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Monday, June 14, 2021

Book Review & Author Interview! Whisper of Darkness by Kristen Braddock

Whisper of Darkness (Banshee's Curse #1) by Kristen Braddock
Genre: Adult Fiction(Fantasy Romance)
Date Published: May 7, 2021
Publisher: Self

Cara Winters is cursed.
Loss has haunted her through life. A fun night out with her sister ends in disaster when she learns she's a banshee. With a chance encounter and life debt owed, she's coerced into a deadly competition in the far realm. To survive she finds an unlikely ally in Killian, a mysterious and prickly dark fae.
The only way to win and get back to Earth is using her powers, but doing so may unravel her to the point of no return.
Perfect for fans of fated mates, enemies to lovers, complicated & diverse characters, slow burn romance, and celtic folklore.
10% of author profits will be donated to Foundations for Divergent Minds Organization.

Whispers of Darkness is the first book in the Banshee's Curse by Kristen Braddock. I've never read a book with a Banshee as a main character before, and she added a lot of intrigue to an already interesting storyline. This is one of those books where each character has their own agenda. You'll find out more and more about these agendas as you go along. They all have good reasons. Even Cara. These characters are pretty complex. They have layers to getting to know them. They could be good or bad. They have aspects of both in them, and they show it by their actions. They're flawed and broken. I loved the process of reading this book. I don't know how to explain it, but the more I read the more I got to know the characters bit by bit as more was revealed about each one. They became real. I found that I enjoyed the subtle glimpses we got of their true selves the most. Not to mention all the action going on around them. There was always something happening. It was funny. It was sad. It was romantic. Whispers of Darkness has it all. And there are still things that happened that I have questions about, so I need the next book yesterday! I need answers! Aaahhk! I feel like I've inadequately described how much I like this book, but this is my favorite book that I've read so far this year.

Whisper of Darkness by Kristen Braddock was kindly provided to me by Silver Dagger Book Tours for review. The opinions are my own.

Killian takes three long strides and drops to one knee in front of me. 

In the distance, the battle still rages, but the sounds barely reach me.

He grips my face in his hands and pulls it up until I look at him. His amber eyes search mine. His features are hard and the scowl doesn’t leave when he speaks. “Why aren’t you fighting?”

My tongue is as useful as a lead weight in my mouth. Why was he asking me this? Why did he care? The only person in any world that cares about me is back on Earth and probably thinks I’m dead. It would be so much easier if it were true. 

His eyes bore into mine, looking into my soul. It’s like he can see every thought and feeling while words fail me.

There’s a ripple in my chest, but it dissipates when Killian jumps up and leaps over my head. Metal clings together at my back, but I simply sit there while the world unfocuses around me. 

Another opponent runs at me, using Killian’s distraction to take their opportunity to end me.

 I imagine Shay screaming at me from the stands. I’m sure if I listen closely enough I would hear his curses for me to fight, to win. My small sword sits beside me. I don’t remember when I dropped it. All I need to do is pick it up and block. A technique he ingrained into me, something we practiced hundreds of times. I stare at it, willing my hands to move and grab it, but the need evaporates. 

It’s better this way. If Cadan can’t get his wish, I don’t deserve to win either. In the end, my curse will always be what wins, and it’s about time it takes me.

A thud sounds from behind me, and within seconds Killian is upon the fae in front. In his act of desperation, he isn’t as careful this time. When he runs across their front, he slices their neck so fast the person doesn’t have time to respond. Blood gurgles from the wound as the body crumples to the ground. 

Another death, but the ringing in my head hasn’t stopped. 

At least it was a quick death.

“Get up,” Killians demands from above me.

My blank stare grazes his silhouette.

“Get. Up.” He grabs me from under my arm and hauls me to my feet. 

I trip into him. 

He catches me around the waist. 

A male fae with pointed ears, battle leathers, and a long sword heads straight for us, but with Killian’s back turned he doesn’t see him. 

No. I can’t lose anyone else. I may not care what happens to me, but I can’t stomach anything happening to Killian. I shove him to the side, sticking my foot behind his ankle so he falls to the ground so he can’t intervene. 

