Anonymous asked: I absolutely love these books!! So I'm wondering when the last book will be released so I can find out how this amazing story ends?

I am lucky enough to get questions about this a few times a day—it is so cool to experience how invested readers are in my characters. If you want to get the most up-to-date information about my new releases—including the third and final book in the Guards of the Shadowlands series, then sign up for my newsletter on my website (no worries—I won’t bombard you with emails). Fans of this series can look forward to a few extras in addition to the third book over this next year, and the newsletter is the way to stay in the loop :)

Anonymous asked: Is the last book going to be full of feels? And is Lela and Malachi going to remain together?

If I told you that I hope book three will rip your heart out, would that scare you? 

As for Lela and Malachi, they have a long journey ahead of them. No promises. I’ve gotten several messages asking me to warn readers if my series is going to end on a tragic note. I can only say that I’m ending the series in the way I always intended it to end, and hope readers will be willing to take a risk and give the final book a chance. I love Lela fiercely, and I think the end of her story is pretty satisfying. I hope you’ll agree!

Translated from Malachi’s Journal: Day 11864

Ana is still alive, and obviously so am I. It was a tense journey back to the Station. We had to tie the Mazikin to a sled we built out of an apartment door, as I’ve done in the past. I dragged it while Takeshi took Ana ahead. Once I deposited the two Mazikin in the mouth of the dark tower, I walked into it myself—and found Takeshi waiting on the other side. He was pale and unable to focus until Ana stumbled out and fell into our arms.

She did so well. A week ago, we returned to the Harag zone to determine the location of this nest at long last. Nearly a hundred days of drilling, of reviewing every possible scenario, of training for every situation. Finally. Finally. It felt like we were one unit. It seemed like Ana had mastered herself, like she was ruled by plans and logic instead of reflex and rage. And Takeshi was our Captain, and we were his Guards.

I’m  waiting to find out if that’s still the case.

We patrolled just north of the zone for a few days, with me on the roofs and Takeshi in the alleys—and Ana wandering the streets in plain sight, just as one of the citizens might do. She has lovely dark hair, and she wore it down, so the Mazikin would see. They do seem fond of hair. 

On the fifth day of the operation, two Mazikin approached her slowly, sniffing the air, perhaps because they sensed the faintest scent of me or Takeshi. But Ana was such a perfect recruit that they abandoned caution and took her by the arms. 

We followed them for several blocks. We wanted them to get as close as possible without actually leading her into the nest. But when they guided her inside an abandoned mill building, Takeshi gave the order. We moved in.

It was the right call. They were attempting to tie her to a table inside. The incense was just starting to smoke. She was fighting them. That’s when one of them clawed her arm. 

We captured them both, and their aggression toward Ana fueled our interrogation sessions. We questioned them separately, and each told us that we would find the nest in the basement of an apartment building not ten blocks from the mill. 

In other words, my plan was a success. I hope Ana and Takeshi agree. I am leaving shortly to check in on Ana, as I’ve been informed she has awakened after Raphael’s healing. Takeshi has been gone since he brought Ana here two days ago, so I will send Rais to find him and give him the news.

Translated from Malachi’s Journal: Day 11862

Ana is walking and breathing, but she won’t be for long. Our operation was successful, but she was wounded. We’re leaving in a few minutes to try to get her back to the Station before the claw wounds take their toll, and on the way we’ll have to drag the two Mazikin who saw her face. They must be imprisoned in the tower so they can’t spread word of the new Guard.

I’ll write more once we get back to the Station, assuming I am still alive. This whole thing was my idea, and if Ana dies, Takeshi will most likely kill me. 

Translated from Malachi’s Journal: Day 11774

"I have an idea," I said to Takeshi as we pulled knives out of cloth dummies, preparing for another round of target practice. "It’s about Ana. She could help us find the nest. We’ve been searching for a long time and getting nowhere, and she could be the key." I said it quietly so only he could hear.

