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An interview with Z. Lindsey, author of new adult fantasy The River Against the Sea

cover of The River Against the Sea by Z. Lindsey

Some heroes have swords. Essimore Darkenchyl has a pen. But it’s a magic pen.
Some wizards have spellbooks. Essie has Gossen’s Guide to Shipping Law. But it’s a current edition.
Some sailors have . . . experience. Essie has a new diploma and a year-long contract, and her people have won wars with less.
And that’s good, because between stolen weapons, a coup, and a strange disease creeping in around her and the crew, she might need to win a war.
In a world that blends traditional fantasy with the Age of Exploration, Essie knows a pen is mightier than a sword, especially since hers sometimes shoots lightning.
But what she thinks is a routine political dispute turns out to be something much, much more, and she may have finally met the one problem she can’t talk her way out of.

Excerpt from The River Against the Sea

Essie cleared her throat. From her backpack, she removed the letter of service that granted her travel permission to sail on the ship. It was folded neatly into thirds, with a glittering blue wax seal on it.

“Essimore Darkenchyl at your service, sir. I’m your new fully licensed shipping coordinator with Power of the Pen. It’s an honor to be aboard.”

The captain took the letter without opening it, folded it in half with no regard for the beautiful wax seal, folded it messily again, and jammed it into his pocket. The whole time, Essie winced.

“Right-o.” As he smiled, the older man’s cheeks dimpled and his white teeth shined in the sun. “Well, I thought we were leaving without you, but here you are. Good on you. Great. Yeah.” The captain turned to the teenager at his side. “Grab her bag and get her stuff to her room. She can hang out there til dinner.”

As the teenager shouldered her bag and grunted, she and the captain looked at each other, the captain with his beaming smile. Once the teenager left, she said, “Thanks for welcoming me onto your ship.”

“Yeah. Fully licensed, you say?”


“Okay. Have a nice one. See you at dinner.”

“Don’t we need to . . . uh . . . onboard?”

“You’re already on board. You managed that just fine.”

“But . . . signing things. Paperwork. Reviewing the staff log. Staff log, sir!”

The captain’s smile faded, but reappeared so fast she wasn’t sure if she’d seen it go.

“Okay, fine. Let’s talk in my cabin.”

Interview with Z. Lindsey

-What inspired you to become a writer?

My mom was a huge fantasy fiction reader when I was growing up, and I always liked telling stories, so it seemed like a natural combination. I’m sure I could go on about my background in journalism and blah blah blah, but it’s not a whole lot more complicated than “a good parent inculcated a love of reading.”

-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?

Probably die, but hopefully in a way that was entertaining.

-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)

One time, three years ago, she accidentally wrote that someone worked a nine hour day when they only worked eight hours. She didn’t catch it until they’d been paid out. She’d hate to force them to pay back the money, but making an error on payroll has haunted her ever since.

-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?

Essimore Darkenchyl is the main character of the work I’m promoting today. Since she’s inspired by my wife, she’s the most logical choice for drinks. My actual wife would probably be angry if I said any other characters.

That said, Essie doesn’t really drink much. Despite the god of death constantly recruiting her to deal with world-ending monsters, she’s personally very anti-adventure. After work, she likes to sit in her room studying the many and varied punishments her bosses have designed for convicted pirates.

-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?

I’m pretty anti-confrontational, and a lot of things go over my head. I’d probably laugh at him and buy him a beer. Then an hour after I’ve left the tavern, I’d ask my friends, “Wait, did that guy want to fight me?” I’ve never been challenged to a duel by a dwarf, but I have been challenged to a fight by a Chilango in Mexico City, and that’s exactly how it went down.

-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?

When I was a teenager, I wrote a lot of very dark and brooding horror that will never see the light of day. I like reading horror, but as a writer, I prefer writing funny things because I don’t like spending a lot of time in dark places. If I can figure out a way to do a horror-comedy, I will, but for now I think horror is off-limits. My work is sometimes dark, but it’s also hopeful.

About Z. Lindsey

Zac Lindsey is an anthropologist and a linguist who focuses on the Maya people of Quintana Roo. Since childhood, he’s had a not-so-secret love of weird, silly, and well-structured fantasy. When other people’s parents were reading them picture books, his mom was reading him Terry Brooks. He typically writes hopeful and character-driven fantasy.

Today, he lives in Quintana Roo, Mexico with his wife, daughter, and various stray cats.


Z. Lindsey will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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