Writer’s Ink: Emily June Street

ejsheadnew1If you follow me–at all–you’ll know Emily June Street and I have not only an intense and amazing working relationship, but a close friendship as well. You may or may not be aware, but we’ve never met in person. She lives on the West Coast, I live on the East Coast, and 2,800+ miles separate us. However, we will fix this little detail when we attend the Writer’s Digest Conference together in New York City in August 2017. Can you imagine how excited I am?!

Emily June Street is the author of six novels: The Gantean, The Cedna, Sterling, Mage and Source, Secret Room, and The Velocipede Races. She has degrees in psychology and library science, but she divides her time between teaching Pilates and exploring alternate worlds in writing. She founded Luminous Creatures Press with Beth Deitchman in 2013.

Look for the next installment in the Tales of Blood & Light series, Light and Shadow, in 2018!
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Thanks for stopping by my website, Emily! Now let’s dive into some questions:

TS: Mage and Source is book four in your Tales of Blood & Light series, but for those who may not have read the foregoing books, could you give us a three sentence summary of the novel?

EJS: Magic is dead. The only hope for restoring it lies in the hands of a talented ex-mage and an enemy spy thrown together by fate and unexpected love. But an eastern foe seeks to destroy them both before they can uncover the true path back to magic..

old-books-1534109TS: I’ve only written, at the longest, trilogy arcs–three books that had to make sense from page one of the first book to the last page of the third book. Tales of Blood & Light is projected to be a whopping seven-book series. For lack of better wording, how in the world did you do it–keep everything organized, not drop plot threads, and maintain a solid story structure (one George R.R. Martin could certainly learn from you!)?
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EJS: Well, Tales of Blood and Light began as one book, The Gantean, no plans for any others in a series. Then I decided I needed a Book Two to tell the “villain’s” point of view from The Gantean, so I wrote The Cedna. Then I realized I needed to resolve the cataclysmic disaster that ends The Cedna’s story, and so I planned a book three, which was going to be Tianiq, Leila’s missing daughter’s story. Then I wrote a “companion book” called Night Queen, which was sort of a prequel to the planned trilogy set in the Lethemia world. Then I decided I didn’t like book three, Tianiq’s book, and wanted to revise entirely. Fortunately this was early on, well before I ever put out The Gantean, so I was able to revise all three books to adjust for this.
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But then I decided to write Sterling’s story, which came out very easily, and felt like a natural next step after the Cedna’s book. Only after writing Sterling did I decide to sit down and formally examine what I was trying to do with this series. That was when I finally realized I was telling a story about the fall and return of magic in this world, an apocalypse and a restoration. I was able to tease out from the exiting stories that I’d set up these seven stones (the Ophirae) that were vital to the return of magic, and thus, I could have seven books, each essentially describing a romantic relationship and the re-awakening of one of the seven stones needed to restore magic to this world. So, that’s when I finally realized I needed seven books. I tore apart everything and rewrote parts of all the books, dismantled the book Night Queen and turned it into Mage and Source, and now here I am with a completely pantsed seven-book series in the works!

So the answer lurking within all those words is…there was no planning, and what someone should learn from my experience is: this is not the best approach to writing a seven-book series!

Fortunately, I have a pretty good memory, which helps me keep track of the logistics of the story arc—that and a whole bunch of slips of paper and several maps. I also try to 1) trust in my subconscious to unearth the threads of the story that need to be unearthed; 2) keep track of essential facts with lots of folders and post-its (I like to have important information and details on paper rather than on the computer, as I like spreading out my papers on the floor and getting a big overall picture every now and again); and 3) endless reworking and rewriting.

In retrospect, this is a very labor-intensive way to write books, definitely not for people who don’t like the slog of rewrites and massive amounts of editing. Be a planner if you want a streamlined process! I’ve gone the planned route for other books, and it is much easier and it involves a lot less rewriting. That said, I do enjoy the endless managed chaos of my Tales of Blood & Light process. There’s something deeply satisfying about pantsing a story. It feels organic and sometimes you surprise yourself with connections and storylines you’d never have planned.

