Arboretum Press presents….

Empire’s Daughter, by Marian L Thorpe  

Empires cover 3

In a world reminiscent of northern Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire, this historical fantasy, meant for young and new adults, explores the meaning of loyalty and love in a rapidly changing society. Seventeen-year-old Lena must decide between her love for her partner Maya or her loyalty to her village, her people and her land.

…a lovely novel….” 

Mezzalily’s Teen Book Reviews

…easily one of the most intriguing books I’ve read all year…(an) indie-published gem….”

Writerlea Book Reviews

…this book is just something special….It was absolutely fantastic!”

Cover to Cover

…expertly done world-building….”

Creating Worlds with Words

 $13.95 CA + s&h


The Muse?

Sometimes the writing process is a complete mystery. I’m about a third of the way through the first draft of Empire’s Hostage, the sequel to Empire’s Daughter (which will be released in paperback soon, but that’s another post for another day). Lena, the protagonist, is hostage to a truce between the Empire and the lands to the north, and is feeling confused, frustrated, constrained…and also suffering a little bit of what we would call today culture shock. Looking to find a way to both condense a bit of relevant ‘history’ into something not boring to the reader, and to further delineate the differences between the Empire and Linrathe, the land north of the Wall, my brain suddenly produced – in about thirty easy minutes – a song which effectively did both. Sung by the party with which she is travelling, it fit perfectly into the chapter. But where did that come from?

What has your writer’s mind produced out of seemingly nowhere?


ChiSeries, Covers, and Cash

This past Tuesday, I had the honour of reading at the ChiSeries here in Guelph. Some background; the ChiSeries (The Chiaroscuro Reading Series) is a national Canadian reading series put on in a number of cities, promoting genre writing. I was reading along with two award winning and/or major award nominee writers of science fiction and fantasy: A.M. Dellamonica and Kelly Robson.

Spinnings Final Cover
Available on Amazon

It is a little intimidating for an indie writer to be reading alongside two established names in genre fiction…and it’s even more so to be reading last. But it seemed to go ok….the applause for my reading (I read an abridged version of my short story In an Absent Dream, currently published in my e-chapbook Spinnings), was hearty and I think genuine, and Kelly had some kind words for me. It’s allergy season, so I was concerned my voice wouldn’t hold out, but it did, although I think it was a bit scratchy by the end.

Family members and writing group members came along to support me, which was truly appreciated. I’d also got the proof version of the paperback of Empire’s Daughter that day, so I brought it along, mostly for reactions to the cover (positive, I’m happy to say!) I’ll be posting the cover soon, once I have an actual launch date. I’m still working on finding all the errors and correcting the proof.

And I’m actually (and unusually) getting paid – an honorarium – for the reading, thanks to various levels of government that support the ChiSeries. My (and yours, if you’re Canadian) tax dollars, supporting genre writers. How very nice.

Brexit, birds and boxes

The disruption to my writing life from the move has settled down, and the opportunities are emerging. My new city has a vibrant and supportive writers’ community, as I’ve said before; yesterday I went to my first ‘Genre Writers Group’ meeting in a downtown coffee shop. This is a brand new group, so it seems I made my move at a good time!

Six of us met at this first meeting, self-published and traditionally published, experienced and newbies and in-betweeners. We talked about plotting and planning vs free-flow writing; we talked about sales, and mostly we talked about publicity and marketing, exchanging ideas and opportunities. As a result of this, I sent an email yesterday afternoon and have been accepted to read at the next Chi Reading Series here. Put on by Chizine Publications, the Chiaroscuro Reading Series takes place in a number of Canadian cities every few months and focuses on fantasy, science fiction, and horror. I’m not sure what I’m reading yet – it will depend on the time given – but it’s a chance to network with other genre writers and to reach a larger audience. I’ll keep you posted!

