The only way to win and get back to Earth is using her powers, but doing so may unravel her to the point of no return — Whisper of Darkness (Banshee’s Curse Book 1) by @kristenbraddockTweet
What inspired you to write this book?
I love fantasy, all subgenres, and there’s common mythical beings who get written about (vampires, shifters, fae, witches to name a few), and I was trying to think of a “darker” fantasy character to write about, and a banshee popped into my mind. Researching it more, I found out banshees stem from Irish/Celtic folklore, and it was a slippery slope from there, leading me to all the other characters like druids, pucas, and other Celtilc fae.
What can we expect from you in the future?
**Chants** More books! More books! More books! I wish I could write as fast as my novel ideas sprout in my brain. I plan for Banshee’s Curse to be a 4 or 5 book series. Plus, I have the first book of my YA mermaid series written, and I hope for that to be a 4 book series. That one is really fun because I essentially thought, “I have a lot of knowledge about the ocean, so how can I take real ocean phenomena and create a mer-community?” I still take creative license plenty of times, but most of what I write is grounded in something factual, so in a way it hinges on sci-fi too. Also, I already have a witch-familiar trilogy loosely plotted, dragon shifters, and incubi/demon ideas. Different representations I will have across these will be more LGBTQ+ characters, cancer survivor, and epilepsy to name a few. Also, in my mermaid series I have a main character who lost an arm. I am so excited with how all these diversities wind into these fantasy worlds I’m creating. Again, I wish I could write faster. I want to get books out to readers as soon as I can, which is one of the many reasons I decided to go indie instead of the traditional publishing route.
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
I do have a prequel novella out called Losing The Light. It’s short and sweet, about five chapters, and written from the perspective of the main love interest about six years prior to when the main series takes place. What happens in this novella is so pivotal to why certain characters are certain ways in the main series, I couldn’t help but dive into the day that changed everything a little bit more.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Whisper of Darkness?
Cara is the main character who has spent her life thinking she is cursed due to a ringing that occurs in her head before someone around her dies. Surprise! She’s not cursed, she’s a banshee! Other fun facts, she loves animals and makes inappropriate sounds when eating something delicious or has coffee. Also, she struggles with her mental health, which is to be expected when you have lived life with death haunt you.
Shay is a druid, and kind of a prick. He’s also the reason Cara ends up being taken away to another realm.
Killian can make a person’s worst nightmares come to life, but broody and hot despite the scars maring the left side of his body. Oh, and he loves crumble. Shay and Killian have a complex history, but I can’t tell you too much more because that’s part of the story!
I’d say these are the main three, at least for Book 1.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Googling Irish/Celtic names until I found ones I liked. Sorry, it’s not more interesting than that.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I really love complex characters. Creating their backstories was so wonderful, and really letting my mind fly when it comes to magic.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
Darkness is a theme for both Cara and Killian, something they bond over, both with their powers and the darkness they fight mentally. Whisper of Darkness makes me think of those evil voices in the back of your mind. You know the ones. The ones who say you’re fat, not worthy of love, that you’ll never accomplish anything, and whatever other terrible things that make you question yourself and your life. Cara is haunted in many ways, and I feel it’s a darkness always whispering in her mind, in her soul, dragging her to a darker place.
Who designed your book covers?
A very talented friend and coworker designed Book 1, and I am using Miblart to design the others. My talented friend has 3 kids and is moving soon, so I didn’t want to make him commit to a 5 book series and figured it was better to find someone to finish out the series covers sooner rather than later.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Don’t ask a writer that! We are our own worst critics! We will never be fully happy with our books, and we will always question things, even down to the “should I use the word ‘excited’ or ‘ecstatic’. So, needless to say I’ll say ‘no’ because if I think about it, I’ll question myself too much and start to stress out. See! Those little evil voices! Totally a thing. (Note: The end of this answer will only work if coupled with the ‘Title of your first novel’ question).
