Interview with Petra Landon, Author of The Prophecy
The Prophecy is Book 1 of the Saga of the Chosen series by Petra Landon.
Tasia Armstrong is a very special Chosen with unique powers and dangerous secrets. Forced by circumstances to conceal her powers from her brethren, she makes a fateful decision one night. Suddenly, Tasia finds herself forced out of the shadows, an unwitting pawn in the ongoing skirmish between mercenaries encroaching on Pack turf and the local Shape-shifter Pack led by a formidable and dangerous Alpha Protector. Thrown into the deep end, Tasia has little time to learn the complex rules of a Pack as she grapples to deal with the volatile and aggressive Shifters and the enigmatic Alpha who holds his fractious Pack together with a ruthless hand on its reins.
Grave danger threatens their world as a powerful wizard uses an old prophecy to divide the Chosen. When the Pack is asked to investigate the twenty-five year old mystery, Tasia is drawn deeper into the past. As danger closes in on her, Tasia must decide who to trust with the deadly secrets she guards.
What all genres would you say the book falls under?
Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Action & Adventure, Epic Fantasy
What inspired you to write The Prophecy?
When I was first reading the Harry Potter books, I remember thinking that it would be fantastic to read a story like Harry’s (where every time you think you finally understand the past and his back story and the wizards’ in general, there is another surprise just around the corner) that is set in an adult world with vivid characters who have adult problems and issues to solve. The onion-peeling effect where the reveal is done layer by layer and neither the characters nor the overall world building is rushed so that it can be savored, appealed to me very much. As an avid reader, I have always appreciated stories that make me think about the tale and the characters much after I have finished the book.
I was also inspired by a TV show I watched when the germ of the story was first forming in my head. The two main protagonists on the show start out in very black and white terms, sketched to contrast with each other – one the hero and the other, the clear anti-hero of the story. As the show progresses, you realize that neither is as they seem. The gradual descent of the hero into darkness while the anti-hero slowly reveals the inner person behind the facade as mask after mask is slowly peeled away, inspired one of the main characters in The Prophecy.
What types of readers will enjoy this book?
The story is a mix of adventure, fantasy, mystery and romance. I believe it crosses a lot of genres though I have primarily targeted it to readers who like fantasy in a contemporary setting, readers who like books about action and adventure and readers who like reading a mystery set in a fantasy world unravel leisurely. Readers who enjoy science fiction and fantasy with a lot of attention to character and world building will like it. I’m hoping some readers who liked Harry Potter might also appreciate my take on attempting a similar layered tale set in an adult fantasy world.
Urban fantasy today has a wide and diverse array of books. Readers who enjoy more fantasy in an urban setting and less paranormal romance are the target audience. Though the story revolves around a female protagonist, it is not told in the first person and neither is she the typical badass heroine that a lot of the urban fantasy stories have been focused on recently. Tasia, while feisty and with a spine of steel when cornered, tends to stay in the background and not draw attention to herself because of her circumstances and a lifetime of keeping to the shadows to protect her secrets. Her character evolves through the series as she gains more friends and allies and gets more comfortable with revealing the real Tasia to the world.
Can you share an excerpt from the book with us?
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 4 (Tasia meets the Alpha Protector) –
Hawk escorted Tasia up the stairs to the fourth floor where a young man stood guard watchfully by a massive steel door. Two chairs sat sedately by the door and Hawk ushered her to one of them.
“That’s the Pack Room – it’s shielded to allow confidential communication” he explained, gesturing at the massive steel door.
“I’ll come fetch you when it’s time, okay?” he added in a low voice.
Tasia acquiesced silently, wondering at Hawk’s new solicitousness since her abduction. Little did she know how much Hawk had been affected by her plight at the vampire nest – her terror in the moonlit room with the dying vampire, the bloody bite wound on her wrist, the sense of urgency to get her out of there and under a doctor’s care. And finally, watching helplessly as the Alpha fought desperately to prevent her life from ebbing away before their eyes.
Tasia waited patiently for about ten minutes, all the while pretending to be unaware of the Shifter sentry’s sidelong glances at her.
Eventually Hawk emerged to usher her through the steel door into a huge room decorated like an old-fashioned English library. Book shelves lined the four walls from floor to ceiling. Her eyes were drawn across the width of the room to a stone fireplace and mantle. A lovely picture of a green meadow with distant rolling hills hung over it. She spied another steel door to the right of the fireplace at the opposite end of the large rectangular room. Cozy armchairs and couches sat scattered around the room, grouped together without any discernible order. A dozen or so people lounged on these comfortable seats.
