Author Feature: Promise of the Opal by Lyra Shanti

Promise of the Opal is the latest book from Lyra Shanti.

When Sam arrives in Beijing for an impromptu getaway, she begins dreaming about a priest and a warrior from ancient China. Strangely enough, Jon is having the same recurring dreams. Will remembering their past make them fulfil a promise made long ago?

“Are you feeling better?” came a soft voice from the entranceway. Sa held a silver tray of tea cups, rice porridge, and a plate of sliced peaches and apples. He gave a slight smile, then entered the room.
Gan nodded. “I feel better, thank you.”
Setting down the tray on the small table in the room, Sa held up a tea cup and said, “I am certain you need more rest, but I am glad you are on the mend. The dragon god must have heard your prayer.”
Gan smirked as he accepted the tea. “Thank you.” After a moment, he added, “Do you really believe in the white dragon?”
Sa raised his left brow and said, “You are the one who nearly died, asking for his protection. Do you not believe after all?”
“I want to believe,” said Gan, carefully sipping the piping hot tea.
“What stops you?”
Gan took a moment before answering. He felt the pain of his shoulder and grimaced.
“Does it hurt again?” Sa asked, almost as if he read Ga’s mind.
Nodding, Gan put down the tea. Reaching into a small linen bag around his waist, Sa pinched a small amount of herbs into Gan’s tea cup. He then mixed it with a wooden spoon. “Drink,” he ordered, handing the cup to Gan.
Slowly sipping the tea, Gan tasted the bitterness of the herbs. He wanted to spit it out, but something about the priest’s green-eyed gaze made him drink it down.
“I want to believe… but I have lost too much to believe in gods. If they exist, why don’t they stop the evils of the world?”
Sa nodded, then sat down at the table, gracefully folding his legs. Motioning for Gan to do the same, he sipped his own tea. Gan sat down across from the priest and reached for a slice of apple.
“The gods do not work for us, my friend. Despite what humans think, they are not our servants.”
“Then what are they?” asked Gan.
Sa grinned. He took a peach slice and said, “The gods are like the rivers, the mountains, the trees… They are our forebears… Our teachers. They are not our slaves to be told what evil they must slay. To demand their favor is foolish human pride. Instead, we should ask politely for their kindness, and perhaps, if they are willing, they will abide.”
Who is this man? Ga thought with a gulp of apple. He acts as if he is above mere mortals. He even looks and moves like a god, but… I cannot be sitting with an actual god. That’s not possible. It can’t be.
Sa smiled, again seeming to know Gan’s mind. “I am not a god, my friend. I am a simple man… though I try my best to listen, and learn, and pass on the knowledge I may attain.” Sa picked up the tea pot and offered to fill Gan’s cup.
“No, thank you,” he whispered, still confused by the mysterious, almost divine, nature of his host. Every move Sa made intrigued Gan, even the way his fingers picked up the pot. There was a grace and beauty that couldn’t be described with words, and it was beginning to excite his passion.

A bite of… Lyra Shanti, aka Aryl Shanti

Q1: What do you feel is most important to remember as a writer when writing about love? And do you see any difference in writing LGBTQ as opposed to ‘straight’ romance?

The most important thing to remember when writing about love is the same as any other subject. Keep it real. Make sure that the characters feel realistic and honest with their emotions, at least to the reader. When they fall in love, it has to come across to the reader as genuine, even if it seems crazy or cliche. As long as the character truly feels it in their heart, so will the reader. 
As for writing LGBTQ+ romance, it’s no different than writing for straight characters. Other than which body parts are being used during a love scene, there’s no difference whatsoever. If I write two men or two women (or a non-binary couple) in love, they feel the same kind of intensity and confusions as a straight couple would. There may be the element of societal issues getting in the way for an LGBTQ couple, but other than that, it’s exactly the same. Love is love. 

Q2: The underlying theme of this book seems to me to be the undying nature of love, and how a love sufficiently strong transcends time. Do you think such a love is truly possible?

I know it’s possible because I have it in real life with my soul-mate and partner, Timothyne. However, familiarity and passion isn’t enough to make a relationship transcend time. It takes a ton of communication, understanding, and patience to make it last, but it can be done, if two people really want to work for it. 
When it comes to Promise of the Opal, Sam and Jon (or Sa and Gan from their past) have a relationship that is deep and passionate, but extremely complicated. Are they soul-mates? I guess you’ll have to read the book series to find out. (Book 2 is coming soon!)

Q3: Would you rather live in this world or the one you create in your books?

Oh, definitely in one of my books, probably the world of Shiva XIV. I’d love to travel the universe and hang out with Axis (a shape-shifting sphinx) and maybe go to Ohr where they have great beaches and underwater mer-type people. I’d also love to see Kri with all their ancient Roman looking statues and giant libraries. I’d probably never want to leave, which is why I’m going to eventually return to that world for an upcoming prequel series. 
It’s hard for a writer to leave the world they love to write. I guess that’s a bit like living there, at least in our minds. 😉

A transmasculine novelist, editor, poet, playwright, and songwriter who currently lives in Florida with partner and spouse, Timothyne, and their two insane cats. Author of the award-winning science fantasy series, Shiva XIV and a dreamer of worlds far away. More books include The Artist, a wild tale of love, madness, and redemption, as well as The Rainbow Serpent, a re-imagining of Adam and Eve. You can find Aryl on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and his own website.


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