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Of Sword and Shadow Blog Tour: Author Interview +bGiveaway


Of Sword and Shadow JustRead Blog Tour 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Of Sword and Shadow by A.L. Sowards, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

Of Sword and Shadow

Title: Of Sword and Shadow 
Author: A. L. Sowards
Publisher: Covenant Communications 
Release Date: February 2021
Genre: Action Adventure Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction

Greece, 1379 

She is known by many names, none of them her own. In truth, she is an unnamed slave, nothing more than a weapon in the hands of her owner in his attempts to provoke political mayhem. When she encounters a handsome young man while on an assignment, she thinks little of him—until he attempts to take what she has stolen. But in her line of work, failure is not an option. 

Gillen is intrigued by the mysterious woman who thwarts his mission. But when his path crosses hers again, his intrigue turns to gratitude as the thief he comes to call Eudocia saves his life. The two form a bond of friendship and join forces to wrest control from a group of ruthless rulers. But as their camaraderie blossoms into something more, Gillen and Eudocia must fight for love even as they wage war for a better future.

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A. L. Sowards

A. L. Sowards is the author of multiple historical fiction novels, with settings spanning the globe from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Her stories have become Whitney Finalists and won a Whitney Award, reached the number one spot across multiple Amazon categories, received praise from the Historical Novel Society, and been loved by readers from a variety of backgrounds. She has called both Washington State and Utah home, and is now in the process of adding Alaska to the list. She enjoys hiking and swimming, usually manages to keep up with the laundry, and loves it when someone else cooks dinner. She lives with her husband, three children, and an ever-growing library.

CONNECT WITH A. L.: WebsiteFacebook | Instagram | Twitter

Hi A. L.! Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and giving my readers the chance to get to know you and your new book- Of Sword and Shadow a little bit better! I like to start these interviews the same way with something fun to break the ice: can you share 5 random facts about yourself that we will NOT find in your bio?
*I got my first pair of glasses when I was two years old.
*I’m the shortest of my group of six siblings (but I’m not really short—I’m just under five foot seven).
*When I was in college I traveled to Amman, Jordan with the BYU swim team and participated in an international swim meet. I won the 400 meter individual medley.
*I’m usually on the cold side. (My husband and I have a hard time agreeing on a setting for the thermostat.) Despite that, I’m in the process of moving to Alaska. I think I’ll be all right though, because I know how to layer.
*Places I was excited to see when my husband and I went house-hunting in Anchorage (other than some really spectacular views): the library (I love books) and a few physical therapy offices (I have a bad back).

Let’s talk writing! When did you first discover that you had a love and talent for writing?

I started writing (and illustrating) stories when I was in elementary school. They weren’t very good. I remember making some at my grandparent’s house—maybe that was my grandma’s way of keeping us quiet for a few minutes? My third grade teacher is the first I remember encouraging me to write more. Her classroom was filled with books and she took a group of us to a Young Writer’s Conference at a nearby university.

What drew you to the historical fiction genre?

I love history, and I love stories, and historical fiction is a great way to blend those two. I love being able to step into another time period and see what was different and what was the same. I also love the freedom of writing historical fiction—the book can be thriller, mystery, romance, or something that has a bit of each.

What type of research went into creating this novel?

I do a ton of research for my books. When I’m lucky, I can use research for multiple books, and that was the case with this story—I built on research from a previous (so far unreleased) project.
When I research, I mostly dive into nonfiction books. Some I read a few chapters from, some I read cover to cover. My favorite is to read research books on my kindle, because then I can highlight the important things and email all the highlights to myself. I keep a research file with notes I’ve taken from physical books, highlights from kindle books, and notes or highlights from the internet. Sometimes it’s tricky to find the right bit of information in my huge file, but I like having all the information I need in one place. My notes are almost always longer than my novels.
For this book, I started with general research about the major events of the time. Then I filled in the plot with my fictional characters. I’d done previous research about daily life in the period, but I needed more, so I found books about the right topics to help fill in the details. I’m really grateful for interlibrary loan (and I really missed it when libraries closed down for a while during the pandemic).

