Category Archives: Interviews

Interviews that I have done with authors

Interview with Claribel Ortega- Author of The Skinwalker’s Apprentice

Everyone ready to get into the mind of Claribel Ortega? I had the chance to ask her a few question after reading her debut novella, The Skinwalker’s Apprentice. This debut novella is the prologue to her upcoming Empire Witch Series.

Ortega introduces us to the pink haired upstart Emerald Kipp to our left over hear. Emerald is a great new female character who should turn out to be a great new which, but breaks the mold of today’s Hogwarts wizards.

Everyone stop by Claribel Ortega’s website. Get updates on her new series, and maybe the chance to win a signed copy to. You can also talk to Claribel on Twitter and ask her about The Skinwalker’s Apprentice yourself!

Original review here.

Lets start off with a fun question; if someone spotted you eating your favorite food while watching your favorite TV show, what would each be?

It would be pizza, for sure and I am currently watching Sherlock on Netflix and I love it!

Pick you favorite heroine from any book you have ever read, and convince us why they are the best heroine ever?

My favorite heroine is Lisbeth Salander from The Millennium Trilogy. She’s a hacker, she’s super smart, and she’s resilient. Her character goes through so much and she is able to pick herself up from devastating circumstances, and really kick butt. She has her own moral compass, which might not necessarily line up with the rest of society, but that’s what makes her so cool. She is loyal, intelligent and independent, and she’s someone you find yourself cheering for even if she also scares you just a little.

The YA genre has hundreds of possibilities, what compelled you to write a magic series?

Claribel Ortega

Author Claribel Ortega

Magic and fantasy has always fascinated me. The Hobbit, LOTR and Harry Potter as well as The Chronicles of Narnia are amongst my favorite books/series. I also really like Sci-fi and crime novels, but Emerald’s story just came to me first, and once I started writing it was like an avalanche.

Your first series is all about witches and magic, what will make The Skinwalker’s Apprentice and Empire Witch series stand out from the rest?

I think there are a few things that make it different. First, my books have strong historical roots. From the settings, to the characters, there are many aspects of the series that are inspired by real life NY residents and occurrences. For example, there is a character in book one (Emerald Kipp & The Riddle of the Timekeeper) named Henrietta Snowden. She was nicknamed The Witch of East Broadway and was a real life resident of NYC in the late 1800’s. I spent months in the NYPL researching and finding these stories which, really are magical on their own, and I made them a part of Emerald’s world and my alternate NYC.

Setting my series in the 1980’s will also help it stand out, because there is so much that has changed between teenagers then and now, and so much that really hasn’t changed. It was interesting for me to write about those similarities and to explore the differences, something as simple as not being able to text your friend to tell them where you are, it changes the dynamics of every day life.  Being able to include music, and 80’s music specifically will also be something to help the book stand out in the fantasy genre. It’s fun, and it can also be mysterious and lends itself well to fast paced action and more dramatic situations. There’s a lot of Smiths music J

Lastly, Emerald is, I hope, not your typical heroin. She has a mind of her own, but she’s also extremely flawed. She has many issues, and hang ups, but she is also confident about certain aspects of her life. She is not black and white, she is all over the place, and I think that makes her real and it makes her human. Emerald also doesn’t focus solely on a male love interest, there is love in my series, but it takes a backseat to friendship and family.

You graduated from college with a degree in journalism, was it always your goal to be an author?

Actually no it wasn’t, but not because I didn’t enjoy creative writing. It’s quite the opposite, I have always enjoyed writing poetry, short stories and lyrics, but I was always terrified of sharing it with others. As a reporter, I wrote articles about school board meetings, and community events, so the writing was structured and obviously really different from writing a fiction novel. It felt almost safe to write articles, even though there are critics for all styles of writing, what I wrote was more fact based and straight forward. People tend to get a lot more passionate when reading about witches and things that can’t really happen lol. It’s strange but true. I feel like I ran away from being a writer, I tried switching careers, but it was like a nagging thought that wouldn’t go away. Once I began forming Emerald’s story, there was no turning back. I became obsessed with the world, the characters, and the history. It’s so hard not being able to blurt out everything that happens, because it goes so much further than The Skinwalker’s Apprentice, but that’s something readers will hopefully find out for themselves.

