A warm welcome to author Xenia Melzer joining us today to talk about her new release “Casto”.
Welcome Xenia 🙂
Horses in Casto
People who read Casto will realize (within the first ten pages) that horses play an important role in the story. The two main reasons are that I think any fantasy story without horses is somehow not a real fantasy story (I’m biased, so please forgive me) and that I simply love them. I started riding at the age of six and haven’t stopped ever since. I was very lucky to have parents who share my madness (actually, they are responsible for it) and some of my warmest childhood memories are of days spent with my family and our horses.
Like many little girls, I was crazy about anything horse-related and grew up with the stories of Fury, Black Beauty and others of their kind. I read and watched virtually everything about horses I could get my hands on. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley had a beautiful horse on the cover which is why I picked that book to read. Fortunately, the story made up for the lack of horses, but from then on, I started reading the blurb first.
Casto as a character is a lone fighter, one who doesn’t trust easily and who is good at taking care of himself. To provide him with a solid backup (because nobody can be all alone against the world and stay sane), I created Lysistratos, a black stallion who can control and outrun the wind. There is something about unique horses always being either completely black or all white, and in Lys’s case, I chose black because he’s also a demon of chaos and the night is his natural habitat. Anybody who rides knows that black horses are the devil to groom. They are like dust magnets and against the black coat, it always shows! They are never as clean in real life as the TV wants us to believe. That is, unless their riders get up at least two hours before actually riding out and wash them down. And then they only have to roll around in the mud once and you’re back to square one. (The TV lies to us, all the time.) Lys is a balancing element in the story, providing Casto with support and counsel, but mostly he’s just there, a solid presence as a counterweight to what Casto is experiencing with Renaldo.
As a character in his own right, Lys evolves slowly. His secrets are revealed step by step and not even Casto knows all of them. (Especially not how Lys’s coat stays clean…) His actions are sometimes hard to understand and when it comes to getting acquainted with him, the reader is on the same level as Renaldo who is more than once surprised by Lys.
Of course two demigods have exceptional horses as well. Ghost and Demon are brothers, just like Renaldo and Canubis. Their role is not as prominent as that of Lys, but just like him, they do provide a red thread through the series.
Then there is Rajan, Daran’s horse. He’s a gelding Aegid and Kalad have bought for Daran after meeting him the first time. I modelled Rajan after a horse my family once had, a gentle and generous gelding who taught us children to ride and who carried us through many adventures. Thanks to him we learned confidence and trust, something Rajan is giving Daran as well. The riding lessons Daran has to take with Casto are also a nice way for me to connect Casto to somebody else besides Renaldo. It is a slow growing relationship between Casto and Daran, given Casto’s distrusting nature and Daran’s infatuation with his masters as well as their contradicting characters, but they get more and more acquainted without realizing what is happening.
Lord Wolfstan’s mare remains nameless and is a culmination of all the crazy horses I’ve met over time. Of course it’s rarely, if ever, the horse’s fault when they’re hard to handle, but that doesn’t make them less dangerous. I do understand that horses bred for competition have to have a certain spunk, although I don’t see why they have to be so nervous and high-strung that it’s almost impossible to handle them. Casto likes the wild mare because she’s a lot like him even though he would be the last to admit it. They have a good dynamic and I enjoy mentioning her every now and again.
Gods of War Book 1
Published by Dreamspinner Press Publications
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Release Date: June 21, 2016
All is fair in love and war. Or is it?
On the world called Ana-Darasa, the gods of war engage in a desperate search for their lost hearts while waging a battle against the Good Mother for supremacy. But theirs is not the only struggle as dominant men, powerful rulers, and demigods clash, fiery passion erupts, and destinies are shaped on the battlefield and in the bedroom. In a war between pride and love, no victory is ever simple.
All is fair in love and war. Renaldo has lived happily by that proverb his entire life. But he has finally met his match, and he’s about to discover how unfair love and war can be.
When demigod and warlord Lord Renaldo takes a beautiful stranger captive during an ambush, he is delighted to have found a distraction that will keep him entertained during the upcoming siege. Little does he know, Casto is keeping more than just one secret from him. Slowly, Renaldo gets sucked into a turbulent roller-coaster relationship with his mysterious prisoner, one that begins with hatred and soon spirals into a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. And when it seems that things can get no worse, an old enemy stirs right in the heart of his home.
Determined to keep Casto by his side, Renaldo has to find a balance between the capricious young man and his own destiny as a ruler and god to his people.
Xenia Melzer is a mother of two who enjoys riding and running when she’s not writing stories. She doesn’t like beer but is easily tempted by a Virgin Mojito. Or chocolate. Truffles are especially cherished, even though she doesn’t discriminate. As a true chocoholic, she welcomes any kind of cocoa-based delight.