Today I'm joined by the vibrant T. M. Lakomy to talk about her latest book:
The Shadow Crucible: The Blind God
· Genre: Dark Fantasy
In a world where angels, demons, and gods fight over the possession of mortal souls, two conflicted pawns are ensnared in a cruel game. The enigmatic seer Estella finds herself thrown together with Count Mikhail, a dogmatic Templar dedicated to subjugating her kind. But when a corrupted cardinal and puppet king begin a systematic genocide of her people, the two become unlikely allies.
In a perilous game where the truth is distorted and meddling ancient deities converge to partake of the unseen battle, Estella unwittingly finds herself hunted by Lucifer. Traversing the edge of hell’s precipice, Estella and Mikhail are reduced to mere instruments. Their only means to overcome is through courting the Threefold Death, the ancient ritual of apotheosis—of man becoming God.
· Publish date: 25th of April
· Publisher: SelectBook
Kasper: Hi Tamara, welcome to my blog, Kasper's Ramblings. I'm looking forward to learning more about you and your exciting book. Let's start with a little about yourself.
T.M.: Hi everyone. I am Tamara Lakomy. I was born in London, but grew up as a feminist tribal girl in a North African repressive regime to divorced parents. I was raised between the slums where my father resided and the richer suburbs where my mother lived. The contrast made me fierce yet genteel. I saw the ugly side of poverty and lawlessness in the slums of Mellassine.
I studied archaeology and became enamoured with the shamanistic practices of indigenous people.
I am an author and poet who seeks to challenge our notions of reality, and see life (with) from? a different perspective.
I work in East Africa with indigenous tribes studying the origins of mankind and the salient golden thread in the tapestry of humanity's beliefs.
I write poetry and frequently publish them with magazines, I am also a resident poet at Penhead Press.
K: Wow. That's a huge past for someone so young. I am totally fascinated and imagine your poetry must be quite unconventional.
What would you say makes your writing unique compared to others in the dark fantasy genre?
T.M.: My background makes me unique; I come from a culture that still believes in magic and practices it. So I include real elements of what I know people believe in and practices and ideas that still thrive in my culture.
I write as a person who comes from a world where magic is accepted as real and mitigated against and it gives a different flavour and authenticity to my writing.
Djinns, angels, demons, and other otherworldly being are real to us, so I have a generational wealth of knowledge and ideas.
What made you choose this genre?
I have a dark and wild imagination. I have always liked the themes of angels and demons, old deities and other worlds. I studied archaeology, exploring other cultures and civilisations, and exploring their folklore and beliefs was always a great source of joy to me.
I loved the controversial lost gospels and the allure of mysticism and the myriads of possibilities that could be the ultimate truth. I wanted people to explore the roots of their beliefs and realise that we are closer in our beliefs rather than being further apart and there are common elements to all belief systems.
What’s the story behind your book title?
As I am always thinking of my characters, I dreamt of one of them one night. One of the characters was standing beside a window and smiling mischievously, just like I had imagined him with his long hair billowing behind him and ageless eyes.
Funnily enough, he sounded like one of my university lecturers, I will never forget that. He told me the book was called the crucible, and later on, it developed into the Shadow Crucible.
When Mikhail encounters the Horned God Cernunnos in the woods, and meets the being he was taught as a Templar to abhor and reject. I loved his reaction to meeting the protector of the worlds, who is cold yet magnanimous, with his ineffable beauty and grace. Mikhail knows that god could snuff him out and knows that he doesn’t merit a second chance, especially as his Order has done its best to tarnish the image of the old deities and transform them into garbled fantasies for the weak minded.
Mikhail’s evolution from a dogmatic Templar to a repentant seeker of the truth is very important to the story, his entire life’s journey and quest to serve his God has ended up at the feet of a pagan deity who holds the balance of the worlds together and watches it die slowly at the hands of a false blind god. Mikhail loses his identity and willingly accepts to learn… how, I will not reveal or it will spoil things!
It sounds such a rich and complex backstory. I'm intrigued.
Which is your favourite character and why?
Antariel; wise and wicked, with the guts to defy the world including Lucifer and the blind god, the resilience to stand up to the other angels and turn his back from his divine calling. He has transformed into something else, neither angel nor demon, he transcends those notions and from being a cog in the divine machine, he has become a major player in the infernal game between the Goddess and the blind god.
How do you develop your characters?