I’m back to the Writing Room, the Monday morning quiet-space-and-coffee meeting, after an absence of six months. I made it back just in time to read at our spring open-mic night last week. I chose to read from Empire’s Hostage, which has been on the back burner as well for the last half-year, figuring it would give me the prod to get back into it. Which it did, and perhaps all the better for the hiatus – and perhaps too for the reactions and emotions stemming from the Brexit vote, which in some ways reflect the themes of the book: what is independence? Does a country stand better on its own, or as part of a larger unity? Where do concepts of love of country, love of leaders, duty, stand when allegiances shift?

In a different mode, I’m also writing a monthly birding column for our neighbourhood newsletter, and have been ‘coerced’ (not really) into the production team, which means I am learning desktop publishing software in my spare time. It’s a very different type of writing and editing, but it’s all writing.

I should get a review out in another week or so, and hope then to be back into a rhythm on those. I’ve started investigating paperback production for my books, and I’m looking into some creative writing courses, either at the university or at the local college, in the autumn. For the next two days, I’m giving my niece, who is heading off to university in Halifax in September to study journalism (another writer in the family!) a mini-vacation, exploring this city and environs, riding bikes, eating ice cream, hiking the river trails.

Somehow I think the boxes still languishing in the basement may never be unpacked…when will I have the time?

Books of Influence: An Occasional Series

This is the first in an occasional series of posts about the books – mostly classic fantasy and science fiction – that have most greatly influenced my own writing and world-building.  First among these are The Chronicles of Tornor, by Elizabeth A. Lynn.

The Chronicles of Tornor, published in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, consist of three books: Watchtower, The Dancers of Arun, and The Northern Girl. All take place in Arun, a land of city-states and northern keeps, grasslands and mountains, a land where certain psi powers, dance and warfare as two faces of one discipline, and a wider acceptance of differing forms of sexuality and love evolve over the several hundred years separating the three books. The first book in the series, Watchtower, won the World Fantasy Award in 1979.

Hailed at the time of publication as “an adventure story for humanists and feminists” (Joanna Russ) author Elizabeth A. Lynn’s spare, evocative prose and finely tuned characters made me long to be in Arun, but more importantly taught me how less is more in writing. The facets of sexuality revealed in her characters in this trilogy (and in two other of her books from the same general time, The Sardonyx Net and A Different Light), while common-place now, were still challenging readers at the time they were published. Important to her world (and ours), the sexuality of her characters is not an issue; it is an unremarkable part of the society and culture of Arun.

Each book can stand alone, but all are linked by the land in which they take place, the lineage of the characters, and a set of cards resembling Tarot cards. While there is physical action in all three books, it takes a back stage to the psychological and emotional change and growth that happens in the protagonists; it is these battles that are the focus of the stories, and hold the meaning. Lynn brings the story full-circle over the three books, beginning and ending at the northern keep of Tornor.

I first read this series in my early-to-mid twenties – now over thirty years ago- and of all the books I have read and will write about in this occasional series, The Chronicles of Tornor had the most direct influence on my own fictional land and some of the themes explored in the Empire’s Legacy series.  My paperbacks are tattered and torn, and one is a replacement, but they are books that will always have a place on my shelves.

My Favourite Review

It’s one thing to have your book reviewed by family or friends.  It’s another to have a complete stranger review it.  Over on, this review of Empire’s Daughter appeared:

“A story both hard and beautiful, Empire’s Daughter handles with depth and eloquence the issues of its time. The Empire is so like a past that our culture could hold, and creates a reflection on our decisions and traditions and their impact. For all its insight it still drives a narrative of growth and action.”

It’s written by someone I don’t know at all, who had no reason to be polite or to hold back on what he/she really thought. For that reason, it’s (so far) my favourite review.

Interested in reviewing Empire’s Daughter?  You can download the e-book it for free for a limited time from for no cost, using coupon code: ML72W.

A Map of the Empire


Here’s a map of the lands known as ‘The Empire’.  It’s perhaps 800 miles north to south, two hundred and fifty miles across. Two hundred thousand square miles in area – twice the size of the UK, about the same as France, half the size of Ontario, just a bit bigger than the Dakotas.

Note that the villages of Delle, Serra and Tirvan are shown in relation to the Road, but actually are on the coast below the Road.