A Chronicle of Rebirth: The Magus is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a romance, fantasy, and suspense as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
The Fantasy genre crossing with the romance genre was deliberate. I had always felt as though there could be more books with those two genres mixing. As for the suspense aspect, it was entirely organic. Originally, the project was started by me and then my husband and co-author James joined me. We had never thought of our writing as suspense, but we are happy that we achieved that with our story.
Nelina and the Magus are both interesting and well developed characters. What was your inspiration for their characters and their relationship?
The characters were developed slowly over the years. My Husband developed the character Ru’ark while playing Dungeons & Dragons and kept the character through his years of gaming. Nelina developed as a mix of several of the characters I have played over the years. Their relationship is in part a reflection of the relationship my Husband and I have together. We always love each other and have one another’s back. However, unfortunately neither of us have any magical smoke ability. One other correlation to Nelina and Ru’ark is how fast they fell in love. My husband and I met because I read his poetry online. After talking on the phone, he hopped on a Greyhound bus a few days later and travelled from Maine to Illinois to meet me. The moment he stepped off the bus, he swept me off my feet and kissed me before even saying hello. Well, last August 4th 2017 was our 11 year wedding anniversary, so 12 years in total we’ve been together.
What was the writing process like for the two of you working as a team? How do you toss around ideas and decide on what goes in the story?
Our story goes through a basic brainstorming process, which tends to involve Dunkin Donuts and coffee. At first, as we toss ideas back and forth sort of sketching out the outline for the book, then depending on what chapters call to one of us, that person will write the rough draft. From there we pass the it back and forth, adding things and removing parts until we are both happy with the finished product. The ideas that tend to stick are the ones that fit the story most. We have a simple credo that we write by- it’s all about the story. If either one of us feels that a part of the draft doesn’t serve the story as a whole, then it gets nixed.
This is book one in the series. Where does book two take readers and when will it be available?
In Book two, the readers will learn that Nelina’s promised powers at the end of book one are not quite what the Magus expected them to be. Also, they will be learning what is happening back in Danthamore with the Queen ruling her kingdom without the Magus exercising his influence. Plus, readers will find out what has become of Elian, Adar, and Claire. Malark and the Outlander will definitely be making an appearance in the second book as they journey out of the Waste. I’d love to be able to give a solid date to book two’s release, but I simply don’t have one to give other than in 2018. What I can say is that the book is worked on every single day, barring emergencies and natural disasters. So far, we are half way done with the 1st draft.
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Song follows Rayph Ivoryfist as he gathers his friends to return the prisoners that escaped from Mending Keep. What was your inspiration for the setup of the story and how did that help you create the ending?
It’s a simple idea. There’s a prison break. The worst criminals in the world are released, and one man takes it upon himself, with no funding and no support from the crown, to hunt these fugitives down and end their reign of terror. It’s an idea we’ve seen before, but I got stuck on it, and I thought, “What would make this idea different?” I realized the thing I wanted to focus on was the characters themselves, their relationships, and the relentless nature of their leader. It’s not a crime story. We’ve seen crime stories. Song is an exploration of friendship. So that’s what I focused on. I’ve always had this idea that if real trouble ever hit, I could call on a small collection of men and women who surround me to face off any horror that entered my life. And I think it’s not unique to me. I think everybody has that group of people, that if things really went bad, they could call on to help them fight their way out of it. This book is a love story to that kind of friendship. It asks the question, “If my back was against the wall, and I desperately needed help, who would I call on?”
When you first sat down to write this story, did you know where you were going, or did the twists come as you were writing?
When I started writing the story, I had the prison break. I had the characters of the Manhunters themselves, and I had the villains. But when I write all my books, I do not know exactly how it will end or how the plot will progress. All of that comes to me as I write. This book just kept surprising me. I would write a scene and see that it was going in a completely different direction. I would write something and see a twist coming down the road. I let a friend read this book before it was published. His criticism of the book was that it paid off too many times. He said it reaches one climax after the next. I think Song is unique in the fact that I spend 250 pages setting up four different climaxes. But it wasn’t planned. The book is just complex.