.TS: Laith fascinates me in this book. His chemistry with Elena is undeniable. Tell me, did you use a blueprint for either character (Laith or Elena)–someone in “our world” who was your inspiration for creating either of them in Lethemia’s world? If so, who? What were the standout characteristics that you tried to translate over? If not, what famous person or character in this world might be most like Laith and/or Elena, and in what ways?
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talking-1430913EJS: I rarely model my characters after real people, honestly. I suppose my characters are creations “borged” from a multitude of people I’ve known, some I might not even remember, and also from parts of myself that don’t see the light of day. Laith does share some character features with my husband, Brady, namely being obsessed with his own interests and being fairly impervious to the negative opinions of others. Brady also tends to do what Brady wants, just like Laith. My husband, however, is a quiet man, and Laith is a huge talker. I have reams and reams of cut pages of Laith, just telling his stories. For a while he really wanted his own book all to himself, but he just rambled on and on.
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I had no particular model for Elena, although no doubt her perfectionistic tendencies and her favoring of reason over emotion come straight from me. I certainly haven’t used any famous person’s personality to shape either character; again, that’s just not my style.

I have done the Myers-Briggs Personality test for most of my characters. Laith is an ENTP and Elena is an ISTJ—very opposite types, but united by that thinking element. (Note: I am an INTJ, and I think my strongest domain is that T, that “thinking” quality. I find it very hard to write “F”s, or feeling types, because my brain just doesn’t work that way. I think so far only Sterling and Erich have been “feeling” types, and often I really had to pause and think to myself…what would someone entirely led by their feelings do in this situation? In some ways I think “F”s are easier for people to relate to, because that “T” quality can be very idiosyncratic, following a logic that isn’t always readily apparent, whereas everyone understands the basic human emotions and can relate to them immediately.

Appearance-wise Laith might look like a cross between Aiden Turner and Riz Ahmed, but taller than either of them, and Elena might look like Li Bingbing.

TS: You’ve told me that, according to many of your test readers, Costas Galatien, King of Lethemia, is not one of your more popular characters. Having read the books, though, I really dig the guy. He’s certainly a layered character with lots of depth. Where and how was he born in your mind? What went into his development? How did you pull off his tortured, wise, just, angsty, disciplined, and–dare I say it–dreamy layers? Asking for a friend. 😉
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king-1417290EJS: Costas (an ESTJ) is a favorite character of mine, too, but not for the reasons you may think. What I love about him is how we see him through the eyes of every one of my narrators, but never through his own eyes. As a king, he’s a man defined by his people and his mystique, and each character really does see him differently—most of them manage to see his complexities, too, but different complexities, with various beliefs about what is likable in him and what is not.
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I think some readers disliked how he treated Leila in The Gantean. They felt he wasn’t enough of a hero, that he was self-centered, a bit of a jerk. That is probably because they were sympathizing with Leila, the narrator, and at some points in the book, Leila and Costas were in direct conflict to one another in their actions (if not their in their emotions).
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Costas is complicated partly because his position is a complex one. He’s the King, but he is also a person with strong inner boundaries about privacy. He has his own desires that have nothing to do with his obligations as King, but he very strongly feels the duty of rule (even if he is sometimes unaware of its privilege). Sometimes he’s faced with difficult choices because of this—his personal desires (e.g., having Leila as his lover) are often in direct opposition to what is expected of him as King (e.g., marrying Stesichore Ricknagel and reuniting the Ten Houses). Costas picked duty over love at first, failing to understand the significance of the aetherlumo bind he shared with Leila. Unlike Laith, with his magical lore, Costas did not immediately comprehend that the aetherlumo is a BIND, meaning it not only joins him irrevocably with Leila, but it is forged by forces more powerful than human needs and desires. I think part of Costas’s character development is coming to understand that he cannot control everything, that there are forces to which even King Costas is subject. He is a controlling man, and he’s going to have to learn what he can and should control, and what he cannot and should not.

Costas is forever a work in progress, as you know. Each book shows a different side of him. In Mage and Source, we see a friend and subject’s view of him through Laith’s eyes. We also see an enemy’s view of him, as Elena has been sent to assassinate him at the behest of her Emperor. But Elena quickly complicates things, since her animosity isn’t based in her own emotions, only on her loyalty to her nation. Later in the series we’ll have a narrator who holds great personal animosity towards Costas. That’s been a tricky storyline to negotiate!

