C.L. Wilson & The Winter King

My guest today is USA Today and New York Times bestselling author C. L. Wilson. I’ve been eagerly awaiting her next fantasy romance release, The Winter King. Publishers Weekly chose that book as one of the Most Anticipated Reads for Spring 2014. C.L. will chat about The Winter King with us today.

Welcome, C.L.! Both The Fading Lands series and The Winter King are set in fantasy worlds. How are they similar and different?

cl_wilson_webWell, both are similar in that both worlds feature magic at the heart of the story, and both feature multiple races & societies of people with disparate desires, but the two worlds are more different than they are the same.

In Eloran, the world where the Fading Lands novels take place, numerous races are immortal, there is black magic, elemental magic, witchcraft, elvish magic, blood magic, etc.

In Mystral, all of the people of every kingdom share some manner of basic magic. They are mortal peoples with special magical gifts. Most of the magic is more organic, than it is in the Tairen Soul books, in that , for the most part, the gifts tend to derive from the natural world. Summerlanders, for instance, are born with a gift for growing things. Winterfolk are born with clan-based magic tied to the creatures of the forest (the clan’s totem animals)—such as increased speed and agility for children of the Big Horn clan, affinity with wolves, heightened sense of smell and speed for children of the Snow Wolf clan, etc.

In addition to the common magic, royal families have a much strong, inherited magic. In the case of the royal families of Summerlea and Wintercraig, the royal families pass down hereditary weathergifts (such as the ability to call storms, to extend summer, to thaw winter’s chill, etc). These weathergifts can be quite formidable, but they don’t pass outside of the immediate royal family.

What is The Winter King about?

I’m the world’s worst at condensing my books into a brief summary, but here goes:

While seeking clues to the location of a legendary sword of unimaginable power, the Prince of Summerlea steals the Winter King’s bride and one of his kingdom’s most precious treasures, then murders the Winter King’s teenage brother while making his escape. In vengeance, the Winter King, Wynter Atrialan, embraces a dread magic known as the Ice Heart and wages war on Summerlea.

Three years later, a victorious Wynter rides into Summerlea’s capital to deliver the terms of surrender. The deadly magic of the Ice Heart is consuming him—slowly freezing him from the inside out and stealing his humanity. If he can’t find a way to stop it, he will become the Ice King, a fearsome reincarnated god who will cast the whole world into endless winter. He intends to take one of the Summer King’s three beloved daughters to wife and get her with child, in the hopes that the love he will feel for his own child will melt the Ice Heart.

But what Wynter doesn’t know is that the Summer King has a fourth daughter of whom he is not so fond. And she is a fiercely passionate creature, with a temper as volatile as the forces of her weathergift, the power of storms.

Khamsin has spent her lifetime an outcast in her father’s court, hated and reviled by Verdan, who blames her for killing her mother, his beloved queen, with her wild weathergift. Though Verdan intends Khamsin’s marriage to be a punishment, with Wynter, Khamsin discovers unexpected freedom, intoxicating passion, and disarming moments of tenderness that make her rethink everything she’d been taught to believe about the supposedly cruel conqueror she’d wed.

Would you like to share an excerpt?

the winter kingI have the prologue and first chapter up on my website on the WINTER KING book page (http://clwilson.com/the-books/novels-of-mystral/the-winter-king-2/) but here’s an excerpt from later in the book. It really showcases Wynter’s ruthlessness with his enemies. He is definitely not a man Verdan Coruscate should have messed with.

Still wearing his cream silk trousers and shirt, with Gunterfys strapped to his hip and Valik striding beside him, Wynter entered the palace’s large map room. King Verdan, still in his ceremonial best, greeted Wynter with cool reserve.

“Verdan.” He nodded to the older man. Four other men stood beside the king, including the general of the last surviving Summerland troops and three lords of the king’s council. “You four,” he commanded with brisk disregard, “get out.”

Outrage flashed across all four men’s faces, and across Verdan’s as well. “What? How dare you, sir!” the general exclaimed.

“These men are my confidants and advisors, leaders of Summerlea,” King Verdan protested, casting a warning look at the leader of his last remaining army. “They have a right to be present at any peace negotiations.”

“Negotiations?” Wynter lifted a brow. “I have come to explain the terms of your surrender. They are nonnegotiable. You can accept them, or you and every living creature in Summerlea can die.”

