A Chat with SM Blooding about The Hands of Tarot

Posted August 19, 2012 by Melissa in Author Interview | 1 Comment

Why was writing The Hands of
so important to you?

This book was about me finding the courage to stand up for myself.
I could stand up for anyone else, but for me? Oh, no. Over the past few years,
I’ve really grown a lot through my characters, their lives and their mistakes.
I’ve learned to deal with a lot, but I still hadn’t mastered the art of
defending myself.

I’m not the only one. There are a lot of people out there like me.
Take the election. There are a lot of people with opinions that aren’t heard
because they don’t feel their voice matters, or because others disagree very loudly. We’re in a day and age
where everyone has an opinion and everyone has a voice and no one is being heard. We’ve lost the
respect of listening because it’s more important to be heard. In so doing, a
lot of voices are shushed. They don’t want to speak up.

The people of the United States really are a caring lot. We’re
really not a bunch of whiners. We don’t necessarily sit around and complain
without taking charge, but we’re not as active as the generations before us.

When I was studying our history, brainstorming The Hands of Tarot, the thing that got
me about the generation of the 20th century was that they were
fearless! They were undaunted as they changed the world we now live in.

I wanted to delve into that, to remember what it was like for
them, the courage and the fear they had to have lived through. They did so much
with so little!

What was the experience like writing The Hands of Tarot?

Daunting! I blended our own history into an entirely different
planet. Yes, things are different. The planet shaped the people differently,
for one thing. But by doing so, it was lot less for me to remember, and a lot
less for the reader to remember.

There was still a lot to keep straight. So there was a lot of note
taking while writing, a lot of re-reading, and a lot of head scratching.

It was also a lot of FUN! OMW (Oh My Word), I really let my geek
out. Now, I did try to keep the geek off of every single page. That would just
be overwhelming and ridiculous, but if you pay attention, there will be little
tid-bit #SuperGeek nuggets that will be fun to unravel. I’ve been informed that
it’s almost more fun to read the second time through because that’s when a lot
of the #SuperGeek nuggets come out. 

This book is also unlike any other book I’ve ever written. It’s
almost pure action, which is the hardest thing for me to write. I typically
write character driven stories. There’s usually a lot of interaction, puzzle
unraveling, and usually a little romance. Action is at a minimum unless there’s
a bedroom.

Not this story. Uh-uh. There’s still a lot of interaction, but
there’s just so much more! The action is off the charts for me. We’re jumping
from airships, climbing through jellyfish cities (letharan cities), shooting down bi-planes, blowing up sphynctor bug
heads with a lightning lava pistol. Just—wow! Lots and lots of stuff! It was a
hoot, but INTENSE!

How did you come up with the title?

I was playing with a new tarot deck and my brain was just
exploding with ideas! I was playing around with different plot lines. I mean,
the plot itself isn’t unique, but I said to myself, “Self, let’s not go the
really traditional route and have a monotheistic society try and decimate the
world. What’s the safest ‘religion’ we have here? Well, there’s Buddhism, but
can you really see Buddhists up in arms trying to take over the world? No. Who

Then it just hit me, with the tarot cards in my hands. So the
Hands of Tarot was created, with the same hierarchy as the tarot deck. I love
tarot. It’s amazing and beautiful. There are a lot of intricacies there that
are just amazing, yet simple.

Can you tell us more about your main character, Synn El’Asim?

Synn fascinates me. He’s born during a time when you have to be an
adult a lot sooner than we would, which is a quandary. Young people don’t have
a lot of experience. So, it was interesting for me to watch him. He has all the
confidence of a teenager, but no knowledge of how the world really operates.
He’s just starting to grasp the concept of true responsibility and it’s

He’s very close to his El’Asim family, which is his father’s side.
He grew up in the sky, on the airships. They are these gloriously beautiful
ships that float in the sky by way of an air jellyfish who resides in the nets
above the sails. He knows next to nothing about how the letharan (picture a Medusa jellyfish the size of…a sprawling
suburb) cities work, and has no clue how the land dwellers survive. He’s pretty
clueless for someone who’s as cocky as he is.

He only has one other sibling that travels with the fleet. His
other three siblings grew up with his mother’s Family. His mother is the
matriarch of the Ino Family and they reside in a lethara (the sea jellyfish) city. Man, she’s tough and demands a
lot! She’s also very hard to read. Thankfully, his siblings aren’t anything
like her. They’re all very likable and loveable.

It’s a very odd situation. His mother calls him “my husband’s son”
early in the book. That shows that he is of the El’Asim Family, or tribe, and
not one of her own. It’s a very strong statement, and something that you’ll see
change as the other books come out. I’m very excited to bust through that line.

What are
his strengths and what are his weaknesses?

His strength is that he so self-assured. He literally doesn’t
think that anything can or will stop him.

His weakness is that he’s…well, he’s a teenage boy who’s a little
too self-confident, and doesn’t always listen. He has great friends, though,
and they’re quick to remind him of his failings.

What about Queen
Nix? Can you tell us more about her?

Oh! She’s wonderfully, fantasmically evil and I love it!

She’s an orphan. Each Family has their Mark of power. The El’Asim
Mark is storm (wind, rain, lightning). The Ino is fire. Well, the Shankara Mark
is air. Nix was born with the rogue Mark of fire, and was cast out. No one’s
really sure who her parents were or if they’re still among the living.

The Hands are a religious order, and took her in, inducting her
into the House of Wands, whose Mark is also fire. There, she excelled in
everything and eventually rose to the rank of Queen.

Once she became queen, she showed her dominance by destroying her
Family. When she was done, she discovered what it felt to be so supremely
powerful, so she decided to control the world. That’s always fun. She destroys
anyone who stands in her way, which includes the major Families. She decimates
them, and takes their children to be raised in her city under her influence.

