Monday, April 18, 2016

Interview with James Bradley Clarke

Q & A with Author James Bradley Clarke

Which authors and their books were most inspirational as you grew into adulthood? 

I was always most inspired by historical adventure stories. Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island was a particular favorite when I was a kid. I could relate to the Jim Hawkins character and I loved the complexity of the Long John Silver character. More importantly, Treasure Island is representative of my favorite type of story: A fast-paced, plot driven adventure with lots of lethal danger and rich cultural details. Jack Schaefer's Shane and Alexander Dumas's The Three Musketeers were both extremely memorable reads. I loved the adventures of both books and I was fascinated with all of the cultural anecdotes. The most important book I read when I was young was a children's version of Homer's epic poem, The Odyssey. The epic poem exposed me to ancient Greek culture, and it inspired me to have a life-long passion for mythology.

Are there more contemporary authors who have inspired you?

The works of Anne Rice, Nelson Demille, and Elmore Leonard have inspired me over the years, but I was more inspired by older literature. 

Did you read a lot of fantasy and science fiction books during your teen and college years? 

Piers Anthony captured my imagination with his The Magic of Xanth series and his Apprentice Adept series. Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain series was also especially memorable. 

Is there a particular book that inspired you to want write fiction?

Gillian Bradshaw's Hawk of May is the book that most inspired me to write fiction. Bradshaw did an excellent job of interweaving mythology into a fictional story. I studied the book carefully as I read it, and I knew I wanted to try to write something similar in the future. 

Did you start writing fiction shortly after you read Bradshaw's Hawk of May? 

I started writing a manuscript a few months later, but a departure to graduate school led me to shelve writing fiction for several years. 

What led you to write a fairy tale? 

I wanted to write something special for my two daughters, and they were both enamored with classic princess fairy tales. The Disney animated films and the first two Shrek movies were a big hit with both of the girls. As they watched any of these films, my daughters would call out which character they would "be" as they watched it. I thought it would be nice to resolve this competitive issue by inventing two princess characters for them. I also wanted to take on the challenge of writing a new princess story that could compete with the classic fairy tales beloved around the world. 

Do you believe you succeeded with your book, The Enchanted Necklace? 

I believe I have succeeded, but the verdict is still out. As a first time author working with an independent publisher, the biggest challenge I face is generating a strong readership. When enough people read the book, I am sure an answer will be known. 

What do you think sets The Enchanted Necklace apart from other fairy tales? 

I think there are a few elements to the story that make it distinctive. The princess characters are young and stereotypically beautiful, but I make them extremely courageous and resourceful. The adult characters usually underestimate them. I also allow the princess characters to be vulnerable to danger without a male character coming to their rescue. I think the princess characters represent girl power, and I am pleased that I made them tweens as opposed to love struck teenagers. In addition to bravery and self-reliance, I also concentrate on the theme of loyal friendship. The princesses are devoted to their families and to each other. I don't think there is another fairy tale that deals with these two themes in quite the same way. There is also distinctive use of culture and mythology. Norse mythology is much less commonly used in fiction than Hellenic mythology, and I think Viking culture is not well understood by many people. The Enchanted Necklace introduces readers to both topics in a fun and light-hearted way. And lastly, I wrote my fairy tale as an action-packed adventure story to enthrall readers. 

What inspired you to set the story in Norway during the Viking age? 

I wanted a medieval European setting for the fairy tale that was less familiar. I’ve always been a Scandophile, and focusing on Denmark and Norway allowed me to incorporate Norse mythology into the story. Although The Enchanted Necklace is not a long read, I really like the way the story has an epic feel to it, and that is not by chance. I also thought it would be fun to incorporate Norse cultural details like clothing, food, architecture, customs and beliefs. Although my book is just meant to entertain children, they can learn a lot about Norse culture as they enjoy the adventure story.     

Do you believe you present Norse mythology in a traditional way? 

Yes, I believe I do. It’s still my own vision of Norse mythology, but I did my best to deliver what I believe is a traditional interpretation. The Norse were a lot like Native Americans in the sense that they were close to nature. Animals and elements of the environment such as rainbows and metals played a sacred role in Norse mythology, and I did my best to emphasize those features. .  