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write? They definitely come to me as I write. That’s part of the fun! Although, I usually start out with a solid main 3, but my favorite characters always end up being the ones I discover later. Cadan is my favorite character in Banshee’s Curse and Aadya is my favorite in Changing Tides, my YA mermaid book which will be released soon. 
Do you see writing as a career? 1000%, yes. Honestly, I don’t think I fully comprehended how much I’d have to do as a writer. The idea of “I’m here to write and that’s all” feels completely absurd to me now. Definitely how I used to think, how the author wrote and others did everything else, but that’s not the case for 90% of authors, especially in today’s publishing world.
What do you think about the current publishing market? It’s evolving and oversaturated. With social media and the transformation of indie publishing over the past ten years, it’s wild… and exciting, stressful, overwhelming, inspiring. I am able to accomplish things I would’ve never thought possible fifteen years ago. However, this does make it very difficult for authors to gain recognition in the current market. The best marketing will and always has been the readers. Authoring is the equivalent to running a small business, so all your readers out there, please know that reviews really help us out. So whatever author you love, definitely give them a shout out on Amazon, Goodreads, Social Media, or wherever you feel most comfortable. I promise you, they will be immensely grateful for it.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why? It depends, I’d prefer silence because music can distract me. However, if I’m at home, and my husband is watching TV in the other room, it can be more distracting for me. So, I made a Spotify writing playlist with various film scores from movies such as Narnia, Hunger Games, LOTR, Maleficent, Star Wars, etc. Recently, I found a Dark Academia Instrumental playlist I enjoy too. I’d be happy to share these playlists with any readers who are interested!
A day in the life of the author? My day is a little nuts since I’m a teacher as well. Usually, I wake up and will get to school about 1.5 hours before school starts, so I can spend the first 45-60 minutes in a structured environment writing. Once school begins, I focus on teaching, grading, and the other parts of my job. If there’s spare moments to write, such as my prep period, I will, but that’s not my priority when the kiddos are around. When the school day is done, I’ll go home, spend time with my pups, start prepping/cooking dinner. My husband will come home, and we’ll have a meal together, maybe watch a show, and then I’ll spend another 1-2 hours writing at the end of my day. My aim is always a minimum of half a chapter per day when I’m in the midst of the writing process. With editing, my goal is to complete one chapter per day at minimum. Also, in between these stretches, I am managing all my author social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, and Tiktok) and marketing. I am conversing with authors, attending meetings, running my New Adult and College Fantasy facebook group, critiquing other writer’s novels, conversing with my cover designer or beta readers, and plenty of other pieces of my small business (aka being an indie author). I am a one woman show right now, but I’m passionate and driven to give it my all.
Advice they would give new authors? I have plenty of advice, I could write a whole book on it. However, what I’ve been doing instead is making informational Tiktoks. So, that’s a great place to learn some advice or ask me questions if I don’t cover something you’re curious about.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? I don’t try to do either. I try to envision what I enjoy in a novel or what I want to read, and I write it. Don’t get me wrong, I totally want my readers to enjoy the book.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Just write. And when they say the best way to become a better writer is to read and write, it’s true. But reading doesn’t need to be “the classics”, it can be books you love within the genre you want to write, and getting better with writing over time is a given because ‘practice makes perfect.’ 
How long on average does it take you to write a book? Changing Tides, my YA mermaid book, I wrote on and off for nine years. Whisper of Darkness took me about six months, and Beyond The Mist (Banshee’s Curse Book 2) took me about five months. I’m getting better all the time. It’s difficult since I’m a full time teacher too and cannot commit to writing at the same level other indie authors can. I truly feel I work two jobs, one of them being the equivalent to a small business.
Do you believe in writer’s block? I had no idea it was a ‘belief’, definitely thought it was a given. Absolutely, I believe in creative/writer’s block. However, what you decide to do when it occurs is what really matters. If I waited for inspiration every single time to write, it would take me years to finish a novel. Nanowrimo helps keep me on track, and forcing words out even if it’s only a page or two. My mantra when this occurs is “You can’t edit a blank page.” I don’t expect my first draft to be perfect, and believe the first draft’s purpose is to help the story exist outside of your head. I will often force out a chapter when I’m not feeling it, and then leave a comment of “expand” for when I go to edit it later. Oftentimes, I will have the inspiration at some point and I can go back and make the chapter better, and I never worry I’m not making any headway at all.

Characters and their worlds have inundated Kristen's mind since she was a kid. Traveling to far off places and having words on a piece of paper transform into entire scenes pulling at her emotions is an obsession.

Her goal as a fantasy author isn't solely to relish in her imagination, but to bring representation to this genre. She wants stories with characters who are diverse inside and out. Their differences are not the focal point of the story, but rather a natural part of their being. Due to this, you will often not only find characters of varying ethnicities, but of the LGBTQ+ community, who battle diseases, are neuroatypical, and plenty of other areas that make us all so different from each other. These are not their defining qualities. It's simply a part of who they are. To further support these communities, Kristen donates 10% of her profits to various organizations.
When Kristen isn't cooped up on her computer or curled up with a book, she is often outdoors-- hiking, snorkeling, diving, camping, etc. 

Currently, she resides in California with her husband and fur babies (two dogs and a cat).  

To learn more about Kristen Braddock and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Signed paperback + Swag Pack (1 winner, US only), 
$15 Amazon giftcard (1 winner, WW),
ebook of Whisper of Darkness (5 winners, WW)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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