He flipped a knife in his palm and glanced at the other side of the room, where Ana was doing drills with her staff. “I’m not putting her on the street. I’ve told you that.”

It was hard not to shout at him. He has been so blind, so bullheaded about Ana, who is more angry and tense every day—and she did not exactly start out relaxed. “She wouldn’t be alone,” I assured him. “I know you don’t want the Mazikin to know her. To target her the way they target us. But we can prevent that.”

He raised his eyebrow but said nothing, so I continued. “The Mazikin recognize us on sight. All but a few scatter when we patrol. They know how to avoid us. But if she could act as a decoy, a potential victim—”

His jaw clenched, and I spoke very quickly. “We would be right there, but out of sight until the right moment. We could capture and interrogate any who see her, and then take them to the tower.”

He knew this was a significant concession, since killing the possessed bodies frees imprisoned human souls from the Mazikin land, while imprisoning the possessed in the tower leaves them trapped forever—a belief Takeshi does not share. “You would be willing to commit to imprisoning every single one?” he asked.

"If it means that Ana can act as bait—" I rephrased when Takeshi frowned. "If she could draw the Mazikin in and allow us to trap them, that would be a victory. I would do it."

Takeshi looked over at Ana again. I wonder if he is aware of how his face changes when his eyes are on her, how the hard edges soften. Probably not. “I’m willing to consider it.”

Ana continued to swing her staff, solid and strong. And when Takeshi turned away, I did not, so I saw her face break into a grim smile. 

Translated from Malachi’s Journal: Day 11722

Takeshi and I arrived back at the station in the middle of the darkest hour of night. To my surprise, Ana was crouching in a corner in the front entryway, looking defiant and mutinous. 

"She’s been sitting there for the last five days," Amid told us quietly as we walked in. He looked wary. 

Takeshi scowled. “Has something happened? She seemed fine when I left.”

I looked back and forth between Takeshi and Ana, whose eyes were riveted on him, full of fury and resentment. “Yes, something happened,” I said to him. “You left.”

Takeshi’s brows shot up and he turned to look at Ana. Her eyes narrowed. Without a word, she got to her feet. All the Guards in the room, myself included, tensed in readiness for an attack. But she simply shot a lethal kind of look at our Captain and walked from the room. 

Takeshi watched her go, still looking puzzled. I bid him a good night and returned to my quarters. I think I may avoid the training room tomorrow. If Takeshi does not allow Ana to patrol and take up her place as a Guard soon, I think she might find a way to kill him. 

Anonymous asked: Hello! I haven't got a question, but I simply have to say how awesome your books are! Their world reminds me of violin music: beautiful and passionate, fascinating and breakable, haunting and delicate. And yes, you can hear the rhythm of the drums in the background, because they are anything but outdated! Your books managed to capture magic and I am looking forward to reading the third one. Kind regards from Germany!

Hello! I haven’t got an answer, then, except: thank you so much!

Oh, and another thing: to all of you who write notes like this to authors, simply to offer kind words, to cheer us on, to tell us our stories touched you, to let us know they resonated, that our words mattered, I hope you understand how much it means.

You owe us nothing. You bought the book, took the time to read it, and then you took extra time to give the gift of encouragement. This wasn’t something I really thought about or anticipated as I began my career as an author, and it’s been such a lovely surprise.

This job has such ups and downs, and it’s sometimes difficult to remain positive, creative, and energetic, to consistently produce high quality material. Notes like the one above are like energy boosts, for me at least. They help me open the file and find the joy in my work, even on the tough days.

So again, thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking the time and for reaching out. It matters more than you may realize.

Line editing book three and listening to this, which reminds me so much of Malachi …

The Noose by A Perfect Circle on Grooveshark

Translated from Malachi’s Journal: Day 11721

We haven’t found the nest, but I must say, the last five days have been rather good. Takeshi is more like himself, or at least how he was before Ana appeared in our midst. And today we had a laugh, something neither of us have done much of late.

