Children of the Elements follows four children as they discover magical abilities only revealed when they come together. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this novel?
I really don’t know where the idea came from. I was super into Harry Potter, and I was seriously just laying on the floor one day and thought of it. When I finally started writing, I had been thinking about it for like two years and slowly building up a story line.
I felt that the characters were well developed and changed with the story. What were some driving ideals behind their characters?
Well, Brenna was the most like me, so she was easy. Dimitri was a lot like my “best friend” at the time. Adara is sort of the person I think I am growing into (my mom totally says so!), and Wyndham is kinda me when I am around new people!
What has been a motivating factor for you to become a young writer and how has your family supported you?
My mom published books that were doing really well, and I was like, “I wanna do that!” Then my mom gave me a copy of her friend’s daughter’s book (The Fairies of Waterfall Island by Emma Sumner who was only eight at the time), and I knew I could do it too!
But my mom kept on me because I get distracted easily. She’s a book editor and owns an editing company, so she helped me plot out the milestones and character arches and helped a LOT with vocabulary and avoiding repetition–like everything ending with “said.” Cuz I do that a lot…
This is book one in a series. Where will book two take readers and when will it be available?
Well, it’s gonna show us life in the Realm of the Gods and why it’s WAY more boring when everything is perfect! Dimitri is the main character in Book Two instead of Brenna. There will also be four new elemental characters (hint: rhymes with schragons!). And there will actually be four books total. With each Devins kid as the protagonist. I finished the rough draft already, but now it’s going through my mom before it goes through the rest of her editing team. Editing Book One took almost six months, so I guess I will be lucky to get it out by the end of this summer (2019), but that’s the goal. I hope to have Books Three and Four done by the end of 2019 too.
When twin girls, Brenna and Adara, move from posh Victorian England to a humble farmhouse in America, they quickly notice that all is no longer as it seems…
While Brenna has always had an affinity for water and Adara has always loved fire, the girls now discover they have some sort of CONTROL over these elements as well!
They learn how true this is when they meet another set of twins—boys named Dimitri and Wyndham who also live in their new town.
When the four children get together magical things start to happen!
But they aren’t the only ones who know about this power now…
Something sinister has been lurking in the town waiting for the moment the four children finally activate their newfound abilities.
You’ll love this magical steampunk fantasy by a child-author because of the lovable characters and non-stop action!
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.
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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Three Burning Red Runaway Brides finds Sabrina fighting for her life as she’s trying to save millions of others. How did you envision starting this novel and how did that change as you wrote?
I had a very sturdy thread I was connecting books one and two together with, and that thread only gets stronger with book three.
I wanted to build the story to a place Sabrina had not yet been. She was on top again. The object of desire, a leader—someone people listened to and respected. She was in control, but still had this one obstacle looming in the distance. This one last thing to overcome before she could finally rest and fully enjoy her new status.
I envisioned starting this novel off with a bang… (insert smirk here). And that is exactly how I started it off. (insert giggle here).
This novel did not change much from what I envisioned. The only thing I had to decide, before I got to the end, was how to end it. I had three outcomes in my mind. And juggled them. I wrote three endings and gave them all to my editor and proofreader and a trusted friend. I wanted to see how they felt.
As it turns out, the book ends as I originally envisioned it…with a couple tweaks.
I am happy with this book. It concludes the story of Sabrina while opening the world more and beginning the story of another character. I plan on writing more books. This series, The Water Kingdom, is done. The next books will be in the other Kingdoms: Fire, Air, Earth.
We get to learn more about who Dunyasha is, her past and how she became the cursed undead. Was this something you already had developed or was it something you started exploring in this book?
The elder vampire Dunyasha was always meant to be something more. But I did not know what the was until book two: TWO POLLUTED BLACK-HEART ROMANCES. In book three, I finally spill the beans and reveal it all. At the same time, I leave a little mystery surrounding her, because she will be the focus of the next series.
Dunyasha was fun to write in THREE BURNING RED RUNAWAY BRIDES. In fact, she was more fun to write in this book than the others. In many ways, I am sad to see the “old” Dunyasha go. Or should I say see the “old” Dunyasha back?
