The Thieves of Traska . . . Two Years Later

Facebook has an On This Day feature that lets you see your posts from however many years back. I don’t share any of mine, but I take a look every once in a while just to see where I was a year or two ago. As it turns out, today marks the two-year anniversary of my work on The Thieves of Traska. It’s incredible to think that it’s only been two years and I’m already on the third (or fourth; I’m weird about numbering my drafts) draft. For other novel projects, it’s taken me up to five years to get to this point.

To celebrate, I wanted to share with you all one of my favorite scenes. There are several reasons why I love this part, most of which have to do with Claire’s development. Up until this point, Claire has only had one person on her side. She’s been working hard to prove her usefulness so she can belong to something bigger than herself. By officially joining the Coterie (a network of spies and thieves led by Countess Mackinley Magorian), Claire is starting to loosen her grip on her past.

On a personal note, it’s times like this — when I start a new job or join a team — that I look inward and compare the person I am with the person I want to be. That’s the time when I try to let go of what’s holding me back from the ideal me. So without further ado, I present this excerpt:


20150608_162910 (1)
© Amanda Surowitz and Switzy Thoughts, 2010-15.

The Countess waited in the middle of the stairs leading down from the terrace. Miles led the procession forward and stopped them at the edge. One by one, he nudged the initiates down the stairs where the Countess took their newly marked hands and passed them down to the mass of black figures. Claire gasped in surprise and pain when the Countess pressed her thumb lightly into the raw skin bearing the mark.

When they’d all been engulfed by the crowd, the Countess ascended the stairs and surveyed her audience with cool assessment.

“Welcome to the Coterie,” Dusty whispered in Claire’s ear. “Ghost.

“Watch over your new brothers and sisters as they will watch over you,” the Countess said. “As always, we face a greater challenge than those who would see us relinquish our hold on the city; it’s far easier to seize power than it is to keep hold of it. It is through your hard work that this power remains and shall remain with us, despite the efforts of our enemies.

“Even now, they move against us, tempting some of our unmarked friends to turn against us. You are the ones who must keep them on the right path. Without you, there is no us, and without us, there is chaos.”

All around, people bowed their heads and fisted their marked hands over their hearts. Claire followed suit, though her hand throbbed. She peeked up at the terrace, but the Countess was already gone. As if some quiet signal had been given, the crowd suddenly dispersed. Claire lingered, shivering in the autumn night air as the comforting warmth of so many bodies deserted the garden.

She was one of them now. That meant she could depend on every one of those robed figures to stand between her and Reed, didn’t it? The chill creeping down her spine had nothing to do with the cold.

The above excerpt is from a draft and is subject to change. No part of it may be copied or reproduced without written permission. © Amanda Surowitz and Switzy Thoughts, 2010-15.

The Thieves of Traska Giveaway Winners!

The giveaway has ended, and I’m happy to announce that Hannah Jones is the winner of the prize package! And since the giveaway only got 89 entries, that means there is a second-place winner. That is Meagan Corrado! She is going to get three customized Molskine journals, featuring some of the characters from The Thieves of Traska.

Thank you to everyone who entered! For those of you who didn’t win, don’t worry. I’m already planning the next giveaway and assembling the prizes.

In the meantime, thanks again to everyone who participated and to all my readers!

Recommended Reads: The Emperor’s Soul

The Emperor's SoulIt’s no secret that I’m a fan of Brandon Sanderson‘s work. While randomly looking up his latest projects, I discovered this book was due to release soon. I honestly forgot about it until I happened to go to Barnes & Noble.

(This happened while I was at my dorm in Savannah. The nearest B&N is in the mall. For those of us without a car, this means at least a two hour bus ride. It was two and a half hours that day. I feel it’s important that my readers know I endured that–plus the two hour ride back–all for the sake of a book that’s maybe half an inch thick.)

I’m not sure exactly what I expected when I opened the book, but I was impressed. It’s not often I find a book where magic and art are combined. I also haven’t read much fiction with ties to Asian culture, so this was a wonderful new experience.

This short book takes place over 100 days–that’s how much time the main character has to forge a new soul for the emperor. It’s impossible not to get caught up in the action and the emotions. I read it twice in one day because I couldn’t get enough.

As a writer, this is definitely one of those books that helps take the pressure off trying to write some massive novel. As an artist, this reminded me that my family had given me a Chinese calligraphy and painting set. I’d never used it, so I decided to give it a try. For your enjoyment, here are the first two paintings I’ve ever done with a Chinese painting kit: Hush Mountains, Mountain Path