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Kindled A New Idea In My Mind

Hermione Lee Author Interview

The Lost Siren follows a young and beautiful siren who loses her memory and when she starts to regain it, realizes she must seek redemption for past actions. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Last year, I wrote a book called Where the Magic Lies, which Literary Titan has also kindly reviewed and granted the gold book award. There is a chapter in it about amnesia, and that was the trigger that kindled a new idea in my mind. What if a story began with a character with amnesia? It would be like a mystery, as the character doesn’t know anything about themself, and there could be countless possibilities for their true identity. I’ve always wanted to write a mermaid tale, and since I played around with my cover designing app and with the help of Shutterstock, came up with a cover I adored, I decided I would have to write The Lost Siren as soon as possible.

Aquila remains strong despite finding out about her past and realizing that her old self could ruin her hope for a happy future. What were some driving ideals behind your character’s development?

The theme of redemption and righting one’s wrongs is important in this story. Also, I did an experiment with Aquila—the same one I did with many of my other female protagonists, Azalea Wood from The First Buds of Spring and Amethyst Quartz from Where the Magic Lies. I made these characters feminine but strong. Now, I received criticism regarding the protagonist of my first book, Alexandria Richardson from In the Name of the Otherworld. Some readers didn’t like her because she was too masculine, and they believed some of her remarks were offensive to feminine women. In other words, she was too politically correct. Of course, I wasn’t happy when the criticism reached my ears, because I felt misunderstood. I didn’t mean to bash anyone at all, and it was unfair the readers automatically assumed I believed what my main character believed! But at the same time, their words got me thinking—would it be possible to create a female character strong and independent, yet graceful and romantic all in equal measure? My three babies—Azalea, Amethyst, and Aquila did it, or at least in my humble opinion. 

I encourage people to view my characters as separate individuals instead of labeling their character traits as masculine or feminine, and respect their uniqueness no matter whether they are male or female. In fact, this is something that should be valued in real life, too—to have a heart big enough to accept people of all types and not judge them or label them in a certain way. No matter whether you are a feminine female, a masculine female, a masculine male, a feminine male, or none of these or all of these, you deserve to be you. Having been a victim of bullying, I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Back to the point I made about gender roles, I sincerely hope everyone, regardless of gender, can relate to my characters, regardless of gender, either. Personality traits should be viewed as neutral and not marked masculine or feminine. Everyone should feel free to identify with any trait.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Redemption is obviously a main theme. There is also an underlying message in the story: don’t judge people based on first impressions. Everard and Raphael, Aquila’s two love interests, are stark contrasts. Everard is charming and gentle at first glance, but he turns out to be a liar who abandons Aquila instead of helping her face her past. Raphael, on the other hand, appears aloof at first, but he shows concern for Aquila when she is in trouble. Just because someone is friendly and adorable doesn’t always mean they have a heart of gold. And it’s also true the other way around—just because someone seems unapproachable and standoffish doesn’t always mean they don’t crave warmth and affection. This is a message that applies to all relationships and friendships alike.

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

It’s been a long time since I finished The Lost Siren, which was last August! I went on to write Within the Walls, a YA paranormal fantasy about two students discovering the dark secrets of their boarding school. And after that was A Gathering of Tales, a YA dark fantasy novel with romantic elements centered around the adventures of four protagonists from well-known fairy tales. After that came Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a prequel and retelling of Alice in Wonderland, told from the Queen of Hearts’ perspective and explaining how she went insane and became evil. Then, I wrote Where the Darkness Lies, a sequel to Where the Magic Lies, and finally, I finished Snowfall, a YA fantasy romance about a cursed ice witch finding love. Right now I’m working on Stars, Clouds, and Shadows, a paranormal romance about an angel and devil falling in love with each other. However, Snowfall might be my next publication. I hope to release it in January because it’s a snowy book, and because I want to get it published on my Mom’s birthday. 

