Blog Tour: The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem (Guest Post)

The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem
Release date: April 19th, 2017
Genres: Young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Carpe Noctem Publishing
Formats: Paperback, hardcover, eBook

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All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive who saves her life—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressive city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.

In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unforeseen love, Ri risks it all to save those she cares for. But if she prevails, she’ll find the one thing she yearns for most—a cure for Samuel.

Author Guest Post: Cover Inspiration

I’m so glad that Jacquie asked about the cover for The Waterfall Traveler because the design process was so exciting. I loved that the characters I had spent so much time with for the past three years were going to be given more “life” by being featured in an incredible illustration.

I had the opportunity to work with two talented individuals during the design process: illustrator Lindsay Nery and designer Vic Sanchez. Since I also have a design background, I had strong vision of how I wanted the cover to look. Both Lindsay and Vic did a tremendous job visualizing my ideas, and the final piece exceeded all of my expectations.

When I first began working with Lindsay, I mentioned that I wanted the cover to capture the intensity, emotion, and fast pace of the story. Throughout the novel, characters Ri and Bryce face terrifying dangers, brutal elements, and internal struggles. They develop a strong friendship that deepens into much more as the story progresses. As the stakes continue to rise, Ri and Bryce risk their lives for each other and their friends. So above all, I wanted the artwork to show the connection between those two characters.

Though it was a daunting task, Lindsay returned to our next meeting with various sketches. One drew my attention immediately. It featured Ri and Bryce, gripping each others’ hands as Ri tumbles from a waterfall. I loved all the movement, the characters’ expressions, and the intensity. Since the story is filled with action-packed scenes, it made perfect sense that the artwork should convey the same tension and urgency. The final illustration, with its vivid colors and movement, truly represents the tone of the novel. I couldn’t be happier with it.

Once the illustration was completed, Vic tackled the typography and layout. Like the illustration, the typography captures that same sense of movement. I love how the “R” in “Waterfall” dips down like flowing water. The treatment is somewhat whimsical, but also very elegant.

I really hope that readers enjoy the cover as much as I do. Bookmarks featuring the artwork will be available on my website, sjlem.com, this summer.


About the Author:

S.J. Lem is a digital art director gone writer in hopes of expanding her creative aspirations. Whether it’s introducing dimensional characters, crafting imaginative worlds, or transporting readers into high-stakes adventures, she strives to deliver an immersive experience.

She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When not writing, she enjoys pottery, gardening, and volunteering. Connecting with readers and fellow writers is one of her greatest joys.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


Giveaway

Click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a print copy of The Waterfall Traveler! Good luck! 🙂

Blog Tour: The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (Q&A + Giveaway)

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32890474The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
Release date: May 4th, 2017
Publisher: Duet/Interlude Press
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Indiebound

Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. I’ll be posting my review of this fantastic book very soon (I gave it 5 hearts because it’s so, so good), but until then check out this fun Q&A with Julia and enter to win some prizes! 🙂


Author Q&A

Hi everyone! I’m Julia Ember and I’m really excited to be on the blog today as part of the Virtual Book Tour for my new release, The Seafarer’s Kiss.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is my second novel. It is a bisexual, Norse retelling of the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The main character, Ersel, longs to escape her harsh arctic sea world where she is expected to choose a mate and bear children. When she meets, Ragna, a Viking shield maiden stranded on the ice-shelf near her home, she learns of another way of life. But when her former best friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: abandon Ragna or face justice at the hands of their tyrannical king. Ersel decides to make her own rules instead, and makes a deal with Loki.

1. Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, or something else?
I’m a concept buyer! I like vast, interesting, unusual concepts that make me perk up and wonder about the book. Give me African mythology in space, rogue narwhal communities – if it’s weird and speculative fiction, I’m probably all over it! I buy a lot of books through Twitter recommendations. The format of Twitter is perfect for people who buy off concept, because the 140-char limit forces people to distil a book down to its basic parts.

Beyond that, I usually read 5-10 pages before I commit to buying. I like fast-paced reads, and will usually pass on anything that has a slow opening.