TS: I love the colors so prevalent in this series. Was there any order in your plans as you assigned a particular color of magestone with a particular mage? How did you plan who got what stone? Is the aetherlight–the colorful strands that appear INSIDE the stones–in any way connected to the owners, and if so, how did you decide on those colors? Are they representative at all of personality or background?
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EJS: I really love that you seem to think I planned anything about these books. Sadly, no, my strategy has been entirely “on the fly.” If I had planned, I would have planned better and followed some kind of recognizable color theory. But no, it’s all completely idiosyncratic. In this world, people have auras of aetherlight, and (in my mind, at least) the color of their aura does say something about their personality. But it’s one hundred percent based on my own personal feelings about colors and personality, not any existing color theory.
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So Leila’s colors are watery and cool, and her personality is cool and unemotional, but resilient and adaptable, like water.

The Cedna’s color was black, since she was embodying the absence and darkness of the world. Her elemental themes were fire and ash, so her color was the char that was left after the fire.

Sterling’s color was sunshine yellow, since her basic temperament is optimistic and bright, despite her sufferings. Her elemental theme was air, and I see the air around her being shot through with sunlight.

Laith is opal, shiny and shimmering, full of hidden colors. His elemental theme was aether, the stuff of magic, so I wanted his aetherlight to reflect the power and complexity of magic. He is also cool, like Leila. He explained in The Gantean that cool aetherlight people are draw to warm aetherlight people, and vice versa. Elena’s elemental theme is earth, so her aetherlight is green and rich and warm, like healthy leaves.

color-1186259I have tried to reflect the aetherlight colors of my narrators on the covers of the books. The elemental themes of the narrators are indicated on the back covers, in the taglines: flow like water; fall like ash; rise on air; bright as aether, strong as earth.

As far as the colors of the Ophirae magestones and whether they match those of the couples who ignite them, unfortunately, not really. It’s been more about which stone was available given the storyline, and given the fact that these plotlines are completely pantsed, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room for applying any logical color theory after the fact. I have to work with what I’ve already set up and written into “the canon.” For the Ophirae colors, I literally just picked colors I liked way back when and those are the colors, end of story. No planning at all.

TS: Stepping outside the series: do you have other books you’re working on, or is Tales of Blood and Light your sole focus for now? If so, can we get a peek at what we can expect to hit the shelves at some future point?
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EJS: Well, Tales of Blood and Light still has three books to go. All are at least partially drafted. I’m working hard on Book Five, Light and Shadow, right now, with a massive rewrite/revision inspired by a certain brilliant editor.
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TS: Who is this nefarious creature!?
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I have also co-written two all new fantasy books with a certain fellow author who greatly resembles my brilliant editor, as you might know.

TS: Apparently, there are doppelgangers.

charleston-mansion-1204334These books are: River Running (elemental magic and romance in quasi-American South Reconstruction Era) and The Eighth Octave (music, magic, and mystery in a fairytale 18th-century world). We’ll be pitching these books to agents at an upcoming conference in New York City. *gulp*

I’m working on a new fantasy series with a first book tentatively titled “Midnight Oil,” too. Similar to Tales of Blood & Light, it involves culture clashes, empire, and magic, but the world and the magic system are quite different.

TS: Time for some fun! Quick Answers (don’t think longer than a second for these):
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Song of Ice and Fire or Lord of the Rings? EJS: Apples and oranges. I pick fruit salad.
Piano or Cello? EJS: That’s just mean and wrong. Why, Tamara, why?
TS: Because… Westley
Phantom of the Opera or Les Mis? EJS: Finally, one I can answer! Phantom of the Opera.
Coffee or Hot Chocolate? EJS: Thank goodness for some easy ones. Coffee.
Yoga or Pilates? EJS: Pilates 4 evah
Editing or Writing? EJS: Both, always.
Spring or Fall? EJS: Spring.
Archery or Sword Play? EJS: Archery.
Dragons or Phoenixes? EJS: Phoenixes.
Legolas or Robin Hood? EJS: Legolas.
Co-Writing or Writing Alone? 😉 EJS: Piano or cello?
Facebook or Twitter? EJS: Facebook, mostly, but sometimes it annoys me.
London or Paris? EJS: Cello?
Travel choices: Europe or the Caribbean? EJS: Piano?
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And finally…
Heart of a Dragon or Guardian of the Vale? 😉 EJS: Heart of a Dragon!
HOAD Box Set
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Justification for any of the above? 😉 EJS: Emily does what Emily wants.
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Thanks, Emily! Check out Mage and Source, available now on Amazon!
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Mage and Source Cover

The next world arrives in a shattering fall.

