Reign and Ruin by J. D. Evans
Reign and Ruin by J. D. Evans

Reign and Ruin by J. D. Evans

The Mages of the Wheel Series
SPFBO 7 Winner 2022

What led you into writing?

Reading. Movies. We grow up with stories. Stories are intrinsic to the human experience. We learn best by story, we pass on history, emotion, and lessons with them. I feel like everyone has stories in their heads, it’s just that some people have a need to get them out. I can’t stop the stories in my head, so I have to do something with them. I started writing when I was 9 or 10. On a Tandy 1000 in the Bank Street Writer program. I have now aged myself 😭

How does a typical day look?

I get up at 530 or 600am to get an hour or so before the rest of the family gets up. Then it’s general chaos for a couple of hours before the oldest goes to school. I work around other things – the baby and general life, squeezing in a bit more work during naps and such until oldest comes home at 1. Then I mom until about 8pm, at which time I try to work a bit before collapsing into bed at a very Old-Person-Hour.

In what ways do your characters test your abilities?

Every character I write has something of me in it. But I also try to push, to explore the things I want to see recognized as strength. For Reign & Ruin, writing someone as controlled and intelligent as Naime was very difficult, because I am the person that doesn’t think of a snappy come back until days later, and I fall apart in verbal confrontation. Naime never falls apart. That means that I had to sit and play chess with myself to create her encounters with the council and let me tell you – it was ROUGH.

What lasting effects have your favourite authors had on your writing and style?

I write adult fantasy ( I mean pacing, not sexual content – although there is that too). I grew up with Dragonlance, and Wheel of Time, books that take their time, that add more description and world building than is typical now. I like that. I write that. I want people to stop and live in my world, not necessarily consume it as fast as possible.

What do you do for inspiration?

Find silence. Walking outside is always good. Driving sometimes. There is not a lot of silence in my life. My creative voice is always speaking, I just can’t always hear it because of the chaos of life with kids. I do draw bits of inspiration from movies and books and other media I consume and expand on those.

What repeating themes do you find yourself pulling into your stories?

Balance. Cycles. That we are better together than apart, because humans are complex and flawed beings. The people around us can lend strength where we are weak, as we do in return for them.

Reign and Ruin
““These are not old wives’ tales, Sultana Efendim.” Kadir turned and directed his speech at the Council, fanning the flames of their discontent. “You dishonor the history of your own family and the decision they made to end the Old Sultanate. Thousands died to free us from the dangers of the Sixth House. You would undo that now for protection against an imagined threat?” He tapped his staff against the marble floor and waved his other hand in dismissal. “Even if the Council agreed with this, we are far too vulnerable. There are no Third House mages alive. Rumors say even in Sarkum none exist. There is nothing to counter the vile magic of the Sixth House. I cannot accept this, Sultana Efendim.” Kadir’s voice grew in volume until the last words. The Council cheered him on.”  More

How do you wind down?

I garden, and knit. I cook. It’s all related. You start with pieces and parts, maybe a plan or recipe, and a goal, and then you put it together into something beautiful, functional, or delicious. Just like writing.

What sort of challenges do you regularly overcome while designing your world/setting?

My own biases that come from my cultural upbringing. People think how I would think, behave how I do. I have to stop and think about how they would actually do something in the context of the world. My characters believe in a wheel preordaining the fate of people and things. They aren’t going to say things like “Oh my god,” or “go to hell”. These are tiny details that take a lot of focus to get right.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, gene editing, and the future of the human race by Walter Isaacson. I read as much non-fiction as I do fiction. This one is a beast.

What’s the most useful advice you could give to an aspiring author?

But seriously, it’s a lot of work. Every job is WORK, even if it’s your dream job. There will be wonderful days where things are easy. But there will be far more days where it is hard. Very hard. You will have many excuses. You will not feel like it. You may have struggles I cannot conceive of. But if you really want it, you have to keep working. Show up. Keep learning. Keep reading. Keep writing. Fail, and do it again. Do it over and over again until you can’t remember how to not do it. That’s it.

Tell us about the book you’re promoting.

Really I’m promoting a series, but Reign & Ruin is the first book in the series. It’s an Ottoman Empire inspired setting, with an elemental magic system. Our main characters are seeking an alliance to mutually protect each other from a Republic that is systematically conquering surrounding areas. Magic is broken, and Naime Sabri, the heir to the current Sultan, believes restoring the balance of magic will make them strong enough to stave off the Republic. But to do so, she has to fight 200 years of prejudice against the magic of destruction, a council who does not want a woman in control, and a Grand Vizier that undermines her at every turn. It is a fantasy romance, so don’t be surprised when people stare longingly into each other’s eyes. #sorrynotsorry

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Reign and Ruin by J. D. Evans

J. D. Evans

Originally hailing from Montana, J. D. now resides in North Carolina with her husband, two attempts at mini-clones gone rogue, and too many stories in her head.

Read about J.

Reign and Ruin by J. D. Evans
She is heir to a Sultanate that once ruled the world. He is an unwanted prince with the power to destroy. She is order and intellect, a woman fit to rule in a man's place. He is chaos and violence and will stop at nothing to protect his people. His magic answers hers with shadow for light. They need each other, but the cost of balance may be too high a price. Magic is dying and the only way to save it is to enlist mages who wield the forbidden power of death, mages cast out centuries ago in a brutal and bloody war. Now, a new war is coming. Science and machines to replace magic and old religion. They must find a way to save their people from annihilation and balance the sacred Wheel—but first, they will have to balance their own forbidden passion. His peace for her tempest, his restlessness for her calm… Night and day, dusk and dawn, the end, and the beginning.

Read Chapter 1

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