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Storytellers On Tour: Shadow Debt by William Ray – Encore

Storytellers On Tour is a Blog/Instagram Tour organising service. It was born out of Justine’s (Whispers & Wonder) and my love and dedication toward SFF indie books and authors. Our goal is to give as much exposure to our clients as we can, while we also build a community among our Roadies. Find out more about us on!

This past week we gave the spotlight to Shadow Debt, the third book of the Tales of the Verin Empire series by William Ray in celebration of Halloween! Our Roadies brought a wide selection of content to this show with reviews, interviews and other posts. Now it’s time to bring the show to an end and it’s my pleasure to present you with the encore, including some extra content. Come and learn a bit more about the world of Shadow Debt through William‘s playlist and our Q&A!

Shall we?

Meet the Author
William Ray

William Ray is the author of the Tales of the Verin Empire; including Gedlund (named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2016), The Great Restoration and the forthcoming Shadow Debt.

Originally from North Carolina, he currently lives in Reston, VA with his wife, son and dogs. A graduate of Ithaca College, and Wake Forest’s School of Law, he has worked in television, retail, patent prosecution, trademark law and other irrelevant nonsense. To paraphrase Lloyd Alexander, however, if being a life-long lover of fantasy literature qualifies one to write it, then he is well qualified indeed.

Book Blurb
Shadow Debt by William Ray

Glynn Sorley is sheriff of Keat’s Field, a tiny settlement in an otherwise lawless frontier. With the discovery of diamonds, her town is flooded with fortune-hunters looking to strike it rich. It’s also a target for competing colonial powers, savage goblin tribes, and outlaws.

A rustler on the run from the law stumbles across his father’s mysterious legacy – a weapon of immense magical power. He uses it to ravage across the territory as the notorious outlaw Gentleman Jim.

But the weapon’s power comes at a terrible cost, and Keat’s Field may just have to pay the price…

This third Tale of the Verin Empire returns us to the world of Gedlund and The Great Restoration. It explores a frontier trapped between competing nations, where goblins reign and a lone sheriff fights to keep the peace.

Drawing inspiration from L’Amour’s Comstock Lode, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and our own late 19th century, Shadow Debt continues William Ray’s bold, critically acclaimed reinvention of classic fantasy in a world of memorable characters and unique perspectives, and features sketches from acclaimed illustrator Tom Parker.

The Tour

Click on the blog name to read their full review or other content!

Grave Reflection by A. Lawrence tour participants


Whispers & Wonder – interview+ IG spotlight



Off The TBR – review

“William Ray has done it again. By that I mean he’s offered readers another fantastic story in his Tales of The Verin Empire series. This one comes with gun slinging outlaws, a no-nonsense sheriff, a claim rich mining town, indigenous tribes chaffing at a colonial presence, fantastical monsters, and a dose of shadowy magic just to keep things interesting.”

The Speculative Faction – review

“This is such a great story. It’s exciting, with non-stop action that leads inexorably to the climax. The narrative is cleverly woven so all the details are tied up at the end without ever losing its relentless pace. Characters are vivid, real and engaging. The world building so highly original it’s refreshing. This is such a wonderful and thrilling read!”



Jorie Loves A Story – guest post


Beneath A Thousand Skies – review

“This was my first foray into the Verin Empire, and it hooked me from the start. This was an unusual fantasy that took risks, breaking down genre boundaries and expectations, and it worked so well. I look forward to seeing what else the author will do in this series, and what genres will come into play in future books. I would highly recommend Shadow Debt as a standalone, and the Tales of the Verin Empire series for anyone who wants something that not only thinks outside the box but breaks the box completely.”

RockStarlit BookAsylum – review

“The Tales of the Verin Empire series have been phenomenal when it comes to bringing these characters and the world, they inhabit to life. I really loved the time period in Shadow Debt with the “boom” and the claims and unsurprisingly, I loved Elgin (Gentlemen Jim) and his gang of outlaws and how Ned’s and Elgin’s stories eventually connect in an unexpected way.”



Out of This World SFF Reviews – review

“SHADOW DEBT takes you on a cool adventure that moves along at a quick pace and never lets you down with regard to a cracking good story and Willliam Ray has delivered an original fantasy book that takes much from our own history and mixes it beautifully with the fantastic.   Definitely check this book out if you have the time, it will be well worth it I assure you.”



Al-Alhambra – review

“In a way, the wild west setting emulates the golden age of piracy. William uses this to great effect: He builds a world where, when times are desparate, crime will rise because people have nowhere else to turn into.

The Playlist

Sugaan Essena by the Hu

The combination of deep voiced singing, sibilance, drums, and twang make it feel exactly like the goblin war-songs from my books. I love the Hu in general though, anything from The Gereg is probably a good accompaniment to Shadow Debt.

Shoog Shoog by the Hu

Same reasons. The acoustic version is a particularly good match, the drums are stronger and it has a more rustic, frontier feel.

