Monday, September 21, 2020

Below Dark Waters by Katie Zaber

Dark Waters

Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publication: Sept 17th
ISBN: 9781005138066
Word Count: 85,997

Cover Artist: Agata Bukovero

Tagline: A wayward princess, a
lethal woman, and a madam trained in espionage—all strangers to each other, but
their fates are entwined. Each choice they make will impact the world of Dalya
greater than any man’s decision.

Book Description:

Princess Megan, who never had a
reason to assume she was anything but human, has been on the run, protected by
her friends. With each step toward the city of Delmont, she hopes they will
have time to regroup before setting sail to the Ka’Pamau Islands, their final
destination.  Instead, her bad luck
shadows her and chaos continues to ensue everywhere she goes—including a new
part of the world that most air breathers have yet to explore. Confronted with
another royal family and a smitten prince whose advances turn cold, she faces
another life-altering decision with ramifications she can’t possibly begin to
guess at.

Back on land, Lilly reveals more
of her secrets, her story, and her goals. Monumental changes and challenges are
headed her way as she embraces her new role in life.

On the sea, Aunt Carmia is
stirring up trouble while continuing her hunt for the treasure she most
desires. She experiences upheavals, but she is always prepared for the unknown.

As their stories unfold, they
remain unaware how fate connects them in the world of Dalya.

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There’s no point
in me lying in bed all night. It’s not like I’m trapped in a Dalya dome. At
least there’s a bar for me to sit at while I can’t sleep. Moving as quietly as
possible, I change and sneak out of the room. Kilyn is fast asleep and Mana is
either asleep or is pretending to be. The hallway is still. There are no voices
coming from the other rooms, so I’m going to assume everyone else is asleep.
Meeka sits at a table, chatting with another white-haired man. Two other tables
are occupied, but there are at least ten empty tables to choose from. By the
fireplace, a low fire crackles and I decide that a seat by the fire is not what
I want. It looks inviting but reminds me of too many dark things. I shudder and
take a seat on a stool at the driftwood bar. There’s one other man at the far
end of the bar, cloaked in shadow, not bothering to look up from his drink as I
sit down.
Heda comes from
the back of the kitchen with a mug in her hands. She takes a sip before setting
it down on the counter. “Can’t sleep, dear?”
“No. Can’t
remember when I did,” I say. “Got anything to help with that?”
She gives me a
sly smile. “I think I can help.”
Heda slides bottles
out from under the counter and starts pouring them into a glass. Most of them
are clear, except two. She adds a drop of amber and green liquid. I can’t say
if it’s alcohol or not. Last, she takes out a glass jar and takes out a pinch
of ground orange powder.
I’m not sure if
I should drink this otherworldly concoction.
“Here you go.
You’ll sleep till sunrise and feel refreshed, guaranteed.”
I stare down at
the eight-ounce glass of mystery. “What’s in it?”
“A bit of
everything, plus a little something extra. I make it for Meeka when he can’t
“Are you
normally this busy at night?” I ask.
Sometimes busier. The regulars are here, plus an unfamiliar face or two.” She
scans the room, glancing over at the two I suspect are new.
The one man her
eyes stop on has long, scraggly black hair past his chin and an unkempt beard.
He is wearing a hat that reminds me of a witch; it even has a pointy top and
wide brim. With his back to us, he faces the fireplace with his shoulders
hunched. The other man is the one at the other end of the bar. Neither looks
talkative. Good. I’m not in the mood for a conversation either.
The door swings
open. A scowling human woman stands in the threshold wearing a brown buttoned-down
blouse and pants tucked into calf-high boots. At her hip is a dagger, on her
back is a quiver secured tightly to a harness, in her hand an unstrung
shortbow. Strands of messy brown hair unravel from a semicontained braid that
I’d guess hasn’t been paid attention to in at least a week. Her clothes also
reveal that she hasn’t changed them, and the smell confirms she hasn’t bathed.
She searches the bar and lands on me.
She dashes
across the tavern and my heart pounds. This is it. My father sent her to kill
me. I made it easier for her by coming down here all by myself. I have no clue
if Mana can sense what’s happening or if I’m too far away from him. I’m not
sure if he cares right now.
However, she
steps past me and gawks at Heda, who is already mixing another drink. In the
few seconds that passed, I didn’t realize that I had held my breath. I let out
a lengthy sigh of relief and inhale fresh air that tastes slightly sweeter than
before. Relief will do that, especially when moments ago, death seemed so
imminent. To help calm myself, I decide to take a sip of the strange drink Heda
made me. Surprisingly, it has a peach sangria flavor, like a fruity, potent
wine, with maybe a shot or two of something stronger. I could get used to
having a drink of this at night, if it helps me get some sleep.
Heda leans
across the bar, passing the traveler a drink. “Rough journey?” she asks. “Where
are you going?”
“Nowhere fast,”
the woman replies. Her scowl melts away as she cracks open a smile and laughs
full-heartedly, throwing her head back.