What is a scene from the book that was particularly challenging for you to write?
The end. As I said before, I had three versions in my head. One version was much-much longer. And had an entirely different outcome. It was brutal and ugly. But I wasn’t sure readers would enjoy it. It felt right to me, but it was like taking your favorite childhood toy and selling it. Sure, you can use the money for other things you want now, but you might miss that toy and want it back. I was torn. Do I keep that ending or not?
I wrote the three endings. And rewrote them. And edited them. And rewrote them. I picked my favorite and edited it more. Added dialogue. Removed dialogue. I struggled and I normally don’t struggle at writing at all, so I knew it must have been important.
After some feedback and some time to think, I picked an ending and edited and polished it again and again.
I think in the end; my characters are all where they should be. In some ways…many ways, they get what they deserve.
Where will the next book in the series pick up and when will it be available?
This series, The Water Kingdom Series, is done. It was a trilogy. One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail. Two Polluted Black-Heart Romances and Three Burning Red Runaway Brides.
The next series will be another trilogy. The Elemental Kingdom Series. And it will have one book each for the Fire, Air, and Earth Kingdoms. These books will show how the events in the Water Kingdom have rippled across the Elemental world. Each Kingdom will have a story to tell.
I think that will bring it all to an end. But then again, I might write some supplemental short stories.
The next book will not come out until 2020-2021. I will start writing it next year. I am writing the sequel to another book right now, one you reviewed and loved, THE LIFEBLOOD OF ILL-FATED WOMEN. That sequel is long overdue. Not George R.R. long overdue…but still…way late.
Sabrina London is back! The fate of the Elemental Kingdoms rests in the hands of its newest ruler: Sabrina London. When last seen, the fairy princess had made a deal with the King of Filth to save the lives of her friends. Now she is fighting to live the life she wants while trying to save the lives of millions. A monster, more dangerous than any other she has overcome threatens both the human and non-human world. How will she restore the balance? Despite the risks, Sabrina enlists the aid of one of her people’s biggest rivals. She has spun a complex web of lies and deception, now trying to gain her freedom, unaware that everyone she allies with has their own plans.
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The Dragon Shifters at Southgate is the second book in your Seer Series. Was this a natural continuation of the first book or did you want things to develop organically while writing?
All the novels in The Seers Series are part of the same over-arching story. While they each have a complete storyline in themselves, they leave a bigger question open to be answered down the road as the series ties up. They are all pieces of the puzzle that will come together to form a complete picture in the end. Readers will see this especially in the last planned book of the series.
That said, there are some things I don’t plan down to the minute details while I am outlining and planning, because there are aspects I want to occur more organically. This is especially true for conversations between main characters, for example. I know where I want a scene to go, but I try to let dialogue occur naturally, so to speak. How would this one character, for example, respond to what another character says of does? Obviously, there is “craft” in the formulation of every scene, but I don’t want to force words or actions on a character who wouldn’t naturally say or do them just for the sake of meeting a certain end.
The lore surrounding the ley lines and dragonkin is intricate and well developed. What is your strategy for building your world?
To bring it right down to the basics, it all needs to make sense to me. Even if the readers don’t get to see all the details or know all the background, I need to answer those questions for myself—the ones I wonder about when I read fantasy novels with different characters and magical systems.
I am a huge fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and the intricacies of his world-building. If you read his lesser known works, such as The Silmarillion, you can see the detail he goes into, right down to how/why Middle Earth was formed, why humans and elves are different, why elves are immortal and so on. The Silmarillion reads almost like a history book. While I don’t believe today’s readers need to know all the details and history of the world and the magic system you are building, if an author has a solid grasp on those elements themselves, they can create better and more realistic worlds—and with fewer plot holes. It might be a magical, impossible world, but if it makes a kind of logical sense then the reader will be more able to relate to it and it will feel more believable.
This was a belief I’d formed over time, being a fan of authors who themselves create well-developed and intricate worlds and magical systems, such as Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. Then, while I was writing The Dragon Shifters at Southgate, I came across Brandon Sanderson’s Laws of Magic. It was a concise way of verbalizing what makes a magical system work. I try to keep these laws—and all the lessons I’ve learned from the masters over time—in mind when I create my own worlds and their lore.
