glow, the size of which turned her stomach to knots. Ruthlessly she suppressed it and charged down the hill. Clouds had rolled in since sunset; it was black as the inside of Wind Point between the houses, forcing Jetta to slow down on the uneven streets. Then a huge shadow loomed out of the night and Rununn said breathlessly, "Follow me, ak'Kal!"

His great hand caught hers and tugged; she followed, trusting his night vision as he wove around hummocks and ruts. Her feet were wet and numb from the chill dew on the ankle-deep grass by the time they dashed over the slight rise and came to the first of the storehouses. Delvers with shovels, with buckets and picks, some half dressed, others barefoot, milled around between her and the fire, determined to catch any spark.

"Let me through!" she shouted, pounding both fists on the first broad back. Rununn cleared a path with indelicate shoves of a broad shoulder and many a, "Pardon, master. Please step aside." that would have set Jetta giggling at any other time. One Delver turned with a sharp, angry protest, planting himself in Rununn's path. Jetta almost shrieked at sight of Burrood.

"Remember yourself, a'Kam!" he snapped at Rununn.


Jetta, trapped amid a towering forest of giant Delver bodies, lost all diplomacy. "Move!" she screamed at Burrood. "The fire--"

Burrood opened his mouth, but what he might have said, Jetta never found out. Rununn wrapped both strong young arms around the older Delver and simply lifted him out of the way, his face averted from Burrood's astonished outrage. Jetta darted through that convenient hole and halted, appalled.

Not one, but three separate fires burned on the road and in the spring grass on the uphill verge. Settak faced the largest, an inferno in the middle of the road roaring shoulder high with a yellow-white core. The other two were spinning threads into the damp and verdant grass, finding it tough going but racing to combine arms of knee-high reddish flame.

"Dancer, what do we do?" a panicked Delver shouted at her.

Jetta gathered her wits. "Clear a line around those two!" She pointed at the lesser fires, which would not spread quickly in that lush grass. "And stay back!"

She ran to join Settak. Outmatched, still he bravely stood his ground. As she came up beside him he thrust his hands out in the move that had worked so well yesterday. The fire shied back but none of its flickering branches sank or died. Jetta saw the failure hit him like a blow to the gut and shouted, "Show no fear, Dancer! Take position on the other side!"

He turned his head and saw her. Relief washed into his face. He nodded and spun away, terrified but still game. Jetta stepped instinctively into the Dance, straight to the fifth movement.

No retreat.

The fire roared at her, malicious to its core. She felt its hostility as she had felt it at Firehome, at Setham. Heat blasted toward her and recoiled; she saw it withering the grass even where fire had not yet taken hold. Sweat glistened on Delver faces at the edge of the light. She set them from her mind, concentrating on the ground underfoot, reaching for the pulsing power under Earth Mother's skin. She planted both feet in the dying heat of ruined grass, uncomfortably warm for a terrifying, endless instant in which she could not feel the run of the fire even with it towering in front of her. And then it came, the sweet, staggering relief of the Dance connecting her to...everything. Everything worth protecting.

The heat faded. The searing brightness dimmed as the air seemed to thicken into a shield around her. The acrid bite of smoke and scorched grass no longer afflicted her nose. Jetta scarcely noticed, for the center of the fire faded to palest yellow and then to white, and a hysth burned there, cunning vanguard of the Ancient, defying the Dance, the Mother. Her. Jetta set her jaw and began to dance.

The hysth roared at her, divided itself and tried to advance on her flanks; she stopped it with an improbable leap and twist that took her level with shocked Delver eyes. On the edge of her awareness danced Settak in brief glimpses of random movements, out of step with her own, disconnected, though she saw that somehow he was keeping the fire from spreading on his side. He was not Kori; she could not expect his efforts to lock smoothly with hers, but still it distracted her on levels she barely sensed save in tiny jolts to the smooth flow of the energy pouring through her.

Then a malevolent intelligence assaulted her, a driving need deep underground. The Ancient. The hysth lunged at her, breaking out of its circle to attack the ground at her feet, burning downward, striving to dump her into the arms of the Ancient. Dimly she heard Settak's frenzied "Jetta!"...

Ms. Bolich has Taken Time to Give the Muse a Glimpse into Her Writing Life...

What inspired you to write your first book?

My best friend in junior high lent me The Lord of the Rings, one book at a time. I devoured them in one night each and of course then wanted to write my own fantasy. It was inspired by Tolkien but not particularly derivative. It is still in my drawer (I was 14!). Someday I will clean those three books up and kick them out the door.

How did you come up with the title?

Firedancer was fairly self-explanatory, a relief, because titles are often hard. It is about a woman who uses the Firedance to control malevolent fire, sooo... Firedancer.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

I think that we often undervalue those who protect us, from cops to firefighters to military personnel at risk on our behalf. Sometimes those people have to make awful choices which haunt them, and they are stuck with deciding what the “greater good” may be. Jetta faces such a choice in Firedancer. It would be nice if people go away thinking about what they would do or choose, and remember all those folks we never see who keep us safe from day to day.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Heh. I realized somewhere in the middle of writing this book that Jetta’s frustration with fire popping up everywhere draws deeply on my own long-running battle with the knapweed trying hard to take over my horse pasture...

