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Book Tour Q&A: No Heart for a Thief by James Lloyd Dulin

Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for No Heart for a Thief by James Lloyd Dulin! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.

About the book

We are the stories we tell ourselves...even the lies.

The Thief, a great spirit, and her descendants have abused their ability to steal magic for centuries. When Kaylo starts to hear the song of other people’s magic, he must learn to hide from his people as well as the invaders. A gift or a curse, Kaylo may be able to save his people from the Gousht Empire that claimed their land with this stolen magic.

Eighteen years later, Kaylo still prays to the spirits, but not out of loyalty or love. He knows better than to rely on those selfish bastards for anything. While hiding in the forest from his foolish acts of rebellion, he encounters a girl, Tayen, being pursued by two soldiers of the empire. Against his better judgment, he risks facing the consequences of his past to intervene.

When Tayen attempts to run off seeking vengeance for her family, he offers to train her to wield her magic and a blade. If he can’t convince her to relinquish her need for vengeance and stave off the demons of his past, he’s going to get them both killed.

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

To be honest, I have been in a huge reading slump. I have a hard time DNFing books, so I have been stuck on a book for a long time. Audiobooks have been helpful in pushing me out of my slump. The last two books of the Threadlight Trilogy by Zach Argyle were great, and I’ve moved onto The Obelisk Gate. I love the Broken Earth Trilogy, but I’ve never listened to the books and it’s been great.

My TBR is huge. My next audiobook will be Eleventh Cycle by Kian Ardalan. My next physical read is between The Fires of Vengeance, Legends and Lattes, The Black God’s Drums, or The Legacy of Brightwash. I usually choose last minute, depending on my mood.

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?

My favorite writers and my influences are less of a Venn diagram a more of a circle. Fantasy readers are going to pick out the influence of Patrick Rothfuss and Robin Hobb in No Heart for a Thief. If they pick out the influence of N. K. Jemisin, I will be extremely flattered. However, the one author who was a big influence on my approach to writing this novel that I don’t think anyone would be able to name right away is Junot Diaz.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao treats Dominican culture as an act of world building, and Diaz openly discusses it as such. I attempted to approach my story in a similar way, focusing on Kaylo’s experience traversing his culture and the colonialist culture of the Gousht. This might give No Heart for a Thief a similar feeling to literary fiction for some readers.

What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?

SFF is on an upward trajectory. There are so many brilliant writers finding opportunities in the traditional and indie publishing spaces. The lines of subgenres are being broken. New subgenres are being created. It is an amazing time to be a reader and writer in this space.

I wish that this community did a better job of creating more room for the voices of marginalized authors, both in indie and traditional publishing. There is a push for it, but like any community, the SFF community has to deal with our issues of racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, and other forms of oppression. I think there are cisgender, straight, white authors like myself who hear that kind of commentary and worry that there isn’t going to be room left for us. But that has never been the case, and it’s not going to be the case in the future. Intentionally creating space and/or simply not fighting the space made for authors with marginalized identities is not going to replace anyone.

What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?

I enjoy a lot of different stories and characters, but I think the most common link is that the characters are first and foremost the focus of the stories. Plots can be great and engaging, but if I am not invested in the characters, the plot won’t save a story for me. Give me a slow-burn character-focused story over a face-paced intricate plot every time. Now, when you can find the balance between the two, you have something amazing on your hands.

As for characters, I am usually drawn towards flawed characters who make a lot of mistakes, but from their perspective, they are trying to do the right thing. When people talk about morally gray characters, I think they often mean selfish or immoral characters whose actions jump back and forth over lines of conventional morality. When I think of morally gray characters, I think of people who are trying their best to do the right thing, but the ways they go about it or what they view as the right thing doesn’t align with conventional morality. I’m more interested in the character who thinks they’re doing right than the one who knows they are acting immorally.

How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?

