Wanstall-Burke, Alicia

Splitting her time between Central Queensland, Australia and Lancashire, England, Alicia is a writer, a mum and a cat-herder. She began writing in her teens and never grew out of the phase, self-publishing Blood of Heirs in 2018, Legacy of Ghosts in 2019, and the final book of The Coraidic Sagas trilogy, Empire of Shadows, in 2022. She is an accomplished editor, holds a Bachelor of Education and has studied a Post Graduate Certificate in Ancient History.

Her new novel, The Smuggler’s Daughter, is the first Book of Salt and Stone, a planned trilogy of adult fantasy novels set in a lawless archipelago under impending threat of colonisation by a Romanesque empire. As a newly crowned empress presses west with her expanding navy, agents from the independent nations on her border uncover a clandestine plot that will spark an arms race. In an effort to thwart these plans, they seek the help of an unwilling and notorious ship’s captain. Already branded a war criminal by the empire, she will be forced to choose between her personal battles and the war looming on the horizon. A war none of them can afford to lose.

This is perfect for readers of The Bone Ships by RJ Barker and The Waking Fire by Anthony Ryan, while the unique setting feels akin to Gunmetal Gods by Zamil Akhtar. Alicia said: “If pressed for an elevator pitch, I would say The Books of Salt and Stone are Black Sails meets A Song of Ice and Fire.”

This story is brimming with spies, magic, dragons, sea-battles, distinctive settings, and a diverse cast.