Monday, September 23, 2013

Goddess Tithe Cover Reveal

I am very very excited to part of the Goddess Tithe cover reveal! When I did water colors in my senior year blue was my favorite color to work with. This cover has a lot of blue tones and reminds me of water colors.

The Vengeful Goddess
Demands Her Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya's only hope to return safely home.
Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown's garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?

Cover Design Intro:

I had the fun of designing this cover—finding reference photos, inventing the composition, applying the text, etc.—but the actual artistic work was done by talented cover artist Phatpuppy (, whose work I have admired for many years. It was such a thrill for me to contact and commission this artist to create a look for Goddess Tithe that is reminiscent of the original novels but has a style and drama all its own.

The boy on the front was quite a find. I hunted high and low for an image of a boy the right age, the right look, with the right expression on his face. Phatpuppy and I worked with a different model through most of the cover development stage. But then I happened upon this image, and both she and I were delighted with his blend of youth, stubbornness, and strength of character! It wasn’t difficult to switch the original boy for this young man. He simply is Munny, and this cover is a perfect window into the world of my story.

You can’t see it here, but the wrap-around back cover for the print copy contains some of the prettiest work . . . including quite a scary sea monster! Possibly my favorite detail is the inclusion of the ghostly white flowers framing the outer edge. These are an important symbol in the story itself, and when Phatpuppy sent me the first mock-up cover with these included, I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!

Elisabeth on the Illustrations in the book. 

Intro to Illustration:

There are eight full-page illustrations in Goddess Tithe featuring various characters and events from the story. This is the first one in the book. I decided to share it with all of you since it depicts my young hero, Munny the cabin boy, under the watchful eye of his mentor, the old sailor Tu Pich. Munny is on his first voyage, and he is determined to learn all there is to know about a life at sea as quickly as possible. Thus we see him utterly intent upon the knot he is learning to tie. Tu Pich is old enough to know that no sailor will ever learn all there is to know about the sea. Thus he looks on, grave, caring, and perhaps a little sad. He might be looking upon his own younger self of many years ago, fumbling through the hundreds of difficult knots his fingers must learn to tie with unconscious ease.
I enjoyed creating all the illustrations for Goddess Tithe, but this one was my favorite. I love the contrasts of light and dark, the contrasts of young and old . . . youthful intensity versus the perspective of age.

Now here is an excerpt from the story. 

Excerpt from the Story:
Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:


“And what do you make of him yourself?”
Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”
“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.
The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”
Munny made neither answer nor any move.
“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”
“I hope—” Munny began.
But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”
The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.
Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.
“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.
“It’s a sign!”
“She’s warning us!”
“It’s a sign, I tell you!”
Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.
They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.
They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.
Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.
“I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”
There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.
But it was.


Author Bio:

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.

Here is super cool giveaway for you to enter. :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, August 31, 2013

My new phase in life: College

Ahhhh!! My summer has flown by so quickly. I have lost track of time. It has been a great summer. Not only do we have much better weather than we had last year, but I am also graduated from high school and going off to college. It feel like only a little bit ago I was starting high school. Time flew so fast. I will miss being homschooled but I look forward to this new phase of life that will have so much to offer me, so much to learn, and so much to look forward to.

I am  going to talk a little bit about what I have been doing this summer and what I am going to be doing this up coming school year. I am so excited about school! I also what to let you know that school is going to be a priority in my life and while I love to blog it might have to be set on the back burner for a few months. I will try and schedule posts when I have time so I don't completely fall of the planet. 

I am super excited and really nervous about college. I am really happy about the school that I am going to and I cannot wait to start classes. Which actually start on the 9th of September. So they start really really soon!

I am going to be majoring in music. I have only one class this semester that is not music related. It is a writing class. It is a required class for all first year students at my school and it is mostly to help us get use to writing in college. Other wise I have just music. Which suits me just fine. Although I would not mind taking a history, or literature class. I do enjoy other subjects besides music. I am sure I will have an opportunity to take non-music related classes in the future.

