Renee Writes

Author Spotlight: A Question of Counsel by Archer Kay Leah

Welcome to this weeks Friday Author Spotlight! Today I have Archer Kay Leah with her book, A Question of Counsel.

AKL author photoArcher Kay Leah was raised in Canada, growing up in a port town at a time when it was starting to become more diverse, both visibly and vocally. Combined with the variety of interests found in Archer’s family and the never-ending need to be creative, this diversity inspired a love for toying with characters and their relationships, exploring new experiences and difficult situations.

Archer most enjoys writing speculative fiction and is engaged in a very particular love affair with fantasy, especially when it is dark and emotionally charged. When not reading and writing for work or play, Archer is a geek with too many hobbies and keeps busy with other creative endeavors, a music addiction, and whatever else comes along. Archer lives in London, Ontario with a same-sex partner and their cat.

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About the Book

AQoC COVERLife hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship.

When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know. Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family—a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship.

Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…

Get it today on Less Than Three Press (Ebook and Print), Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and All Romance eBooks!

Keep reading for an interview with Aeley Dahe from A Question of Counsel:

Where were you born, and what was it like growing up there?

I’m a daughter of the Republic of Kattal, through and through. Though if you’re looking for specifics, I was born in my family’s estate in the tract of Gailarin, one of the main regions in the Republic.

As for growing up there: whether it was fun or dreadful depends on how you look at it. I come from one of the wealthy families, but it hasn’t been the glamourous life people might expect. I couldn’t be carefree like the children I see in the villages, especially since my father was Tract Steward and ran the Gailarin region. He also indulged my desire to train with soldiers, so I had a military upbringing instead of running with the relaxed, picking-flowers-for-fun crowd.

Honestly, though? I adore our home and I’ll bleed for Gailarin, especially since it’s beautiful to the eye and usually peaceful. Growing up, I had a lot of responsibilities other women my age didn’t have. Being a daughter of a politician drew a lot of attention when I didn’t want it, plus a fair helping of skepticism and criticism. That’s probably why I’m so sarcastic. And surly. And mouthy. Wait… NOW I figure that out?

Who was your best friend growing up?

Mayr, though don’t tell him that. It’ll just feed his ego more than I have already. Ha!

All joking aside, it’s always been him. Some days I don’t know how he can stand all the shades of crazy we go through. As Head of the Guard for our estate and my personal guard, he has plenty of reasons to lock me up and destroy the key. He could leave and take over his parents’ farm. He could do a lot of things. But he’s still here — the best brother I have.

Who is your enemy? What makes you enemies?

My brother and his friends. I can handle their arrogance and criticisms and callous behaviour, but I won’t stand for attacking innocent people, destroying homes and villages, and committing crimes so they can control people. Maliciousness and injustice are the best way for anyone to become my enemy.

Did you have a close relationship with your family?

Depends on who you’re actually asking about. I was close to my father — always his daughter, always looking out for him as much as he did me. My mother died when I was three and he never remarried, so by the time I was twelve, I thought taking care of him was what I was supposed to do. And I freely admit: he spoiled me, rotten and good, but I tried to turn that around and spoil him just the same. Losing him killed me. It still does, though some days are better than others.

My brother, Allon, on the other hand… I don’t know what happened. We haven’t ever gotten along. He makes a mess, I clean it up — that’s the extent of our relationship. Though after shaming our family, we’re finished. And now I need a new question. Maybe even a really good joke. Something hilarious. Or absurd.

What was the most embarrassing moment in your life?

Umm… sleeping with a guy and sneaking out of his room without waking him up. No, wait, the whole picture. Me — sober — in bed with some guy I sort of knew while feeling like it was all wrong, but I still needed to see it through. Then waking up in the morning, looking over to realize he was still there, and stringing about twenty nonsensical curses together because I hadn’t really enjoyed it. At all. And I couldn’t remember his name. And I couldn’t tell him *any* of that because he was the son of a highly influential Councilman. So I grabbed my clothes — almost tripping over his pants, just to make things interesting — and snuck into the hallway, naked and desperate for an excuse and a corner to dress in. I ended up hiding behind a statue. Almost got caught by his father. And mine. Almost.

In my defense, I was eighteen. My judgment was pretty flawed. I’m pretty sure it was because of a dare. Actually, it was more likely a bet, because I can’t stand losing. But did I ever taste the panic. He was my first and it was horrible — on my part, not his, just to keep that clear. It’s not strange to most people, just me. That’s when I started thinking my relationship with men was better kept to matters of profession, not attraction. I do better flipping them backside over head than, well, finish that thought however you’d like.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned about life?

