Blog Tour: Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran

Hi everyone!

Today I have a super exciting post! I’m so excited to be part of the blog tour for Helen Corcoran’s debut, Queen of Coin and Whispers! If I haven’t shouted about this book enough yet, then hopefully now is another chance to do exactly that. I thoroughly enjoyed this political intrigue fantasy tale with a gorgeous f/f romance at the heart of it!

You can find my full review here!

BLOG TOUR

Thank you especially to Tríona at O’Brien Press for asking me to be apart of this and to Helen of course for writing such a fantastic book! If you want to purchase Queen of Coin and Whispers, then you can do so at obrien.ie or from Book Depository.

You can find Helen at @hcor on Twitter or through her website, helencorcoran.com!


ABOUT QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS

QoCaW

‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.’

When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.

Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?

In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …


Now, onto the extract!

Xania

The carpet muted my footsteps, giving me a few more moments of stealth. ‘How long?’
Matthias whirled. His face tumbled through shock, surprise, guilt, then settled on anger. ‘Xania.’
‘Miss Bayonn.’ He’d lost the privilege of my name. ‘How long have you been working for her?’ What secrets have you told her?
‘It’s not –’
I whipped the dagger up.
He went still.
‘How long?’
He flicked his gaze from the dagger to me. ‘I’ve known her since childhood.’ He hesitated. ‘However you’re imagining I betrayed you, I didn’t.’
Careful phrasing. Typical Matthias.
The doors burst open, and the new Queen stood in the doorway.
Fear rolled in my gut.

‘Drop the dagger.’ This close, layers of powder couldn’t quite hide the grief or exhaustion on her pale skin. But her gaze still pinned me. ‘Drop it now.’
She spoke as if she’d never been disobeyed in her life, which was probably true. Refusing her meant courting death.
I let the dagger slip from my fngers.
Matthias nudged it towards the Queen with his boot. She scooped it up and held it at her side.
‘Your Majesty,’ he said through gritted teeth, ‘may I present Miss Xania Bayonn, daughter of the late Baron Bayonn and Lady Harynne.’
‘If this is a joke,’ the Queen told him, ‘it’s in poor taste.’
‘It isn’t. I don’t appreciate having the business end of daggers pointed at me.’
My legs tensed, though running was futile. The Queen knew my name now.
She narrowed her eyes. ‘How did you convince the guards to let you through?’ She looked between Matthias and me, then at the walls. So she had told him about the passages – and he shouldn’t have told me.
Matthias grimaced.
At the sound of an approaching patrol, the Queen gestured at him and stepped back into the room. He pulled me inside before I could protest. The Queen shut the doors. The guards’ footsteps faded around a corner.

‘Release her,’ the Queen said, and nodded towards the chairs at her desk.
I sat, keeping my head down. Mama had drilled etiquette into me for years as my most effective shield.
The Queen placed my dagger on the windowsill behind her. I waited for her to speak first. Only the ticking clock broke the silence, until Matthias took an incensed breath through his nose.
‘I’m aware this isn’t the meeting you intended, but here we are,’ the Queen snapped. ‘So instead of acting like a spoiled child, Baron Farhallow, I suggest you salvage it.’
Meeting?
I looked up. ‘I… I beg your pardon, Your Majesty…’
‘It’s a bit late for politeness now.’
Matthias snorted.
‘Would you prefer I leave you both alone with the dagger?’
‘No, Your Majesty,’ he said. ‘I would not.’
‘Good. Start explaining.’

 

From Queen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran, published by The O’Brien Press.


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#QueerRecs: Spell LGBTQ in Books!

Hi everyone!

Time for another #QueerRecs post, I hope you’re all having a lovely month! Today is a fun little challenge – choose 5 books that spell out LGBTQ with their titles! Onto the recommendations!


lovelessLoveless by Alice Oseman

 

This was an obvious choice for me! Although I haven’t read it yet because it’s not out until July, I’ve been looking forwards to Alice Oseman’s next novel for so long! With aro/ace representation, I’m sure I’m going to fall head over heels for this book!

 

 


girlhoodGirlhood by Cat Clarke

 

This was such an enjoyable, suspenseful read! I really love a good Cat Clarke novel – so much so that I’m planning on reading another for this month! She always has great queer rep, and Girlhood is no different!

 

 

 


birthdayBirthday by Meredith Russo

 

So I was never a big fan of Russo’s debut, If I Was Your Girl, but I decided to give Birthday a go last year and I absolutely adored it! Set on the same day over the course of several years, I thought it was such an easy and heartwarming read and it had some great trans rep from an #ownvoices author!

 

 


TBDATEThey Both Die At The End by Adam Silvera

 

This story broke my heart into pieces. I’ve read all of Adam Silvera’s books now and can safely say I’m a big fan – but They Both Die at the End really knocked it out of the park for me! With some great diverse characters, this novel was an emotional rollercoaster with a great, great title.