Now some more question on your new series; how many books are you planning for The Empire Witch series?

For now three, but there I think depending on how the rest of the series unfolds, there could be more.

When did you realize that the Empire Witch series needed a prologue?

Book one is a third of the way done, and while I was writing it I realized Margo’s story needed it’s own book. She is central to the rest of the series and the story of her apprenticeship needed to be explained in depth in order for people to get a better feel for the rest of the series. It all comes together in a way people probably are not expecting at all, and I think fleshing Margo’s story out will only make it that much more enjoyable and that much ore of a “HOLY CRAP” moment for readers. At least I hope so!

If you were a witch and only able to only perform one type of spell/enchantment, what would that spell be? The magic you chose can be from your universe or another.

This is hard…hmm, I think any spell that made me invisible would really come in handy. I would say being able to fly on a broom, but I’m too much of a chicken for that.

Is the music that Emerald listens to a glimpse into your own playlist?

Some yes, some no. I also love The Smiths, but I can’t say I’ve ever listened to Echo and the Bunnymen or Siouxsie and the Banshees before researching them for the book. Emerald likes a mixture of more mainstream music (UB40, The Police) and little known bands. That being said, I listen to all of Emerald’s music now, and I love it.

When can we expect Emerald Kipp and the Riddle of the Timekeeper, the first full book, to be released?

It should be out in the fall of 2014 from Winslet Press, but I will keep you posted with a more concrete release date when the time comes!

I am already ready to read the first in the series. The Empire Witch Series will be a strong new magic series. The Skinwalker’s apprentice already had a 4.5 start rating on Goodreads!

Thanks to Claribel Ortega for taking the time to answer some questions. Check back for more reviews and interview with Ortega as well as a potential giveaway of The Skinwalker’s Apprentice, signed by Claribel!

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Interview with Bethan-Ann Scott: Author of Empress Fallen

Bethan-Ann Scott is the youngest author I have had the chance to work with so far. Her first novel, Empress Fallen, is an exciting Space Opera that made its debut Late 2013.  Ms. Scott is already a well-traveled Scottish adventurer with an exciting career  ahead of her -(find some more out about her here.)

Among the many blogs Bethan-Ann hosts is The Writer, her fantasy fiction blog.  Talk to her on twitter to find out more about her and her other blogs, you could like her on Facebook too.

This interview has been my most unique and interesting one to date. Bethan-Ann shared with me some thought provoking ideas behind her writing, as well as a very entertaining ramble, and one answer that is practically an adventure story of its own.  Read on to see what I mean, and if you missed the review, find it here.

You are a very young author, with several blogs and now your first published novel, what gave you the inspiration and motivation to start writing?

One word: space. I’ve always had an irresistible fascination with the stars, and I want nothing more than to travel among them. However, I was enticed away from my first ambition to become an astronaut by a love of economics, history and politics. I’ve been writing ever since I could hold a pencil, and I was actually about eight years old when I began my first novel, a children’s fantasy book called ‘Ramosia’. I still have those 30,000ish words stashed away somewhere, and who knows, I may revisit them again in the future! My motivation comes through an ardent love of the power of words and imagination. And I think that sense of being anything you want to be, going anywhere you want to go, is just seductively enticing. That power of creation is a power like no other, and I relish becoming lost in my own creations. It’s really the path to immortality, isn’t it? Something Carl Sagan once said (one of my idols of course) has always driven me, ‘books break the shackles of time, proof that humans can work magic.’

Empress Fallen is a Space-Opera that portrays government ambiguity; Was the original idea for Empress fallen to have political undertones?

