BWW Interview: L.R.W. Lee, Author of LULLABY

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Last month, BroadwayWorld reviewed brand-new fantasy novel LULLABY by L.R.W. Lee, the first in The Sand Maiden series.

Today, L.R.W. Lee sat down to dish secrets about her new novel and share an excerpt as a special Valentine's Day treat!

BWW Interview: L.R.W. Lee, Author of LULLABY

~Describe LULLABY in ten words or less to new readers just discovering it!

I think Rachel E. Carter summarized it best when she said: sorcerers, princes, kickass fight scenes, epic magic, and dazzling romance

~What inspired you to gender-bend the tale of the Sand Man and turn it into a high fantasy series?

I had just finished a seven-book epic fantasy series and was on the hunt for a new, killer idea for my next series. When that's the case, all sorts of things can trigger me that wouldn't normally. Well, my trigger was wiping "sand" from my eyes one morning. I gasped and said, "The Sand Man!" But I wanted to have a kickass heroine and not a male as the protagonist, especially as strong females is what most YA and NA books focus on these days. So I thought, what if, instead of the sand man, I make it the sand maiden?

~Everyone is buzzing about your gorgeous Charlie Bowater cover! What was your collaboration process like?

Charlie is great to work with. I first pitched her the idea with my synopsis and her reaction was "Ooooo." LOL. So after that, I gave her my idea of a general theme of what I wanted on the cover including a single female, in fighting leathers, with some sand element and the Canyon lights (a nod to the Northern Lights that I had gone to see last December in the Yukon). She sketched three initial drawings and I put them up in a couple Sarah J. Maas (since Charlie is very much associated with her) FB fan groups to get preferences. Taking that feedback, she focused on the one we picked and refined it. I asked for a couple tweaks and we settled on the black and white concept. THEN, she colored it in! Be still my heart, what Charlie can do with color and particularly making eyes come to life... We added the title etc after that, and wala it was done :)

Charlie will be doing four more covers for me for this series (Prequel, Book Two, Three, and a Novella told from Rasa's POV), so there's more to look forward to. In fact, I've already given her the general concept for the Prequel's cover and she loved it, too! So look out, I sense another epic original in the works!

~What world-building went into creating the Dream Realm and its citizens?

Lullaby is primarily focused on Wake realm. You'll need to read the Prequel (Coming soon!) for all that is in Dream realm LOL. But broad brush, Dream realm inspiration comes from the mythical character in Western and Northern European folklore who puts people to sleep and brings good dreams by sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of people while they sleep at night. I started there and traced it back to its origins. My brain had a field day running scenarios after that. :)

But for Wake realm, I'll share some of the inspiration, too. I'm always looking for ideas for something unique to bring to my worlds. A couple things that gelled nicely in Lullaby were 1) the little village of Giethoorn in the Netherlands. Google it and you'll immediately see some of Veritas. Now granted, the capital city is much larger, but that village gave me the initial idea. 2) The idea for the color shifting tattoos came from a FB video I saw in which they are using color changing tattoos with some diabetics to help them know their insulin levels without having to poke themselves and draw blood all the time. The color of the ink changes based upon how much insulin is detected. There were lots of other things that inspired Wake realm, but those of two of the top.

~What secrets can you whisper about what to expect as the series continues?

There's a reason why Kennan, specifically, was the one possessed by Ali's father, and it goes beyond the fact that both Ali and Kovis care for him.

There's also a reason why Kovis and Ali got to the point they did in their relationship and not further.

That's all I'll give away *flicks brows*

~What was the inspiration behind Kovis's full name, Prince Kovis Rhys Aldrick Desmond Griffin Darren Altairn?

I am very clear that Kovis would not exist as he does had it not been for the male leads in so many epic fantasy stories. I believe what I read influences what I write. And as a way to honor those characters who most influenced me to write Kovis as I did, I named Kovis what I did... with, I would add, the blessing of each author whose male protagonist I included. In fact, they expressed their gratitude and thanks.