2. What does ‘romance’ mean to you?
Romance to me is always going to represent the genre. Before I gave up academia, I was medievalist studying literature. When I hear the word ‘romance’ I think of writers like Chaucer, early pioneers of the genre, or of poets like John Donne. I’ve only very recently started to read modern romance. I used to be an almost exclusively sci-fi/fantasy reader. Even now that I’m writing some contemporary romance, my first thought when I hear the word is STILL that historical one. With time, I think the word will probably start to take on more modern connotations!

3. What are your current projects?
At the moment, I have a totally unwieldly number of WIPs! My agent and I are getting ready to go on submission with two projects. The first is a contemporary f/f novella about two gamers who fall in love before realising they’re bitter enemies online. The other is a YA Space Opera that is crazy genre mashup of sci-fi, fantasy and historical fiction, with dragons.

4. What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
The second draft is the hardest for me! I write the first very quickly and its usually very short, just a collection of scenes. In the second draft, I have to go back and connect all the dots.

5. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.
I’ve visited 66 different countries! My parents travelled with us a lot when I was a kid, and that wanderlust has stayed in my blood. There are still so many places that I haven’t gone, and I’m looking forward to organising more trips.


About the Author

julia2-e1455421316346-300x300Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, was published by Harmony Ink Press.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Facebook


Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. Five people will win multi-format eBook editions of  The Seafarer’s Kiss and the grand prize winner will receive a $25 IP web store certificate. Good luck!


Follow the Tour

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Blog Tour: Legacy of the Mind by H.R. Moore (Guest Post)

Legacy of the Mind by H.R. Moore
Release date: January 2nd, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, romance, young adult
Publisher: Harriet Moore
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Goodreads | Amazon

Anita has never been ordinary, she’s stuck out like a sore thumb her entire life; not only can she see the energy of others, a rare skill, but she’s won every Body challenge she’s ever entered. So when the powerful, good looking Descendants, Marcus and Alexander, mysteriously arrive in Empire, her difference attracts and keeps their attention.

Once in Empire, the sudden death of ruling Body Descendant, Christiana, sets in motion a number of events; a quest for the treacherous Austin to find the girl Christiana had been looking for; a challenge where Anita stands out more vibrantly than ever before; a perilous dip in the world’s energy; and a dangerous belief among the people that they will never truly be free. Powerful factions soon form within the ruling elite and when a trusted friend and mentor reaches out to ask for Anita’s help, she has to make a choice; help her friend and betray the one she loves, or do nothing and watch the people starve.

Guest Post:

When I first started to write The Legacy trilogy, I was on a work secondment for three months in New York and had a lot of time on my hands.  So, in addition to writing, I listened to a lot of music, which really helped keep me in the right frame of mind as well as providing inspiration.

I watched the Twilight saga near the start of my writing journey, and this has a beautiful, romantic soundtrack.  I particularly listened to “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri, “Northern Lights” by Cider Sky and “Turning Page” by Sleeping at Last.  I loved this last one so much that I ended up listening to all their songs on Spotify over and over again.  I found Sleeping at Last’s music perfect to have on in the background as it’s really chilled out, so it was great for when I was writing.

I also listened to songs like “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer, “Sweet Disposition” by The Temper Trap, and “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay.  There’s something so intriguing about Viva la Vida.  It transports me to some ancient religious civilisation every time I hear it, which is great for the imagination, not to mention that the opening is so exciting and full of anticipation.

It’s amazing how a song can completely change how you feel when you’re writing, which also really effects what you write.  I find music particularly helpful for romantic scenes, as romantic songs often convey extreme feelings.  This helps immerse me in the emotions of the characters and makes it easier to put myself in their shoes.