I watch groups
of gulls fly back out to sea among the masts, warbling above the crew. They
float adrift on the breeze. Their wings don’t pound against the unforeseen air
but glide on invisible currents, as my ship does on the waves. Smart birds know
when to flap, when to spend their resources, and how to manipulate the world to
make their journey easier. They can glide for hours without movement. I crave
their knowledge.
To know when to
use my strength and when to be weak. When to be bold or meek. When to strike or
The birds know.
We are so stupid. Driven by destructive emotional impulses and not natural
instinct. Once you calm the voices, quiet the bitter arguments feuding from
within, becoming deaf to all the voices internal and external, all that’s left
is a sensation. A feeling. A truth buried deep inside. A spoken language no one
can utter aloud. A forgotten language. One so primal, it is impossible to speak
or interpret in any other capacity besides a sense. Born with us, but slowly
forgotten when we learn to utter our first words. Almost as if when we learn
the spoken tongue, we forfeit our instinctual one.
What makes us so
different from the birds? How did our minds become cluttered with pointless
information that nags us to change our minds or relinquish a thought?
Gods, I want to
be a bird. Free my mind and body of stupidity. Let me base my life on instinct,
not sentiment.


I walk these
city tunnels every day. It keeps me sane, besides healthy. Sometimes, I even
run. I haven’t left Uamh, or Capo’s Secret, in decades. The last time I was
above ground, not including my job, was well over thirty years ago. I long for
the opportunity to run through the fields of flowers that flourish outside the
town’s walls. But the woman who I portray to the citizens of Capo doesn’t do
such things. Lilly would never frolic through the meadow and pick wildflowers
to weave into her hair. She wouldn’t dance in the river, splashing the cool
water over her naked body, and then let the sun’s heat dry the water off her
skin. No, she wouldn’t behave in such childish ways.
Nirva would. She
would run free in the woods barefoot. Feel Dalya breathe life back into her
soul. Nirva would climb the tallest tree and gaze upon the town below,
pretending she was a bird, soaring high above the forest. She’d hunt alongside
the nunda and sleep in their den, her body and soul free to swim with the fish
and river bears in the morning, and flutter on the breeze with the glow bugs at
Not now. No, she
is locked up for safekeeping. There will be a time and place to bring Nirva
back to the light of day. Until then, she must continue to be patient. Our job
isn’t done. It’s only begun.

the Author:

Katie Zaber knows the best way to
decide who is cooking dinner is with a Nerf gun fight in the living room. Her
boyfriend is an exceptional cook. When she isn’t baking, going to wine
tastings, or reading, she’s busy planning her next trip to Six Flags Great
Adventure or Long Beach Island, New Jersey. As a child, her mother would read
stories about Atlantis and other fictional places that she dreamed of
exploring, fueling her love of history, adventure, and fantasy. After spending
her days working in a coffee shop, she moved up the ladder getting an office
job where she unfortunately was involved in a filing accident. Unable to move,
bored out of her mind, and desperate for entertainment, she turned to her
imagination and began writing. These days, she finds herself captivated by her
many projects and enjoys quiet nights at home.

Interview with Katie Zaber 

Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
My characters have minds of their own. For the most part, prior to writing, I have constructed the main plot points and then I let my characters evolve as their story grows within those boundaries, but sometimes, even they surprise me.  

Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
I think that there aren’t enough books with anti-heroines and in the simplest sense that is what Megan is. She doesn’t view herself as a hero nor does she want the responsibility that comes with power. She honestly wants nothing to do with it and only wants to live peacefully by herself.    

Have you written any other books that are not published? 
Ashes and Blood was my first published book, which came out May 2020 and Below Dark Waters is my second. At the moment, I’m taking some time to finish writing a book called DNA—Demon’s n Angel’s. It’s about a woman who becomes pregnant after her husband has a vasectomy and she hasn’t had an affair. After they run a paternal test, they find out her husband is not the father—no one is. Over the nine months, she figures out she is giving birth to the Anti Christ and has decisions to make. 
I hope to have that one finished this winter. Then it’s back to Book 3 of the Dalya series, Strange Shores which I’m planning to have out next summer. 

Pen or type writer or computer?
I use a mechanical pencil for taking down notes and laptop. I also type notes into my phone all the time. Basically when inspiration strikes, I write on or use anything to jot down the thoughts.

Anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Below Dark Waters, the second book in the Dalya series is on sale Thursday, Sept 17th.  If you like otherworldly adventures, with an anti-heroine protagonist, check out my Dalya series. It’s a crazy, nonstop fantasy that has twists, turns, and many surprises. 

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