The Cedna is dead, and magic is broken. Laith Amar, a famous mage, must learn to live without his skill as all of Lethemia reels from the Fall. Fighting despair and skeptical colleagues, Laith seeks any solution that can return his talents.

From hidden sources, hope emerges.

Angered by losing the war against Lethemia, the Eastern Emperor dispatches Elena Rith, a trained potion-mistress, to assassinate the Lethemian King Costas Galatien and to learn what she can of the West’s fallen magic. Alone in a foreign country, Elena battles new hazards and old fears as an Eastern hunter tracks her.

A new alchemy ignites an old power.

After fate throws them together, Laith and Elena discover an intriguing method to revive magic that depends on them both. But when Elena’s foe finds her, can Laith save her from a past of pain and violation?

Only love can resurrect Laith’s faith and Elena’s hope, but darkness surrounds them as their enemies close in.

Magic’s restoration hangs in the balance.

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Writer’s Ink: Allison K. Garcia

Allison K. Garcia
Allison K. García is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a passion for writing. Latina at heart, Allison has absorbed the love and culture of her friends, family, and hermanos en Cristo and has used her experiences to cast a glimpse into the journey of undocumented Christians.
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1.) In two and a half sentences, give us the book summary. I shall be strict and exacting. 😉

The fates of an undocumented college student and her mother intertwine with a suicidal businessman’s. As circumstances worsen, will their faith carry them through or will their fears drag them down?
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*Editor’s note: My strict and exacting nature apparently isn’t terribly strict and exacting; I’ll let you keep that last clause and use it as your “half sentence.” 😉
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2.) What was your inspiration for this book? And how does its subject matter affect you personally?

I have been inspired by a lot of people in my life, especially by my hermanos en Cristo. Seeing their unwavering faith in times of crises really pushed me to write the book. Also I have heard a lot of stories of injustice through friends, family, and therapy clients, which also inspired some ideas for the book. Personally, my husband is Mexican and my son is mixed, so I think about the struggles my husband has had to face and what my son will one day face. And a good friend of ours from church was deported before I wrote the book and that was something that affected me and our church community very deeply. On a positive note, I have been inspired by Latino culture, particularly Mexican culture, and love the cuisine and the kindness and the language. I tried to make that come through in the book as authentically as possible.
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3.) One of my favorite characters was Hector, particularly his character arc as he changed from someone who flirted with the wrong side of the law to someone who walked in faith, trusting God to lead him. Did his character grow organically in your mind? Or was he a sudden idea?


So, I did this book during NaNoWriMo (*Editor’s Note for everyone that has heard me go on and on… and on… about NaNoWriMo: that’s National Novel Writing Month–generally taking place in November) and all I had was a three-page start, the name of the book, and a general concept of an undocumented college student trying to make her way in the world. This said, there was no Hector when I began the book…I set forth with zero romantic ideas and then suddenly there were two fellahs on the page! I also love Hector. He came out of nowhere and won the show! I think subconsciously I liked the idea of him actually having a good heart underneath his hard exterior.
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4.) Do you have a favorite scene in this book? Can you give us a taste of what it looks like?


Aaah! This is the hardest question yet!!! I love all the scenes! Okay, there are a few I hate because of how they hurt my favorite characters.
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Okay, okay, I know I need to choose…I’m trying to think of the ones that only make me cry…
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One of my favorite scenes is when Linda steps forward at the Dream Act rally as an undocumented college student (i.e. Dreamer). When I have gone to those rallies and have seen the Dreamers stand at the front like that, I am awestruck by the bravery that takes. I tried to evoke that in Linda’s scene, along with her realization that she is loved by God whether or not she has “papers.” Then having the people there that she loves support her and not judge her for her undocumented status added an extra beautiful angle, I think.
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5.) You mentioned that you had originally intended this to go through the traditional publication route, and then you switched to indie publishing. What was your reasoning? Did you enjoy the process more or less than when you were sending out 80+ query letters?


