Monarchy, religion, culture and love collide in ancient China’s warring society. All come to rest upon the shoulders of Aster, a gentle soul content in her life. At the start of this tale, her dead infant body is stolen from her mother, the Queen of Verdane. Aster is brought back to life by Barus. Barus becomes her father, the only one she knows & loves.
Resa – Why &/or how did you come up withe the name Aster?
Peach – That’s an easy one. She’s so pale that she reminded Barus of the white asters that grew in the meadows around his home. I imagined that when in bloom the flowers almost looked like snow.
Resa – I just have to ask, ” When did you discover the idea of “necromancy” … that it could bring people back to life?
Peach – Great question! Necromancy is (or was) a real thing, and the earliest records date back to the 3rd century, AD. Christian priests and scholars were some of the first to record attempts to “reanimate dead people or foretell the future by communicating with them.” So, it’s been around a long time, and I’m willing to swear that the desire to communicate with the dead continues today. Ouija Boards are a modern example, and some people make a very good living channeling departed souls.
Peach – In modern fantasy, most necromancers are evil and scary, involved in black magic and creating monsters. My mother didn’t want to read the book because she thought it was about cannibals. Lol. It’s a stereotype that I flipped on its head with Barus and Aster.
Resa – Did you make up the ritual? The mixing of herbs… the incanting…. the bleeding? Or did you read about it somewhere? Are there aster flowers in the potion?
Peach – The ritual was my own fabrication though I incorporated pieces of rituals that I found on the internet. It’s amazing what you can research there!
The herbs used in necromancy don’t include asters. The ones in the book are real poisons. The toxins have medical uses, but can easily be lethal. It’s another instance of that fine line between good and bad. It’s all about intention, isn’t it?
Resa – Above is an outfit I think the Queen of Blackrock could dress Aster in, when she is a guest there. However, I’m jumping ahead. Aster must get there first, and it’s a difficult journey fraught with perils.
Fortunately, she has the help of Joreh, then Teko. Oh, and I love all the hair on the men. Okay, not so much the beards, but all that long hair be it snarled, in a ponytail, braid or grey. I confess I have a huge crush on Teko.
Peach – I like long hair on men too. Ha ha. And not beards so much either, but it’s not like these guys get a chance to shave, so beards it is. And Teko is a fan favorite, Resa. He was so fun to write – a barbarian imbued with honor, misleading simplicity, and astute wisdom. He was full of surprises even as I wrote him.
Resa – There is a black & silver Dragon, who has bonded with Aster. It seems like a simple bonding, until the final legs of the journey to claim her birthright. What gave you the idea to use dragons?
Peach – In the Chinese legend of Kwan-Yin, the Goddess of Mercy, there’s a dragon. She encounters it on the road while carrying water, and she isn’t afraid. The dragon admires her goodness and kindness and gives her a gift of a well so she won’t have to carry water anymore. Just the mention of a dragon was enough for me to include them in the retelling of her story. ❤
Resa – On her journey, Aster encounters “Nightlings”. Are these like fire flies? Or are they little birds? I’d read a small portion of the book when they were encountered. In my mind I saw them as a sort of flashlight, leading Aster through darkness.
Peach – Ha ha ha. I saw them in my mind’s eye as insects actually but large ones, the size of hummingbirds. They’re like dragonflies but they light up during dusk. I think Joreh mentions in the beginning that they’re insects, but I mostly leave it up to the reader’s imagination. Your question intrigued me.
Resa – I gotta tell you, I was wearing a thick, oversized lumberjack shirt while reading about the snow, the cold, the freezing, the deprivations of winter beyond winter. A couple of nights ago, when I put the story down for dinner, my hands were so cold my fingers were icicles. I’m chalking it up to that you are such a great writer that you can describe me into being cold.
❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️ ❄️
Peach – LOL, Resa. I probably was wearing a coat when I wrote the book… last winter. Our cabin is hard to heat when it gets especially chilly outside. 🙂 I’m so sorry about the cold fingers though!
Resa – I have a question about Aster’s raiment once she has reached Blackrock. Aster is cleaned up and dressed in rose, cream and violet silk with a blue sash sleeveless blue robe/w dragons on the hem. Her hair is in a tall knot. This description is not as brightly colourful as the citizens are dressed. Am I correct in summing up that her outfit in Blackrock is a less richly hued than the one she wears at the Gates of Whitehall?
Peach – I can so tell that you’re a wardrobe and gown designer! Your questions are wonderful. Generally, the queen of BlackRock has selected pastels for Aster, in Blackrock and at the gates of Whitehall. The queen thinks she’s too deathly pale for anything the least vivid. She also doesn’t trust Aster’s fashion sense, so everything coordinates regardless of how Aster puts the layers together.
The gowns are similar to the Hanfu style of Chinese clothing, lots of layers of silk and long flowing sleeves. There are wonderful images on the internet and lots of variation. The tall hairstyles were typical of Chinese royalty back in the day.
Resa – I imagined I was the Queen of Blackrock’s designer, so I had access to all silk, threads and jewels. I designed an outfit with Aster. There is an aster pattern down one side of her sleeveless kimono, and she wears fresh asters in her hair.
Peach – Love it! Wow. Resa, that’s beautiful! And I just ADORE the idea of you as the designer producing Aster’s dress for the queen. How fun to have you in the story!
Resa – OH! You never described a headdress. Would I be out of order to include one?
Peach – Isn’t that funny? Lol. Please do whatever you want with a headdress. You’re the designer. ❤❤❤
Resa – I would have loved to draw Aster on her horse, but that could have added MONTHS to the drawing.
Inside the Gates of Whitehall, Aster is weak as a kitten, yet regal. I saw her using something to hold onto. I came up with obsidian cat statues. There are the wild cats mentioned throughout the journey, so I thought even though you never described these statues, it’s not totally out of context.
Peach – The drawing is beautiful. And the cat statues look great the way they frame her. I totally defer to your artistic impulses.
Resa – You are not just gracious, you are a true fan of the creative nature.
Peach – And your reviews are just amazing! I LOVE them. I can’t wait to see it all come to life. Thank you so much for reading my work and for your wonderful drawings.
Resa – My pleasure!!!! ❤️❤️❤️
A long-time reader, best-selling author D. Wallace Peach started writing later in life after the kids were grown and a move left her with hours to fill. Years of working in business surrendered to a full-time indulgence in the imaginative world of books, and when she started writing, she was instantly hooked.
In addition to fantasy books, Peach’s publishing career includes participation in various anthologies featuring short stories, flash fiction, and poetry. She’s an avid supporter of the arts in her local community, organizing and publishing annual anthologies of Oregon prose, poetry, and photography.
Peach lives in a log cabin amongst the tall evergreens and emerald moss of Oregon’s rainforest with her husband, two owls, a horde of bats, and the occasional family of coyotes.
Visit Diana on her blog!
You can buy D. Wallace Peach’s books on:
Amazon US~~~Amazon UK~~~Kobo
All pics of street art taken by Resa – 2019 – 2022
This is one fabulous story!
Dragon (manipulated) – from a mural by Allan Bender John Nobrega & Stacey Kinder
All other street artists unknown
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