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Wednesday, 28 September 2016

VBT, EXCERPT, INTERVIEW, & #GIVEAWAY - Dark Communion by CJ Perry


epic fantasy



The minotaurs have kept Ayla and Deetra's people in chains for 200 years. With nothing left to live for, and a death sentence in her womb, Ayla trades her soul for a chance to break the curse which holds her people in slavery. Armed only with her faith, she and Deetra start a revolution, and bring about the return of the Goddess of Darkness.

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 Ayla lifted the woman’s chin with her finger. “What is your name?”


“How far along are you?” They both knew what she really asked; are you carrying a calf?

The woman met Ayla’s eyes and did not look away.

“Three months.”

Ayla’s heart ached with pity. Judging by the size of her womb, if she had carried a human child, she would only have two months to go. Horses clopped up the drawbridge until the other wagon stopped behind the first. The people on the back leaned to see what went on up ahead. Ayla knelt down in front of the pregnant woman on the cool stone of the gatehouse.

Her voice echoed off the stone walls. “Who is this man with you?”

The woman bowed her head. “My brother, Gaelan, milady.”

Butch’s chest rumbled. “It’s Priestess.”

The woman looked up, then back down and hurried to correct herself. “He’s my brother, Priestess.”

Ayla shook her head at Butch with a stern look and he dipped his head in silent apology. She lifted the woman’s chin again. Her voice kept the compassion it had before, but with an edge.

“You are too far along for any surgeon to help you.”

“I know, Priestess. That’s not why I came.” The pregnant woman’s green eyes held Ayla’s gaze and did not waiver. She set her jaw. “I want to fight.”

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What do you do when you’re not writing?

I have two daughters. One is seventeen and the other one is five. One is preparing for the Navy, and the other just started kindergarten, so it’s a very exciting time for my family – and busy. Ive been a stay-at-home Dad since 2011 and they are what Im up to when Im not writing. I clean, cook dinner, help with homework, drive the older one back and forth (She still doesn’t have her license.), and attend my little one’s gymnastics classes. Aside from writing, my girls are my life. 

When was that point in your life that you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?
My first novel was coauthored with my Brother-in-law. It topped out at nearly 180k words, and was just a massive undertaking. It was like trying to write my magnum opus before even knowing how to craft a novella. After almost 10 years, we scrapped it and went our separate ways (professionally). At that point, I had to decide if this could really work for me. After a decade of writing one novel full of cliché’s and long exposition, I had my doubts.

My wife and I talked it over. She was finishing up her degree, and prepared to step up and be the primary “bread winner.” She encouraged me to stay home with the new baby and try my hand at another novel – alone this time. I knew I had a lot to learn and threw myself into being a full-time student of novel crafting. I went to school, read Dwight Swain, took a Masterclass, and joined online critiquing communities like critiquecircle and scribophile.

Two years later, I tried again – and Dark Communion was born. When I finished it, I knew. This was the story I would introduce myself to the world with. It’s a great story.

How did you choose the genre you write in?
I didn’t choose fantasy, it chose me. As a kid, I considered my life pretty unbearable. My mother died of AIDS during the 80’s epidemic when I was 11, and things just spiraled down from there for about fifteen years. During that time, a friend of mine introduced me to my only solace, fantasy books and Dungeons and Dragons. It was my escape, and my sanity. Without fantasy, I may never have made it to adulthood.

Where do you get your ideas?
Ive mentioned Dungeons & Dragons a few times, and I can’t say enough about what a great game it is. Sure, it’s a bit nerdy and often misunderstood but it is a creative medium unlike any other. One player is the Storyteller (Or Dungeon Master) and the other players are all autonomous characters in the story. The storyteller lays the groundwork; setting, antagonists, and ancillary characters to influence his players’ characters. If you don’t handle that responsibility with enthusiasm, care, and creativity you will lose players. It taught me how to keep people engaged in a story, and how to create characters with personality and their own motivations to keep it moving forward.

Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I think it was Arron Sorkin (Writer for The West Wing) that said, “Writers block is my default position.” I’m the same way. But, the way to defeat it is to start writing anyway. Because the truth is, writers block isn’t real. It’s not like I forgot how to make sentences. It’s a lack of inspiration or a lack of interest in what I’m writing. It’s when no matter what you write – it’s “terrible.” When that happens, I turn to music. Music inspires emotion, and emotion is the foundation of inspiration.

Are you a planner or a pantser?
I “pantsed” my first novel and it exceeded 180k words. Now Im a planner that uses multiple stylized outlines. Dark Communion is 1/3 the size of my first novel and infinitely better written. Planner, for the win.

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Margaret Weis. Dragons of Autumn Twilight was my introduction to contemporary high fantasy. Hers’ and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance was also the first Dungeons and Dragons campaign setting I ever played. The character Raistlin, in my opinion, is the greatest fantasy character ever.

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Finding an editor was my biggest problem. Finding a good editor is the bane of most indie authors. They’re expensive and it’s hard to find a good one even if you have the money. Thankfully, my good friend Lindsey Williams stepped up to edit Dark Communion. Without her, it would never have been possible to publish it. Thank you Lindsey!!!

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
No. I wouldn’t change the experience for anything. The mistakes, changes, hardships, and tribulations are what molded me into the man I am now. I wouldn’t want to imagine being or writing anything different.

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
Dark Communion is the first installment of the Godswar Chronicles. It is the story of Ayla, a slave girl in a minotaur empire. It is a dark (as the name suggests) and emotional story of her trials to free her people and bring about the return of the Night Goddess, or as she is often referred to in the book (and many others), The Dark Queen. You can find more information about Dark Communion on my blog.

There’s a preview of chapter one of the audiobook on my kickstarter, and a two-chapter preview ebook for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.


Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Ayla’s pain is real to me, as is the overarching theme of the light oppressing the darkness. Much of what she has suffered mirrors my own tribulations in life. My mother died horribly of AIDS when I was young. So I know that pain of missing her, and willingness to accept a dark substitute in whatever form for the sake of sanity and hope. I have lived with Bipolar disorder since I was a teen. The battle between the dark and light is alive and well within me – every day. So too is the pain of depression and the battle to triumph over it. Her way is faith, as is mine.

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
  1. NEVER. GIVE. UP. A successful author was once a novice writer who never gave up.
  2. LISTEN to your critics, beta readers, and editors. Not all of them, but if more than one or two people say the same thing, stop defending your writing, and start working on it.
  3. STUDY. Writing conventions exist for a reason. Be a rebel once you have fans. Break convention only once you understand why those conventions exist. Learn all you can about writing and what makes a compelling story. An intelligent person learns from their mistakes; a wise person learns from the mistakes of others.
  4. OUTLINE. If you are a new writer, you probably have no business trying to crank out a novel without a plan. You’ll probably miss important aspects that stories need to have, or will add extras that take away from the plot. Have something to guide you. You’re probably doing this alone, and an outline is like a writing partner.

What does your protagonist think about you?
I think Ayla would like me. I stand up for what I believe in and am willing to fight for those beliefs if necessary. Although, if she knew I was the one who wrote her mother dying, she might not ever forgive me.

What has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author?
I used it as an email signature forever:

“I read fantasy to escape and enjoy myself, not to vicariously experience misery and abuse.”

The first chapter starts off pretty bleak. When the story starts, Ayla is at her lowest point – she’s hit bottom. It’s a very emotional scene that isn’t for everyone. But I will tell you what I told him, “Don’t give up on Ayla in her darkest moments, and she won’t make you regret having faith in her.” I also thanked him. Because, if he felt that deeply about Ayla – enough to lash out at me for her – I think my job is well done.

What has been the best compliment?
Ayla, the main character, is destined to be the villain by the end of the series. The best compliment I received was:

 “I don’t understand how anyone could ever see Ayla as the villain.”

