Indie Author Spotlight – Kyra Halland and “Sarya’s Song”

Indie Author Spotlight – Kyra Halland and “Sarya’s Song”





I’m thrilled to bring back a fantastic indie author I’ve had here twice before – Kyra Halland.

Her new book, coming out today, is “Sarya’s Song”



In a world where music is magic, composers and singers weave powerful spells with melodies, harmonies, and voices. Sarya dyr-Rusac has risen from her destitute childhood to become a talented, respected Arranger of musical magic rituals. Then a wedding ritual she wrote goes horribly wrong.

While in self-imposed exile for her failure, amidst a growing number of disasters which the musical Service has been unable to control, Sarya hears music on the wind – music that no one else can hear, music that suggests that there are forces at work in the world unaffected by the practice of musical magic. In search of answers, she returns to the Service, where she has to face the mistakes she made in the past and her complicated relationship with the gloriously talented (and obnoxiously perfect – or is it perfectly obnoxious?) Adan Muari.

Then a nameless man begins to appear in her dreams – a beautiful man in chains, who begs her to sing him free. Is he too dangerous and powerful to deal with, a threat to the man who loves her and to their world, or is he the key to solving the mysteries that threaten to tear the world apart?

Look for it today at Kyra’s website!

I’ve got an interview with Kyra…

How does Sarya’s Song differ from other fantasy novels?

It’s an even blend of fantasy and romance, a balance I have a hard time finding. It’s also based on music; the magic in this world is worked through music. We follow the main character, Sarya, as she pieces together the puzzle of the mysterious music she can hear and how it’s related to the disasters that are causing widespread misery and destruction in her world.

What inspired you to write this book?

I got my Master’s degree in music history, with an emphasis on choral music of the late middle ages and early Renaissance. The musical conventions of that period are very different from what they are now, and inspired the idea of melodies that have magical properties. I combined this idea with a couple of my “character flashes” – random visions of characters that come into my mind. One was of a woman sitting out in the middle of nowhere, holding a lute, and then the wind plays a beautiful but chilling song on the lute. The second was of a man with a voice “like burnt sugar and cream” (those are the exact words that came to me). Then there was the idea of a beautiful, nameless man in chains the woman sees in her dreams. Put them all together, and we have a tale of magic, music, and romance. And demons – can’t forget the demons.

What was the most difficult thing about writing Sarya’s Song?

Getting a good grip on the characters, for one thing. Sarya and Adan originally started out as very different people. Sarya was very unlikeable, and Adan was way too perfect. After some tough love from my writer’s group at the time (this was about 19 years ago!) I explored the characters more thoroughly, and they began evolving into who they are now.

There was also the Plot Hole of Doom, which kept me from being able to finish the novel for so many years. Because of the plot hole, I couldn’t think of an ending that didn’t require all the characters to act like idiots. I finally worked out a plot that hangs together (I hope!) a few years ago, and re-wrote the entire novel from scratch during National Novel Writing Month in 2012.

Are any of the characters modeled after yourself?

Sarya’s research into old music kind of mirrors the sort of thing I did in grad school, so there’s that. It was fun to re-live those days through her. But she isn’t me, and I’m not her. As for the other characters, if you’ve ever been to music school or spent time around musicians, especially singers, you might recognize some character types in the book!

And last, but definitely not least, here’s an excerpt from the book…

(Sarya is returning to the musical school where she used to work after a self-imposed exile. The main thing on her mind, besides the mystery of the strange music she can hear, is avoiding Adan Muari, with whom she has a rather difficult relationship. “Tropes” are melodies that have magical properties.)

The Shrine and the Skola occupied a great square in the center of Sucevita. As Sarya approached the Shrine on the broad avenue that bordered the complex on the west, she saw a myriad of elegant coaches waiting along the street. The carriage closest to the Shrine’s west entrance was decorated for a wedding, with flowers and lengths of white silk ribbon. The doors of the Shrine had been left open, despite the cold, to keep the inside of the Shrine from becoming stuffy and smoky. The sound of the choir singing drifted out through the doorway.