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Aquila Hannigan has no recollection of her past. When she swims to Glacies, a whimsical island with ice pyramids and golden palm trees, a young fisherman takes her under his wing, and the two soon become more than friends. Yet one day, he accuses her of being a murderer and claims she was lying about her amnesia. Abandoned on a snowy island by him and left to freeze to death, Aquila is bereft of hope until Raphael, the king of Glacies, rescues her. However, when she falls for him and their relationship blossoms, an incident triggers her lost memories, and she recalls everything. To protect Raphael and atone for her sins in the past, Aquila must embark on a journey of redemption and right her wrongs, a mission that will likely cost her her life and her future.

The Lost Siren

The Lost Siren by Hermione Lee starts out with one of the most beautiful settings I have read in a book so far! Aquila is a young, beautiful, and enchanting Siren of the sea. Unfortunately, she wakes up on an iceberg alone, scared, and without a memory of her past. She’s bruised and cut up but finds her way to an island, where she is rescued by a young sorcerer named Everard.

Everard and Aquila fall in love with each other quickly. He takes care of her and answers any questions she has. He doesn’t like it when she has questions about the palace or the royal family. Everard, however, is not the knight in shining armor we all thought at first. He hurts and abandons Aquila, and she is rescued by a handsome king. Aquila quickly falls in love with the king’s kind spirit, but as she starts to regain her memory of her past, she isn’t proud of who she used to be. Finally, war comes to the palace, and Aquila must write all her wrongs to end the war.

I really did enjoy the creative aspect of the book. The world that was created by the author was unique and painted a good picture in my mind. It was well written with great detail. I loved the characters and their development throughout the story. I enjoyed reading about the magical powers they had in this world. An island full of magic creates such a beautiful picture. What I didn’t like about the book was how the relationships developed when it came to love; there was no build-up. I like falling in love with the characters; in this case, readers are not given much to build on.

The Lost Siren is a captivating teen and young adult novel with elements of romance. While there is a love interest, the story focuses on how Aquila deals with her emotions and the realization of who she is. It is perfect for teen girls struggling with who they are and want fantasy novels that focus on more than battles and wizards.

Pages: 158 | ASIN : B0BGPV6LWN

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My Favorite Writing Place

Hermione Lee Author Interview

Where the Magic Lies follows a girl who’s forced to marry a prince under threat of death and learns that her decisions will affect more than just her. How did the idea for this novel begin and change as you wrote?

I’m sure nobody will believe this, but this novel was adapted from one of my experiences! Last year in July, my mom carried an abandoned hollowed log home to put in her garden as a decoration. Luckily, no fairies from Portia confronted us, took me away, or made me marry anyone. But the incident kindled an inspiration in me. I wondered whether the old log might have belonged to some mysterious creature, whether it would be regarded as a treasure to them. So, I recorded the idea down and fleshed it into a novel a year later. I knew I had to add some complications to the plot, and that a log theft wouldn’t be enough to hook many readers, hence the innumerable plot twists that dominate the latter chapters.

What scene in the book was the most emotionally impactful for you to write?

Ha, I am not an emotional author at all! Rather, I’m cold-blooded and detached when it comes to writing. (I never cry when writing, and instead, I think torturing my characters is great fun.) I see myself as a director, a fly on the wall, so I don’t find any scene particularly emotional or impactful. However, I hope the gigantic plot twist at the ending that results in a funeral is the most emotionally impactful scene. Although I cannot reveal what it is in fear of spoiling the plot, the scene is meant to show readers how much Amethyst has matured and grown.

What is your writing process like? Where do you write most often, and what do you use for inspiration?

My writing process is very messy! If I am very confident in a novel idea, I outline it first and tackle the chapters I like the most. (Among my thirteen finished novels, eleven were written in an irregular order.) In Where the Magic Lies’ case, I finished Chapter 4 first, then 5, 1, 2, 6, 7, 8, 3, 10, and finally, 9. (It’s also worth mentioning that I finished this book in 14 days, setting a new record for myself.)

