Kiss of Death (Alchemists and Elementals #3)
Before Headmaster Oberon Bertolini stands the lover he lost seventeen years ago: Hazrael, the most powerful etherealthant to ever live. Abducted and presumed dead, Hazrael has no memory of his time with the necromancers or the atrocities he was forced to inflict on humanity while under their control. Torn between his memories of the man Hazrael used to be and the one with blood on his hands, Oberon tries to offer the support Hazrael needs to heal and regain his life.
The only evidence Hazrael has of seventeen lost years are the necromantic carvings decorating his body and the chasm between those he thought were his friends and himself. Hazrael attempts to make amends for deeds performed without his consent, but as he heals, odd powers manifest. A visit from the Hierophant, a religious seer, warns Hazrael that the marks he bears are the Kiss of Death, a way for the necromancers to track him. He knows he must sacrifice himself to save those he loves. If he can’t help defeat the necromancers and gain vengeance for their crimes, he will never find redemption or win the future he and Oberon had planned.
Renae: Recently released on the 4th of May, Kiss of Death follows Cassie’s first two books Eye of Truth and Taste of Air. Welcome to my blog Cassie.
Cassie: Thank you for having me. *Looks around* Nice place you’ve got here.
Cassie: You’re either going to laugh or beat me with a big stick when I tell you, but every once in a while, I’ll get an idea whole sale. By that I mean the world is pretty much formed when it comes to me. I got the idea for Theodyne Thespacian (Eye of Truth) and knew he’d be a thief with very little options left to him. I also knew I wanted to model the world, very loosely, on Italy during the Renaissance. Knowing those two things, the questions were pretty easily answered: What was the biggest influence on Italian society during the Renaissance? Money/Power and the church. From there all the other elements grew out of those points. I’ve always loved the study of alchemy and how it not only has a spiritual aspect in which to gain knowledge of the higher self, but that it is the precursor to modern chemistry and metallurgy. That’s fascinating stuff. Of course, this being a fantasy world, I bended, blended, and built other aspects into the alchemical framework, but I did stick with the concept of As Above So Below. As I came to know the other characters in the first book, I realized I wanted to learn their stories, Jolen Meripen, Oberon Bertolini, and of course Hazrael. And now, looking back at the original question, I realize I’m babbling. LOL. Now that I’ve given you the long answer, the short one is that I pretty much set up the religion, political system, and economy of a world before I write, but from that the world evolves as I write. I find deeper aspects to exploit or uncover—it’s a continuing process.
Renae: Holy wow! Do you think that world building is easier or harder to write than contemporary where you have set rules already?
Cassie: Oh, I would much rather write a fantasy or sci-fi/space opera than contemporary any day. I have written contemps, and I love them, but I find them infinitely harder than any world I’ve ever built. My hat is off to authors who make writing contemps look so easy.
Renae: *thinks that Cassie is brilliant for her world building* Now – I have to ask. What is an etherealthant?
Cassie: It is the product of a union between a human and a spirit elemental.
Renae: A human and a what???
Cassie: Elementals are the living embodiments of the elements, capable of sentient thought. In many of the old earth religions there are five basic elements: earth, fire, water, air, and spirit. A spirit elemental is a form of higher self separate from the soul.
Renae: And what is a necromancer and why is everyone so afraid of them?
Cassie: The classic definition is one who practices divination by speaking with the dead. I take my necromancers one step further and make them not only able to commune with the dead, but to raise the dead through possession and artificially prolonging life. The people of the city-states fear the necromancers for what they’d done in the past by controlling the elementals. There is power in the land of the dead, and one who walks those roads and can cross over is powerful indeed.
Renae: In this story, Hazreal has committed wrong. But is it the sin, or the sinner who is the one who should bear the punishment?
Cassie: Hazrael has done some horrible things, but he is an instrument, a tool of evil. I know how I would judge Hazrael, but I’ll leave it to the readers to judge them for themselves.
Renae: Oberon feels torn at forgiving Hazreal. I can understand his hesitation. Do you think love is enough in real life? Does love forge bridges across gaping chasms?
Cassie: Oberon’s failing is that he sees Hazrael as he used to be, not the product of the man he’s become as a result of the trials he’s been forced to endure. Love can bridge a gap, but it takes time to cross to the other side.
Cassie: Oh, yes. Estoban and Jolen, not as much, but we do see them. However, Theodyne and Nico are right in the thick of things again.
Renae: Do you have plans for a fourth in the series? More?
Cassie: My plans for this world is to write another 3-book series set 500 years in the future, which would put the timeline close to the late 1890-1910s. It will address how the events in Alchemists and Elementals changed the world...and not necessarily for the better.
Renae: I adore your covers. Tell me, are the buildings drawn on your covers real buildings? Who did the sketches?
Cassie: Thank you! I love the covers. The awesome and talented Brooke Albrecht did the covers for all three books. She did such a beautiful job of capturing the flavor of the period. As for the sketches, I really don’t know where she got those, but they fit so well with the world.
Renae: What are you working on now?
Cassie: Right now I’m working on a series for Dreamspinner Press with a tentative series title of Azgarth’s Chosen. The first book in the series, His Master’s Summons, comes out in January 2016. I’m writing book two at present. This series deals with the powers of the dark fae in 1890s England and is a homage to not only Mary Shelley, but a bit of the gothic romances and horror stories of the period. I’m also working on a historical about the Prohibition Era – at the moment that is a stand alone, but might turn into a series. LOL. I can’t seem to write a book that wants to be a stand alone. Sooner or later they all want to be in a series.
Renae: Where can people contact you?
Cassie: People can contact me here:
however, my Cassie Sweet blog is where all the m/m things I write are located that’s
Or through social media: I’m on Facebook as MK Mancos and twitter @MKMancosKScott.
Renae: Thanks for joining me on this blog. I find authors who write non-contemporary fascinating since they are so different from me. Congratulations on the release, and I’m looking forward to reading.
Cassie: Thank you for having me. It’s been a lot of fun.