Check out a Q&A with the author... Of Sword and Shadow by A. L. Sowards (Interview & #Giveaway) #christfic #christianfiction #christianromance #historicalromance @ALSowards @justreadtours @covenant_comm

Welcome to my tour stop with JustRead Publicity Tours! Sowards is a long-time favorite author. Her historicals are just marvelously written. I always love the characters and am engrossed from beginning to end, my favorite still being The Rules in Rome. You can check out my interview with her and enter the tour giveaway below...

Of Sword and Shadow
By A. L. Sowards
Christian Historical Fiction, Action Adventure, Romance
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 251 Pages
February 8, 2021 by Covenant Communications


Greece, 1379

She is known by many names, none of them her own. In truth, she is an unnamed slave, nothing more than a weapon in the hands of her owner in his attempts to provoke political mayhem. When she encounters a handsome young man while on an assignment, she thinks little of him—until he attempts to take what she has stolen. But in her line of work, failure is not an option.

Gillen is intrigued by the mysterious woman who thwarts his mission. But when his path crosses hers again, his intrigue turns to gratitude as the thief he comes to call Eudocia saves his life. The two form a bond of friendship and join forces to wrest control from a group of ruthless rulers. But as their camaraderie blossoms into something more, Gillen and Eudocia must fight for love even as they wage war for a better future.

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What inspired you to switch genres from historical fiction to Christian historical fantasy?

Amazon has pushed Of Sword and Shadow into the historical fantasy category a few times, but it’s historical fiction, not historical fantasy. No dragons, no magic, real events, real place. Having said that, several readers have mentioned that it feels like a fantasy novel to them. I think part of that is the medieval setting and a plot that allows for high stakes and lots of twists.

Most of my previous books have religious characters, and many have included religious themes, but Of Sword and Shadow is on the more religious end of the spectrum for my books. When I planned the novel, I felt the religious elements in the book would work really well with Eudocia’s journey of self-discovery. Plus, there really was an archbishop in Thebes named Simon Atumano involved in the events covered in this book, so it seemed natural to have him become a mentor figure for my fictional character. One thing I’ve really enjoyed about jumping into a setting in medieval Europe is the way Christianity can be not only part of the story’s themes but also part of the historical world building.

Would you tell us more about the main characters from OF SWORD AND SHADOW?

The main character goes by whatever name suits her at the time, because she doesn’t remember her real name. Eventually she comes to be known as Eudocia. She was sold into slavery as a child and raised by the most talented thief in Thebes. He’s taught her all he knows of his craft, and she has extraordinary abilities, but she knows almost nothing of goodness and kindness. She wants more from her life, but in the beginning of the story she’s learned to accept her place even as she longs for something better.

Gillen is a mercenary from Navarre who comes to Greece after a military campaign ends badly for his company (their employer died before he paid them). He’s a Basque who grew up fishing and whaling in the Atlantic. When he was shipwrecked as a teenager, he made promises to God, and one of those promises included helping the innocent. Eudocia assures him that she is not innocent, so his vow doesn’t apply to her, but he shows her kindness regardless, and that changes how she sees herself.

Which character do you most relate to and why?

Rasheed, because he’s an introvert with chronic back pain, but that doesn’t really come out until the next Duchy of Athens book . . .

I really love the characters in this book. If I had to pick one, it would be Eudocia. She’s competent, practical, and skilled, but she sometimes needs a reminder to enjoy the people and the world around her. The book is written with her as a narrator, so I really got into her head in order to write the story.

Out of the names your main character holds, which does she prefer and why?

I’ll share a quote from the book to answer this question (warning, mild spoiler):

“I could go anywhere, do anything, be anyone. A name. I could have a name. And it was surprisingly easy to choose one because the best of my memories all revolved around the same identity. More than I wanted wisdom, more than I wanted courage or determination or power, I wanted to be loved. ‘I think I’ll be Eudocia.’”

In the end, she chooses Eudocia because being loved is more important to her than any of the traits she focused on when she was pretending to be Anna, Theodora, Irene, or Isabella. She keeps those traits too, but love is key to her because she’s had so little of it for such a huge chunk of her life.

What advice would Eudocia and Gillen each give about navigating their world?

Honestly, Eudocia might give Gillen some bad advice in the beginning of the book. She’s good at survival and at finding a way to complete her assignments, no matter how difficult they are, but she’s not very good at being happy. Later she recognizes that his ability to find the good and his inherent kindness are strengths. Even when she’s not sure how useful they are in navigating a dangerous world, she admires them.

Gil would tell Eudocia to look for the beauty in everything, and to trust in God.

What part or aspect of this story do you love the most?

From a writing perspective, I really enjoyed how the history and the plot came together. The big events that the book covers really happened, but so few details are known. In a lot of cases, we know who was involved only from references in letters sent from the Duchy of Athens back to Barcelona. For example, Micer Aner and Oliverio Domingo are mentioned in a letter, which notes “by whose work the city of Thebes was lost,” but that’s a little vague. I loved taking the bare bones of known historical facts, adding characters, and coming up with the details of how it could have happened.

As a reader, I love the characters and the changes they go through as the story progresses, and I love the high-stakes, dangerous tasks they set out to accomplish. It’s the type of story I love to read because it’s exciting and romantic and set in the past.

When you’re not writing or reading, what do you enjoy doing?

Since school for my three kids started in August, my days have been packed because I’m spending so much time helping them with online learning. It has its good moments, but it’s not something I want to do after the pandemic passes. Much of the rest of my time is taken up with writing stuff or with prep for an upcoming move. I like hiking and swimming, or browsing the internet while I walk on the treadmill. I also like to watch shows with my husband after the kids have gone to bed. We like historical pieces, sci-fi, and mysteries.

What are you working on next?

I have a suspense novel written with three other authors coming out in October called Heirs of Falcon Point. I wrote about a fourth of it, and my part of the novel is set during WWII. Traci Hunter Abramson, Paige Edwards, and Sian Ann Bessey wrote the last three-fourths of the book, set during contemporary times. I think fans of suspense will really enjoy this one!

I also wrote a novel about the 1683 siege of Vienna—all about complicated family relationships and surviving events that seem overwhelming to those living through them. My publisher has accepted it, but we don’t have the release nailed down yet.

I also wrote another novel set in the medieval Duchy of Athens with some of the characters from Of Sword and Shadow. Title and release day tba. I have a few other projects in the works too (including another medieval series), but I’ll wait until they’re a little closer to completion before sharing details about those.

About the Author

A. L. Sowards is the author of multiple historical fiction novels, with settings spanning the globe from the fourteenth to twentieth centuries. Her stories have become Whitney Finalists and won a Whitney Award, reached the number one spot across multiple Amazon categories, received praise from the Historical Novel Society, and been loved by readers from a variety of backgrounds. She has called both Washington State and Utah home, and is now in the process of adding Alaska to the list. She enjoys hiking and swimming, usually manages to keep up with the laundry, and loves it when someone else cooks dinner. She lives with her husband, three children, and an ever-growing library.

Tour Schedule

Follow the tour here.

Tour-Wide Giveaway

(1) winner will receive a $15 Amazon gift card and a print copy of Of Sword and Shadow!

Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway began at midnight February 15, 2021 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on February 22, 2021. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

Have you read any of this author's other books? What did you like about the interview?

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