A deathly hush descended on the room as Tasia preceded Hawk into it. All eyes barring one turned to stare at her with varying degrees of curiosity and hostility. Mindful of Hawk’s warning on the significance of non-verbal communication when dealing with Shifters, Tasia avoided the glances directed her way. The twins had impressed upon her that Shifters, in their interactions, took their cues from posture and body language. Tasia intended to make sure that nothing in her deportment be mistaken for a threat or a challenge. She’d survived her brush with the Blutsaugers and had no desire or inclination for any kind of skirmish with the Shifters. She allowed her eyes to wander casually around, careful to betray no hint of her nervousness.
Her gaze was drawn instinctively to the only person in the room who’d chosen to ignore her presence. He stood casually by the fireplace, his back to the room as he stared pensively down into the unlit fire. She didn’t need a glimpse to describe his face – it was etched in her memory. He was tall, well over six feet in her estimation though he carried his height with ease. He had broad shoulders and a deceptively lean body. She wasn’t fooled by his casual stance – she could still vividly recall how much power and brute strength he could generate when the need arose. She was learning that the lean muscle of a Shifter packed a lot more inherent power than the obvious bulk of other creatures. He was dressed informally in a plain black tee over a pair of well-worn denims that hugged his lean hips and muscled thighs to accentuate those long legs as he stood with feet splayed apart.
Flashes of memories from the night before rushed at her. Awakening in the dark with that thing feeding at her wrist. The man crashing through the door followed by Hawk. Cowering in the bed, out of her mind with terror as he tried to soothe her. Her wrist being bandaged with strips from his t-shirt while Hawk muttered urgently to him about the vampire on the floor. Being carried through the dark house as he cradled her against him with surprising gentleness. She remembered how warm his body had felt in the San Francisco evening chill even after he’d sacrificed his shirt for her. The nightmarish fight in that long hall. The high keening noises from the trapped vampires on the ceiling. And finally, the man with the strangely cold gold-colored eyes attempting to revive her as her wrist bled out on the floor.
“What the hell’s going on here, Hawk! Why is the Pack at war with the blood suckers over some witch?”
Tasia turned her attention to the middle-aged red-haired man whose angry words had been directed at Hawk. She recognized the hint of an Irish brogue in his voice.
Huh, who knew Shifters could get to middle age. I thought they never aged.
“Wonders will never cease. Owen O’Brien complaining about a fight! I thought you lived to scrap.”
The vaguely taunting voice belonged to one of the most beautiful women she’d ever set eyes on. A face like a Boticelli painting with long dark hair to provide a dramatic contrast to her fair skin. She wore a light green sleeveless dress that matched the exact color of her eyes. From what Tasia could see of her seated figure, the dress hugged her voluptuous curves.
I wouldn’t trust those beautiful green eyes though. There’s something not quite right about them.
The red-haired man stared across the room with unconscious menace at the green-eyed beauty who’d taunted him. She met his gaze steadily with a mocking expression on her face. Before he could retort however, Hawk jumped in.
“Tasia was abducted by the leeches last night and the Pack went to her aid” he stated quietly, turning to look the red-haired man squarely in the face.
“Since when is the Pack in the business of playing bodyguard, Hawk?” the red-haired man spit out angrily. Hawk’s words had managed to successfully distract him from the green-eyed beauty’s honey-dipped barb.
“Since she came to the aid of one of ours” responded an older white-haired man. His noble mien, thick white braid and the bronze tint to his skin indicated his Native-American ancestry.
The simple words spoken with dignity effectively shut up the red-haired man though he still seemed to simmer with silent anger.
From the surprised expressions around her, Tasia realized that this was news to most of the Shifters in the room. Well, almost everyone! The gold-eyed man with his back to the room hadn’t moved an inch. She observed that seated to his left and seemingly a little apart from the others in the room was another man with a carefully expressionless face. Tasia stared at him, momentarily unmindful of the principle of never staring down a Shifter lest it be taken as a challenge. He was enormous – one of the biggest men she’d ever seen. Huge with a craggy face and dark blond hair precisely cut and sleeked back from his forehead. There was an element of refinement in his comportment, in stark contrast to the craggy face and the colorful tattoos on the massive arms that peeked through under the rolled-up sleeves of the pin-striped shirt he wore. Silent all this while with a watchful gaze on the room, he now spoke up in a deep rumbling voice with an aristocratic English accent.