As always, your characters are thoroughly developed. What is your writing process like for creating characters?
When I write a character, I like to do away with all archetypes. I think they get in the way. When I meet somebody in real life, I don’t think to myself, “Oh, that person is an underdog.” or “Oh, I know people like this. This guy is a survivor.” Those aren’t the kind of things that hit me when I meet someone. So why would I think that when creating a character? A lot of people talk about knowing the motivation of your characters. But motivation is pliable. I can tell you why Rayph does a thing because I want him to do it. The traits I like to concentrate on are my characters’ hang-ups, the things that bother them, the things they cannot tolerate. I think too often writers create characters in a bubble. They try to describe their character in artificial terms. They create a character outline or a character spreadsheet. They try to create their character in a sterile environment. But that’s not how we get to know people. I like to think about character creation as going to a soup kitchen and meeting people there. Real lives, real problems.
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
Well it’s already written. The entire Manhunters series is completed. I will be doing some rewrites and final touch-ups of course, but the story’s already been told. The second book in the series comes out April 15th. It’s called Hemlock, named after the city that is the poison capital of my world. In this story, the main villains the Manhunters find themselves up against are vampires. These are not vampires as we know them in the modern world. I took inspiration for my vampires from the original legends. This is before Anne Rice, stories centuries older than Bram Stoker. In the original vampire legends, they were all monsters. No good, no mystery, no romance, just vicious monsters. When they were hungry, they were pale. After they fed, they took on a ruddy complexion. And when they were full, they were a close shade of purple, because their bodies were suffused with blood. My vampires are old and powerful, nearly immortal, and diabolical. Vampirism spreads like a poison, like a plaque, and the Manhunters fight to stem the tide. So look for it April 15, 2018.
Some of the darkest minds in Perilisc attacked Mending Keep, releasing all its prisoners. Despite his strained relationship with the crown, Rayph Ivoryfist calls old friends to his aid in a subversive attempt to protect King Nardoc and thwart terrorist plots to ruin the Festival of Blossoms. But someone else is targeting Rayph, and even his fellow Manhunters might not be enough to save him.
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Steel, Blood and Fire is a genre-crossing novel with elements of a fantasy, military, and history as well. Did you start writing with this in mind, or did this happen organically as you were writing?
I was, in part, inspired by Glenn Cook’s Black Company series, along with the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson. So much so that I wanted to try my own hand at it.
I found Vykers to be a very well written and in depth character. What was your inspiration for his emotional turmoil through the story?
Here, I think I was most inspired by Odysseus, and his long journey home from Troy. Vykers has a lot of Odysseus’ arrogance — and deadly competence, as well.
The supporting characters in this novel, I felt, were intriguing and well developed. Who was your favorite character to write for?
That’s a tough one! Of course Vykers is fun to write. But so is Rem, the actor. That character allowed me to poke fun at the acting profession and relive a few of my own foibles. Then there is Spirk, the idiot. I have a special place in my heart for characters who are not quite up-to-speed, for want of a better term. He also provides a lot of the story’s comic relief. Finally, Aoife was enjoyable for me, because she reminds me of my sisters and wife, to some degree. I really liked looking at the story through her Earth Mother’s eyes.
I understand that you’re also an actor and stand-up comedian. How have those experiences helped you write your stories?
I think those things definitely shape my voice as a writer, the way I hear dialogue, and indulge in opportunities to shameless nonsense. But being an actor has also given me a fair amount of experience wielding a long sword, which comes in handy when writing fight scenes.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Actually, you have (kindly) review the first book in an existing four-book series. Steel, Blood & Fire is followed by As Flies to Wanton Boys, Corpse Cold, and, most recently, The Abject God. I am currently working on the series finale, The End of All Things, which I expect will to release in late 2018.