Well, it’s hard to top the excitement of sending out 80+ query letters…hahahhaa!
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So…I really wanted to be traditionally published and gave it a good shot for about 5 years but because I came to the realization that my book falls between genres, really creating a new genre, Latino Christian Fiction, which at least as far as I could see on Amazon and Google, there weren’t many other books like this out there. So the Christian agents didn’t know how to market it and some were turned off by the undocumented angle, and secular publishing doesn’t deal with Christian fiction. Therefore, after much praying and consulting with friends, I decided to go indie.
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Being an indie-published writer is hard! That’s kind of one of reasons I wanted to do traditional! But, alas, I really felt like God wanted me to write this book and get it out in the world, so in the end, you gotta do what you gotta do! I have been through very vigorous editing, which a friend and I like to call, “The Tamara Effect” (*Editor’s Note: This Effect of which you speak sounds fascinating and amazing, and more people should know about it!), which I believe helped my book be super awesome, and I got an awesome formatter and my husband to do the cover. I hope people like it!!!
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6.) What are other projects? Can we expect to see more of your work hit the market in the next months?


The word “months” just scared me a little. Ahem. I’m fine now. I plan to translate Vivir el Dream into Spanish by the end of the summer. I also plan to edit another Latino Christian fiction book I wrote called Finding Amor. Then in November during NaNoWriMo I plan to finish the last 2 books of my 8-book children’s fantasy series, Prince Miguel and His Journey Home.
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7.) What author or authors have impacted you the most on your journey to becoming a writer?

I love so many authors, it is hard to choose. I love classics like the Brontes, Dickens, etc. In the contemporary realm I love Agatha Christie, Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Paul Coelho, Lois Lowry, J.K. Rowling, and Suzanne Collins.

Thanks for stopping by, Allison! Check out Vivir El Dream for yourself. Purchase your very own copy and then do Allison a favor and leave a review on Amazon or another retail site. Those reviews are essential for sales!

Vivir kindle cover new

Linda Palacios crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Years later, Linda nears college graduation. With little hope for the future as an undocumented immigrant, Linda wonders where her life is going.
 
Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, has wondered the same thing. Overcome with despair, he decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he changes course when he finds a job as a mechanic. Embarrassed about working at a garage in the barrio, he lies to his wife in hopes of finding something better.
 
After Juanita’s coworker gets deported, she takes in her friend’s son, Hector, whom her daughter Linda can’t stand, While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, she loses her job and decides to go into business for herself.
 
Will the three of them allow God to guide them through the challenges to come, or will they let their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?

Unleash the Inferno Release and Giveaway!!!

Today, my second completed trilogy hits the virtual shelves at the ‘Zon, and I am so, so thrilled about that! Unleash the Inferno, while arguably the hardest-to-write book I’ve released yet, is probably the most satisfying as well. I love how all the loose ends wrapped up, and in a trilogy with an enormous ensemble cast, that was a difficult thing.

Anyway, if you love epic fantasies and medieval settings and dragons and political intrigue and romance and Lord of the Rings-esque battles, you’ll enjoy this one! I hope it occupies a space on your Kindle shelf (or, if you’re like me, your REAL shelf that you have to dust every now and then).

Once you’ve read it, tell your friends! Hop on Amazon and leave a review, even a one-liner! I depend on those reviews for sales, and they’re super hard to get (because who has time to leave a review?). But I hope, if I ask pretty please with a fruit-or-candy-of-your-choice on top, that you’ll at least consider it. 🙂

In other news, I have TWO giveaway winners of this book! For those of you who signed up for my newsletter, you get access to discounts and giveaways that aren’t necessarily available to other venues, and two of you have been selected as winners! Congratulations to Rebecca Cooper and Shirley Cochran! I’ll have my editor send your free e-copies to you in short order. Thanks for entering!

For the rest of you, hop over to Amazon to pick up your copy! Only $3.99 (roughly equivalent to a chai tea latte at Starbucks, and instead of just an amazing drink, you get a whole amazing book with a little more staying power than a delicious beverage!)! Thanks in advance for reading!

After the Battle at ClarenVale, Kinna Andrachen unites those who spurn King Sebastian’s tyrannical reign, mustering a rag-tag army of soldiers and creatures to face Sebastian’s far larger Lismarian army. Victory is elusive and allies are scarce, but Kinna’s tenacious spirit cannot succumb to injustice. Her fiery heart must learn to lead.

At last mastering control of the four Touches of the powerful Amulet, Ayden finds himself at the center of an epic struggle to destroy the corruption that has tainted the throne of Lismaria for centuries. As time runs out, his options for survival fade, surrendering him to a dark destiny.

