Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Weeping Empress by Sadie Forsythe: Character Interview, Excerpt

Science Fiction/Fantasy

Chiyo Alglaeca was happy in her life. That is, until it was all taken away. Forced into notoriety, stalked by a mysterious cult, hunted by the emperor, and facing betrayal at every turn she clings to the only safety she can find: two enigmatic men and the sharp bringer of death, Salvation. The Weeping Empress explores the devastating effects of loss, the hunt for redemption, and the price of destiny. It questions the true meaning of evil and asks what monster is not also an innocent.

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Convinced that she has witnessed the fulfillment of a prophecy Andela approaches the church officials in an attempt to ensure that they can take appropriate action. Andela’s speech may seem somewhat stilted in this passage, but she is speaking to someone of significantly higher rank than herself. Formal speech is a sign of respect.
“My name is Andela Masterdon. I was raised just outside of Timeroon as much by the kind sisters there as by my own mother. The teachings of the sisterhood and words of Snake were the stories of my youth. They have brought me many comforts during the hard times of life. I have always held them close to my heart. I preface my story with this so that you can understand that I have had more reason than most to learn not only the proper prayers and teachings of our Great Goddess, but also the lesser-known prophecies that many might know exist but fail to understand.”
“I see. By all means continue,” Kranglin said.
“Timeroon isn’t a wealthy or sophisticated village. It is predominantly populated by farmers. Over the years we have purposefully diversified our crops in an attempt to become further self-reliant, but the presence of a moderate mountain to the north has always posed a challenge to rain. Clouds often loose their momentum before passing it, leaving our village dry. This, as I said, isn’t new, but this year has been particularly arid, and more crops died than anticipated. The elders even authorized the distribution of emergency stores to some of the hardest-hit families.
“The village will survive, but the policies of the emperor leave the nyims no room to consider such circumstances. It’s not a new story: villages forced to send conscripts in place of rations. I’m such a sacrifice. I hated to leave my home, but my life is close to its conclusion. My children are grown. No one depends on me any longer. I can’t resent the decision of the elders. It was undoubtedly the right one. Furthermore, I’ve reason to now be grateful for it.
“For the Goddess said:
My children, who are myself, you are dear to me. Because of my love for you, who are me, I wish to spare you those pains that color life in pale hues of sorrow, but trials are coming. You will feel the chafe of disquietude, the sharp devastating sting of loss, and cold inescapable fear. As wind blows, water flows, and time passes unseen before eyes that see naught, I will come blazing in righteousness and clothed in cleansing blood from this very bleakness.
I will send my arm to you, to do what you cannot. I will smite thine enemy and bear witness to the birth of a martyr. As the dark dirges of death haunt you, she, who is me—my Arm, will carry these woes for you. She will bear your misfortune like a beast of burden; belly dragging below the arched breaking back of your heavy load. You must, but be vigilant. Watch for me. Recognize me for who I am. Embrace me, for my flesh shall set you free.
“Holy Mistress, perhaps I think too highly of myself to think that I might see the coming of the prophesied one, but I believe that I have.”
Andela could tell the mistress had listened earnestly to her. At this last statement she raised an eyebrow, and Andela could tell that Kranglin, sensing no ulterior motive, was trying to not allow herself to get excited by this news.
“That is quite the claim,” she said. “We should all be careful not to jump to conclusions. It is, after all, easy to see what one expects under such circumstances.”
Andela nodded. She had expected such caution.
“Of course,” Andela replied. “It’s a relatively new prophecy, foretold practically in my own lifetime even. But if you’ll spare me a few more minutes to relay my experience, I think you might agree. Besides, all I’m asking is that my story be passed along.
“We, the other conscripts and I, were bound for Danbire. There were few among us who hadn’t accepted their lot in life. It was primarily a group of the aged and broken, those, like myself, whom villages could afford to lose. One never likes to think of oneself as disposable, but at least we could be useful one last time.
“But that wasn’t our fate. There have been rumors of two men who have a habit of pouncing on supply trains for no other purpose than enraging the various nyims. I had heard of them. I assume you have, too. They’re something of underground heroes, and I can assure you that they live up to their reputation.
“Muhjah and, one of the Goddess’ own children, Senka, descended like a pair of demons bent on utter destruction. The nyim and Danbire’s warden lost a number of men. They left death behind as casually as footprints, but that isn’t the important part of my story; it’s merely an interesting aside. When the trouble started, I put myself under one of the carriages. This gave me an unobstructed view of the carnage, and I had hoped to remain out of sight and harm’s way. The two demons were joined by a third, a young woman.
“Those of us heading for Danbire had been thrown together almost a week earlier. We had become familiar with one another. There had been none among us who was so young and supple.
“It is possible that she had been waiting at the workhouse gates, but I find that unlikely. The place held the still oppression of death; it’s not somewhere one goes willingly or without reason. I don’t know how she came to be there, and consequently neither did she, but she didn’t stand about in idle confusion. She blazed with a singular bloody fury. She was like a star fallen to earth, and I was unable to tear my eyes away from her. It was as if I could see the aura of the Goddess around her. That might have been enough to convince me, but probably not enough to convince me to come here to you.
“Her name is Chiyo, and when there is a fight to be had, she seems unable to remain on the sidelines. Twice more she threw herself into a pitched battle in which she had no place. Twice more she emerged unscathed. Surely this could be nothing short of divine protection.
“Muhjah and Senka gave us little opportunity to rest, but we still didn’t manage to get far enough. The group split in two, and some of us ended up being caught by Nyim Cardinova’s men, where we were rounded up like common cattle. I imagine there was a plan of some sort, but I have to admit I did despair. Having once escaped from our poor fate, it was hard to imagine returning to it so quietly.
“My tears were wasted, however. Once more that fate was averted. Chiyo sacrificed herself for us. She tempted one of the guards. There’s no way to know exactly what happened once he took her away. She was certainly not inclined to discuss it, but it isn’t hard to figure out. Her intent was obvious from the start, her disheveled state afterward suggested the completion of the vile task, and she emerged victorious, allowing us to escape. I honestly believe she has come as predicted, and we would be remiss in our duty to the Mother if we failed to take notice.”