Sil, a Mazikin who bears Takeshi intense animosity, adopted a new strategy, but it did not work out so well. Takeshi and I had discovered another altar in the basement of an apartment building, a bare metal bedframe with ropes tied to each corner post. The place was a bit small for a nest, and now we’re wondering if the creatures are possessing a few at a time before moving on. It might explain why we haven’t found them yet.

As we emerged from the stairwell, we came face to face with a man dragging a woman toward us. He looked like one of Takeshi’s countrymen, with thick black hair pulled back from his face, and he was massive, nearly as tall as I am and easily twice as wide, with broad, beefy shoulders and legs like columns of concrete. When he saw us, he dropped the woman and adopted a wide-leg stance, his arms out to his side, like a wrestler.

Takeshi started to laugh. “This is a new look for you, Sil.”

The Mazikin scowled at Takeshi’s instant recognition, but did not bother denying his identity. “I will crush you.”

Takeshi was nearly doubled over with the silliness of it. “You can try.”

Sil charged. Takeshi sidestepped him and brought his staff down across the Mazikin’s back. When the creature dropped to all fours and lunged for him again, Takeshi leaped in the air and ran over his back, landing on his other side.

While I escorted the limp, passive woman to a nearby empty apartment and instructed her to stay inside, Takeshi taunted the enormous Mazikin in Japanese while he thwacked him with his staff. Laughing the entire time, my Captain raced up and down the hallways of the building with the bull-like man charging after him on all fours. The sight was so comical that I started laughing, too. Sil had perhaps thought that a larger body would help him defeat us, but though Takeshi is fairly slight of build and stature, he is quick as a viper and devilishly clever. 

Sil did not stand a chance. Finally, just after Takeshi ran by, I stuck out my staff and tripped the Mazikin up when he tried to follow. “Are you finished with him?” 

Sil was sprawled on his stomach, panting for breath. Takeshi stared down at him, still smiling. “I suppose, but I truly don’t know if the two of us have the strength to drag this giant all the way to the dark tower.”

I remembered an imprisoned Mazikin, telling me that I could liberate the soul of a human if I killed the possessed body. “That’s fine. We can end him here.”

Takeshi sighed. “It’s a shame. This could have been his fatal error.”

I couldn’t regret it. I was imagining the soul of the poor man he’d possessed, flying free of the Mazikin realm. 

Takeshi pulled his knife and leaned down. “It was a good try, to possess a sumo wrestler. And I suppose I will see you again.”

"Count on it," snarled the Mazikin. "And next time, maybe I will take your body."

Takeshi’s grin was cold. “That will never happen.”

He drew his knife across his enemy’s throat, and we watched the creature bleed to death.

Translated from Malachi’s Journal: Day 11716

This morning, I was sneaking through an alley when a rotten banana peel hit me in the side of the head. I drew a knife, and that was when Takeshi dropped from a second story window and landed in front of me.

"You’ve been here for over a month," he said.

I plucked the peel off of my shoulder. “Clearly, you’ve missed me.”

"I didn’t order you to come here," he replied.

No, I came because I couldn’t stand being at the station. “How’s Ana?” 

He looked down at his hands. “You should come back. She might talk to you.”

I could tell by looking at him that the last month had not been easy, and I wondered if he couldn’t stand being at the station right now, either. ”I think the nest is somewhere in this zone.”

Takeshi nodded, his eyes growing bright. “I’ll help you look. Perhaps we can find it together.”

We patrolled over the next several hours, and now we are holed up in an apartment until morning. He still hasn’t told me what’s happened with Ana, and I haven’t asked. It’s nice, for the moment, that it’s only the two of us, and we are focused entirely on finding the Mazikin. It’s amazing how distracted Takeshi has been by the presence of one pretty girl, and it is good to see him now, with his mind back on the things that matter.