White Hats by Ramin Djawadi

Ramin Djawadi’s brilliant turn on the soundtracks for Westworld is one I listened to a lot while wrapping up the novel as well. Of particular note: White Hats, Violent Delights and Pariah.

Parallel World by the Birthday Massacre

I’m not sure it has anything to do with the story, but I listen to the Birthday Massacre a lot, so chances are they were playing frequently in any given chapter, and that’s as good a song choice as any other.

Two Mules for Sister Sara by Ennio Morricone

And I couldn’t claim a western playlist without some Morricone! Two Mules for Sister Sara really brings the feel of bold adventure, and Once Upon A Time In The West has that same bold texture, but with an eerily haunted vibe.

Claudia’s Theme from Unforgiven

Claudia’s Theme from Unforgiven is pretty classic as well. Many western scores are brassy and strong, but that particular theme really evokes the sentimental fragility of the people caught between their new world and the old one.

Q&A in the Asylum

Welcome to the Asylum, William! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!

Ooh, beverage of choice? Any choice? Can I conjure a cup of aged Qimen tea? That feels perfect for fireside chats.

When I was younger, they said I had an old soul. Now that I’m older, they tell me I have a perfectly adequate soul. In a few years though, it will be too young again and so I expect I’ll need to spend my late years swindling my nursing home peers out of theirs just to keep up appearances.


What inspires your writing? Do you listen to music, stare into the fire, listen to the whispering of the wind, make deals with the Devil?

All of those! Mostly I have a vague idea and look up the history of something associated with that thing. That thread leads me to another, and another, and another, and by then I’ve totally forgotten whatever the original idea was, and am buried under a pile of loose thread. It’s a terrible method, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.

From there, the Devil and I begin weaving those loose threads into something more comprehensible. He complains a lot more than you would think, but if you can overlook that, he has nimble fingers and is a surprisingly diligent worker.The worst part, of course, is when you then hand it off to my editor, who looks at all that and says, “This knot the Devil tied is entirely unbelievable.” Then I rush over and proclaim, “But that’s not a Devil’s knot at all! That’s a piece of pure spun history, flowing straight and true!” And the editor always replies, “No, it’s too unbelievable, you’ll have to tie more knots around it.” Which is how the Devil and I end up stuck spending entire afternoons retying knots to cover up a far-fetched truth with a dozen comfortable lies.


Describe an asylum set in the world of your book, Shadow Debt!

The gods, at least those worth listening to, command we care for our neighbors. When our neighbors are quiet people, then all is well, but now and again our neighbors go stark raving and for their own safety are best contained in a quiet, out of the way facility where they can be observed by medical experts trained in ailments of the mind. Such facilities can cater to a variety of ills — seizure, political confusion, women’s hysteria, persistent inebriation, veterans’ terrors, and so forth. Care must be taken to isolate humming, as practical experience routinely demonstrates that left to filter through the walls a noxious tune can quickly spread unwellness throughout an unwary facility.


Your MC is locked in an asylum. What did he/she do to end up there?

He was blathering on about a big hole on top of a hill where a cruel matron sobbed tears of ice by moonlight, but come the dawn, her sister arose in a fiery rage and chased them away. Poetic ravings are tolerable, but then someone commented rather rudely on his speech impediment and the gentleman lashed out with unseemly violence. Obviously, given his persistent condition and irrationally short temper, he should be confined for his own safety. Besides, he has peculiar political notions about who should be allowed to vote, which clearly stems from a mind set off-balance by an overindulgence of one sort or another.


Which fictional character (it can be one of yours) and/or author would you like to live with in an asylum and why?

Oh, certainly none of mine, I know them far too well already.

No, if it’s any fictional character, I suppose I’d pick Ferris Bueller. Life in an asylum moves pretty slow, but if you don’t break out and look around every once and awhile, you could miss it.

When William was in Egypt’s land… let my William go…


While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?

Who could settle for anything less than Master Subhuti‘s Grimoire? What is a mere eternity when one gains the 72 forms and from them can learn a power to shake the very heavens, commanding the Emperor of Heaven to make good one’s release and set back the clock to begin life anew? I’m no Great Sage, Equal of Heaven, but with an eternity of study, I like to think I could manage a trick or two.


Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? locks door

Zyzzyva, I should think. Some will say zyzzogeton, or zymotic, but are clearly misinformed. If I had my druthers, I’d stick with zyxt, because I love the poetic notion of reaching the bottom of the alphabetical list only to scale right back up it in the very same word, but alas it is Kentish nonsense and my scruples can bend only so far. Now, let us raise a zythum in toast!

But alas, I seem to have Qimen.


If you are interested in Shadow Debt and would like to get in contact with William Ray, you can find him on social media:

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Grab a copy of Shadow Debt at your local Amazon!

Shadow Debt by William Ray