That’s exactly what I want in the upcoming books. I want a villain that people can identify with and love just as much as the “heroes.” I want to turn the idea of fantasy, the hero’s journey, and religion upside down. Who says Darkness has to be evil and light has to be good? The sun can burn skin, wither crops, and scorch the earth while Darkness can provide safety, rest, and relief. Dark Communion is about a different perspective on the concept of good vs evil as much as anything else.

Quick Fire

Favourite colour
Dogs or cats
Light side or dark side
Morning, noon or night?
Night. Late night.
Dresses or skirts?
I have hairy legs. Dresses.
Jazz or classical?
Checkers or chess?
Baseball or basketball?
No contest. Basketball.
Facial hair or clean shaven?
Trimmed facial hair.
Smile or game face?
Smile until the game starts.
Sci-Fi or fantasy?
Orange juice or apple juice?
Slacker or over-achiever?
Total slacker.
Adventurous or cautious?
Dare. Always dare.
Think before you talk or talk before you think?
Talk. Think. Regret. Rephrase.

CJ Perry will be awarding a $10 and a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to two randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My deep and abiding love of fantasy began when I was six when I first saw the 1981 film Dragonslayer on VHS with my father. He loved fantasy movies too, but didn’t have the courage to be a dork about it like I did. That movie was a gateway drug that led me straight to the hard stuff - CS Lewis. I was far too young for such potency but by the time I was ten I had read the whole series. That’s when I found my first Dungeons and Dragons group. When I started playing, my friends and I used pre-made campaign settings and published adventures, but I quickly grew restless with their limitations and trite story lines. I needed my own persistent world: something adaptable to my whim and that no one else owned.

Back in my day, there was no internet, so I took out every book about castles and medieval history from the school library and read them in Math class (I'm still terrible at math as a result). I came up with an entire world and brand new history. I read books on cartography and hand drew maps of my new world. I created a cosmology, a hierarchy of gods, and the tenets of their religions. I read the Dungeon Master's guide a dozen times, and every fantasy novel I could get my hands on.

Then, one day, I sat down and told my friends, "Hey guys, wanna try my story instead?"

Even 15 years after the original D&D campaigns ended, former players tell me that they share our incredible stories with their children. I'm honored to say that most of those players still have their original character sheets 16-20 years later, and a couple have even named their children after them.

Now, I'm 39 years old and a loving father of 2 girls, and I still play those games on occasion. My passion has evolved into putting those ideas and amazing stories on paper for the whole world to enjoy. My first novel took me and co-author DC Fergerson 10 years to write and topped out at 180,000 words. Being too long and too complex, I finally ended the project and took its lessons to heart.

I learned that Dungeons & Dragons did not translate well into a novel. D&D made for great times, but also for some meandering plot lines, pointless encounters, and poor character motivations. No matter how memorable some of the moments were, if I wanted anyone to read my story, I needed to learn a lot more about writing.

I threw myself into being a full time student of novel crafting. I read every book on writing by Dwight Swain I could find. I paid Chuck Sambuchino (Editor for Writer's Digest) to critique and edit my older work. I took James Patterson's Masterclass, went to college, and joined online writing communities. All the while, I read my favorite fantasy novels again, only this time with a mental highlighter. I reworked my stories, outlined them, and decided to start from the beginning.

Many, many years later, I am in the final edit and proofreading stage of Dark Communion, the first installment of the Shadowalker Chronicles. My role as a father of two girls heavily influenced the characters I’d known for over 20 years, shaping them into women that my own daughters could respect. My characters took on a depth and quality that brings them off the page and into the minds of readers, because they have become all too real. I was privileged enough to work on two careers at the same time to accomplish this feat - a fun-loving and involved stay-at-home dad, and a full time writer.


Tour Organised by: 

Goddess Fish Promotions


  1. congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win

  2. Who are your favorite romantic couple and why?

    1. My favorite romantic couple are probably Gambit and Rogue from the X-Men. Mostly because it's a different type of forbidden love. If she touched him, she might kill him.

  3. Sounds terrific! Looking forward to reading it

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks Laura! It's available for pre-order on Amazon. :)