Jill Archer on Getting to the Top (and #Fantasy #Giveaway)

Today, join me in welcoming my friend Jill Archer back to the blog—always a treat! Jill’s here to celebrate the release of the fourth book in her terrific Noon Onyx fantasy series, A POCKET FULL OF TINDER. We’ve been waiting for this one!

ABOUT JILL: Jill Archer writes dark, genre-bending fantasy from rural Maryland. Her novels include Dark Light of Day, Fiery Edge of Steel, White Heart of Justice, and Pocket Full of Tinder. She loves cats, coffee, books, movies, day tripping, and outdoor adventuring. You can find her at these links: website, newsletter, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads. You can find discussion questions for her books here.

About POCKET FULL OF TINDER: Noon Onyx is back! In this long-awaited fourth installment, Jill Archer returns readers to the dangerous world of Halja, where demons, angels, and humans coexist in an uneasy state of détente….Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heartbreaker. And the number one thing he wants is her….When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.

Pre-Order Links [Release date is Thursday, December 15]:

Amazon | iTunes | Kobo

Book will also be available on Nook and CreateSpace on or about the release date.

Now, let’s hear from Jill!

How to Get to the Top

Jill Archer

(Suzanne should not be blamed for my cheesy, unimaginative, click-bait headline. It was very late when I wrote this post and I couldn’t think of a better one.)

Mountain settings are popular in fantasy. Lord of the Rings has the Misty Mountains, Mount Doom, and myriad others. A Song of Ice and Fire has the Mountains of the Moon, Frostfangs, and The Mountain. There’s Aslan’s Country in the Chronicles of Narnia… even Outlander has the Scottish Highlands. Whether real or imagined, mountains provide the ultimate majestic backdrop for dramatic, magical stories.

My newest release, Pocket Full of Tinder, is set in a mountain town called Rockthorn Gorge, which is nestled on the southwest slope of Mount Ortus. Unlike the country’s snow-covered, southern mountains, Halja’s northern mountains are hot, green, and accessible by rail. But accessible doesn’t mean easy (very few things in any story should be easy because easy = boring).

To get there, Noon takes the Midland Express, which ascends 6,382 feet in 139 miles. How? Narrow gauge, steep grade railroads and funiculars.

What the heck is a funicular?

Well, in Pittsburgh, where I grew up, we called them inclines. (The city still has two working inclines: the Duquesne and the Monongahela.) Funiculars are specially designed rope and pulley cars. Basically, it’s a railcar that is pulled up a very steep rail by a rope or cable.

Of course, funiculars are nothing compared to via ferratas in terms of steepness and the sheer bravery it takes to use one to get to the top of a mountain. I’ve been in many funiculars. I’ve never used a via ferrata.

What the heck is a via ferrata?

Via ferrata is Italian for “iron road.” But, as Noon points out in Pocket Full of Tinder, there is nothing road-like about a bunch of iron pegs and a steel wire. Via ferratas are permanently attached fixtures that aid climbers. They are popular in the Alps and other places throughout the world, including Half Dome in Yosemite.

[Suzanne inserts: Oh HELL no! Never!]

There are other ways to get to the top, of course. Rockthorn Gorge has a main switchback road running from top to bottom, similar to Lombard Street in San Francisco, but much bigger and longer. The lowest tier is First Street, the second tier is Second Street, the third… You get the idea. But there aren’t any flowers. Rockthorn Gorge is a demon town after all.


It’s possible Noon finds other ways to get to the top in the book. But I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just leave you with one last picture – a fiery Rorschach Test.

What do you see when you look at my last picture? Have you ever been in a funicular? Used a via ferrata? Driven on Lombard Street? What’s your favorite way to get to the top?

Thank you, Suzanne, for inviting me to guest blog today. Best wishes to you and your readers!

Photo credits: Duquesne Incline 1 and 2, Jill Archer; Via Ferrata 1, marako85 via Shutterstock; Via Ferrata 2, outdoorpixel via Shutterstock; Lombard Street, Andrew Zarivny via Shutterstock; Fiery Rorschach, prapann via Shutterstock

Thanks for a fun (scary) ride to the top, Jill! I think the Rorschach looks like a bat flying straight at my head, but I do have personal experience with that, sadly. I would never, ever, ever ride a funicular given an option. After all, in Louisiana, you can stand on top of a sleeping gator and see for miles and miles and miles. The closest I’ve come was riding the aerial transport across the San Diego Zoo…and I kept my eyes closed the whole time.

