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Alexandra Rowland | 20 Questions: A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON


A Taste of Gold and Iron
Alexandra Rowland

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September 2022
On Sale: August 30, 2022
Featuring: Kadou
416 pages
ISBN: 1250800382
EAN: 9781250800381
Kindle: B09C4FY8WW
Hardcover / e-Book
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Also by Alexandra Rowland:
A Taste of Gold and Iron, September 2022
A Choir of Lies, September 2019
A Conspiracy of Truths, November 2018

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1--What is the title of your latest release?

A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON

 

2--What’s the “elevator pitch” for your new book?

An exquisitely beautiful prince and his stoic, beefy bodyguard investigate a coin counterfeiting plot as their initial mutual dislike transforms slowly into respect, devoted loyalty, and love. Also, a scene where they wash each other’s hair and talk about the ethics of fealty.

 

3--How did you decide where your book was going to take place?

The kingdom of Arasht is one nation in the broader world of Mithalgeard, the setting for all of my fantasy books. Ever since an off-hand mention of “the merchant-princes of Arasht” in my first book, A Conspiracy of Truths, I’ve been really excited to explore this part of the world in more detail. A nation with a vast trade empire and an ability to magically identify the composition of metals meant that they were a compelling setting for a plot involving coin counterfeiting.

 

4--Would you hang out with your heroine in real life?

A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON has two male leads, so I’ll assume this question is about the more “main character” of the two: Kadou, the exquisitely beautiful prince. He’s a very sweet boy, but I have to say that I think most of our hanging out would be me going, “Sweetie, you need to go to therapy. Sweetie. No, don’t change the topic. You gotta go to therapy, my guy. Go get yourself some of those good, good anxiety meds.”

 

5--What are three words that describe your hero?

Depends on which part of the book we’re talking about! At the beginning, the three words for Evemer (the bodyguard of the prince) are: Stoic, inflexible, beefy.
Towards the end: Devoted, gentle, still beefy. Possibly beefier than before? Did his shoulders get more excellent through the course of the book?? Did his muscles get more sculpted??? That’s what we call character growth.

 

6--What’s something you learned while writing this book?

I learned how incredible it is to write the book of your heart. It requires a lot of honesty and self-reflection, and sometimes a lot of experimentation as you refine and distill your ideas and pare off everything but the bits you really, really love. Long before I ever sold this book, I used to tell people that I’d already gotten paid in the currency of the pure joy of spending time with these characters. That was a life-changing discovery: The revelation that if you’re writing something you adore that much, it doesn’t hurt and it’s never boring, even if you have to rewrite it from scratch seven times—which I did!

 

7--Do you edit as you draft or wait until you are totally done?

Bit of both! Generally, if I get myself stuck, it usually means I took a wrong turn somewhere, so I have to go back and figure out where that was. I don’t usually need much polishing of voice on the sentence/paragraph level, but if there are any small tweaks, I do those as I spot them in the course of skimming over previously written scenes. Really large-scale sweeping edits tend to happen after the end of a draft, though—I have a hard time seeing the big picture when I’m up to my elbows in a draft.

But of course, every book requires a slightly different process, and I adapt to whatever that individual book needs. As I mentioned above, A Taste of Gold and Iron took seven drafts, starting over from a blank page each time with an entirely new plot—and that’s not counting a couple times early on when I wrote just a page or two, determined that that experiment didn’t feel right, and set it aside. It was definitely a very different process from any book I’d written before—but it also meant that by the time I was on that seventh draft, I’d already done all of the large-scale plot revisions and it felt really solid.

 

8--What’s your favorite foodie indulgence?

I really like trying unexpected or unfamiliar flavors of things like ice cream or soda. My local Asian grocery once had this ube-swirl ice cream—it was so delicious that it haunts my dreams to this day.

 

9--Describe your writing space/office!

I do most of my writing while lounging in bed. I gotta be cozy! Also, in cold weather, my hands get cold super fast. So: Piles of pillows, a 2-liter bottle of water on my bedside table, and mountains of blankets if it’s cold.

 

10--Who is an author you admire?

Terry Pratchett. He had this amazing balance between humor and anger, and I so admire his ability to write with such compassion, affection, and honor for humanity in all its messiness and imperfection and occasional splendor— “the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.”

 

11--Is there a book that changed your life?

When I was a child, I had a book of world mythology with really amazing, evocative illustrations, as well as margin comments and photographs of artifacts from the culture of the myth they accompanied. I feel like that book deeply informed the way that I think about the world and all its stories, and it paved the way for me to develop the quite broad-scope approach to world-building that I have now.

 

12--Tell us about when you got “the call.” (when you found out your book was going to be published)

My amazing editor, Ruoxi Chen, was my top choice for editor for this book, due to the many conversations we’d had about media, fandom, our favorite tropes, and so on. I knew without a doubt that she would get the book—she’d see what I was trying to do and really understand why it was so important to me to write it. I had a call with her and my agent before she made the offer, just to chat about the book and make sure that we were all on the same page about what improvements needed to be made. It was one of those conversations that you walk away from with a big grin—because she had gotten what the book was trying to do and what it meant to me, and that was such a joy.

