Interview with T C Southwell

How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is entirely responsible for my success. When I gave up on the traditional publisher route in 2010, after numerous rejections, I was convinced my dream of publishing my books was doomed. Then I read a blog interview with a successful Smashwords author and decided that the indie route might be worth a try. My books had been gathering dust on my hard drive for about 20 years at that stage. I felt I had nothing to lose. It was the indie route or nothing. The success of my books via Smashwords stunned me. I was over the moon and pinching myself daily. It seemed too good to be true. The fabulous reviews the books got blew me away. It totally changed my life. After a few months, I was able to give up my day job and dedicate myself to writing full time, which is what I'd always wanted to do. Thank you Mark and Smashwords, you made all my dreams come true!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Exploring fantastic worlds and meeting the amazing characters who populate them. I love all my heroes and heroines, so following their stories and sharing in their trials and tribulations is a wonderful adventure. As a 'channeller', writing is as effortless for me as reading. The stories just appear in my mind as I write, fully formed, and all I have to do is chronicle them for the future. I started writing stories in school, just for fun, and so that I could read them again. That continued until I wrote my first series - Slave Empire - when I was in my mid-twenties. When I'm writing, I'm transported into the other world, and this world becomes inconsequential, so it's the greatest form of escapism for me.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are incredibly important to me. They helped to make my dreams come true, and their enjoyment of the books lifts my spirits and makes me smile. Whenever I'm feeling a bit down in the dumps, all I have to do is read their wonderful reviews and all my troubles melt away. It's my greatest joy, after writing, and I'm forever grateful to each and every one who made positive comments or wrote glowing reviews that contributed so much to the books' success. They inspire me to write more, because I want to give back some of the joy they've given me. When they tell me they've read a series over 30 times and they're reading the books again and still enjoying them, I'm gobsmacked!
What are you working on next?
I plan to continue the Demon Lord series, since I have that channel, so Book IX is next on my 'to do' list. In fact, I've already started it, but must put it on hold for a little bit while I do the promotions for Book VIII - When Angels Fall.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen R. Donaldson, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant series totally immersed me in his world, Tolkien's amazing flare for creating all aspects of a fantasy world - even his own language - blew me away, and C. S. Lewis is responsible for introducing me to fantasy as a child with his Narnia series.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
On days when all I have to do is write, the prospect of escaping into one of my fantasy or sci-fi worlds makes getting out of bed a real pleasure. Writing also keeps me up late at night, but I don't feel tired until I stop.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend a lot of time creating covers for my books, and, of course, editing. That's a full time job that never ends, but it's a pleasure, so it's my second favourite thing to do after writing. I find I get caught up in the stories, though, and forget to edit! Other than that, I ride my superbike, watch a bit of TV and create digital art on my PC. Sometimes I play computer games.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Only parts of it. I wrote it in school when I was about 13 years old. It was about horses. I love horses, and I loved the Silver Brumby books back then. So it was along those lines, inspired by those books. I wrote it longhand in notebooks, and I still have them somewhere.
What is your writing process?
I start a book with a scene that pops into my head. When I write it, the next part of the story 'downloads' into my mind, and I follow it. I don't know what's going to happen in the next paragraph, never mind the next chapter, until I write it. The things my characters do and the twists and turns in the plots are all surprises to me. I can't change what happens. If I try, my mind goes blank, and I have to go back to the place where I left the 'channel' and follow it again. I sometimes write about things that seem unimportant and wonder what purpose they serve, only to find out several chapters, or even books, later that they are actually vital to the story. It's effortless, as long as I have a channel. When I don't have a channel, it's extremely frustrating, but that happens rarely, and usually only when real life interferes and I can't 'hook in'. Once I have a channel, I'll write non-stop for hours, only pausing for coffee-making and potty breaks. My longest stint was 14 hours.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was Charlotte's Web, and it instilled a deep compassion for animals in me. To this day, I'm an animal lover, and I wish I could do more to help the poor creatures that suffer so much at the hands of mankind. I have rescued several, and had many beloved pets. I'm sure I would have loved animals anyway, but Charlotte's Web somehow inspired an empathy in me, or deepened it, perhaps. I'll never forget that book.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to draw a scene from the book, primarily, or, failing that, the hero or heroine. Since I'm a perfectionist, drawing a perfect image of the characters I see so clearly in my mind is hard to do! I can spend days and sometimes even weeks trying to perfect a cover art, and failing. Then, the process becomes extremely frustrating! I can't give up, though, even if I want to, as the books all need covers. Once I have an image I'm reasonably happy with, I choose a font and experiment with colours until I find a combination that 'pops' nicely so the title is legible even on a thumbnail. That must be taken into consideration during the image creation, too. Fortunately, one of my previous careers was as a commercial artist, and I was born with a natural talent for art - my mum and dad were both artists, and so are my brother and sister. It runs in the family. Digital art, however, is a whole new ballgame, and something I've only recently tried. Learning how to use the software is part of the challenge.