 

 


QoCaWQueen of Coin and Whispers by Helen Corcoran

 

And yes, here I am again recommending Queen of Coin and Whispers but for the letter Q, I just couldn’t not. It really is THAT GOOD. Queen has some great queer rep, with a f/f relationship at the centre, a gay side character and also a world where queer characters and relationships are viewed as no different from straight ones. A beautiful, romantic debut!

 


There are my five reads for today’s #QueerRecs! Have you read any of these? What books did you love? Join in if you feel like it!

Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll see you again tomorrow for another #QueerRecs!

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#LGBTQMonth Author Interview: Helen Corcoran

Hi everyone!!

Welcome to the second day of #LGBTQMonth! Have you started your TBRs yet? If so, what are you reading? I’d love to know below!

For our first author interview of the month, we have the immensely talented HELEN CORCORANauthor of Queen of Coin and Whispers which was released yesterday! If you want to purchase, which I definitely recommend, you can find it on Book Depository here!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Helen Corcoran

Helen Corcoran grew up in Cork, Ireland, dreaming of scheming queens and dashing lady knights. She decided to become a writer at age eight, a potential career her mother felt would be usurped in three weeks. (It’s been a long three weeks.) She discovered fantasy and horror through the works of Michael Scott, Tamora Pierce, and Christopher Pike, and never quite stopped reading teen fiction when the term no longer applied to her.

After graduating from Trinity College, Dublin, she worked as a bookseller for over a decade. She lives in Dublin, writing fantasy novels and haunting coffee shops in search of the perfect latte.

She can be found on TwitterInstagram, and contacted through email. She is represented by Eric Smith of P.S. Literary Agency.


ABOUT QUEEN OF COIN AND WHISPERS

QoCaW

‘She loved me as I loved her, fierce as a bloodied blade.’
When teenage queen Lia inherits her corrupt uncle’s bankrupt kingdom, she brings a new spymaster into the fold … Xania, who takes the job to avenge her murdered father.

Faced with dangerous plots and hidden enemies, can Lia and Xania learn to rely on each another, as they discover that all is not fair in love and treason?

In a world where the throne means both power and duty, they must decide what to sacrifice for their country – and for each other …


THE INTERVIEW

Hi Helen! Congrats on the long-awaited publication of QUEEN! Where did the initial inspiration for the book come from?

I always wanted to write about a princess who was ready to be queen. She’d grown up knowing it would happen and was preparing for it. Lia knows her Court, she knows who her uncle’s allies are, and while she’s not in the strongest position that she’d like, she knows how the eco-system works. And the core crux of Lia’s dilemma is that she’s a lesbian, yet must marry to have a child to continue her family line, something she’d accepted as her duty but isn’t thrilled about.

 

Such a hooking premise! Tell us a bit about your writing process. What stages of writing are your favourite? Do you start with character or plot?

My favourite stages are the later editing passes. The early draft is done, as is most of the heavy editing lifting, and it’s starting to resemble the book in my head. I also love those moments when characters or plot lines click, or when my subconscious presents a solution to a problem I’ve been wrestling with. I don’t believe in muses, but there are times I still sit back and admit that our brains are strange, wonderful things when it comes to creativity. I always start with character. They walk into my head and settle down, and then it’s a matter of figuring out who they are, what they want and what’s stopping them for having it—and what they’re willing to do to get it. From there, the plot starts to take shape.

I love that! Who is the most memorable character you’ve ever written?

There’s a character in one of my (unpublished) adult books who has a budding fan club: Ariadne, who is essentially my version of Aramis from The Three Musketeers. She’s a flirt and a human battering ram, and absolutely someone you’d want as a friend and not an enemy. I had to do a lot of work with deconstructing Aramis; keeping what’s recognisable about the character while having to address and fix the problematic aspects of how he views and treats women in the source material. There’s also another character in that book who I loved writing—if the book ever gets published, she’s the kind of person readers should absolutely despise and yet feel some sympathy for by the end. She’s terrible, while having reasons for acting like she does that don’t excuse her terribleness.

In Queen of Coin and Whispers, I think it might be a character named Truth. I’d like to reveal more about him, as his role in QUEEN meant he remained tight-lipped about his past and life. He’s still involved in matters after QUEEN, so if I ever get to write more in that world I hope he’d sidle back into the plot.

Which LGBTQ Books are some of your favourites?

I adore The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, to the point where I reread it even though it’s over 800 pages long and my TBR bookcases mean I don’t reread as much as I’d like to. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Fingersmith by Sarah Waters absolutely wrecked me. The Wicked Cometh by Laura Carlin is a fantastic queer historical novel. Recent books I’ve read and enjoyed include Crier’s War by Nina Varela, Wranglestone by Darren Charlton, Dangerous Remedy by Kat Dunn, and The Falling in Love Montage by Ciara Smyth.

As a queer author yourself, what was the first book or form of art where you felt seen/represented?

I’ve been a fantasy devotee since I was eleven, and it’s still the genre I love the most. But everything I read was extremely straight, so Ash by Malinda Lo was a game-changer. A lesbian retelling of Cinderella!