Is Tunsberg, Norway, a real place? 

It is a real place, and it is considered to be the oldest Norwegian city still in existence. As a harbor city with a fortress on a hill, Tunsberg also matched up nicely with the imaginary location of the bedtime stories I would tell my daughters. The town is spelled T√łnsberg now, and I have pen pals who live there. The city embraces its medieval history with a big summer festival every year.   

Why are fortitude, friendship, loyalty such important themes in your writing? 

I don't think people reveal their true nature until they are confronted with the need to demonstrate courage under fire. The same is true with literary characters. An individual's ability to maintain loyalty as he or she experiences duress is a decisive test of inner strength. I think stories that explore these themes have the potential to inspire readers.

Do you plan to write a sequel to The Enchanted Necklace? 

I certainly will write a sequel if a significant number of readers would like to enjoy more adventures with the Hedda and Silya characters.

What would be the next writing project you will pursue after you finish writing about the Hedda and Silya characters? 

I won't really know until the time comes, but I am interested in more than just children's literature. I've been interested in exploring President Garfield as a literary character. 

What interests you about James Garfield? 

I started learning about Garfield when I attended his first alma mater, Hiram College. His story is so obscure even though his presidency and his assassination occurred sixteen years after President Lincoln was killed. A surprising number of history books have been written about Garfield during the past 25 years, but he has rarely been explored as a literary character. That's a shame because Garfield was an extraordinary man of his time. Almost everything Garfield did from the time he first attended college to point in which he was assassinated met with great success. I think Garfield would have been a superb president had he not been hunted down by a deranged lunatic. 

Does President Garfield's story involve the themes of fortitude and loyalty? 

It does indeed, but not in all ways readers might suspect. We'll have to explore that in another conversation down the line. 

Any advice for aspiring writers? 

Procrastination is your enemy. Find the inner discipline to write fiction now. Do whatever you have to do to acquire excellent editing for your manuscript, and never stop believing in your ability to make the book a reality. 

One final message for your public? 

I urge you all to read The Enchanted Necklace to your children. Afterwards, I'll bet you all will agree with my opinion that The Enchanted Necklace is a new classic fairy tale that is as good or better than all the other princess fairy tales you enjoyed when you were young.



Friday, March 6, 2015

Exclusive Character Interview with Cade MacRoich from Jenna Elizabeth Johnson's "Otherworld" Series

Exclusive Interview with Cade MacRoich by Katrina Curry of Paranormal Romance Trance!

Greetings readers and Happy New Year!  I am more than ready to welcome a fresh, and hopefully less stressful, shiny new year.  I'd like to start that year out with an EXCLUSIVE interview with my main male protagonist from the Otherworld Series, Caedehn MacRoich.  Several weeks ago, Cade agreed to sit down with the fabulous Katrina Curry of Paranormal Romance Trance to answer some questions.  Don't worry if you haven't read the books yet; Cade was very careful not to give too much away ;).  Anyways, I hope you will enjoy this conversation and don't be afraid to add your own questions or comments below!  I also want to thank Katrina for the interview.  Be sure to check out her Facebook page where she hosts giveaways and author spotlights for many paranormal romance writers.
-J.E. Johnson

Katrina Curry with Paranormal Romance Trance Interviews Caedehn MacRoich of the Otherworld Trilogy

KC: First, if you could please state your name:
CM: Caedehn MacRoich, but most who know me call me Cade.

KC: Your place of birth?
CM: Eile, the Otherworld.

KC: Can you tell us a little bit about your heritage?
CM: For the sake of new readers, I won’t go into detail here.  Let’s just say I have some interesting relatives and that fact has gotten me into trouble more often than not.  By the end of Dolmarehn you’ll find out more about my bloodlines.

KC: What is your eye color?
CM: They’re changeable, but most often green.

KC: How about your hair color?
CM: Dark chestnut red.

KC: Where are some of the places you’ve lived?
CM: All over Eile.  I’ve lived in the Morrigan’s realm, the Dagda’s abode, the Weald.  Currently I live in my ruined castle, Luathara, in the low hills of southwestern Eile.  I also maintain a small apartment in the mortal world where the Morrigan’s faelah like to frequent the most.