Published 2013-10-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Demon Lord VIII - When Angels Fall
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 8. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 90,230. Language: British English. Published: November 26, 2013. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The archangel Majelin has been imprisoned and tortured in the underworld of Sherinias’ domain for five centuries. Eventually, his light will die and he will fall to the darkness. Whispers of a tar’merin travelling with Kayos have reached Airedene, the Sacred City of Angels, giving Sarmalin hope that her husband might be saved, and she goes to plead with the Demon Lord.
Demon Lord VII - Dark Domain
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 7. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 72,510. Language: English. Published: June 2, 2012. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The Demon Lord must face three dark gods, possibly four, in order to keep the child goddess Kayos has awakened safe. At the same time, he is beset by the people whose domain Sherinias now rules, who do not believe in gods. They know all about evil, and have been trying to fight it for centuries, with dire consequences. Their attempts hamper Bane, however, and place him in additional danger.
The Cyber Chronicles IX - Precipice
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 9. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 69,270. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Tassin has rushed into danger in a bid to rescue Sabre, and she and Tarl have been kidnapped, but the man who holds her prisoner is a high king with strange ties to Myon Two, and Tassin learns the truth about Sabre’s origins. The cyber, however, cannot cope with the plethora of illogical, painful emotions the loss of the girl he loves brings, for he is convinced he will never find her again…
The Cyber Chronicles VIII - Scorpion Lord
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 8. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,130. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
When Sabre wakes to find himself a prisoner of Myon Two, destined to be the subject of painful experiments, he seeks to evade his fate if he can. Escaping Myon Two has always been impossible, however, although two sympathetic young technicians try to find a way, while Tassin and Tarl, trapped on Omega Five, strive to locate Sabre’s emergency beacon to summon Overlord Fairen to his aid…
The Cyber Chronicles VII - Sabre
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 7. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 68,410. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
When Tassin and Sabre finally reach Omega Five, they discover that four years have passed there, and her cousin Dellon is now King of Arlin. With no allies other than the young King Sharmian, ruler of the smallest kingdom, Mandor, and Torrian’s puppet, Sabre is once again Tassin’s only way to regain her throne, and must pit his skills against medieval knights in a bid to win back her crown.
The Cyber Chronicles VI - Warrior Breed
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 6. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 85,660. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
After an explosion destroys their ship, Sabre, Tassin and the ex-cyber technician, Tarl, escape a spacial anomaly only to end up aboard a Trykon warship. The race of giant humans is the ultimate warrior breed, and every aspect of their society and hierarchy is decided by combat. Sabre, however, needs a ship to reach Omega Five, and the Trykons have never encountered a cyber before…
The Cyber Chronicles V - Overlord
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 79,710. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Myon Two enforcer ships are on the brink of capturing Sabre, Tassin and the two friends who are helping them return to Omega Five in an old freighter, and all seems lost. Sabre sends a universal distress message in a last ditch bid to save Tassin from Cybercorp, but the gigantic ship that appears in answer to his call is an Overlord, and worse still, it is the Spider Lord…
The Cyber Chronicles IV - Cyborg
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 71,820. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
After three years of grinding misery, Tassin finds the one thing that will enable her to go in search of Sabre, but she is soon lost in a modern world. With the help of a young hacker, she sets out to track Sabre down, not knowing whether he will still be able to free himself from the control unit. If Myon Two has repaired it, there is a possibility he may never get free again…
Slave Empire III - The Shrike
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Series: Slave Empire, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 86,610. Language: English. Published: February 23, 2011. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
The Shrike’s mystery has protected him for decades, but now Rayne knows the truth, and she longs for more from her gentle, but aloof husband. If she leaves his protection and the Atlanteans discover his secret, he will die and his empire will fall… Before it does, however, the Slave Empire will exact the most terrible retribution, and even the Atlantean Empire will not withstand its wrath…
The Queen's Blade Prequel II - God Touched
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 8. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 68,190. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
A dangerously unpredictable and angry, pitiless and cold-hearted young assassin stalks the streets of Jondar. He is the Master of the Dance, able to achieve apparently impossible assassinations, unseen. Many would like to kill him, and some try, but Blade seems to lead a charmed life. He has a destiny to fulfil, and only a lowly harlot and her familiar know what he truly is: God Touched.