On the march, around the campfire, and in the taverns, they tell incredible stories about Tarmun Vykers, the Reaper – how he’s never been cut in battle, how he once defeated hundreds of men by himself, how he exterminated an entire people over an insult. These stories make Vykers seem like a god, but he is a man, an arrogant, ruthless and bloodthirsty man. For all that, he may be the only thing standing between the human race and utter annihilation at the hands of the mad wizard who calls himself the End-of-All-Things. Against this backdrop, smaller, lesser folks struggle to fulfill their own destinies, folks like Aoife, burdened with a secret so dark she is driven to do the unimaginable and seek an alliance with fey powers no mortal has ever encountered.
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Dark, gritty, and altogether brutal, Steel, Blood and Fire is an archetypal dark fantasy novel. In the first chapter, one of the main character’s hands and feet are amputated, and the story continues in similar fashion from there onward. The setting is fantasy grounded in muddy reality, although there is a vein of consequential magic that adds a little sorcery to this otherwise swords-based world. If you’re familiar with Game of Thrones then you’re familiar with Allen Betchelder’s style; multiple character perspectives, inter-weaved story lines, and a healthy dose of murder. It’s a fantastic modern-style medieval fantasy, and a definite read for any fan of the genre.
When I began Steel, Blood and Fire, my first thought was, “Wow, this is a lot like Game of Thrones.” Then I began to think, “Or is it more of a Witcher book?” As I continued through the novel, I began to decide it was a blend of both. By the end, I thought that perhaps it was its own thing.
The book isn’t afraid to touch on the brutal. In fact, it seems to revel in it. Blood flows freely; rape is the buzzword of the day. It’s a mature novel for sure although it doesn’t quite cross the line, but regularly toes it. A lesser author would have toppled their novel over into prurient pulp.
The writing is well-executed, with the author’s own voice clearly shining through. There is one trap that Allen Betchelder tends to fall into, and that’s the ‘fear of said’. Every other sentence seems to find a new synonym – characters question, murmur, mutter, bellow, but words are never just ‘said’. It’s awkward to read, and tends to draw you out of conversations that should flow naturally.
In any perspective-hopping plot, characters are one of the most important factors. Fortunately, Steel, Blood and Fire features a strong and memorable, if slightly generic, cast. They come off as slightly one-dimensional, particularly towards the start of the novel, and the inclusion of a comedy group of village bumpkins – who of course meet with terrible fates – struck me as being an attempt at generating some frisson with the grim background. Other than those minor niggles, the diversity and depth of the cast begins to truly shine through around the midway point; from here onward they become much more than the sum of their parts.
Despite my above criticisms, I really did enjoy the story, and it quickly became engaging only a few pages in. If you’re a fan of the genre, particularly Game of Thrones-esque fantasy, you’ll certainly enjoy Betchelder’s offering.
Pages: 548 | ASIN: B00AW53RMQ
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Magic, adventure and excitement. That’s what Danny Estes delivers with this novel, Charlotte’s Soul. Our protagonist, Charlotte, is a woman of mysterious origins who is seeking revenge on the one who locked her away. In the beginning, we’re not given a whole lot of information about Charlotte. We know she is a witch and we know she is bent on revenge. We also are aware that she is not quite from the era the book takes place in. Even the mention of her stay in a mental health unit leads the reader to believe that perhaps Charlotte is not of her right mind. However, all of this is blown away when Charlotte links up with detective Matt Huston and dazzles us with displays of her power. She is not an ill individual with delusions of grandeur, she is a powerful woman who is about to bring hell to those who have wronged her. Will Charlotte achieve her wildest dream?
Estes has crafted Charlotte to be a powerful example of femininity and sultry desires. She is a woman and she will use whatever tools she has at her disposal to get what she wants. This includes her body. While this may seem like a stereotypical example of a woman using herself, it ties in to Charlotte’s past and the events that have led up to the present in our story. Estes is no stranger to including sexual scenes in his books, however he is very adept at making these scenes flow with a sense of beauty. Unless called for, there is nothing crude about these acts in his novels.