Sarya hesitated, trying to decide what to do. Unless Adan Muari had finally done his family duty and left the Service to marry, he was no doubt singing in this wedding. The Shrine offered the most direct route to the north wing of the Skola, where the Masters’ offices were located, but her chances of avoiding notice – and Adan – would be better if she entered the Skola complex through the stables and the back door of the kitchen at the southwest corner. But, almost against her will, the music drew her into the Shrine like a thirsty woman to water. She found a place in the shadows in the back where she could be unobserved, then leaned against a pillar bedecked with ribbons and flowers and closed her eyes as she listened to the choir.

The vows had already been pronounced before she arrived, and now, at the climax of the ritual, a baritone voice like burnt sugar and cream soared through the Shrine and wrapped around her. The pain of that last argument, of Adan’s words, Maybe you don’t belong here, stabbed fresh into Sarya’s heart. She told herself she should just go on about her business, but, no matter how much it hurt to hear him, she couldn’t tear herself away from the glorious sound of his singing. So she stood and listened, keeping her eyes tightly shut so she wouldn’t have to see him, and hoped to the Creator that she could find what she was looking for and leave again without him ever knowing she had been there.

Vidette Fabara’s brilliant soprano joined Adan’s voice. Her line arched above his and overpowered it, then the two lines came together in a jarring meeting that made Sarya’s teeth clench. She would not have put the two tropes together that way; a slight offset in the rhythm between them would have made their blending much more graceful. She wondered who had written this Arrangement. Grudgingly, she had to admit that it wasn’t even as good as Vidette’s work. Vidette would have wanted to show off her high range during that section, but her own vanity wouldn’t have permitted her to arrange her part so that it clashed so badly with Adan’s. Sarya’s fingers itched for neuming paper and a pen so that she could rewrite the section the way it should be.

But, by running away, she had turned her back on the profession she had come to love, the art of arranging tropes into stirringly beautiful rituals. She would only be at the Skola long enough to try to solve the problem of the unknown tropes, and then she would leave again, this time for good.

The solos ended in an upswelling of the entire choir, and the ceremony neared its conclusion. If she left now, she could beat the choir to the hallway in the north wing that led from the robing room to the Masters’ offices. Keeping to the shadows along the walls of the Shrine, Sarya headed for the east door, which opened into the complex’s central courtyard, then walked along the covered walkway to the north wing.

When she entered the building, it occurred to her that all the Masters were probably at the wedding and not in their offices. She ducked into the nearest hiding place, the recessed doorway of a storage closet between the robing room and the door she had come in through. With any luck, one of the Masters would come down the hall while the members of the choir were still changing from their ceremonial robes into the everyday gray robes of the Service. Or maybe she should go wait somewhere else – like in the kitchen, where they would probably welcome her as long as she was willing to chop some vegetables or wash a few dishes – until after the choir had cleared out.

Before she could make up her mind, the door of the robing room burst open, releasing a flood of choir members into the hallway. She watched from her niche as they passed, then someone needed to get into the storage room. She was forced to step aside, and found herself caught up in the crowd of singers headed for the exit.

And then the last voice she wanted to hear called out, “Sarya! Sarya dyr-Rusac!”

Panicked, she tried to push her way through the crowd towards the Masters’ offices, but Adan caught her by the arm and spun her around to face him. “Where have you been? You left without a word to me or anyone –”

“I didn’t realize I needed your permission to leave.” She tried pull away from him, but his grip on her arm tightened.

“I didn’t know where you were or what had become of you,” he said. “I didn’t even know if you were alive or dead!”

Around them, people were stopping to stare. Sarya tried to turn away from Adan, but he moved with her, giving her no choice but to keep looking at him. “I just need to speak to the Council of Masters about something,” she said, “and then I’ll be off again.”

“Don’t leave.”

“Why not? You said yourself I don’t belong –”

“Damn it, Sarya!” He pulled her against him and pressed his mouth to hers.

Sarya’s legs nearly went out from under her in shock, but he caught her behind her back with his other hand and held her securely. His mouth was warm and hungry against hers; his upper lip and chin were scratchy with late-afternoon whiskers. She told herself she should push him away instead of melting against him while he kissed her as though he were starving and she was his banquet, but she was too busy melting and couldn’t do it. Laughter and whistles came from the crowd around them. “You show her who’s in charge, Muari!” someone called out.

Adan finally let her come up for air. She stood gasping, her knees wobbly and her heart racing, torn between slapping him and dying from embarrassment and – Great Creator God, what a fool she was – wishing the kiss hadn’t ended.




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