Yes, it was. I had recently read Orwell’s ‘1984’ and was beginning delve into works by the likes of Friedman and Hayek. I was intrigued by the idea of a bloated government entangled within the entrapments of labyrinthine bureaucracy, as well as how political freedom is sacrificed when power is concentrated. So I essentially created an authoritarian state with elements of economic freedom but blatant corruption and ethical perversion. But I also can’t resist filling my stories with adventure, as well as that essential ingredient: romance. I’m going to decorate my words with another Carl Sagan quote: ‘for small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love.’

For your career as a writer, would you rather be more known for your fantasy-fiction or political undertones in your writing (or perhaps something else)? Or more simply if you don’t want to answer that one is — Where would you hope to see your writing career in the future?

Great question. But I’ll answer the second one too! Firstly, I’d definitely want to be known for my political undertones, because I have plans to explore other genres too, such as high fantasy, literary fiction, historical fiction, murder mystery, and action adventure/thriller. Although there will most likely be scifi elements creeping into all of those! I’d love to be known as a political writer.

And as for the second question? Well, I’m someone who sets myself almost unattainably high standards, as well as being crazily competitive and insanely ambitious . . . so ideally, because why not, the truth is, well, probably the wildest dreams of any writer, would be something along the lines of the following: publish three books a year, all of them bestsellers, books rapidly made into internationally bestselling blockbusters that win ten Academy awards each, books then win a plethora of prizes, (the Pulitzer, the Carnegie, the Man Booker, definitely the Man Booker), travel all over the world as a philanthropist and advocate of peace and democracy, write some fiercely analytical and poignant political non-fiction that lead to international acclaim and honours from the Queen, then have a daring adventure across some war-torn nation chased by separatists or extremists where I fall madly in love with a fellow victim, before we finally make it back on British soil following an international campaign for our safe return, maybe another Man Booker, then somewhere along the way, a Nobel Peace Prize and a Nobel Prize in Literature. Also, somewhere in there, I also intend to be the second female British Prime Minister (either as a Tory or heading up a reinvented New Liberal Party centred around Friedman’s economics), as well as the Editor-in-Chief of The Economist, and the first person to set foot on Mars . . .

But I digress . . . My more realistic targets for my writing career are to publish at least one book a year from now on, and achieve widespread critical acclaim. (One of my life goals is to have one of my books made into a film by JJ Abrams!) Sorry for that long-winded reply, but my imagination tends to take off when I’ve had too much caffeine.

What is your favorite scene from Empress Fallen?

Aargh, how can you ask that? That’s like asking a parent to pick a favourite child! No . . . I can do this. Right, let’s think . . . Ok, my favourite scene would have to be . . . (spoiler alert!) when Miriam and co. are trying to escape the Eversor missile, when she kills her father, and when she finally tells Damon she loves him. My second favourite scene is the confrontation between Aliya and the Empress at the top of the Imperial Tower in Regnum, when all hell breaks lose. Also, I absolutely loved writing the final scene just before the epilogue!

What books are you reading now, or what type of books do you typically read?

Wow. That’s a question with a looong answer, but I’ll try to keep it concise! I read across a very wide range of genres. My all-time favourite books include Wuthering Heights, The Lord of the Rings, Murder on the Orient Express, The War of the Worlds, Life of Pi, and 1984. The book I’m reading right now is called ‘The Storyteller’ by Jodi Picoult.

What was your biggest take-away from your first experience writing a novel?

That sense of pride and satisfaction when you first hold a copy of your book in your hands. That’s an insurmountable emotion. And just the sense of accomplishment at completing a year-long project, and of course, the feedback from readers is so motivational. I can’t wait to work on and improve on areas that need improvement.

How did you choose to publish independently? Who was the greatest help along the way?

Well, I initially tried the traditional publishing route but their timescales were far too long and I wanted it published before I applied to university, so I withdrew my agency submissions. But in the future I’ll probably always try traditional first before committing to doing it independently. I think this is the consensus among most authors. It’s just fantastic that POD technology and the ebook market are liberating literature and advocating the love of reading and writing across the world. The landscape of literature is shifting, the tectonic plates are moving, and it heralds an era of independence, a new golden age. The success of an author no longer lies in the corrupt and sordid hands of the editor, with the single subjectivity of one individual with eyes only for money, but in the hands of the most supreme judge . . . the reader. Talent is now paramount. It’s great.