While there could be some better editing in this novel, the overall story is articulately pieced together without fraying at the edges. There are some spelling mistakes, some blatant miswords that could have been corrected with a thorough read through by a third party. The story does not suffer for it, however, as these issues are few and far between.
Estes flexes his creativity with descriptions of magic and scenery in this colorful world. While explaining the system of magic, the reader can tell that Estes put thought into it. Research was most likely done when using examples that readers might be familiar with, like voodoo, so that it is as believable as possible. The magic scenes of action are not so overblown that it is obvious that this is a fantasy tale, rather they are realistically described in a fashion that if you met someone who claimed to be a witch after reading this story, you might just believe them.
Danny Estes is no stranger to the world of magic and adventure. His worlds expand and become more and more intricate as he hones his craft. Charlotte’s Soul is another feather in his cap of excellence. The shortened chapters make this an easy read and the pace demands that you read it in one sitting: it is almost impossible to put it down. Readers will become attached to Matt and Charlotte, wondering if either will achieve what they are looking for. Even as the tale wraps up nicely and Estes is about to put the bow on top, we’re left wondering if we’ll see more of Charlotte again. Honestly, this feisty witch could grace another novel for us any day.
Pages: 297 | ASIN: B00PZYYNKO
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The Battle of Barkow tells the tale of dark vs light, good vs evil, from a world where magic is not all bad, and religion is not all good. He takes readers into the mind of his characters and through them shows the good and bad of society. In the words of Paul Simmonds, “Two men will embark on a journey that will change their lives forever, if there is a forever at all. For in the world that they live it is not named nor is it entirely different from that of our own early world” (Simmonds: prologue). The characters are intricate and plagued by the same assemblage of emotions as any other person; kindness, compassion, greed, hate, bigotry and evil. This superb confluence leaves you wondering who is going to come out on top in this novel, the simple man of God, the magician, the girl that doesn’t speak, or the dark forces that are mounting?
The story starts out with a man, hidden in a cloak speaking with an elderly woman. No names are used, but it is clear the women is a sorceress and he is there for her assistance. He is angry, he feels he has been wronged by others and denied his rightful riches and power, this woman offers him the vengeance he so greatly desires, but warns the price he will pay will be high. While she does not disclose the price, it is implying that it will not be all together pleasant for the man, but he hesitantly agrees desiring his vengeance over all else. From here the story jumps 125 years later. We meet Bolan, a simple man of God. He takes no excessive pride in his status and simply ponders life as it comes, he does not dwell too much on the past or the future. He agrees to take on an assignment for the church delivering holy books to the neighboring towns. With him goes his longtime friend and magician in training Hogarth. Hogarth can do simple magic but longs to learn more, to become something great in world that will make a difference. It is on this journey that they meet Sterre, the young women that does not speak but communicates in a form of sign language and drawings. Sterre has the gift of visions and has predicted a great danger to the city of Barkow. Barkow is the capital of sorts for this world, it is where the Pope lives and where all their laws begin. Towns outside of Barkow are not as strict as in the holy city. Bolan, Hogarth and Sterre travel to the city of Barkow to warm them of the impending trouble that Sterre has foreseen. While they are traveling to the city, the dark forces are also headed there as well. They have no names to start, as readers we only see their evil and destruction, wiping towns out, stripping them of all life leaving no one alive to bear witness to what has happened.
The journey that these three take brings them in contact with many others, some are willing to help fully, others offer veiled advice. Some are strong war heroes that have their own battles to fight but ultimately must decide between their own personal gains or the greater good. We are left looking at a vast cross section of people whose characteristics could be anyone in modern society. In The Battle of Barkow Simmonds is able to show us that their may be darkness in us, but being good is a choice, and often times we fall somewhere in between.
Pages: 240 | ASIN: B06XK7YDBX
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Lord Athina is an interesting story about Jim, who’s killed in an accident, gets his soul sent back in time and placed into a sixteen year old girl. How did you come about this original idea and how did that develop into a story?
