Today I am interviewing David Hair, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Hearts of Ice, third book in the Sunsurge Quartet.
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DJ: Hi David! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
David: Hi DJ. I’m a New Zealander, a fulltime writer with 20 books currently in print via several international publishers. I’ve been writing professionally since 2009; prior to that I was a financial services person. I write YA and mass market fantasy novels. I’m married with two grown children, and I’ve lived in England, India and Thailand, so I love travel, as well as football, good wine, and history. I’m now living back in my native New Zealand with my wonderful wife, Kerry.
DJ: What is Hearts of Ice and then the Sunsurge quartet about?
David: I’ll start with the overall quartet: The Sunsurge Quartet is the sequel to The Moontide Quartet, an epic fantasy series set on the Earth-like world of Urte (pronounced “Ur-teh”). Essentially it’s a fantasy world divided into East and West, with a lot of problems similar to our own world. There is culture clash on racial and religious lines, and the two series deal with those conflicts, following a group of heroes who put aside those dividing lines to unite in the name of peace. It’s a ruthless place, but also a place where courage and loyalty can triumph through the virtues of cooperation in the face of self-serving enemies.
Hearts of Ice is the third book of The Sunsurge Quartet; and a young queen is struggling to hold a decadent empire together against open and hidden enemies, and some allies who are just as dangerous. Her only advantage is a forbidden magic that only she and a handful of others can wield, and which could as easily damn her as save her. Her armies are locked in combat with an eastern invader, and there’s a secret cabal seeking not just to unseat her, but to control both sides of the conflict. So there’s lots going on!
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Sunsurge quartet ?
David: My intention was to write a series that examines the trope of the “rightful ruler”, ordained by blood and lineage. Fantasy is full of such stories and I wanted to pull it apart and subvert it – because I really hate the underlying message of that trope, which is that only certain people are born to lead. The current political climate obviously influenced that, though only indirectly – the series was conceived several years ago, well before the 2016 US election or Brexit, for example.
That might sound all very serious, but there’s plenty of pace and action, as well as humour and magic and just plain fun. This isn’t a slow story.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
David: I try to create relatable, flawed characters, humans who become heroes. I hope people will find Lyra (the queen mentioned earlier) relatable because she lets her conscience guide her, and has immense courage in adversity; Kyrik and Valdyr because of the struggles they face; Tarita and Ogre because they’re good fun and bring the eastern influences of the series; and Seth and Ramon (returning characters from Moontide) because they’re great company. They’re all imperfect people, but they strive with courage and are always open-minded and empathetic.
Hopefully, the villains are also compelling: we spend a fair bit of time with them, not just as they persecute our heroes, but also as they strive against their own bonds. There’s sly Ostevan, sexy Alyssa and scarily insane Naxius, who’re all queasily fascinating in their own way.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role for in story? Why?
David: That would be Ogre. He was a spur of the moment creation to bridge a certain scene, but became a fully rounded character. In Urte, the magi (sorcerers) have found a way to breed new forms of life, and Ogre is such a being, bred to be a fierce warrior by an evil mage, but he’s so much more, and opens up like a butterfly from a chrysalis. He’s the first demi-human POV character I’ve written, and I really enjoyed him.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Sunsurge quartet like?
David: Urte, the setting, is similar to our world (in a mediaeval period), but with two big differences. One is magic: those with the right blood (it’s a hereditary power) can perform superhuman feats and enforce dynastic rule over an empire they’ve conquered. The second factor is that Urte has two moons, and when they align every six years, there are super-tides: the seas are impassable, and the narrow isthmus that once linked the eastern and western continents has been washed away, dividing the two cultures. But a magically-created bridge (the Leviathan Bridge) between the two rises from the sea every twelve years (during the “Moontide”) enabling trade – or war.
The western continent is based on Europe; the eastern continent is an amalgam of India and the Middle East, and based heavily on my time living in New Delhi, India, during the 2000s. The themes of separation and culture collision are embodied in the symbolism of the Leviathan Bridge, which brings the two cultures into conflict, but can also be the means of finding peace and prosperity.
