Friday, June 5, 2015

Running With the Wind by Shira Anthony: #Review #Interview #Giveaway @WriterShira

Cover Artist: Anne Cain
Running with the Wind
(Mermen of Ea, Book 3)
by Shira Anthony

Release Date: June 8, 2015
Length: 67,000 words
Genres: Gay (M/M), Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance
With the final confrontation between the island and mainland Ea factions looming, Taren and Ian sail with Odhrán to investigate a lost colony of merfolk in the Eastern Lands. Upon their arrival, the King of Astenya welcomes them as friends. Odhrán, however, isn’t so quick to trust the descendent of the man who held him prisoner for nearly a decade, especially now that he has someone to cherish and protect—the mysterious winged boy he rescued from the depths.

Armed with the knowledge he believes will save the Ea, Taren returns to the mainland. With Ian at his side, Taren convinces Vurin that their people must unite with their island brethren before it’s too late. When Seria and his men attack, Taren must call upon the ancient power of the rune stone to protect his comrades. But using stone’s immeasurable power commands a hefty price—and Ian fears that price is Taren’s life.
Thanks for hosting me today! Running with the Wind is the final novel in the Mermen of Ea trilogy. The first two books are Stealing the Wind, and Into the Wind. The series blends high fantasy and romance. The main characters are merfolk shifters who can take both human and mer forms. The series is one long story arc, and it’s set in the age of sail in an earthlike place. There’s magic, reincarnation, and lots of action in the books. Oh, and a HEA, of course, since I won’t write a story without one.

Carly: What is the best book you ever read and why is it your favourite?

Shira: I’ve read so many amazing books over the years, but there’s one book I turn to over and over again when I need to escape: The Heritage of Hastur, by Marion Zimmer Bradley (contained in an omnibus edition with the sequel under the title, Heritage and Exile). It’s part of the inspiration for the Mermen of Ea series, in fact. The book is part of Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover series of sci fi/fantasy stories that all take place on a planet called Darkover. The inhabitants of the planet live in a feudal society and are descendants of colonists from Earth who crashed on the planet many centuries before. Those colonists interbred with the native Chieri people who possess psi powers (telepathy, ability to control the elements, etc.), and now have their own psi abilities.

Why that particular book, other than the cool setup? Because the characters, and two in particular, stayed with me in a way that’s affected what I write and how I write. One of the main characters, Regis Hastur, eventually becomes the equivalent of the king of the planet. The story begins when he’s a young, awkward teenager. He’s an outsider because he’s being trained to rule and has few friends his age. He meets another young man, Danilo Sirtis, and the two become close friends and later lovers. The gay romance is written between the lines, but the deep and enduring love and loyalty between Regis and Danilo deeply influences my own writing. 

In addition to those characters, Marion Zimmer Bradley’s style of mixing high fantasy with a romantic theme has inspired me to write my Mermen of Ea series, as well as my Blood series. I love romance with adventure and magic, and The Heritage of Hastur continues to inspire me!

Carly: If you could choose to have any type of super power what would it be and why?

Shira: That’s a tough one! If I had to choose, I’d probably like to be able to teleport—think myself in a different place and suddenly be in that place. Can you imagine how much easier it would be to take vacations? No airplanes, no waiting in airports or dealing with long car trips! And you could go places that are inaccessible to most people. Maybe even another planet! Oh, good lord, the plot bunnies are running rampant. 

Carly: Do you have any talents besides writing that are uniquely yours?

Shira: I’m not sure about unique, but I haven’t met many other writers who were once opera singers. I sang professionally for about 14 years, then decided to go to law school when my husband and I had our first child (opera singers travel a lot, and it was too difficult to raise children and continue in that career). You can hear a live recording of me singing here.

Carly: Do you have a guilty pleasure?

Shira: Japanese anime. My youngest turned me on to watching when he was pretty young, and I still watch it between books to clear my mind and inspire me to write. I love the artwork and the storylines, which are quite sophisticated in many cases. I particularly love Bleach and Attack on Titan. Some anime is for kids, but many address complicated social issues in the context of fantasy and are perfect for adults.

Carly: If you could take a vacation anywhere in the world where would you go?

Shira: Bora Bora. My husband and I sail, and I have this fantasy of renting a sailboat there and sailing around the South Pacific. I love to snorkel, and recently my husband and I got our certification in scuba. That was part of the inspiration for the Mermen of Ea series. I imagined what it might be like to breathe under the water without all that equipment.
Running with the Wind
Excerpt from Chapter One
SPOILER WARNING: This excerpt contains spoilers for the first two series books!

Ian leaned over the railing as the morning sunlight warmed his shoulders. A few feet away, Taren wrapped a blanket around the shivering boy, who sat with his knees hugged to his chest. He tenderly ruffled the boy’s fiery red hair. The boy leaned into Taren’s touch and made a satisfied sound much like the purr of a cat.

Not a boy, Ian reminded himself. Bastian. An Anuki. The heavenly brethren of the Ea. A dragon shifter reborn from the ashes. True, this freckle-faced dragon child looked nothing like the full-fledged beast who’d nearly killed them the day before, but they knew little of the Anuki. Had it only been a day since Seria’s men had attacked them and they’d lost Rider to Seria’s bullet?

Ian met Taren’s gaze and his grief eased slightly. Taren smiled back, his warm brown eyes hooded with exhaustion and grief, his shoulder-length hair having dried in a tumble of waves. From where he sat on the deck, Bastian watched Odhrán, keenly interested. The sphere they’d discovered not long after the destruction of the Sea Witch—an egg, Ian now knew—had dissolved beneath the water. Bastian had been choking and spluttering when Odhrán had carried him aboard. Since then, Bastian had done little but watch Odhrán with rapt attention.