What are your current projects?

I am working on Seaborn, the third book in the Masters of the Elements series (Book 1 is Firedancer and Book 2 is Windrider). I also have a high fantasy in progress and have an alternate history series on hold until Seaborn is finished. I seem to be unable to write anything short! My ideas generally spawn series (though not endless series), although each book is a discrete element of the larger story arc. I am a history major, so I always end up thinking about past and future and how things fit together, which generates possibilities for long story arcs beyond the scope of the single story each book tells.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

This is the current opening to Seaborn. All things are subject to change, however. J

Sister Melth had death on her mind.
            Foam seething on racing ripples, logs charging downstream like hunters' javelins, the hissing protest of muddy water fingering the hull--oh, yes, the river was growing fractious. Nes shook back rain-wet silvery hair and laughed a secret laugh, her face turned carefully toward Waverider’s bow where no one could see. The deck quivered under her bare feet, shivering in rhythm with the booming power of the rising Melth. Around her the rain pounded small dents into the flood and bounced off the chipped carving of the wooden railings in glorious assault on everything in sight. It stung her face with its cold fingers and ran in rivulets from the ends of her waist-length silver braid, a small flood to match the greater one around her. Through its chilly exploration of her toes she could feel the bold restlessness in the water pouring past Waverider, challenging the little ship's right to sully its surface.
            Nes sympathized. She, too, would have preferred Waverider to be elsewhere. Caught fast in an ice flow in the northern seas, perhaps. Or endlessly sailing the maze of the Mother's Hair, forever seeking a way out of those tangled currents at the bottom of the world. Anywhere it could never find her and her sibs again.
            Something raked the hull with a shuddering crunch that drew all the hair up on her neck. "Neshuaas!" a deep, angry voice roared behind her. "Pay attention!"
            "Aye, Da!" she called back reflexively, shaken. The exultation rooted in awareness of the river's effortless power faded as she glanced hurriedly over the side and saw a monstrous bare-branched tree torn from the bank upriver spinning away down the current. Nes gulped and wondered how it had failed to stave in Waverider's hull.
           Light footsteps pattered up the deck behind her. "Nes! That was scary!" Ephep wound his arms around her waist and clung tight.
            "Phsh. Scary is when you can see the log from inside the hull." She set her arm around his slight shoulders and smiled down into her brother's solemn little face. "Waverider's a brave ship, and Sister Melth's not really angry with us. 'Tis spring, is all, and she be full of herself with all the snow melt."
            Ephep peered past the carved wave curling forever over the water parting cleanly around the sharp line of Waverider's bow. His grip loosened a little when no other deadly flotsam seemed to be aiming itself at the ship. Only ten, the youngest of Nes's four siblings, he had never seen a year like this one, so full of roaring rivers and endless rain and water boiling up from the very ground without anyone calling it forth.
            But then, no one had, not in two hundred years at least, since the last time anyone had tried to call a season out of its running...

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I like C. J. Cherryh’s work a lot, for the sheer intelligence of it. She puts a lot of thought into building plausible worlds and assumes the reader can keep up when she chooses to throw you in there head first.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Well, I suppose I could get down on my knees and beg people to buy my books, but that would be undignified. J Mostly I hope that people enjoy them and feel they got good value. While there are things in each book that I want to say about life, the universe, and everything, I don’t want to beat people over the head with Messages. I just want to tell a good story. I would love to hear from readers whether I accomplished that mission or not, either on Twitter or my blog or through Amazon reviews.

One final question...What is your favorite type of food?

Ah, geez, anything with chocolate in it...

Thank you Ms. Bolich for visiting the Seraphine Muse today. If you'd like to read more on Firedancer's award-winning story, then you can find additional information on any of the links posted below this interview.

Author Bio:

S. A. Bolich is a full-time freelancer who writes on a wide range of topics ranging from travel to horses to web design—and of course, fantasy and science fiction.  A native of Washington state, she resides there again after serving six years in Germany as an army military intelligence officer. She graduated summa cum laude from college with a degree in history, which she confesses was greatly aided by devouring historical fiction of every era and kind through her formative years.  She is also a lifelong horsewoman and shares her knowledge in the popular "Horses in Fiction" blog series at, in which she helps writers keep their equines from falling into the trap of Hollywood clich├ęs.

Her first novel, Firedancer, Book 1 of the Masters of the Elements series, was released in September 2011 by Sky Warrior Books, with Book 2, Windrider, appearing in May 2012.  Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, and many other print magazines and ezines, as well as the steampunk anthology Gears and Levers 1, the military SF anthology Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land, and the wolf-themed fantasy collection, Wolfsongs 2.  Currently she is working on Seaborn, Book 3 of Masters of the Elements.

Twitter: sabolichwrites


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