While friends have teased me over my obsession with The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon, I can’t emphasise enough how much it would have meant to read it as a closeted teenager. Queer characters—and dragons!—in a fantasy tome. I’d have begged to buy it in hardback, or if I’d been in university when it published, I’d have spent my weekly food budget on it without hesitation.

I’m currently reading Priory and LOVING it! Similarly, the landscape and worldbuilding in Queen of Coin and Whispers is crafted incredibly and intricately well – what do you do to make sure this side of the process doesn’t overwhelm you?

This is probably going to horrify people, but most of my worldbuilding stays in my head. I tried doing those exercises where you fill out 100 questions, or complete surveys for your characters, and it’s never worked for me. I tried for Queen of Coin and Whispers, and finally realised I had to write a (terrible) first draft to find out all those things. Once I have a draft, I fine tune the world.

To use an example: originally, there was magic in the world, but including magic in a political and diplomat-focused novel created more problems than it solved, especially in a self-contained novel. How did ruling families keep power if they had no magic? How did diplomacy work if one country had magic and the other didn’t; what stopped the magical country from invading? So I decided that magic and faith were intertwined and when religion faded, so did belief in magic. There used to be magic in Lia and Xania’s world, but it’s been so long ago that it’s viewed in much the same way as Irish mythology in Ireland. It might have happened, some version of those people probably existed, but not in the way the stories say.

I’m a firm believer that worldbuilding should only appear as needed in the narrative. This was particularly challenging in Queen of Coin and Whispers, which is dual first person POV. I had to work in the details that the reader needed to ground themselves, but in ways that fit Lia and Xania’s viewpoints, neither of whom would find those important worldbuilding details—everyday knowledge for them—interesting or necessary to mention. (Hard lesson learned for writing fantasy novels in first person.) I also keep a notebook for each novel, so I make a note of things I absolutely must remember, or will be important and need to be woven into several plot threads.

You’re right – I am completely horrified! My memory would let me down big time. What are some songs that you feel represent Queen of Coin and Whispers?

I write and lightly edit to music (more intense editing is done with noise-cancelling headphones), so every book ends up having a soundtrack. I have a playlist for QUEEN on Spotify; I started building it back in 2013 and added to it over the years. Some songs are there because I listened to them on loop while drafting so I associate them with the book, or they evoke a feeling or character; sometimes the lyrics relate to the book. “Gloria Regali” by Tommee Profitt fits the TV or movie trailer in my head, while “Castle” by Halsey and “Duck Shoot” from The Crown’s Season One soundtrack are songs I heavily associate with Lia. “The Necklace of Marie Antoinette” is a Xania song for me, and I associate “War of Hearts” by Ruelle with the Midwinter Ball in the book—I listened to it every time I worked on that scene.

Some great choices! As a child, what did you want to be? Was it always a writer?

I decided I’d be a writer when I was eight. At the time I was cycling through other potential career options on a three week basis, so my mum said that idea would last for three weeks. (It’s been a long three weeks.) I also loved horses and horse-riding, and had dreams of setting up my own riding school, but a weak back meant I had to gradually stop. I wrote my first book when I was eleven, and my family became alarmed when the writing didn’t stop over the years. They kept insisting I needed to choose a more stable career, but I was oddly always aware of that: even as a teenager, I knew, realistically, that I’d write around a full-time job. My maternal grandmother, who died when I was a teenager, always encouraged my writing (while alarmed at the amount of blood and murder in it), and Queen of Coin and Whispers is dedicated to her.

That’s so touching! What can we look forward to next after Queen of Coin and Whispers?

I’m not under contract, so I must stress that none of these have sold and may never see the light of publishing day, but:

I’m working on two adult projects now: one that I’m keeping close to my chest as it may go nowhere, but the other is a queer, female retelling of The Three Musketeers, with dragons. I restarted revisions when lockdown kicked in, and finally have a kind of daily routine going so it will hopefully get to my agent soon.

In YA, I have an idea for a companion sequel to Queen of Coin and Whispers, set several years later. It involves a new main character, but many characters from QUEEN return, now older. I’m hopeful the idea is strong enough, but it selling and being published depends on many factors, most of which are out of my control. But there’s hope if QUEEN does well.

Fingers crossed, I’d absolutely devour a sequel! Finally, what’s your biggest piece of writing advice you can give to budding authors?

First drafts aren’t meant to be perfect. It’s also nearly impossible to write a perfect first chapter that won’t have to be tweaked at least a little after a draft is done. While Queen of Coin and Whispers is my first published novel, I’ve written others, and every book is different. Some need a strong structural outline so the first draft can be written quickly. Others need a lighter outline of the big points and drafting is a bit of wander to figure out the smaller details. Everything is practise. Everything can be improved, but sometimes that means letting some books go and taking that knowledge into new ideas. And always, always back up your work!


Thank you so much for being part of #LGBTQMonth, Helen! We were delighted to have you!

Queen of Coin and Whispers published yesterday, June 1st 2020 and I urge you all to go order it—from your local indie bookstore if they have it, or anywhere else!

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