My story development path starts with a blank computer screen. I think up a situation and start writing. A lot of times I’ll write up to 5,000 words before a true idea comes to mind, if at all. If what I have written catches my attention I let my imagination run for while. By this time I’ve an idea concerning the main character. Who he or she is. In this case I wrote a bit about Jim and his hard luck life. It then came to mind what if he died and was reborn, which finally changed to being placed in the body of a girl. Most people have seen Freaky Friday, or a similar version. Once this came across as a possibility, I started looking into a starting point and began writing off the top of my head. That’s my style of writing. Off the cuff. Once I transferred Jim into Athina, the situations presented themselves.
Jim finds himself in the body of a sixteen year old girl. How did you go about writing what it would be like to be stuck in a girls body?
I’ve read many history books which gave me some insights into the daily lives of women back in olden times. I also asked my girlfriend and my editor of what I’d have to learn to take care of a girls body and what they go through to keep clean and healthy.
I found that the magic used in the novel was efficiently used to great effect. How did you approach using magic in your story so that it’s believable?
I’ve read a lot of fantasy stories and enjoyed them. A lot I noted used quite a bit of magic. As this is my first series, I wanted to keep magic at a minimum so I could pay more attention to the characters then what spell was used and how powerful can I make them. In addition, by limiting the spells, I didn’t have to come up with ways to try and counter the spells, their by making the effects believe able.
What is the next book that you are writing and when will that be published?
My next book is Lady Athina. This is the second book in a 4 part series. Lady Athina is currently on the market at Amazon.com.
Jim Sanders is the first-born son of a city planning official in New York. Brought up in the midst of street gangs, construction, and the greed of politicians, Jim learns to keep physically fit and watch his back. Tired of the stress, he moves to Los Angeles to build his own construction company. But the hard knocks of life seek him out even here—Jim becomes the center of several vicious wrongful death lawsuits, caused by third-rate materials he never ordered. Hospitalized for a mental breakdown, and slapped with a divorce, Jim is exonerated only after he’s lost everything.
Released from the hospital, Jim reapplies himself in an attempt to overturn his failing company, but then he’s killed in an auto accident. Relieved from his troubled life, his soul ascends skyward. But fate is not done with Jim, for instead of heaven, Jim awakes back on Earth in the past, sealed in the body of a sixteen-year-old girl named Athina, mother to a newborn baby and heir to a citadel. Due to a healing spell gone awry, Jim is now breasts-deep in a firestorm of medieval social plots. Like a newborn babe in this unfamiliar world, Jim must now cope with primitive political realities from the opposite gender with only his wits and a devoted nursemaid who was deceived of her true charge’s death.
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Lisen is not your average seventeen-year-old hermit in the mystical land of Garla. D. Hart St. Martin’s first book in the Lisen of Solsta series, Fractured, takes us on Lisen’s complicated journey of discovering her destiny in a land where people will pay a high price to obtain power. After spending seven years on Earth, Lisen is brought back to Garla to fulfill her fate: become the Empir, bring peace to Garla, and prevent her tyrannical brother from taking over the throne. With the aid of nobles, captains, and magical hermits, Lisen learns how to adapt to the pressures of her new life, embrace her destiny, and win the battle raging inside her head.
Fractured by D. Hart St. Martin is a captivating story of heroism, greed, and fulfilling one’s destiny; but what makes this novel so unique is how the characters, and the world itself, break gender stereotypes and social norms. Fractured is Book One in the Lisen of Solsta series, and this book focuses on the life of Lisen Holt, or rather, Lisen of Solsta. The novel begins with the kidnapping of seventeen-year-old Lisen on a beach in California. Once she comes to her senses, Lisen finds that she’s been taken to Garla, a world that resembles the magical-medieval world of Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Astonished with every new discovery she makes, Lisen learns about her new “home” in Solsta, the land of hermits (people with mystical powers who are removed from society). Most interestingly of all, Lisen discovers that she used to live there as a child, but due to a prophetic vision, her guardians hid her away on Earth for seven years to ensure no harm came to her. Thus, when she returns to Garla and Solsta, Lisen feels both uncertainty and vague familiarity, and her memories (and necropathic skills) slowly return over time.
