Author Anna Kashina on Guild of the Assassins

TheGuildOfAssassins-144dpiI’m interviewing Anna Kashina today over at the USA Today Happily Ever After blog, Anna-Kashina-300x300about her award winning epic fantasy romance  Guild of Assassins. The novel just received a double PRISM Award for  “Best of the Best” and “Best Fantasy”. Her assassins have amazing martial arts skills, so here’s a question & answer about that aspect of the novels which we sadly didn’t have room to include at USAT/HEA.

Veronica: How do you go about ‘choreographing’ your amazing fight scenes?

Anna: As a child, I studied martial arts, and then, as an adult, I was a competitive dancer. Both skills are very synergistic and feed into my fight scenes. When I write, I put myself into this state of mind where I actually feel every movement in my body and they all make sense. When I achieve this balance, things just start happening. The ‘choreographing’ comes down to deciding on the physique of the fighters and the weapons they use, then just watching them go at it.

Since many of the Majat have exotic weapons, I do a lot of research to make sure that everything I write could conceivably work the way I envisioned. I watch martial arts movies and videos when I work on particular techniques. I often have to use homemade versions of some of the more unusual weapons to reenact the most difficult moves in slow motion and make sure they actually work. I actually own a version of Kara’s weapon, which is somewhat tricky to use, so I often need it in my hand to make a scene work. Some weapons work spectacularly against each other. Others don’t quite work, so I have to change them to the ones that do.

In the end, it feels almost like watching a movie and writing down the action. Better yet, if something in the movie does not quite work, I have the full power to change it. It feels very rewarding when it all comes together.

Hope on over to USA Today/HEA for the rest of the interview!

And here’s the story for Guild of Assassins (Book Two of the Majat Code):

Kara has achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!
But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life.

Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.

But is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a distraction sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?

Veronica: I loved Mai, the hero in this novel and even though I hadn’t read the first book in the series at the time, I was able to read this novel as a standalone work.


I Swoon For Epic Fantasy Romance

Arwen-and-Aragorn-arwen-29100754-1007-535Some days I’m in the mood to immerse myself in another world where the story telling unfolds slowly, with complex worldbuilding, wizardry, adventure, spread over multiple volumes….no, not Lord of the Rings, although that’s a good series, but something with ROMANCE. Where I don’t have to scour the appendices for hints of what might have happened between the hero and heroine. (Aragorn and Arwen anyone? Eowyn and Faramir?) Over at USA Today Happily Ever After I’m interviewing  eight epic fantasy romance authors about what appeals to them about the genre, and why they write their stories (plus recommendations from their own To Be Read lists). I had so much fun collecting the interview responses but due to space limitations, I couldn’t really talk about any of their books specifically.

Hoping to do some more in depth individual interviews at a later date – today’s USAT/HEA post was just a taste!


Top of my favorites list currently is Radiance by Grace Draven. I’ve reread this a couple of times now. (I was kinda fangirly when I contacted her for the USAT/HEA interview, I must admit!) I’m totally in love with Brishen, the Kai Prince, and Ildiko, his human bride, and their world. So many lovely details, just beginning with the fact that each race finds the other unattractive at first glance, besides which the Kai are night dwellers and Ildiko is a creature of daylight. (The prince is very dreamy,  no worries.) There’s only one volume so far, but the sequel is promised and there was a Happily For Now ending. The way these two, who marry at the beginning of the book for reasons of state, fall in love over time and shared experiences is wonderful…

The Twelve Kingdoms series by Jeffe Kennedy. So far two volumes have been released in this wonderful epic tale of three sisters and their varying Fates, entwined with the overall arc of various kingdoms, liberally entwined with magic and mystery. Mark of the Tala and Tears of the Rose are the first two books, with Talon of the Hawk to come on May 26th. (I’ve read the ARC of this one.) In all fairness, I must share that Jeffe and I are good friends, and there’s actuallyTears of the Rose a minor character in the second book named for me, which was a total thrill when I got to that part of the novel. But aside from the wonderful Lady Veronica LOL, the books have intricate plotting and threads which untangle slowly and in a very satisfying manner for each sister.

Anna Kashina’s Majat Code series had complexity to spare but I especially loved the way the love story played out in The Guild of Assassins…highly satisfying after all the challenges her characters faced along the way. Her Princess of Dhagabad, which I’m reading now, is another unusual epic, with excellent twists and turns on the legends of Djinns.

I must mention Heather Massey of The Galaxy Express blog, who inspired me to write the USAT/HEA post, with her feeling this was a timely topic in the Romance world, and whose research and inputs were invaluable in getting a feel for the background of the subgenre, as well as developing a list of potential interviewees. (Heather wrote her own epic fantasy romance Lord of Snow & Ice, which is on my TBR list.) One of the resources she found was the Eye on Romance: Eye on Fantasy website, which lists many titles under their “Fantasy: Mystical – Fantasy Kingdom” tab. (That seemed to me to be the most applicable category they had, as far as what I’m terming epic fantasy romance.) Lots of good reading there!

Do you have favorite epic fantasy romances to share?

Hop on over to the USA Today/HEA blog to read more about these authors, plus five more, and their recommendations!