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How She Evolved

Sam L. Marshall Author Interview

Sam L. Marshall Author Interview

The Immortal Queen is an epic fantasy novel that finds Earth on the brink of being plunged into chaos by dark forces. What was the inspiration for the setup to this story?

The main starting point for the story came from my childhood. In fact, a portion of the story was written then (before being rewritten by adult me). I spent a fair portion of my childhood holidays on Waiheke Island, in the Hauraki Gulf (North Island of New Zealand). There was a reserve that my grandparents holiday home was nestled against, which largely inspired Arcon. I would sit, with a wonderful view of Mackenzie Reserve all the way down to the bay and get lost in the forest as I built it up in my mind. That little track our family dubbed $2 corner (because my nana found $2 there) became part of the path that lead to the heart of Arcon. From there, I pictured, drew and wrote out what the village – which became a city – looked like. Then ‘She’ appeared. Endya. So, I followed her story, her life and I wrote the good the bad and the ugly. When it came to the pivotal point in the story, there were a lot of other novels and movies floating about of heroic deeds done – heroes saving the day and having a happily ever. But I knew real-life didn’t work like that. Fairy-tales are seldom true, and I also wanted to frame the story in a way that was true to the characters.

The characters in this book were interesting and well developed. What were some driving ideals behind your character development?

I wanted them to be as real as possible – hard when you are dealing with Faeries, Elves, Demons and Gods – but Gods are people too!

For both the major and the not-so-major characters – i.e. some of the Gods. I fleshed them out individually (some more than others). Their power base – for example, how their god-powers have shaped their personalities? What are their wants and needs? How do they feel about this situation? Right down to looks. For some I even wrote up quick dossiers or character sheets. (Being a Role-Player pays off sometimes).

I knew, regardless of how much ‘scene time’ they’d get, if I were writing them, they were being made ‘flesh’. That and I feel you should never leave a character, no matter how small, undeveloped – because you never know when that development is needed. A small character now might be a big character later.

What were some sources of inspiration for you while writing this book?

My first inspiration, other than Waiheke itself, was my uncle’s mother. She was an author here in New Zealand. I knew writing a book would never be easy, but the worlds and characters she created intrigued me. It was absolute pleasure and delight in having her read the first three or so chapters when I was twelve (well before the rewrite!) I remember hovering in her house, admiring the view (a little cove and ocean to the horizon) from her personal little library while she finished up reading the pages – all handwritten! She smiled and told me to keep writing because there was a story there that needed telling. It took many years, but I got it done. Sadly, she passed before she could read the final manuscript.

Robin Hobb’s Liveship Traders trilogy! The Liveship Traders: Ship of Magic (book one) was the first Fantasy novel I ever read. I was an advanced reader as a kid, and I remember wanting to get into the young adult section and every time my attempts were thwarted by the librarian who would kindly guide me back to the children’s section. Then one day I saw this book. It was hardcover, it was massive (in my eyes) and it had a picture of a fearless young lady on it standing in front of a ship. I wanted – no, needed to read that book….and it just so happened that it was on the sale table. I had much delight in standing with mum as she handed the librarian my pocket money and I got to walk out of the library with my prize. I read and reread that book (still own it) as it was years before I could find and finish reading the trilogy. There was something about the main character, her actions, the way she held herself and faced the perils. How she evolved. I guess in a way she inspired the creation of Endya.

Other inspirations ranged from some of my favourite books such Tolkien’s works (if you have Elves in your word, you need to have same knowledge of Tolkien’s work). Tad Williams Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series. And more modern series like Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games series and Veronica Roth’s Divergent series…and because of the whole shadowy/hidden organisation, Dan Brown’s, Robert Langdon series – which I haven’t even fully read yet!

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is a complete change from The Immortal Queen. It’s called Astraque. It’s Science Fiction and it takes place in a very cyberpunk/biopunk/technologically advanced but very distorted future. But, as we all know, not all advancements are for the better. It’s about to go into the editing phase and we hope that it will be available sometime next year.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

The Immortal Queen by [Marshall, S. L.]At the end of her world, a noblewoman steals a precious prize from fate. A goddess rises in the city of Sundregham as invaders from another world sweep in to burn the world to the ground. A young girl from Earth discovers she’s the final piece in a game the gods have been playing for a long time…and failure may mean the end of it all. This is the story of Endya & Elizabeth and their fight against the Darkness. This is the story of the Immortal Queen.

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Tricky at Times

Sherry Leclerc Author Interview

Sherry Leclerc Author Interview

The Guardians of Eastgate is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, adventure, and romance as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?

The genre-crossing was both intentional and organic. I knew I wanted to write a fantasy-adventure, but I wasn’t sure at first if I wanted to include romance. Some of my favorite books are fantasy-romance. However, I knew I didn’t want to narrow my audience by going into erotica.