Character interview with Andela, protagonist of The Weeping Empress

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A Sacerdotisa--I wanted to support others with the same kindness they showed my family and me.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

Facing Senka for the first time--he's a pitiful child, but cloaked in his darkness lies the light of the Goddess and it is painful to look at.

What do you do to unwind and relax?

As advised by Confucius, I contemplate the chrysanthemum. The unfurling petals are said to be the reflection of perfection, and it has so many conflicting meanings. It can symbolize death, grief and lamentation, while in other places it is seen as a cheerful flower representing honesty and positivity. The story told here in The Weeping Empress encompasses all of these elements. I think about these things.

If you could apologize to someone in your past, who would it be?

If I could apologize to Chiyo for the part I played in her sad circumstances I would, but I don't think that she would accept it or my heartfelt thanks for her sacrifice.

What makes you happy?

No matter what regrets I might have, knowing that what I've done with the last years of my life made a difference, and that my children will live a better life because of it makes me happy.

Do you have a favorite quote, quip, or saying? What is it?

'Your flesh is of the Goddess, care for it accordingly.' I like that it reminds us to look after ourselves and each-other.

Is there a piece of advice that you have received that has really stuck with you? If so, what was it?

My mother told me that there is no point in worrying about those things that you have no control over. Instead I concentrate on changing that which is within my reach. I advise others to do the same.

Thank you so much for stopping by today and letting us find out a bit more about you.  It's been a pleasure.

Sadie Forsythe hails from the Southeastern United States, lives in Northwestern England, and is a fan of all things Japanese. She holds degrees in Anthropology/Comparative Religion, International Criminology, and Social Change. She loves local coffee shops, geek culture, everything bookish, and tea (steaming with milk and sweet iced). She is married with two daughters and an imaginary dog.

Additionally she is a graduate student at the University of Manchester. She's currently in the latter stages of her 2nd Masters and applying for PhD funding to begin said research at the end of this year. Sadie asks that we Cross our fingers for her.

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Debby said...

Very interesting excerpt. Following it with a character interview makes her a very intriguing character. PDF
debby236 at gmail dot com

intensev5 said...

I would love it in Print

Suz Reads said...

I would love to win a print copy! Thanks!

❤ Stephanie said...

Hi Sadie! Loved the character interview and the excerpt to The Weeping Empress reeled me in ;] Can't wait to read it! I'd love to enter for a print copy.

thestephanieloves AT gmail DOT com

Nirmala said...

I'd love to win a print copy of this book! :)

Joy said...

I would love the print copy.
magic5905 at embarqmail dot com

Austine said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I'd love a print copy.


Gale Nelson said...

Thanks for the great giveaway. I prefer a print copy. Gale

Courtney Wyant said...

Thanks for the great giveaway and my preference would be print.

Helen said...

I would love a print copy

Shauna Buck said...

Print or EPUB for me! Story sounds very interesting

Disincentive said...

Hi Sadie :D We talked alittle on Book Blogs and I'd love to have a print copy of your book! <3 You know, it just sounds amazing :)

Disincentive @ (read, watch, listen) - reviews

Twisty J said...

This sounds pretty interesting. I would like a print copy, if I am the lucky one. Thanks!

Nirmala said...

I'd love to win a print copy of this! :)

Flyleaf said...

Great interview, and interesting excerpt, I'd like to win a print copy :)

ronnkelly3 said...

Very interesting interview, I want to thank you for the giveaway..

I would like a print copy..

ronnkelly3 at aol dot com

Maegan Morin said...

I would so love to win a print copy! Thanks for the giveaway!