“Hawk, why don’t you offer the young lady a seat before you inform the Council of the events of three nights past” he suggested calmly.
Brought to his senses by the gentle admonishment, Hawk flashed Tasia an apologetic look before leading her to an unoccupied couch. He waited for her to seat herself before taking his place on the couch beside her. Tasia directed a discreet glance brimful of gratitude at Hawk, immensely thankful for his support. It would’ve been intimidating for her to walk in here by herself and face down this bunch, Tasia realized, very grateful to Hawk.
“For the past fortnight, we’ve been hearing odd reports of non-Pack Shifters sniffing around town. A few days ago, the Alpha asked Hawk to check it out. I’ll let Hawk apprise you of his story.”
The huge Shifter with the English accent had succeeded in diverting the attention of the room with his words.
“Three days ago, I traced the Shifters to a warehouse in Oakland” Hawk recounted. “There were three of them. They caught me by surprise and we fought. I killed one of them but was injured myself. When I woke up, they’d put me in a cage whose bars burned my skin when I attempted to break out.”
“Shifters held you in a cage reinforced with silver” exclaimed an incredulous voice. Tasia sensed a subtle shift in the room at Hawk’s cryptic reference to bars that burned a Shifter’s skin.
Silver! So, the rampant whispers about silver being a Shifter’s kryptonite were more than just a rumor.
The exclamation had come from an attractive man with chestnut hair and icy blue eyes who looked to be in his mid-thirties. He was seated next to the red-haired O’Brien.
Tasia shivered with the sudden realization that she was a sheep trapped amidst a roomful of wolves. These were dangerous predators cloaked in human form. The English Shifter had referred to these Shifters as the Council. Their presence in the Pack Room for a meeting with the Alpha Protector could only mean that they were the most powerful in the Pack. Shifters had always moved and lived in were-packs since the beginning of time. The Ancients said that their beasts wouldn’t allow them to lead a solitary existence and couldn’t let them live amongst the humans. Until twenty-five years ago though, the were-packs had fought each other constantly, resulting in Shifters dying at an incredible rate. This had succeeded in keeping their population low despite their theoretical immortality. Then the Council of Chosen had been formed. The CoC was comprised of four representatives from the major factions of the Chosen – the Undead, the Wizards, the Wyrs (as the Ancients called the Shape-shifters) and the Ancients. The Ancients were a diverse and varied group of Chosen descended from the oldest and the most powerful magic. The rest didn’t really consider the Undead to be part of the Chosen collective but they’d agreed to give them a seat at the table since it was easier dealing with them through a titular representative.
The Shifters were represented at the CoC by an Alpha – some said the most powerful Shifter in their long history. All Chosen whispered his name with respect – Faoladh. He’d divided all land into territories and forced the various were-packs in each territory to come together to form one big Pack headed by an Alpha Protector – the Alpha of Alphas. Faoladh had encouraged the Were-Alphas of the various were-packs in each region to fight it out to the death, if rumor was to be believed. The winner, the most powerful Alpha left standing, would then keep his new Pack in line – a way to ensure that the most powerful Shifter in the newly created Pack commanded it as its Alpha Protector.
When teaching her about Shifter and Pack philosophy, her father had often reiterated that Faoladh was a very smart man. He let his new Alpha Protectors handle their Packs without any interference from him. The only time he ever got involved in Pack business was when one of the Alpha Protectors was defeated or killed by a challenger. In such situations, Faoladh made sure to preside over the leadership fights to ensure fairness in choosing a new Alpha Protector for the Pack. Each Alpha Protector recognized a set of Were-Alphas who led their various were-packs within the larger Pack. Each member of a Pack knew his exact pecking order within the Pack down to the last Shifter. The Alpha Protector was the absolute authority in Pack matters – a Shifter dared to offer even the tiniest hint of a challenge to any of his Alpha’s commands at his own peril. The Shifters were nothing if not control freaks when it came to strict adherence to Pack hierarchy and the chain of command. Tasia supposed that there was no other way to keep their aggressive and violent tendencies under control.
An absolutely lovely bunch to come to the attention of – violent, aggressive and dangerously trigger-happy.
