Today we're excited to share a guest post from Linsey Miller, author of Mask of Shadows! Read on for more about Linsey, her book, plus more about the writing of Mask of Shadows!
Meet Linsey Miller!
Meet Mask of Shadows!
I Needed to Win.
They Needed to Die.
Sallot Leon is a thief, and a good one at that. But gender fluid Sal wants nothing more than to escape the drudgery of life as a highway robber and get closer to the upper-class―and the nobles who destroyed their home.
When Sal steals a flyer for an audition to become a member of The Left Hand―the Queen's personal assassins, named after the rings she wears―Sal jumps at the chance to infiltrate the court and get revenge.
But the audition is a fight to the death filled with clever circus acrobats, lethal apothecaries, and vicious ex-soldiers. A childhood as a common criminal hardly prepared Sal for the trials. And as Sal succeeds in the competition, and wins the heart of Elise, an intriguing scribe at court, they start to dream of a new life and a different future, but one that Sal can have only if they survive.
What came first as you were writing Mask of Shadows? Sal or the concept of the auditions?
Sal and the Left Hand of the Queen came first! The original main character—while still a dashing assassin with a penchant for historians—didn’t share a lot of similarities with Sal. Sal is vaguely similar to their original counterpart, but I wouldn’t call them the same person. Originally, the main character was a mid-twenties rogue who had been the Opal assassin for several years already, and they got caught up in a political catastrophe of a plan when an accountant came to them for help. This Opal was a set-in-their-ways fighter who liked gambling and fancy meals.
All right, so maybe a bit like current Sal, but their mindsets were very different.
Their reactions to a certain brilliant noble girl were equally flirty and fumbling. However, in the original draft, the main character’s romantic interest was an accountant with a strict honor code and a name not even close to Elise.
There were no auditions what so ever. There was always a group of assassins rectifying their love for their nation with their moral choices; there was always a younger main character dealing with grief; and there was always a bookish noble lady as shrewd as she was clever.
There was also always Emerald! She was the first truly solid character I conceived, and she remained mostly the same until recently when some larger character changes occurred (still a card shark, still an alchemist with a deep love of her friends, still eternally tired of the main character). The backbone of her character has remained.
Which is a roundabout way of saying Sal and the other characters came before the concept of the auditions. The story started out as all about a dashing, morally questioning non-binary hero, and I like to hope it stayed true to that even with so many changes. Sal isn’t the same as the original character, but the heart of them is the same. Maybe the original main character of the very first outline and Sal would be friends.
Or maybe they’d just start a fight club.