I liked the way romance was handled in novels like Twilight, The Hunger Games and the Divergent series: it was present, but it wasn’t the main focus, and it wasn’t explicit. These were not books I would have to worry about my kids reading as teens, for example. Writing romance in this way left them accessible to teens all the way through to adult. So, I knew that if I did include romance, I would want to handle it in this manner. The Guardians of Eastgate is rated as Young Adult, but I wanted it to be accessible to teens and older adults as well.

I didn’t make the final decision to include romance until I was writing their interactions, however. In fact, I wouldn’t really call it a decision. Rather, it felt like the natural progression of the relationship between the characters. So, in this way, it was organic. The way I see it, their relationship is complicated (due to their histories), yet also inevitable due to their personalities and shared histories.

As for the adventure part, well, what is fantasy without adventure, really? I am a huge fan of Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings was required reading in my Advanced Literature class in high school. At first, I found his writing tedious, and had to wade through it. By the time I was done, though, I was thoroughly hooked and grateful for all those details. There is no way I will even try to compete with Tolkien, however. I loved his world and character building, but knew that I would not want to take on writing on that grand a scale, especially for my first novel.

One reason for this is knowing that, in our time, people work a lot and have many scheduled activities for themselves, their kids, etc. Because of this, I purposely kept my book on the short side for a novel, and made my chapters short as well. However, after feedback from some of my readers who basically said they enjoyed the story, but would have liked to see more of certain elements, I am now considering doing a revised and expanded second edition.

The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?

My favorite character is my main character, Maelona. However, I did not find her easy to write for. She is a very subdued character who, for a large portion of the story, is denying or ignoring huge parts of herself due to guilt from past events. So, how do you reveal a character’s personality through their dialogue and actions when they so tightly control their actions and emotions? I knew I wanted to use the third person narrative, which took revealing her character through inner monologue off the table. I didn’t want to switch to the first person though, as I wanted readers to feel the distance she creates for herself partly through the distance the third person provides. It is a complicated mix, and it was difficult to find the right balance. I did enjoy trying to find that balance, though.

I probably like Blaez and Gareth equally. Blaez, however, though not as tightly wound as Maelona and more emotionally open, is also calm in actions and words, so revealing his character was also tricky at times. Gareth was perhaps the easiest to write for, as he is cheeky and wears his heart on his sleeve, as the saying goes.

Maelona is a seer champion tasked with protecting the realm and is the first line of defense when evil rises. What were the driving ideals behind the characters development throughout the story?

Maelona is essentially driven by her guilt over what happened at the crater of sorrows (which we find out about when she tells Blaez the story). She blames herself for what happened and she feels extreme guilt and an intense sense of loss over the accidental death of someone close to her.

Her father was a powerful seer who took his responsibilties to the seer people, and to the entire realm, very seriously. He believed, as did most of the seer people, that his race’s “advantages” over the other races gave them the responsibilty to watch over the realm and all its peoples (kind of like that “With great power comes great responsibility” line in Spiderman). They believe, essentially, this was what they were created for, and they continued to believe this even after their people were persucuted and hunted out of fear. In a sense, Maelona is an overachiever because she is always trying to make up for the loss of her father. However, she also had to work harder to fill his shoes because she is denying the most powerful parts of herself, parts she considers to be dangerous and that she is afraid of losing control over.

With this new mysterious and serious threat to the entire realm, however, she will need these most powerful parts of herself. Her letting go of her tight contol on her emotions and opening herself up to her new friends, and especially her new love, mirrors her letting go control of those “scary” parts of herself. This is why the romance between Maelona and Blaez ends up being so important. It is her relationship with him that allows her to stop holding back those pieces of herself that scare her; to take a chance on those parts because the potential gain is worth it. It is her relationship with him that allows her to begin accepting herself, all of herself, for who she is.

What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?

I am already 40,600+ words into the second novel of the series. I haven’t settled on a name yet, but it will focus on the Seer guardian of Southgate. Between finishing the first draft, self-editing and revising, having beta readers look at it, then sending it off to the editor for a few rounds of revisions, etc. etc., I don’t expect it to be published until late winter, early spring.

I have also decided to do a second edition of The Guardians of Eastgate because I will be re-doing the cover. I have hired a visual artist to do the book covers for the rest of the series and I want them all to be uniform. Due to reader feed-back, I am considering expanding on the interior narrative as well. You can check on my website or social media accounts to stay updated on whether or not I will expand the story, and when the second edition with the new cover (and possibly extended storyline) will be released.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

The Guardians of Eastgate by [Leclerc, Sherry]An ancient evil threatens the realm of Sterrenvar. A race of people called the seers has appointed themselves Guardians of the Realm, guarding the safety of their world and all the people in it.

Maelona Sima is one of four seer champions tasked with protecting the four keystones from being breached by evil forces, thus leaving an immeasurable magical force free to be used against the realm’s inhabitants. Yet Maelona is more than a seer. She is unique in her world, and she is the best hope of survival for the people of Sterrenvar…the very people who once hunted down and killed many of the seer people out of fear and mistrust.