What served as sources of inspiration for you while writing?
Inspiration comes from all over, really. I write in the fantasy genre, but I am often inspired by real-world issues. For example, I try to make gender a non-issue in my books because I believe it should be a non-issue in the real world. Discrimination and segregation based on race is also an issue in my books, because I want to express my belief that we are all equal. Yes, people have differences, but people should be judged on their merits, not on some preconceived notions that don’t really have a place in our modern world. Yes, there may be differences, but why not look to how those differences can compliment each other and add strength to the whole?
If you’ve been following politics and have been active on social media at all, I’m sure you can see that there are a number of things that have taken place over the past couple of years—and things that are still taking place—that have inspired me to make that point even more.
I also find inspiration in books I read, interactions I see at home or on the street, music I hear and so on. Anything from the smallest little details to the largest world issues can be inspiration, really. You never know when inspiration will strike. You just have to be open to seeing it and to using it when it happens.
Where will book three in the series pickup and when will it be available?
Book three picks up with the third seer champion, Edan Carr, and his journeys and struggles as he attempts to fulfil his part and his responsibilities in preparing the realm for what’s to come. As the champion of Westgate, he will be traveling to that gate-town to protect it and its keystone, but he will get waylaid along the way.
There will be a lot of internal angst in this book, as there was in the first two books, but it will be of a different sort. We will meet shifter species that weren’t seen in the first two books. We will also see a lot more of the Dark Sorcerer and learn a lot more about him. We’ll see the beginnings of the “full” story and get a deeper peek into what drives him.
The third book, The Warrior of Westgate, will be available in the fall of 2019.
A Seer Champion sworn to protect Southgate. A Dragon Shifter Lord sworn to protect his clan. Can they bring their peoples together to defeat the evil forces that threaten to destroy them all?
Seer Champion Talwyn Sevi must protect Southgate and its keystone against the evil forces that threaten their destruction. Knowing she cannot do it alone, she seeks help from a group of reclusive Dragon Shifters. In return, she offers them information vital to their survival. Can Talwyn gain the Dragon Lord’s trust in time to save Southgate and the dragonkin?
The Land of Ick and Eck follows Harlot’s strange encounters as she travels through a strange land. What was the inspiration for the setup to this intriguing story?
I’m fascinated by children’s stories that are strange and make you think, “Wait, What? Haha, did that just happen?!” Victorian literature for children, as well as older versions of fairy tales, are where I found inspiration for the setup up of this book; they so often make you take a step back, laugh, think, and then continue on with curiosity. These stories can sometimes be whimsically mature, exploring violence, sexuality, and/or morality in creative, imaginative ways. Not treating children like delicate sugar-flakes and allowing for such content adds so much depth to the meanings and understanding of the stories, something I have found difficult to come across in modern children’s literature.
So when I started writing, I wanted it to be something that that gave me similar feelings to when I read older, bizarre fairy tales. I wanted it to take place in a strange world, where things were non-sense, but also made sense if you had the knowledge to understand what was happening, especially when the reader becomes aware of the innuendos. Like many episodic folkloric tales, there is much more than what lies on the service, multiple understandings; that is what I really enjoy about such types of stories. This is one of them.
The world that you’ve built is enthralling and curious to say the least. What were some sources of inspiration for when creating this world?
Reading literature about/from the faerie, medieval, Georgian, and Victorian world was where some of my inspirations came from. I would often find myself reading, for example, faerie lore and tales, medieval fabliaux and chivalric romances, and strange episodic stories that involve children, such as Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird (a modern tale). I wanted to create something like Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, but darker and with more macabre and questionable situations.
The realm of Ick and Eck needed to somewhere that made sense not necessarily for the human world but in the faerie world. It was to be a place that the mind of an imaginative child could easily follow and bring to life, but for adults, things might seem a little off (unless they still have the child within them). It needed to be absurd, but penetrable if you put yourself in a different sort of mind-set. To get this inspiration, I often found myself delving into the artworks of Brian Froud and other artists who have continued to add to the world of faeries and fantasy, also mixing them with some of my other interests.
