Top Ten Secrets of Surviving in the Verin Empire this #TopTenTuesday | Guest Post featuring William Ray who wrote the uniquely fantastically clever “Shadow Debt” (Tales of the Verin Empire, Book Three)

Posted Tuesday, 3 November, 2020 by jorielov , , , 7 Comments

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#TopTenTuesday is a meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl
Topic of the Week: Non-Bookish Hobbies

I wasn’t as inspired with this topic as much as I was to contribute a clever topic for an author whose series has left me dearly curious to READ. One of my bookish hobbies (as let’s face it, a lot of us have more bookish hobbies than non-bookish!) is finding new subniches of familiar genres and re-discovering why I love each particular genre by finding my route into a new hidden niche I haven’t yet explored – which is how I came to be featuring Mr William Ray!

Jorie’s topic for William Ray:
Top Ten Secrets of Surviving in the Verin Empire 📖🦎

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I positively love Indie (Press and Publishers) and Self Published Speculative Fiction storycrafters who are giving me wicked good literary wanderings within Cosy Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy!!

For this week’s #TopTenTuesday, I wanted to do something special and a bit different – which is why I decided to creatively come up with a fun topic for the author whilst hosting this lovely blog tour which is celebrating a rather uniquely interesting book series as I’ve been in conversation with the author, Mr Ray whilst setting up this featured guest post! I do not oft get the chance to have this level of collaboration with an author about a guest post and I must admit, it was the highlight of the past few weeks for me as I took ill for over a week after the sudden loss of my Cedar trees which was explained in a series of tweets within this *thread. The collaboration proved to be the best diversion to offset what was affecting me in the aftermath of having those trees forcibly removed.

Here’s the exciting bit: you see, his series, the Verin Empire *switches!* genres per each installment of the series – you will find my notes relating to which genre applies to which installment of the series shortly. Even more interesting to mention I felt is how these genre descriptions and interpretations apply to the Verin Empire as well!!

Let me explain:

(portions of this top anchour were pulled from my conversations
with Mr Ray and are being reshared on this post with permission of Mr Ray.)

When I enquried about “Blackpowder Fantasy” (as in all humbled honestly I can’t stop thinking about the franchise of films for Pirates of the Carribean as they loved using the stuff!) this is what the author responded by explaining to me where his story fits within the scope of this designation:

Blackpowder covers a huge technological range from
quasi-medieval to Victorian war story. I’m at the far modern end of what fits in it.

Whereas when it comes to whether or not his stories
are considered gritty or grim – he had this to say:

A bit gritty. I don’t think it’s super dark or anything…
but it’s a grimy 19th century cityscape with rampant corruption. Grimy, not grim.

And, of course, I had to ask if by gritty or grim if this was by any chance inferring explicitly graphic violence in ANY of the installments as I’ve been burnt before on how far writers can take their crime scenes, death scenes and you know, that side of the story:

I don’t think the violence is super explicit in Great Restoration. It gets a little heavier in the final chapters, but there are only a couple of key deaths along the way, and they’re not particularly gruesome (and both are off-page!). Gedund is more brutal with that stuff… but then, it’s a war story and I don’t think it’s particularly gorey for its ilk.

As you can see, this is a series which might have been considered outside the purview of Jorie’s readerly curiosities but then again, you have to take into account when the film Rango came out she was one of the first to feel inclined to give it a whirl and see what a wild ride *that!* kind of fantastical Western could present!! Somewhere in the story and throughout its adventurous tale Rango managed to worm its way into her cinematic heart! Seriously, how can you not LOVE ‘Rango’? I digress.

Through the illustrations (which Mr Ray kindly shared with me for this post and for a special post which will arrive during @WyrdAndWonder’s Year 4, May 2021) you can start to see the vision he had for this series as much as how this series re-sets a standard in what you can expect to find in your fantastical wanderings. I was most intrigued by what provided the bones of this series foundation – the inspirational routes the author took to find his own voice and style within Fantasy but also to write a fantastical and engaging series which re-shifts the reader into the curious realms of where Fantasy can take them.