95% of Where the Magic Lies was written at my grandma’s house. That’s my favorite writing place! I also love writing at various Starbucks. The atmosphere there is always magical. I use anything for inspiration; as I mentioned before, a single log can spark an entire story. Random phrases come to my mind from time to time, and if I like them enough, I will make them possible future titles. Story ideas also visit me randomly. One morning at my grandma’s I KNEW I had to write a story about a lost siren. I didn’t know why, but I knew I just had to write that story. (The premise of the story was inspired by a chapter in Where the Magic Lies.) And so I did. This is something I can’t quite explain, but I am grateful for my endless fountain of story ideas.

This is book one in the Perils of Portia Saga. What can readers expect in book two?

I don’t know the answer any more than my readers do! I’ll have to have a meeting with myself to structure the outline for book two. Right now I’m working on A Gathering of Tales, a novel about a mashup of four fairy tales. What will happen if Rapunzel escapes her tower, saves Little Red Riding Hood, meets Cinderella, and wakes Sleeping Beauty? My book answers that question. I’m not sure when I’ll return to Amethyst and Angus and the Perils of Portia Saga. Well, someday! I’ve still got quite a bit of time and enthusiasm left!

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When Amethyst Quartz’s mother carries a hollowed log home, a group of furious fairies confront her and Amethyst. Hailing from the Kingdom of Portia, they claim that the stolen log is King Matthew’s lost treasure. The fairies threaten to kill her unless Amethyst agrees to leave the mortal world and marry Prince Angus, who is in need of a bride. To save her mother’s life, Amethyst agrees, but is plagued by melancholy when in Portia. However, she bonds with Prince Angus after three failed escape attempts, and the two develop a close relationship. Yet when things are getting settled, two assassination attempts threaten to destroy her life. Misfortunes, one after another, befall Amethyst as she struggles to survive in the palace. She once thought she had zero control over her life, but now, her choices matter more than anything. With Angus, her decisions will shape not only her future but also their relationship.

Where the Magic Lies

Where the Magic Lies is the beginning of an imaginative fairytale series following Amethyst Quartz, who collects logs with her mother in the forest. When they discover one of the logs is an important artifact that belongs to a king from another world, their lives change forever. In this world of fairies, Amethyst’s acquiring this special artifact is forbidden and punishable by death, and her mother, as the adult responsible for retrieving the item, faces this fatal end unless there is a way to save her.

To save her mother from certain death, Amethyst agrees to follow the fairies in Portia, the name of their kingdom, and marry their prince, who is eagerly searching for a bride. Facing the frightening challenges of this new life, homesickness, brutal assassinations, and a new romance, Amethyst must decide how to navigate this strange world and find herself.

The author brings a refreshing vibrance to the classic fairytale narrative, with solid character development, intriguing magic, and the abrupt changes that a person must face in life without warning. Amethyst must think and act quickly if she wants to escape, as her position of isolation and scrutiny is a form of imprisonment. She learns who she cannot trust and how every decision she makes has a ripple effect on her life and the outcome of the situation.

I enjoyed the visual writing in this book and the author’s talent for detailed storytelling that painted a vivid image of the world and its inhabitants. I recommend Where the Magic Lies for its overall great story development, the heroine’s triumphant nature, and her commitment to survival and fighting for love. It’s an artistic fantasy novel with a meaningful storyline that combines elements of traditional fantasy themes and nostalgia with realistic characters.

Pages: 245 | ASIN: B0B9M7HNBY

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A War Against My Pride And Envy

Hermione Lee Author Interview

Heart of the Forest: Book 1 of the Cousin Friendship Series follows two cousins who, after being forced to spend time together, end up on an adventure in an enchanted world. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

Every friend of mine knows about Heart of the Forest because it was my first endeavor at writing. I was ten when I started the first manuscript, then titled “Cousin Relationship”. However, I bagged the story after two months because ten-year-old me couldn’t stand my writing. (I still have that manuscript now, it’s very cringeworthy!) It was only two thousand words then, hardly a novel. But seven years later, after completing nine novels, I finally had the courage to face my first rotten attempt at writing. I retitled the book “Heart of the Forest”, made the plot much more interesting than what it had been, and dedicated it to my ten-year-old self. I think she would have liked that! 

