Pocket Full of Tinder by Jill Archer
Published: December 15th 2016
Genre(s): Fantasy, New Adult, Science Fiction
Maegester-in-Training Noon Onyx feels like she’s done it all – mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons, and survived having her heart broken by both love and an arrow, but now she’ll face her greatest challenge yet…
Far to the north lies an outpost famous for its unrest – Rockthorn Gorge. The town’s patron has specifically requested Noon’s help. Her assignment? Help the neophyte demon lord build his fiefdom and keep what’s his. The problem? Lord Aristos – Noon’s new employer – is her erstwhile lover, Ari Carmine, the aforementioned heart breaker. And the number one thing he wants is her.
When Rockthorn Gorge’s viaduct is destroyed by Displodo, an enigmatic bomber, killing a dozen settlers and wounding scores more, Noon sets off early to aid in the search and rescue. Ari is listed among the missing and the suspects are legion. But Noon’s search is just the beginning. Her journey forces Noon to confront not only those she loves, but also enemies hell-bent on destroying them.
Released just TODAY, here is Jill Archer’s fourth installment in her Noon Onyx series, Pocket Full of Tinder! Keep reading for an excerpt of the book, a chance to win autographed books and an Amazon gift card, and an author FAQ.
He’d been traveling for weeks, following the river westward. A great aerial beast with a broken wing trying to follow the curving lines of a bigger, blacker beast on terra firma. Beneath him, the Lethe River twisted and writhed. Every left turn was agonizing. The wing, bent at an unnatural angle, caught wind where it shouldn’t. The drag was enormous. He often felt as if he were drowning, his wings clasping at the edges of a whirlpool whose edges grew taller and steeper as it closed in on him. And then he’d have to push, soaring up into the air again with labored breathing that sounded louder than a blue whale’s blowhole.
As he neared New Babylon he kept a keen eye on the water, searching for boats and sails and men. Men who may not have seen a drakon in decades, perhaps longer. Men who would sound an alarm and alert others to his presence. It was the type of homecoming he wished to avoid.
So he’d flown at night and timed his arrival with the new moon. All below was black and gray. Far off there were tall ships lit by lanterns, but closer (thank Luck closer) was his goal – Bradbury’s docks.
A man without fire or an electric torch would have been blind. But to a drakon, the world seemed drawn with charcoal and smudged with starlight. Another night, with a different wing and the company he sought, he might have thought it beautiful.
He smelled the river and the city, the scents of men and the rich food they liked to eat. Loud, boisterous voices rose from the waterside inns, saloons, and taverns. He clenched his jaw and banked left across the water toward Etincelle, straightening again – or at least trying to – before he got too close. With a last, desperate push up he rose above the Lethe, beating his inefficient wings against the midnight sky, until he found warm air to ride down, circling… waiting… watching for anyone who might still be at the docks. He did not want to be seen in drakon form.
He landed less gracefully than he would have liked, skidding to a halt just before hitting a crate that would have tumbled into the Lethe had he not finally found purchase on the dock with his claws. With a last glance around, he shifted.
Wings collapsed. Snout, jaws, and teeth were reabsorbed. Claws disintegrated, turning to dust. Tail wriggled and twisted, curling inward, like a snake eating itself. Lungs and heart halved. And then halved again. Head pounding, body shaking, Ari fell to his knees, his right palm pressed against the dock, his left arm cradled uselessly against his side.
He was home.
The claw-and-ball had been chewed clean off. It lay on a patch of sunny parquet floor, just to the right of an antique, aubergine wool rug now covered with the splintered remnants of an eleventh-century pedestal table and one very large, ghastly looking, somewhat repentant barghest.
Nova’s head rested on her front paws as her gaze shifted warily from me to Miss Bister, Megiddo’s dormater, or house mother.
“Megiddo’s lobby is not a kennel, Miss Onyx. That”—she motioned dismissively toward Nova—“beast can no longer be housed here.”
I opened my mouth to respond, but Miss Bister continued speaking, her tone rising only infinitesimally, her back as stiff as Luck’s lance must have been and her expression just as hard. She pointed toward the previously priceless, three-footed piece of furniture that was now a worthless, two-footed pile of kindling.
“No amount of money – or magic – can fix that, Nouiomo. It’s beyond repair. I warned you. I made an exception to my ‘no pets’ rule because you never cause trouble. You never forget your key; you promptly pick up your deliveries; you change your own light bulbs; you double-bag your trash. You leave nothing behind in the bathroom; you don’t monopolize the washing machines; you are exceedingly polite to the lift operator; you don’t sing in the shower.”
I suppressed a sigh. After a year and a half of painstaking effort, harrowing experiences, and endless hours of education, my worth had just been measured by the fact that I could change a light bulb. I’d mastered fiery magic, become an adept fighter, learned the law, killed countless demons (one regrettably, the others much less so), freed myriad immortals from an accursed, tortured bondage, and survived having my heart nearly destroyed by both love and an arrow, yet none of that meant bupkis next to the fact that I double-bagged my trash. And yet…
I couldn’t really argue with Miss Bister either. Everything she’d said was true. And who was I to tell her what she should deem important? I respected that she valued domestic order and antiques. I did too, if not nearly as much as I valued the thing that now threatened our continued access to such. I glared at Nova, who swept one paw over her eyes as if she could hide from me and the evidence of what she’d done.