The only warning signs I had this series might have its ebb and flow of caution for me as a reader would be when he broached where this series falls in regards to Fantasy classification terms and inclusions – thereby, if you have any similar sensibilities as I do as a reader, you might want to note them as you consider this series for yourself:

I shift things around a lot stylistically, so Gedlund has some brutal bits, but I tend not to indulge in garish gorey detail because that pushes further from the period feel. But it is heavier on horror elements and violence than the others, being about war. The detective stories aren’t about that though. As a sort of western, Shadow Debt is more violent than the detective stories, but it’s dime-novel stuff, not Grimdark.

Two of his main influences of inspiration are the stories of Sherlock Holmes and the collective works of JRR Tolkien – which is something I can relate to myself, as although I own the full Histories of Middle Earth and all the connecting stories within the Trilogy – I’ve only accomplished seeing the film adaptations in recent decades. I am thankful I could attend one of the midnight premieres as those are the kind of experiences you can easily take for granted now in this current world of pandemics and the issues surrounding large crowds at movie premieres. Thankfully during those releases things were a bit more innocent and tamer – where you could enjoy the film and the collective experience of being in the theater without the kind of worries which are on your mind nowadays.

Through seeing those adaptations and learning about the director’s process for bringing them to life – both cinematically and visually through Weta’s visual special effects, you can uncover a lot of Tolkien’s vision as well. In that regard, just the sheer breadth of Tolkien’s work is impressive enough and is one to be respected. And, when it comes to Holmes, is there a greater private detective who has captured our hearts, our minds and our natural curiosity to observe how he sleuths? I can definitely respect why each of those would provide a wicked amount of inspiration!

What endeared me though through our conversations is when he described his series as the following:

I don’t think Gedlund is Grimdark. It’s a bit dark, but it has a more hopeful edge… Grimdark usually emphasizes an implacable world full of dark things. Gedlund has more of an… incompetent world of dark things? The theme in all the Verin Empire stories is about the lingering darkness of the past, but implicit in that is an idea that things are improving. Arc of history bending towards justice and so forth.

So, for example, there’s this broad notion that magic is fading from the world… but as you get into the details of it, it turns out most of the magical world was kind of awful and people are better off that it’s gone. Most of fantasy features a struggle against a returning evil once defeated by a more virtuous past… I wanted to show a lingering evil at war with a more virtuous (but still far from perfect) newer world.

And, this is what re-gave me the hope of being able to read the series! *whew!* Whenever you are on the fringes of discovering a new subniche of a genre you love reading, it is wicked wonderful when you can ask the author direct questions and put your concerns about their stories to rest. Especially if you’re a sensitive reader like I am or if you know your limitations when it comes to Dark Fantasy elements, graphic violence (or any amount of violence and how its portrayed) or whatever else might concern you ahead of seeking out the stories for your own readerly consumption.

I was wicked thankful for his explanation because this was my initial takeaway after this was revealled: it’s a world in transition and a world choosing how it wants to be in the future and if it is ready to shift away from the past or if it wants to revisit those darker days (in some regards),…

As you can see, he has written a series which encourages you to consider the layers and the ways in which the stories are told to further understand the telling of how the stories reveal themselves. And, those are my favourite stories to find to read. They offer a lovely challenge because of what they encourage you to ruminate over as you’re reading them.

And, of course, once he said this – I mean, what more can you ask for in this series?

Exactly! A big part of what inspired Gedlund was that visual of this ‘modern’ army fighting an immortal lich king, stuck forever in the past. The world is still has that 19th century sort of mud on its boots, but it’s marching forward. There’s rampant sexism, but there are also murmurings of the battles for Women’s Suffrage. There’s classic aristocratic corruption, but the stirrings of democracy and more sensible management. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re moving forward. Fantasy worlds all too often feel like fixed things, and I wanted to write a world that was clearly moving through history.

I loved how Mr Ray rooted real world issues into the backbone of his world’s back-histories whilst he kept the world on its own trajectory as well. I look forward to one day tackling this series and finding my way inside the world once I do – ooh, for those who are curious, his short story is available in PRINT which is something I already celebrated finding out myself! Whilst at the same time, I requested my local library to purchase Gedlund and I am awaiting their response.

