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Book Tour Q&A: Heliotrope by Palmer Pickering

Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Heliotrope by Palmer Pickering! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.

About the book

Teleo is a retired soldier descended from Mages, who were cast out of power generations ago. After years of war and sorrow, he wants nothing more than to live a quiet life on his farm and work his stonemason’s craft.

His wife and daughter had been murdered during a war raid several years earlier and his young son stolen by the enemy side. He spent years unsuccessfully searching for his son and returned home broken-hearted. At the local castle, he comes upon a war orphan stolen by his side from the enemy and rescues him from abuse, adopting him as his foster son.

Teleo is working at the castle when he finds himself in the middle of a coup. This launches a journey to protect his new family, uncover the secrets of the ancient ways, and reclaim the magic of the Mages.

On to the interview...!

Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.

I just finished a new, unexpected book. I started it when Heliotrope was released, late November, and I'm wrapping up the first draft, two months later. I’ll tell you more about it later in this interview.

What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?

I am currently reading “Dragons of Autumn Twilight”, a Dragon Lance book by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. It’s a buddy read with the Fictional Escapist, and I need to catch up on a huge backlog of classic fantasy titles. What’s up next? My TBR stack is outrageously enormous, so not sure yet. Maybe Assassin’s Fate by Robin Hobb, or The Dragonbone Chair by Tad Williams. Or The Curse of the Mistwraith by Janny Wurts. Or Dragon Mage by ML Spencer. Or The Iron Crown by L.L. McCrae. Shall I go on? You see my issue. Probably a common challenge for anyone reading this interview lol.

What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?

Here’s a non-SFF title that needs more attention. Well, it has a TV series now, so I guess it’s getting attention. (I haven’t seen the show yet). “Shantaram,” by Gregory David Roberts. I read it a couple of years ago and I still think about it. It’s an enormous chunker, that’s why I was attracted to it at first. It’s about an escaped convict who flees to India and hides out in the slums and gets entangled with the mafia there. The descriptions are lush and immersive. You really feel like you’re in India as you go along with the MC through all his adventures. I believe it is semi-autobiographical. Truly an epic masterpiece.

What was your favorite part of writing this book?

Heliotrope was a book that sort of wrote itself. It just flowed. I came up with the character concepts and the primary character’s flaws and challenges, and went from there. It was as much of an adventure for me writing it and discovering what happened next as I hope it is for readers.

Have you discovered any particular differences or challenges from writing a standalone versus a series?

I’m not very good at writing short books. Heliotrope’s story was getting way too long to wrap up the storylines the way I had originally intended, so I ended it differently than I had originally planned. I am happy with the way it worked out in the end, because the story is not overly predictable, in my opinion, and very human. And it leaves room for a sequel. So I guess the answer is, the challenge of a standalone for me is to close the story and character arcs in a set amount of time and pages, which is hard for me.

Tell us a little bit about the cover of your book! What was your inspiration for the art and design?

This is actually the third cover I had made for this book. The first two didn’t quite work for me, for various reasons. Then I found Dusan Markovic, whose artwork is incredible. He sketched the front and back covers based on a few brief descriptions from me, and I just found his work to be very compelling. The images are rough representations of the characters and scenes in the book, though not an exact depiction. But it conveys the mood and spirit of the book very well.

How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?

The final book is fairly close to the first draft. I went through a couple of dev edits and a couple of beta rounds, and as a result fleshed out the magic system more, provided more continuity with some side characters, and added the Epilogue.

Can you tell us a little bit about your characters in this book?

Heliotrope follows a single POV character from a third-person omniscient narration. The MC is Teleo, a retired warrior and a stone mason and farmer. He was the best warrior in the kingdom, but because he is not of a royal bloodline, he did not get the recognition he deserved for his skill. He is also descended from Mages, who used to be very powerful counselors in the royal courts, but the Mages had been killed or chased off when magic was outlawed generations ago. During the war, his wife and daughter were killed in a raid, and his young son went missing. It was a practice in war to kidnap young boys and raise them as slaves. So Teleo’s character arc is about gaining the recognition he deserves, reclaiming the power of the Mages, and filling the hole in his heart.

Your other series, The Star Children Saga, is scifi, whereas Heliotrope is an epic fantasy novel. Has this genre switch impacted your writing process at all? Are there any challenges you’ve faced moving from writing a scifi series to a standalone fantasy book?

Fantasy is so much easier for me to write than the Star Children Saga has been. Mostly because in the first book, Moon Deeds, I had to create a near-future Earth and deal with future technology, and most of the details of the moon are based in fact and required a lot of research. Creating a fully fantastical world is a breeze compared to that, for me. So, writing Heliotrope was easy. Later books in the Star Children Saga, once we get off the moon, will be much easier as well, since they are much more fantasy in nature than science-fiction. So, in summary, science-fiction is hard, fantasy is easy.

If you had to switch two of your characters from your books, with one character from Heliotrope taking the place of a character from The Star Children Saga (and vice versa), who would they be and why?

Haha, that’s a very interesting question. I think exchanging Brianna from Star Children Saga (Torr and Cassidy’s mother, the plant-spirit-medicine shaman) for Dinsmora from Heliotrope (an herbalist/healer/magic weaver) would be a no-brainer. They could potentially be the same person!

If you could choose one worldbuilding detail (a place, ability, or creature, for example) from your book to exist in the real world, what would it be and why?

I think we should have a colony on the moon. It’s very feasible from a technological standpoint, and we need the rare-earths that exist on the moon.

In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?

Anyone who likes long, immersive, slow-burn, slice-of-life adventures with intriguing magic and blood and gore will like Heliotrope.

What would you like readers to take away from this book?

I want people to be able to escape from their daily lives and immerse themselves in another world filled with adventure, found family, animal companions, and unique magic systems.

Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?

I like this quote because it kind of captures Teleo’s personality: “One thing he had determined long ago: if he had to die, let it be outdoors under the sky and the sun, the rain or the snow, the moon or the stars. It did not matter which. Just not in a stinking, rotting dungeon.”

Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?

I have two WIP’s. One is “Anaximenes,” Book Three of the Star Children Saga. This book wraps up the Moon Deeds arc and the battle for the moon. The other book is “Dark Town,” a fun and easy LitRPG Fantasy adventure that is almost cozy in nature, in that it’s feel-good, and the stakes are relatively low (because, hey, it’s a game, and you can’t really die). The main character is a 16-year-old young woman. It’s in a medieval-ish setting, with companions and monsters like a hobgoblin that shapeshifts into a cat, nymphs, sprites, gremlins, elves, dwarves, orcs, trolls, and ogres. Oh, and dragons. I hope to release that one later this year. Anaximenes will hopefully be out late 2024.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?

My website:

I’m most active on Twitter and somewhat on Instagram these days, and you can find me in some of the Booktuber Discord channels:

Where to buy the book:

Amazon US:

Amazon UK:

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