The Queen's Blade Prequel I - Conash: Dead Son
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 7. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 74,770. Language: English. Published: February 8, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
He is destined to change the fate of three kingdoms... Born during a midwinter blizzard, under a Death Moon, the boy who will become a legend comes into the world in a river of blood, dead. His father names him Conash: Dead Son. His innocent act will bring Jashimari to the brink of defeat and condemn him to a lifetime of pain and sorrow… Thus begins the legend of the Queen’s Blade.
The Broken World Book Four - The Staff of Law
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Series: Broken World, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 77,790. Language: English. Published: January 7, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The broken world falls deeper into madness without the laws that govern life, and the son Talsy bears Chanter is an abomination, able to kill with his stunted powers. The young Mujar who roams the lawless land, blinded by golden fire, is the world’s last hope. The chosen must brave the madness to find him, but if the Ghost Riders find them only a creature of the chaos can save them…
The Broken World Book Three - A Land Without Law
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Series: Broken World, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,140. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The broken world will descend into chaos unless the Staff of Law is restored, but the pieces are lost. Knowing that the world is doomed, Chanter creates a safe haven for the Chosen, but Talsy persuades the Mujar to take her on a quest to find the pieces of the staff. Yet even if they succeed, the laws have been lost forever, scattered by the winds and turned to dust... Or have they?
The Queen's Blade VI - Lord Protector
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 6. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 108,080. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The legendary assassin’s life is in grave danger. With the deaths of a dozen princes and a king on his tally, the Queen’s Blade is a target for vengeance, and his enemies are powerful. No one knows if Blade is dead or alive when he vanishes again, but the Regent mourns his loss. Two queens, a regent and a king hunt for Blade, who must fight free of fate’s cruel grip.
Demon Lord VI - Son of Chaos
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 6. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 70,800. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2010. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
A Grey God’s impregnable shield sphere is his last defence, but a domain Key might unravel it and force him to flee into the unknown, for to Move in the God Realm is to be lost… Bound and powerless, the Demon Lord is doomed unless a light god comes to his aid, but he can no longer wield the shadows. Kayos waits for his dark son to free him, and his time is running out…
Demon Lord V - God Realm
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 5. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 70,090. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2010. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
The trackless and dangerous God Realm is shaped by the will of the gods who roam it, and the creatures of darkness that inhabit it prey upon the doomed mortals who wander its shifting wastes… Even a mortal dark god may not survive its traps and treachery, and a Grey God is a beacon that draws the darkness. Kayos’ shield sphere may not protect him from a dark god with a Key…
Demon Lord IV - Lord of Shadows
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 4. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,240. Language: English. Published: December 29, 2010. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
A captive goddess, a doomed domain and a young dark god who must save the light… Even with his spirit father, Kayos, to guide him, Bane struggles to deny the dark power’s corrupting influence. A tar’merin may stray from the light if his heart is weak, and the darkness will try to seduce him. In order to retain his sanity and fight for the light, Bane must become the Lord of Shadows…
The Cyber Chronicles Book III - The Core
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 78,100. Language: English. Published: December 27, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Sabre’s time is running out, and he decides to complete the cyber’s mission and destroy the Death Zone. Therefore, he must travel to its source: the Core, something so powerful that it bends space and time and draws slices of other worlds into its sphere of influence. He doubts that he will survive the encounter, but death will be better than being returned to the horror of cyber control…
Demon Lord III - Grey God
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,130. Language: English. Published: December 26, 2010. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
When Kayos, Lyriasharin’s father and a Grey God from the times before reckoning, returns to Myrthran after a thousand years, he is displeased to find a young mortal dark god in his domain. He soon discovers, however, that Bane is the rarest of all the gods. He is tar’merin: incorruptible, and therefore has the potential to wield the shadows to fight for the light.
Superstar
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Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 99,240. Language: English. Published: December 23, 2010. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
When Carrin meets her idol, Mark Lord, and he seems to really like her, she’s thrilled, but soon she suspects that he has an ulterior motive. Why would he choose a mousy farm girl over beautiful actresses and supermodels? His Oscar-winning acting talents don’t fool her – oh, no, she’s got him pegged, and he’s not adding her to his undoubtedly massive collection of bedpost notches!
The Broken World Book Two - StarSword
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Series: Broken World, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,840. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Fate has changed for a chosen few, who set off across the Wilden Sea in a stone ship that Chanter created, heading for the Plains of Redemption to escape the Black Riders. When they reach the western continent, however, they find themselves in a land gone mad. The spirits of earth and forest have turned against Trumankind, and to set foot upon the soil is certain death.
The Queen's Blade V - Master of the Dance
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 124,410. Language: English. Published: December 21, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Captured and condemned, the Queen’s Blade is forced to face his fate and fight a deadly duel with a Master of the Dance to survive. More treacherous Cotti princes must die and the Regent’s life is in danger. Blade’s legendary skills are tested to the extreme and his web of lies and deceit is challenged, but nothing touches the frozen heart and icy mind of a killer whose heart died long ago.
