Today marks the official kickoff of the Vultures Book Tour presented by Storytellers On Tour, and we’re beyond excited to have Luke Tarzian back for another Storytellers event. Throughout the upcoming week we’ve got a great lineup helping us feature Luke’s Dark Psychological Fantasy novel, Vultures, the first book in his Shadow Twins series. This is a book I’ve read in the past and loved, and I can’t wait to hear what our hosts have to say in the coming days. Stay tuned for some incredible content!
Check out my review of Vultures by Luke Tarzian.
I have something a bit special for you today. Something very personal and so achingly real. Each time I contact an author for the kickoff of the tour, I offer a spot for them to shout about anything and everything, no holds barred – and the proceeding introspective confession is something I’m honored to host. Life is a difficult journey, a path brimming with obstacles and achievements. It’s ok to question, but your mind can be the most terrible foe. Luke dives deep and gives us a haunting view into pain, loss, doubt, and the uphill battle of resolution.
Luke also stopped by for a quick chat where we discuss how Vultures came into fruition, what he hopes readers take away from this novel of his, and the many exciting things that lie ahead. So, keep scrolling for the tour schedule, more info about the book, his beautiful post, the interview, and the giveaway to snag yourself a paperback copy!
We’ve enlisted a group of wonderful and talented bloggers and Bookstagrammers to help us feature Vultures. 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.
FEBRUARY 7TH – THE WELCOMING
Whispers & Wonder
Dan Fitzgerald (@danfitzwrites)
Sadie’s Spotlight (@sadiesspotlight)
Out of This World SFF Reviews
Kats Reading Room
OllieSpot SFF Book Reviews
The Book Loving Pharmacist (@thebooklovingpharmacist)
Off The TBR
Fantasy Book Nerd
FEBRUARY 13TH – THE ENCORE
Queen’s Book Asylum
For more about this tour visit Storytellers On Tour.
An enemy slain is not a conflict won…
After decades of war the demon Te Mirkvahíl is dead. But its progeny endure, spilling from the Heart of Mirkúr, sowing death across the land of Ariath. If the people are to finally know peace, the Heart must be destroyed. Theailys An believes he can do just that with The Keepers’ Wrath, an infamous power focus wrought in Ariath’s yesteryears–but the weapon first must be reforged.
War spares no one…
Serece never intended to get involved in Ariath’s war. But history and demons have a way of pulling strings. When she learns Theailys An, a man whom she abhors, bears striking similarity to the first creator of The Keepers’ Wrath, Serece departs her mountain world for Ariath to ascertain the truth.
From patience, hope…
For millennia Behtréal has walked the world alone. Rewriting history to resurrect his people is easier said than done. But Ariath holds the key–soon The Keepers’ Wrath will be remade.
Truth from madness…
As paths converge and a shadow falls across Ariath, one thing becomes increasingly and horrifyingly clear–these events have played out many times before.
I’ve started and deleted this piece upwards of ten times now, mostly because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to say. It started as a timeline of my writing career and what pushed me to self-publish, but it just didn’t feel right. The one constant though was the concept of waiting. Of patience and impatience. So, here we are.
I self-published my debut Vultures in May of 2019. I did my own cover art and did all of the formatting. I did all of the interior art. And I pushed that book, worked to build up my audience. In April 2020 I self-published The World Maker Parable. Again, I did everything—cover art, interior art, formatting, the whole nine god damn yards. And I pushed that book hard, too. I pushed both to mixed results. I got reviews but not as many as I would have liked. Sales were the same as well. But I persevered, and I planned—announced my plans only to delay them; A Symphony of Broken Dreams is the obvious example here and perhaps the object around which this entire piece resolves. I am not a patient person, and ASOBD is both a failure and a savior.
