Friday, October 3, 2014

99c Sale! The Girl who Sang with Whales

The Girl who Sang with Whales, a beautiful ocean fantasy, is on sale until 8th October, just 99c! Grab a copy here.

Is an author allowed to have a favourite book? Or a favourite character of theirs? To say so is probably to break some unwritten law of being an author. Oh heck.

I agonised over the cliffhanger ending in this story. I mean, I almost put myself in bed with stress over it :-), but in the end, it was I thought a great way of rounding off the first book in the IsleSong series. That, or another 100,000 words. Zhialeiena discovers her powers. She makes friends and enemies alike. She battles sea dragons and prejudice, grief and depression. And her destiny begins to unfold, when ... wham! The problem with cliffhangers is that some readers hate them. Just like some readers hate books in which events do not unfold in a linear, logical order, or an ending is left somewhat unresolved. No matter how good the rest of the book might be, if there isn't a neat little package wrapped in ribbon beneath the Christmas tree, author, you are about to get it like a dragon's talons to the neck.

For me, if the book says "Book 1 of XYZ series" on the cover, that's a fairly strong hint that the author will leave some plot and character development for a second or a third book. That's the point of a series, unless you expect every book in the series to stand alone. Television episodes often end on a cliffhanger, because that's a way of 'hooking' the customers into buying the next episode or season or whatever. Aha, you tell me, literature is different to TV. Of course. People invest perhaps more time in a book, and you have to give payback to your reader, or they'll feel cheated.

Take, in the fantasy genre, the obligatory final battle. Apparently, if you don't have one (or at least, cinematic action throughout) then your book is one in which 'nothing happens'. Please, don't talk about character-driven plot or drama! This is fantasy, right? If you don't have a Peter Jacksonesque spectacular battle thrown in at the end there, then you've failed. So, what about a humdinger of a cliffhanger? Well, perhaps if the series was a single package (3 or 4 books) readers might stand for it, but until then, there will be those who avidly watch through TV series packed with cliffhanger after cliffhanger between episodes, but can't stand for them in a book. Such is life.

Back to playing favourites. I love it that The Girl who Sang with Whales is a slower read, overall, than my bestsellers Aranya or The Pygmy Dragon. There's plenty of action! Just read the first couple of pages as Zhialeiana and her mother go for a wild ride. But there's also an emphasis on understanding the deeper, spiritual side of Zhialeiana's world, periods of contemplation of both her inner world, and the extraordinary oceanic world in which she lives. To read this book, is to be totally and utterly immersed in her world, her culture, and her thoughts. That is deliberate. It is poetic, lyrical, ebbing and flowing like the ocean itself. And that, dear reader, is the secret to the cliffhanger ending of Book 1 of Islesong. The ocean can be calm one moment, and suck you too your doom the next.

I love it that this story is like a slow-brewed cup of coffee. Nothing cheap or instant about this one. The best coffee takes time to prepare. And so, if I were to claim a favourite, for prose, it would be the story of The Girl who Sang with Whales. It hearkens back to my childhood in Cape Town, that supremely beautiful city at the end of Africa, surrounded on many sides by the wondrous, ever-changing oceans.

Just 99c this week! I invite you to experience a beautiful, dangerous new world through the eyes and fate of Zhialeiana, The Girl who Sang with Whales.



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