Like a baby bird watches its mother. Ian frowned at his folly. How easy it was to forget this pathetic creature had destroyed the Sea Witch and nearly killed them all. If Odhrán hadn’t killed the dragon Bastian had become, they’d all have died. And yet Bastian had been reborn.

Bastian glanced up at Taren, blinked several times, then shifted his gaze back to Odhrán, who spoke in hushed tones to one of his crew. The long blond braid down Odhrán’s back dripped onto the deck and left the back of his woolen jacket sodden. Despite the bright blue of his eyes and his youthful features, Odhrán appeared as exhausted as Ian felt.

“A moment of your time?” Ian said after the crewmember trotted off toward the stairs, leaving the four of them alone on the foredeck.

Odhrán nodded and followed Ian amidships, far enough away that Bastian wouldn’t hear.

“Do you think this is wise?” Ian asked with a quick glance back at Taren and Bastian.

“What would you have me do? Leave him to drown?” Odhrán, too, appeared weary. Ian knew he still regretted having killed the fully transformed Bastian.

“He couldn’t live without Rider.” Taren’s words echoed in Ian’s mind. Rider—Ian’s oldest friend—had taken a bullet in Ian’s stead. There’d been no time to grieve.

“No.” Ian sighed. “Rider would have wanted us to care for him.” Taren would never have forgiven him for suggesting they leave Bastian to drown, and they’d lost too much to even consider it.

Odhrán nodded curtly and turned his gaze eastward. Now calm in the wake of the storm, the water sparkled with sunlight. Nothing remained of the Sea Witch but a few bits of broken timbers floating restlessly on the waves. Later, all of the men now aboard the Chimera would gather on the deck to remember the Witch’s captain, but for just a moment, Ian could almost imagine Rider at the wheel of his beloved ship.

I’ll miss you, old friend. More than you’ll ever know.

Ian shrugged off his dark thoughts and walked back to Taren. “You should get some sleep.” He squeezed Taren’s shoulder. “Odhrán and I will not let Bastian out of our sight.”

Taren pressed his lips together and nodded. How tired Taren must be that he didn’t even argue!

“I’ll join you in a bit.” Ian pressed his lips to Taren’s warm cheek.

Taren retrieved the blanket that had fallen off Bastian’s shoulders and wrapped it around him again. Naked as Bastian was beneath, Ian caught a glimpse of the wings they’d seen when they’d discovered him on the ocean floor. No longer scaled as they’d been when they’d first pulled Bastian from the water, Bastian’s wings were now covered with feathers and shimmered red, yellow, orange, and fuchsia, iridescent in the sunlight.

“I’ll be back later,” Taren told Bastian with a barely repressed yawn. “I promise.”

Bastian’s eyes revealed little understanding. Had he forgotten everything of his former life? Perhaps he was still too overwhelmed from the shock of the past day’s events to fully comprehend his situation. He’d not uttered a word since they’d brought him aboard.

Taren kissed Ian—a fleeting kiss, but one Ian needed to reassure himself that all had not changed—before heading belowdecks to rest.

Ian met Odhrán at the bow. “He’s like a fledgling,” Ian said, inclining his head in Bastian’s direction, “watching you like a bird might his mother.”

Odhrán’s brow knitted. He’d clearly noticed it as well. “I’ve asked Garan to reinforce the enchantments on the ship’s masts and sails. There’s nothing more to be done.”

“Aye. But if Bastian threatens the ship—”

“Then I’ll be forced to subdue him. Not a prospect I relish, although in his current state, he appears far less powerful than before.” Odhrán studied Bastian once again. “For now, at least, he’s content to be in our company.”

“What do you know of the Anuki?”

“They’re much like the Ea in their ability to shift to human form. I met one centuries ago, but he was nothing like this. Not a child. But what happened with Bastian….”

“Reborn from the ashes.” Ian’s heart ached once again for the loss of Rider.

“My time with one of their kind was brief.” Odhrán stared past Ian as if remembering.

Ian didn’t press the issue. Later, perhaps, he’d ask Odhrán about that encounter. “And his memories of his life with Rider?”

Odhrán shook his head. “I don’t know. I suppose only time will tell.”

Ian clenched his jaw. The realization that Bastian might not remember anything of his love for Rider made Ian’s grief that much greater.
My Review: 5 of 5 stars

The stunning conclusion to this amazing series, RUNNING WITH THE WIND was everything I hoped it would be and more. As Ian and Taren come into themselves, and their, relationship fully tensions between the rival Ea come to a head, challenging the magical and human characters like never before.

Shira's unique writing style is at its best, taking readers on an adventure full of twists and turns. Dramatic, sensual, emotional, suspenseful, romantic, fantastic... there just aren't enough words to adequately describe this amazing series!
“Running with the Wind” – Mermen Universe Map!
This is the fabulous Ea universe map Dreamspinner Press created by artist Margaret Warner. The map will be included in Running with the Wind.
Readers of the first 2 installments in the series, Stealing the Wind and Into the Wind, will recognize the Kingdom of Derryth, where Taren starts his journey when he’s kidnapped by the captain of the Sea Witch and finds himself at sea. You’ll also find the Luathan Islands and the tiny island of Ea’nu, where most of the merfolk are hidden behind enchantments. The map also shows the location of the fabled Eastern Lands and the country of Astenya, the land of the high mountains, where much of the final book takes place.
In her last incarnation, Shira was a professional opera singer, performing roles in such operas as Toscai Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle.

Shira is married with two children and two insane dogs, and when she’s not writing she is usually in a courtroom trying to make the world safer for children. When she’s not working, she can be found aboard a 36’ catamaran at the Carolina coast with her favorite sexy captain at the wheel.