Review and Author Interview: The Singer of All Songs by Kate Constable

Calwyn has lived all her life behind the high ice-wall that guards the sisters of Antaris from the world of Tremaris. The sisters practice ice chantment -- one of the Nine Powers of chantment, a form of magic worked through music. But when Calwyn finds an Outlander man fallen, wounded, through the wall, she is drawn to him ... and drawn into a wondrous, dangerous adventure that takes her outside the wall and to the limits of her own powers, as she, the Outlander Darrow, and others unite to defeat the sorcerer Samis, who seeks to claim all Nine Powers and become the Singer of All Songs.

Calwyn's future is mapped out. Isolated with dozens of other women behind their huge ice wall, Calwyn knows what's expected of her, and she thinks she wants what her sisters do. She loves her abilities to sing the chantments of ice.

It isn't until Calwyn is walking along the wall and stumbles on an  injured, strange young man that she begins to discover desires deep within herself. Different desires she didn't know she had. What lies beyond the wall? Who is her father? What had her mother found that had made leaving the wall behind worth the risk?

Calywn is assigned to the task of nursing the young man back to health. Darrow tells her stories about his world and makes her hunger even more for answers to her questions. But his world isn't all wonders and new discoveries - there's danger, as well. Darrow is running from his best-friend-turned-enemy, a powerful sorcerer called Samis. It is Samis's goal to become the Singer of all Songs, one being with the ability to sing all nine chantments. The songs of Ice, Iron, Beast, Wind, Fire, Tongue, Seeming, Becoming, and the unknown ninth power. Samis is the one that hurt Darrow and forced him into hiding.

Healing both his body and his spirit, Calwyn convinces Darrow to gather an army and fight Samis back. So when it comes time for Darrow to leave her icy land, Calwyn follows him.

Suddenly she is thrown into a world where nothing is safe and everything is unknown. As her and Darrow travel over seas and strange lands to gather the forces they need to face Samis, Calwyn learns what real pain and joy is. And not only is Samis following them and thwarting many of their efforts, but suddenly Calwyn is finding that she has unexpected abilities beyond calling ice.

Maybe Samis isn't the one meant to be the Singer of all Songs...

This is one of my favorite trilogies. These books have everything: Romance, mystery, suspense, a richly detailed world and wonderfully real characters. For those of you who like fantasy, I highly recommend this trilogy.

About the author: Kate Constable spend much of her childhood in Papua New Guinea, without a television but within reach of the library, where she "inhaled" stories. She studied Arts/Law at Melbourne University before beginning her life as a writer. Constable lives in Thornbury, Australia, with her husband and child.

1) Who’s your favorite character in the book and why?

Well, I love them all, that's like asking who is your favourite child! I guess I have to choose Calwyn, she is very close to my heart and I didn't think about her too hard before I started writing, so I think there is probably a lot of me in her. I really adore Halasaa too. Oh, and Mica. And Trout... oh, I love them all
2) What was the hardest part about writing this trilogy?
Finishing it! I would like to write at least one more Tremaris book one day, I have some vague ideas for a story swirling in my head, and I don't feel as if Calwyn's story is over yet. The Taste of Lightning, which is a sort of sequel to the trilogy, will be released in the US in October, so if enough people want another book to follow, I will get to work.
3) Did you always want to be a writer? What else have you done?
I did want to be a writer from when I was pretty young, I remember telling someone when I was eight, "I want to be an author." But I lost sight of that for a while in my twenties and thought I wanted to be a lawyer or a diplomat, neither of which came to pass! I have worked as a doughnut girl, a newspaper seller, a waitress, a data entry operator for a betting agency, and I worked for a few years in the record industry. But most of the time I was being paid to punch in orders or check catalogues, I was thinking about stories I was writing...
4) Would you mind sharing a little bit about your writing process?
I am a planner (perhaps it's the Virgo in me). I'm not the kind of writer who can just sit down and start writing and see what comes out. I do a little of that doodling early on, while I'm still figuring out what the story is about, and getting to know my characters, but I feel anxious without the scaffolding of an outline behind me. I like to have the setting very clear in my head before I start, often my idea for a story begins with a place. I write lots of drafts. With my current work-in-progress, I'm up to draft nine or ten, and this is the first "real" draft I've started (or so I'm telling myself!)

I work at my laptop sitting at the dining table in the big, light room at the back of our house which looks out onto the garden. Both my daughters are at school now, so in theory I have the hours between nine and 3.30 to write, but somehow it rarely works out that way... okay, never!
5) Care to share what you're working on right now?
I won't tell you too much about it because I'm superstitious about talking about what I'm writing while I'm writing it, but I can say that it's not a fantasy, and it's a book set in Papua New Guinea in the 1970s (which is where I grew up). It's taking a long, long time to come together, but I think I've found the right shape for it now.
Thank you so much for your time, Kate! Can't wait to read your next book.