Today, please help me welcome Jill Archer to Preternatura! Jill is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels about a post-grad magic user and her off-campus adventures. The second book, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, was released May 28, following DARK LIGHT OF DAY. Jill lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.
Jill stopped by today to talk about places that inspired some of the settings in her new book (and you know how we all love our settings, especially if it involves Louisiana swamps…and those of you who’ve read River Road know all about the Mississippi River and its relationship to the Styx, or the river of Hades next to the Lethe!).
ABOUT FIERY EDGE OF STEEL: Lucifer and his army triumphed at Armageddon, leaving humans and demons living in uncertain peace based on sacrifice and strict laws. It is up to those with mixed demon and human blood, the Host, to prevent society from falling into anarchy. Noon Onyx is the first female Host in memory to wield the destructive waning magic that is used to maintain order among the demons. Her unique abilities, paired with a lack of control and reluctance to kill, have branded her as an outsider from her peers. Only her powerful lover, Ari Carmine, and a roguish and mysterious Angel, Rafe Sinclair, support her unconventional ways. When Noon is shipped off to a remote outpost to investigate several unusual disappearances, a task which will most likely involve trying and killing the patron demon of that area, it seems Luck is not on her side. But when the outpost settlers claim that an ancient and evil foe has stepped out of legend to commit the crimes, Noon realizes that she could be facing something much worse than she ever imagined.
Fiery Edge of Steel: Louisiana’s Swamps and the Shallows of Halja
Hi everyone! I figured since I was coming to Preternatura to guest blog, it might be fun to talk about how the Louisiana swamps and the Mississippi River inspired some of the settings in Fiery Edge of Steel.
All during my childhood and into my college years, my dad and step-mom lived outside of New Orleans. First they lived in a small town called LaPlace and then they lived in Metairie. (They moved to Tennessee post-Katrina.) In any case, I spent a lot of time down there when I was young – every Christmas break and entire summers. It was great! The area (as many of you know) is lushly beautiful, the people are wonderfully friendly, and the food is fun and fantastic.
I write a genre-bending fantasy series called the Noon Onyx series, which is set in a post-Apocalyptic world called Halja. But the Apocalypse has come and gone. As in, 2,000 years gone. So the series isn’t dystopian fiction. The stories center on the main character and her academic and romantic challenges. She goes to school at a place called St. Lucifer’s Law School (good ole St. Luck’s) where they teach magic users like Noon to be demon peacekeepers.
In the first book, Dark Light of Day, much of the story takes place on the campus of St. Luck’s. But I knew I didn’t want to set all future stories at the school, or even always in an urban environment. Each story focuses on a new assignment or a new adventure for Noon.
In Fiery Edge of Steel, the second book, Noon is given her first field assignment. She needs to travel to a place called the Shallows in order to investigate some mysterious disappearances there. To get to the Shallows, Noon and her investigative team take a dahabiya and sail down the largest river in Halja – the Lethe. In Greek mythology, the Lethe was one of the rivers in Hades. But Halja’s river Lethe had another real world inspiration: the Mississippi River.
As for Halja’s swampy, low lying eastern hinterlands where the Shallows is? I used Louisiana’s swamps and bayous as inspiration. It’s been a LONG time since I took a swamp tour. But I thought I’d share a picture that my husband took back before we were even married. For years when we were younger, this picture hung in our apartment. Today, we still have a fun reminder of that trip – the fridge magnet from the Honey Island Swamp Tours in Slidell.
They’re still giving tours! http://www.honeyislandswamp.com/
Thanks to Suzanne for hosting me here today! It was fun sharing a bit about Fiery Edge of Steel and its settings with you!
Thanks for stopping by today, Jill! Honey Island Swamp is in St. Tammany Parish, which is north of New Orleans and is considered one of the most pristine swamp environments in the country. (If you watch “Swamp People” on the History Channel, this is where Bruce and his dog Tyler do their gator-hunting). When you drive into NOLA on I-10 from Mississippi, sometimes when the water’s high the swamp butts right up to the interstate…which can be a tad creepy!
Have you ever been on a swamp tour or any natural-habitat tour? (There are gators!) Leave a comment to be entered for a copy of Fiery Edge of Steel!