One of those curiosities was religion. There are many religious characters in the book, ranging from the fat-Friar, empty moon creatures, Crowned-Alter-Fops, gluttonous monks, to name a few; I enjoy studying Abrahamic religious texts, traditions, as well as medieval stories of how clergy use power to control others. Several scenes in the book comment on these injustices, but they are mixed in with the faerie world to create a more folkloric feeling. Truth be told, no hesitation of satire was taken.
Another source of inspiration was the study of medieval and Victorian prostitution. As a reader would observe, the protagonist’s name is Harlot; yes, the story does indeed explore the ideas of a dark side of history, as well as a subject very much alive today. From the exploration of courtly love and the desperate knights in need of a doctor’s (i.e. a beautiful woman) cure to save them from love sickness, to the poetic grocery-list like booklets of women found in Harris’s List of the Covent Garden Ladies, these studies were an essential backbone and driving force of inspiration. The story is a critique of this behaviour. It is meant to bring light to a subject so many people want to hide.
The introduction of the book lays this out:
- Into a land of fantasy
- With haste we cast them all aside
- No tearing if you cannot see
- That is what we all make-believe
My list of inspiration could keep going on, so I will stop before I get carried away even more.
Harlot is a curious and innocent character that I found endearing. What were some driving ideals behind the character?
I wanted to create a character that constantly found interest in novel things, while at the same time never really learns much from their experiences. Even after Harlot is assaulted at the beginning of the book (i.e. her blue flower), deceived, used, and treated as inferior, she continues on. Some say this might be a weakness, others a strength, that is for the reader to decide.
I have found it quite funny though, how some people really like Harlot, while others really do not. Some like her curious and innocent perspective, while others think she is rude and inconsiderate, and do not want their children to read about her because she is a negative role model.
In any event, what drives Harlot is her curiosity, her unwavering innocence, and her ability to navigate such a strange place, the land of Ick and Eck. She is such a strong character, a feature I have seen in people who have been abused. I can never understand their strength. They are stronger than I could ever be.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I am currently working on a couple projects, but I am a very slow writer. It took me eight years to be contempt enough to pursue publishing The Land of Ick and Eck: Harlot’s Encounters. But in any event, I am working on a continuation to The Land of Ick and Eck, per say, following a girl named Perfume, as well in another section about Harlot. Each are separate and different stories, written in different styles, but in a way they meet together through common characters, situations, and absurdities.
I am quite excited about it, though I do not know how long it will take to complete.
A much too trusting Harlot finds herself in the preyful Land of Ick and Eck, a place where she encounters peculiar creatures that have the most awful intensions of the carnal sort. By happenstance, she finds the company of a Ground Faerie, a Wood and Water Nymph, and a Butter-Maiden to assist her (sort of) along the way.
But Alas! How the outlandish figures are quite the handful, ranging from the likes of Spriggans, the-man-with-a-can-for-a-head, Jaw Skins, to Alter-Fops, a knight of courtly love, and a Nigwig (to name a few). Thankfully, there are moments of repose, such as those with the band of eunuchs with sacs on their heads, the beautiful Milk-Maidens, and the adventures within the Faerie Ring.
Though the bombardments continue to pursue her, Harlot’s innocent temperament, irrational faith, and devotion to feeding her curiosity provokes her forward, and thus her true strengths are revealed within the Land of Ick and Eck.
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Brenna and Adara are twins living in England that spend their days with tutors and fancy automated machines. When not working on their schooling they’re reading from the Grimoire. From the Grimoire they learn of the Elemental Gods and pretend they were them. It wasn’t until they moved to Massachusetts that they began to realize they were different. On their first day of school they meet twin boys, Dimitri and Wyndham that share their same last name, Devins, as well as strange white streaks of hair. From there they realize they all have over-sized pets, a toad, lizard, owl and rat that just found the children and attached themselves to them. Slowly as they get to know each other they develop strange powers, telepathy, the ability to control elements, and the mysterious Grimoire that each has a part of starts morphing before their eyes. What does it all mean? How are they connected? Why are strange things happening to them? What happens when the stories they read as children suddenly start coming to life?