I feel sad to be leaving homeschooling behind. I am not sure how I feel about not being home all day. On the one had glad. I was starting to get tired of always being home. Not that I was always home mind you. I did do other things in my life. I won't be seeing my family every hour of every day. That could make me sad on the other hand it might be a relief to see other people and not be stuck with them. Though I am not sure who would be more relieved me or my family. :)

I have really been enjoying my summer break. I didn't take one last year and I really felt like I needed one. Especially with college starting. Overall I have been enjoying my summer to the fullest extent possible.I have not gotten all the books read that I wanted to, but I have been reading. That is something that I am slightly worried about with college. I keep hearing about how college students who were big readers before college found that they didn't have as much time to read while in school. Reading is a big part of who I am and I don't think I will give it up easily. Honestly what is going to happen is I will be going through some kind of withdrawal. I hope that isn't to true. I know I wont have as much time, but I don't want to completely lose my reading time!

That is what has been going on in my life. Basically I graduated and I feel like my life is starting. I have also realized how completely obliviously happy we are as children. We don't have to worry about anything really. I mean the things we worry about really were not all that stressful to worry about. All that is gone now. I feel like I have now officially said goodbye in a way to childhood. However, I don't really think the kid in us ever truly leaves. We all still wish to go to Hogwarts, or Narnia, or to do what ever it was that we pretended or wished for so hard growing up. 

That is all for now! I hope you have had a wonderful summer. For my Australian friends I hope you have had a wonderful winter. :)


PS. The pictures are from my senior photo shoot.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Doctor Who Tag Question 7 & 8

Day 7 - Favorite companions

Martha Jones was the first that I really felt was a true favorite. She was smart. Very smart! She was not the kind of girl who would need someone to come running to save her all the time. She could save herself just as well too. 

I like Amy for similar reason that I like Martha. Amy is a strong inspirational Heroine who doesn't always need to be saved. She is also a red head and Scottish which give her a fierce personality. She is also clever. She may not have the IQ of Martha but she is definitely smart. I was unsure of her when she first came but by the end of her first season I liked her. 

Honestly, who could not love Rory. He is sweet, polite, nice, and very loyal. I like him because he is not the typical macho guy hero for men. He is smart and uses his brain. A bit like the Doctor in that sense. He does not need a gun to defeat his enemies. My sisters and I all agree that Rory is Awesome. 

Day 8 - Least favorite companions

I don't really have a least favorite. I feel that this is unfair, but I do have companions who I feel are not quite well just. I don't know. They just have not completely won me over. 

I go back and forth with Donna. On the one had her personality annoys me, but I know part of her personality is a front to protect herself from being hurt. I also find it interesting that she was truly the Doctor's best friend because she was never really interested in him romantically. She is pretty much like his sister. She also has a soft heart. However her personality makes it very difficult to like her. That is why she falls under least favorite. 

I realize what an extreme shocker it is to see Rose under the "least favorite" category. I honestly feel that her character is a bit overrated. She really is not the cleverest companion compared to the others. Not that she is stupid or dumb. I also feel she is at times a bit self centered. Like when the Doctor first regenerated. She was not worried about him. She was worried about herself. She also gave up on him really fast. While I understand how difficult it must have been. I think she was a bit mellow dramatic about it. I like Rose I just do not like her quite as much as Martha, Amy, and Rory. 

PS. I am not sure River qualifies as a companion but is she was She would definitely fall under the favorite category. 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Doctor Who Tag Question 6

Day 6 - Favorite Doctors (or do you disagree with the idea of having a favorite Doctor, and like all of them equally?)

Mostly I disagree with the idea of having a favorite Doctor. They are all the Doctor. They are just different portrayals of the same person. No. When regeneration happens there is a different set personality. So if you want to speak in terms of the show they are different personalities of the same character. It is complicated. I may particularly care for a particular personality but I cannot say that I have a Doctor that I particularly dislike at the moment. I can't really say I have a favorite either. I really like them all for different reasons. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Doctor Who Tag Question 5

Day 5 - Least favorite episodes

Right of the top I can say "The Unicorn and the Wasp." Giant flying stinging insect. No. That is the thing of my nightmares. I really liked the idea of meeting Agatha Christy.

