About the Book
A hundred-year-war that won’t end… Three young women sworn to kill each other… Famere, the wyshea butcher, seeks vengeance with loyal mythic beasts called shadows, Jennelle, commander of the Northerners, fights for her people’s survival using brilliant strategies, & Camette, a wild divided draghon, searches for her kidnapped lover… Famere, Jennelle and Camette must discover who is friend or enemy, who is responsible for the hundred-year dark sky, and death mists, and if the men they adore will still love them.
Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I love nature and wildlife, so environmental issues concern me. I have many other passions, including water (swim, sail, snorkel), cooking, self-awareness, walking in forests, and of course, writing. I grew up in a city that was surrounded by forests and a small farm, so the outdoors became my playground. Later I studied biology, humpback whales, and got into sailing. I’ve travelled over much of the South Pacific, and have worked in special education for decades.
What inspired you to write?
I love stories, but my first thoughts about writing were triggered by a high school creative writing teacher, who prefaced reading my homework essay assignment with, “A writer like this comes around once every 17 years.” I was shocked, and her words always stuck with me.
What inspired your novel?
I wanted to show that good and evil can be in all races, each of us and that our choices decide where we end up. One of the main characters in Wyshea Shadows hates war but ironically becomes a cold-blooded warrior/killer after a tragedy. Our responses can either swing us to peace and love, or violence. Another theme is the overarching threat to their world, which is being caused, ultimately, by a quest for power—a parallel to the current situation in our world.
What is the genre?
YA epic fantasy action thriller with romance subplots.
What draws you to this genre?
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen Donaldson were some of my favorite books. Fantasy that is a bit dark (darker than my books), but with hope too. I grew up reading thrillers and fantasy, and combining the two seemed a natural fit. At one point I decided I enjoyed writing for younger readers, MG and YA, but really my stories seem to appeal to all ages.
How did you develop your plot and your characters?
Unlike many of my books, this story was developed over many years. It was my first fantasy novel, and over the years morphed from adult to YA, and from first-person to third, and from male main characters to female (though the book also has male main characters, the story is seen mostly out of the eyes of three women who have tremendous challenges and tragedy to overcome while fighting a war).
What inspired your protagonist?
I wanted to show a young woman struggling with what is expected of her, rebelling against that, while events overtake her desires and force decisions upon her. She’s strong, connected to nature, in love, confused, and tired of everyone’s expectations of her. The other two women in the story have similar situations, and they also have to make decisions that force them into dangerous alliances. I wanted to show women leaders who were strong, yet sensitive and compassionate, tough and mysterious, yet very clear on what they want. War, love, and mystery entangle them together.
What inspired your antagonist?
Actually, there are several antagonists of different stature. Some are minions, one is conflicted, and there is one who is driving all the conflict. In our current society, there are men of power who don’t care what happens to the environment or people who stand in the way of ‘progress’—whether it is pipelines or a new dam in Brazil threatening native peoples. These men have single-minded goals—riches and power, and their actions become very destructive. The antagonist in Wyshea Shadows is in a fantasy world, but with those same attributes.
What was the hardest part to write in the book?
Blending the beauty of the dangerous world of the Wild Lands on Pangaea with action and suspense so that beauty is always there, yet never slowing the pacing or taking over the scenes.
What was your favorite part of your book to write?
The book is full of action and suspense, yet I love the emotional strands connecting the characters, who in the end are willing to die for what they believe in, and for each other. It brings deep emotion to me even now after reading it a hundred times.
Are you a full-time or a part-time writer? If part-time, what do you do besides write?
I work full-time in education, where I teach novel writing, self-awareness, and speech, among other things. But I’m writing 25+ hours/week, and 40+ in the summer.
What are you currently reading?
I read science articles at times, to keep current on environmental issues. I’m also reading some things on Virtual Reality, which is used on one of my thrillers. Mostly right now I’, rewriting a thriller, and even more time is spent on marketing the 6 books I have out.
How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
I loved Sabriel by Garth Nix, Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and more recently I’ve read Hunger Games (book 1), and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children—I read to see what others are doing, and enjoyment. I spend most of my reading time on my books—I will be putting out another 5-8 by July 1, 2017.
What are your future projects, if any?
I will be publishing 2 adult thrillers over the winter. Then the 2nd Books in the Bubblegum Mike series and Divided Draghons series. The 3rd books in each of these series will be out by July 1, hopefully. I also have a younger MG book, another nonfiction book, and possibly a romance. Many of these books are written already, and thus just need editing and production—otherwise, I could never do something like this, put out so many books so fast.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
You either write just for fun, pleasure, a few friends and family, or it’s a business.
Publishers often are no longer the best route, since an agent/publisher if you are lucky will take two years to put out a book (IF you sell it fast), and then you have 3 months in B&N. If you don’t sell well, you’re done. I know a number of writers who have experienced this. Then you have to get the rights back, redo the cover and interior files, etc. Thus, self-publishing gives you more chance of success and more options. However, it costs more up front, and there are 4,000 new Kindle books published daily. That’s a lot of competition. But most of these books will never be read, never be successful, and are glutting the platforms. Most writers work other jobs, so you have to love it to keep at it.
Winning awards, sales, readers telling you they love your book all help keep you excited along the way.