Tied to a fate he does not want, Cedric Andrachen resists his inheritance, fleeing the lust for power it sparks in him. As war looms, Cedric faces his choices: will he turn his back on his throne and his kingdom? Or will he enter the struggle against tyranny, bringing the freedom his people have so long sought?

Sebastian sits, at last, on the Lismarian throne, stolen from him twenty years prior. But now the Rebellion, led against him by his niece and nephew, threatens his security from across the Channel, and the Amulet’s promise of power tempts him into even darker shadows. Ghosts of the past brutalize Sebastian’s present until the lines of reality blur with nightmare.

Flames of war ignite between nations. Peril threatens the Andrachen line.
Who will survive the inferno?

Writer’s Ink: Taryn Noelle Kloeden

highrezheadshotTaryn 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!).

Challenge accepted!

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! 🙂

wolf-2-15684582.) 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 😉

lettuce-garden-1498912Editor’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…

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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 ultimate-crying-1563194screaming 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.

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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!

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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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Writer’s Ink: Mark A. King

mark-a-kingI “met” Mark A. King on the Flash! Friday weekly flash fiction contest, and quickly came to look forward to the pieces of writing he submitted each week. He had (has) a way with words that sort of wrapped around my imagination, and it was a treat to get to co-judge with him for the same contest for a few months.

Since those days, Mark has started the Flashdogs, a group of writers with some awe-inspiring skills, as well as published several anthologies of flash fiction. Just this month, he’s released his very first novel, Metropolitan Dreams, and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with you.

Mark is stopping by my website to say hello and intrigue you with his plans for post-apocalyptic world restructure. Just because a genie is involved doesn’t mean it’s easy…

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1.) Go ahead and sum up Metropolitan Dreams for us in three sentences (because that’s always fun).
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In the aftermath of a violent crime we follow the connected stories of an injured nightclub bouncer, an ageing crime-lord, a conflicted police hacker, a traumatised Tube-driver, and a vulnerable twelve-year-old girl as they fight for survival, purpose, and redemption in the fractured city of London. Along the journey we discover lost rivers, abandoned underground stations, mysterious forces, and angels (perhaps).
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2.) What first pulled the idea for Met Dreams into your head? Where did you find the seed of your idea, and what made it grow into what you now have on your pages? Ten years down the road, when you’ve made your millions and have topped every international best-seller list, what will you look back on as being the inspiration that began this adventure?

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I’ve always had a fascination with major cities–how they can be tourist friendly during the day and turn into completely different places at night. There are so many things hidden in places and within people. I wanted to set the tale in London, not just because it was where I was raised, but also because there have been so many fantastic SF/Fantasy stories based in the city that I felt like I owed it to myself to start there. Many of the ideas were formed or experimented with in flash fiction competitions, and a significant number of ideas can have their history traced back to Flash! Friday (which my fellow judge and kind host today knows only too well) or The Angry Hourglass. It is fair to say that these competitions were like fuel that fired the engine of story creation. I’m so very thankful to Rebekah Postupak who dedicated so much of her time and energy to the community. There were many fine writers there, too, who not only inspired with their writing, but also their spirit and encouragement, for example Tamara Shoemaker. 🙂
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*Editor’s Note: Aww, thanks!
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3.) Name your favorite character in the book, and tell us what made that character so special/difficult/fun/annoying/challenging to write.

