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Monday, July 4, 2016

Character Interview with Toria from J.L. Gribble’s Steel Magic

From author J.L.Gribble:

In honor of the release of my second novel, I’d thrilled to have the chance to introduce readers to one of my favorite characters. Torialanthas “Toria” Connor was one of two major point-of-view characters in book 1 of the Steel Empires series, Steel Victory. In Steel Magic, she takes center stage for a tale of her own. While not strictly a YA urban fantasy novel, this story features Toria and her friends setting off on their first adventure after graduating college.

Steel Magic is available for pre-order and will be released July 6. To get caught up, make sure to take advantage of the 99 cent sale for Steel Victory through July 5!

From the back of the book:

Funerals are usually the end of the story, not the beginning.

Newly graduated warrior-mages Toria Connor and Kane Nalamas find themselves the last remaining mages in the city when a mage school teacher mysteriously falls ill and dies. But taking over the school themselves isn’t in the cards. They’re set to become professional mercenaries—if they make it through the next 18 months as journeymen first.

The debate over whether to hunt mutated monsters in the Wasteland or take posh bodyguard jobs is put on hold when a city elder hires them to solve the mystery of the disappearing mages. Toria and Kane’s quest brings them to the British colonial city of New Angouleme, where their initial investigation reveals that the problem is even greater than they feared.

But when a friend is kidnapped, they’ll have to travel to the other side of the globe to save her, save themselves, and save magic itself.

If that didn’t hook you, hopefully this interview with Toria by her author will!

Tell us about a few of your favorite things.

Oh, I see how it is. Lowball me with the easy questions before you hit me with the hard stuff? Fine. “Favorite things” is pretty nebulous, but I’ll give it a shot. First of all, can I tell you how annoying it is that everyone assumes my favorite color is purple just because I’m a storm mage? I like it and all, and my magical shields do trend toward violet, but give me a nice teal any day. What else? Let’s see, my favorite food and favorite dessert are the same thing. Delicious, delicious crème brulee, especially if it’s made by my dad. I think half the reason I finally learned that silly fire cantrip was because I wanted to caramelize the top myself.

Okay, then here’s something more interesting. Since you’ve chosen mercenary as your career field, first you have to make it through 18 months as a journeyman. Was it difficult to leave your hometown?

I may not have been born in Limani, but I got there as an infant and it’s the only place I’ve ever called home. Before I graduated college, I’d already risked my life to defend it twice. So yeah, I’m kind of attached to the place. I think it’s more difficult to leave my family behind, but a girl’s gotta spread her wings sometime. The fact that my adopted mom is a vampire helps, though. You don’t have to worry so much about someone who is functionally immortal. She’ll even look exactly the same whenever I come home!

Your mom is a vampire? What is the rest of your family like?

Just as epic. Grandpa is also a vampire. He found me as a baby after my parents died, but didn’t really want the responsibility of a kid, so he took me to his progeny. Mama also had no interest in a kid, but that’s where Dad stepped in. He’s a daywalker—a human bonded to my mom, which grants him long life, too. Kane, the guy I consider my brother, is my partner in all things magic and mercenary, since we’re a bonded warrior-mage pair. And Syri, my best friend, is an elf. We’re definitely not a normal bunch around the dinner table. Especially since it’s breakfast for half of them.

Do you ever wish you could have been raised by a normal family? Is there anything else about your past you would change?

I wouldn’t trade my crazy family for the world! If I wanted normal as a kid, I could always go over to Kane’s house. But normal was relative there, too, since his parents were also mages. One thing I would change is my college major. I love chemistry and I love metallurgy, but I should have stuck with those as a hobby. Switching to a political science double-major so late in the game would have saved me a lot of all-nighters my senior year. But that was the field of study that would benefit me most as a mercenary, so I made the sacrifice.

So overall, you’re pretty happy with your life? What do you like most about yourself?

I am amazing, and don’t you forget it! In all honesty, I think my biggest strength lies in the power of my friends. I’m pretty convinced that I can take on the world, but that’s because I know they will always have my back. Kane, Syri, and I might be connected magically, but all that power would be useless if we weren’t also extraordinary friends.

What do you like least about yourself?

I can be a little arrogant, if that wasn’t obvious! I guess that happens when you’re told that you’re a child prodigy for half your life, in the whole doing magic area. I’ve gotten knocked down a few pegs since then, but I still have a hard time knowing what my limits are. That’s probably going to backfire on me someday.

And finally, tell us a bit about why we should read the books you're in.

Because you’ll have an amazing time following along on my crazy adventures!


About the Author:

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (, on Facebook (, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

In Jessica Knauss's Awash in Talent news, winners have been selected for the Goodreads giveaway of two signed copies of the softcover. Congratulations! You beat out more than 600 people requesting the book! I hope you enjoy it. It may take a little longer to get your copies to you because of the holiday. Happy Fourth of July!

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