As a mom of three young children, how do you find the balance in your writing and family life?

To be honest, it’s been really tough since online learning started in August for my kindergartner. Fortunately, kindergarten is only a half-day, so we usually do schoolwork in the morning and I can squeeze in a few hours of writing time in the afternoon (aside from interruptions to help the older kids with their schoolwork or to break up sibling scuffles). Often I can get some work done after the kids are in bed too.
To make sure my older kids are getting quality time with me, I’ve set aside time in the evenings to read to them. We have other times set aside for family things, like hot chocolate parties every Tuesday night (we started that one a few months ago). We avoid electronic distractions during dinner so we can focus on each other, and I always take Sundays off from writing.
Setting aside time for specific tasks is one way I try to balance things. It’s a long process to write, revise, and edit a novel, so I try to get what I can done during the time I have for it. I remind myself that some progress, even if it’s not as much as I want, is better than no progress.

Can you tell us a little bit about Of Sword and Shadow?

Of Sword and Shadow is the first of my books to come out that’s not set in the 20th century. Instead, this one is set in the 14th century in the Duchy of Athens. Basically, I took what is known about a series of events, kept the facts, and filled in the considerable holes in the historical narrative. I love the story and the characters that came about as a result.
The protagonist goes by whatever name suits her at the time, because she doesn’t remember her real name. She was purchased by the most skilled thief in all of Thebes when a toddler, and she’s been his slave and protégé ever since. Thomas (her owner) usually calls her Girl or Little Mouse.
Then she meets Gillen the Basque. She’s not sure what a former whaler and mercenary from Navarre is doing in Thebes, nor is she sure if he’s working with her or against her. Gradually the jobs she and Thomas have been hired for show a pattern—they’re working to weaken the Catalan rulers of the duchy. As a Greek woman, she doesn’t love the Catalan overlords, but she’s not sure she wants to risk the danger of trying to overthrow them—not even with the help of Gillen, his Moorish friend, an archbishop, and a crew of Greek rebels and Catalan turncoats.
The genre is historical fiction. You can expect political intrigue, sword fights, a unique historical setting, features of Christian fiction, and lots of twists. There’s enough of a love story for readers who enjoy that element to be satisfied, but it’s more of an adventure than a romance. I wrote it for adults, but it’s clean enough for most teens (more on content here: https://alsowards.com/books/content/). Of Sword and Shadow is a stand-alone novel, but I’m working on another story, set eleven years later, that includes some of the same characters.

What do you hope readers will take away from the book?

I hope readers will enjoy being submerged in a unique setting—Of Sword and Shadow may be the only novel out there set in the medieval Duchy of Athens. I hope they’ll remember the characters and enjoy the journey. I also hope they’ll recognize that they have worth, because they have a Savior who loves them and values them regardless, and I hope they’ll realize how much the way they treat others can influence how those people see themselves, for good or for bad.

Thank you again for taking the time to answer these questions. Before you go, are there any other projects you are currently working on that you can share?

I have a suspense novel written with three other authors coming out in October called Heirs of Falcon Point. I wrote about a fourth of it, and my part of the novel is set during WWII. Traci Hunter Abramson, Paige Edwards, and Sian Ann Bessey wrote the last three-fourths of the book, set during contemporary times. I also wrote a novel about the 1683 siege of Vienna—all about complicated family relationships and surviving events that seem overwhelming to those living through them. My publisher has accepted it, but we don’t have the release date nailed down yet.
I also wrote another novel set in the medieval Duchy of Athens with some of the characters from Of Sword and Shadow. Title and release day tba.
I have a few other projects in the works too (including another medieval series), but I’ll wait until they’re a little closer to completion before sharing details about those.

(1) winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card and a print copy of Of Sword and Shadow!

Of Sword and Shadows JustRead Giveaway

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight February 15, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on February 22, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


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