"The Idiots Lantern" is another. I just really didn't care for it. Something about it just was not clicking for me. I think I had a heard time with the sucking people faces of with a TV. It just was kind of "huh" thing. Most things in Doctor Who are a bit far fetched but this seemed particularly far. 

"The Lazarus Experiment" It's plot just didn't interest me I don't think it really had anything to do with anything in particular. The episode just was not that interesting to me. 

"Midnight" I found the episode just plain disturbing. Interesting the insight into human nature but disturbing also. It was like some kind of philosophical discussion on what people do in a situation like that. A disturbingly most likely accurate one. However I was thrilled to see Colin Morgan in this episode. (Merlin from the BBC show Merlin)

"The Rebel Flesh" another of the I just really didn't care for the plot points. I found the themes and issues interesting, but the story not very compelling. I really did enjoy the way they tried to deal with the issues. So I don't quite feel it is a least favorite. episode. 

"The God complex" It was just a bit weird, and scary. I did enjoy the themes though. I am very big on good themes. Especially well presented ones. 

Those are my least favorite episodes. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Doctor Who Tag Question 4

Day 4 - Favorite episodes and favorite scenes/moments

I am going to do favorite episodes instead of scenes or moments because that is a bit overwhelming. I have a lot of favorite scenes. 

I am going to have to sort this by Doctor. I have episodes that are favorites for certain Doctors. 

Ninth Doctor: The Empty Child: As creepy as this episode is. I really really liked the ending. Anything that has to do with a mother and her children has always had a deep meaning for me. I can't explain it. Dumbo makes me cry every single time I watch it.  

I don't have very  many favorite episodes with the Ninth Doctor. It is not that I don't like his Doctor. I really like Christopher Ecleston as an actor and I like his doctor. His episodes just have not made as much of an impression on me. 

Tenth Doctor: The Shakespeare Code: I love Shakespeare so how could I not get excited about this episode. Not to mention all the Harry Potter references!  I have always had a strong notion of the power of words and this episode explored how words can be powerful.

The Girl In The Fireplace: My whole family loved this episode because when we watched it we had just heard our priest speak about how God experiences all of time at once and this helped us see how that could be. God was like the Doctor and we were like Reinette. 

Silence In The Library & Forest of the Dead: I am not entirely sure why I like these two so much. I think it has to do with River. I love River she is totally awesome but she also scares me sometimes. Also it has a library that was so huge it had it's own planet. There is also the idea that books can be so real that they can be another world to us. 

Eleventh Doctor: The Time of Angles & Flesh and Stone: Again River. We get to learn more about her but also have more questions. Getting to know Matt Smith's Doctor was another reason I liked this episode. 

The Doctor's Wife: This episode has to be my most favorite from Eleven. I just love the Tardis and the Doctor getting to talk and well. It is just amazing. :) I just loved watching how the Tardis had to learn to cope with the real world outside of her Box. The Doctor always has his box even it his box is not in it's box. 

Let's Kill Hitler: River again. I really just enjoyed this episode. Honestly who doesn't want to go back in time and put Hitler in a cupboard?

There are many many other episodes that I like. These are just the ones that I thought of first. 


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Doctor Who Tag Question 3

Day 3 - Favorite theme songs

My absolute favorite is The Doctor's theme from seasons 1 and 2. It changes a little in the next few seasons with Ten. I love how mysterious is sounds. I think it fits with the mystery of time. 

My next favorites would have to be the opening and ending credits themes. 

This one is from season 5, I prefer the ones from the earlier seasons though. 

This is the one that I really like!

I really enjoy I Am The Doctor as well. There is this building excitement of it in the beginning that is repeated but just makes me simile. There is just something about it. 

