Today marks the official kickoff of the Finding Your Harpy Place Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us D.H. Willison’s recently released feel-good fantasy tale! I’m a sucker for a good pun, and this books ticks all the boxes for what I look for in a grand adventure – I can’t wait to give both this and Harpyness is Only Skin Deep a read. I looking forward to hearing what our hosts have to say in the coming days, so be sure to keep an eye out for some incredible content.
David was kind enough to stop by to chat about what led to the creation of Finding Your Harpy Place, his affinity for non-human characters, and his research process for this beautiful book of his, so keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book, the interview, and a giveaway!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Finding Your Harpy Place. This is what we have going on, so make sure to check out each and every one throughout the week for some brilliant content, including reviews and more.
NOVEMBER 15–THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
The Writer’s Alley
NOVEMBER 21–THE ENCORE
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
Life is a journey. On Arvia, it’s a perilous one.
Darin, a human of extraordinary unimpressiveness, astounded observers by surviving his first year on the mythical world of Arvia. His training and equipment may be questionable, but at least his best friend, Rinloh, an accident-prone harpy the size of a three-story building, is willing to lend a hand. Or a wing. Yet when an ancient magic artifact leaves a trail of chaos in its wake, it’s no longer just the giant mythical monsters he has to worry about.
Rinloh, a harpy whose unbridled enthusiasm leads to the occasional sundry destruction, charges into things talons first. Her curiosity is as insatiable as her flockmate’s appetite for human flesh, yet she can’t protect Darin from them until she becomes full-fledged. Regrettably, the test is a human hunt.
A distant forest may hold answers to both quests, yet who dares venture where even harpies fear tread?
Life is a journey. Sometimes the most important journeys are within.
Finding Your Harpy Place, a new adventure on Arvia, a beautiful world filled with colorful, larger-than-life characters and ravenous mythical monsters more colorful and larger still. Experience it from the safety of your favorite armchair.
Meet The Author
D.H. Willison is a reader, writer, game enthusiast and developer, engineer, and history enthusiast. He’s lived around the world, absorbing history, culture, and food. Actually he’s eaten the food. It has been verified that he is a complex, multicellular life form. Fascinated by nature, technology, and history, and especially anything that can put all three of these together, he has an annoying habit of dragging his wife to the most unromantic destinations imaginable, including outdoor museums, authentic castle dungeons, the holds of tall ships, and even the tunnels of the Maginot Line.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, David. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Ten words? That’s not enough! Um, how ‘bout “it’s complicated.”
What’s a day of writing like in the shoes of David? Do you have any quirks, routines, or rituals?
Yes! Lots of quirks. Or did you mean relating to writing? In that case, not really. I suppose I could say my habit of photographing everyday things for when I need to describe them in my writing. Trees, rivers, historic buildings, old ships, museum exhibits, you name it. I’ve been fortunate to have traveled around quite a bit both personally and for work, and I always make a point to look at anything unusual or out of the ordinary. My original description of the city of Xin, for example, drew on a lot of features of the fortified city of Aigues-Mortes, France, which I had the good fortune to visit many years ago. There’s more about that here: https://dhwillisoncreates.com/behind-the-scenes-city-of-xin/
Give us an idea of how Finding Your Harpy Place came to fruition.
I love stories about quests and journeys and wanted to write a tale of exploring dark and dangerous places. Yet while Rinloh, a harpy the size of a three-story building, was damn tough and could hold her own in the wilderness, the main human character, Darin, was another story. But after the events of book one (a.k.a. a one-year crash course in ‘how not to get devoured by giant mythical monsters,’) he was ready for a bigger challenge. Actually not, but are any of us ever really ready?
Of course there was another problem: the two main characters couldn’t be seen together without unpleasant consequences. Rinloh’s flock would eat Darin if they saw him, and the city of Xin would cut off Darin’s head if they saw him with her. So it turned out to be a rather interesting journey. But it all worked out in the end, and fun was had by all. Except for the several dozen people who were torn apart and/or eaten by harpies, swamp striders, mermaids, and one very disgruntled lindworm. They had less fun.
Can you share with us something about Finding Your Harpy Place that isn’t in the blurb?
Finding Your Harpy Place (actually both novels) have quite a few Easter eggs sprinkled in. Spot them all and win a prize. Actually I better not say that, I don’t think I’ve kept track of them all. But everything from the names of ships, to characters to chapter titles may or may not be a reference to anything from songs, to books, to video games, or even the Tintin books I read growing up. If you find one, tell me about it. It’s no fun hiding these things if they don’t get found!
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for Finding Your Harpy Place?
I actually did quite a bit of research for the book. On Arvia, magic is subtle and mysterious. And more importantly, it’s really, really expensive. So most people have to rely on technology in one form or another. The overall technology level is early Victorian era. But as the saying goes, it’s not evenly distributed. So I researched everything from early steam ships, to weapons, to dredging machines to lamps. And then applied just a little magic to the mix.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Characters are most important, but the plot is frequently hardest to write. Once a character is fully developed in my head it’s usually clear what they will do or say in certain situations. Then the fun begins: how do I actually get them into those situations? To me the plot is a frame, it has to show off the characters at their best and their worst.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
I love non-human characters. Dragons, griffons, harpies, merfolk, you name it! And if they talk? Even better! Harpies are an extreme character choice: in mythology they’re portrayed as ferocious and ruthless, and on Arvia it’s taken even further: giant-sized, with an appetite for human flesh. But that’s not who they are, that’s what they are. Which is probably why Rinloh the harpy is my favorite character. Who she is and what she is are constantly at odds. Plus it’s fun having humans running in terror when she just wants to have a nice chat.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Tea during the week, and I treat myself to coffee on the weekends. With a little chocolate in it. OK, maybe a lot of chocolate in it.
Winter or Summer?
Summer! Winters are like venomous snakes at the zoo. Interesting to look at. From behind glass.
Physical books or Ebooks?
I prefer physical. Although my overstrained bookshelf tends to suffer for it.
Mountains or Oceans?
Oceans! My favorite non-writing activity is windsurfing. Which doesn’t work well in mountains. Or in winter for that matter.
Beer or Wine?
I do love a nice porter.
Books or Movies?
Ooof. Both. And if I could make my books into movies, either live action or animated, I would totally do it.
Cowboys or Aliens?
Aliens! Although on a side note, I did dress up as a cowboy at my wedding.
It’s a long story.
OK, fine. Claudia and I passed a shop in Germany selling traditional costumes. The kind you only see in movies and during Oktoberfest. I said, “Haha, you should wear a Dirndl (traditional dress) to our wedding.” She replied, “Sure, if you wear the traditional American outfit.” I said, “There isn’t one.” She said, “Yes there is: cowboy.” And with that, we had a dare.
Pie or Cake?
Rural or Urban?
Gonna say both.
Work hard or Play hard?
Playing hard is always more satisfying after working hard.
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat. Any parting words?
Yes. I wanted to send a special thanks to Steffi, my cover illustrator. In addition to being a great illustrator and ardent fan of my work, she’s done a number of fanart illustrations, and even done art-trades for others. These two portraits of Rinloh were art-trades.
Enter to win yourself a copy of Finding Your Harpy Place!
Grand Prize: Signed hardcover (US Only)
Second Place Prize: Paperback (US/CA/UK/EU Only)
Third Place Prize: Ebook (International)
Ends November 22nd at 11:59pm EST
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Finding Your Harpy Place tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/10/21/tour-schedule-finding-your-harpy-place-by-d-h-willison/) to see what the other bloggers have to say!