Here’s the full soundtrack from when I was writing Legacy of the Mind:

https://open.spotify.com/user/harrietrawlings/playlist/0f57XZCbzBQdDKRitBUId4  

When I finished Legacy of the Mind, I kept hearing songs which reminded me of things that happen in the story, or my characters, or just made me think of the world, so I started a Legacy of the Mind soundtrack, which you can listen to here:

Happy listening! 🙂


About the Author:

Harriet was born in Germany in 1987, the family returning to the UK, to Dorset shortly afterwards. She loved maths in the early years, but by the time she got to A Level, Sociology was her favourite subject, opening her eyes to things she’d never before considered, namely, nobody is really right, nobody is really normal and primary socialisation has a lot to answer for.

After finishing her A Levels, Harriet went to university in St Andrews, studying Philosophy for two years, then switching to Management. She was particularly interested in the ‘people’ elements of her course and especially the areas concerning how people create and react to change. After four very civilised years by the sea, she ventured to London, to foray into the strange world of insurance (surprisingly, more interesting than you might think), where she currently works as a Project Manager.

Harriet has recently moved to Hertfordshire with her husband Chris and baby Atia. When she isn’t doing DIY, writing, editing, eating, taking photos, or imagining how much better life would be with the addition of a springer spaniel, she occasionally finds the time to make hats.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


Giveaway:

Click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. The giveaway is international! Win a $20 Amazon gift card and an ebook copy of Legacy of the Mind. Good luck!

Blog Tour: Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde (Guest Post)

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31696213Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Release date: March 14th, 2017
Publisher: Swoon Reads
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Format: eBook, paperback

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Three friends. Two love stories. One convention.

Charlie likes to stand out. She’s a vlogger and actress promoting her first movie at SupaCon, and this is her chance to show fans she’s over her public breakup with co-star Reese Ryan. When internet-famous cool-girl actress Alyssa Huntington arrives as a surprise guest, it seems Charlie’s long-time crush on her isn’t as one-sided as she thought.

Taylor likes to blend in. Her brain is wired differently, making her fear change. And there’s one thing in her life she knows will never change: her friendship with her best guy friend Jamie—no matter how much she may secretly want it to. But when she hears about a fan contest for her favorite fandom, she starts to rethink her rules on playing it safe.


Guest Post: Most Memorable Convention Moment

The line started deep inside a building the size of an aircraft carrier, snaked outside and down to the entry gates to the park where the convention was being held. I stood in the middle of it with my brothers in the hot Australian sun for hours, refusing to take my jacket off because I had waited months to show off my perfect Marty McFly, Back to the Future II cosplay. By the time we leveled up and made it inside the building, I was exhausted. But still I stood, waiting patiently for my moment – a moment I had dreamed of since I was a kid. We chatted excitedly with other fans in line, complimenting each other’s cosplay and asking where a lucky few got their hoverboards from. The closer I got to the booth, the more nervous I became. What do I say when I meet him? Do I shake his hand? How should I pose? People ahead of us disappeared behind the wall and emerged on the other side thirty seconds later, smiling like they had just witnessed greatness. Because they had. And then it was our turn. It all happened so quickly, like a blur or a dream. I adjusted my jacket and cap, making sure my cosplay was on point. I walked into the booth, and there he was. Christopher Lloyd, or as I had known him growing up; Doc Brown, wide-eyed scientist and inventor of time travel. I saw him and my mind went blank. Somehow, I reached a hand out and said, “It’s so nice to meet you.” He smiled, shook my hand, and said, “Well, it’s nice to meet you too.” I took my place next to him while he greeted my brother, and then suddenly we were smiling for the camera. And just like that, it was over. It was only a few seconds, but for a Back to the Future fangirl like me, it was something I’ll remember forever.


 The Author

Jen_Jen Wilde is a writer, geek and fangirl with a penchant for coffee, books and pugs. She writes YA stories about zombies (AS THEY RISE), witches (ECHO OF THE WITCH) and fangirls (QUEENS OF GEEK). Her debut series reached over three million reads online and became an Amazon bestseller.

When she’s not writing, Jen loves binge-watching her favorite shows on Netflix, eating pizza, traveling to far away places and going to conventions in Marty McFly cosplay.