One blessing I’ve found as a book blogger and as a Joyful Tweeter is generally most authors are willing to respond to your enquiries and they are blessedly approachable when it comes to a reader who wants to ask more pointed questions out of the concern for how those stories might affect them as a new reader to either their style, their genre or the thematic of the stories they are writing. Never feel you cannot reach out to a #newtoyouauthor and ask the questions which are important to you.

Today it is an honour to host a new blog tour with Storytellers on Tour – a blog touring company whose championing Indie Storytellers and giving us all a lovely chance to feature their collective works. I am looking forward to working with them as oft as I can and to the conversations and features which hosting will inspire to bring to my readers on Jorie Loves A Story!

Brew yourself a cuppa and let’s find out more about the Verin Empire!

And, I hope you’re as entertained as I was with this wicked response from Mr Ray!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Top Ten Secrets of Surviving in the Verin Empire this #TopTenTuesday | Guest Post featuring William Ray who wrote the uniquely fantastically clever “Shadow Debt” (Tales of the Verin Empire, Book Three)Shadow Debt (Guest Post)
Subtitle: A Tale of the Verin Empire
by William Ray

Glynn Sorley is sheriff of Keat’s Field, a tiny settlement in an otherwise lawless frontier. With the discovery of diamonds, her town is flooded with fortune-hunters looking to strike it rich. It’s also a target for competing colonial powers, savage goblin tribes, and outlaws.

A rustler on the run from the law stumbles across his father’s mysterious legacy – a weapon of immense magical power. He uses it to ravage across the territory as the notorious outlaw Gentleman Jim.

But the weapon’s power comes at a terrible cost, and Keat’s Field may just have to pay the price…

This third Tale of the Verin Empire returns us to the world of Gedlund and The Great Restoration. It explores a frontier trapped between competing nations, where goblins reign and a lone sheriff fights to keep the peace.

Drawing inspiration from L’Amour’s Comstock Lode, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and our own late 19th century, Shadow Debt continues William Ray’s bold, critically acclaimed reinvention of classic fantasy in a world of memorable characters and unique perspectives, and features sketches from acclaimed illustrator Tom Parker.

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Blackpowder Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Gaslight Fantasy, Paranormal Urban Fantasy, Noir Crime Drama, PI (Private Investigator)



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8681940616

ASIN: B08JF16LBM

Also by this author: Shadow Debt

Published by Self Published

on 17th September, 2020

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The stories of the Verin Empire:

Gedlund by William RayThe Great Restoration by William RayShadow Debt by William RayA Case of Eager Heirs by William Ray

Illustration Credit for Book Covers: Ramona Marc

Connect with the illustrator Tom Parker via @papagaeioFun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Gedlund (book one) : Blackpowder Fantasy

A Case of Eager Heris (short story) :
Gaslight / Urban Fantasy | Private / Noir Detective

The Great Restoration (book two) :
Gaslight / Urban Fantasy | Private / Noir Detective

Shadow Debt (book three) : Weird West | Western Fantasy

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Top Ten Secrets of Surviving in Verin Empire

by William Ray

William Ray's Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.
William Ray’s Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray
and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.

Inspiration from Jorie for this Topic: a lovely list of things to be aware of as a new visitor to this world – cautionary things, odd quirks, small insights into the places or the people therein. A bit of a last grab list of things any new person to this world would love to have in hand before they went into the world without any knowledge of it and might get into a few pickles.

Author’s Response: As the creator of Tales of the Verin Empire, I’ve been asked to offer advice for any traveler intrepid enough to tour those storied lands. Frankly, I find this a huge relief! If I can just watch you fumbling around out there it will save me a lot of work in character and plot development. With that in mind, good luck, and thanks in advance!

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1. The food is terrible. Canned meats, no refrigeration, honestly, you’ll be lucky if a stomachache is all you come away with. That’s not really actionable advice, but please know that I’m well aware of the issue and don’t need to hear a lot of complaints from you about it once you get there.

2. Papers are full of nothing but gossip and lies. And a few pictures. Anything worth knowing, you can just overhear in a pub. Don’t even get me started on the uselessness of libraries! Besides, no one wants to read about you reading something.