“You’re bluffing,” one of the other three said. “If you wanted us dead, we’d already be so.”

“I do not bluff. I came here to end the war, but only on my terms. Since the day I took the throne, you set yourself against me, thinking my youth made me an easy mark, mistaking my restraint and efforts at diplomacy as signs of weakness. In your arrogance, you thought I could be easily dispatched, and Wintercraig would be yours for the taking. You thought wrong.” His eyes narrowed, his expression deadly cold, he leaned forward on the table. Frost whitened the polished surface. “You Summerlanders started this war, but I am here to finish it. You can either accept defeat—and the terms that go with it—or you can die. Either way makes no difference to me. I will take what I came for.”

The general flushed a ruddy color and cast an outraged glance at his king. “Sire! There’s no need to accept this disgrace and humiliation. Say the word, and we will stand and fight. We’ll die to a man, like Roland and his army when they triumphed over Ranulf the Black.”

“You wish to die?” Wynter narrowed his gaze on the general. Cold fire came to his call, gathering, burning, at the backs of his eyes. “Very well, then. Die.”

The general went stiff, his mouth freezing open in a stifled cry.

“Stop.” Verdan wasn’t stupid enough to step in the path of the Ice Gaze, but he couldn’t stop himself from the quick, instinctive lurch towards the general.

“The wound you dealt me to start this war was personal,” Wynter said, holding his Gaze. “The price of peace is personal as well. It does not concern your armies or these men, and their presence is neither necessary nor desired.” The general’s lips had turned blue, and his skin had gone pasty white.

The Summer King capitulated. “Release him, and I’ll send them away.”

Wynter blinked and shuttered the power of his Gaze. “Better.”

He waited for the three openly terrified lords to depart. The general, shaking uncontrollably, had to be helped out the room by a trio of servants. “Give him a hot bath and wrap him in thick blankets,” he told the servants. “He won’t feel warm again for several days.”

When they were gone, he nodded to Valik, who slipped out the other door, leaving Wynter and Verdan alone.

Wynter crossed his arms and regarded his enemy in silence. The Summer King and his lords were pampered fools. Arrogant and treacherous, yes, but ultimately weak. They had never known true hardship until the hand of Wynter had fallen hard upon them. They roamed the hills and vales of Summerlea, preening and prideful, believing themselves lords of the earth, when in reality they—like the people they governed—were only sheep, fatted and dull-witted by decades of self-indulgence, easily herded to the slaughter.

It had not always been so. Once, long ago, the kings of Summerlea had been lions of men, true heroes, like Roland Soldeus, who had sacrificed everything so Summerlea could live free. But somewhere along the way, that shining spirit, that noble, defiant bravery, had died out. Generations of kings who’d held the fire of the Sun in their hearts had given way to weaker, less noble men, willful, nihilistic parasites who gorged themselves on Summerland bounty and cloaked themselves in the shreds of their ancestors’ glory.

And their people, those sheep they kept glutted on a never-ending flow of wealth from the country’s fertile fields, vineyards, orchards, and herberies, never noticed the difference.

Oh, they’d rallied a few worthy defenses when Wynter had first marched upon their lands, but he’d known their will would not last. He’d continued to press them, relentless and without mercy, stripping their armies of the few brave souls still among them until only the sheep remained. And then, he’d simply spread winter across their lands and waited. Hardship sapped what tiny flickers of defiance still remained, and the last two battles had been easily won.

“Well?” Verdan prompted when the silence dragged on. “What are your terms? What is the price of peace between us?”

Wyn had intended peace to come only when every Summerlander lay frozen and lifeless beneath a blanket of ice and snow. But the helpful informant who’d snuck into his camps several months ago had convinced him there was another, more satisfying victory to be had.

“Your son, the prince Falcon, stole the woman who was to have been my queen and one of the irreplaceable treasures of my house.” Wynter pushed off the map table and began to pace. “He ran off with them both while I was fighting the brigands he sent to destroy one of my people’s villages. But that was not enough for him. During his escape, your son put an arrow through my brother Garick’s throat. My brother was just a boy, barely sixteen, but your son left him to die in the snow and fled like the thieving coward he is.”