Children of the Elements by Ora Wanders, is set in a steampunk reality of the semi modern world. There are parts that remind me of early frontier times, the one room school house, the simple country life, but then she adds in the steampunk elements of automated machinery and clothing choices. It is a mix of modern and old and blends together in a fascinating way that makes sense to the story line. Each set of twins have similar backgrounds, only one parent, both moving from homes with lots of machinery to a simpler life and only bringing a few things with them, the Grimoire that seems incomplete to each set. When they meet, it is literally like puzzle pieces fitting together. The story is exceptionally well written and everything flows naturally and story elements occur organically. I could picture the characters clearly, the bickering and playing around that you expect from young adults comes out. I found it all relatable, even in the magical setting.
This was a book that I didn’t want to put down. The plot moves quickly, the character development is integrated with the plot, so you’re not weighed down with back stories and character development early on. All that information comes out as you meet the characters and see them interacting with their pets, teacher, and each other. They are typical teenagers with attitudes and short tempers, but you see them grow from the early pages to the end. Without giving away key elements, I can say that all four children are able to grow and see their potential while still retaining a child like wonder of the world. It has all the elements a reader of fantasy could want; magic, conflict, family drama, growth, and an open ending to continue the saga.
One of the most amazing things about this novel is the author. Ora Wanders is only ten years old! I could not believe this when I finished the novel and wanted to learn more about the author because I loved the book that much. I am looking forward to the second book in the series and much more from this amazing young lady.
Pages: 310 | ISBN: 1797718002
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The Love of Gods, written by Tarrant Smith is the first book in the paranormal romance series, The Legends of the Pale.
The story is an intriguing combination of a murder mystery and love story. As with any good romance, the story has a masculine hero – Lugos. Despite being a god, Lugos prefers the company of humans. Whilst Lugo is investigating the death of a high-ranking witch his relationship with Keely Ann Lee, a Southern bar tender develops from a simple friendship into romance. Unbeknownst to Keely, Lugos has loved her over several different lifetimes. This time, he will do all he can to protect this mere mortal.
The story is set in Pale, which are a group of supernatural communities, but the characters are spread over different physical locations including Ireland and America.
There is a large and daunting cast of characters, which appear and disappear throughout the book. The author provides a comprehensive character list at the beginning, which is appreciated, but flipping back and forth gets a bit disruptive. The number of characters is further complicated by the fact that these are paranormal characters such as demons, witches, gods, shifters, demigoddesses and familiars. Each character has their own special powers as well as personality and location. That said, it did not take long to get my head around the number of characters and any fan of epic expansive fantasy novels will appreciate the intricate backstory that Tarrant Smith ha created.
Interwoven into the story are both paranormal and human experiences. Characters constantly move from using human technology such as cell phones, luxury cars, classic cars, security systems and Google maps to teleportation and shape shifting. They move from the mundane such as using passports to shifting from human form to animal form. This adds interest and intrigue and ensures the story is fast moving.
The dialogue between characters is rich and realistic and enhances the relationship between characters. The tale is also enhanced with some interesting metaphors, for example, Keely is described at one point as “a puddle of need”; which is my new favorite phrase.
The Love of Gods is a well written story. The dialogue is engrossing and most of the characters and their loyalties are intricate but explained in depth. Both the love story and the mystery will keep you guessing until the end.
Pages: 268 | ASIN: B07PWB8V36
Tags: A Gina Myoko Mystery, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, ebook, epic fantasy, fantasy, fiction, god, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love, love story, magic, mystery, nook, novel, occult, paranormal, publishing, read, reader, reading, romance, shelfari, smashwords, story, supernatural, Tarrant Smith, The Love of Gods, witch, wizard, writer, writer community, writing
The Immortal Queen follows first, the life of Endya, an elven warrior with demon magic. Although plagued with prejudices, Endya finds her soulmate and becomes a leader that the kingdom of Sundregham never wanted. Elizabeth, on the other hand, grew up on Earth with a normal life. Her own nightmares reveal to her that life on earth is about to be thrust into chaos. Both women are needed as dark forces seek to end all of existence. Worlds collide and every kind of magic imaginable is released on Earth as war begins. Even the gods themselves are on the edge of their seats as the final encounter arises.
