Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Co. virtual book tour for Joseph John Lee’s Epic/Historical Fantasy novel The Bleeding Stone! Today, I am excited to help kickoff the tour by sharing an interview with the main character from the book, Sen!
You can find our Q&A below, along with all of the info about the book, the author, and links to purchase a copy of The Bleeding Stone for yourself! Also, be sure to take a look at the schedule here or at the top of the post and follow along to see the stops from our other awesome hosts!
The Bleeding Stone by Joseph John Lee
Series: The Spellbinders and the Gunslingers
Genre: Historical/Epic Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: May 9, 2023
Publisher: Eclipseborn Publishing (Self Published)
The island nation of Ferranda is the jewel of the Acrarian Kingdom, and its Founder, Aritz a Mata, is revered as a god amongst men. But twenty-five years ago, Aritz was merely a man, a colonizer, an Invader seeking glory and fame in the name of his King and Queen, and Ferranda was a nameless union of indigenous Tribes, reverent of the heightened powers and aptitudes granted to them by their Animal Deities, but sundered by the foreigners claiming their lands to the south.
In the unconquered north, the Stone Tribe has for fifteen years offered a safe haven for the southern Tribes displaced by Aritz’s Invaders, whose occupying march north has been ostensibly halted by a dense forest barrier dividing north and south. Among the Stone people lives Sen, an outcast for the circumstances of her birth, preserved in society only by her status as daughter of her Tribe’s Chief. Forever relegated to the fringes of society, she is forced to watch as countless of her kin, including her sister and brother, complete their rites of passage into adulthood and accordingly earn their aptitudes by the Deity to whom they share an affinity – the Bear, the Wolf, or the Owl.
Despite this, Sen finds comfort in her life of forced solitude with her close inner circle, but hers is a comfort in days of waning tenuous peace. When Aritz’s technologically-advanced forces push north, Sen is thrust into a singular quest to rescue one of her precious few captured in the ensuing struggle. While her goal is earnest – save someone dear to her and prove her worth to her Tribe – her people’s goal is far more dire: survival in the face of uncertainty.
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Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/m0Ep8W
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Sen, and I am the daughter of the Chief of the Stone Tribe. For reasons beyond my control, I have long been viewed as an outcast and a pariah among my people, though it is thanks to my father’s position as Chief that I am able to remain among my people at all.
What music do you listen to?
Musicians are few and far between among my people – many of us are more engrossed in the ways of warfare than in the ways of the arts. However, I’ve always enjoyed the celebratory chants my people sing out when someone has completed their Trial in the mountains to the north of us. It’s all rhythm and no melody, but it’s a great communal experience.
What are 3 items you can’t live without?
I always keep a deck of cards within reach – no better way to pass the time and maybe get some money out of people for it. A tankard of ale is useful for winding down every day. And maybe a nice mountain trail to get lost in. Hopefully it’s before the tankard of ale.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is one thing you’d like to have with you?
The aforementioned deck of cards.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
When people make baseless assumptions, or view people only how others tell them to.
What do you do in your free time?
I’m usually ALL free time! Find me in the tavern and try to beat me at cards! You just might win at some point. (Not likely.)
What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?
My sister repeatedly jabbing me with the butt-end of her spear. I’m never without bruises in my ribs.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
“You’re still here because the people who aren’t complete idiots want you here.”
What do you carry in your bag?
Again, the aforementioned cards. Who’s down for a game?!
What’s your favorite animal?
Wolves. They’re cunning, resourceful, independent – all things I strive to be, myself.
What do you think about Narva?
He’s my closest friend. And, well, my only friend. We’ve known each other since we were kids, our fathers grew up together, and he’s one of the few who always has my back through anything and everything. And, well, whenever I think about him, I…well…never mind, I’ve said too much.
Do you have favorite saying?
Luck is on my side.
What is your favorite holiday?
Holidays aren’t exactly a thing among my people, though there are celebration days whenever someone passes their Trial and becomes a full-fledged member of their Tribe. The celebration for my older sister was absolutely wild. I sure wish I was able to have one.
If you could go anywhere in the Land, where would you go and why?
Deep into the mountains, into the True Heart of the Land. I’ve heard it’s where the gods dwell, and that it’s one of the most beautiful sights imaginable. I’ve seen most of the island from high atop the mountain trails, but something about how mysterious and forbidden the True Heart is, it makes it all the more appealing.
What do you do to relax?
I find my way to a tavern and end up there until well past last call.
What is your favorite food?
My mother has always made an excellent stew with potatoes and grains. It’s such a simple dish but whenever I eat it, it always feels like home.
What is your favorite season?
Summer, if only because it’s the least cold time of year. Our Tribe is situated at the base of the mountains, so those mountain winds get particularly chilly in the winter.
How would you define happiness?
Being surrounded by my closest friends and laughing so much that it makes me forget everything about the world around me. Those moments have been growing fewer and farther between, and sometimes I wonder if I’m not too far from spending those moments by myself.
What are you passionate about?
My family, even if I don’t know how best to show it.
How do you feel about your government?
My father has been Chief for my entire life and I’ve known no other form of government. He is fair, kind, and wise, a stern but loving man who does not back down from a single challenge, but will always listen to opposing views in order to hear all sides.
If you could change one thing about the Land, what would it be?
Getting rid of the Invaders who settled in the south would be a great start! We’d all be a lot happier.
What’s your biggest secret?
Everyone knows my biggest secret by now, and it’s why most of the Tribe doesn’t even care to acknowledge me. I’d rather not share it if you don’t know. It might be better that way.
What do you hate?
There are a few people I could name from my Tribe. And believe me, the feeling is very, very mutual.
What’s your biggest fear?
Ending up alone. I haven’t felt like I’ve belonged in a long time, and it only feels like an inevitability now.
What do you think your best quality is?
My sense of humor! Everyone needs a good laugh sometimes, and I’m more than happy to provide that.
How would you describe the world you live in?
There’s so much natural beauty to it, and it’s a godsdamned shame that it’s been ruined by the Invaders. Take a walk up through the mountains and catch a view of the southern horizon and you’ll see just what I mean!
About the Author
Joseph John Lee is the author of The Spellbinders and the Gunslingers trilogy. A true product of New England, he prefers Dunkin’ over Starbucks, sometimes speaks with a Boston accent, and does not say the word “wicked” in casual conversation as much as one may think. He currently lives in Boston with his fiancé, Annie, and their robot vacuum named Crumb.