Monday, January 21, 2013

Love of Shadows by Zoe Brooks - Virtual Tour and Giveaway

Today we're visiting with author Zoe Brooks on her tour with Goddess Fish Promotions for the Women's Fiction/Fantasy novel, "Love of Shadows".

Zoe will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour, so comment today AND follow her tour (if you click on the banner above, it'll take you to a list of her tour stops)! The more you read and comment, the better your odds of winning. You could be introduced to a great new author AND win a GC!

Thank you, Zoe, for answering all my questions!

Why do you write in your genre? What draws you to it?

A recent review said that Girl in the Glass, the first Judith book, was about “what it takes for a woman to find her place in the world and in herself”. That is spot on for all my books so far including this one, Love of Shadows. Why? I suppose because I am a woman and I wanted to write entertaining books about strong female characters. I also write in a form of fantasy called magic realism. Books in this subgenre have a realistic setting with elements of the fantastical. I like the combination – it allows me to explore real issues more freely.

What research (or worldbuilding) is required?

In magic realism you need both research and worldbuilding in order to create a realistic world. For Love of Shadows I spent several days in the Bodleian Library in Oxford looking at old books about perfume-making and traditional healing, as Judith is both a perfume-maker and a healer. It was absolutely fascinating – did you know that in traditional medicine healers used to diagnose illnesses partly by scent? I also researched the persecution of traditional women healers in the 14th - 17th centuries, when no one knows how many thousands were killed as witches. I am a historian by training and studied the history of Istanbul; as a result the city of Pharsis is partly 19th century Istanbul, partly late medieval Oxford and partly Victorian London.

Name one thing you learned from your heroine?

The book is narrated by Judith. She is a very sensuous woman and experiences the world through all her senses. In addition I decided to give her synaesthesia – she is able to see smells. So in order to write the book I had to revisit how I experienced the world, no longer relying on my dominant senses of sight and hearing. It was fascinating – I realised how much more I could sense. It isn’t that I don’t have the wherewithal to smell, taste or touch the world, it’s just that my brain tended to ignore the messages.

Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I write all my books in a semi-restored farmhouse in the Czech Republic on the edge of a small village nestling under the forest. I live half my life in the UK and half there. I don’t seem to be able to write much in my homeland, there are too many demands on my time, but in the Czech Republic I can focus exclusively on writing. If I get stuck I take a basket and disappear into the forest to collect wild berries or mushrooms and when I get back the block has cleared.

Plotter or Pantser?

A bit of both really. I plot everything in my head over the months leading up to my trip to my Czech home. Some scenes I will know word for word before I sit down and others will be less clear. There is usually something that surprises me when I start writing – sometimes it’s a character who says follow me and I do. When I do sit down and type I write intensively, starting at page one and doggedly writing through to the end. Then I re-emerge blinking into the daylight and take up my normal life.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there.

I write in a corner of my room so what is there is the wall and on it a pin board, with pictures of my husband and son and several photos of my friend Hannah Kodicek. Hannah was a story editor in the film industry and she taught me so much about how to tell gripping stories. She died of cancer as I was writing the first Judith book and she made me promise that I would finally take the plunge and publish my novels. There’s one picture in particular taken when we were on a walk, she is ahead of me and has turned to call to me. When I am writing I often look up at that.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I am answering this interview in the Czech Republic, where I have been writing the third book in the trilogy about Judith – I’m not sure of the title yet. I hope to have it published by next Autumn at the latest. I also have an idea for another book after that – magic realism but a paranormal mystery this time.

Do you have a question for our readers?

Do you have somewhere you can go where you can be at peace with yourself?

"I had always felt most alive, when I was healing. Without healing I was a tin top spinning out of kilter soon to catch the ground. It took all my energy to hold myself from skidding into chaos."

But in the city of Pharsis traditional women healers are banned from practising and the penalty for breaking the law is death by hanging. After being arrested and interrogated twice Judith is careful to avoid suspicion, but then scarlet fever breaks over the city like a poisonous wave, leaving in its wake the small corpses of children. What will the young healer do?

Love of Shadows is the second novel in The Healer's Shadow trilogy, which began with Girl in the Glass, and follows the lives of Judith and her Shadow, Sarah. It is a study in grief, love and defiance.

“Peter,” I say. “I don’t think I’ve changed that dressing for a while.”

The rumble is growing to thunder and there are voices.

I pick up a clean dressing and a pot of ointment from the shelves and walk across the room.

As I bend over the bed, I try not to think of the light of flames moving along the house walls of the square. I try not to see the look of hatred on the faces of the torchbearers. I try not to listen. I try to focus only on Peter and my hand as it peels back the dressing. I try not to listen to the clamour.

Under my breath I say a prayer: “Angels who are blessed, take this darkness from me.”