A large percentage of the writing process happens in my head before I ever type out the first word of a book. I know various elements about the world, the magic, the characters, I know a few key plot points, and I know generally how things are going to end before I start. However, I discover most of the details and the gaps in-between in the moment. I sit down and let myself explore how the characters would act within their situation, and try to follow that through towards the next plot point. If that next plot point ends up being in the opposite direction of where my characters are heading, I end up changing and adapting the plan to fit the way I think the characters would most likely act.

Succinctly put, it’s a bit chaotic with a loose plan that gets discarded along the way.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

Before I ever started thinking about writing a novel, I wrote poetry for years. I studied the poets I loved and attempted to learn how to do the same. The lessons I learned from poetry find their way into my prose constantly. I am always looking for ways to cut unnecessary words, except for when the rhythm of the sentence needs them. When there is an easy way to say something and a nuanced way to say something, I try to choose the nuance. I want the words to matter as much as the story they are telling.

Whether I achieve that is up to the reader.

How much of yourself do you write into your stories?

For me, writing is a practice in empathy. I try to empathize with my characters as much as possible, and by doing so, I am filtering their reactions through my perceptions of the world. I am a part of every character in some way, shape, or form.

The themes of my stories are also things that I believe in. I would say the central theme of No Heart for a Thief is the idea that we are the stories we tell ourselves. The way we perceive ourselves and think others perceive us greatly influences the way we interact with the world around us. When Kaylo tells himself stories about who he is and how other people would see him if they knew his secret, he is defining who he is.

For better or worse, I am very much a part of my stories.

They say to never judge a book by its cover, but a cover is still a marketing tool that helps sell books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?

Never judge a book by its cover is a phrase that applies to everything but books. I constantly am judging books by their covers because a book is a piece of art and the cover is part of the story it is telling.

With that in mind, I reached out to the brilliant Felix Ortiz with the idea for my cover. I wanted to represent what the book was about and showcase it in a cool way. Kaylo is on his knees, determined and angry at the world as The Thief, a taboo spirit, looms over him. Then off to the side, The Seed, another spirit, is looking on, unable to stop Kaylo’s disastrous path.

Hopefully, that image says enough to the reader to help them decide if No Heart for a Thief is for them.

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

Wildly. I am scared to read what I originally wrote. It was my first time writing a book. The characters were loosely defined, the plot holes could swallow a city, and the point of view constantly hopped between the character’s heads.

Then, in subsequent drafts, I add footnotes with a somewhat witty, sarcastic tone to give more information about the world. I also built out a partial language for the Gousht at one point. This book has gone through so many changes.

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

Probably a reader somewhat like myself. If you are interested in character-focused stories that take their time to tell you their tale, No Heart for a Thief might be for you. This book is for people who like magic systems that unravel slowly as the story progresses. If you like the idea of a story that focuses on the people who feel the consequences of war and colonization rather than the royalty and generals who are fighting for power, give my book a try.

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

No Heart for a Thief is the first in the Malitu series. Book two, No Safe Haven, will be released fall of 2023, and book three, Only a Grave Will Do, will be released before the end of 2024.

After that, there are two potential paths. If Malitu is a success, and people are looking for more, I have an idea for a second trilogy in the same world, following different characters after the events of Malitu. Otherwise, I have an idea for an epic fantasy inspired by Arcane that I am really excited about.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Do you have any parting thoughts or comments you’d like to leave for our readers?

I want to thank all the people that have helped me along my journey: my editor, Tori Gross, the amazing Indie Accords Discord, my ARC readers, Felix Ortiz, and everyone who has purchased a copy of No Heart for a Thief. Indie author is a bit of a misnomer because, in many ways, indie authors need more community support than traditionally published authors. We might make more decisions about our final products and how we market them, but we do not do this on our own.

Thank you all.

And finally, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?

Readers can find me on Twitter @jamesldulin, TikTok @jamesldulin, or Instagram @JamesLloyd27.

Where to buy the book:

Amazon US:

Silverstones Books (signed copies) -

Read chapter one for free! -

No Heart for a Thief will be free on Amazon from Saturday, April 1, 2023, 12:00 AM PDT - Tuesday, April 4, 2023, 11:59 PM PDT.

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