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This is a really hard question. Metropolitan Dreams, like a city, is told from the points of view of many characters. While most books have one or two main characters, Met Dreams has many. Will they know if I’ve picked a favourite? What if they then won’t do what I want them to do in future?
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*Editor’s Note: My characters NEVER do what I want them to do. They are like willful children. If you discover the secret of making them obey, please let me know. 😉
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Okay, I’ll risk it. Cal McKinley. We find him suffering from trauma and self-doubt from the very early stages of the book. He is a Tube-driver who has witnessed a death and is struggling to cope with it. Cal starts to experience unusual events, and he is not sure if he is suffering from a mental illness/disorder such as PTSD. As the story progresses, it becomes clear to Cal that not everything is as it seems. As he progresses through his journey of discovery, he gets to meet many interesting characters and visit some unique locations.
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4.) What are some of the challenges you’ve faced–and overcome–to take your story from your computer and put it out into the big, wide world of readers? What were your fears/concerns, and what were you looking forward to? Is anything like you hoped or dreaded?
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There are too many to count. The English school system was not interested in teaching grammar to school children when I was younger. Despite the fact that I seem to have coped fairly well without it, it has always been something I have been very ware of, and I knew full well that I needed to seek a great deal of help to write a novel. This is where Emily June Street came in. However, it would be unjust to say she ‘just’ helped in this aspect. A great editor–and Emily is one–will tease out central plots, act as a voice of reason, and even help with last minute adjustments to story continuity. Emily has been a blessing. If you can find a wonder editor like Emily (or Tamara), then I would urge you to do so.
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*Editor’s Note: I bow to Emily’s far superior skills. Absolutely agree. She is truly the best there is.
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I was very nervous about sending the draft to Emily. When it left the walls of my e-mail server, it was like sending a child beyond the city gates and having no idea what might become of them.
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Few of my friends knew about my writing, and the entire thing has been one long journey of slowly letting go and facing the fears I have.
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5.) And, because you did it to me, here’s payback. Think fast, put your first impulse answer:
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London or Paris?
London (I couldn’t really say anything else, could I?  🙂 )
Book or Movie?
Book.
Peanut butter or Marmite?
PB – although I do have an allergy to peanuts, but I’d rather that than Marmite.
Disney World or Universal Studios?
This question should be disallowed. Can’t I pick one park from each?
Universal because of Islands of Adventure, or Harry Potter, if I had to choose.
A pic of Disney on our trip Dec 2010, to balance this out a bit.
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London Tube or double-decker bus?
Tube – have you been on a double-decker?
*Editor’s Note: Yes, in both London and Dublin. One thing was for sure: it wasn’t boring… 😉
Mountains or Beach?
This question is really not fair. I choose both. I’ve attached a picture where my family are from. The picture is on the Atlantic coast, a straight line all the way to the East coast US (apart from some rugged islands where they recently filmed Star Wars).
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Instrumental or W/ Lyrics?
Probably instrumental.
Cats or Dogs?
Dogs.
Twitter or Facebook?
Twitter.
Early bird or Night owl?
Umm. Early bird.
Tolkien or Lewis?
Tolkien.
Dragons or Hippogriffs?
Dragons, of course.
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6.) Say the world has ended in a colossal explosion, and you and three others are the only survivors (who apparently now live on an alternate planet). You have the chance to rebuild it, but all you have among you is a train ticket, a ball of steel wire, a dusty old lamp that may or may not include a genie inhabitant, and a piece of Ever-Last gum. How would you proceed? (New world must be built. I look forward to seeing what you do with this). 😉
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This is possibly the hardest (and strangest) question I have ever been asked!
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I’m assuming the three others would be my wife and two children. 🙂
I’ve also assumed I can’t ask the genie for unlimited wishes. That would be cheating. You normally get three, right?
I’d ask for the world to be returned to the way it was.
I’d ask for more equality and justice in the world (I’m not asking for much, am I?).
I’d ask the genie where they would like to go, and I’d gift them the train ticket to that destination.
I’d craft a gift for the genie from the steel wire, lamp, and gum and wish him/her a wonderful life of freedom and happiness. And I’d remind them that they should remember my gift the next time they think about doing something mischievous (it might remind them that bad things happened before, and it might help to avoid them becoming captured again).
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This is a tale of two cities.

Darkness and light.

Sinners and angels.

In the daylight, London sparkles, beckoning tourists, optimists and dreamers from across the globe. The sunlit city weaves together the lives of repentant crime-lords, altruistic nightclub bouncers and resolute detectives.

In the darkness, London festers, drools, tempts and corrupts. It is a world where the desperate are lured, the weak are exploited, and good men wrap themselves in the blanket of criminal rewards. In the seething streets, the hissing underground stations and lost subterranean rivers, the metropolitan dreams of ethical hackers, desperate criminals and traumatized Tube-drivers unfold.

Maria, a vulnerable twelve-year-old from Kerala, India, has travelled half the world in search of her past and hopes for the future. Within hours, violent chaos engulfs her. Maria is tracked, hunted and pursued—she can rescue the city, but first she must save herself.

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Mark is one of the founders of FlashDogs, a global community of talented flash fiction writers. His flash fiction stories have been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. Mark was born and raised in London, works in Cambridge, and lives in Norfolk, England.