The conversation went so well that when I got off the phone, I was pretty sure that it was in the bag. I twiddled my thumbs until my agent called back about ten minutes later to tell me that it was, indeed, in the bag, and then I did the customary and traditional happy dance around my room. And ordered pizza, as one does.

I feel a little odd recounting this because it was quite a privileged position to be in—I had an established career, I had established personal connections in the publishing industry, I had unshakable confidence in the manuscript. So much of the process of both writing and publishing this book has been... not effortless, that’s the wrong word because it did take six years and a lot of effort to get to write the book in all its seven drafts. But at every stage, that effort involved in the process was always strangely painless in a way that I’ve never experienced with the other books I’ve published. I don’t have any explanation for that part, except that this seems to be the kind of magic that happens when you write the story that makes your heart sing.

 

13--What’s your favorite genre to read?

Oh, fantasy for sure. I may dabble in other genres from time to time, but fantasy is always what I come home to.

 

14--What’s your favorite movie?

Space Sweepers! It’s a Korean film about trash collectors in space and you should go watch it IMMEDIATELY. It’s splendid, cathartic, and has some amazingly funny moments to balance out the tension and thrilling action sequences.

 

15--What is your favorite season?

I grew up in Florida which doesn’t really have distinct seasons to speak of. Now that I’ve moved to Massachusetts, my favorite bit is the transition between seasons. It always takes me by surprise to go outside and notice that things are different. I never stop finding it a huge novelty.

 

16--How do you like to celebrate your birthday?

I don’t really do anything to celebrate! I get some take-out and try to have a nice day doing fun things, and that’s about it.

 

17--What’s a recent tv show/movie/book/podcast you highly recommend?

For a book rec: I am always, always yelling about The Hands of the Emperor by Victoria Goddard—if you think A Taste of Gold and Iron sounds excellent, you would love this one as well! It’s a fantasy book about an unwilling emperor who just wants to be seen and treated like a human instead of a god, his devoted personal secretary with radical political views about reforming the government, and their journey past fealty into true, deep, heartfelt friendship. Also, they hold hands, but the handholding is such a slow burn that they actually manage to institute Universal Basic Income first. It is my favorite book of all time, hands down.

For a podcast rec: I love Campaign: Skyjacks, which is an actual-play RPG podcast about skyship pirates, set in a fantasy world based on the music of the Decemberists. The game master, James D’Amato, is one of the best storytellers I’ve ever heard, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the masterful work by the soundtrack composer, Arne Parrott, and the audio editor, Casey Toney. The story is beautifully guided by James, hilariously and/or heart-wrenchingly improvised by his players, and stunningly, gorgeously enhanced by Arne and Casey’s work. The show is crafted with such love by the whole team that it shines—and of course, the story is fantastic.

 

18--What’s your favorite type of cuisine?

Omg, I’m expected to pick just one? Dumplings of any variety, then! By which I mean anything that’s wrapped in dough or a dough-adjacent material and cooked (eg: xiao long bao, empanadas, pierogis...)

 

19--What do you do when you have free time?

I do lots of fiber arts! Knitting, weaving, spinning... I’ve tried my hand at every type of fiber art you can name, and some that you probably can’t! Nalbinding? Yep. Raising silkworms? Also yes.

 

20--What can readers expect from you next?

I’m not quite at liberty to talk about any specific upcoming projects just yet, but there are a few things in the works that I’m deeply excited about which will hopefully be announced soon. In general terms, though, you can always expect me to serve up more queer fantasy about people having really big feelings! If you’d like to be notified of updates about new projects, please do subscribe to my newsletter or join my official Discord server, both linked on my website.

A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRON by Alexandra Rowland

A Taste of Gold and Iron

Kadou, the shy prince of Arasht, finds himself at odds with one of the most powerful ambassadors at court—the body-father of the queen's new child—in an altercation which results in his humiliation.

To prove his loyalty to the queen, his sister, Kadou takes responsibility for the investigation of a break-in at one of their guilds, with the help of his newly appointed bodyguard, the coldly handsome Evemer, who seems to tolerate him at best. In Arasht, where princes can touch-taste precious metals with their fingers and myth runs side by side with history, counterfeiting is heresy, and the conspiracy they discover could cripple the kingdom’s financial standing and bring about its ruin.

 

LGBTQ | Fantasy Historical [Tordotcom, On Sale: August 30, 2022, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9781250800381 / eISBN: 9781250800404]

Buy A TASTE OF GOLD AND IRONAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Apple Books | Kobo | Google Play | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Book Depository | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Alexandra Rowland

Alexandra Rowland

Alexandra Rowland is the author of A Conspiracy Of TruthsA Choir Of Lies, and Finding Faeries, as well as a co-host of the Hugo Award nominated podcast Be the Serpent, all sternly supervised by their feline quality control manager. They hold a degree in world literature, mythology, and folklore from Truman State University.

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