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JD Byrne Interview

Welcome to Ink & Magick. I’m your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today? That’s a very kind offer. Right now, since I’m just staring a new book, I’ve got all these ideas in my head for where things are going to go. How about a spell to dump them all out into words while I’m asleep? Word format would be nice, but I’m not picky. I can't take the creative process from you. However, this talisman is for better concentration as well as smoothness of mind and speech. Perhaps it will help with smoothness of writing, too. Draw this on a yellow square of cardboard or paper in black ink. Make it on a Wednesday, and keep it under your pillow or mattress. Remake it every Wednesday for as long as you need it.

Tell us a little about your book, The Water Road, first book in a completed trilogy.

Two women are about to expose a terrible secret that will turn their world upside down. For centuries the great river, known as the Water Road, separated the Altrerians in the north from the Neldathi in the south. When the Neldathi clans united and struck out across the river, the nations of Altreria formed an alliance, the Triumvirate, to drive them back. For more than a hundred years after, the Triumvirate kept the Neldathi barbarians at bay, fighting amongst themselves across the Water Road. Antrey is a woman without a country, the daughter of a Neldathi mother and an Altrerian father. She’s found a role for herself in Tolenor, the headquarters of the Triumvirate, that's given her access to a secret the alliance has kept for generations. When she finds it, she explodes with rage and embarks on a quest to find justice for the Neldathi people. Strefer is a reporter without a story, desperately working the streets of Tolenor for any kind of lead. When Antrey flees the city, Strefer slips in and discovers her uncovered secret, stained with blood and fury. It’s the story of a lifetime, one powerful forces want to keep her from telling. With the help of a renegade Sentinel, Strefer sets out for a mythical city in hopes she can make the world listen to the truth. Together, they’ll inflame the passions of a people and set the world alight.


In this scene, Strefer is trying to talk her way past a Sentinel. She doesn't know what he's guarding, but she's determined to find out.

"Do you really want to be responsible for pissing off all those people?”

The Sentinel stood in silence, reaching for an answer that was not coming.

“It’ll be worth your trouble, I promise,” Strefer said. “Have you ever heard of Olrey, the publisher of the Daily Register? He has a reputation for airing his feuds in the press. He could make things very difficult for the Sentinels, the Grand Council, the…”

Exasperated, the Sentinel put up his hands. “All right, all right, fine. You win.”

“Thank you,” Strefer said, suddenly buoyant. “You’re a very reasonable man.”

But before Strefer could make it up the stairs, he put his hand on her chest to stop her. “Hold on a second. You get to go in, but there are two conditions. First, none of this conversation we’ve had here is going to show up in your paper, all right? I don’t…”

“Agreed,” she said, cutting him off. “Say no more. What’s the other one?”

“Second, the Grand Council chamber is off limits. Got it?”

“Absolutely,” she said. “Kerekti’s office is on the other side of the building, I think. I won’t be anywhere near the Grand Council chamber.”

With that, the Sentinel stood aside and let Strefer proceed up the stairs. There were another pair of Sentinels stationed by the front door, but they did nothing to halt her progress. Once inside, she made sure that neither of them were watching her, then she went to look for the Grand Council chamber.

Oooo I'm loving the strong female characters, and I really like the cover art! Your character and place names are pretty unique, how did you come up with them?

One thing I do is to keep a file in a note taking app on my phone to jot down interesting names or words I come across in daily life. I see a lot of odd names in my day job as a lawyer, so that helps. Even better is when I mess up typing a name and it gets mixed around a bit. Another resource I use is a The Writer's Digest Character Naming Sourcebook, which allows you to look up names by meaning to try and find something that matches the character. Usually I take the name and change a letter or two to make it a little more “odd.”

Thanks for sharing that great source! Which one of your characters surprised you? I think the one that surprised me the most is Mida, who appeared in one scene in The Endless Hills and then wound up with an entire story line in The Bay of Sins. She was person made up on the spot to serve a particular purpose, but stuck in my brain enough that she hung around until I was working on the next book. Useful habit for a character. Very useful indeed. What sort of research did you do for this book? When I had something that wasn’t inherently “fantastic,” I tried to get it as right as possible. The example that sticks out is I have a character who gets shot in the leg with an arrow. It had to come out, but I had no idea how to do it. Some quick Googling revealed the answer (which was the opposite of what I would have thought). A lot of the military stuff came from my reading over the years in military history. Glad that came in handy! The Internet saves the day! If you could time-travel, would you travel to the future or the past? Where would you like to go, and why would you choose that time period? I think I’d go forward. We have a general idea of what the past is like and, if I’m being completely honest, I’m too much of a wuss to put up with a pre-modern level of creature comforts. Seeing where we’re going would be completely fascinating, though. Maybe pull a Looking Backward and go to sleep one day and wake up 100 years in the future. Same physical place, just a century ahead. Think of how different 1917 was from 2017 and you can see the possibilities. I understand. I wonder what people in 1917 thought 2017 would be like...In the midst of WWI, they probably didn't think there would be a 2017. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? Honestly, the best thing they can do is tell other people about it. It can mean just telling a friend who asks if they’ve read any good books lately. Or it can mean a full on review at someplace like LibraryThing or GoodReads. But even a rating - and an acknowledgment that they’ve read it - on a site like that helps draw other readers to a book. What can we expect from you next? I just started the first book in my new series, which I’m tentatively calling Empire Falls. It’s a steampunk story about a world with a single superpower that’s starting to come apart. The main characters have to navigate this world while either trying to change it or, perhaps, at least understand it.

You just said the magic word: steampunk! Thank you for the chat, and I hope you'll stop by again.

JD Byrne was born and raised around Charleston, West Virginia, before spending seven years in Morgantown getting degrees in history and law from West Virginia University. He's practiced law for more than 15 years, writing briefs where he has to stick to real facts and real law. In his fiction, he gets to make up the facts, take or leave the law, and let his imagination run wild. He lives outside Charleston with his wife and one-eyed dog. You can purchase The Water Road at

You can connect with JD at

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    D. Lieber has a wanderlust that would make a butterfly envious. When she isn’t planning her next physical adventure, she’s recklessly jumping from one fictional world to another. Her love of reading led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

    Beyond her skeptic and slightly pessimistic mind, Lieber wants to believe. She has been many places—from Canada to England, France to Italy, Germany to Russia—believing that a better world comes from putting a face on “other.” She is a romantic idealist at heart, always fighting to keep her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds.

    Lieber lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cats (Yin and Nox).

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