“Yes, they did” Hawk acknowledged. “I was groggy and disoriented with my injuries and the brush with silver. Then Tasia walked in under the cover of darkness and opened the cage doors to set me free. She got me out of there and provided me with safe haven until I was strong enough to make my way back to the Lair under my own steam.”
“Silver bars being used by Shifters against their own kind. And ambushing a Pack Shifter on Pack turf. They must be mercenaries” Icy Blue Eyes concluded as he glanced at English Accent thoughtfully.
I wish they’d introduce themselves, Tasia mused with a sudden spurt of amusement. At the current rate of identification, she’d soon run out of unique physical traits to distinguish them by.
“That is why it is so imperative that we catch them before they have a chance to wreak more havoc” English Accent answered in his precise way. “I think we can all agree that trespassers on Pack turf need to be taught a swift lesson.”
“Are you working with the mercenaries, pretty witch! Is that how you knew where Hawk was held captive?” the impossibly beautiful woman in the green dress addressed Tasia in dulcet tones.
Tasia took a deep breath.
Don’t blow this and don’t show any fear. Even a hint of apprehension in this roomful of predators will mark you as prey.
“I was hired to Mfector the warehouse after the fight. The Shifter who hired me hinted at someone being injured or captured. I waited until dark to check out the house. Once I verified that the Shifters were gone, I went in to find Hawk in the cage.”
“I got back to the Lair at dawn” Hawk continued his account after Tasia’s succinct recount of her part. “That night I went back to see Tasia with an invitation from the Alpha only to learn that the mercenaries had attempted to ambush her on her way home. She escaped unscathed by drawing the attention of some bystanders. She’d been lucky that time but it proved that she was now one of their targets. I was to escort her here to meet the Alpha the next night but the leeches grabbed her before she could make the meeting. We had Ian watching over her just in case and he followed the leeches to their nest. I asked Alph for assistance to get her back safely from the leeches and he agreed.”
“The rest you know. Raoul made the decision to engage the vampires when they wouldn’t release the young lady” English Accent chimed in, in the calm manner Tasia was beginning to associate with him.
It would take a lot to rattle this particular man.
“We’ve since found out that the mercenaries put out a hit on Miss Armstrong and contracted it out to the vampires. The vampires claim that they didn’t recognize the Pack when we went in to free the young lady and that is why they put up such a fierce fight.”
“Riiiight” a handsome olive-skinned man with an accent drawled out sarcastically. “The thought that they’d been handed a golden opportunity to humiliate the five to one out-numbered Shifters had nothing to do with their decision to fight.”
“They miscalculated spectacularly though, didn’t they? They weren’t counting on Raoul to personally lead the rescue” English Accent stated with a fleeting glance at the man to his right. Tasia detected a note of almost paternal pride in the quiet words.
“Has our debt to the witch been repaid now or are we to babysit her some more?’ the red-haired O’Brien inquired sarcastically.
“I decide when the debt is paid” drawled out a cold voice, the tone barely hiding the hint of a threat.
The room straightened up collectively as the atmosphere changed to one of quiet watchfulness. Tasia shivered imperceptibly at the renewed sense of danger. Her eyes were drawn in reluctant fascination to the man by the fireplace who had turned to face the room. He now leant indolently by the mantel as he stared down O’Brien with a rather dangerous look on his face. The room stayed silent as if on the brink of an imminent conflagration. Tasia watched O’Brien take a deep breath before lowering his gaze to back down from an unseen challenge. The Alpha Protector glared aggressively at him for a second more as the room heaved a collective sigh of relief.
“All right then. Everything seems to be in order. If we’re done here, Alpha, I’d like to go get my dinner” a pleasantly plump lady ensconced comfortably in one of the cushy chairs spoke up. A little old lady in her early sixties with snow-white hair plaited on her head in a manner reminiscent of a bygone era. The older man with the flowing white braid, who’d slapped O’Brien down with such dignity before, helped her to her feet with old-fashioned courtesy. The lady stared directly at the man by the fireplace, forcing the Alpha to meet her gaze. Tasia wondered if this was the older lady’s way of helping to diffuse the tension in the room by demanding the Alpha’s attention.
“You tell Mistress Franciszka when you see her that the next time her minions pull a stunt like this, Maartje will take great pleasure in ripping out a few Undead hearts personally until they get the message.”
Raoul’s coldly furious expression lightened at her words.
“I will, Maartje. The mood I’m in, she might not have to wait for the next time.”
Maartje chuckled softly before being escorted out by the older gentleman who’d helped her to her feet.