S.M. Blooding is still learning to play the piano and guitar and is getting better every day. She currently lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie, and Ms. Jack, who is a real bird.
She has dated all sorts of individuals, including vampires, werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers, and US Government assassins. But her one true love is her stories. Yes. She has stories.
Her latest book is the YA steampunk, The Hands of Tarot.
Thank you for this interview, SM. Could you please tell us a bit about your book?
The story is about Synn El’Asim and the Seven Tribal Families. The four queens of the Hands of Tarot have control of the latest technologies, and the most powerful queen, Nix, wants control of the world. The Families are content to allow the Hands to live however they wish in their parts of the world, but as the Hands encroach on parts of the world where only the Families had been able to travel before, they soon realize the time of hiding has passed.
It’s not until Synn’s father is killed while protecting a Family that isn’t his, and Synn is Marked while trying to save him that the fight becomes personal. Queen Nix sees a powerful tool in Synn and she decides to use him against the Families.
The Hands of Tarot is about him, his friends and the Seven Great Families finding the courage to fight back and protect what’s theirs.
How did you come up with the title and how much say did you have on the cover design?
I was playing with a new tarot deck and my brain was just exploding with ideas! I was playing around with different plot lines. I mean, this isn’t unique. This is a pretty common approach, but I said to myself, “Self, let’s not go the really traditional route and have a monotheistic society try and decimate the world. What’s the safest ‘religion’ we have here? Well, there’s Buddha, but can you really see Buddhists up in arms trying to take over the world? No. Who else?”
Then it just hit me, with the tarot cards in my hands. LOL! So the Hands of Tarot were created, with the same hierarchy as the tarot deck. I love tarot. It’s amazing and beautiful. There’s a lot of intricacies there that are just amazing, yet simple.
The cover design was fantastic. I had a lot of say in the cover. I knew that I had to have a cover that said “Steampunk” because my blurb doesn’t. The book isn’t over the top Steampunk. I don’t think that it’s cool just because it is Steampunk. I fell in love with the characters and the world long before I decided that this was the genre it fell under.
So I needed some decibels because that’s applicable and I needed that tarot element. I think it turned out really well! I’m very happy with it! The House of Wands with the fire element is prevalent in the design and the color. We have a tarot card, some Steampunk elements. I really couldn’t have asked for a better cover. Dawne Dominique did a really exceptional job with this.
What are some of your favorite ways to promote your work?
Promoting is so difficult! I enjoy talking to other people. I love interviews. I love it when people comment and enter into conversation with me.
However, I have to say that promoting myself is very uncomfortable. LOL! It’s supposed to be, I know. I don’t like just talking. I’m not here to hear myself talk. I get that enough as it is.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
A typical writing day is filled with a lot of stuff that isn’t writing.
I start off by waking up an hour early for that golden hour of coffee drinking and writing/editing on my patio before it gets hot.
Then I go to work. On my breaks, I’m checking my email and replying to Tweets/FB posts. On my lunch hour, I’m writing or editing, whichever has the highest priority. I can power out about 2,000 words in 45 minutes.
After work, it depends on if my brain is sludge. If it is, which is usual, then I’m working on BETA reads, reading other people’s books for reviews, interviewing other authors, working on my own interviews, guest posts, my site, etc.
Then when I get half a brain cell, I’m brain storming, writing or editing my own work – if there’s time. Usually, there isn’t. On a typical work day, I get 1 hour 45 minutes to write. Even with this, I usually write a book in 4-6 weeks.
Weekends are usually non-writerly. I have people in my life who enjoy spending time with me, which is fantastic, and they get mad if I don’t spend time them, which is so odd! LOL!! My computer doesn’t go with me everywhere, but notebooks do. I spend free seconds jotting down ideas or reading other people’s books. I’m reading a lot faster, which is a good thing because, boy, these books are piling up FAST!
What are some ways that you like to relax?
I’m usually talking to my favorite people in the whole world or sitting in my big comfy chair letting my brain die in front of the TV.
I also am learning to play the guitar. I’ve decided to step away from the piano for awhile. And I’m learning Arabic via osmosis. *shakes head* I know. I know. It’s not working out so well, but I have successfully learned to say, “Yalla!” It’s usually said to me. Quite frequently. It means hurry up or, as my sister uses it, “Shag your butt, girl! I’m tired of waiting on you!”