3. Lahvu is an important supplement that wards off disease. Elves made it, so you know it’s good for you. Drink some every morning! And have it with lunch. And maybe in the afternoon. It goes well with dinner, and if you stay conscious after drinking that much of it, it also makes a lovely nightcap.

William Ray's Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.
William Ray’s Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray
and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.

4. The railway is a well-trodden path to places everyone has already been. People will rip you off and steal your luggage, all so you can get someplace boring. Take the rutted road, or explore the high seas! You’ve hardly been through a place until you’ve fallen off the edges of its map.

5. Living local means finding a comfortable rut. Spirit passes, valleys of the dead, bogeys in the hills – locals are afraid of everything just beyond their horizon. Seeing the world means ignoring local superstitions.

6. When Elves vanished, they left all sorts of stuff behind, just waiting to be found! And they’re not the only ones! Who knows what secrets lurk in strange obelisks? You may find treasures beyond imagining! Give it a shot!

William Ray's Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.
William Ray’s Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray
and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.

7. There’s so much music to be found in Verinde and its colonies. Popular music is fine, but goblins love music too, and there are ancient Elven ditties that simply must be heard! Why not stop and listen for a bit?

8. Exotic wildlife abounds! People love to gossip about scary animals, but honestly most of them are just slightly larger versions of a sort you’re familiar with. Rakhasin’s dreaded zeruss isn’t even venomous!

9. Don’t waste your time at temple — vast, mysterious, unknowable beings don’t just hand out favors willy-nilly. Why waste your time kneeling on a hard floor when you’re still hung-over from all that lahvu? Besides, no one wants to read about your serene moments of celestial contemplation.

William Ray's Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.
William Ray’s Shadow Debt novel illustration provided by William Ray
and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Tom Parker.

10. Cheaters never prosper, but wizards do! Kids under stairs, lost Elven princes, even dragons, they all agree – magic is the best! No one lives forever without it. Naysayers will warn of dread consequence, but what do they know? They’re not immortal! When dark voices whisper secret deals, you’d be a fool not to grab that opportunity.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

William Ray's Great Restoration illustration provided by William Ray and is used with permisison. Art Illustration Credit: Amelia Favere
William Ray’s Great Restoration illustration provided by
William Ray and is used with permisison.
Art Illustration Credit: Amelia Favere

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

With those few pointers in hand, you’re sure to have an interesting time! Enjoy your adventures, and please know that when the inevitable occurs, I’ll gladly list you in the acknowledgements section. Sincerely, etc, etc.

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About William Ray

William Ray

William Ray is the author of the Tales of the Verin Empire; including Gedlund (named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016), The Great Restoration and Shadow Debt (September, 2020).

Originally from North Carolina, he currently lives in Reston, VA with his wife and dogs. A graduate of Ithaca College, and Wake Forest’s School of Law, he has worked in television, retail, patent prosecution, trademark law and other irrelevant nonsense. To paraphrase Lloyd Alexander, however, if being a life-long lover of fantasy literature qualifies one to write it, then he is well qualified indeed.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

This blog tour is courtesy of:

Shadow Debt blog tour banner provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission.Follow the Virtual Road Map

as you visit others participating:

As this particular one has a bookaway along the route:

Shadow Debt blog tour route banner provided by Storytellers on Tour and is used with permission.
 I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary!
Be sure to leave notes, takeaways and commentary for the author who would love to hear your thoughts on behalf of this lovely guest post. We look forward to seeing what you felt about the premise of this novel and series!!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

NOTE: Similar to blog tours wherein I feature book reviews, book spotlights (with or without extracts), book announcements (or Cover Reveals) – I may elect to feature an author, editor, narrator, publisher or other creative person connected to the book, audiobook, Indie film project or otherwise creative publishing medium being featured wherein the supplemental content on my blog is never compensated monetarily nor am I ever obligated to feature this kind of content. I provide (98.5%) of all questions and guest topics regularly featured on Jorie Loves A Story. I receive direct responses back to those enquiries by publicists, literary agents, authors, blog tour companies, etc of whom I am working with to bring these supplemental features and showcases to my blog. I am naturally curious about the ‘behind-the-scenes’ of stories and the writers who pen them: I have a heap of joy bringing this content to my readers. Whenever there is a conflict of connection I do disclose those connections per post and disclose the connection as it applies.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