Wynter turned, his face a frozen mask, his eyes burning ice. “Your son robbed me of my queen, one of my kingdom’s greatest treasures, and my Heir. You will return to me that which I have lost.”

Verdan went pale, and his jaw dropped open in a stunned gape. “I? I’m no miracle worker. I can’t return your brother from the dead, and I’m sure your spies have already told you no one knows where Falcon is. Not even I. If Falcon did take your queen and your treasure, as you have claimed, only he would know where to find them.”

“A queen, a treasure, and an Heir. That’s what you will provide me. You have proclaimed many times that the greatest treasures of your kingdom are your lovely daughters. So I will take one of your daughters to wife. She will have a year to fill her womb with an Heir to claim both the Winter and the Summer Thrones. If she fails, she will be turned out to face the mercy of the mountains, and I’ll be back the following spring to claim another daughter. And so it will continue until I have my Heir or you are out of daughters. That, Verdan, is the price of peace.”

Will there be other books in this series?

There will be other books set in this world, but the plan is for each book to be standalone. I’m currently writing THE SEA KING, which features secondary characters who appear in THE WINTER KING. And I have initial ideas for two more books.

one_enchanted_season_190x300You did a paranormal Christmas story for the One Enchanted Season anthology. What’s the story about?

I have had angels flying around in my imagination for years…a contemporary fantasy romance series idea…and this was my first chance to write a story featuring my super yummy angels. Set in Atlanta, in contemporary times, my novella, Upon a Midnight, is about a haphephobic woman (afraid of human touch) who moonlights in a domestic violence shelter.

After being attacked in a bad part of town, she wakes up to find her rescuer–an indescribably gorgeous man with angel wings tattooed on his back–in her apartment. The man claims she is a Lightkeeper—a descendent of angelic bloodlines, tasked with maintaining one of seven seals containing the beings of horrific darkness—and he is her Guardian, the angel created to protect her and help her with her mission. I absolutely adored writing this novella. It was fun to do a contemporary story, and I loved typing “The End” on a new project.

Will you be returning to The Fading Lands at some point?

Absolutely. I started Belliard vel Jelani’s book for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last year, and though I didn’t “win” Nano (ie, didn’t get 50,000 words written on Bel’s book in November), I still made very good progress. As soon as I’m done with THE SEA KING, which Avon wanted first, I’ll get back to work on Bel’s story. I’m absolutely loving where it’s going, and I think all my Tairen Soul fans will be happy, too. After that, I have Gaelen’s book roughly plotted, and then we’ll see.

I have lots of other ideas, and I do intend to check in on all of everyone’s favorite characters with each new book in the series. Keep your eye on my website (www.clwilson.com) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/clwilsonbooks) for more details!

cocf_125x200Which magical power would you rather have–Khamsin’s ability to raise and use storms or Wynter’s icy Gaze?  Which season do you enjoy more–summer or winter?  

One commenter today will receive a signed copy of Crown of Crystal Flame (Book 5 of the Tairen Soul series), plus a Winter King excerpt booklet, bookmark & coll card.

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  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit me

    Have fun

  • Helen says:

    Hi CL and Nancy

    I do love the sound of these I ave heard such great things about your stories and I do have a few on the TBR pile I need to move them up

    I much prefer winter over summer and it is really is a cold windy day here in Oz although the sun is shinning the wind is freezing we have even had snow in the Blue Mountains which happens but not a lot

    Have Fun

  • Amy Conley says:

    Hello CL and Nancy. I’d much more love the ability ti create storms, as a matter of fact, I love storms.

    And please give me summer any day.

    • Amy, I love storms at the beach. They look so dramatic. At home, the sound of rain on the roof is cozy.

    • C.L. Wilson says:

      I grew up in the southeast, so big, crashing thunder boomers are familiar to me. I love them. I love the way the sky looks when the sun is behind you and the really, deep, deep gun-metal gray clouds fill the horizon in front of you, with a line of trees looking so sharp and bright in the foreground. One of my favorite sights because it’s so majestic. Florida storms are no slouches either – and boy, does the rain come down!