I don’t have any siblings. Only two cousins. That’s why the story is about two cousins and not siblings. In the book, Ilyria breaks the fourth wall by saying, “The rivalry between cousins might make more sense than siblings. We live under the same roof as our blood brothers and sisters, but not always with our cousins. That makes it more likely to develop misunderstandings about them.” This is the second reason I chose to write about two cousins. And by the way, breaking the fourth wall is one of my favorite literary techniques! 

What were some of the emotional and moral guidelines you followed when developing your characters?

Since this is a middle-grade novel, both Ilyria and Jerry demonstrate moral attributes such as courage, kindness, and wisdom, while learning to discover the positive character traits the other possesses. Yet at the same time, both of them must overcome a significant flaw. For Ilyria, it is envy. She envies Jerry, whose glamorous life as a straight-A student incites her jealousy and hatred. For Jerry, he must overcome his pride, which prevents him from befriending Ilyria in the first place. Interestingly, Jerry is painted as a villain in the first chapter, but then readers will grow to realize that he is “the lesser of two evils”, and in fact, Ilyria is more flawed as a character. It’s also worth mentioning that I once waged a war against my pride and envy, and that’s why I made my characters battle them, too.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Heart of the Forest deals with many themes—parent-children relationships, childhood innocence, sibling rivalry, and criticism regarding the educational system. I’ll share a couple of my favorite sentences from the book:

.Hurrying. Adults were always hurrying in their lives, fast-forwarding their clocks and running from place to place in a rush to get their tasks done, their duties fulfilled. Seldom did they stop to appreciate the little charms and marvels in life. 

.Magic did not discriminate with age; as long as one believed, as long as one kept their heart open and welcomed miracles with wide arms, they’d find the world a much better place than they did in the first place.

.”Stories are like bridges that connect people with each other. C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Lewis Carroll, they’ve been dead for decades. But when I pick up their books and read their stories, it’s like they’re talking to me. It’s like I’m getting a glimpse into their brilliant minds and communicating with them in a spiritual way. And I’m not talking about fictional stories, either. Real stories have that same power. If two strangers share an experience and they tell each other about it, bingo—a connection formed.”

.”Not everything has to be important or unimportant. It all lies in the people who define and determine them. And who’s to judge? That’s a question with no answer. It varies, you see.”

.Only by setting our prejudices aside and focusing on what we have in common can we reach and achieve true harmony, for too often do we judge instead of understand, criticize instead of feel for another person.

.”I just like to think everything’s possible. It’s nice to believe the world has magic before growing up and getting accustomed to plainness.”

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

The Cousin Friendship Series consists of four books—Heart of the Forest, Magic of the Clearing, Rhythm of the River, and Soul of the Wind. I haven’t started writing Magic of the Clearing yet. Maybe it’ll be available next year. I’m kind of skipping around with various novel projects at this moment. Last week, I just finished a YA fantasy romance called The Lost Siren. And now, I might start a novel about a mortal boarding school with teachers who are in fact wizards and witches. It will be my first attempt at the paranormal genre. 

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

It’s Thanksgiving, but Ilyria Norton isn’t feeling thankful. Her cousin Jerry Norton and his family are coming for a visit, and as always, she is forced to listen to her pompous cousin’s achievements. However, a mysterious voice that penetrates the woods by her house calls for her and Jerry and invites them to the Cave of Light in the heart of the forest. An encounter with a giant tarantula, a robin that leads them to a haunted greenhouse, and an enchanted forest defy all logic and reason as Ilyria and Jerry embark upon an adventure of magic. On their way to greet their destiny and find out the identity of the disembodied speaker, they connect with each other for the first time through the challenges along their journey. In the end, they both grow to realize that the word “cousin” means much more than a bloodline that links them together; it also represents a bond that will be strengthened after this life-changing mission.