What author/s do you think are overlooked in the writing/reading world today?
OMW! There are so many! Here are the top four:
Eisley Jacobs – Born to Be a Dragon
Kurt Chambers – The Truth Teller
Jay Eckert – Urban Mythos
Vidya Samson – Indian Maidens Bust Loose
What author would you most like to meet and why?
Jim Butcher! He’s fantastic and I think his brain is brilliantly warped!
Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to share with readers?
I’m brainstorming Book 2 of The Hands of Tarot, The Knight of Wands which is so exciting and I’m having so much fun with! It’s more gritty than Book 1. We’re going to war and it’s not romantic, it’s not heroic, it’s not great. It’s war. It sounds creepy that I said that’s fun, but I’m having fun researching for this book. I love history. I just suck at it.
I’m currently writing Book 2 of the Dreamland Stories, The Nightmare, which should be coming out around Christmas. This setting is just amazing! I love it! The characters are fantastic! I’m really enjoying myself! It’s just fun, fun, fun!
Finally, we just finished up the copy edits of Book 2 of the Demon Talker Novels, Those Damn Angels. That’s such a great book! We introduce Paige’s family and, boy, are they a hoot! Writing that book was such a breeze and I blame all the characters. The Ansley house is like a zoo!
What is something about yourself that would come as a surprise to many people?
Hmm. I dated a bagpipe playing vampiric US government assassin. No. Really.
Do you have a favorite line or excerpt that you would like to share from your book?
My favorite line in the book also made it as a title for one of the chapters. “Oh crap. Oh crap. Oh crap!”
One of my favorite scenes–there are just so many in this book–is below:
“As soon as my eyes adjusted to the brightness, the air escaped from my lungs. Before us was carnage. There were two wooden pyres burned to smoking ruin with the charred remains of people on top of them. The air reeked with the smell of burned flesh. Several more pyres stood, two currently burning, three more untouched, all of them in a circle surrounding a large cage.
Filled with children.
Guards walked from one of the burning pyres and lit torches, walking to the neighboring one to set it ablaze.
The children inside whimpered. One screamed, her hand reaching through the bars. Most of them silently wept, watching as their loved ones succumbed to the smoke.
I couldn’t just stand by and watch this. I took a step forward, my hand going for my sword.
My father stopped me, his eyes troubled with sorrow.
Queen Nix turned to me and smiled. “Do you wish to declare war?”
“Let them go,” I commanded, my voice ragged. “What have they done to you?”
She stalked toward me, her nose nearly touching mine, all semblance of beauty twisted with rage. “They refused to submit to me.”
I stared at her aghast, my hands clenched, my jaw tight. “So because you couldn’t control them, you’re going to destroy them?”
The rage turned cold across her features as she drew away, her shoulders back.
“Are you so weak?” The muscles in my cheek twitched.
Father took a step toward us. “Perhaps we can reach a mutual agreement.”
Someone in the cage screamed, the scream turning to ravaged sobs.
I let out a growl. “You will stop this!”
The queen turned her eagle-eyed stare to me. “I do not take orders from a mere boy.”
“Queen Nix,” my father started, “let us be reasonable.”
She took a step back and assessed him.
“The Umira have never been a harmful Family.” My father’s hands were wide at his side, his expression open. “They have always lived in peace with the Hands.”
Her eyes flared and she advanced on him. “You’ve allied yourself with them.”
Father’s eyes widened as he took a half step back.
I watched in alarm, unsure of what to do. My father was the strongest man I ever knew.
The queen grabbed his coat and pulled his face close to hers. “The Umira have always been a peaceful Family, so imagine my surprise when they assaulted us with cannons and weapons.”
“They have the right to defend themselves, Nix.”
“Not against me.” She pushed him away and turned to her gathering guard. “Take him and his heathen son. Throw them on the pyre.”
My father drew his sword and faced the guard. “Go, Synn, now!”
Our men drew their weapons and stood by his side.
“I’m not leaving you, Father.” My sword was in my hand. I was ready to die an honorable death by my father’s side.
He backhanded me and roared, “You will protect our people, Synn El’Asim.”
I was torn. I wanted so badly to fight beside him, to protect him.
But my father had given me an order. One I could not ignore.
I turned and ran.