Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Interview with L. Penelope for Whispers of Shadow & Flame

Whispers of Shadow & Flame (Earthsinger Chronicles #2)

by L. Penelope
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: October 1st 2019
Genre: Fantasy, Romance
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The Mantle that separates the kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar is about to fall. And life will drastically change for both kingdoms. 

Born with a deadly magic she cannot control, Kyara is forced to become an assassin. Known as the Poison Flame in the kingdom of Lagrimar, she is notorious and lethal, but secretly seeks freedom from both her untamed power and the blood spell that commands her. She is tasked with capturing the legendary rebel called the Shadowfox, but everything changes when she learns her target’s true identity.

Darvyn ol-Tahlyro may be the most powerful Earthsinger in generations, but guilt over those he couldn’t save tortures him daily. He isn’t sure he can trust the mysterious young woman who claims to need his help, but when he discovers Kyara can unlock the secrets of his past, he can’t stay away.

Kyara and Darvyn grapple with betrayal, old promises, and older prophecies—all while trying to stop a war. And when a new threat emerges, they must beat the odds to save both kingdoms.

Can you briefly describe the EARTHSINGER CHRONICLES and its characters and what’s going to happen in this second instalment, WHISPERS OF SHADOW AND FLAME?

In the Earthsinger Chronicles, two countries have been at war for five hundred years. One country’s people have magic, the others don’t, and the two sides struggle to end the long war and overcome centuries of hatred. Whispers of Shadow & Flame is a parallel story to the first book in the series, Song of Blood & Stone. They take place at the same time in different countries, and in Whispers, we follow an assassin who’s been sent to capture a notorious rebel. 

Kyara wields a very rare type of magic called Nethersong, which allows her to control the energy of death. As a child, she was forced to become an assassin and use her dangerous power for the benefit of the tyrant king called the True Father. Now, Kyara is known as the Poison Flame, famous and feared for her deadliness. 

She’s sent to capture the Shadowfox, a powerful Earthsinger whose power threatens the True Father. But both hunter and prey hold secrets, and when Kyara discovers the Shadowfox’s true identity, she realizes she can’t harm him. 

It’s a magic filled, adventurous, love story with consequences that will ripple through this world, leaving no one untouched. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why?

While I’m not sure I have a favorite character, Kyara, the Poison Flame, is very near to my heart. She struggles with the things she is forced to do; she never wanted to become an assassin and the guilt eats away at her. She’s afraid of herself and her power and is searching for an out. Writing her experiences and backstory were really emotional for me. To a certain extent, all of my main characters are struggling with their identities and places in the world, and none more than Kyara who’s been forced to kill and doesn’t believe she’s good for much else. Her entire story arc in this book and the books to come probably hits me the hardest and touches me the most.

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere?

This story was inspired by a character who is only talked about, but not seen until the epilogue of the first book in the series. Though he’s barely on the page in Song of Blood & Stone, Darvyn—the Shadowfox—has a large impact on the story and on the future of the series. After I finished Song, I began loosely plotting the rest of the series and knew that Darvyn needed to have his story told. 

Another big inspiration came from an unusual place. I’m a fan of the Writing Excuses podcast, which is a fantasy and science fiction focused show on writing. On one episode about worldbuilding, they talked about how if you wrote about a city in the desert, you’d better have a good reason for it being there. I think it may even have been a “homework” assignment of the episode. The reason being that all too often writers include wild fantastical settings that make no sense. How does a city in the desert support itself? Where does the water come from? The food? 

I took that challenge to heart. I already knew that the land of Lagrimar is a desert wasteland, but it does have at least one large city. I wanted to explore different parts of the world in this book than were shown in the previous one, and so I created a couple of impossible places created and sustained with magic and made sure my characters went to visit them.

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be?

I discovered the song “Bad Dreams” by Faouzia a few months ago and the whole vibe and sound immediately made me think of Kyara. Her voice is amazing and there’s so much emotion in that song that just puts me back into the desert with my characters battling their demons. 

If your book was going to be made into a movie, who would play your characters?

Although Kyara doesn’t need a samurai sword to kick ass, I think that Shaina West, a.k.a. The Samurider would be perfect for her. Check out her sword wielding badassery on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/B1oR5n4FQ9H
As for Darvyn, this may be a little bit of nepotism, but I think my brother, Paul James would be perfect. He’s a professional actor who’s starred on TV shows such as Greek, The Last Ship, and The Path among others and he was actually on the cover of Whispers when it was originally self-published (you can see this version of the cover on Goodreads). 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish WHISPERS OF SHADOW AND FLAME?

If you’re looking for more of my writing, I have a contemporary paranormal series that starts with Angelborn about a half-angel searching for his soulmate on earth.

If you’re in the mood for more female assassins, Robin LaFevers’ His Fair Assassin series is wonderful. And The Wolf Queen by Cerece Rennie Murphy is a terrific epic fantasy set in a unique and multicultural world.

What’s next for you?

I’m currently hard at work on the fourth full-length book in the Earthsinger Chronicles, and the third novella in the series. There are novellas between each full-length release and they’ve been a ton of fun to write. After that’s all done, I’ll be looking forward to my next fantasy series which features dragons!

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of fantasy and paranormal romance. 

She was born in the Bronx, just after the birth of hip hop, but left before she could acquire an accent. Equally left and right-brained, she studied Film at Howard University and minored in Computer Science. This led to a graduate degree in Multimedia and a career in website development. She's also an award-winning independent filmmaker, co-founded a literary magazine, and sometimes dreams in HTML. 

Leslye lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents. Sign up for new release information and giveaways on her website: http://www.lpenelope.com.


  1. Deadly magic would be troublesome for anyone! I guess it's healthy to channel it into a productive career!

  2. YA fantasy is my favorite genre, so this book is on my TBR.