KC: Do you have any friends?
CM: Fergus, my spirit guide, is my closest friend.  Enorah, my half-sister, is also dear to me.  I’d also like to say that Meghan Elam is a friend, but she’s far more to me than that.

KC: How about enemies?
CM: Mostly the Morrigan, and all those who offer their allegiance to her.

KC: How about your dating history?
CM: Being the Morrigan’s puppet, I never got the chance to date much.  The first woman I ever had any interest in turned out to be just as selfish and manipulative as the war goddess who controls me.  For a long time, I avoided romance altogether.  It wasn’t difficult, and by the time I grew interested in dating once again, somehow or another, the women I pursued found out about my past (and heritage) and quickly lost interest.  I had been unattached for a very long time before finding Meghan.

KC: Who do you admire most?
CM: I mostly admire my foster father, the Dagda.  He has never given up on me, despite the things I’ve done in my past.  Enorah, my sister, is someone else who has always been my rock.  She and the Dagda have been my only family throughout the years.  And Meghan, of course.  Despite the fear and confusion she must be experiencing from all the information she’s gathered of late, she has yet to back down from any of it.

KC: What is your overall outlook on life?
CM: I’ve had a very long time to dwell on this question.  Before meeting Meghan, I would have to admit my outlook on life was very dismal.  Being the Morrigan’s slave and being forced to bend to her will had me considering immortality a curse.  After Meghan came along, however, I found something worth fighting and living for.

KC: Are you lying to yourself about anything?
CM: It is a general habit of mine to lie to myself about many things, the biggest being that I wasn’t falling for Meghan.  My sister and the Dagda would tell you of the many other things I might be keeping to myself, so you would have to ask them.

KC: How would you say you are viewed by others?
CM: I know, from experience, that those in Eile see me as someone to avoid.  I am Ehriad, a wandering warrior with no clan or family connections.  I have those few who care about me (Enorah, the Dagda, and Fergus), but those who do not know me either fear me or look at me with mild revulsion.  I think this is one of the reasons I so easily fell under Meghan’s spell: she didn’t know any of this when we first met and she looked at me with fresh eyes, not ones with years upon years of terrible tales and rumors to consider.

KC: Do you have any pets?
CM: Fergus isn’t really a pet, but he is my spirit guide wolf hound.  And of course there is Speirling, my horse.  But in all honesty, all horses belong to Epona and only wander away from the herd if they wish to stay with a Faelorehn master.  I’ve been blessed to have Speirling stay by my side for many years.

KC: What do you most dislike about yourself?
CM: I most dislike the Morrigan’s hold over me.  It makes me feel weak, although it is a geis that could only be broken if I was willing to forfeit my life.  The things the Morrigan has made me do have tempted me on many occasions to break my geis just to end the torment, but it was only when … well, maybe I should stop there.  Don’t want to give too much of the story away.

KC: Do you get along well with others?
CM: I do my best to get along with others.  When I was sent on a mission to aid the Amsihria women with their draghan, I got along well with my travel companions.  Normally, I avoid other Faelorehn men and women.  I know what they believe of me, and there is no reason for me to try and prove myself otherwise.  I prefer to be alone on the most part.

KC: Do you have any tattoos/piercings/scars?
CM: Tattoos, yes.  A knot work sun pattern over one pectoral denoting my ties to the Morrigan, and a few others.  No piercings, but too many scars to count.

KC: What do people notice first about you?
CM: This would be a good question for Meghan to answer.  Probably my height.  I’m well over six feet tall.

KC: What about your sense of style.  Do you have a trademark look?
CM: I wear the typical clothing of the Otherworld: deerskin pants, a plain tunic.  Sometimes I wear a vest if the occasion calls for it, and I might even change into something nicer than my travel and battle clothes if I’m in the mood.  In the mortal world, I prefer jeans, T-shirt and jacket.  Often times my trench coat.

KC: What would you say are your strongest and weakest character traits?
CM: My strongest character trait would be my patience.  Despite the aggression I often have to keep a tight hold on, I am also capable of patience.  Perhaps this is from years of practice.  My weakest character trait would be my self-doubt.  Years of receiving emotional and physical abuse from the Morrigan has left quite a mark and I sometimes find it hard to acknowledge that I’m not what she has painted me to be.

