We wanted to introduce you to Melissa Herold, fantasy author and herbal alchemist, and her debut fantasy novel Heaven’s Silhouette: Iyarri Chronicles Book 1, which just came out this week and which you can find on Amazon, Apple books, Kobo and more. Though if you order directly from Melissa’s etsy shop NightBlooming or her Patreon, you’ll also get some exclusive gifts which are always, always good.
Anyway, look at this gorgeous cover:
And you can take a sneak peek at Chapter 1 right here: https://www.patreon.com/posts/heavens-chapter-26704265
Not to mention a trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C2RaaXf7_ok
And a little more about the book:
“When I was little, other children called me a monster. A painting proved them right.”
With lyrical prose and atmospheric world building, Heaven’s Silhouette tells the story of a young woman’s search for her heritage–and in the process she finds herself.
Amid a tempest of feathers, magic, and blood, Aurelia is drawn deeper into the heart of a millennia-old struggle. If she’s not careful, the consequences will tear her body, her heart, and the Iyarri in two.
We asked Melissa a few illuminating questions below:
What’s at the heart of Heaven’s Silhouette?
Aurelia is a character that exists in the gray spaces, in between the halves of her world. The larger inspiration for Heaven’s Silhouette and the series of The Iyarri Chronicles became an exploration in what happens when halves and pieces, real and perceived, get torn apart and pushed back together.
Do you have more books planned for the series?
I do—the second book, Mourning’s Dawn, will be out next fall, and I’m already in the process of drafting the third book in The Iyarri Chronicles. For those readers who are antsy about years-long delays in between books, I have a progress tracker that shows where I’m at in the process for each book—you can see the one for Mourning’s Dawn at the bottom of its page. I’ve also planned a prequel and bonus content for my Patrons on Patreon, like an illustrated guide to the Iyarri.
How do the Iyarri-Chronicles and the herbs and oils you make at NightBlooming tie together?
When I was creating the Iyarri I thought a lot about what made them culturally distinct from humans, and also how their wings influence everything from the clothes they wear, to how they style their hair, to what sorts of grooming all those feathers demanded.
The Iyarri tend to wear their hair long, but in braids and twists up so it’s out of the way of their wings, and clean and scent their feathers with specially-blended oils. Each Iyarri creates their own oil, giving their wings a signature scent. Aurelia’s, for example, is an essential oil blend that smells of crushed Irish gardens, green moors, and nighttime dew smudged with vanilla. This blend then either becomes a mister that’s usable both as a perfume or a linen mister, or an oil that’s perfect for skin, hair, beards, and massage. I do one oil blend a month, some inspired by The Iyarri Chronicles, but all my oils are inspired by literature, fantasy, and folklore.
You mention growing real-life fairytale hair. Can you tell us a bit about your herbal alchemy?
I’ve had long hair all my life and nearly destroyed it with chemical dyes. From there, I learned about natural hair care including coloring hair with pure plant matter, wearing it up in protective styles, and nurturing it with oils and essential oils. It’s a mystical process, tinkering one drop at a time to hit the perfect scent, or seeing hair go from one color to the next without damage. I wrote two books–Coloring Hair Naturally with Henna & Other Herbs and Rehabilitating Damaged Hair Naturally—to share what I’d learned along my own journey.
NightBlooming grew from there, because while I started off giving recipes to people to make their own herbal hair care products, and while they keenly wanted to make that jump from chemical to natural, they weren’t confident blending the ingredients themselves. I opened NightBlooming to help people over that hurdle—giving them the fairytale hair they wanted, without the stress and expense of buying and blending the ingredients themselves.
And can you tell us more about the gifts you have for readers?
The hardcover of Heaven’s Silhouette is exquisite and a true representation of the work inside. 400 pages long, it includes the first chapter of Iyarri Chronicles Book 2: Mourning’s Dawn. The book itself has copper foil stamping, each page is printed on high-quality paper, and the dust jacket is matte with a spot-gloss finish, making it a total joy to hold in your hands.
When you order the hardcover of Heaven’s Silhouette directly from me on Etsy you’ll receive a beautiful metal feather bookmark and an Iyarri Chronicles perfume blend sample of your choice. I’ll also hand-sign and number the book! Visit https://www.etsy.com/listing/719284027/heavens-silhouette-iyarri-chronicles Patrons (at any tier) get to choose not only the color of their bookmark, but also the copy number they receive: https://www.patreon.com/posts/28294168
The ebook also comes with four printable bookmarks and a printable version of the full cover art.
And because autumn is my favorite season, I’d love to exclusively offer a 1/32 sample vial of one of my very favorite oils, Samhain Spell, to Enchanted Living readers when they make any non-digital purchase at NightBlooming through October 31. All you need to do is tell me you’d like your oil in the message to the seller at checkout!
Aroma: The scent of autumn- patchouli and dark forests with touches of spice and sweetness.
Primary Oils: Pumpkin Seed Oil
Secondary Oils: Hemp Seed Oil, Walnut Oil
Essential Oils: Patchouli, Clove, Nutmeg, Petitgrain, Balsam Fir, Sweet Orange
How can people support you as an independent author and artist and see more of what you do?
I could never, ever do all of this without people who believe in me. I nearly walked away from publishing Heaven’s Silhouette because the dream of being an author just seemed a bridge too far, and I never would have started NightBlooming without people who told me over and over they loved what I was creating for them. My biggest support (after my husband, who is the reason I didn’t abandon my dream of publishing) comes from my Patrons through https://www.patreon.com/melissalynnherold. Their monthly contributions, their belief in what I do, allow me to bring them the things they love while being part of the entire creative process.
And then finally, how do you, in your life, stay enchanted?
I always try to find the magical in the mundane. It’s what turns a simple blend of oils into something that an elusive, winged race would use on their feathers, and what turns a walk in the bluffs into an excursion into an Iyarri valley.