  • flchen1 says:

    Great intro, CL! I think I’d be intrigued to discover I had that icy gaze! And while I love sunny days, I don’t mind like being hot 😉 Winter gives me the excuse to bundle up and snuggle close 😉

    • Hi, Fedora! If you had Wynter’s powers, you could create your own cold zone for cuddling. 🙂

    • C.L. Wilson says:

      All my friends and family know, I’d much rather live in Alaska than the tropics. I love the cold, and I’m too fluffy to find hot comfortable.

      I totally had fun with Wynter’s Ice Gaze. It would be a cool power to have.

  • Mary Preston says:

    Wynter’s icy Gaze could be kind of interesting.

    As much as I hate winter, I LOATHE summer. It’s easier to warm up than cool down I find.

  • Shannon says:

    I’m a summer kind of gal. I love the long days, the bright sunshine, and the puffy clouds rather than grey skies. It’s also a time to get out by the pool to read and swim.

    I don’t understand the summer magic, but I suspect I would chose it over the winter magic.

  • sandyg265 says:

    I don’t like cold weather but I’d pick the ability to control storms.

  • pearl says:

    Winter’s Ice Gaze sounds intriguing, although I love summer.

  • Elaina says:

    I cannot stand winter but Icy Gaze does appeal to me. Love heat.

    • C.L. Wilson says:

      Well, technically, I think spring is my favorite season. Not to hot, not too cool. Like winter in Florida, which is the season here I actually *do* like!

      It’s been fun trying to figure out what the various characters’ weathergifts could do.

    • Elaina, Wynter’s Gaze would be a nice antidote if the heat ever got to be too much.

  • anne says:

    I choose Summer Magic since summer is my favorite season and has always been that way.

  • catslady says:

    I’m not sure I’d want any extra powers lol. And I’m a spring person. Kathryne Kennedy introduced me to fantasy and your books sound like something I would enjoy. Lovely cover too.

  • ellie says:

    Any phrase with Summer in it wins for me. Summer Love, Summer Magic, Summer Songs, etc.

  • Maureen says:

    Congratulations to C.L. on the new book and it being so anticipated. I think the idea of being able to control storms sounds pretty powerful but scary. I like summer the most because I seem to get a lot more done.

    • C.L. Wilson says:

      Thanks Maureen. 🙂 It’s so nice to be back writing again, and I’m thrilled beyond words that so many of my Tairen Soul readers have waited so patiently for me.

    • Hi, Maureen–I used to love summer because I had so much free time. Then the boy got older and had activities, and summer was less free.

  • bn100 says:

    raise and use storms

  • Joan Kayse says:

    A quick pop in as I’m running ragged on my first day of vacation getting ready for San Antonio but CL? I LOVE you!!! Well, of course I consider you brilliant and love that but your Tarien Soul series was AMAZING. I can’t wait to read The Winter King!


  • Maya says:

    CL, I can’t WAIT to read this one and the followup! (Or Bel’s and Gaelan’s books, for that matter 🙂 ) I absolutely adore new and interesting interpretations of magic, and worlds with magic! Midsummer is my favorite holiday, so I’d have to go with summer, I think. Having power over storms would be extremely versatile, as opposed to an Icy Gaze (though I love the pun implied!). I think I’d definitely choose the power over storms…
    …hey, it would give me ULTIMATE CONTROL over my company Internet and phone systems too! hmmmm…… 😀

    • C.L. Wilson says:

      Maya – as someone who’s been fighting failing internet and cell phone micro towers all week, I TOTALLY hear you on the fighting-the-storm front!

    • Maya, I’m also waiting for Bel’s and Gaelen’s books. I’m eager to see The Winter King released, though.

      Power of the internet would be just awesome.

  • C.L. Wilson says:

    Maya – as someone who’s been fighting failing internet and cell phone micro towers all week, I TOTALLY hear you on the fighting-the-storm front!

  • Becke says:

    Compelling excerpt. My guess the story requires a summer daughter to thaw the King! Can’t wait to see how that unfolds. I know of your work through conversations with your fan Nancy.

    Since we selected SC over the Midwest, my favorite is summer. I like the storms because storms can come in various forms and in all seasons. Winter would be more rigid and perhaps that would be the vulnerability.

  • Barbara Elness says:

    I really enjoyed the excerpt and look forward to reading The Winter King.
    I enjoy summer more than winter – I’m from a warm climate so I can handle heat better than cold. I believe I’d choose Khamsin’s ability to raise and use storms.