How about you guys? What’s in your Rorschach? Been on a funicular?

Leave a comment and click on the Rafflecopter link to enter to win one of two prize options:

#1 – an Etsy “Book Lover” prize pack, which includes a book hoarder dragon poster, a dozen book page flowers, six book wine charms, and a pair of book earrings. (U.S. Only for Option #1. If these items are no longer available on Etsy, winner will receive Option #2).

#2 — $50 worth of fantasy books from Book Depository and a $25 Etsy gift certificate.

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About Suzanne Johnson

Author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and suspense. As Suzanne Johnson, she is the author of the Sentinels of New Orleans urban fantasy series (Royal Street; River Road: Elysian Fields, Pirate's Alley, Belle Chasse, Frenchmen Street (March 2018). Writing as Susannah Sandlin, she is the author of the Penton Legacy series (Redemption; Absolution; Omega; Storm Force; Allegiance; ILLUMINATION); The Collectors series (Lovely, Dark, and Deep; Deadly, Calm, and Cold); and the Wilds of the Bayou series (Wild Man's Curse; Black Diamond).

12 thoughts on “Jill Archer on Getting to the Top (and #Fantasy #Giveaway)

  1. a owl in the fire is what i see in the last picture . i think i went in a funicular once when little but i’m not 100%sure
    thanks for the giveaway

  2. A one eyed, one horned, flying, purple people eater. No, I also see a flying bat. How about a cog railroad in Colorado. Cable car lift in Dubugue, Iowa. Their both sort of a funicular.

  3. I have been on a funicular in Budapest and by Niagra Falls. It was fun! Would never try a via ferrata-too scary. My dad drove us down Lombard street several times when we were kids because we thought it was greatest street to live on. The Rorschach drawing does look like a bat, but I also see a dragon’s head breathing fire.

  4. I see a flying fiery bat also. Closest thing I’ve been on is the cable car at the ski resort in Steamboat Springs Colorado.

  5. Suzanne—your bat comment made me laugh. I think I remember you saying you had bats in your house at one point, right? I think bats are neat, but I don’t think I’d want them in my attic! 🙂

    Enjoyed reading everyone’s answers to the fiery Rorschach test. (Roger—“flying purple people eater” 😀 Liz—sounds like you’ve been to some fun places. I’d love to drive down Lombard Street one day.)

    I’ll check back in later. In the meantime, enjoy your day, all!

  6. I would love to visit Pittsburgh, ride the funicular and see my Pittsburgh Penguins play hockey.
    The church my Great-Aunt went to was having some renovations done. There was a big hole in the sanctuary ceiling, and during the Good Friday services the bats left the attic through this hole and descended into the sanctuary. I’ll bet some of the little old ladies haven’t move that fast in years! The rest of the service was cancelled.

  7. I see a fiery bat as the image. I have ridden in a funicular, think that was in Hong Kong, and during a hike found myself using a via ferrata in the Alps. The latter was ladderlike and felt very exposed.

  8. congrats on the new release!!!
    a serpent man with horns and wings of fire 🙂
    I haven’t used any of those! And don’t really think I would! Thanks for sharing!

  9. I see flaming wings in the last photo.

    As for mountains and roads, not sure of steep inclines but driving through the Smoky Mountains is scary. Crazy turns, big drop offs, look to one side and see nothing but fog because it’s so far down….

  10. Susan—yikes! Your story sounds like a nicer version of the opening to The Taxidermist’s Daughter, which I just finished (in that story, birds flew out of a church at midnight on the Eve of St. Mark). Glad no one was hurt!

    Wow, Lil, you’ve used a via ferrata? I’m impressed!

    Thanks, Erin!

    I hear you, Roxanne – the Smoky Mountains can be treacherous, but they sure are beautiful, even in the fog. 🙂

  11. I see a flaming dragon in the picture. I’m not too fond of heights, but I don’t mind so much if I’m in an enclosed vehicle/transport. The whole rock climbing thing, definitely a hell no. 😀 I’ve already preordered Pocket Full of Tinder, and I can’t wait to read it. 😀

  12. Congrats on the new release! Love the Noon Onyx series. I have never been on a funicular, but I have been to Lombard Street in San Francisco. I also see a bat in the picture.