{SOURCES: Book covers for “Gedlund”, “The Great Restoration”, “A Case of Eager Heirs” and “Shadow Debt”, book synopsis, author biography, author photograph of William Ray, the tour banner and book tour banner as well as the promotional graphics (with artwork from the series) were all provided by Storytellers on Tour and are used with permission. Select illustrations from “Shadow Debt” and “The Great Restoration”, as well as the covers for “Gedlund”, “The Great Restoration” and “A Case of Eager Heirs” were provided by William Ray and are used with permission of the author directly. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Tweets were embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Blog graphics created by Jorie via Canva: #TopTenTuesday banner and the Comment Box Banner.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2020.

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

read more >> | Visit my Story Vault of Book Reviews | Policies & Review Requests | Contact Jorie

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Posted Tuesday, 3 November, 2020 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Blogosphere Events & Happenings, Book Spotlight, Bookish Memes, Fantasy Fiction, Indie Author, Storytellers on Tour, Top Ten Tuesday




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7 responses to “Top Ten Secrets of Surviving in the Verin Empire this #TopTenTuesday | Guest Post featuring William Ray who wrote the uniquely fantastically clever “Shadow Debt” (Tales of the Verin Empire, Book Three)

    • Hallo, Hallo Greg,

      I am so happy to see you visiting me today – I had such a wicked amount of JOY putting this post together as I had the chance to collaborate directly with the author in a series of convos which are reflected on the post; plus this is the second TTT I’ve modified for a blog tour – the first was during #SpooktasticReads a short bit ago in October this year.

      I am so happy someone mentioned part of his post – I was wondering if his humour was resonating with readers and I see it has! Wicked good of you to leave me your reactions!!

    • Hallo, Hallo Deanna,

      I saw this note come into my blog’s comments and I wanted to IMMEDIATELY respond and say “thank you!” because I never knew if anyone else used this phrase, either?! When I first settled into book blogging seven years ago, I wanted to ‘connect’ to my (then future) readers in a personalised way. I didn’t want it to be gender specific nor did I want it to sound too much like a girly / femme thing to say either! The balance I struck was saying “dear hearts” because it sounded gender neutral to me as much as it sounded like something you might say to an acquaintance and not just a tried and true huckleberry friend. Ergo, I’ve kept it and since I didn’t receive any negative reactions I took that as a ‘win’ it was okay with my readers, too. You’re the first you’ve commented about this and I can’t THANK YOU enough! Felt like a missing piece of the puzzle for me was finally found. You just don’t know as a writer behind the blog what resonates, what doesn’t work as well as you think initially and what stands out to the reader of the post(s).

      The top anchours of ALL my posts are my favourites to write – especially this #blogmas wherein I tried to tuck in some Christmassy journalled remarks and/or I was sharing which series I was binge watching which played into the story I was featuring. It turnt out well even though I had to scale it back quite a bit! Thanks for swinging onto my blog and giving me such a lovely warmth of sunshine of a comment. I hope you might come back round in the New Year or if you’ve been continuing to visit with me, bless you. Likewise, later tonight or over the weekend I will be visiting you on your book blog as well.

      May this holiday season be full of light and joy for you and yours. As much as may the New Year be a kinder one for us all.

    • Hallo, Hallo Lydia!!

      Ooh my gosh – I LOVED this guest post Mr Ray created for me because of how much we were interacting within the collab bits of it!! It was such a lift of joy to pull this off and to have people comment on the post itself – #blessed every which way to Sunday. You’ll be seeing him again on my blog during #WyrdAndWonder 2021 in May. OOh! You do? I need to dive in your blog’s archives as I’d love to know which Self Pub SpecFic authors have hit your bookish radar and which ones I might enjoy reading myself. Do any stand out from the year? I mean, in regards to which posts I should read / seek out first!?

      Thanks for your postive remarks and support of Jorie Loves A Story. It means a lot to me.

      Happy Christmas Eve and may the holiday season be a light of joy for you this year.

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