Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Escapist Book Co. virtual book tour for E.L. Lyons Dark Fantasy novel Starlight Jewel! Today, I am excited to help kickoff the tour by sharing an interview with the main character from the book, Axly!
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 Starlight Jewel 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!
Starlight Jewel by E.L. Lyons
Series: Gifts of the Auldtree Trilogy
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Intended Age Group: Adult
Published: September 13, 2022
Publisher: Self Published
Axly, the Starlight Company’s premier seductress-thief and assassin, will do whatever it takes to keep her human brother hidden. The secrets of his origin could tear their world apart, and keeping them has driven her to lies and murder. Her people, the sprygan-human hybrids that live under the city of Minalav, aren’t keen on allowing their most skilled asset to roam free. A job with a human offers a chance to get her brother out of danger, but it comes at a price. Divided loyalties, duty, romance, and the twisted hands of fate intertwine in this epic fantasy adventure.
Gifts of the Auldtree is a world of mythology, glamor, mud, blood, civilizations in conflict, and hints of distant powers. In the center of this is the mysterious Starlight Jewel of Minalav.
Run Forest, Run! • SapQuest • Forgot Your Ax
Amazon (Paperback, KU, Ebook): https://a.co/d/6cV7fpG
Barnes & Noble (Hardcover w/ dust jacket, US only): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/starlight-jewel-el-lyons/1142255152
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
My name is Axly, at least while I’m in the Burrow with other hybrids. It’s the name I gave to myself, as my father refused to name me, and I didn’t want to be banished to the Low Caverns with the Nameless. When I’m working I typically go by the name Lady Lyria Ethridge, not that anyone remembers those introductions. To my human half-brother, I’m Miss Someone. A name given by him, and the first crack in my selfless existence.
Currently though, away from the Burrow and the Starlight Company, I’m going by Karlin. The name of a maid.
What music do you listen to?
The music of the world. My keenears allow me to adjust the sounds of everything around me into something of a symphony, allowing me to parse the melodies of danger from mundane life. Though occasionally I’ll enjoy the tavern songs, even the more ridiculous ones my teammates write about me.
What are 3 items you can’t live without?
I only own three things. A handkerchief given by a mark when I robbed him of his treasures (all given to the Starlight Company of course, I’m not selfish), the naming ring I stole from Ally, and the naming ring I made from gold and my father’s sap out of spite. I could live without them. Each is a reminder of something that’s both dream and nightmare. Bittersweet reminders of who I am, a liar and a thief.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what is one thing you’d like to have with you?
A sprygan-crafted bow.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
Wasted potential. There’s so much of it in the Low Caverns among the Nameless. We allow ourselves to be ruled by the expectations and societies of our parent species, clinging to some warped sense of progress and perfection. People have always been broken and flawed, that’s what makes them beautiful.
What do you do in your free time?
Learning about Minalav and the rest of the world. Understanding the Watchers and Waiters is essential to keeping my half-brother safe, and to keep him from being used in monstrous ways. Still, there are some things I wish I hadn’t learned, knowledge better left forgotten.
What makes you want to get out of bed in the morning?
There’s always work to do.
Before this year, if I didn’t get up, what example did I set for the other High Birds? If we didn’t work, what would become of the Low Birds and the Nameless? Tarley chose me as the Starlight Jewel, chose me to lead the other Starlings by example.
Now? Well, my half-brother has to eat and I have to keep my mind busy, lest I think of what I’ve done.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
When I was a child, my father advised me to leave Minalav, to start a life away from my fellow hybrids. I wish I’d listened then.
What do you carry in your bag?
It depends on where I’m going, but I always travel light.
What’s your favorite animal?
I’ve only really spent time with dogs and horses. Each one is as different as the humans they follow. You can tell a lot about a mark by his animal companions.
What do you think about Baj?
Baj is everything that’s wrong with the world. No one in our brood is more intelligent, more cunning, more wasted. Seeing the way people look through her and look up to me… it’s as if the world is upside down. It’s as if I’m the only one who can see through the lies, through the façade. But I help keep that façade in place. I let Baj bring me my dresses and tea when she should be an engineer or a queen. I am the wheel that spins because the other wheels spin, rolling our society right over people like Baj. I used to have dreams of changing this world, making things for Baj, but then my half-brother happened. Now keeping the balance and keeping the wheels moving is more important than ever.
Do you have favorite saying?
“Dress in knowledge and walk in faith” ~ a Remorrian proverb, supposedly first spoken by the Sandmother Kazir. It’s good to gather what knowledge you can, but eventually, you have to act. The saying also led to the peculiar Remorrian tradition of trusting your seamstress to commission your footwear. It’s considered bad luck in Old Remorra to see your wedding shoes until after the ceremony.
What is your favorite holiday?
The Vernal Ball is certainly the most profitable of all the Norgan celebrations. The Starlight Company gets an eighth of our yearly revenue from the event.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?
Minalav—the very place I’m trying to escape. Home is still home, no matter how surely home might be trying to destroy itself and you. But where else in the world can a hybrid feel safe?
What do you do to relax?
Running always gives me a certain sense of freedom. An illusion, but one I let myself buy into on occasion.
What is your favorite food?
Crispy eggs. As much as I love the cakes and pastries of Minalav, they’re more decorative than delicious.
What is your favorite season?
Springtime always fills me with a renewed sense of energy and purpose.
How would you define happiness?
Knowing that my half-brother is safe and my people are well taken care of.
What are you passionate about?
I used to be passionate about my people and their future, now… well, nothing comes to mind.
How do you feel about your government?
Tarley runs a tight ship. He isn’t the smartest, but he is fierce and he knows a useful tool when he sees one. I only wish he cared as much about changing the position of the Nameless and Low Birds as he did about changing his own position as Austringer.
If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
I would remove all the humans from Minalav, so that hybrids could be our own people, led by our own nature.
What’s your biggest secret?
My half-brother is a Watcher—a human twisted in the womb by the Auldtree. He can see people through shards of broken glass. He could do more… if he found out how. I won’t be the one to tell him. I’ve read about the Watchers of ages past, the wars they started, the mass effacements, the chaos. Bad enough that he was created at all, worse still that I didn’t have it in me to kill him, all I can do is hope that my fears for and about him don’t come to pass.
What do you hate?
A Starling learns to suppress selfish emotions as hate, should they crop up. Our work is dependent on being able to seduce and leave good impressions on our marks, even those we find distasteful. Learning to love even those who are vile is essential, and requires a great understanding of how these men came to be as distasteful as they are. It’s easier for those of us who are more sprygan in nature, to be sure. Tarley is always losing the battle to his hatred of humans. Me? I feel hate as something distant, observed but never truly felt. Rage is an old friend, but hate has never had any hold on me. I understand it in others, but I don’t relate.
What’s your biggest fear?
That the secret of my origin and my half-brother’s will be found out. That my heartfire will sustain him as he’s tortured and made to tear the world apart around us. That we’ll both be consumed by the corruption that comes with his gift.
What do you think your best quality is?
My best quality? I only have one good quality. I am selfless. Able to be whoever is needed for the good of the hybrids. Right now, they need me to keep my half-brother away, even if they don’t know it.
How would you describe the world you live in?
Everything is both broken and beautiful.
About the Author
E.L. Lyons holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Regent University. She’s worked as a pool manager, beauty department manager, relief counselor at a youth shelter and as a live-in caregiver. She hopes to finish her next novel from a loft overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.