When writing Empress Fallen, did you start writing from the beginning, end, or somewhere in the middle of the book?

I started from the beginning but I actually only added in the prologue later on. The prologue-epilogue frame narrative was something I only realised was what I wanted about a third of the way through the novel.

Who was the first character or scene you created for Empress Fallen? I.E. where did the idea of Empress Fallen first begin?

The first character I created was the Empress herself. I remember when I first began thinking about this story almost two years ago now, I wrote down a string of ideas, something like, ‘empire, corrupt society, oppressed proletariat, empress, revolution.’ And it really just grew from there!

What was the hardest aspect of writing Empress Fallen?

The hardest aspect would probably be being forced to hurt my characters, my creations. I know that sounds rather odd and hypocritical as I’m the one hurting them, but sometimes the story just takes the author along for the ride!

Are you currently working on a sequel to Empress Fallen? How is it coming along?

Yes, Book II of the Through Darkness trilogy is coming along nicely! It’s called ‘Erebus Born’ and begins just over two months after the events of Book I. I’ve almost hit 20,000 words and plan to release it in November 2014. (And Book III of the trilogy will be released in November 2015!)

After the series is complete, do you have plans for a new series?

Oh, I have a thousand and one ideas! I suspect this is the same for all writers, especially those of fantasy and science fiction. Our heads are just teeming with stories. But the thing I’ll probably write first is a near-future science fiction called ‘Suspended in a Sunbeam’ set on Earth just after robots are distributed into households and factories worldwide. It centres around a young astrophysicist and explorer, John Ptolemy Falconer, and the new global space race! There’s also an epic scifi-fantasy series I’ve been planning called ‘The Nexus Key’, which involves Magi and FTL travel among other things. I also have a romance murder mystery in the works set in 19th century industrial London, as well as a literary fiction story that centres around a young Scottish student volunteering in Vietnam, who meets a mysterious, silent boy on the banks of the Red River and rapidly becomes drawn into a whole new reality of hardship, love and courage. Thank you for all these fantastic questions, by the way. Now, I’ll get back to writing! (After I make another cup of tea!)

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Interview With Dianne Astle- Author of Ben the Dragonborn

19015246Dianne Astle is one of the newest authors to hit the eBook market. Her new YA fiction, Ben the Dragonborn hit the internet shelves November, 2013. It is the first of many adventures in The Six Worlds Series. Ben the Dragonborn is an exciting read for  adventurous boys and the young at heart. I am certainty looking forward to the next Six Worlds story.

Dianne Astle has the first 3 chapters, available for free, on the Ben the Dragonborn website. Head over and jump into the adventure and explore all the extras.

I had the pleasure of asking Dianne a few questions about her first book. Check out the interview below and connect with Dianne on twitter to tell her how much you loved the book when you are finished reading!

You say you stopped reading fiction for a long time. How long? And how did you start again and create the idea of Ben the Dragonborn?

Dianne Astle

Author Diane Astle

I read very little fiction for over 10 years.  Then I came close to crashing and burning during a year when I was home schooling my son as well as working at a challenging job.  There was far too much pressure in my life, and it was made worse by rarely taking time to play.  In an attempt to maintain sanity I started to read fiction.   Sometimes I would read aloud to my son.  We went through the entire Narnia and Lord of the Rings series.

What books are you reading now, or what type of books do you typically read?

My favorite author is Stephen Lawhead.  I loved his Endless Knot trilogy.  I am also a great fan of Terry Brooks, particularly his Children of Armageddon Series.   I liked Narnia, Harry Potter and of course Lord of the Rings.  My favorite books are generally fantasy, but I also enjoy mysteries and historical fiction.  At the moment I am discovering and reading the Indie authors that I am meeting on line.

What is your favorite scene from Ben the Dragonborn?