Don’t assume you know someone based on their status and family relations, and don’t blindly follow what society tells you to do with regards to anyone. At the end of the day, these don’t make the person. They’re part of our being, not the whole, and they can be deceptive, leading us in the wrong direction. My family and Lira’s family are proof of that. Not to mention that if I followed every rule and expectation, Mayr wouldn’t be my best friend and Lira wouldn’t be my scribe. We’re happy with our arrangements, but society frowns upon them, to say the least.

Who has been the greatest influence in your life? Why?

My father. He taught me almost everything I know, as a person and a leader. He let me choose what I wanted for me and my life. Except for the marriage contract — I’m still holding a grudge for that one. But I looked up to him. With him, I was safe, I was happy, and I learned what it meant to live and work hard to make things better for everyone. To live outside of myself and see the world for its potential.

What is the greatest obstacle you have ever had to face?

Meeting the expectations of others and my own, and showing that I’m worth the time and effort. Taking over my father’s role as Tract Steward hasn’t been easy. He was loved, he was strong, and he made a positive difference in Kattal. So living up to that has been difficult. I want to prove I can be like him but without being *like* him. It’s been a long process.

Have you ever been in love? How did that work out for you?

Love, that which I’m greeted by every morning, am haunted by every day, and surrender to every night… All right, so maybe I’ll leave the love speech to the poets and just say yes. And she came at just the right time in my life when I needed her most. Wait, should I admit that? Or is Lira’s habit of just saying whatever comes to mind rubbing off on me? Then again, it’s not like it’s a secret…

So yes, I’ve been in love and still am. Lira means everything to me. She keeps the loneliness away and makes the difficult times easier to bear. All the while, she’s exactly who she is and without apology. Who we are separately and together makes our relationship exactly what we need it to be.

What kind of clothing do you prefer to wear?

Pants, tunics, shirts, boots, and occasionally a long coat. Not too tight, revealing, or feminine, but nice, comfortable, and well-fitted with some room to move — enough to throw a knife or duck without everything falling out or ripping. I count dresses as a necessary evil, and solely for particular functions or event. Politics, religion, and love are the only three things that can get me into one of those things. Although love’s the only thing that makes it fun to get in or out of one…

What is your favorite food? If it’s an usual one, could you describe it for us?

It’s this pudding we have, cananale, made of minced meat and bitter fruits in a thick sauce made from the broth of roasted vegetables. When you first bite into it, it hits you with such a sour taste, you want to spit it out. But the more you chew, it becomes savoury and really rich and you can’t help but take another bite then devour it. I couldn’t get enough of it as a child, mostly because I loved the rush of that first taste. Now it’s something I look forward to on tough days.

What do you own that would be hardest to part with? Why?

I’m pretty sure the first answer in everyone’s mind would be my weapons. And my first response would usually be that, too, but only because the truth’s a bit of a secret. What can I say? I’m guarded. I don’t like everyone knowing everything about me. I don’t like people knowing how sentimental I can get.

But in this case, maybe I’ll share: it’s the marriage rings my father had made for him and my mother. They’re not just a piece of my parents but a reminder of everything they went through when they were together. Then what my father continued to go through without her. They found the strength to overcome whatever was thrown at them and raise a family while fulfilling their duties to our people. I don’t know how Father did it on his own after she died, but he did. The rings remind me to take all of what they had — what they passed down to me — and give it to Lira.

… and I think I’m turning into a romantic. I’m never going to hear the end of this from Mayr and Lira.

If you could change something about yourself, what would it be? Why?

I wish I could be more open with people — completely and totally honest about myself and what I’m really thinking or feeling. I tend to hide everything that would make me seem vulnerable and sensitive. I’ve always felt like I had to because I have to be strong and prepared for everything. Ready to fix problems, not create more. But that shield can cause more problems. Sometimes people see me as difficult to like because they think I’m tough, or cold, or mean, or something. I’m misunderstood because I can’t open up and say everything I want to. I’m duty first and personal second. But I’m getting better, with Lira’s help. The idea of opening up is a little less frightening when you know someone is there with you, ready to defend your right to be yourself and catch the emotional shield when it splinters.

If you had one day left to live, what would you do with your last day?

That’s easy. I’d spend the morning with Lira locked up in our room with my favourite food and listen to her read. Then get up, dress in something that’s not anything like me, completely ignore my weapons, and spend the afternoon with Mayr, talking to our guards, their families, and taking a trip down to the village. In the evening, have a simple, intimate dinner with those I love.

The last thing would be sitting around a bonfire behind the estate and spending the night with Lira and Mayr, watching the moon come up and light pour across the fields in the valley at the bottom of the big hill the estate is built on. I want that white moonlight on Lira’s face to be the last thing I see. I don’t want to go out in bed or in battle. Just that light. From one light to another.

2 Comments

  1. 4 April, 2016    

    Fun interview — got me interested in the book.

    • Spec Fic Girl Spec Fic Girl
      5 April, 2016    

      Thanks for reading it, Coreena! I’m glad you liked it. 🙂
      – Archer

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