Heart of the Forest: Book 1 of the Cousin Friendship Series

Twelve-year-old Ilyria wants nothing more than to write an incredible fantasy novel…and outdo her perfect cousin Jerry. However, when Thanksgiving Day arrives, Ilyria finds herself sandwiched between her disapproving parents, her doting aunt, uncle, and the insufferable Jerry. Things are only made worse when both sets of parents insist the cousins should spend time together. So, heading out into the dark forest, the two teenagers soon find themselves at the beginning of a wondrous adventure, with only each other to rely on. Facing deadly obstacles and dangerous pathways in search of the mysterious force that called them forward, Jerry and Ilyria must learn more about each other and about themselves if they have any hope of survival.

Taking place partly in our world and partly in a magical realm, Heart of the Forest: Book 1 of the Cousin Friendship Series by Hermione Lee is a thrilling journey of discovery. While facing numerous threats and encountering endless wonders, Ilyria and Jerry must learn to overcome their prejudices in order to genuinely understand one another. I liked that this story is about cousins, which is relatively rare in the field. I loved that I never knew what was going to be around the next corner, and the nonstop action kept the pages turning. I was as angry as Ilyria at the parents in the story, finding them to be the most irritating family members I have encountered in literature outside of a Charles Dickens novel. However, I loved the interwoven nature of the story, where I felt that I was not only experiencing the adventures of Ilyria and Jerry but something of the author’s personal journey.

One way that the author helps readers to develop empathy and an emotional connection to their main characters is through their struggles. The teenagers encounter numerous enemies, perform multiple physically demanding escapes, and practically hike across half a continent, only stopping to eat and sleep once in the entire adventure. By the end of their journey, they have been so exhausted, hungry, and dehydrated. Recognizing this plight gives the characters an additional level of respect for their endurance.

Heart of the Forest: Book 1 of the Cousin Friendship Series is an excellent middle-grade fantasy novel, perfect for ages 10 and up. This story is about magic and wonder, overcoming prejudice, and finding the courage to let friendship enter a broken heart. It is a beautiful beginning to an up-and-coming fantasy novel series.

Pages: 210 | ASIN : B0B6L2ZX3N

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Shatter the Stereotype

Hermione Lee Author Interview

The First Buds of Spring follows a teen girl who befriends the new boy in school, as their relationship grows mysteries and secrets are revealed that will change their lives. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

I wasn’t inspired by anything in particular, though I have always wanted to write a romance novel. Here’s something funny: I’m an aromantic. But I always want to challenge myself to new heights. So far I’ve written fantasy, adventure, psychological horror, and romance, and I want to write a book of each genre. Different from the shy-girl-meets-rich-cool-boy-trope, though, I made my protagonist Azalea a bit mean and phony at first, although readers will learn later that it’s simply a façade to retain her popularity. I thought it would be cool to have a male protagonist (Bruce) help her recognize her inner beauty and encourage her to be herself instead of shaping her into who or what he prefers. And then the story formed in my mind. I aimed to write a novel that was cute, refreshing, lighthearted, and fun to read, unlike my previous works, of which were mostly dark and heavy in tone. Read the Otherworld trilogy and one of the companion novels, Helen’s Tale, and you’ll know what I mean.

Azalea and Bruce are both interesting characters with a lot of growth. Did you create an outline for the characters in the story before you started writing or did the characters’ personalities grow organically as you were writing?

Yes, I wrote an outline for the characters. I outline every novel project before starting it to give myself confidence and convince myself I know what I’m doing. Having detailed chapter outlines is important for me because I never write according to the sequence of chapters. Chapter 2 was the first chapter I tackled in The First Buds of Spring. Then chapters 10, 3, 1, 4, 5, 7, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 6, 16, 8, 9, 11, 19, 18, and finally, 20. I remember the sequence because I keep track of them in my iPad.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Love and life are the main themes. I wanted to shatter the stereotype that romance novels are soppy, sentimental, and totally pointless. I imbued plenty of life philosophy in the story, stressing how people always hurry through and fast-forward their lives. If they stop long enough to feel, they’d see the magic around them. Azalea and Bruce bonded through their common belief in slowing their pace in life.