The Immortal Queen has the potential to be a best selling fantasy novel. Complete with magic and guns, queens and intrigue, even gods and demons. This book combines lore from several fantasy sub-genres and mashes them into one, making this a highly ambitious epic fantasy novel. However, at times I felt that there was too much going on in this story and felt like some things were not explained completely. While the magic in itself isn’t always meant to be understood, I would have liked to have a better understanding of how things worked because what is presented is intriguing.
As the story jumps from scene to scene with little background information, I spent my time trying to figure out where and when a scene took place. This is exacerbated by the fact that halfway through the story all the main characters names were changed.
The Immortal Queen has huge potential to be on par with other high fantasy novels, which is a genre I enjoy. I love it when worlds collide and there are seemingly infinite types of magic. Near the end of the book, dragon riders were even introduced and I almost squealed in delight. There is a constant stream of action throughout the story that kept me interested and was one of the main factors in getting me flipping pages.
Pages: 426 | ASIN: B07N1PW8KL
Tags: alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, demons, ebook, epic fantasy, fantasy, fiction, gods, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, medieval, nook, novel, publishing, read, reader, reading, s.l. marshall, shelfari, sl marshall, smashwords, story, The Immortal Queen, war, writer, writer community, writing
The Winter of Swords starts when Eisa is snatched by a monster which begins the convergence of several different characters. What was the inspiration for this thrilling story?
The story was originally inspired by a song: “Protectors of the Earth” by Two Steps from Hell. I visualized a scene in a forest clearing, where an army of dark creatures, led by a terrifying six-limbed beast, faced off against a massive wolf. I wrote the sequence with the intention of having my protagonist realize that he shares a magical bond with this wolf (a spirit guardian of nature). After finishing the chapter, the story took off in a completely different direction. I’d been reading a lot of fantasy at the time, and struggled with the disappointment that so much of it was the same, and not just tropes, but theme, archetypes, and even magical creatures. I was tired of dragons and elves especially, but also of questing heroes. I wanted cool new beasts, but more so, I was looking for something that would terrify me. The answer was Doombringer – whose physical presence might only be surpassed by his cunning and intellect. I wanted a creature that characters can’t simply run away and hide from, but one that watches, understands, and hunts them. I structured the beginning of the story differently, too, as I wanted to defy expectation and convention. And heh, everyone loves a good twist! Eisa, Hunter, and Luca are integral to the overall arc in the series, but their stories don’t necessarily move as most people expect. A seemingly routine trip into the wilds to collect resources proves to be the catalyst for a much grander story in scope and scale.
There’s an assortment of varied and well-developed characters in this novel, and I found everyone to be interesting. Who was your favorite character to write for?
This is a hard question to answer, as I love all of my characters. In fact, it feels like trying to single out one of your children as your favorite. But if I had to choose, I would say that Roman is my favorite to write. As you discover in The Winter of Swords, he has a fairly tragic backstory. To me, Roman represents resiliency, honor, and an unflappable sense of nobility. He’s introspective, shy, and a bit socially dysfunctional, but it’s his relationship with his adoptive companion, Tusk, that makes him so loveable. So many people struggle to fit in, and Roman is no different. I think that, in part, is why his interactions with Dennah are so much fun for me to write. You get to see how two people from vastly different upbringings can bond and find mutual ground. I don’t want to spoil anything, but Roman is also probably the most complicated character in the series – for reasons people will see by the time they finish Before the Crow. Beyond Roman, another of my favorites was Balin – a slippery rogue in Gladeus’ employ. In the original draft of the book, Balin appeared for a total of two or three paragraphs. By the time I finished the draft I was so enamored with him and his story that I had to go back and expand on him as a character. I think those morally gray characters can add such a wonderfully complicated dynamic to the story.
I enjoyed the in depth world building in this book. What were some themes you wanted to capture while creating your world?
