Taryn and I have been writerly sisters-at-heart for quite a while now, ever since she tore apart my Mark of Four in its draft stage at our critique group (with some GREAT suggestions I incorporated into the final product), and ever since I got a chance to peek at an early version of Hex Breaker.
I was so excited when Taryn hired me to edit for her, because not only did I get to PEEK at Hex Breaker, but I got to revel in it. It was so much fun going on this quest with Taryn’s Fenearen characters and watching them grow. So now that Taryn is releasing Hex Breaker to the world for you all to enjoy, too, I jumped at the chance to interview her so you could see some of the thoughts behind this book.
1.) Hardest question first: In three sentences, give us a summary of this 150,000 word book (hahaha!).
When a peace treaty goes awry, an innocent man is cursed to a horrific fate and a nation faces extinction. A young woman away from her home and family for the first time undertakes a perilous quest to break the curse while her people fight to save their country. Featuring: wolf-shifters, demi-gods, prophetic dreams, the undead, epic battles, and a gigantic sea monster.
Editor’s Note: Well done! I’m impressed! 🙂
2.) There was a wolf shape-shifter breakout when the Twilight craze hit international shelves years ago, and suddenly, everyone wanted more shape-shifting stories. What is it about Hex Breaker that stands out from the crowd of wolf-shifter stories we’ve seen thus far?
Unlike Twilight or Twilight-esque wolf-shifter stories, Hex Breaker does not take place in a version of the modern world where werewolves exist. It’s not a paranormal story. It’s an epic fantasy more along the genre lines of A Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings. So while many of my characters transform into wolves, they’re quite distinct from werewolves or other wolf-shifters because their power is rooted in a culture and mythology unique to their world and this story. Also, unlike Twilight, this story is not primarily a romance. There are romantic elements of course, but it’s an epic heroine’s journey first and foremost. Hopefully that means it will appeal to fans of wolf-shifter stories as well as other fantasy readers!
3.) Where did this story begin for you? How long have you worked on it, and how much has it morphed from its original seedling of an idea?
I trace the idea for this world and some of its characters back to imaginary games I made up as a child playing in the woods outside my house. When I got a little older, I wanted to write a story featuring some of my ideas. I loved fantasy books, movies, and legends, so I wanted to write my own version of those. But I was always frustrated that so many of my favorite stories focused on a male hero rescuing their female love and saving the world, so I decided my story would be the opposite. I think my exact thought was, “What if in the Princess Bride, Buttercup had to save Westley instead?” I started writing my story in notebooks at age 13, finished the first draft at 17, let it lie for a few years, then came back, totally revamped it about 35 times, and here we are!
4.) It’s been said that authors put a bit of themselves into every character they create. Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why? If you had to take the place of one of them, which one would you choose?
I definitely think there is something I can identify with in every single one of my characters, even the villains. I probably most relate to Rayna as I think she and I share the flaw of always having to be the best and needing to learn that it’s okay (and sometimes better) to not take everything on yourself. That being said, she and I are also very different. I think Rayna is a lot more decisive than I am. Also, she loves to hunt, and I’m a vegetarian 😉
Editor’s Note: I suppose it wouldn’t be quite the same to hunt, say, lettuce. The thrill of capture is somehow less. 😉
I put my characters through so much—I’m not sure I’d want to switch places with any of them! But if I had to choose, I’d probably like to be a Fenearen– just not one of the main ones involved with all the fighting. Maybe I’d be a nice background healer or something?
Editor’s Note: I hear rumors, dear Taryn, that some healers may not have always fared so well in your story. I hope better for you… 😉
5.) Be honest now: how many times did you want to fire your editor when she sent you thirty pages of revisions? *drums fingers impatiently on desk 😉
Haha, never! I happened to have an amazing, insightful editor. I did want to fire my own brain a few times, though…
6.) According to trusted sources, I’ve heard you based your character, Kellan (appearance-wise, anyway), on Ben Barnes. While I finish dreamily sighing over here, can you tell us what other famous people you based your characters on? Why did you choose their likenesses? And which came first: the character in your mind morphing into a similarity with your model, or a model who then morphed into your characters?
-Sigh- Yes, Ben Barnes (Prince Caspian era to be exact) is 100% how I imagine Kellan. I actually have a whole Pinterest board of character inspirations, if anyone is curious. Most of them I found after having written the characters. One exception is that I have always imagined Markus Seperun as Idris Elba (-double sigh-). Also, my friend’s dog inspired the appearance of Laera, right down to the one blue and one brown eye.
7.) Real-Life Rayna: Rayna is visiting your home. She has just settled onto your living room couch when the phone rings, and you have to take the call. Meanwhile, you have milk-based soup on the hot stove, and bread in the toaster. Cookies are baking in an oven heated at 350 degrees, and your cousin’s baby, who stayed overnight, is sobbing in his crib. He’s exploded out of his diaper, and he’s screaming bloody murder. The Fed-Ex guy knocks, and doesn’t just leave a package like normal; he needs a signature. The person on the phone tells you there’s an emergency downtown, and you, as the head of Emergency Services, are needed immediately. You look out the window and see the city skyline imploding before your eyes. The world is ending, and there is no time to do anything, except… Rayna can save it all. But… how? (Have fun!) 😉
Okay, here we go. Rayna has the ability to dream about the future. So let’s say she had one such dream about this insane day. Using our knowledge of what’s to come, we skip the soup and bread and go for nice, non-fiery salad instead (she’d object to the “squirrel food but c’est la vie). We call someone to come babysit and sign for the package (I feel like Channon would be good with kids and he’s always ready to help Rayna out so, done). We leave the cookie dough in the fridge, allowing Rayna and I to preemptively head downtown and figure out if the coming disaster can be prevented. Assuming it can, we save the day, come home, bake the cookies, and celebrate.
Forced to decide between her happiness and her pack’s safety, Rayna Myana chooses to protect those she loves. But when shattered promises and dark magic collide, no one is safe…
For six hundred years, Fenear, a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her to strengthen the alliance, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion of treachery changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. Separated from her pack with Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and travel to a distant realm to break the hex. Only then can she save her best friend and her homeland.
Lines blur between heroism and recklessness, dreams and reality, even life and death, and Rayna risks losing herself along the way
Head over to Amazon and grab your copy today!
Taryn is a lover of nature and all things furry and feathered. As a graduate student in Anthrozoology with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Biology, she is dedicating her life to understanding and protecting animals, both human and nonhuman. This zeal for the outdoors combined with a lifelong love affair with fantasy and horror stories led her to create the YA dark fantasy series, The Fenearen Chronicles. The second installment, Twice Blessed, is due out in 2018. Taryn lives in Richmond, Virginia with her prima donna cat, Stella, and personal piano player/boyfriend, Lorenzo.
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