Let me rewind a bit. In 2020 I started ramping up my book design business. I secured a project here and there and, as of writing this, have three more projects lined up for 2021—and I’m excited. But I’m also exhausted, and it took my failed publication of ASOBD for that exhaustion to really hit home. In the last year, I have:
- Become a father to twin girls
- Started my own business
- Started a new fulltime job as a paralegal—I write all day
- Published my second book
- Published an anthology
- Started writing two new books
I’m impatient, which is ironic because I love long car rides—journey before destination. I’m an impatient creator, and it took me a long time to realize a big part of that impatience was FOMO—fear of missing out. Self-publishing is not easy, it can be absolutely brutal some days, some weeks, some months—years, even. We as authors want people to be reading our books, to be talking about them; we want to be seen. I saw my peers pumping out books and it instilled in me an unhealthy sense of urgency—if I didn’t hurry up and put out something new every year, people would stop reading my work; they would forget about me. That sense of urgency poisoned me, it tainted my ability to enjoy writing—and wasn’t that why I started writing in the first place? Some days it was hard to remember that.
“Midway upon the journey of our life, I found myself within a forest dark, for the straightforward pathway had been lost.”
― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy
The work of Dante Alighieri has always resonated with me; the above quote serves as a brief introduction to my book The World Maker Parable, but it also illustrates perfectly my mental state for the past almost-three years. I have some things to say. I have some weight to let go of. I thought this piece was going to be about impatience and self-expectations, but as I wrote, the direction changed as is so often times the case in life. I’m going to get extremely real with you all, so…you’ve been warned.
I’m a fucking mess. My thoughts are everywhere and nowhere. Half the time it’s hard for me to concentrate; my anxiety and my depression are the biggest roadblocks in my life—I am the biggest roadblock in my life. The bullshit starts in the center of my mind and worms through the rest of me; my fears poison me and affect the way I perceive reality and the people in my life.
I am a good person, but I am sick with fear and I’ve been a fucking wreck since October 18, 2018. Death has a way of doing that. But I’ve been scared for a while—I’ve been scared since I was a child. It took years for me to learn empathy, for me to say I fucking love you to the people in my life.
I am a good person. I am a good person. How many times do I have to say it before I kill the voices in my head, before I make this fucking parasite go away? Hell is a place of one’s own making, and I’ve been living in a mental inferno for more than two years. I have been ugly, I have been emotionally abusive, and I have been so absolutely self-absorbed. My fear poisoned me and it made me poison people whom I love.
I am a good person, but I’ve been an ugly one as well, and I have punished myself unrelentingly for my actions. Punished myself, dug deeper and deeper and buried myself in a pit because I was afraid to look at myself in the mirror and stare at the monster inside. Because I was afraid to admit that things were not okay and that I needed to change.
I am not my thoughts, but my thoughts are me—were me, are parasitic echoes and relics clinging desperately, intent on destroying me from the inside out.
Enough. Fuck that. I am a good person, and I am not my thoughts.
It’s hard to write this, but it was even harder to first admit all of this to myself. It was hard to look into the abyss and watch it grin. To comprehend my shadow twin was destroying me from the inside out. These last almost-three years have been filled with so much joy, but my sorrow was so profound it was almost impossible for me to see it. I lost my mom; I lost my mind. I gained a wife and children, but I almost let my vultures swallow me, devour me and steal it all away.
The guilt will always call you back if you let it. The vultures will pick at the corpse of your mind if you keep punishing yourself. We are responsible for ourselves, for internal change. I am a puzzle and I’m intent on solving myself.
February 6, 2021
Meet the Author
Luke Tarzian was born in Bucharest, Romania until his parents made the extremely poor choice of adopting him less than six months into his life. As such, he’s resided primarily in the United States and currently lives in California with his wife and their infant daughters. Fascinated by psychology and the work of Edgar Allan Poe, and inspired by his own anxieties, his character-driven fiction functions as a meditation on emotion, most commonly grief. His debut novel, Vultures, introduced a surreal, demon-ridden world where dreams are sometimes more than dreams and magic, memories, and misery are heavily entwined. Vultures is the first book in the Shadow Twins trilogy.
Thanks so much for stopping by for a chat, Luke. Since we already have your official bio, care to tell us about yourself in ten words or less?
Daytime special education paralegal, full-time disappointment. ☺
Give us an idea of how Vultures came to fruition.
The long and short of it is this: Vultures started out as a full-length standalone called Shadow Twins. When I was revising, I ended up rewriting the first act and doubling its wordcount. At that point, I realized the story was much bigger than I could tell in just one book, thus the Shadow Twins trilogy was born.