I wanted to present the concept of the “ancient evil returned to threaten the world”, but wanted to avoid the “good vs evil” light fights the dark, or the evil lord who refuses to die returns once again to enslave the world, tropes that were prevalent in Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and so many others. That in part is why the readers get to see the antagonists, too. By seeing their rebirth, understanding a bit about their fall, and their motivations and aspirations, I think it makes the conflict a little richer. I’m also a huge nerd for history. So much of the back-story in Denoril is shades of feudal Europe, the protestant migration to the new world, the concept of world war, and the effect of colonialism on indigenous people, and abolition of slavery. The theme of indigenous people plays out in with the dalan – a magical people readers don’t necessarily get to meet until a little further into the series. I think it’s worth the wait!
This is book one in the Overthrown series. What can readers expect in book two, Before the Crow?
Oh, boy! That’s the question. The Winter of Swords really sets the stage, but like so many introductory volumes, it scrambles things up and tears the characters down. Before the Crow picks right up where Swords ends in that regard, so it is definitely “binge ready”. The conflict deepens and spreads, but the cat is out of the bag to an extent, so we get to see how some of our characters start to deal with the threat, but also what might set them apart from everyone else, and in the end, help them become the heroes Denoril needs so badly. For people who read through to the end of Winter of Swords, I strongly suggest they go right into Before the Crow. They just might find some events at the end of the second book incredibly rewarding!
An intelligent, six-limbed beast snatches a girl away from her family.
An orphan confronts the darkness in his past, while a menace stalks his small town.
A young woman cast into servitude tries to forge her own path in an unforgiving world.
And an inexperienced soldier following the path of honor and duty comes face to face with a foe born from his worst nightmares.
Seemingly unconnected, this small group of normal folk will fight to survive, for an ancient evil has awakened, and Denoril will need heroes if it is to endure The Winter of Swords.
Posted in Interviews
Tags: Aaron Bunce, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, dark fantasy, ebook, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, ilovebooks, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, magic, military, mystery, nook, novel, overthrown, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, sword and sorcery, The Winter of Swords, writer, writer community, writing
Journey to Osm follows the story of Blue, a young unicorn with a big destiny. Blue is part of a tribe of unicorns going extinct under the harsh rule of an evil sorcerer. A prophecy foretells that Blue will save them but when he is born without metal in his horn, and thus without magic, all hope is lost. When Blue comes of age at 12, he is faced with destiny but how can a magicless unicorn have any hope of saving his tribe?
The book is a fun and unique YA fantasy novel. I really loved the unicorn-centric view of the story. Unicorns are often left out or less significant in fantasy stories, and I think this is a waste of a fun and interesting creature. Author Sybrina Durant furthers this by taking an intriguing twist and really exploring the magic of the unicorns as well as what unicorn civilization looks like. I really loved the world she created with the metal symbol of magic and the hierarchy that creates and the different powers that the magical unicorns possess. With an evil sorcerer, a prophecy, a fight against good and evil, this all adds up to an imaginative and exciting fantasy world.
The plot of the book is that of the underdog character finding strength against evil. Blue is a very sympathetic character through this journey as he is young, sweet, and very strong-willed. From the very beginning of the book you can see how hurt he is that he doesn’t think he can save his people, reciting his mantra ‘No Metal, No Magic.’ But even with this, he does not give up. He trains hard even when he thinks there is no chance. This self-determination in the café of certain failure really endeared Blue to me as a character. Silubhra was also a character that I grew very fond of as she was so compassionate and kind. There are a lot of characters in the story, but I think the author did a good job of making them unique and interesting and I liked how we get to see multiple perspectives.
This book is an exciting fantasy story. Filled with adventure, magic, love, loss, hope, action, and destiny. The story came together well and kept me engaged in the plot from beginning to end. The book is a great read, particularly for young adult readers who love fantasy stories.
Pages: 353 | ASIN: B07LDKX25N
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, destiny, ebook, epic fantasy, exploration, fairy tale, fantasy, fiction, goodreads, hope, ilovebooks, indiebooks, Journey to Osm, kindle, kobo, literature, loss, love, magic, myth, nook, novel, prophecy, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, sybrina durant, The Blue Unicorns Tale, unicorn, writer, writer community, writing, YA, young adult