BLOG TOUR: Blood for the Spilling by TJ Nichols

COVER - Blood for the Spilling - TJ Nichols
DSP Publications author TJ Nichols has a new MM paranormal book out in the Warlock in Training series: Blood for the Spilling.

Sheets of ice are spreading across the human world, ushering in an ice age as the magic drained from Demonside turns that world into a desert. Angus and reluctant warlock Terrance have defected from Vinland to the Mayan Empire—a land of dark and potent magic. But the Mayans aren’t offering sanctuary for free.

Nor is the world willing to stand back as Vinland attacks, and the backlash will affect all magic users.

Mage Saka has no tribe. He is now just another refugee fleeing the dying Demonside. He knows the conflict brewing now will be worse than the first demon war. Countries are banding together—not just against Vinland, but against all magic. Where will the powerful Mayan Empire stand?

Angus might have the power to fight Vinland and the Warlock College, but the cost will be terrible. Saka is torn between helping Angus and stopping him. And Terrance would do anything for Angus, but he’s terrified of the man Angus is becoming, even as Saka is warming to the idea of a relationship between the three of them.

No matter what choice they make, victory will be bittersweet, and when the ash settles and the snow melts, nothing will be the same.

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Excerpt

Angus had been returned to his apartment and ignored for the last few days. Was Cadmael hoping the isolation would make him more compliant?

The air hummed with insect life as though nothing were wrong with the world, but the sky was an odd, sickly green. Angus had been watching from his balcony as the sun set. He had nothing more pressing to do with his time, and he’d yet to work out how to escape from his tower prison.

Not that anyone called it that.

The magic dampeners were featherlight on his skin, not like the ones in Vinland, and he was tempted to experiment to see what would happen if he did some magic. Would alarms go off? Would he get a visit from Cadmael?

He was in no rush to see the priest.

He ran his finger along the balcony railing. Terrance was out there somewhere, Saka was unreachable, and every breath hurt. He’d lost the people he cared most about. What was the point? What exactly was he fighting for?

He didn’t give a shit about the correct use of magic, but he believed everything should be kept in balance. He didn’t really care who was in power in Vinland as long as they weren’t screwing it up for everyone else.

Maybe he was just fighting for himself and the right to live his life the way he wanted. In that case, he was doing a shit job of that too.

Suddenly the hairs on his arms drew tight and the temperature dropped.

He lifted his gaze to the green, boiling sky as a flash tore across. He shielded his eyes with his hand, and the familiar feel of magic tingled across his skin as though he were raising power. It had been so long that he gathered it to him just to feel the rush. The scar on his chest warmed and then burned.

Then the breath was taken from his lungs.

His back hit the glass door, and the building shook as though the magic-laced air were trying to pulverize him.

Panic made him throw up a circle in defense, but it wasn’t enough. Sirens and alarms were going off. Then as quickly as it had hit, the wave of magic started to recede and drag everything with it. The magic Angus had pulled to himself wanted to flow out of his body.

That was not a good thing.

Nails scratched the inside of his veins trying to tear all magic from him. It hurt worse than Demonside slowly draining him, but the result would be the same. He resisted and used everything he had to keep the magic within him. When his body wasn’t strong enough anymore, he reached out to the building, to the magical dampeners and the wiring beyond. Light bulbs hissed and cracked, and the building shook as though it were being ripped in two.

His teeth were going to be pulled from his head, and his nail beds ached, but if he let go, even for a breath, he was dead.

Whatever was happening was trying to kill him by taking the magic that was part of him. He hadn’t survived for this long to be taken out by some kind of storm. He pressed his nails into his palm deeply enough to cut. Drawing blood didn’t bother him anymore. His own had been spilled so often. He peeled himself off the door long enough to run his palm and his blood over the railing to create another line of defense.

The dragging sensation faded. The building still quaked, and other buildings did too. It was as though the ground were trembling.

Was there a spell in the storm to harvest magic?

His breath came in hard pants, and he was on his knees by the time everything went still and the sky brightened to pink. Alarms echoed across Uxmal, and his apartment was ringing as the dampener screeched its warning.

His head was ready to split open, and red stained the front of his shirt. He peeled it away from his skin to see that the mark Saka had carved into him had been torn open as though the wound were fresh.

Around him, the metal and stone glowed as though lit from within. He should go inside, but it was too noisy in there. He’d be better off trying to heal himself outside. Something hot and sticky hit his lip. He wiped it away with the back of his hand, not surprised to see more blood staining his skin.

He lay down on the warm, glowing patio to rest.

That he was alive seemed amazing, but if that storm happened again tonight, he would be fucked.


Turning an idea into a story

Usually when I get an idea for a story a character wander in to my mind with a line of dialogue or a problem they need to talk about. Sometimes I ignore then for a bit because they’re a mere flit of an idea not ready to be taken seriously. Other times I’m like ‘I’m just going to get my pen and start scribbling this idea down’.

I’m not entirely sure where the characters come from. Maybe the dust bunnies in the darkest corners of my mind where things I’ve read and seen go to be forgotten only to be turned inside out and into something new.

Once I decide to play with an idea it’s matter of digging around and seeing what else it dragged along with it. An idea never travels alone. Discovering the who, what, where, when, and why of an idea often leads to research because I might have a glancing knowledge about something but not enough to include in an 80,000 word novel.

Some novellas also take me forever to research—The Legend of Gentleman John (coming out in December) has all kinds of things I had to find out, such as bushrangers in Van Diemen’s Land. But John was such an interesting character I couldn’t put him aside.

The more I research the more the ideas come together, gathering other stray dust bunnies with them until I have a great big ball of a story made of mishmash of things. It’s not pretty, and no one else would understand half my notes but I can see the shape it will have when written.

I then write a first draft and turn it into something even more hideous, but book shaped. It gets made pretty in the edits.

But sometimes inspiration isn’t enough. No amount of research and brainstorming can force an idea take shape. In those situations I put my note book aside and stop actively trying to work up the idea because I’m missing something. What I thought was a good idea is maybe only a fragment.

I have a few ideas waiting to be completed.

I also have one I was able to finish because I figured out why it wasn’t working in its original incarnation. I haven’t written it yet, but it has moved up the list.

Sometimes, not very often, I get a gift book. An idea that waltzes in almost complete and ready to reveal everything—the dust bunnies had been hard at work while I did other things. I got side tracked by one of them earlier this year and wrote it in a flurry of words. I ended up with a gritty and grim fantasy of 125k. It was so much fun to write.

There is no one method for how an idea becomes a story and it’s different with each book. The Studied in Demonology series started as a piece of flash fiction, my next series (book 1 coming around may) started as a conversation 3 years ago.

For the most part I trust my gut as to whether a story has enough substance or if it needs to wait a little longer and grow a little bigger and find some friends to drag along for the ride.


Author Bio

TJ Nichols is an avid runner and martial arts enthusiast who first started writing as child. Many years later while working as a civil designer, TJ decided to pick up a pen and start writing again. Having grown up reading thrillers and fantasy novels, it’s no surprise that mixing danger and magic comes so easily. Writing urban fantasy allows TJ to bring magic to the every day.

With two cats acting as supervisors, TJ has gone from designing roads to building worlds and wouldn’t have it any other way. After traveling all over the world and Australia, TJ now lives in Perth, Western Australia.

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