A Few Good Elves Toy Soldier Saga Book One by Diane Morrison - Science fantasy, military science fiction, space opera, epic fantasy, dark fantasy, blackpowder fantasy
A Few Good Elves is a blackpowder fantasy military SFF space opera. Imagine all the elements of military science fiction space opera – but with magic, Age of Sail technology, and high fantasy. The star empires at war are orcs and elves, with mages slinging magic, as well as ships exchanging shot. The story focuses on Shaundar Sunfall, a young elven Star-Pilot who lies about his age to join the Avalonian Imperial Navy when war breaks out. Fans of C.S Forester, Patrick O’Brian, Lois McMaster Bujold, David Weber, World of Warcraft or the Forgotten Realms might all find something to enjoy.
Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing your newest book?
It’s a bit of a pet project, so I suppose the hardest thing was figuring out when it was done. I have been fussing over it for literally years, and finally made the decision that this year, it was happening!
Tell us a little bit about your writing career.
I’m what they call a hybrid writer. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but it was relatively late in life that I decided to seriously pursue it. That was a little over ten years ago. My first book, a non-fiction witchcraft how-to called The Witch’s Eight Paths of Power, was published by Weiser Books about two years later. With early success in non-fiction, I found the fiction market very frustrating. I self-published a serial called the Wyrd West Chronicles and entered a couple of anthology projects, such as the Chasing Fireflies anthology from Fiction-Atlas. Then I connected to the people at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and started figuring out how to get my short stories into pro and semi-pro SFF magazines. I then published my serial as a collection through “crowdpublishing,” and followed that up with a crowdpublished anthology called Gunsmoke & Dragonfire, paying royalties to other authors. I’ve had pretty good luck with short stories, and I recently qualified for SFWA membership. I decided it was time to publish my labour of love, the Toy Soldier Saga, and A Few Good Elves is my debut novel. It was also crowdpublished through a successful Kickstarter.
They say Hind-sight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?
Don’t worry about it being perfect. All first drafts are garbage, but that’s what editing is for.
What was your most difficult scene to write?
I don’t want to tell you because it would be a major spoiler. Let’s just say you’ll know it when you read it, because it was very difficult emotionally.
Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much?
Sure, themes are often a significant part of what inspires me, but I hope they’re not too obtrusive. I will feel I’ve done my job if you get the message I’m trying to convey, without noticing that it was a message.
What are you working on now?
I’m doing the final edits on book 2 of the series, To Know Your Enemy, and a major rewrite of book 3, Brothers in Arms. I’m also working on increasing my catalogue of short stories.
Is there a release date planned?
The Kindle version released Sept. 7, and the paperback is releasing October 1. There will also be a hardback that will release about a week later. The wide release of the ebook should happening right about now!
Who is your favorite character from your own stories, and why?
From all my own stories? Honestly, they’re like my kids: I like them all for different reasons. But I tend to identify with the little firebrand types best, like Tyelatae Vesper in A Few Good Elves, and Piper Walsh in the Wyrd West Chronicles.
Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?
The Dark is Rising by Susan B. Cooper. If you don’t know it, it’s a modern Arthurian interpretation geared to young adults.
What are your plans for future projects?
The Toy Soldier Saga is intended to consist of five novels and a collection of short stories and novellas. As I said previously, I’m planning on increasing my catalogue of short stories for pro and semi-pro magazines. And I’m still planning on writing more Wyrd West stories. Plus, there’s a solarpunk world I’d like to develop more than connects to the latest short story that was published, “The Mysterious Death of Mr. Park,” which appeared in Cossmass Infinities, Issue 6 (Sept. 1, 2021). And I’ve got a novel on the backburner that centers around asteroid mining and corporate greed.
Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
Thanks for some thoughtful and interesting questions! Many of them really made me think.
You're welcome. Good luck with A Few Good Elves, and the exciting follow-up stories you have planned. Thank you for being with us today.
Thank you for having me!
ExcerptAll about on the decks of the Queen’s Dirk, the crew were running and screaming. There were too many dead and wounded to count, and the Chiurgeons had elves spread out over the tables in the mess, the garden, even the Captain’s bed.
Shaundar sensed Lieutenant Sylria on the remains of the fo’c’sle, now mostly a debris field, commanding the mages to ready spells and the weapons crews to continue their attack. He could also see the gravity well of the Vengeance, just now coming about on their starboard side, though he was certain that it had been much longer than they needed.
“I have the helm!” Shaundar cried.
“Get us out of here, Shaundar!”
He turned his head and studied the rapidly oncoming Balorian ship through both the hole in the starboard wall, and Queenie’s senses. Even with Sylria’s magical boost, he knew this to be hopeless.
“I can’t do it, Sylria,” he said in a hollow voice. “They’re just too fast.”
Sylria looked down at her feet for a long moment. She squared her shoulders. “Then we shall die with honour.”
Shaundar nodded. Amazingly, there was no fear, just sadness, that he would not see his family or Narissa again. “Sails, evasive manoeuvres!” Shaundar commanded. “Hard down!”
As the insectoid ship neared, it closed those claw-like limbs to grapple them. But under Shaundar’s power and direction, they dodged the attempt. Shaundar saw a whole army of armoured Balorian warriors pour out onto the deck and stand to the rails.
Sylria shrieked, “Mages, fire!” and she let off a lightning bolt herself. There were only a couple of elves left alive topside to obey Sylria’s command, but they responded. Flames and electricity washed over the orcs, enough that it stopped them in their tracks and aborted their boarding attempt.
“Bring ‘er about,” Shaundar ordered. “Hard astarboard!”
Queenie answered sluggishly with all the shorn rigging and shorthanded crew, but she came back around. As they swooped back towards each other, Sylria’s command rang out. Defiantly, the Queen’s Dirk fired another volley.
The Balorians greeted it with a broadside of their own as they both swung starboard at the last moment. The larboard ballistae both missed, but two of the three others dented the hull. The third pierced it once more on their larboard side with a ringing tear of sheet metal.
Their catapult did not fire at all. Whether it was because it was damaged, or because there were too few crew left to man it, Shaundar would never know.
The decapitated Vengeance had only one gun it could bring to bear on the pass, but it fired that larboards bombard at point blank range. The fo’c’sle simply collapsed like a sandcastle. Sylria was swallowed into the sinkhole. Shaundar roared in horror and pain but could not hear his own voice in the overwhelming noise.
There was no sail crew left to command, but hoping against hope, Shaundar bellowed anyway,
“Hard aport!” The mizzenmast was shorn away, and he knew it, but knowing there was nothing else to be done, he yelled out, “Prepare to ram! All hands brace for impact!” just as Garan had attempted.
He didn’t flinch as the Queen’s Dirk collided head-on with her foe.
About the Author:Diane Morrison lives with her partners in the Okanagan Valley, BC, where she was born and raised. She has been published in SFF markets such as Terra! Tara! Terror!, Air & Nothingness Press, and Cossmass Infinities. Under her pen name “Sable Aradia” she is a successful Pagan author, a musician, and a Twitch streamer and podcaster. She likes pickles and bluegrass, and hates talking about herself.