Another theme I hinted at (but will be explored in depth in the future books in the series) is racism and tribal rivalry. Taking advantage of races with weaker magical powers, as evidenced by the Fireflamers and Aquamarines’ tormenting the Woodlanders.

Apart from those, I also wanted to stress the importance of being oneself. Too many people lose themselves in hope of blending into the society. They erase their individuality due to their choice of conforming to mundanity. However, neither Azalea nor Bruce conformed to the crowd. On the other hand, they remained true to themselves. Sometimes “strength” refers not to physical power but rather to spiritual dominance over the shallow, foolish majority.

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

The First Buds of Spring is my third-published novel. I released it in June, while I had three releases in July—War of the Chaotic Worlds I, War of the Chaotic Worlds II, and Heart of the Forest. The former two are the third books of the Otherworld Trilogy. Apart from the titles mentioned above, I also have three other books contracted—Once Upon an Enchantress, Helen’s Tale, and Eric’s Tale, the latter two being companion novels to the Otherworld Trilogy. While Zack’s Tale and Eileen’s Tale, also companion novels, are awaiting contract, I finished another book yesterday titled Where the Magic Lies, a YA fantasy romance about a girl being forced to marry a fairy prince to atone for her mother’s sin. I’m hoping to self-publish it in August. Right now I might start a novel about a lost siren finding love.

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Seventeen-year-old Azalea Wood is everything the girls at Lakebay High aspire to be—popular, beautiful, and perfect. Yet deep down, she desires someone who adores her for whom she truly is rather than the façade she displays on the outside. Fortunately, the arrival of a new boy by the name of Bruce Green flips her fate. Creative, caring, and considerate, he is everything Azalea has wished for. Embarking on a rocky journey of friendship with more than its fair share of bumps and bends, the two of them soon become more than friends. As their relationship solidifies, however, Azalea finds herself dealing with conundrums and dilemmas she never imagined she would be facing. When the revelation of the Greens’ family secret propels her to confront a difficult truth, Azalea learns to grasp and appreciate the meaning of love and makes a decision that will change her life forever.

The First Buds of Spring 

High schooler Azalea Wood leads a double life. By day, she is a mean popular girl. By night, she morphs into a lonely artist. Ever since her family perished in a car accident, Azalea feels lost and can’t seem to fit in with her group of friends. So she forgoes her role as the “alpha” female when she meets Bruce Green, a mysterious transfer. Bound by their mutual love or creating art, they find themselves falling in love. But as their relationship blossoms, Bruce’s veiled past worries Azalea. Who is Bruce, and what is he hiding from her?

Author Hermione Lee’s The First Buds of Spring is a beautifully written story with likable characters. Lee has done an outstanding job using language and sentence structure to build suspense and tension. You can’t help but be intrigued by the plot and characters. Lee’s descriptions of Azalea’s phony friends added substantially to the plot development and helped showcase how Azalea doesn’t fit in with their crowd.

The lighthearted, effortless dialogue between Bruce and Azalea contributes to their budding relationship and allows readers to fall in love with their love. Azalea’s dual identity is perfectly written as we see her character’s internal struggles to mask her loneliness and her need for someone to like the real her. I enjoyed watching Azalea’s character change and develop for the better throughout the story. Her character embodies what many teens feel in high school and how we put on a façade to hide who we really are out of fear. Lee’s writing shines in her character development, making this a relatable read and book that is hard to put down.

Lee has constructed a wildly entertaining love story with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy a fantasy YA novel that will take them on a whimsical adventure.

Pages: 311 | ASIN : B0B4MX4J9L

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