I think my favorite scene comes near the end of the book. It is when Charla the mermaid picks up the Mer king’s crown and hands it to a human.   Returning the crown herself would have brought the recognition she longed for.  Giving the crown away to humans to return to the Mer king was an act of grace.

Are any of your characters similar to you or people you know?

I love the characters in Ben the Dragonborn.  I enjoy spending time in their company and introducing them to others.  I can’t say that any of them are patterned after someone I know.  They are likely composites.  And I think that a little bit of myself lives in each of the characters.

What was your biggest take-away from your first experience writing a novel?

To tell you the truth my biggest take-away is amazement that I could write something so fabulous (at least in my biased opinion).  I sometimes fear that this is a one-time event and I will never be able to repeat it.

Is there anything you wish you did differently in the story or while writing Ben the Dragonborn?

I worked really hard to produce a book free of spelling and grammatical errors.   When I thought it was perfect and print published the first draft a retired teacher bought it.  She gave it back to me with corrections. I was mortified, but also very grateful that she had the courage to draw the mistakes to my attention.   So I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that any future books need to have an editor.  I feel strongly that anything we publish needs to be the best it can be.  We should not expect people to celebrate books that are full of spelling mistakes and grammatical problems.

What was the first character or scene that came into form when writing Ben the Dragonborn?

I had the basic idea of six worlds bound together by portals under the care of a Guardian with watchers on each world.  The first character to come into being  was Ben and his ability to transform into a dragon.

Do you have a process or routine when writing or generating ideas?

I don’t think anyone would ever hire me to teach a course on how to write a novel.  I did not start with a plan laid out from beginning to end.  I often found myself going back to add scenes.  I added the episode in the library after the rough draft was complete.  At one point Ben was in the clutches of a person eating plant.  The plant episode did not make the final draft.  I was afraid the book was getting too episodic.  I wanted to give character development more attention.

Are you currently working on a sequel to Ben the Dragonborn? Or working on a new idea?

I started writing a sequel.  Once I get Ben the Dragonborn well and truly launched I will return to it.  In the sequel Ben goes to his mother’s home world to learn how to safely transform into a dragon.  Ben must go to his grandfather who will not be happy to learn that he has a half-breed grandson.

Do you have plan for more in the Six Worlds Series?

I do plan to keep writing and have every intention of writing more Six Worlds books.  I think there may be some stories featuring other students from Fairhaven. Perhaps Ben and Denzel will go off world together.  There also could be stories of the Chosen who come from other world to Earth.  The possibilities are endless.

Original Review Here

Thank you again to Dianne for taking the time to share with us! Everyone comeback for more reviews and interviews with Dianne Astle, and other new authors.

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Interview with Emma Silver- Author of Blackbrooke

BlackbrookeRecently, I had the pleasure of reading Emma Silvers debut horror Blackbrooke. A thrilling tale of monsters and mysteries, Blackbrooke is a refreshing new series proving that not all monster sparkle in the light and fall in love with humans. I encourage Ya Fiction fans and Horror fans of all ages to check out Emma Silver’s Blackbrooke

Stop by Emma Silvers blog. Then get to reading Blackbrooke. The third book of the trilogy is coming out sometime this year!

I asked Emma a few questions about her and her first series. Be sure to come back for reviews of the rest of her series and more interview with Emma!

 

What Books and Authors shaped your reading and writing styles?

Stephen King was the main one for sure. I started reading horror books very young and devoured the Goosebumps and Point Horror series’ very quickly, so I needed someone more. I was about nine when I started reading King and I loved the ideas and the suspense. The Shining and IT were my favorites as a child and I wanted to try and frighten readers just like he did. 

 

Who would you choose as an author to be your mentor?

Haha! It has to be Stephen King, although I’m really into Joe Hill too. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree with that one; although I do think the writing style is very different, but equally as good. I had the pleasure of meeting Joe Hill recently and he’s just the most delightful ball of energy who clearly has fun, not only writing, but meeting his readers. He’s an inspiration. 