Jen lives in a sunny beachside town in Australia with her husband and their cheeky pug, aptly named Heisenberg.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook


Giveaway

Click here to enter the Canada/US only giveaway to win:

  • A print copy of Queens of Geek

Blog Tour: The Broken One by Christine H. Bailey (Guest Post)

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29601936The Broken One by Christine H. Bailey
Release date: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Format: eBook, paperback

Check out my review here.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Sixteen-year-old Farris is picking up the pieces after the untimely death of her best friend. But even one year later, she can’t seem to find “normal” again—not until Lane Evans pops back into her life and pushes her to face reality.

When he offers her the chance to find the truth, Farris fears what will surface. Is it too much too soon or just what she needs to move forward?


One Good Reason to Read a Depressing Book

What did I do on my summer vacation? I traveled, did some reading, wrote a chapter or two—and I watched a lot of Netflix. In fact, I just finished watching another seven-season series. At 12 episodes per season, that’s roughly 2,500 minutes or 42 hours of my life I will never get back. But I so looked forward to clicking that little play button and seeing what was next for this character or that one. And I loved being able to say, “Just one more show” even at 1 am. I was hooked. But after the series finale, I was left with this giant hole in my gut. The characters I had come to love and despise were no more. With the closing credits of the final episode, I panicked. I needed a quick fix—a new show to fill the void. Come on, you guys know what I mean.

So I went on the hunt for something new—a comedy or something with a little grit—and stumbled across ABC’s Chasing Life. I have to admit that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But I decided to give it a shot for one reason—I loved John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. If you haven’t read it or watched the movie, it’s about two teens who fall in love. But here’s the catch: both of them have cancer. Sigh. Chasing Life is about a twenty-something who gets her dream job, an amazing new boyfriend, and the-not-so-great news that she has leukemia. Double sigh. So why do we read these books or watch movies about terminally ill cancer patients? Why do we get pulled in to these narratives? Can anyone give me one good reason to watch a show about young people living with and dying of cancer?

Kaitlin Thomas from TV.com gives five reasons to watch Chasing Life including, “It’s realistic, not melodramatic fiction.” Okay, I’ll bite. Maybe audiences watch/read because “it” (aka cancer) happens in real life. Maybe people are relating. So many of us have been touched by the “C” word in one way or another. I know I have. The National Cancer Institute estimates that “approximately 8 million Americans alive today have a history of cancer” and about 1,228,600 people will be diagnosed this year alone. These statistics show a startling reality—a reality that is fueling many of the fictional narratives we’re watching and reading today, e.g. Red Band Society, Chasing Life, Fault, etc. So, what do you think about this trend? A trend, as Thomas writes, that involves “exactly zero vampires, werewolves, witches, or superheroes.” However, with no vampires and lots of talk about cancer, Thomas also states, “It’s hard to sell people on shows [books] that sound super depressing.”


Giveaway

Click here to enter the international giveaway to win:

  • 2x $5 Amazon gift cards
  • 2x signed copies of The Broken One

Blog Tour: Finding Paradise by V.P. Ortiz (Guest Post)

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I’m very excited to be hosting a stop on the Finding Paradise blog tour! Since the book is all about Hawaii and romance, author V.P. Ortiz has put together a list of some of the most romantic things to do in Oahu, Hawaii. *sigh* I totally need a vacation!


32192952Finding Paradise by V.P. Ortiz
Release date: September 24th, 2016
Publisher: V.P. Ortiz Publishing
Genre: New adult, romance
Formats: eBook, paperback

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Mila Quinn is ready to finally move out of the college dorms into an apartment with her longtime boyfriend, Ethan Lowe. But when Ethan reveals a big secret, her world is suddenly turned upside down, stirring up old memories of love and loss. Completely torn apart, she boards a plane to Hawaii to escape for the summer.

Even though Mila wants to spend her time in paradise in isolation, fate has other plans when it drops sexy local Gage Madden in her lap. Hesitant at first, she agrees to let him take the reins on her island exploration. As Mila discovers the wonders of Oahu with Gage, it becomes harder for her to fight the budding attraction between them.

But behind the curtain of island adventures and undeniable chemistry, trouble is brewing where Mila least expects it. Secrets begin to bubble to the surface that could destroy her all over again. Will Mila find her paradise? Or will she leave Hawaii with another broken heart?