KC: How much self-control and discipline would you say you have?
CM: More than the average Faelorehn, but there is always the chance I might lose control of my glamour.  That only ever happens in battle and when I am fiercely angry or terrified.

KC: What are some of your fears?
CM: Being trapped in the Morrigan’s employ for all eternity; losing Meghan or my sister.

KC: Do you collect anything?
CM: Not really.  I’m too often wandering the wilds of Eile that I’d lose whatever I managed to accumulate.  Once I’m more fully established in Luathara that might change.

KC: What are some of your talents?
CM: I am quite good with a bow and a sword.

KC: What would you say people like best about you?
CM: According to those who love me the most, I have a good heart.

KC: Do you have a favorite food or drink?
CM: I prefer mead during a celebration, tea in the mornings or afternoons, and clear, clean water from the rushing streams of Eile.  I’m not too picky when it comes to food, and I enjoy preparing it myself.  The best meals are those gathered and prepared in Eile, especially at one of the Dagda’s parties.

KC: What is your favorite music?
CM: I don’t care so much for the music of the mortal world.  I much prefer the natural sounds of Eile and the wind and pipe instruments the Faelorehn have invented over the ages.

KC: Your favorite color?
CM: Brown and green.

KC: Do you have a vehicle?
CM: I own a classic Trans Am that resides in the mortal world.  I hardly ever get to drive it, but it’s there in case I need to travel somewhere quickly.  When in the Otherworld, I’m either walking where I need to go, using the many dolmarehns, or riding Speirling, my black stallion.

KC: When would you say you are most happy?
CM: I’m happiest when in the Otherworld, watching the seasons color the land with their changing.  I enjoy roaming across Eile’s vastness with Fergus, my spirit guide, and breathing in her beauty and wonders.  I prefer to be alone, and was happy that way for many years.  Since meeting Meghan, however, I’m quickly changing my opinion on that.  Being alone with Meghan is now my idea of happiness.

KC: When are you most sad?
CM: I tend to retreat into myself when I am sad.  This happens when I spend too much time in my own head, or when the Morrigan reminds me of some of the things I’ve been forced to do under her rule.

KC: What’s it like when you get angry?
CM: If I get too angry, my glamour flares and my riastrad takes over.  I get angry when my friends and family are in danger, and when innocent people are being hurt or exploited.

KC: What do you laugh or jeer at?
CM: I enjoy laughing, but up until recently, I found little occasion to take part in it.  I don’t really jeer, but if I did, it would be at something the Morrigan said, most likely.  She may be a powerful goddess with a hold over me, but I’m not afraid to let her know how I feel about her.

KC: What’s a way someone could cheer you up?
CM: A good, old-fashioned bonfire with lively music and pleasant company would probably put me in a good mood. 

KC: What are some ways someone might annoy you?
CM: Rub my mistakes in my face, or my weaknesses.  Or try to make my compassion appear wake.  The Morrigan is very good at this.

KC: What are some of your hopes and dreams?
CM: I dream to one day restore Luathara to its former glory and to raise a family.  For too many years I’ve simply existed under the Morrigan’s tyrannical reign.  It would be good to live once again.

KC: What is the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone and why?
CM: I’m not ready to talk about this.  It will crack open a dark past I have worked hard to bury.

KC:  What has been your greatest success?
CM: Again, telling you would be giving too much of the story away.  Let’s just say it involves sacrifice and hard work, but it was all worth it in the end.

KC: Your biggest trauma?
CM: My biggest trauma to date happened at the end of Dolmarehn.  But I can’t go into too many details because I don’t want to give away any spoilers. 

KC: What do you care about most in the world?
CM: Meghan’s happiness.  Also, my sister’s happiness as well.  Enorah’s past is even more haunted than my own.  I would love to see her shake the shadows that plague her and find someone to love as much as I love Meghan.

KC: Do you have any secrets?
CM: I still have many secrets, though not as big as the two I finally revealed to Meghan.