She’s not what I would call damaged. She…has a sense of over
self-importance, and no one has been able to stand up to her yet. She’s
manipulative, gorgeous, sexy, conniving, vindictive, and unafraid of a little
blood on her hands. She welcomes collateral damage.

Are there any supporting characters we need to know about?

I love supporting characters! Haji is Synn’s best friend before
everything happens with Nix. He’s of the Umira Family, who are land dwellers.
Think of the best friend who has the key to your house so he doesn’t have to
climb through the window. Yeah, that’s Haji. He’s probably spent half of his
life on an airship, but you can’t tell it! He’s a born and bred land lover.

Joshua is my geek hero. You’ll be seeing him a lot more in coming
books. He’s snarky, has a great sense of humor and knows exactly how to defuse
Synn. His Family was destroyed when he was pretty young. He’s spent most of his
life with the Hands, in Sky City. He’s got a lot to learn about the world, but
he’s learned a great deal as a prisoner of the Hands, developing their

Keeley is the heart of their little band of friends. She’s
Joshua’s younger sister. She doesn’t remember anything, really, before the
Hands. She’s sweet, is a lover, not a fighter, and is so hesitant. She can be a
bit frustrating only because I know she could do so much more if she just believed in herself a little.

Yvette is her total and complete opposite. Her Family was
destroyed by the Hands, too, but she’s influenced by Queen Dyna who took her
into the House of Swords. Yvie (pronounced Ee-vee) has a sharp intellect and a
fierceness that is refreshing. However, all of my readers so far find her to be
mean and blonde (think Mean Girls).
She’s not. She’s just blunt and knows how to hide well behind the “I’m a girl”

Now that The Hands of
has been published, what’s your next project?

, which is Book 2 of the Dreamland Stories. I’m writing it now,
and, boy! Is it fun! It’s a completely different world than Hands, a totally different voice. I’m
having so much fun! It should be ready to launch around Christmas.

Then I will be writing The
Knight of Wands
because that book is SCREAMING at me to be written! There’s
a lot of research I need to do before I start writing it, but OMW! I’m

Title: The Hands of Tarot
Author:  SM Blooding

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre:  Steampunk
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | BN | The Book Depository

She killed his father.

She imprisoned and beat him.

And now she thinks he’s her trophy.

Synn El’Asim will do almost anything to prove her wrong. But he’s only proving her right.

Queen Nix awakened his Mark of power and inducted him into the House of Wands. She knew what she was doing. The son of the two most powerful Families standing against her is the ultimate prize.

What she didn’t take into consideration was that maybe he was too strong for her.


But the Families aren’t. They’ve been weakened and it’ll take a lot more than one young man with a powerful Mark to take on the Hands of Tarot

As soon as my eyes adjusted to the brightness, the air escaped from my lungs. Before us was carnage. There were two wooden pyres burned to smoking ruin with the charred remains of people on top of them. The air reeked with the smell of burned flesh. Several more pyres stood, two currently burning, three more untouched, all of them in a circle surrounding a large cage.

Filled with children.

Guards walked from one of the burning pyres and lit torches, walking to the neighboring one to set it ablaze.
The children inside whimpered. One screamed, her hand reaching through the bars. Most of them silently wept, watching as their loved ones succumbed to the smoke.

I couldn’t just stand by and watch this. I took a step forward, my hand going for my sword.
My father stopped me, his eyes troubled with sorrow.

Queen Nix turned to me and smiled. “Do you wish to declare war?”

“Let them go,” I commanded, my voice ragged. “What have they done to you?”

She stalked toward me, her nose nearly touching mine, all semblance of beauty twisted with rage. “They refused to submit to me.”

I stared at her aghast, my hands clenched, my jaw tight. “So because you couldn’t control them, you’re going to destroy them?”

The rage turned cold across her features as she drew away, her shoulders back.

“Are you so weak?” The muscles in my cheek twitched.

Father took a step toward us. “Perhaps we can reach a mutual agreement.”

Someone in the cage screamed, the scream turning to ravaged sobs.

I let out a growl. “You will stop this!”

The queen turned her eagle-eyed stare to me. “I do not take orders from a mere boy.”

“Queen Nix,” my father started, “let us be reasonable.”

She took a step back and assessed him.

“The Umira have never been a harmful Family.” My father’s hands were wide at his side, his expression open. 

“They have always lived in peace with the Hands.”

Her eyes flared and she advanced on him. “You’ve allied yourself with them.”

Father’s eyes widened as he took a half step back.

I watched in alarm, unsure of what to do. My father was the strongest man I ever knew.

The queen grabbed his coat and pulled his face close to hers. “The Umira have always been a peaceful Family, so imagine my surprise when they assaulted us with cannons and weapons.”

“They have the right to defend themselves, Nix.”

“Not against me.” She pushed him away and turned to her gathering guard. “Take him and his heathen son. Throw them on the pyre.”

My father drew his sword and faced the guard. “Go, Synn, now!”

Our men drew their weapons and stood by his side.

“I’m not leaving you, Father.” My sword was in my hand. I was ready to die an honorable death by my father’s side.

He backhanded me and roared, “You will protect our people, Synn El’Asim.”

I was torn. I wanted so badly to fight beside him, to protect him.

But my father had given me an order. One I could not ignore.

I turned and ran.

SM Blooding lives in Colorado with her pet
rock, Rockie, and Ms. Jack, who’s a real bird. She’s still learning to play the
piano and guitar, which is going marginally better, and for those of you
looking for an Arabic update, she has successfully learned one word, “Yalla,
people yalla!”

She’s dated vampires,
werewolves, sorcerers, weapons smugglers and US Government assassins. Yes. She
has stories.

Connect with the Author:  Website | FacebookTwitter

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