So who are all of these characters who make up his name?

Prince Kovis Rhys Aldrick Desmond Griffin Darren Altairn

Rhy - obviously Rhysand (Sarah J. Maas, A Court of Thorns and Roses series)

Aldrick - Elise Kova, Air Awakens series

Desmond - Laura Thalassa, The Bargainer series

Griffin - Amanda Bouchot, Kingmaker Chronicles

Darren - Rachel Carter, The Black Mage series

Funny enough, these are all medieval names and fit the proper time period. If you haven't read these, I encourage you to. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one.

And now, a special excerpt from LULLABY by L.R.W. Lee, available now!

I heard him before I saw him, his power rippled about the room. And with two more steps, the most beautiful man I'd ever seen, my Dreambeam, stood before me.

He stiffened.

My breath caught.

Everything about him radiated power, refinement, and ease. His tattoo, beige at the moment, stood in contrast against his sun-bronzed skin and peaked out from where the two top buttons of his fine, white shirt hung open. Uncharacteristically, a lock of his close-cut dark-brown hair flopped on his forehead. A shadow, a sun's worth of growth, accented his chiseled jaw. His eyes. I'd lose myself in those pools one of these suns. Dark circles marred their beauty, forming bags beneath. My fault.

With a hand to my back, Allard compelled me to bow.

"Rise. Please." Kovis relaxed once more. His eyes started dancing as he took in my borrowed dress, golden locks, and clasp hands-a death grip seemed the only way I could control these damn appendages.

I shifted as he took a slow step toward me.

Don't bite your lip! I reprimanded myself.

Then another.

Stand still!

Kovis opened his mouth as if to say something, then stopped. "Allard, I'll be dining here, tonight." He flicked his brows at me. "With a guest." I inhaled sharply.

"Yes, my prince," Allard replied. Another guard replaced him as he left.

Kovis continued looking me up and down, not saying a word. So different from those guards, his study sent excitement rather than revulsion through me. I felt like a fly in a spider's web, and I couldn't stop myself from fidgeting. Was he trying to intimidate me? He did a good job. But I couldn't allow him to. I pulled my chin up. But his eyes, so much more beautiful in person. And their hazel centers. I tried, but failed to calm my breathing.

I stayed rooted to my spot as he took another step toward me. "You clean up well. You're very beautiful." His voice, a purr.

"Thank you." I felt my cheeks warm, bringing a smile to Kovis's lips.

"You didn't address me when you bowed just now."

The cut of his clothes showed off how impressive he was, and tingling erupted in my stomach.

"I'm sorry."

He took another step toward me, and I wondered if he could hear my heart race.

"You called me by my first name. That night," he said.

I averted my gaze to the floor. "I'm sorry. It was inappropriate of me."

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kovis tilt his head. He took another slow step forward. "No one other than my family has ever done that."

"I'm sorry." I wrung my hands.

Another step. I felt like prey, frozen, unable to help myself even if I tried. Which I didn't. I'd wanted to drink in his presence since before I could remember. But utter terror gripped me. Finally. To be this close to him. In the flesh.

My stomach's tingling increased.

"My name rolled right off your tongue, as if familiar."

Kovis stood before me, one hand behind his back. He placed a finger under my chin and lifted my face up until our eyes met. "And you called me your 'Dreambeam'?"

My face burned. I wanted to stare a hole in the floor, but Kovis's hand made that impossible. "It's a term of endearment," I squeaked, looking anywhere but at him.

Kovis smiled. "Yes, I'm familiar with the nature of the term. But why?"

I thought I'd burn up on the spot.

A knock at the door proved my savior. The gods still cared about me!

Kovis didn't move, but I distinctly heard him chuckle-through whatever joined us. I gasped and drew a hand over my gaping mouth.

He winked at me, then commanded, "Come in!"

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