 

What do you find most challenging about your writing process?

Author Emma Silver

 Editing. The ideas and the first draft is always great but then the editing…well, let’s just say

it takes its toll. It’s very difficult to take a step back and declare a piece of work as ‘done’. I could happily tinker with my work until the day I die but you have to learn to let it go and be proud of the finished product. 

 

For how long was Blackbrooke just an “idea?”

 Not long. I thought about a town that had to live by a set of rules and started writing it the following day. 

 

What inspired you to write Blackbrooke?

 I really wanted to buck the trend of paranormal romance which seemed to monopolize the YA book market up until a few years ago. I wanted to create monsters that were monsters and not something for the heroine to fall in love with. The humans are humans in Blackbrooke – no special powers lurking underneath. That was important to me. 

 

How long did it take you to write Blackbrooke?

The first draft was done and dusted within about six weeks but I made a fair few changes to it during the editing process. I think all in all it took around four months to have it completed and ready to send to the publisher. 

Are any scenes written from experiences you had?

A few of the school scenes are based on conversations I’ve had or ones I’ve overheard during my time as a pupil. I created the character of Gemma as the girl I always wished I was at the time. I was a bit of state in school so would have loved to be one of the pretty, popular girls. However, it’s only as an adult you realize they weren’t all they’re cracked up to be. I wrote Gemma with the flaws you only notice when you’re an adult. She isn’t the most pleasant to those who aren’t her friends but fiercely loyal to the select few she lets into her circle. Characters such as Denzil and Marie are based on people I know, which were lovely to write. 

 

Is there a character that is most similar to you? 

 When people who knew me read the book they said Liberty reminded them of me. I think they’re just being polite though! I couldn’t cope with the huge amount of crap she’s had to deal with! I’m certainly as goofy as Denzil but that’s as close as it gets. 

 

Could you give us some insight into how you came up with some of your ideas?

 Just from the things that used to scare me when I was a child. I remember waking up in the night when I was very young and swearing I saw red eyes in my room that slowly faded. I was terrified and put the duvet over my head. It was something that has always stayed with me and my imagination would run riot thinking about what the creature with the red eyes looked like. I hate vultures so that’s why the Crits have long necks too. The Crits are basically a Frankenstein’s monster of all of the things that scare me. 

Thats all folks. Check out the original review if you are still not convinced.  Then go read Blackbrooke II: The Guardian

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Interview with Donna Cook

Gift of the Phoenix

I recently had the privilege of reading and reviewing Gift of the Phoenix by Donna Cook. Gift of the Phoenix is a new YA Epic Fanasy and was Kindle Book of The Year semifinalist for 2013.  I was lucky enough to have the chance to do an interview with Donna and ask her a few Question about her and Gift of the Phoenix.

Head over to Donna’s Blog to see what she is working on now. And be sure to pick up read her new novel Gift of the Phoenix at Amazon. Cook has written one prequel novella titled Nashua’s Chronicles, and an upcoming sequel to Gift of the Phoenix is in the works.

What made you start writing?

When I first learned how to read, I remember my mother explaining where books come from. I was so young, I guess I thought books came into existence all by themselves. She told me the author is the person who makes up the story. My eyes grew wide and I thought, I want to do THAT. She may as well have told me how to cast spells, it seemed such a magical revelation. I still feel such joyous playfulness when I create stories. I can’t think of anything else I’d rather do.

What books are you reading now, or what type of books do you typically read?

I read all across the board, but contemporary fiction is the bulk of it. I’m also fond of a good classic, quality young adult, and the occasional fantasy. Right now I’m reading A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving. Other recent reads: The Rosie Project, by Simsion Graeme; Incantation, by Alice Hoffman; Little Bee, by Chris Cleave; The End of Your Life Book Club, by Will Schwalbe; and Her Fearful Symmetry, by Audrey Niffenegger. Fantasy books I frequently recommend: The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss and The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner.

Do you have a schedule/system/routine for your writing?