Protecting the keystones is the first line of defense against the evil sorcerer who wishes to enslave the realm. Can Maelona, the guardian of the keystone at Eastgate, and her friends Blaez, a wolf shifter, and Gareth, a human prince, bring together their peoples to save Eastgate from destruction in this first book of the Seers series?

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Breaking Magic

Breaking Magic (The Legacy of Androva #5)

Breaking Magic is the fifth book in the Legacy of Androva series. This emotional story takes place in the world of Imbera. The inhabitants are on an island and divided into two classes, the Opta and the Exta. The Opta are the ruling class, old, never aging, living a life of luxury. The Exta are the workers, made to work, sorted into units and worked to the bone until the age of eighteen when they are gathered by the Opta for nefarious purposes. For two thousand years, this has gone on. It is only when Cal starts remembering things that the world takes a dangerous turn.

In Breaking Magic, the story focuses on Callex who is a worker, in the lowest of the units, repairing roads and buildings, cleaning, and other hard labor. He cannot read or write, but he is physically strong. All the Exta’s are paired with an older child. Things start going astray in Imbera when Cal picks up his new little brother and discovers Benedar is a thinker, not a worker like him.

With the help of his friends Cal soon learns that everyone is genetically engineered to contain certain traits to make society function. When otherworlders appear in Imbera they learn of magic and spells and start to uncover their own pasts and hidden locked away parts of themselves. But with this new revelation comes a price and they must discover how to save their world.

Alex Vick creates a dramatic novel by expanding on Cal’s story in the Legacy of Androva series. Cal’s character slowly develops through the story, each new layer being pulled back as the story progresses, leaving you with a fascinating character in the end. The bond that is formed within the circle of friends brings the reader in and makes them a part of the group. You are on the edge of your seat waiting for the next clue so you can help Cal and his friends uncover the next missing piece of their world. Like the Exta’s, the reader learns more with each passing event. It’s all brought together with a compelling narrative that makes it difficult to put the book down. Breaking Magic is an entertaining and drawing novel for both young adult and adult readers, it will captivate you and give you hope for society. It shows that just because things are one way, doesn’t mean things can’t change, and just because your told your one thing, doesn’t mean you’re sentenced to always be that thing. Breaking Magic is a novel of hope and overcoming inner struggles and is a fantastic read.

Pages: 330 | ASIN: B071H5ZWDQ

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Death Leaders

Death Leaders5 StarsIt’s 2031. Crime and violence plague the city of Chicago. The government constantly tracks its people with small hardware implanted into each citizen’s neck. At the same time, another organization, possibly even more powerful than the US government, is working in the shadows – completing their own macabre agenda. Chris, once a homeless orphan, is rising quickly through the ranks of this organization. Having been adopted by a very old man who is well-known throughout the organization, many are jealous of Chris and his high pedigree, making it even harder for him to perform his grave responsibilities.

In this way Kendra Hadnott sets up what happens next in her delightful new novel Death Leaders, a tight, well-written yarn. Death Leaders is Hadnott’s 6th novel, and is a work from a writer with experience, insight, and imagination. The writing and dialogue is fluid, allowing you to simply become engrossed in the story. Her characters’ emotions and actions are believable and empathetic, you find yourself rooting for Chris and then questioning if you should be. And lastly, the dystopian setting and story keeps you enthralled throughout.

After receiving a confusing new assignment related to a young local woman, Chris begins to take careful first steps, knowing his reputation and future in the organization depend on it. As he becomes more acquainted with this girl, he begins to sympathize with her, wondering about her past and becoming smitten by her good looks. But as he continues moving forward, he realizes that someone else, possibly from his very own organization, is stepping in and complicating the situation. He doesn’t know why someone is interfering or even how far up the organization’s ladder this conspiracy goes. Is it just jealousy of his father, or is it something else? After turning to his friends for help, he realizes that even they are keeping secrets from him.

In the same vein as Hunger Games and Divergent, Hadnott creates a not-so-average teen who is trying to make sense of his personal life, as well as how he fits into a larger system. Death Leaders is well-written and gripping. The characters’ backgrounds, feelings, and motives are well fleshed-out, and the setting is appropriately creepy, tinged with a dark side that is just enough. This definitely has crossover appeal – enjoyable for both young adults and parents alike. This isn’t just a novel that revels in the dystopian worlds that are so popular right now. Sure, the setting is exciting and fascinating – a dismal future, where the population has little freedom and where certain random ‘life’ events aren’t quite random. But, like the Hunger Games trilogy, the real appeal is the focus on characters’ emotions, actions, and motives. It’s all just set in an incredibly detailed and rich backdrop that keeps us wondering what will happen next.

Pages: 131 | B01C1WUTVO

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