I base them on real people, near or distant, I observe people a lot. I scrutinise strangers and watch their mannerism and behaviour, and I remember them, I take the elements that fascinate me and add layers of virtues and vices that seem an appealing or repulsive combination.
I take people I really know and transform them into good or bad characters, I take what makes them unique and re imagine them in my mind, and transpose onto them my own imagination. And if they are purely imagined; then I start with a vice or virtue and build on it, a habit or an affectation, and build the historical or fictional context and background around them.
That would make for interesting reading for your acquaintances to try to figure out who has influenced your characters.
Which one of your characters would you like to be?
I would like to be Estella naturally, she has many of my characteristics, the melancholy and desire to flee into the magical realms away from reality. I have this fascination with portals, dimensions and other worlds where nothing that happens on earth matters.
What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?
I have an awful taste in music according to some people… but since I am into Metal and Gothic music, I will say “Siren” by Theatre of Tragedy
What are you working on now?
My third novel, a mingling of High Fantasy and horror, set between dimensions in space, different parallel worlds mirroring each other. I have mixed some real experiences after the war, used it as the background for the main character.
Ohh...that sounds fascinating!
What’s your writing routine?
I try to write or read what I already wrote every night, just to keep the vibe and themes in my mind, germinating into scenes and events. I can either be very prolific and write on end for days or suddenly stop and just re read what I already wrote and dwell on it.
What do you do when you have writers’ block?
I get out and explore new things, gain some interesting experiences, meet new people and discover their lives and stories, read then immerse myself in the topics that fascinate me. I find the block comes from saturation and you just slow down to a point where you cannot write anymore. So rediscovering what themes capture your attention is key, and approaching writing from another perspective helps a lot.
Forcing it never works and you end up with poor quality writing, so it is better to let it go and delve into your hobbies and explorations of the world till the ideas resurge again.
Describe your road to publishing your book:
It was a competition of how many rejections I can collect from agents before I get finally accepted. I have lost count after a while and enjoyed the process, I just kept going vaguely wondering whether I am going to run out of agents to approach.
Then obviously, the editing process itself is another journey; cutting the novel down and deciding what bits to amputate… thankfully I had a brilliant editor who put up with me, I must say she had a lot of patience.
You do need a lot of patience and a thick skin when you want to publish your book, because naturally your book won’t be to everyone’s liking and you can’t take it personally.
I like the multidimensional feel to your Shadow Crucible cover.
How did you go about developing your cover artwork?
Well I had a clear image in my head of what the cover artwork would look like. I don’t want to sound barking mad, but since I think of my writing all the time, I end up dreaming about it too. One such night as I dreamt about the title, I saw myself standing beside a forge, and as I looked closer, it was a burning crucible, of molten metal and fire. Then it looked like a Celtic cross with a burning halo. I knew it was the cover for the Shadow Crucible, so I told my publisher how it should be, and described it to the best of my abilities. I wanted to capture the shadows and undulating spires of smoke behind the crucible, this crackling vivid brilliance that I believe is so symbolic for what the novel stands for. It was a balance between encroaching darkness and fire, a sort of emblem of defiance much like an effigy.
What are your writing plans for this year?
I want to get my second book out, it is heavier and darker, more oriented towards Horror, but its more based on real events in my life and things that are closer to the culture I grew up in.
I suppose it will be the more controversial book of the two, bringing dark folklore and elements of history better left alone to the vanguard of Fantasy.
I am also trying to finish my third book, which might take time, as I am balancing High Fantasy with Horror!
You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?
I would have liked to have been Galadriel, I would have certainly sought an open confrontation with Sauron. I have a belligerent nature in the face of adversity, I would have wanted to give him someone to fight against and utilise my strength to quell him. Probably not so wise but then it is a pity that Galadriel didn’t get to kick his backside personally. I would have taken more risks.
Good call. I did like the way she stepped up to face him in the Hobbit trilogy.
Favourite food: Pierogi (Polish dumplings, stuffed with meat is my favourite)
Silliest saying: it’s a translation from the Arabic: “Pretend to be mad and you’ll be left alone”
Best holiday spot: Somewhere in Tuscany
Favourite song at the moment: Sonne by Rammstein
With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? Pantser I suppose, I create scenes then cobble them together according to the narrative.
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Lord of the Rings…..
Best superpower: Mind reading, imagine how useful it can be for my career?
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: get a driver’s licence….I have a phobia of driving.
Well done Tamara. I am sure that with your tenacity in life, you will overcome that phobia. Thanks so much for coming here to share your thoughts today. You sure have a unique perspective on life.