SPFBO 9 Author Spotlight: H.C. Newell with CURSE OF THE FALLEN

Hello! SPFBO 9 is about to get started, and I’m once again offering spotlights to my fellow SPFBO authors in this great Blog-Off. If you’d like to know more about the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, you can check out Mark Lawrence’s page here.

Now, let’s introduce you to Curse of the Fallen by H.C. Newell, who’s been writing for a long time and used spiral-bound notebooks at one time (kind of like me).

Curse of the Fallen

The Curse of the Fallen by H.C. Newell, a dark fantasy and SPFBO 9 contestant. Beautiful cover with crystaline tree with white limbs and pale blue leaves in what might be a cave, the floor covered with water.Nerana is a sorceress born in a world where magic is forbidden. Outcast, exiled, and hunted since birth, she seeks to free herself of a curse that ties her to the Order of Saro who relentlessly hunt her down.

Her hope now lies in a legend from the time of the elves that speaks of the Trials of Blood, a test that promises salvation. Darkness gathers, and the hunters close in on their prey, but with little left to lose Nerana embarks on her perilous journey and soon learns that the path to redemption may prove more fatal than the Order itself.

But for Nerana, this is more than a quest for survival… it’s a promise of revenge.

Isn’t that tree gorgeous?

Now onto the questions!

As a Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) Entrant, you’re not just independently published, but self-published. Can you start by explaining a bit about why you chose that route and how it’s been for you?

If I’m being honest, my ego played a big role in going the self-published route. I worked on my series for 10 years before book one was released. 10. Years. Not even joking, I started in 2011, published in 2021. I didn’t want to give up any creative rights to a publishers, which most authors have to do. This series is my baby, and I wanted my imagination and story to be the driving force. I’ve had a few hurdles along the way that a publishing house could’ve helped with (such as making a second edition of my book to fix a lot of the writing/technical issues) but overall, I wanted the story to be mine.

Another big reason I went self-pub is because I hate writing query letters!!! Lol!

The journey of self-publishing has been really challenging but also very rewarding. There is a lot you have to do in order to succeed, and while I’m making great strides, I still have a long way to go. But being a part of this community has been one of the best parts of self-publishing. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

So many of the things you said resonate with me! It seems to me natural that as artists and creators we don’t want to let other people change our stories in ways we might not feel are best! And WHO wants to write all those query letters? Reaching out to book bloggers for ARC reviews is bad enough (no offense intended; I’m really grateful to the book bloggers).

On a related note, why did you enter the SPFBO contest? How do you expect to find it? Refreshing your blog’s page every five minutes, or sit back and chill?

I entered because I want to network and meet newer authors/bloggers/readers and extend my reach. I don’t expect to win, so it’s really more of a community thing for me. Since entering, I’ve already met so many amazing people and learned about so many books that I may not have ever seen if not for this competition.

I’d lose my hair if I spent all my time worrying about my placement lol! As with all the contests I’ve entered, I just check my email and discords regularly and hope for the best.

That seems like a healthy approach. I really think there might only be one “winner,” but no one has to lose in something like this.

Book titles. Why did you choose the title you did for your book?

Titles are really really hard, so it took me a very long time to decide on it. But “Curse of the Fallen” plays heavily into the plot, and as with the story itself, by book 6 it’ll all come together.

Cool! That’s a long time to build-up, but some stories need it and are all the better for it! … (I don’t usually struggle with titles too much, but right now I am with one of my WIPs).

Can you share a (non-spoiler) scene you really like and you just can’t believe how awesome it is every time you go back to re-read it? Alternately, you can share something about a character you really like. Or both, if you want.

I looooove the ‘Reflections of’ chapters at the end of the book. I wanted to incorporate character backstories into the plot without giving massive info dumps (if you’ve read my books you know that I hate writing info dumps – everything unfolds as you read) The reflections chapters give you real-time backstories that are relevant to the plot and it just works so beautifully.

As far as characters, I love Avelloch. Stealthy, brooding, assassin types are always my favorites. The mystery behind who he is and why he’s here is also really fun.

That sounds like a super neat way to weave in back story. I take it, the mystery about Avelloch is one of the things that’s going to take a long time to come together?

What are some elements or themes, or combinations thereof, that really make your book stand out to you?

I think the imagery, imaginative world-building, and characters are elements that set me apart a bit. A lot of people compare my book to Tolkien (!!) because it’s very vivid, but not so overly done. There are a lot of imaginative things placed in a very realistic setting that keep it fun and interesting, and the characters are already very fleshed out in that they aren’t on a journey to find themselves or figure out their path. They’re all well-equipped adults with a mission and purpose and I think readers really enjoy that.

Another thing that sets my book apart is the intro. You’re placed right into the middle of a scene and learn the plot from the very beginning. I’m one of those readers that needs character interaction and to understand the plot quick or I lose interest, so I decided to just jump straight into the story. You learn about the characters, world, magic system, lore etc as the book progresses.

I think the idea of imaginative things placed in a realistic setting.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

My books are fast-paced dark fantasy. Books one and two are more along the lines of prequels where you’re introduced to the characters, plot, world, and setting, while book three is where the main plot truly takes off. You meet several new characters in the first two books that all become the main party and work together to complete their mission. There are two main characters who have conflicting goals, but must work together in order to achieve them, which I think is fun.

If you’re a fan of Witcher, Skyrim, or Tolkien I think you’ll really enjoy my books.

They have to work together to achieve conflicting goals? That sounds tense! Are you sure there isn’t going to be some self-discovery here? <Grins broadly>


H.C. Newell is an American author of epic fantasy. She is best known for the Fallen Light fictional universe, in which her fantasy novel Curse of the Fallen, is set.

Newell began her writing journey at a young age. In elementary school, she would often write small plays for her and her cousins to perform. In middle and high school her love of writing transformed into fiction literature, which she would write in spiral-bound notebooks. By 2015, she had written more than 5 romance and young adult novels and several short stories.

In 2011, Newell started her first novel series, Forthwind, which was a young adult trilogy. As she grew as an author, she found her niche in adult fantasy, and created the Fallen Light universe. This six-part novel series took Newell over seven years to create. She published her debut novel “Curse of the Fallen” in April 2021.

Newell’s works have been compared by readers to authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien, Brandon Sanderson, Andrejz Sapkowski, and Robert Jordan among others. Newell lives in Nashville, TN with her husband.

You can get her SPFBO 9 entree and debut novel, Curse of the Fallen, from Amazon or The Broken Binding, or you can check it out on Goodreads.

You can also visit her Linktree.

Other SPFBO 9 Spotlights

SPFBO 8 Spotlights

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