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
So much! I learned so much about Irish and Celtic folklore. It was all wildly fascinating and so much fun to find ways to incorporate it. However, what I was most excited to learn about was more about autism for my character, Cadan. I did tons and tons of research as it is not a personal identity. However, I ended up hiring this absolutely amazing sensitivity reader who is not only autistic, but has a BA in creative writing and is currently working on a Master’s in Critical Theory with an emphasis on environmentalism, postcolonialism, race, gender and disability. They, also, identify as Black, an immigrant, trans, and indigenous. So, their scope both personally and academically/professionally was astounding. This made it so not only did they provide me feedback on Cadan, but often would explain more on the “why” behind including a specific characteristic. I wasn’t only being told what I did well or needed to work on, but learned why that is too. I am so immensely appreciative of them, and finding them was a complete blessing.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Lily Collins would be perfect.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Find me on social media and say ‘Hi’! I love creating worlds, my mind creates worlds even if I don’t write them down, but it’s the readers that keep the steam in my engine. Hearing what you love, fan theories, seeing fan art, or just connecting about our mutual love for fantasy is such a huge driving force and will make my entire day.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
I love the Korrigan! A small water sprite who can see the past, present, and future. I make her a little devilish and wildly beautiful. It’s one chapter encompassing one of the trials in the competition that Cara is a part of, but I love it so much!
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
100% from my imagination. Well, I guess certain qualities of my main character was inspired by my alpha reader, like her love for animals.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
My YA mermaid series, but I plan to publish Book 1 soon!
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
“First Rain.” The smell of a first rain is so distinct, and that would 100% be my book. You’ll completely understand why if you decide to read it.
Is there an writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
Any fantasy writer! I want all the author friends! Annette Marie, Sara J Maas, Laura Thalassa, Audrey Grey, Leia Stone, Jaymin Eve, Jennifer L Armentrout, Holly Black, this list could go on forever! They are so amazing with their world building, character development, story flow. They are all icons in their own way, and it would be hard not to fangirl around any of them. I would do my best to play it cool though because I want more author friends. I adore the best friendship between Leia Stone and Jaymin Eve, and totally hope to find my author BFF one day.
Whisper of Darkness
Banshee’s Curse Book 1
by Kristen Braddock
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance
Cara Winters is cursed.
Loss has haunted her through life. A fun night out with her sister ends in disaster when she learns she’s a banshee. With a chance encounter and life debt owed, she’s coerced into a deadly competition in the far realm. To survive she finds an unlikely ally in Killian, a mysterious and prickly dark fae.
The only way to win and get back to Earth is using her powers, but doing so may unravel her to the point of no return.
Perfect for fans of fated mates, enemies to lovers, complicated & diverse characters, slow burn romance, and celtic folklore. Suggested for ages 15+ due to some language and violence.
**From June 7-21, 100% of my profits will go to Foundations of Divergent Minds (instead of the usual 10%), a nonprofit founded and run by autistic people for disability justice!**
“You shouldn’t be here, little rabbit,” he purrs.
His obnoxious nickname for me breaks my trance. ““I am. Not. A rabbit.” With murder in my eyes, I poke him in his hard chest with each word.
His hand envelops mine, stopping my physical assault, but not my verbal one.
“I’m not some defenseless animal that needs taking care of! Stop acting like you need to save me. I never asked for your help. In fact, I explicitly told you not to help me. So, stop it, and stop treating me like I’m some distressed, helpless pet!”
“You do not know the nightmarish creatures that live in this land.”
“Oh, yeah? Like you?” I throw the truth he admitted in the second trial in his face. I expect him to flinch, but instead he yanks my hand.
I tumble forward, using my other hand to brace myself against his muscular chest. My shocked expression meets his stern one.
“Yes, exactly like me,” he sneers. He leans forward to whisper in my ear. “I am a Púca, a fae made of your worst fears.” As he speaks he transforms.
Leather clings to his large, muscular frame. He turns my way. A hood covers a majority of his face with only a frown peeking from the bottom.
I stare wide eyed at him.
The man from the bar pulls his hands from his ears and looks at his blood coated fingers. A trickle of blood dribbles from his ear to his chin.
The man in black faces my assailant. His right hand reaches over his shoulder, and metal rings through the air as he unsheathes a sword.
