Today I am welcoming Marian L. Thorpe into the Indie Spotlight!
Taught to read at the age of three, words have been central to Marian’s life for as long as she can remember. A novelist, poet, and essayist, Marian has several degrees, none of which are related to writing. After two careers as a research scientist and an educator, she retired from salaried work and returned to writing things that weren’t research papers or reports.
Her first published work was poetry, in small journals; her first novel was released in 2015. Empire’s Daughter is the first in the Empire’s Legacy series: second-world historical fiction, devoid of magic or other-worldly creatures and based to some extent on northern Europe after the decline of Rome. In addition to her novels, Marian has read poetry, short stories, and non-fiction work at writers’ festivals and other juried venues.
Marian’s other two passions in life are birding and landscape history, both of which are reflected in her books. Birding has taken her and her husband to all seven continents. Prior to the pandemic, she and her husband spent several months each year in the UK, for both research and birding, and she is desperately hoping to return.
Hello Marian, welcome to my blog!
What made you decide to publish your books independently? What was your path to publication?
I had queried my first book, Empire’s Daughter, and it had been accepted by a small start up press in 2013. I worked with their editors for a year (they made significant improvements to the manuscript – I learned a lot in that year!) but they were undercapitalized and went out of business before publication. I had at the same time just been diagnosed with cancer, and I had to face that I might not have another three years to spend querying. If I wanted to see the book in print, I had to self-publish. Luckily my contract had included specific language on what happened in this situation, and there was no problem with the rights reverting to me. Preparing the manuscript for publication with KDP/Create Space kept me nicely diverted through eight months of surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. That was seven years and six books, ago, and both I and the book series are going strong.
What made you decide to write in your specific genre rather than other genres?
I (nor anyone else) – am actually sure what my genre is. Non-magical historical fantasy is what I mostly call it: the world I have created is reminiscent of Europe after the decline of Rome, but with different geography and social structures. I wanted to explore some questions around both gender roles and sexuality, but also universal questions about duty and tradition, the conflict between love of place and love of a person, and I wanted to do it without magic to complicate—or or simplify—the situation. Real world questions but in a different setting, without history’s limits.
Have you ever written in other genres?
Yes. I have written and published poetry, urban fantasy short stories, and creative non-fiction focused on landscape and place.
Do you only read the genre that you write?
Almost the exact opposite. With a few exceptions, I don’t read fantasy. I read a lot of historical fiction, some science fiction, mysteries, and a lot of non-fiction: nature writing and history, mostly.
What are you currently reading? Watching on TV? Is there a type of music you listen to for inspiration?
Currently reading: Fiction: Jonathan Nevair’s Jati’s Wager, science fiction (space opera) inspired by classical writing. His previous book, Goodbye to the Sun, had Antigone as the inspiration; Jati’s Wager reflects the Trojan War. Non-fiction: Guy de la Bédoyère’s Praetorian
Watching on TV: Vikings, The Crown, Call the Midwife.
Music: Traditional and modern folk music and Celtic rock music. I don’t listen while I write, but songs have been a strong influence on my books, especially Oraiáphon and Empire’s Reckoning, where the narrator is a musician himself.
I loved both Goodbye to the Sun and Jati’s Wager and I enjoyed watching The Crown.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Read. Read. Read. Outside your genre, outside your country’s body of literature. Then think about what you read: the pacing, the structure and cadence and rhythm of words; the feelings they evoke, the rise and fall of the plot and character arcs. You’ll figure out what works for you, and what doesn’t. And likely you’ll start out mimicking, but after a bit, you’ll find your own voice.
What are you working on right now and what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
August 30 saw the publication of my newest book, Empire’s Heir, the 6th title in the Empire’s Legacy series. I’ve just begun the planning and research for Empress & Soldier, set in the same world and with the same characters, but not in the direct line of the series. It will overlap with my third book, Empire’s Exile, near its end, and can serve as a second entry point into the later books of the series.
Thank you for joining me on my blog today , Marian. I wish you good luck with all or your books!
Empire’s Legacy – 6 Book Series
In a land where men and women live divided lives, the Eastern Empire is a myth evoked in ceremony, the truth lost in time. When invasion threatens, the young fisherwoman Lena chooses to defend her country, against the wishes of her partner. As Lena accepts the life of a soldier, the intrigues of her Emperor send her north to a land where learning is valued and history is not forgotten. Her life becomes entwined with those of two men, the enigmatic, angry Cillian, scholar and envoy, and the young musician, Sorley. Circumstances take them far from the known world to learn if the Empire of the East still exists – and if it does, will it come to the aid of its long-forgotten province?
