Cry of Metal & Bone by L. Penelope (Author Interview and Book Review)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Hey Babes, 

I had the opportunity to ask our author L. Penelope a couple of questions, so those will appear first and then we will move onto my review. 

IMAGE: Black man and White woman against light purple background; lighting in sky; castle underneath them
Book 3 In the Earthsinger Chronicles
Published: August 11, 2020
St. Martins Griffin
Genre: Fantasy
Available: BN | Amazon | Publisher
Add it on Goodreads
The Interview
  • Tell us a little bit about your writing process?

When I get a new idea for a story, it usually starts with an image in my head or a general premise. For the first book in the series, Song of Blood & Stone, I saw both of the main characters in tense situations and the story flowed from there. For my paranormal romance, Angelborn, I had the idea: what if a girl fell in love with an invisible boy?

After the initial idea comes, I generally try to live with the concept for a little while, except for those rare times when the story is just pushing to come out of me and then I just start to write. However, the vast majority of the time, an idea needs a little bit of time to germinate before I really begin to work on it. My first step is to write down everything I know about the story and outline the basic events. This process is iterative and happens in layers as I discover more and more about the story the more I work on it.

At the same time, I'm thinking about the characters and doing some initial brainstorming to discover who they are, what they want, and why they can't get what they want. This helps me uncover their backstory and what events have made them who they are today. After all the pre-work has been done, I start to write the first draft. I use a technique called “fast drafting” and write the entire story as quickly as possible without doing any editing whatsoever. At its most extreme, this means I don't even read what I wrote the day before. I just keep going until I hit the end.

After this draft, there are several revision passes depending on how much time I have before my deadline. Then I hand the manuscript off to either an editor or a beta reader for external feedback.

  • How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

My process shifts a bit with each book because each book requires something slightly different. But also, as I write more, I become both more familiar and more comfortable with my process. Which doesn’t mean that I’m not always looking for ways to improve!

I love reading books on writing craft, and I try to do at least one or two workshops or courses per year to improve my craft. Inevitably, I will learn a technique or strategy and tweak my writing process to hopefully make it a little more efficient.

Also, after writing and publishing my first book with only my own internal timeline, now I have external deadlines—either from a publisher or from reader expectations. This means I’m always conscious of having to be done by a certain time and my process has had to absorb that pressure.

  • What does literary success look like to you?

Literary success for me is having a long-lasting career and being able to write and publish books I love. One of my biggest goals is to be someone's favorite author. That is the lodestar that shines before me, guiding me as I make decisions about my career. When I hear from a reader that I’m one of their favorite authors, I feel like I’m achieving my goals and doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I'd rather write people's favorite books than win awards, and so I focus on writing the stories that I enjoy and feel need to be told, and trying to bring some joy and entertainment into people’s lives.

  • What did you edit out of this book?

I tend to write short early drafts and need to add words as I revise. So I rarely have a lot of deleted scenes the way that some authors do. But I sometimes go down the wrong path for a few thousand words before realizing it! A peek in my outtakes folder (because I save everything that I cut out) reveals a few scenes that didn't make it into Cry of Metal & Bone

There was an entire interlude in which several of the characters had to adopt disguises and talk their way into a hospital in a foreign country, where they make a pretty gruesome discovery about some deadly experiments going on there. I’d written a fairly suspenseful scene where they nearly get caught, but escape in the nick of time. It was a lot of fun, but I ended up needing to move things along a little bit faster and get that discovery accomplished in a different way.

There were also a few extra characters from previous books that I tried to squeeze in for cameos, but they were superfluous and ended up on the cutting room floor as well. 

  • The world in this series is somewhat intricate. Where did the idea of the Earthsinger Chronicles come about?

I’d mentioned seeing images of characters as my first step in conceiving the story. For that first book, what I saw was a young woman standing with a shotgun in her hands while a group of strange men approached her isolated home. The other image was of a young man who had been captured and was incandescently angry about it. 

Song of Blood & Stone was originally meant to be a kind of fairytale. I didn't know very much about the world when I started writing it, and those details unfolded as I got deeper and deeper into the story. But I had those first two characters who were about to meet and go on a journey together. As they faced challenges and obstacles, the world grew up around them and I wanted to explore more of it. I only had a bird's-eye view at the beginning, but I learned more and more with every story I wrote.

  • What would you like for readers to take away from your stories? 

Because my books combine action with romance along with real-world parallels, I hope that readers have fun living in a different world for a little while, going on adventures, falling in love, and seeing things through another perspective. I hope black readers especially are able to see characters who look like them dealing with and overcoming adversity, having amazing love affairs, and being badass.

**Thank you to L. Penelope for answering my questions. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous as heck because I love this series and therefore, love this author. I didn't wanna mess this up, lols. So shout out to her for this!

The Review

There are two separate story-lines going on Cry of Metal & Bone and they both were exciting and full of action. But the story continues with the return of old favorites….some it's not so favorites as well as key new players. L. Penelope keeps readers invested and engaged with continued telling of a nefarious plot to keep the Kingdoms of Elsira and Lagrimar separate.

In this third book, King Jack and Queen Jasminda continue with the push forward of unification between two separate Kingdoms. The True King is down but the hatred he instilled AND groomed in Elsira still rings loud. The people of Elsira and Lagrimar are still at odds and distrust of each other runs deep. With this new threat at the fragile stages of healing and the attempt to bring people together. A perilous rescue and a shaky investigation to uncover secrets people are willing to kill for; our players in this book are up against their toughest battle yet. 

Still, there are multiple POVs (more here) being told in Cry of Metal & Bone as well. I will always encourage readers to start this series from book one to familiarize themselves with the world that the author has built. There are many different sub-plots and starting from the middle will a bit much....imo. But this author does an amazing job of keeping the bigger picture of this story at the forefront. 

L. Penelope is a master at telling a story that will keep you on the edge of your reading chair, at least for me she did. Plots from previous books are revealed and some still left me a bit bereft BUT listen, I am all into this series. It’s one of the better fantasy stories being told right now. And ya’ll know what’s so amazing about this story all through-out the series? Is the current world themes portrayed. Xenophobia, racism and poli-tricks are strong subject matters that remain front and center. The bringing of people and their differences together shouldn’t be so hard BUT it's never easy, is it? Our author weaves magic and fantasy with real world issues that will have its readers wanting more. L. Penelope's telling of this story is much needed. 

The character growth (all players) is excellent and the world building continues to stun. If you are a fan of epic fantasies, then you need to add The Earthsinger Chronicles to your reading library….right now. 

*Thank you to the publisher for the opportunity to read/review. 

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