The Black Trillium by Simon McNeil Book Tour and Giveaway :)

The Black Trillium
by Simon McNeil
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy

Confederation rules in Trana—so says the king.

But Fredericton is a long way from the shores of Lake Ontario, and schemes for power will bring together three extraordinary young warriors.

A desert girl who came to Trana looking for refuge but has never found a home

A privileged city boy dreaming of rebellion and hardened by cruelty

The disgraced heir to the throne desperate to win back his place in his father's heart

Sworn enemies or reluctant allies, they all have one thing in common: an incomplete half of the legendary fighting skill known as the Triumvirate sword art. They fight for glory, for power, for the monsters lurking beneath the streets, and for the mysterious society moving in the shadows of Trana—the Black Trillium.

Later that day I was tending the fire in the kitchen hearth. Uncle Stephen came back in from his deck. His lips were almost blue from the cold but whatever he’d been speaking to his friend about had been clearly more important than his comfort. Kieran, I’ve spoken to Jean. He told me what happened, with Sawchuk.” You aren’t mad, are you?” No, I understand.” Well good, because I didn’t mean to attract his attention, it’s just…” He suspects me. And not entirely without reason; surely you have suspected.” I gave my uncle a skeptical look. You know the stories about the fall of Quebec and the freedom fighters who opposed MacMillan’s father.” The Black Trillium,” I said. And I’m sure you have heard that some of them survived. Well…” He paused and he looked at me steadily. “Jean and I both fight for the Black Trillium. We have since we were young. In Jean’s case he was at the fall of Quebec.” The fall of Quebec. It was one of those moments of infamy you heard about in hushed rumour, almost legend already, though not yet in the distant past. That Mr. Chamblais might have actually been there was shocking. I sat still for a moment, trying to control my surprise and awe before I spoke. And now something has happened.” In Broken Tower. The lordling there killed a Confederation minister as an offering to us, seeking allegiance. We turned him down. We weren’t ready to free Trana and he’s forced our hand. Things are going to be very hard in the next year. War is coming to Trana. So you have a choice to make.” A choice…” I could hardly believe what he was telling me. It made sense. My uncle’s strange friends, his opposition to Confederation, Sawchuk’s suspicions, all these things fit the pattern of a rebel in hiding. Yes, you can fight with us. If you do you will have to do… terrible things. War is always terrible. But you can. Or Jean can bring you to safety somewhere nearby.” What about you?” I have to stay here. It’s my home. I’ll fight to defend it.” So will I,” I said. Be careful Kieran, I never wanted to draw you into a war.” No. But if I start running now, when will I stop?” If you are sure,” he said. And I was. Yes,” I said, and I looked up at uncle Stephen burning with fierce pride. So why were you fighting with Argus Sawchuk?” I was talking with Teddy Li about the situation, you know, down in Broken Tower and he came around, accused me of treason.” The situation is fragile, we must be careful not to alert the wrong people clashing with lumps like Sawchuk.” The stranger slipped into the room then and said, “The situation is beyond fragile. It is devolving and there will be war soon.” Uncle Stephen seemed to deflate a little, his shoulders sagging. He took a deep breath. “I know that, Jean. But I’d prefer it didn’t start on my doorstep.” The truth is that we must deal with Sawchuk.” I had a fantasy of drumming the bully out of Kensington, tarring him and feathering him, anything to see him gone. Let’s go now!” You’ll stay put today.” Uncle Stephen sounded firm. But…” No, your uncle is right. Sawchuk won’t readily forget you were the reason he was beaten today. He’ll be on the lookout for you as soon as he recovers and the chances are good he won’t be alone. You stay put, for today. Tomorrow we will see to your education.” Yes, sir,” I said. “I understand.” I thought calling him sir would be appropriately respectful, but he just chuckled at me. Mr. Chamblais will suffice,” he said. If you don’t mind me asking, Mr. Chamblais, what do you mean you’ll see to my education? I already know my numbers and letters.” There is much a rebel must know beyond reading and writing. I don’t suppose you know how to handle a sword.” I’d never thought of it that way. I’d played at swords with my friends when I was a kid but Kensington was a peaceful place. I hadn’t ever learned to fight. But first you must be initiated.” Initiated,” I said. “Some sort of ceremony?” Something like that.” The rest of the day passed slowly. I stayed inside while uncle Stephen and Mr. Chamblais “dealt with the Sawchuk problem” and the weather was miserable in any case. I felt almost resentful, like I wasn’t getting to join a romantic brotherhood of freedom fighters, but was instead being made a prisoner in my own home by a strange raggedy man. I went to sleep reluctantly, my head buzzing with thoughts of heroism and rebellion, excited and terrified about what lay before me.

Simon McNeil is the author of The Black Trillium, a story of revolution and martial arts set in the ruins of Toronto. This novel is published by Brain Lag Publishing.
He is an online marketing communications specialist with a major educational institution when not wandering the world looking for trouble. He is a life-long martial artist, has published several articles in Kung Fu Magazine and he’s probably a little bit too fond of kung fu movies.
He lives in Toronto, Canada with his wife who has happily laid out rules to prevent the sword-through-glass-lampshade incident from ever happening again. The Black Trillium is his first novel.

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Title: Titles are the hardest part

For me, as a novelist, I find the length of the form freeing. In a 100,000 word book I have the freedom to go on a tangent, dawdle over a scene, include words beyond what is strictly necessary to communicate my message. This makes brevity a challenge for me sometimes. And there's nothing more brief than a book title. In 1 to 4 words, you have to sum up the entirety of your story in a way that captures reader attention, contains the essence of the story and invites somebody to read more.

That's a tall order.

As such, I went through several titles.

The first was a working title: "Untitled Walking the Radiant Trail Sequel" - referencing an unpublished trilogy I'd written, which formed the basis for the world building in the Black Trillium.

Then I changed the title to, "In the Shadow of Fallen Towers." This was a reference to the setting. The story took place at ground level and below (excepting one scene) in the ruins of Toronto. The crumbling remains of the vertical skyline dominated the aesthetic of the story, much of which was set in what is now the downtown core of the city.

But that was kind of wordy. So I tried shortening it to, "City of Bone." I was... unaware of Cassandra Clare at the time. A friend pointed out to me that there was a book currently hot on the market and in a category pretty darn close to mine by that name. So that name was out and I went back to the drawing board.

And then the same friend who'd warned me about "City of Bone" asked why I didn't just title the book "The Black Trillium." After all, the secret society was central to the action of the story. Even though the story had shifted in the telling as Savannah became more interesting to follow than Kieran, her relationship to the rebel sect, especially in the way she dealt with her skepticism with them, remained central to the story. And the other two lead characters were both defined by their relationship to the sect. Kieran a member, Kyle obsessed with hunting them. It made sense.

And I saw that the second he pitched it.

So I called it that. And it stuck.

(Of course, after I published I found an old and disused copy of a high fantasy novel that also went by that title, so I didn't entirely escape the "City of Bone" problem, but it was a minor work of a deceased author so I was somewhat less concerned about people confusing the two.)
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