Those are my favorite Doctor Who sound tracks. I am not particularly familiar with all of the tracks though I have notices that I have never been displeased with any of the music that I have heard. 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Doctor Who Tat Question 2

Day 2 - Favorite quotes

I have so many! So get ready. I promise I will try to narrow it down for you. :)

"Just this once everybody LIVES!" - The Ninth Doctor. (Episode: The Empty Child)

Martha: But are we safe? I mean, can we move around and stuff?
The Doctor: Of course we can. Why not?
Martha: It's like in those films: if you step on a butterfly, you change the future of the human race.
The Doctor: Then, don't step on any butterflies. What have butterflies ever done to you?
(Episode: The Shakespeare Code) 

(My most favorite!) 
Martha: So, magic and stuff? It's a surprise, it's all a bit Harry Potter.
The Doctor: Wait till you read book 7. Oh, I cried.
(Episode: The Shakespeare Code)

Martha: Do you have to pass a test to fly this thing?
The Doctor: Yes, and I failed it.
(Episode: The Shakespeare Code)

Idris: Did you ever wonder why I chose you all those years ago?
The Doctor: I chose you. You were unlocked.
Idris: Of course I was. I wanted to see the universe, so I stole a Time Lord and I ran away. And you were the only one mad enough.
(Episode: The Doctor's Wife)

Adolf Hitler: Thank you, whoever you are. I believe you have just saved my life.,
The Doctor: Believe me, it was an accident.
(Episode: Let's Kill Hitler)

German Officer: What are you doing here?
River Song: Well, I was on my way to this gay Gypsy bar mitzvah for the disabled when I suddenly thought "Gosh, the Third Reich's a bit rubbish. I think I'll kill the Fuehrer."
(Episode: Let's Kill Hitler)

Well those are just a few of my favorite quotes. :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Doctor Who Tag question 1

I am very flattered to have been tagged in Banrion An Gheimhridh's Doctor Who Tag! I am very excited for this delightful opportunity to talk about one of my favorite obsessions shows! :)

Banrion offers a couple of options of how to answer her tag questions. I could do them all at once, or just one at a time, or something in the middle. She doesn't have a particular rule. However as I feel that I could go on and on with each of her questions it is probably best if I don't try and answer more than two at a time. 

Here is her first question! 

Day 1 - When and why did you start watching Doctor Who, and what made you become a fan of it?

I started watching Doctor who sometime last year. I can't remember very well. It was during the school year and my senior year is a bit of a blur. I had been hearing about Doctor who all over facebook and all the people I knew really enjoyed it. I really wanted to give it a try. After all I thought it was sci-fi and I have basically grown up on sci-fi. While Doctor Who is not typical sci-fi(I would say there is more fiction than science fiction in it) it does fall have sci-fi elements. My sister also wanted to watch Doctor Who for similar reasons so we convinced our parents to watch it with us. Even though my mom and dad had watch the first three episodes of the ninth Doctor before and after the first episode my dad refused to watch anymore. However like I said we convinced my dad to give it a second chance. 

Now my dad is almost a bigger fan than I am, which is just so typical of my dad. (that is another post). Now my whole family is made up of Doctor Who fans. 

What made me become a Doctor Who fan? Honestly I am not sure there is just something about it that I think appeals to people. I think it is the idea of ordinary people saving the world and being able to travel through time a space. I think a a race we have always been a little fascinated with time, and we have so much evidence of how long we have been watching the stars. There is also something about the Doctor that we all identify perhaps it is that while he is not human biologically he is human in so many other ways. he is not perfect he is a bit happy go lucky and yet he has his dark moments. Also he is just like a kid that never grows up and is not afraid to show it. We are all still kids inside. 

Well that is my answer to The first question and as this post proves I really can go on and on! 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Three Days left!

This is just a quick reminder that there are only three day left to enter my Dragonwitch book giveaway! Go quickly and enter. :)


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Dragonwitch

Title: Dragonwitch
Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Rating: 5/5
Book Summary: Submissive to her father’s will, Lady Leta of Aiven travels far to meet a prospective husband she neither knows nor loves–Lord Alistair, future king of the North Country.