Evocative of Europe after the decline of Rome, Empire’s Legacy is a story of love and sacrifice, choice and consequence, and the deep longing for home.
An Emperor’s request. A lover’s refusal. And a young woman who must choose between them.
Many generations past, the great empire from the east left Lena’s country to its own defences. Now invasion threatens…and to save their land, women must learn the skills of war. But in a world reminiscent of Britain after the fall of Rome, only men fight; women farm and fish. Lena’s choice to answer her leader’s call to arms separates her from her lover Maya, beginning her journey of exploration: a journey of body, mind and heart.
Winner of multiple awards, both individually and as part of the first Empire’s Legacy trilogy, Empire’s Daughter is neither magical fantasy nor historical fiction, but a unique world both familiar and unfamiliar – an empire on the edge of history.
Empire’s Daughter: Eric Hoffer Award Finalist, 2021; B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree, 2021; BBNYA Semi-Finalist, 2021; Readers’ Favorite 5-star award, 2021 & Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Fantasy Book of the Year Silver Medal, 2019 (both as part of Empire’s Legacy: The Complete First Trilogy)
A task she cannot refuse. A land that holds secrets. And a man Lena doesn’t know if she can trust.
Now a soldier, Lena is sent to stand hostage to a truce with a country that holds knowledge long forgotten in her own. Kidnapped by the fierce Marai, she faces a future she cannot accept. When she learns of immediate danger to her land, Lena must cooperate with a man she neither knows nor likes. But when their actions have consequences neither could foresee, will the outcome be worse than the Marai threat?
Empire’s Hostage: Readers’ Favorite 5-star award, 2021 & Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Fantasy Book of the Year Silver Medal, 2019 (both as part of Empire’s Legacy: The Complete First Trilogy)
A reprieve from death. A city of legend. And a gamble to save everything – and everyone – Lena loves.
Exiled for treason, Lena has few chances of survival in the mountains she must cross. Her companion is of little help. But the fabled city of Casil may lay somewhere to the east – and reaching it is their last, desperate hope for help against the enemy who is overrunning their lands. But does the Eastern Empire still exist – and if it does, will it come to the help of its long-forgotten province?
Empire’s Exile: Readers’ Favorite 5-star award, 2021 & Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Fiction Silver Medal, 2019 (both as part of Empire’s Legacy: The Complete First Trilogy); Gold Medal, Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Fantasy Book of the Year, 2019
What would you do to save the one you love – even if that love is not returned?
Sorley only ever wanted two things: to be a scáeli, a bard, and Cillian. But fate had other plans, and he has begun to shape a new life for himself – until a despairing plea asks him to use every skill of instrument and voice he has, in a final attempt to charm the darkest god into returning the man he loves, even though it will be to another’s arms.
How many secrets can one family have?
For 13 years, Sorley has taught music alongside the man he loves, war and betrayal nearly forgotten. But behind their calm and ordered life, there are hidden truths. When a young girl’s question demands an answer, does he break the most important oath he has ever sworn by lying – or tell the truth, risking the destruction of both his family and a fragile political alliance? Empire’s Reckoning asks if love – of country, of an individual, of family – can be enough to leave behind the expectations of history and culture, and to chart a way to peace.
Empire’s Reckoning: Gold Medal, Coffee Pot Book Club Historical Fantasy Book of the Year, 2020
Some games are played for mortal stakes.
Gwenna, heir to Ésparias, is summoned by the Empress of Casil to compete for the hand of her son. Offered power and influence far beyond what her own small land can give her, Gwenna’s strategy seems clear – except she loves someone else.
Nineteen years earlier, the Empress outplayed Cillian in diplomacy and intrigue. Alone, his only living daughter has little chance to counter the Empress’s experience and skill. Aging and torn by grief and worry, Cillian insists on accompanying Gwenna to Casil.
Risking a charge of treason, faced with a choice he does not want to make, Cillian must convince Gwenna her future is more important than his – while Gwenna plans her moves to keep her father safe. Both are playing a dangerous game. Which one will concede – or sacrifice?
Who is next on Indie Spotlight?
Sverrir Sigurdsson grew up in Iceland and graduated as an architect from Finland in 1966. He pursued an international career that took him to the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and the U.S. His assignments focused on school construction and improving education in developing countries. He has worked for private companies as well as UNESCO and the World Bank. He is now retired and lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and coauthor, Veronica.