I wish I were better about this. My husband and I have six kids between us, five still at home. There are days when I can put in a few hours and days when there’s not a minute to spare and I collapse into bed exhausted. When the kids are grown, I hope to have a better schedule. Until then I do what I can and try to enjoy them while I still have them.

Who edited your book, how did you find/choose them?

Displaying Donna Cook author Gift of the Phoenix.jpg

Donna Cook- Author of Gift of the Phoenix

If there is something you know now, that you wish you knew when you started writing, what would it be?

Well, I started quite young so there were all kinds of things I didn’t know. I wish I’d really understood how much time and practice it takes to develop the advanced writing skills required to create a solid novel. I would have been easier on myself and not so discouraged by false starts. I think this is why I love to encourage young aspiring writers. Go forth and be fearless!

What genre do you consider Gift of the Phoenix? Do you plan to focus your writing career mostly in this genre?

Gift of the Phoenix is an epic fantasy adventure. There will be at least one follow-up novel, plus I have another stand-alone fantasy in the works. I’m sure I’ll get back to my literary roots and write a contemporary fiction novel, but I don’t know when that will be. I’ve learned the hard way that the Muse is in charge of things like that.

(After the GofP sequel) do you have plans for another novel or series?

Answered above, but I hope to write until the day I die. I’ll write as many novels as fate allows.

What types of inspiration help you to create the characters and magic in Gift of the Phoenix?

Sometimes I know exactly where I got an idea, but other ideas seem to spring into existence from nothing at all. Music often inspires me. Loreena McKennitt’s The Mask and the Mirror album is a favored way to get my creative mojo going. The theme song from Forrest Gump inspired the horse race between Marcellus and Janus. I also love looking at old maps and fantastical illustrations of faeries or mythical creatures. I don’t directly use what I’m looking at, but it gets my mind working. When I first had the idea to write a book about a Phoenix, I made a list of my favorite things and brainstormed ways to work them into the story. Only a small percentage of those ideas stuck, but it was a fun exercise. My love of lighthouses led to the creation of the Rock of Light.

When writing Gift of the Phoenix, did you start writing from the beginning, end, or somewhere in the middle of the book?

With most of my projects, Gift of the Phoenix included, I use a plain spiral notebook to brainstorm ideas for plot, scenes, and characters. I work randomly, so by the time I’m done the notebook is an unorganized mess. The book is pretty well set in my mind though. I figure anything I forget wasn’t good enough to keep anyway. Once I start writing the draft, I work from beginning to end.

What is your favorite scene from of Gift of the Phoenix?

Oooh, that’s a tough one. I have so many! Corren going through the Labyrinth. Nicolai tending to King Clement. Marcellus and Corren in the Haven of Kings. Just about any scene with Janus. 🙂

Who was the first character from the Gift of the Phoenix cast that you created?

The Three were created as one, inspired by my three boys, who were quite small at the time. One day I told my oldest son a story about three boys who go off on an adventure, each with their own magical stone. I wasn’t crazy about the story itself, but I loved the idea of three protagonists, and the three stones. Corren, Marcellus, and Nicolai formed organically, with personalities very different from my sons.

Can you tell us anything about the coming sequel?

Hmmm…. I tend to be quite tight-lipped about these things. Especially since I so enjoy weaving a mystery, which you saw in Gift of the Phoenix.  I can tell you the sequel picks up right where Gift of the Phoenix left off. When Corren divides the egg of ash into seven parts, ceremonially placing each branch’s ash into their respective orbs, the Heads of the branches retrieve their ash from the altar. Only one orb will not lift off the stone. It’s up to Corren to figure out why. The answer entwines the fate of the Three with… well, that’s all I’m going to say. Sorry!

I want to thank Donna Cook again for taking the time to answer a few questions for me! This is the first interview I have been able to do for my blog. I look forward to the next in the series. If you would like to see my review of Gift of the Phoenix check it out here:

Gift of the Phoenix by Donna Cook – Review

Be sure to come back for another review and interview of Donna Cooks next novel, as well as other YA fantasy interviews and review.

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