What I loved most about the novel is that it plays with the idea of who (or what) is truly in charge of shaping our “path” in life. It calls into question the idea of fate, and Lisen initially pushes against her destiny when she’s told that she’s the heir of Garla. Lisen also suffers from a memory lapse and must go through extensive training with Captain Rosarel and Holder Corday before she can take over as Empir (or ruler), in order to prevent her tyrannical brother from ruling Garla. I find this theme particularly interesting when combined with the “hero’s journey” plotline, as Lisen is much more complex than the archetypical “hero.” Throughout the novel, Lisen goes through stages of grief once she discovers she can no longer access her old life back on Earth, but several events throughout her journey prove what her life’s purpose truly is.
While some of the minor characters’ voices (such as Eloise and Nalin) were drowned out by the main characters, Lisen is truly brought to life through Hart St. Martin’s fluid and compelling writing style. I thought Lisen’s personality was fun and authentic; Hart St. Martin accurately captured the sassy attitude of a teenager who’s forced to learn a whole new way of living (I mean, who wouldn’t be sassy about that?). While she seems to have accepted her fate by the end of the novel, it’ll be interesting to see where Lisen’s “destiny” takes her next.
Pages: 317 | ASIN: B0098RN2KG
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The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is book two in the Ialana series and picks up right where book the first one left off. What was your inspiration for the setup of this story and how did that help you create the ending?
In the setup for the second book, I wanted to bring in two very diverse, but related, elements to play off each other. The first one was the continuation of the training of the Six in elemental command, and the advanced use of crystals. The second was the power struggle for control of Ialana by the ruling classes.
I wanted to further illustrate how the forgotten laws of the universe, otherwise known as “magic”, can be used for opposite ends. When someone understands fully how the universe works, that actions always have consequences, and what those consequences may be, then they will not abuse this knowledge to gain personal power over others. To do this knowingly would feel insane to them. On the other hand, when someone learns only how to manipulate power for his or her own purposes, without understanding the consequences, then they will always suffer the inevitable consequences. This, I felt, produced a satisfactory ending, as the natural laws of the universe came into play.
The Six go through a thrilling and perilous journey to make it home while avoiding a shape shifting king. Is there any moral or idea that you hope readers take away from the story?
The perils the Six faced were the results, or consequences, of the misuse of power by others. It is the same in the real world, the one we inhabit. The monstrous creatures the Six encountered could be seen by us as disease, poverty, ignorance, and despair—the consequences of misunderstanding or ignorance of the laws of the universe. It is also known in this world as Karma. It doesn’t have to be personal to one to experience consequences of others’ actions and their misuse of power. It affects everyone at some point, but I also wanted to stress that when one is willing to learn, then one can find protection in knowledge, create a different reality for themselves, and avoid needless suffering.
Just like in book one, the characters are all well developed. What were some of the trials that you felt were important to highlight the characters development?
The Buddhists believe that suffering produces growth. For me, it seems unnecessary when one understands how to use the laws of the universe correctly, but in many instances, suffering works, and the trials the Six went through all contributed to more understanding about themselves. For example, in the first book, it was difficult for them to work together as a team. They did not understand their goal, their past, or about the nature of reality. Once they went through different trials together, they learned how to work as a team, understanding what their common goal was.
Another thing that occurs to me, is that one appreciates knowledge so much more when it has not come easily, and, it does make the books so much more entertaining!
What is the next story that you’re writing and when will it be published?
The next one is already published. It is the third in the series, The Six and Anwyn of Ialana. This book continues with the adventures of the Six, only with some exciting new characters, and an old enemy that resurfaces, but in a more frightening form. The difficulties for the Six in this book ramp up in tandem with their abilities and responsibilities. With great power often comes even greater responsibility, and this book will not disappoint.
I am working on a fourth in the series, no title as yet, but this one promises to be the best one so far. I have learned much from the first three books, and I also wanted to take the Six in a new direction and bring in problems they had not faced before. This book has a whole new feel to it, but it does retain the elements of mystery and adventure that my readers have enjoyed, while keeping the characters intact, and introducing even more challenges for them.