TEN MOST ROMANTIC THINGS TO DO IN OAHU, HAWAII

Hawaii is a beautiful place. From the ocean waves to the warm weather, it’s hard not to fall in love with the islands. I know the feeling myself. I’ve only visited Oahu twice, but I’m already planning out my retirement in Hawaii.

Finding Paradise is a romantic story that takes place on the gorgeous island of Oahu, which is the most visited island in Hawaii. Today, I am bringing you the Ten Most Romantic Things to Do in Oahu! If you’ve read Finding Paradise, some of these might even seem a bit familiar to you.

  1. Watch the sunrise on the windward (east) side of Oahu: What could be more perfect than watching the sun rise over the Pacific Ocean? Snuggling next to someone you love while you do it! Don’t worry about cold weather – even at the crack of dawn, the weather is fantastic. Just be weary of rain during the winter months.
  2. Go paddleboarding: Stand-up paddleboarding is a cool way to get in some exercise and get out further on the ocean, especially if you don’t know how to surf. In the winter, Waikiki Beach is your best bet because the waves are much too large on the North Shore to paddle. But in the summer, the opposite is true. The North Shore has calmer waves and you might even spot some sea turtles like Mila and Gage did in Finding Paradise!
  3. Have a picnic at the Liliuokalani Botanical Garden in Honolulu: This botanical garden is the garden of all gardens. Some of the tropical plants in the Liliuokalani Garden can only be found on the Hawaiian islands. There are plenty of places to have a sweet and romantic picnic. Just be sure to clean up after you leave! Hawaiians take great pride and care of their home.
  4. Hike up to Manoa Falls: Just as Mila and Gage did during one of their first few outings together, hiking up to Manoa Falls is a great way to get some quiet, romantic time together. Tucked in the neighborhoods of Honolulu, Manoa Falls offers a gorgeous waterfall at the end of the hike. Just try not to sneak in a smooch in this place!
  5. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay: Grab your honey’s hand, put on your flippers, and snorkel your way through Oahu’s most famous snorkeling beach. Together, you’ll find multitudes of coral and fish. Maybe you’ll even spot the Hawaiian state fish – the humuhumunukunukuapua’a (“who-moo-whoo-moo-new-coo-new-coo-ah-poo-ah-ah)!
  6. Go on a helicopter tour: There’s no shortage of helicopter tours on any of the Hawaiian islands and some tours if you’re willing to fork out the money and the time, will take you to multiple islands. Nothing beats seeing the beauty of the islands from the sky while holding your lover’s hand. Just remember to keep your seatbelts fastened, no matter how much closer you want to get.
  7. Go whale watching: In the winter, the humpback whale ventures down to the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean and can be seen all around the island. Book a boat tour and while there’s no guarantee that you will see a whale, it’s a romantic ride that will only be made even more perfect by seeing one of those majestic creatures leaping from the ocean.
  8. Hike up the Koko Crater Trail: Since the Haiku stairs closed to the public, the next best hiking trail to get a panoramic view of part of Oahu is through the Koko Crater Trail. Though it is strenuous and a bit crowded later in the day, the view is astounding and breathtaking, much like you’ll feel when you have your sweetheart by your side for the ride.
  9. Go on a dinner cruise: Taking off just before sunset, most dinner cruises will take you past Waikiki Beach, around Diamond Head crater, and to the windward side of the island. Enjoy a glass of champagne with your loved one while taking in the views of the island from the ocean before sitting down to a five-star meal. Some dinner cruises offer live entertainment and dancing. What could be better than learning the hula together?
  10. Watch the sunset on Waikiki Beach: As your day winds to a close, the hotel patios welcome live music from local artists and their melodies travel through the salty air. The ocean roars in the background just as the sun begins to set over the ocean. The orange sky reflects off the ocean and into your lover’s eyes. As the ukulele plays a Hawaiian song of love and forever, you realize that paradise isn’t just on Oahu or Hawaii. It’s with the person in your arms.