Barghests are giant hellhounds. They’re bigger than bears, fiercer than rabid raccoons, and uglier than naked mole rats. Their teeth are the size of railroad spikes, their claws as sharp as a sickle, their breath as foul as sewage gas. But they are also affectionate, brave, and loyal. What barghests lack in magic, they make up for in devotion. And even though I was plenty mad at Nova for chewing up Miss Bister’s table, I also knew it wasn’t Nova’s fault.
It was mine – for thinking the lobby of a demon law school dormitory would be a good place to keep her.
“Miss Bister, please,” I said. “I’m truly sorry. I know I can’t replace that exact table. But if you would just allow me to—”
“No,” Miss Bister said simply. “Either the beast goes… or you do.”
I stared at the small, frail, magicless woman in front of me, trying desperately to think of some way to fix this problem. Wasn’t there something I could do, or say, or offer her that would make amends and convince her not to kick us out?
But all I could think of was how useless some of the things were that our society valued most. As Miss Bister had pointed out, neither magic nor money would help. If I was going to repair the table, I’d need to find another way. Which would take time. And that meant I’d need to find somewhere else for us to sleep tonight. Because if the beast was going… I was too.
“Yes, Miss Bister,” I said. “I understand.”
She narrowed her eyes, slightly suspicious of my now-gracious defeat since I’d just spent the last half-hour trying to persuade her to accept various forms of reparation. But then she nodded, handed me a couple of paper bin bags, and left.
I slid one bag inside the other and stooped down to pick up the slobbery remains of Nova’s mangled chew toy. When I finished, she came over to me and nudged my arm with her head. She let out a woofy whine.
Was she sorry? She darn well better be!
I gave her a scratch behind the ears.
“Now that you’ve sharpened your teeth on my former dormater’s furniture, are you ready to eat some real food for breakfast?”
→ Two winners will win $25 Amazon gift card, and a set of signed books
→ Open to Canada and US residents only
→ Giveaway ends Decemeber 22nd 2016
→ Good luck!
Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels about a postgrad magic user and her off-campus adventures. The series includes DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and the upcoming POCKET FULL OF TINDER.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself … beyond your bio?
I’m an eclectic night owl who loves Sour Patch kids, Twizzlers, organic salads, Vitamix smoothies, my Keurig coffee brewer, wine, books, and movies. I also love to hike, bike, and hang out with family and friends.
What was your inspiration for the series?
Noon was very loosely inspired by the Egyptologist Evelyn “Evy” Carnahan from the movie The Mummy. I was having lunch with a bunch of writers during the time when I was seeking inspiration for a new project. I was still practicing law and I sat next to a librarian. We each shared with the other that we felt our day jobs were fairly pedestrian and not necessarily something that could be tapped into to create a dynamic, otherworldly character. I then mentioned Evy as an example of a wonderful librarian character, who found love while battling the undead, despite her bookish ways. So that conversation got me thinking… If Evy could do it, maybe another similarly bookish lawyer character could do it too.
What do we need to know about the world Noon lives in?
The stories take place in Halja, a fictional country with a circa 1900s technology level. Halja’s biggest city is New Babylon, which was built on top of the ancient battlefield of Armageddon.
Even though the stories are set in a post-apocalyptic world where “the demons won,” the stories aren’t dystopian fiction. And there are no zombies, aliens, plague, war, or other catastrophic event that the characters are trying to survive. Noon’s just trying to survive the day-to-day, as well as chart a course for her future.
There are two types of demons in Halja: regulare (scary, but they follow the rules) and rogare (terrifying rule breakers who wreak havoc and cause harm).
Why demons (versus vampires, werewolves, or some other supernatural creature)?
Demons can be anything I need them to be. They are the ultimate “supernatural play dough” for writers.
What sort of research have you done?
For Pocket Full of Tinder, I researched the Colossus of Rhodes, the Siege of Colchester, the Sixth Labor of Hercules, energy access for the poor in urban areas, and the Icarus myth. I also did a lot of research on dams that did not make it into the book, including visiting Conowingo Dam, reading David McCullough’s The Johnstown Flood, and watching DamNation, the 2014 documentary that advocates for the removal of dams. Legal concepts I touched on in this book include allodial title and the Domesday Book, which was a land survey commissioned in 1085 by William the Conqueror.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read in the genre you want to write in – and outside of it. Read non-fiction. Sign up for workshops, take classes, and get involved with a writer’s group. Keep writing! Don’t be afraid to submit or publish your work, but make sure it’s truly ready to be submitted or published. Don’t give up or get frustrated. Learn from constructive criticism. Celebrate small accomplishments and enjoy the process as much as the product.
What’s next for Noon?
There’s going to be a fifth book. What happens after that depends on readers! If you want more Noon Onyx books, please: (1) buy the books; (2) write reviews; (3) email me and tell me your thoughts!