While this book is still in the early stages, it should be published sometime in 2017. My website and Facebook page will keep readers updated.
The Six and the Gardeners of Ialana is now in the production stages of audio book narration by the same talented narrator, Jeff Hays, who narrated the first book. I intend to release all books of the series in audio, as well as ebook and print, in 2017.
In a seamless continuation of the first book in the series, “The Six and the Crystals of Ialana”, the six healers find themselves caught in the midst of a power struggle between the competing rulers of Ialana. Unable to complete their healing mission, to heal mutants who were genetically altered by crystal manipulation, they flee the Galonese warlord, Ortzi, and attempt a dangerous journey back to their homes in northern Ialana. Trapped by malevolent creatures, hunted by a monster who seeks them for reasons of its own, and on the run from a king and a conniving shape-shifter, there seems to be no place of safety for them. Will they find the mysterious abode of the Gardeners? Who are the Gardeners, and what is their purpose for the Six? Will The Six be able to find Queen Catrin, who sets off on a quest of her own, or will Catrin run afoul of her husband, King Brenin, before she can find The Six? In The Gardeners of Ialana, the Six explore the mysteries of healing, elemental command, and through many more trials, learn their true purpose in life.
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The Mansion’s Family follows Savannah and Ellie as they try to restore the magical balance of the world. What were some themes that you felt were important to highlight in this story?
One of my major themes was the idea of good and evil inside each person, and how no one can be entirely one or the other. Ellie and Savannah are seen at first glance as pure and good, and in The Mansion’s Family, they must face their own darkness. The theme of family was of course another important one. I wanted to start a discussion about the different kinds of families, what makes a family, and the effects (both good and bad) your family can have on you.
Are you a fan of the fantasy genre? What books do you think most influenced your work?
I’ve always been a huge fan of the fantasy genre. Books like the Harry Potter series sparked my love of fantasy and magic. Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials was a huge inspiration, mainly for the idea of other worlds. Inkheart is another. I love the concept of a book coming to life in the real world, an idea that has influenced my books later in the series.
What is one pivotal moment in the story that you think best defines Savannah and Ellie? Did any of the characters development occur organically through the story or was it planned?
I think a pivotal moment is when the girls discover the cause of the storm, and learn their part in preventing another one. The decision they have to make forces them to take a hard look at themselves, and come to terms with the fact that they can’t (and shouldn’t have to) always be the world’s perfect image of “The Senka Twins.” A great deal of the character development was organic. When I first started writing the series, I thought my main theme would be good vs evil, and have nothing really to do with families. When family themes began to emerge, I decided to just let them, and I’m glad I did.
Where does the story go in the next book and where do you see it going in the future?
I’m at the point where the story splits into several directions. I’ve recently published a prequel, Acapella Angels which tells the story of Ellie and Savannah’s parents. I have another prequel in the works, reaching further back, all the way to the world’s beginnings. Continuing the present timeline, Twisted Twins will pick up where The Mansion’s Family left off. This will reveal what’s in store for Eva, Jordan, and Dece. In the future, I want to keep the series moving between the magical world and our own world. Sent from a Dream will have the characters meeting their author, and from there on, these worlds will be forever connected.
The cause of the storm remains a mystery, and June fears there could be another. She enlists the help of the Senka twins, but the girls only grow frustrated after hitting dead ends. Ellie is far more curious about what she and Savannah might find on the other world, and eventually, June agrees to let them go. Exploring the other world, the twins discover far more than what they bargained for. Secrets of the past are revealed, both in the mansion, and beyond the shadow cave. Though Jerome remains bound in the forest, the trap grows weak, and a battle is coming. Ellie and Savannah are no warriors, but they still have an important part to play. This time their mission is not to rebuild, it is one of great sacrifice. They discover a secret of their magic, one that will allow them once again to keep the mansion’s people safe. But the price may be too high to pay.
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