Many of the locations visited by Mila and Gage in Finding Paradise, some of which are on this list, are actual places that I have visited multiple times. Because I’ve been asked several times since Finding Paradise was published for photos of those tourist spots, I posted a photo tour guide on my website at www.vportiz.com/findingparadise-phototour. I hope this brings your experience of Mila and Gage to life even more! If you haven’t picked up Finding Paradise yet, I hope this intrigues your curiosity for both Hawaii and for Finding Paradise!

Tiger’s Watch Cover Reveal + Author Guest Post

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For me, the biggest inspiration for writing is travel and foreign landscapes. There’s something about being somewhere fresh, taking in new sights, smells, ways of living, people and ways of living that really zaps my creative process into life – even if the story I go on to write has nothing to do with the place I’m traveling.  I’ve talked a lot about how much travelling around in East Africa influenced Unicorn Tracks, and there is a similar story to the background of Tiger’s Watch and the rest of the Ashes of Gold series.

Both of my parents, but my dad in particular, have always been afflicted with wanderlust. Although he had American parents, my dad was born in Toyko, Japan, and only moved back to the USA when he started high school. He always had a sense of not really belonging to either culture, a phenomenon that is now referred to as a “third culture kid” … where you grow up in a place where for reasons of skin colour or accent, you will always be perceived as a foreigner, and where you embrace elements of both cultures. When I was nine, my entire family left the US to emigrate to England. We travelled constantly, and the desire to experience new places and interact with as diverse a group of people as possible has stuck with me.

In 2014, my family traveled to Bhutan. Bhutan is a small country nestled between India, Nepal and Tibet, framed on all sides by the Himalayan Mountains. Until recently, it has remained isolated by choice – only allowing cars and TVs in the 1990s. Bhutan still only permits a small number of tourist visits per year, and has a truly unique, untouched quality to it. Almost the entire country are practicing Buddhists, and the Buddhist monastic rules in conjunction with the royal family. You can see how Buddhism integrates into every aspect of people’s daily lives there … the king lives in a modest house, he runs alone through the forest. Crime is almost non-existent. Beyond that, Bhutan is a country of colours and mountain landscapes, new animals, untouched forests and thriving communities. Education is free and almost 1/4th of children join the monastic.

What inspired me was thinking about what would have happened if an almost utopian place like this, found itself at war with a neighbour or if Bhutan hadn’t be able to remain in isolation for so long. It’s a fear shared by many Bhutanese people. Our guide told us that many of them worry about China invading them for natural resources and that they will become another Tibet. The other was a somewhat hilarious incident we witnessed at one of the monasteries. A young Buddhist monk was sitting on the steps, mixing paints and casually feeding crumbs to the local pigeons, when a beautiful wild Abyssinian cat burst down from one of the trees and went after one of the pigeon. The monk was up and on his feet like a shot after the cat, but he was too slow and the cat ran off with a pigeon almost the same size as she was, while the monk went and got a broom to chase her some more. We didn’t see the end outcome, but I did love the character of a peaceful, creative monk, juxtaposed with a blood-thirsty cat …

Thus, Tashi and Katala the tiger came into being …

I was also food poisoned by Holy Water in Bhutan, but that’s another story entirely.

In The Tiger’s Watch, there are a lot of parallels between Tashi’s world and Bhutan, but they are not the same place. Tashi is a Bhutanese name, meaning Luck and can be given to a girl or boy, which I felt was important for Tashi as a NB protagonist. His best friend’s name is Pharo, which is also a Bhutanese name. The aesthetics of their capital city mirror a lot about Bhutan’s architecture and the idea of a monastic body is important for them. However, Shien’s core culture revolves around a magic system, not Buddhism and their values are almost entirely different to the people of Bhutan. In a lot of ways, I feel like the book captures the aesthetic – the isolation, the mountains, the looming Zhongs – but doesn’t essentially draw from Bhutanese culture, beyond the large monastic element … and of course, the wild cat who can’t be tamed. Who I still like to imagine got away and ate her pigeon in the end.

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