Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Heart Of Fire looks at life and death… and things that make us what we are by J Damask

Today I hand over my blog to the wonderful J Damask, author of the Jan Xu Adventures that I had the privilege of working with many years ago when I was still editing for Lyrical Press. This month, J Damask is celebrating the long-awaited continuation of her Jan Xu stories, Heart of Fire.

Heart Of Fire has had an exciting journey. Third book of the Jan Xu Adventures series, it was first accepted by Masque Books and then later by Fox Spirit Books. Its publishing journey is parallel to its gradual transformation from concept to story.  It has been a journey of ups and downs.

Writing the book took a lot from me. I explored issues that impacted my life: Buddhism, Chinese traditions and customs, and death. I wanted to explore the cycle of life and death as part of the story. It is an urban fantasy novel, but it also weaves in things that matter to us, to our hearts and identities as human beings. The songs that sing to us might just be universal in the end: love, family, trust and compassion.

In this third novel of the series, Jan is confronted with more trouble. She rescues a foreign wolf, setting off a series of events and incidents that affect her health, her family and her pack. Throw in the machinations of Chinese vampires and the Western drakes – and Jan has to fight for her life, literally.

The book starts with the celebration of the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, one of the festivals I love as a Chinese girl growing up in Singapore.  I have always enjoyed the eating, the feasting, the variety of food, and (when I was a little girl) the red packets filled with money. Now, since I am married, I have to give the red packets to children. There are families getting together to have the reunion dinner and share stories while they eat. My own memories consist of going to my grandparents’ and playing with my cousins. The same goes with Jan and her large pack-family. Family, in her case, is the bonding factor that keeps her going.

Life is then followed by the grim reality of death. Someone in Jan’s family suddenly dies and she grieves deeply. How does she deal with the pain of loss? This is where I weave in Buddhism. My father is Buddhist and I grew up listening to his chanting at nights.  The mantra I use in the novel is om mani padme hum, the “jewel in the lotus”.
But, of course, there will be action in the novel. The political and manipulative drakes begin to assert a stronger influence in the story. Familiar characters will also appear, causing no small amount of head ache for Jan and her pack, testing her leadership and straining the ties in her family.

Heart Of Fire can be purchased from:
Amazon UK, Amazon US, Spacewitch

J. Damask (Joyce Chng) lives in Singapore. Heart Of Fire is the third book of the Jan Xu Adventures series. She blog at A Wolf’s Tale and tweets at @jolantru

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