But within the walls of Gaheris Castle, all is not right. Vicious night terrors plague Lord Alistair to the brink of insanity. Whispers rise from the family crypt. The reclusive castle Chronicler, Leta’s tutor and friend, possesses a secret so dangerous it could cost his life and topple the North Country into civil war.

And far away in a hidden kingdom, a fire burns atop the Temple of the Sacred Flame. Acolytes and priestesses serve their goddess to the limits of their lives and deaths. No one is safe while the Dragonwitch searches for the sword that slew her twice…and for the one person who can wield it.

I first fell in love with Miss Stengl's writing after I read Heartless. She captured my attention with her realistic character, fictional countries, and gripping story line. In all the books I have read since she has not lost her touch. In fact she keeps getting better and better. I really enjoy they stories and how they connect to other stories. You almost want to make a kind of poster connecting them. 

An author's writing improves with time and practice. Anne Stengl has always been able to write a wonderful story however,  I feel that her writing has 'grown up' since the first book. Her development of characters has improved. Her ability to write a story that is in such a grand scale is fantastic. I feel like her writing has improved and changed for the better. 

Dragonwitch is perhaps one of the most fascinating of her books so far. From the very first book I felt Miss Stengl understood people. She could pull together the best qualities of a person and the darkest. She even grasps and helps the readers of her books to understand what can cause someone to become so bitter or evil. I feel that this quality is at its finest in Dragonwitch

Dragonwitch features many new characters which means some new names. Making up names is a talent that I highly admire in authors, that would be because I am so bad at it. All her names sound so Medieval or like something out of Lord of The Rings. Miss Stengl is brilliant with names. 

I identified with so many of the characters in this book. They all have little bits of things that I completely and totally understand and are so me sometimes. I think this is what makes her books so loved. People see parts of themselves. 

I really enjoyed seeing more of Imraldera and Eanrin. They are one of the most steady characters throughout the series, and with each book we learn more about them. Perhaps the thing I like most about this book (and all of Anne Elisabeth Stengl's books) is that the characters are believable. They don't have the fake or phony feel that so many other Christian fiction characters have. Her stories despite being fantasy feel like they could be true because there are so many elements that we all can identify with. She paints them with words that give detail to her story and bring it to life in the readers mind. I am going to find it impossible to wait for her next book to come out!  

I am very very excited to tell you that I am also able to offer a giveaway  of one copy of Dragonwitch. This is my first giveaway that I have done so please bear with me as I do this. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I received this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for a review. 

Author Interview: Anne Elisabeth Stengl

I am so very excited to be a part of the tour for Dragonwitch! As part of this tour I was able to interview Miss Stengl.  I hope you will hop on over to her blog Tales of Goldstone Wood. I am so excited for the release of this next book in her delightful series.

1. What inspired you to write fantasy?

Oddly enough, I know the exact moment I was inspired. I was about eleven years old, and I had been writing cat stories up until that point, just fun little adventures about a kitten named Berry and all his various friends. But my father was reading The Lord of the Rings out loud to us, and I was caught up in the story.
One night, in particular, he read the scene in which Frodo is pursued by the Black Riders to the ford at Rivendale. I was so enthralled at the idea of one so small, facing such enormous odds! The image in my head of little Frodo at the river, and those awful riders bearing down upon him . . . it was thrilling and dreadful and wonderful all at once!

And I decided I would write a fantasy myself.

Mine was . . . a little less thrilling, dreadful, or wonderful. It was about a cat, naturally. A magical, sarcastic, wish-granting cat whom all the neighboring kings wanted to find and control. It was a bit silly, really . . . but I have always enjoyed writing about cats! (And now you know why I write fantasy and how Eanrin came to be . . .)

