Today marks the official kickoff of the Steel & Stone Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and throughout the week we’ve got a great lineup helping us feature Kate Haley’s YA epic fantasy novel! I’m very much 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.
Kate was kind enough to stop by to have a chat about how Steel & Stone came into fruition, what she thinks makes for a good story, and her advice for aspiring authors! So, keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book, and the interview.
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Steel & Stone. 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.
DECEMBER 6TH – THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
Book Steff’s Bookish Blog
Camryn Daytona (@camryndaytonas)
Beneath A Thousand Skies
I Can Has Books? (@carrieicanhasbooks)
DECEMBER 12TH – THE ENCORE
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
Ten years. Thousands dead. No memories.
The amnesia was supposed to be a good thing. Other soldiers bask in its freedom. Except for Elvac it doesn’t feel right. When he returns from his first year at war he can’t shake the niggling sensation that something is missing. His life has been turned upside down, yet he can’t remember being gone. The only proof of his time away are the scars, and the haunting dreams of fire.
With the help of his friends, Elvac begins to regain his lost memories, and with them uncover the truth of his missing year, and what the Church of Sunne is really doing with their War of the North…
Meet the Author
Kate Haley is a speculative fiction author who works predominantly in fantasy and horror.
While currently content to fill her days with writing and table-top RPGs, her grander plans involve world domination. Something akin to the tyranny of the greatest city atop the Disc would be an acceptable standard. She believes a super-villainous overlord would be an upgrade, given that our current villains lack style and imagination.
After all, super-villainy requires Presentation.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Kate. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
I’m the kinda person who needs more than ten words…
Give us an idea of how Steel & Stone came to fruition.
Steel & Stone began for me back in high school. I was already writing other books when I had this dream about fighting monsters in a war and decided to turn it into a new story – with extra helpings of teen drama fed into it from my experiences of the time. It didn’t get written properly until I was in University, at which point publishers were telling me that, if I wanted to get picked up in fantasy, I needed to stop writing standalone books and start writing series. Thus began the epic seven book series The War of the North Saga that Steel & Stone heralded.
Can you share with us something about Steel & Stone that isn’t in the blurb?
I’ve had a few people comment on the love triangle that is central to the story, and introduces a strong romantic element, despite not being mentioned in the blurb. Fortunately, most people have enjoyed it, and I already have people picking sides in the #TeamElvac or #TeamSatinka debate… who is in the right?!
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
Someone once told me that The War of the North Saga feels like epic fantasy meets anime – but I’ve had so many influences and loves over the years I couldn’t possibly list them all. That said, I did spend more time researching siege weaponry for The War of the North than I thought I would.
What do you hope your readers take away from Steel & Stone?
New friends. Anytime someone says they’ve made a new friend group with the characters from this book I literally swoon – even if it takes a little while to warm to some of the gang.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
Characters. I don’t mean to diminish the plot, it’s very important, but the characters are everything. They are why I wrote the story. Which is why, as the story progresses, each book swaps perspective so that everyone in the main quest group gets a turn at being the lead protagonist. No matter who your favorite character is, they will get a turn at being the main character.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
I strangely don’t for this series. I have had favourites, but it changes so often, which is part of why I chose to do a saga where the lead protagonists change. When I was writing, my favourites were Arrio and Sabeh, because they’re so confident and sassy. When I finished, my favourites were Taum, because he’s so sweet, and Benji, because he grew the most as a character and I was so proud of who he became. On my final edit, my favourite was Taal, who doesn’t even show up until a later book! I’m very indecisive, and all the characters are my babies.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think that’s an interesting question with a complicated answer. I think lots of things come together to make a good story, and I’m very aware that there are a lot of good stories in the world I don’t like. If you can hit the holy trinity of solid plot, interesting characters, and engaging prose, then you’re probably well on your way. There are plenty of books I like that don’t have all three of those things. Some have just one. Ultimately, everything is personal preference. I like things that evoke positive emotion – that make me laugh or cry – that awe me. That’s what I strive for with my own work. Whether I get there is a matter of individual opinion. When I reach book 7 in my saga, and I read it and see how far the characters have come, and how far I’ve come, that’s pretty humbling and awing.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
Nothing. That might sound weird, given that there are plenty of things I no longer like about it, or feel like I have outgrown, but it was all a learning experience. What I learnt writing my first novel shaped what happened writing by second, and so on and so forth. The last half a dozen books I’ve written I still love now. They wouldn’t be what they are without all the learning experiences of the ones that came before them. I’ve learnt not just to own, but to really appreciate and be proud of my mistakes.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Persevere. The reason it’s a cliché is because it’s true. Some people say that you should write every day. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, as long as you don’t let your breaks get too long. I just did a writers’ retreat recently and worked my butt off. When I got back from it, I had a whole day and a half of hanging out and watching TV and chilling. I was burnt out, and it’s okay to have days when you just can’t. However, make sure that once you’ve had a rest, thrown a tantrum, gone on holiday, buried your best friend’s ex underneath the patio – or whatever it was you needed to do – you get back to it after. No matter how long it takes. Persevere.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Winter or Summer?
Physical books or Ebooks?
Mountains or Oceans?
Now that’s a question… I strongly love both.
Beer or Wine?
Books or Movies?
Depends on my mood.
Cowboys or Aliens?
Pie or Cake?
Rural or Urban?
Work hard or Play hard?
In writing, if you do one hard enough, it becomes the other…
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Kate. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
Thanks for having me! As for what the future holds… well… the entire War of the North Saga is now out, so marketing that will take a chunk of time. I’m a massive binge reader, and I won’t start a series until all the books are out, so I thought it would be rude to make others wait. That does mean we are looking at publishing two brand new standalone books next year! One for a slightly younger audience about June/July, and one for an older audience November/December.
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Steel & Stone tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2020/11/03/tour-schedule-steel-stone-by-kate-haley/) to see what the other bloggers have to say!