Can you share with us something about Vultures that isn’t in the blurb?
It’s a weirdly…autobiographical novel in a way. I’ve been dealing with a lot of darkness mentally and emotionally the last few years. Vultures was always going to be a dark story, but when my mother passed away in the middle of writing the book, I kind of fell off a cliff mentally. There is a death scene later in the book that’s directly inspired by her last couple of days. Writing it fucked me up but it was also cathartic in a way.
Was there any specific research you’ve done or inspiration you’ve pulled from for this story of yours?
Mostly just a lot of self-examination mixed with my love of Edgar Allan Poe. I like dark fiction, and I think weaving as much of myself into this book as I did accomplished that. Write what you want to read and all that, right?
What do you hope your readers take away from Vultures?
We all handle grief and trauma differently. So many of us deal with anxiety and depression, and I want Vultures to serve as an example, to let people know it’s okay to write about that stuff. It’s okay to really get into your head introspectively if that’s what it takes. It’s okay to hurt—it’s part of being human.
What comes first, the plot or the characters?
For me, characters. I can handle a mediocre plot if the characters are interesting, but an interesting plot with flat characters will bore the absolute shit out of me.
Do you have a favorite character you’ve written? If so, who? What about them sets them apart from all the others?
Cailean. He’s the character I seem to enjoy writing the most. He’s also super important to me personally. It was when I was writing his backstory The Laughing Heart that I realized I was bisexual. Writing Cailean gave me the freedom and the courage, in a way, to embrace myself.
He also swears a lot and I really like using the word “fuck.” ☺
What do you think makes a good story?
Can I say dogs? I’m going to say dogs. But also, interesting characters and a well-built world that evolves with the story. I want to go on a journey, and I want to see something new through different eyes.
If you could go back and change how you approached writing your debut novel, what’s the one thing you’d do differently?
I don’t think there’s anything I would change, honestly, as far as writing goes. I think every book is written the way it needs to be in that moment. One thing I would change, though, is being more decisive about my cover art, but I think that’s something learned over time. Self-publishing has taught me a lot, so I suppose I actually wouldn’t’ change anything.
Oh no…I’M DOING IT AGAIN.
Writing can be a stressful pursuit. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Remember why you started writing. Always remember. Don’t be hard on yourself. Make friends. It’s not my place to prescribe advice as far as craft is concerned, but I absolutely believe networking, making friends, finding your people will help you tremendously in the long run. We all need likeminded people with which to commiserate.
Ok, let’s see what kind of person you truly are.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee, you heathens
Winter or Summer?
Physical books or Ebooks?
Mountains or Oceans?
Beer or Wine?
Bine and Weer
Books or Movies?
Cowboys or Aliens?
Pie or Cake?
Rural or Urban?
Work hard or Play hard?
Thank you again for taking the time have a chat, Luke. Tell us what lies ahead for you!
A decent amount, though I’m doing something smart and not promising release dates for anything. I’ve done that in the past and it’s, uh…well, I’ve talked about that already. So, what’s on the board? I’m working on:
- Shadow Twins 2 and 3
- A Symphony of Broken Dreams
- Super-secret project that involves Symphony and Parable
- Short stories for 2 anthologies
It is my hope to have Shadow Twins 2 out by the end of the year, but like I said, I’m not promising dates. I’m currently toying with the idea of writing Shadow Twins 2 and 3 straight through, but we’ll see. Between writing full-time for work (paralegal), raising two one-year old girls and spending time with my wife, and also doing cover art and formatting on the side, I’ve got a pretty full plate, and I want to make sure the books I release are of the highest quality they can be. Like I’ve said a lot recently, the books will be finished when they’re finished.
Thanks for having me! 😀
Enter to win yourself a paperback copy of Vultures by Luke Tarzian! Two copies are ready to find their forever homes!
(Ends February 14th, US Only!)
That’s all I got for ya! Be sure to keep an eye on the official Vultures tour page over at Storytellers On Tour (https://www.storytellersontour.online/2021/01/11/tour-schedule-vultures-by-luke-tarzian/) to see what the other bloggers and Bookstagrammers have to say!