The Divided Kingdom
Sophie H. Morgan
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd
Date of Publication: 21 April 2015
Number of pages: 318
Word Count: approx. 99540
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Secrets can burn.
Reared from birth to rule the Phoenix territory, Ana fled her future and her past when her parents were murdered. Now she secretly leads a rebellion to stop the human ruler, Edward, from experimenting on supernaturals.
When she finds herself cornered by an assassin, she knows just what to do: Roast him and toast him. Then recognition sends blue-tipped flames licking through her veins. It’s Cade, the royal bodyguard who once rejected her youthful confession of love.
When Cade regains consciousness from the force of Ana’s punch, he’s still reeling from shock—and fury. He’d loved the princess, and for ten years he thought her dead. Though his inner jackal growls with desire for her, she is the key to completing his mission for Edward—hunt down the rebel known as Liberty.
Ana can’t believe Cade doesn’t know the truth about Edward. If she can convince him of it, his blade could turn the tide of the rebellion. But first they must get beyond their past, or the whole kingdom could go up in smoke.
Contains incendiary sex between a phoenix princess with a secret identity, and a jackal shifter who can take a lot of heat. Boys from the “hood”, a king jacked up on enhanced DNA, and killer heels. Anybody got a match?
A smile played over his lips, a knowing one. “You were mine, once.”
When his thumb brushed her cheekbone, dipping down to rub her bottom lip, it was all she could do not to purr. For whatever reasons, this man could get beneath her barriers. He could make her lose control.
But he made her remember the past, something that threatened the foundation of the life she’d built for herself.
The door swinging into darkness. Cold, oozing puddles that cling stickily to bare feet. A young voice, wavering as she called out for her parents. Her locket a dull gold, mottled with red where it lay.
With effort, Ana jerked her chin away from his touch. “Get your hands off me, Cade.” With a thin smile, she added, “Only the vampire has those rights.”
That flash of anger. For some reason, the man in front still viewed her as partly his—the jackal, maybe, claiming her. Except jackals were solitary animals.
A growl rumbled through his chest. Keeping eye contact, he stood. When he leaned forward, she flinched, unable to help herself. Whether she was afraid of being touched or tortured, she didn’t know.
His arms flexed with muscle as he worked at something about her head. Something clunked, and the chains fell away from her with a heavy jangle. They lay on the bedspread, innocent and coiled like a false snake.
Grasping she was free, Ana slid from the bed. “Son of a bitch,” she spat, putting out a hand to help steady her. “Iron?”
She lunged at him, confused when her body refused to cooperate. Her biker boots hit the floor as she landed, tottering, two feet away from her intended target.
Focusing inward, she registered how cold her embers were. They barely glittered, a few halfhearted sparks at her prompting. A breath hissed from her.
Phoenixes radiated at around one hundred and twenty degrees; she’d wager she was operating on about human temperature. The lack of heat in the room and lack of food and water equaled her core running on empty. Even as she thought it, the sparks began to disintegrate, sucking inward to preserve the embers at her core.
Determined, she fought through the weakness, charging Cade.
He allowed himself to be thrust backward. “You’re too cold,” he commented. “Hungry. You can’t hurt me.”
“You wanna bet?”
Her knee jerked upward, narrowly blocked by Cade’s hand.
“Don’t even try it.” He pushed her away, making her stagger from weak knees. “You’ll be on your back quicker than an eager whore. Then again,” he continued, the jackal’s obvious pleasure at the verbal sparring spinning through his wicked smile, “maybe you’d enjoy that.”
With a vengeful shriek, Ana went for him. She jabbed with her fists, using her elbows when that didn’t work. He avoided all her blows, laughing with a gut-deep amusement.
When she used her scissor-kick, she saw her mistake too late as he caught her legs and flipped her to the dirty gray carpet. He was on top of her before she could curse, lazy amusement swirling like phoenix smoke.
His arms caged her as an old dimple flashed. “What did I say?”
His weight suddenly pressed down on her abdomen slashes. A wince tugged at her face before she could stop it, a hiss pouring from between her teeth.
