Anna Kashina is joining us today with her novel The Guild of Assassins. Here’s the publisher’s description.
Kara has achieved something that no Majat has ever managed – freedom from the Guild!
But the Black Diamond assassin Mai has been called back to face his punishment for sparing her life. Determined to join his fight or share his punishment, Kara finds herself falling for Mai.
But is their relationship – and the force that makes their union all-powerful – a tool to defeat the overpowering forces of the Kaddim armies, or a distraction sure to cause the downfall of the Majat?
What’s Anna’s favorite bit?
Thank you for hosting my post. It feels so rewarding to be able to talk about my favorite bit, since in “The Guild of Assassins” my favorite bit is the entire book. Seriously.
Its prequel, “Blades of the Old Empire”, was originally written as a standalone, but one important plot point remained open: what will happen to Kara after she had become an outcast from her Guild? (I hope I am not giving any spoilers here, since this spoiler is already partially given in the cover blurb.) In addition, despite the way love interests resolve in the “Blades”, I kept thinking there was more to it. Which was why, despite thoroughly wrapping up all the major plot lines in the “Blades” I continued thinking about things that may or may not happen beyond the scope of the book.
Some of the scenes in “The Guild of Assassins” were written long before I finished its prequel. At certain points, when writing the “Blades” I simply had to follow up on some of the tensions by playing them out to the end and developing possible future interactions between certain characters, which absolutely had no place in the story. I was not sure this was actually going to happen in these character’s future, but I just had to see how it plays out, so I wrote those scenes down. Over time, they naturally fell into a certain order. By the time I finished the “Blades” I was surprised to realize that I have unintentionally created an outline and a backbone draft of its sequel, and that if I chose to use all of these scenes in a later novel, all I needed to do was to fill in what happened in between. At that time, I had no publication plans for these books, so I set them aside and tried to ignore the regret I felt when I thought about it.
When Angry Robot offered me a 2-book contract, my main thrill (after the initial one, of becoming a traditionally published agented author) was about the fact that I will actually get to write the book I had been dreaming about. I still was not sure how all the events in the book would work out, but I just could not wait to sit down and put it all on paper–and see. I was so inspired that I finished the first draft of “The Guild of Assassins” in less than a month, and even though I did considerably edit it afterwards, the frame of the story and many of the key scenes remained the same.
Writing “The Guild of Assassins” felt exactly like being in love. I wrote at every possible spare moment, words forming in my head as if they already existed somewhere and just waited to be written down. I think, with this novel, I have experienced the essence of why I always wanted to be a writer. Nothing compares to this feeling, when the world you imagined effortlessly falls into place, when the characters behave like real people, and you can spend all the time you need interacting with them while also being the one calling the shots.
As with the “Blades”, one of my favorite characters, the one that drove the story, was Mai. He is a joy to write about. In fact, he always acts on his own and all I have to do is write down what he does. When approaching a dialogue with Mai in it, I always felt curious at what he was going to say, and was often surprised at his responses and actions. For certain, none of it ever felt dull or predictable. He is at his best when driven to the limits, and he also has great chemistry with nearly everyone he encounters, positive or negative. One of my favorite chapters in the book is called “Diplomacy”, where Mai and Kyth talk behind closed doors and get to say everything they think about each other. Writing it was so much fun.
I saw some of the early reviewers describe “The Guild of Assassins” as purely character-driven. For me, this was definitely true. Watching the characters’ interactions, the way the chemistry develops between them, was my favorite bit.
Anna Kashina grew up in Russia and moved to the United States in 1994 after receiving her Ph.D. in cell biology from the Russian Academy of Sciences. She works as a biomedical researcher and combines career in science with her passion for writing. Anna’s interests in ballroom dancing, world mythologies and folklore feed her high-level interest in martial arts of the Majat warriors.