The Queen's Blade IV - Sacred Knight of the Veil
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 117,510. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Fifteen years have passed since Blade vanished, and plotting Cotti princes threaten the peace of the three kingdoms again. Only the Queen’s Blade can save the child Queen, but he must take up the office he scorns and become a sacred Knight of the Veil. However, a bargain with Shamsara sends him into the desert on a seemingly impossible quest that will bring him a mighty reward... if he succeeds.
The Queen's Blade III - Invisible Assassin
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 84,770. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
A fallen kingdom, a captured queen, and an assassin who could save them both… His queen is the enemy king’s prisoner, but the Queen’s Blade refuses to serve his foe. Unless he slays those who plot against her, however, she will die. Cotti Princes will taste the assassin's blade to ensure her safety and win his freedom, but powerful men plot his demise and that of the infant queen.
The Queen's Blade II - Sacrifice
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,980. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
The Queen’s Blade faces a challenge for his title of Master of the Dance during Jondar’s last days, as two armies converge on the doomed city. The young Queen Minna-Satu prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice and save her kingdom by placing the daughter of the Cotti King on the Jashimari throne. The Princess’ life is in danger, and Blade seeks a painless death as his enemy approaches…
The Broken World Book One - Children of Another God
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Series: Broken World, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 93,330. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
When a young peasant girl is injured while hunting, she meets a strange, magical man who is a member of a despised race – Mujar. Truemen scorn the shape-shifting unmen for their odd, humble ways, and envy their power over the elements. Now a scourge is sweeping the land, armies of mounted warriors who cannot be defeated are wiping out Truemankind without mercy.
The Queen's Blade
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Series: The Queen's Blade, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 81,340. Language: English. Published: December 18, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
A doomed kingdom, a young queen’s sacrifice and a killer who will bring an empire to its knees... In a world where men share kindred with beasts, an ageless seer predicts a child who will end the Endless War. One man is the instrument who will change fate. He will usher in a time of strife and pain that will live in legend, and forever bear his name... the time of the Queen’s Blade.
The Cyber Chronicles Book II: Death Zone
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 82,700. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
In order to escape Tassin’s enemies, Sabre takes her into the Death Zone, the most perilous place on the planet, a terrifying realm where natural laws hold no sway and life hangs by a thread. Only the deadly abilities he hates so much will keep her safe, forcing him to use them whilst he strives to learn what it is to be human, confused by his forbidden feelings for the high-spirited Queen.
The Cyber Chronicles - Book I: Queen of Arlin
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Series: The Cyber Chronicles, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 79,080. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » General
When Queen Tassin is forced to flee her kingdom on the backwater planet of Omega V, she has no idea that the strange warrior who helps her is a cyborg; the deadliest hi-tech killing machine ever created. Her world has forgotten the technology that almost destroyed it, but then a freak accident damages the micro-supercomputer that controls Sabre, and he is free to take charge of his destiny…
Slave Empire - The Crystal Ship
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Series: Slave Empire, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 67,570. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Rayne dreads the coming of the Crystal Ship and the legendary monster it bears. An Envoy destroyed a world once before, an almost forgotten event. One man, whose life the creature ruined, remembers. The mysterious Shrike has built the Slave Empire on blood and tears, and Rayne must have his help if she is to defeat the Envoy. The battle to protect her will bring three empires to the brink of war.
Slave Empire - Prophecy
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Series: Slave Empire, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 68,120. Language: English. Published: December 17, 2010. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
Alien hunters invade a dying Earth in search of a saviour, and an ancient prophecy predicts a golden child who will save a galactic empire. A mysterious black ship is Rayne’s guide and a masked outlaw known as the Shrike her guardian. Others want to slay her and prevent the prophecy from coming true. In the midst of two great empires’ strife, the Shrike holds the power to save or destroy her.
Dark God
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 121,440. Language: English. Published: December 16, 2010. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
After breaking the Seventh Ward and unleashing the dark god Arkonen upon the Overworld, Bane, Demon Lord, is close to death. The Black Lord has betrayed him and left him to die from exhaustion and the ill effects of the dark power. Only the young healer’s fragile and misunderstood hold on his heart makes him cling to life, and Mirra begs him to save the Overworld, as only he can, but will he?
Demon Lord
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Series: Demon Lord, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 107,330. Language: English. Published: December 16, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Seven blue wards have imprisoned the Black Lord in the Underworld for aeons. Now he has stolen a human child and made him a mortal god. After eighteen years of torturous training, Bane sets forth to break the wards with aid of a dark army. The Demon Lord will release Arkonen and destroy the Overworld unless an innocent young girl can turn him from his savage path...