His face changed immediately. “Fires above, Alana, you should have said something.”
“I thought you’d hurt me if it was necessary.” She shoved him off her. He let her, a hunter tracking her as she stumbled away. She dropped into the chair he’d claimed earlier, unwilling to admit her jelly limbs. “You’re all mouth.”
A slow smile spread over his face while his eyes altered to a dark velvet. Damn. She’d always been a sucker for the shadow-drenched eyes.
He stalked nearer, the jackal’s satisfied rumble curling out of his mouth as strong hands came down over hers on the chair’s arms.
She couldn’t dislodge him. Curses spilled from her as panic, not for her life but for something more prized, surged up her throat. “Don’t you come near me, Cade Lorin.”
“All mouth?” he repeated, his voice that dark drawl he’d once whispered her name with. “I’ll show you all mouth.”
Did you always wanted to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I wrote my first "book" when I was seven. No, really. My dad still has it. I always wanted to be a writer, even when I wasn't sure I would ever be published. Otherwise I didn't know what I wanted to be, but books heavily influenced me. At one point I wanted to be a lady farmer like the Sophie in the Dick King Smith books!
When did you first consider yourself a “writer”?
I've always privately thought of myself as a writer, but I always thought people would think I was being arty and putting on airs (I know, mad, but I did!) It wasn't until I got the email from Samhain Publishing offering a contract for Ashes that I considered myself a true writer.
How long did it take to get your first book published?
I wrote my first romance when I was 16, sold Ashes when I was 23. So 7 years if you look at it that way (a looong journey!) Ashes itself took about 5 months to write, the same to edit, and just over 4 months to sell. So 14 months if you look at it that way. The proof of learning from every book you write - I wrote 5 books before Ashes that sit languishing in my documents folder! And of course it shows sometimes you just need the right book!
Do you do another job except for writing and can you tell us more about it?
I'm fortunate to work as a sales assistant for a premium shoe brand - and get discounts. Oh yeah. It allows me time away from the desk, but saves the creativity until I can go back. And you get to observe human life in all its varieties - always interesting!
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarize it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Ashes is about a runaway phoenix princess leading a rebellion and tangling with the assassin sent to kill her - her old love, Cade.
Okay, so it was 23, but it's a hard plot to narrow down!
Who is your publisher? Or do you self-publish?
The amazingly helpful Samhain Publishing. Absolutely brilliant from contracts to editing to cover art to promotion.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Depends how well I know the characters. Averagely about 3-4 months writing, but then I'll take about the same amount of time to edit it. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, which can work against me sometimes!
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Well, I'm delighted to say that Samhain Publishing has bought the second in the Divided Kingdom series and I'm currently working on the third, all set in the same world, though the second book takes place in another part of the Kingdom.
What genre would you place your books into?
Mainly paranormal romance, though the Divided Kingdom series tries to bridge the gap between gritty paranormal and formal fantasy romance.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I'd never written anything like it before, and to start with it was pure imagination, letting it run wild. I was engrossed with the grittiness of this world, the bond that forms between brothers-in-arms. I just wanted to try something different, and Ashes was born!
Do you have a favorite character from your books? And why are they your favorite?
I loved writing Ana's character. She's so tough and confrontational, bristling at any implication she can't handle herself, and a real smart-ass. She's outwardly confident, but there are deep pockets of vulnerability she hides. Trying to draw that line between bold and brassy versus insecure and choked by the past was really fun to do. And she had some great retorts for Cade when he's being arrogant!
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I've always made up stories, and nine times out of ten it was live stories. Barbie and Ken had many romances when I was only seven! I always had my nose buried in a book, and was encouraged by my family - all who are big bookworms too - to explore my love for stories. It all snowballed from there.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I find I write more consistently if I write at least 1000 words per day, though that can push up to 4 or 5000 words if i have a day off. I also have to read through the previous scene to sink back into the story, and often I can capture the flow of thought where I left off.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Ashes came out on the 21st April, only a week ago, so I can't imagine there's been that many reviews yet. However there are at this moment three on Goodreads, and I couldn't resist reading them - but only because I saw 4 and 5 stars beside them! I don't think I would read a review if it had low stars beside it. Like most writers, I'm a perfectionist, and always wonder if I've done the characters justice!