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two book of the Sunsurge quartet? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
David: This may sound strange, but I don’t know or want to. I don’t read reviews of my books, because I don’t want other people’s opinions to cloud my vision and make me doubt the choices I’ve made. The only opinions I really listen to are those of my test readers, my agent and my publishers. That doesn’t mean I don’t read or respond to fan mail, and if someone sends me a review I’ll have a look, but I try to keep myself insulated from them.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Hearts of Ice?
David: There’s a moment in it that’s akin to the “I am your father” Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker moment in The Empire Strikes Back. That’s my favourite scene, possibly of the whole series. But what I really enjoy is the banter between the characters. It’s like chatting with friends.
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Hearts of Ice that you can share with us?
David: Every chapter in Moontide and Sunsurge has its own chapter heading quote, which are words of wisdom (or otherwise) from historical Urte personages. They help the world-building and usually relate to the actin or setting of that chapter. Some are triumphal, some are bitter or ironic, most are hopefully insightful. I don’t really have a favourite, though. They’re all very much in context of the story.
DJ: Now that Hearts of Ice is released, what is next for you?
David: Currently I’m drafting the third book of my newest series, which is set in Greek Mythology and co-authored with a fellow Kiwi writer, Cath Mayo. It’s a prequel series to the Trojan War, focused on Odysseus. Book One is already out (Athena’s Champion) and Book Two (Oracle’s War) is also about to be released. After that I’m starting on a new fantasy adventure trilogy for Jo Fletcher Books, called The Tethered Citadel. Book One (working title is Map’s Edge) will be released around the middle of next year.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: Yep
Blog: on my website: www.davidhairauthor.com
Goodreads: I don’t have a profile there, but presumably there are reviews posted.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
David: My pleasure ☺
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*** Hearts of Ice is published by Quercus Publishing and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Summer is gone, and the world is turning to ice.
The Rondian Empress Lyra has lost her husband, her army is defeated and the deadly Masked Cabal have seized the Holy City. Her allies have abandoned her and her empire is spiralling into chaos – and her only weapon is a forbidden magic she dare not use. She can’t survive alone – but who can she still trust?
The Eastern conqueror Sultan Rashid is victorious on the battlefield, but now he faces an enemy more deadly than Rondian knights: the winter. Unless he captures a major city to shelter his huge armies, his plans to overthrow the West face ruin in the snow. But standing between his men and safety is the remnants of a defeated army led by a general who knows all about fighting for survival.
There are no easy options left. Lyra and her fellow dwymancers must master their deadly magic, whatever the cost. Even those who believe themselves to be fighting for good must grasp the reins of power with cold-hearted determination, and use even the most terrible weapon, if they are to stop the world from falling apart . . . for ever.
About the Author:
David Hair is the New Zealand-based author of three ongoing fantasy series.
The Aotearoa Series is a YA series set in New Zealand, featuring: The Bone Tiki (winner of Best First Novel (Young Adult Fiction section) at the 2010 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards), and five sequels The Taniwha’s Tear, The Lost Tohunga, Justice and Utu, and Ghosts of Parihaka, and Magic and Makutu.
The Return of Ravana is a YA series set in India. Pyre of Queens (winner of the LIANZA Young Adult book award in 2012), Swayamvara (internationally titled The Ghost Bride), Souls in Exile and King of Lanka have been released in India in 2011-12, and later in New Zealand and elsewhere.
A series for the adult fantasy market, The Moontide Quartet, commenced in late 2012 with Moontide 1: Mage’s Blood. Mage’s Blood received excellent critical reviews, including making one prominent review site’s Top 10 for 2012, and on it’s release in 2013 in the US, was rated one of the top SFF books of 2013 by Amazon. The remainder of the series continues to receive critical acclaim; Scarlet Tides, and Unholy War, and the concluding volume Ascendant’s Rite has been released in November 2015.
Please go to the pages for these series to learn more!