Who the hell casually carries a sword on their back? Is there a convention in town? I pale at the high pitched wail in my head.
With sudden awareness, my attacker lifts his face to check his surroundings. Upon seeing the new addition to the alley, he jumps, fumbling onto his back before scuttling backwards like a crab.
Frozen in place, my fingers dig into my thighs as the man with the sword takes a swing towards him. I cover my mouth in horror as blood spills from the man’s neck. His body goes limp and there’s a small thud as his back hits the tarmac.
“I need you to look at me because I need you to hear what I have to say,”
I raise my head to see his beautiful face illuminated by the fire, only a foot away.
His eyes search mine as he speaks. “I know darkness. I am darkness. I turn into someone’s worst nightmare. But you… you’re goodness. You’re someone who understands the dark, who has walked in it, but it allows you to bring light into the world. You’re someone who stands up for the weak and those who are hurt. You find strength where others would crumble.”
“But… my powers,” I sniffle.
He leans closer to me until our breath mingles. “Your powers may be about death, but you can use them to prevent heartache before it begins. To forewarn before the end has occurred. Nothing is set in stone until it has already passed.”
Killian takes three long strides and drops to one knee in front of me.
In the distance, the battle still rages, but the sounds barely reach me.
He grips my face in his hands and pulls it up until I look at him. His amber eyes search mine. His features are hard and the scowl doesn’t leave when he speaks. “Why aren’t you fighting?”
My tongue is as useful as a lead weight in my mouth. Why was he asking me this? Why did he care? The only person in any world that cares about me is back on Earth and probably thinks I’m dead. It would be so much easier if it were true.
His eyes bore into mine, looking into my soul. It’s like he can see every thought and feeling while words fail me.
There’s a ripple in my chest, but it dissipates when Killian jumps up and leaps over my head. Metal clings together at my back, but I simply sit there while the world unfocuses around me.
Another opponent runs at me, using Killian’s distraction to take their opportunity to end me.
I imagine Shay screaming at me from the stands. I’m sure if I listen closely enough I would hear his curses for me to fight, to win. My small sword sits beside me. I don’t remember when I dropped it. All I need to do is pick it up and block. A technique he ingrained into me, something we practiced hundreds of times. I stare at it, willing my hands to move and grab it, but the need evaporates.
It’s better this way. If Cadan can’t get his wish, I don’t deserve to win either. In the end, my curse will always be what wins, and it’s about time it takes me.
A thud sounds from behind me, and within seconds Killian is upon the fae in front. In his act of desperation, he isn’t as careful this time. When he runs across their front, he slices their neck so fast the person doesn’t have time to respond. Blood gurgles from the wound as the body crumples to the ground.
Another death, but the ringing in my head hasn’t stopped.
At least it was a quick death.
“Get up,” Killians demands from above me.
My blank stare grazes his silhouette.
“Get. Up.” He grabs me from under my arm and hauls me to my feet.
I trip into him.
He catches me around the waist.
A male fae with pointed ears, battle leathers, and a long sword heads straight for us, but with Killian’s back turned he doesn’t see him.
No. I can’t lose anyone else. I may not care what happens to me, but I can’t stomach anything happening to Killian. I shove him to the side, sticking my foot behind his ankle so he falls to the ground so he can’t intervene.
Characters and their worlds have inundated Kristen’s mind since she was a kid. Traveling to far off places and having words on a piece of paper transform into entire scenes pulling at her emotions is an obsession.Her goal as a fantasy author isn’t solely to relish in her imagination, but to bring representation to this genre. She wants stories with characters who are diverse inside and out. Their differences are not the focal point of the story, but rather a natural part of their being. Due to this, you will often not only find characters of varying ethnicities, but of the LGBTQ+ community, who battle diseases, are neuroatypical, and plenty of other areas that make us all so different from each other. These are not their defining qualities. It’s simply a part of who they are. To further support these communities, Kristen donates 10% of her profits to various organizations.When Kristen isn’t cooped up on her computer or curled up with a book, she is often outdoors– hiking, snorkeling, diving, camping, etc.Currently, she resides in California with her husband and fur babies (two dogs and a cat).
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