2. Many of you later stories are referenced in earlier books. Did this take a lot of planning or just happen? 

Um, kind of both, I think. Some of the later stories were conceived before the first three published stories, so I always thought of them as foundational material for Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Moonblood. I always intended to write them, so made free with the references early on. But sometimes I would make reference to a story I hadn’t actually thought of yet. Just a brief reference . . . and suddenly I’d find an entire story taking shape! Shadow Hand is an example of that. Or, in the case of the “Night of Moonblood” referenced in Moonblood, I had written the epic poem years before . . . but then, after Moonblood was published, I got the idea for a full length novel about the original event.

Which is the novel I am currently writing.

So, it’s sort of both. They all connect back to and lead into each other. It makes sense in my head, at least!

3. Your write a lot of poetry and songs in your books. Have you thought about compiling a separate book with all the Goldstone poetry? 

I don’t consider myself a very good poet. That’s actually why I decided to make the most famous bard and poetic influence in my world be actually a rather terrible poet (at least, according to Lionheart!).  Everyone thinks he’s great, but we are all secretly laughing up our sleeves at him.

Making Eanrin a terrible poet took a lot of pressure off of me! But I still enjoy trying to write his various songs and verses and sometimes (accidentally), Eanrin writes a decent piece! The “Night of Moonblood” epic, for instance, or the “Song of Fireword” sung by the sylph in Veiled Rose. I am honestly proud of both of those pieces!

But actually compiling them into a separate book? Not sure. I have seriously considered producing a collection of short stories related to Goldstone Wood, and toyed with the idea of including poetry in that. Maybe I’ll actually do it one day . . . maybe . . .

4. Do you have a favorite book, one that is dear to your heart, of the ones you have written? 

My favorite is always the one I just finished. Right now, that means Shadow Hand . . . and the Super-Secret project, which I’ll be announcing soon!

I will say that both Starflower and Dragonwitch were particularly satisfying to write, since they were ideas I had many years before Heartless. I had tried to write both of them in various forms before, but not succeeded. I needed to improve my own writing skills first, and the first three Goldstone Wood novels provided valuable learning experience!

5. Who are your favorite characters and which characters do you identify with most? 

Well, my favorite character has to be Eanrin! (Have I mentioned that I’m a crazy cat lady?)

I identify with all of the characters in some way or another, both good characters and bad. They are all little pieces of me, taken and shaped and explored. When I wrote her, Princess Una was very much an extreme reflection of myself (I wasn’t quite that silly!), and later on, my husband told me that he thought Imraldera was a lot like me. But I tend to see myself more in little aspects of each character rather than in any character as a whole.

6. What author(s) most inspire you? 

C.S. Lewis will always be a huge inspiration. Sir Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne Jones are enormous favorites—I would like to be either one of them when I grow up! George MacDonald’s short stories are always within grabbing distance if I need a reminder of why I love fairy tales. I also turn to some of the great poets for ideas and inspiration, particularly Shakespeare and Browning, both of whom I adore.

7. If you were to pick another genre to write in which would it be and why? 

Hmmm . . . I suppose I’d pick historical. I enjoy researching even for fantasies, though there’s a lot more flexibility in the research for fantasy! But I think I could probably find a way to enjoy writing historicals almost as much as fairy tales.

8. When you were just starting out as an author was there a piece of advice that you were given that made all the difference to you? What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out? 

The most important thing I learned was to become a good reader. I pursued an English literature degree at university, and it was the best choice I could have made as an aspiring author. The better reader you are, the better writer you will be!

My advice to young writers is always: Read, read, read!!! Read the greats and study them, pick them apart, figure out what makes them great. Read TONS of material in the genre you want to write, figuring out which styles and ideas you like, which you don’t care for so much. Read in genres you don’t always care for, read non-fiction now and then, and makes certain you ingest a healthy diet of poetry, because there is nothing quite like poetry to inspire great prose (even if, like me, you’re a sad little poet!).

And, of course, the flip side of read, read, read is write, write, write! The more you write, the better you’ll get. Don’t wait until you know what you’re doing . . . because if you wait, you’ll never learn. Writing is like learning a musical instrument. You don’t learn to play a concerto by sitting around wishing you knew how. You practice for hours and hours and hours!

So, basically: read, read, read/write, write, write. That’s my advice!