Publication Date: October 14th, 2021Free will is a relic of the past. Souls have a prewritten path to heaven. If they miss it, they are doomed to roam the lost realm of limbo as splinters of their former selves or worse—as demons.
Their only hope is the reaper Alames, whose own soul shattered when her celestial lover, Balthos, usurped their creators to make them gods. In her absence, he builds a pantheon of monsters and tricks the mortals, whom he blames for his grief, into worshiping him. But when a new generation defies Balthos’s law, Alames’s splinters appear among them.
Brilliant physicist Ally longs for progress and innovation, but the Council controlling her nation strips the “Mad Princess” of power. Pregnant and uncertain, the unrivaled Captain Se’azana abandons her career for the false promises of love. The starving serf Richard makes a deal with a Fae demon to save his son. And teenage rebel Vana trades her guitar for a blade when faced with ruthless nobility.
When worlds tear and hearts break, will they defy the gods’ narrative to create a brighter future or will they obey the lies preached and doom their souls forever?
For fans of THE STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE and THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE comes a fast-paced epic fantasy with a diverse cast of underdogs fighting demons, gods, and oppression.
Lea Falls is a writer, actor, and passionate lover of stories. Equally drawn to page and stage, she’s written plays, screenplays, poetry, short stories, and two novels, and has acted in numerous short films, plays, and improv shows. She earned her BFA in Acting at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and attended the Yale Writers Workshop. After a brief call and response with Londontown, she now lives in NYC with her wife, two cats, and a slither of skyline that never fails to inspire her. There, she spends her days murmuring lines over a keyboard or a script. She’s recently learned the meaning of “free time” and has since acquired a taste for annihilating virtual aliens with her wife, steering her coffee robot through D&D battles, and getting hopelessly lost in cities.
Her epic fantasy debut GODDESS OF LIMBO will be released in October 2021. Her short story EMILY’S HEIRS will appear in Hansen House’s ELIXIR: STORIES OF HOPE AND HEALING (AN LGBTQ+ SFF ANTHOLOGY), set to release in January 2022.
How did you get the idea of Goddess of Limbo?
The story and characters found me while I was in a difficult spot in life. I had just finished college, was struggling with health issues, and felt creatively stuck. My wife decided to run a Dungeons & Dragons campaign to get me out of the rut and that kick-started everything for me. I fell in love with my character and her girlfriend, and couldn’t help myself but write “fanfiction” about them. My wife and I improvised scenes and expanded the canon until the actual story of Goddess of Limbo took shape. I showed up early at my day job and stayed late to squeeze in writing time around my shifts, and every break became a brainstorming session. In the end, the D&D characters barely made it into the book. It became the story of their parents’ generation instead, but I’m grateful for the wild journey my muse took me on.
How has your book changed throughout the writing process?
So much! The first draft barely resembles the finished book. There are a few chapters that made it without too many edits, but the story used to contain two more POV characters, one character got cut completely, and the main love story of book one changed drastically. When I read through the first draft, I also realized that I had written two books instead of one and split the story in the middle. Seeing how many pages Goddess of Limbo has, you can imagine how over the top it was beforehand. It’ll be different for future books, but the interweaving narrative style of this one required a lot of discovery writing, trust, and an abundance of color-coded editing sessions.
Who was your favorite character to write and how would you describe them?
It’s so difficult to pick just one! I love them all for different reasons. One character I always loved writing is Martín. He’s a snarky, clever, gay trans orc who grew up in the vibrant university city of Mink’Ayllu. In his inner monologues, he’s always joking, working through self-deprecation, or gushing about how much he loves his boyfriend and friends. He’s also the heir of a local crime family and loves conning tourists, which is how he met his boyfriend. He’s still a teenager when we meet him in this book, early in his transition and insecure about his place in life, but when he discovers that his world is much darker and more dangerous than he’d expected, he has to decide whether he grows to the challenge or keeps hiding in his fears.
What are some of the themes explored in Goddess of Limbo?
One main theme is reclaiming agency and one’s autonomy after trauma—how to rewrite the oppressive and fear-based stories you were taught into empowering ones. The world of Goddess of Limbo was corrupted by monster gods and false religions that teach people they are inherently inferior, inherently flawed. Alames, the splintered goddess who loves mortals, preaches the opposite. She sees every person as a perfect story. So there’s a big theme of who’s holding the pen to a person’s life story and through what lens we are looking at ourselves.
The book follows a large cast of marginalized characters (LGBTQ+, mental illness, different races, different classes) who embody this theme. We see how systems are designed to oppress them and the many ways they are challenging and trying to change those systems to build a fairer world.
What are some things you had to research for your novel?
Because it’s epic fantasy, this novel required a lot more research than I normally do. My world has seven distinct countries, which are inspired by Mesoamerica, Central Europe, Northern Europe, Arabia, Ethiopia, Kazakhstan and Mongolia, and Southeast Asia. The majority of the story is set in the Mesoamerica-inspired country and the European-inspired ones, but there are characters from each region, so I did a lot of research on cultures, customs, weaponry, foods, and names. I learned a bunch, which is always fun!
I also did extensive research on representing the identities I don’t align with. Ally, one of my main characters, required the most. She has schizoaffective disorder. There are so many vilified stories about “mad” royalty. I wanted to write a realistic, relatable character who experiences psychosis. One of my favorite resources for Ally was Esmé Weijun Wang’s brilliant non-fiction book, The Collected Schizophrenias. I highly recommend it!
Who are some of the authors who influenced you as a writer?
Growing up, I loved Victor Hugo! Les Misérables was my first taste at truly epic storytelling and it definitely influenced the scope I think in. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess meant a lot to me as well. Rebecca S. Buck’s Fragile Wings and Mira Grant’s Into the Drowning Deep first gave me books where I fully saw myself reflected in characters, which motivated me to write diverse, inclusive fiction. More recently, Octavia Butler’s Kindred and Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone’s This is How You Lose the Time War deeply inspired me.
What books would you recommend to fans of Goddess of Limbo?
I’m sorry to admit that I haven’t read nearly enough epic fantasy yet. Thematically, I’d recommend The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna. It’s YA but deals with similar corruption and false beliefs. While the ending let me down a bit, Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame is another great read in terms of complex, non-linear storytelling. As to fantasy epics, I’d go with Samantha Shannon’s Priory of the Orange Tree, or of course, the classic George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series.
Would you like to share anything else about you or your book?
Because of the delicate subject matters in Goddess of Limbo, I added a trigger warning page on my website to check out beforehand. You can find more details on the representation in the book there too: https://www.leafalls.com/representation-tw
You can also find the book trailer, the first three chapters, and more on my website.
Apart from Goddess of Limbo, my short story Emily’s Heirs is going to be featured in an upcoming LGBTQ+ SFF anthology. Elixir: Stories of Hope and Healing can now be preordered at Hansen House Books and other places (https://www.hansenhousebooks.com/product/elixir-stories-of-hope-and-healing-hardcover/). In my Sci-Fi story, an autistic teenage lesbian and her intersex best friend break into a sinister clinic to prevent eugenics.
Thank you so much for your interest in my work! For more updates and behind-the-scenes looks, please consider subscribing to my newsletter on my website (https://www.leafalls.com).
Thank you so much for this interview 🙂