And the darkness does clear, for a while. The wound is healing, so I apply some ointment to keep it clean and pick up the new dressing.

They are overhead now. There is no escaping the words, the room almost shakes with them: “Burn the witch! Death to the witch!”

My legs fail me and I slip to my knees. I am in the darkest of my nightmares, darkness shot through with flames. “Sarah, they are coming.”

Zoe Brooks is a British writer and poet, who spends half her life in a partly restored old farmhouse in the Czech Republic, where she writes all her novels and poetry. She aims to write popular books, which have complex characters and themes that get under the reader's skin.

Zoe was a successful published poet in her teens and twenties, (featuring in the Grandchildren of Albion anthology). Girl In The Glass - the first novel in a trilogy about the woman and healer Anya was published on Amazon in March 2012, followed by Mother of Wolves and Love of Shadows. In May 2012 she published her long poem for voices Fool's Paradise as an ebook on Amazon.

Social Media Links
Amazon author page


  1. Are there times when the Muse is not speaking? What do you do then?


  2. There are lots of times when the Muse isn't speaking. Some writers believe in just keeping writing, but I don't - I walk away from writing. I believe in putting the problem into my sub-conscious and letting it stew. I go for a walk or do some house cleaning, sometimes that's all it takes. But sometimes it isn't that simple. I have just had a serious writer's block on the final book on the Healer's Shadow trilogy, but my solution was the same - walk away. I woke up the other day and there was the solution to the problem. It was as if I had dreamed up the answer, maybe I did.

  3. Thanks for hosting me on the blog. I will be popping back to the blog to answer any questions. But I am a Brit and so a few hours ahead of the US, so it may be the morning when I come back to you.

    On another matter re the prize, I am happy to send the voucher for an equivalent amount in £s if there is a British winner.

  4. The kitten is very cute, does it travel with you from UK?


  5. No, it's a Czech kitten. Lilly ran across the road in front of our car and we stopped and saved her - a few more hours and she would have been dead. As I was away too much she lived with my friend Hannah, and still lives in Hannah's house. Lilly is now a grandmother.

  6. Thanks for talking about your research in the Bodleian Library. As a librarian, I like hearing that authors are still using libraries and print resources. The Bodleian must be a spectacular library!

  7. Your research sounds very interesting, thank you for sharing.


  8. Yes Catherine the Bodleian is incredible. Some of the buildings date back to the late Middle Ages. It certainly aids the imagination.

  9. The book sounds fascinating. What is you favorite aspekt of writing?

    shadowrunner1987 AT gmail DOT com

    1. I spend several months working up ideas before I sit down and write and I love that first stage. I can daydream and say I'm working!

  10. Loved your interview. Great that you write "fantastical" romances about strong women.

  11. I love old buildings, the library sounds very promising. What are your favorite places in Czech Republic, that you would recommend to visit?

    emiliana25 at web dot de

    1. I live in South Bohemia which is a great place if you like old buildings. There are more castles per square mile than in any other part of Europe! Cesky Krumlov is an utterly magical place - a bit too popular with tourists but still. It's a near perfect medieval and renaissance town centre. And then there's the Sumava National Park - which is absolutely beautiful unspoilt part of Europe.

  12. I'm off to bed now. It's been great chatting to you all. I'll be back tomorrow to answer any questions.

  13. I haven't heard the term "magic realism" before. I like it.

    I do enjoy reading about strong female characters.


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  15. At home. Thanks for the chance to win!
    natasha_donohoo_8 at hotmail dot com

  16. The beach always makes me feel peaceful. :)

    Funny, so many are asking about your kitten! It's so cute! :)

  17. It sounds like a good book, but it's probably not an easy read.

    lyra.lucky7 at gmail dot com

  18. Sorry for the late post. I’m playing catch-up here so I’m just popping in to say HI and sorry I missed visiting with you on party day! Hope you all had a good time!

    kareninnc at gmail dot com

  19. Your farmhouse sounds wonderful! I bet reading books there would be heaven. :)

    anne.j2 (at)

  20. thanks for the chance to win!

    hense1kk AT cmich DOT edu

  21. Sounds lovely! I haven't "met" an author who works in eastern Europe yet...I can't wait to see the different perspectives in your book!

    andralynn7 AT gmail DOT com

  22. What an interesting book! Enjoyed the interview and excerpt. Thanks for the giveaway.

  23. I find it to be most peaceful when I go visit my parents in my home town. My hometown is really super small and it's so nice to get away from the city I live in. I'm just able to breathe and relax.
    This book sounds wonderful. I liked the author interview as well as the little snippet from the book. Thank you for sharing it.


  24. cool you have a character with synaesthesia...I have a character with the same ability! I am very interested to see how this aspect plays out in your book :)

  25. Thanks again for all your comments and for hosting me. The winner of the giveaway was Andra Lyn.


So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?