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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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The Dragon’s tooth (Ashtown Burials: Book1) – Review

The Dragon’s tooth (Ashtown Burials #1)

N.D. Wilson


The short:

A very strong beginning to another great trilogy. N.D. Wilson creates a secret society on earth that is original and believable.  Rowling and Riordan fans cannot go wrong with this book!  Ashtown feels magical and historic. I wish I could go there myself.

 This novel is entertaining for all ages. It is packed with adventure from start to finish and at no point loses pace.  This book is very suspenseful. Readers will enjoy the amount of suspense as Cyrus and Antigone figure out what the heck has just happened to them.

The Long:

This series reads very differently than what I expected. The dragon’s tooth felt like a suspense-adventure. Wilson 100 cupboard series started similarly, with mysterious happening mixed with new adventures.  This new series has more action in the first installment than the 100 cupboards.  I felt like I was Cyrus and experiencing the same question that he had throughout the entire story.

Wilson does an amazing job painting a scene with words. His characters experience a number of events and witness so much in Ashtown.  Every item, character, and event feels very original and unique if you are trying to compare them to other series.

Wilson’s characters are creative and feel very natural. They are a blend of real and crazy that does not push them to the extreme. The society is a great mix of the past with the future; giving Ashtown the feel of a walk through live action role play history book, while walking through a museum (kind of like night at the museum.) I wish I could find this place and fight others in hot air balloons games and ride a shark and use quick water.


Spectacular Imagery

Nonstop suspense and action

Very original concept


The second book wasn’t out right after I read the first.

The Story:

(Taken from Goodreads)

For two years, Cyrus and Antigone Smith have run a sagging roadside motel with their older brother, Daniel. Nothing ever seems to happen. Then a strange old man with bone tattoos arrives, demanding a specific room.

Less than 24 hours later, the old man is dead. The motel has burned, and Daniel is missing. And Cyrus and Antigone are kneeling in a crowded hall, swearing an oath to an order of explorers who have long served as caretakers of the world’s secrets, keepers of powerful relics from lost civilizations, and jailers to unkillable criminals who have terrorized the world for millennia.

The Writing: 

N.D. Wilson writes this story mostly from the point of Cyrus. He does very little background of what going on to Cyrus as you is read through the story. Some readers found this to be a negative; I found it to be a strong aspect of the writing and tone of this book.  Wilson wrote this novel in third person POV, but I felt like I was reading a first person point of view. I was confused about what was going on because Cyrus was confused about what was going on. When in life to you enter a new situation, and somebody standing behind you is telling you what’s happening and why; never, that’s when. Cyrus is plunged into a mysterious society and life very quickly. He had to figure out what was going on as it happened, just like the reader had to. I loved this style of reading.

The Characters:

I will leave most of the characters out for this review so you can be introduced to them like I was. Wilson’s characters are fresh and original and often surprising as the book unfolds.  Every character involved with the society is quirky, has unique skills, and the right amount of back-story for you to really understand all of them.

Cyrus Smith- Cyrus is an impatient youth. His life has come onto some hardships. His father is dead, his mother in a coma, and he lives in a rundown motel now owned by his older brother.  He seems a little fed up with most of the world, and going to a secret society filled with pretentious people doesn’t make him any happier. He rises to the challenge set forth in a way I would expect a boy his age too. He was challenged and no one thought he could do it; that got his competitive edge going to prove them wrong.

Antigone Smith- The strong willed sister of Cyrus. She is the brains to Cy’s athleticism.  She and Cy both enter the secret society and become members together. She is a strong female character and an extra POV that rounds out the POV of Cyrus very well.


Definitely read this one. This series will be one for the bookshelf. Wilson really improved from his last series, The 100 cupboards, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  If you are a fan of N.D. Wilson, you will love it. If you were disappointed with the 100 Cupboards series, this one makes N.D. Wilson’s writing worth another try.

I loved this book and can’t wait to read the second in the series. If you are a fan of Hogwarts or Camp Half-Blood; you must read this book and become a fan of Ashtown!


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