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Titles are the bane of my existence. I *hate* choosing them. I'm so bad at it. I try and think of a working title, but it'll be something cheesy - like Ashes was originally Rising from the Ashes. It eventually got cut to one word because I made a face every time I said it! It helps to have some "buzz" words and then mix and match, or if there's a way you can play with the theme of the story, but generally I hope for divine inspiration to strike.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
It depends. Ana's name came to me as I was sounding out names for her royal title (Princess Alana), and her nickname came from that. Sometimes I browse baby name websites for the right sound - the right sound is a real thing for me. It's hard to explain, but I'll know it when I hear it.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? Or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
I generally have an idea of the character before I find the name, though if I decide on the spur of the moment to add a character or place, a name will usually come to me. Again, I'm all about the right sounds - or in the case of the city where most of the action takes place in Ashes, a lot of irony. It's full of corruption and crime, but named Edan =)
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
I try really hard to write up full character bios before I start the book, but I often get really excited to start so discover traits as I travel through the book. It can backfire though. The book I'm currently writing is the first in a new series and I had an idea of the characters which has completely changed now I'm near the end! Just means more time rewriting and editing!
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I never intend there to be. I suppose there are the usual strains of loyalty, having faith in yourself, loving selflessly with all your soul and never giving up - and in Ashes there's a question of whether to do what's right or what's easy. But I never stress about purposely weaving it in.
Which format of book do you prefer, eBook, hardback, or paperback?
This is hard, because I'm published by an e-first company, and can see the benefits of ebooks, but I didn't really feel like I was published until I held Ashes in my hand. I love the feel and look of a book, so if I had to choose, I'd say print!
What is your favorite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I have so many favourites for my different moods, but the one that slips into the lead is surprisingly not a paranormal romance. I love Angels Fall by Nora Roberts so much, but Kiss an Angel by the incomparable Susan Elizabeth Phillips has the edge. She does humour so amazingly, her characters are achingly real and riddled with lovable flaws, and this is translated excellently in KAA. It's an arranged marriage in modern day set in a travelling circus. Daisy, the heroine, is spunky and down on herself, so sweet but has a core of strength. Alex is gorgeous, arrogant, hating being talked into the temporary marriage, and very proud, but he learns love humbles us all. The book always brings me to both laughter and tears. I must have read it ten times.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favorite/worst book to movie transfer?
I think it is possible to do a good book to movie transfer, but not if you adored the book. Generally if you were obsessed with the book, the movie is nothing like you imagined. A bad example is The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. The book is so addictive, really well written and involving, and you get so wrapped up with the characters and their turmoil. The movie skipped over a lot, reduced the villain to cookie cutter status and was generally disappointing.
But the film adaptation they made of Gone with the Wind was excellent. Although short compared to the book, Clark Gable IS Rhett Butler, and Vivienne Leigh, Scarlet.
Your favorite food is?
If we're talking savoury, pasta. I could eat pasta every night. I'm a vegetarian so it's one of my major food groups =) And I love desserts, but you can't go wrong with cookies. Any flavour, any time. If only they were healthy...
Your favorite singer/group is?
I'm not a big music buff. I don't have any on autobuy lists, but I like a bit of everything from old-style Glenn Miller to Motown to modern day like Colbie Caillet, Paloma Faith, and Ellie Goulding.
Your favorite color is?
Purple. I love how decadent it makes everything look.
Your favorite Author is?
Possibly the hardest question of all. I have loads of favourites in the four genres of Romance (paranormal, historical, suspense and contemporary) but I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, Larissa Ione, Gena Showalter, Kresley Cole, Lisa Kleypas, Gaelen Foley... So many great books, so little time!
Sophie H. Morgan is a paranormal romance author with a love for hot guys, sassy heroines and HEAs that seem impossible. Currently residing in England, Sophie divides her time between her two crazy spaniels and plotting how best to drive her characters into each other’s arms. Ashes is her first book.