KC: Most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you:
CM: The most embarrassing things happened to me when I was in my youth.  The Morrigan was pretty good about bleeding that particular emotion out of you.

KC: Most amazing thing to ever happen to you:
CM: Meeting Meghan and then the realization that, even after learning who and what I was, she wanted to remain by my side. 

KC: If you could be anything or anyone else:
CM: rowing up, I had wanted to be anyone but myself.  I would have given anything to be a simple Faelorehn boy who didn’t have unruly glamour and who wasn’t geis-bound to the Morrigan.  Now, although I know there is still much room for growth and improvement, I am happy with where I am in my life.

KC: You are the kind of person who:
CM: I tend to run head-on into danger to prevent others from getting hurt, even when it is almost guaranteed that I will injure myself.

KC: Why might the reader sympathize with you right away?
CM: If you asked Enorah, or the Dagda, this question, they would tell you that although I’m a bit rough around the edges, my heart, and intentions, are well-placed.  I think I present a mystery to most people.  I try hard to keep my darkest secrets to myself (and I have many), and somehow I think that fact gets picked up by people.  People tend to gravitate towards those they find intriguing or shocking, and I think I contain a little bit of both those aspects.  I am also fiercely loyal to the ones I love, and that, too, is something people find appealing in others.

KC: What, if anything, keeps you from pursuing your passion?
CM: My many fears, mostly fears about how my negative associations and terrible past might affect others.

KC: What are your views on having children?
CM: I would love to be a father.  Before that can happen, however, I need to make Eile as safe as possible.  That means I have a lot of work to do in cleaning up the mess the Morrigan left behind before I can start a family.

KC: What are your views on marriage?
CM: In Eile, we have a binding ceremony.  I never thought I’d ever be the type of person to take part in a binding ceremony, but that was before I met Meghan.  Marriage to me is not about the ceremony, but the commitment between the two people who decide to share a life together.  I am looking forward to sharing my immortal life with Meghan.

KC: Plans for the future?
CM: Although I have successfully put my unsavory past behind me, I know there will be more trials and tribulations ahead.  The difference, this time, is that I have Meghan by my side to help me through them, as well as my sister and my other friends, old and new.  The Morrigan is gone, for now, but her dark magic still lingers.  I expect many challenges for the future, but I have a much stronger purpose now.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Character Interview: Haven & Clint from Havoc by Xavier Neal

Here at Entertwine Publishing, we were fortunate enough to grab a quick word with Haven and Clint from Havoc by Xavier Neal.
1. Good afternoon you two! Thank you for letting me swing by for just a few! And thanks for the cookies Haven. These are delicious. Can you tell me what lead you to baking?
“I um...I don't really know. I started helping Mindy in the kitchen one day and it just kinda stuck.” *Haven shrugs*
“I don't think there's anything my angel can't bake successfully.”
*Haven blushes*
2. What about you Clint? Haven's got a real knack for baking. What kind of special skills do you have?
“Well, with all due respect ma'am, being a Marine, I have quite a few special skills. But the one that is worth mentioning is my ability to shoot and never miss. It's where my nickname comes from.”
3. I see you both have dog tags around your neck. Obviously yours are from the military Clint, but Haven's I am going to assume were a gift. What's the best present Clint has given you?
“Life.” *Clint wraps his arm around Haven and pulls her in closer to him* *She offers him a soft smile before turning back to me* “Without him, I wouldn't be alive. In any capacity.”
*Clint gives me a stern warning look* “And that's all about that subject. Next question.”
4. Yes of course. Of course. I didn't mean to upset either of you. It wasn't my intent. How about something a little lighter? Clint, what's something you adore about Haven?
“The way she falls asleep reading books in my bed. Her head on my chest. My arms secure around her. It's peaceful. For both of us.”
5. And you Haven? Can you tell something you find sexy about Clint?
*She blushes* “His body? The tattoos and the scars. The muscles are nice too. It's all so perfect. And impressive.”
*Clint grins proudly* “And all yours angel.”
6. Clint, it is safe to say the relationship with your father has changed lately. Can you elaborate for us a bit on how?
“Trust. Given situations we have encountered recently there is a level of trust there that was non-existent before. And if you know anything about me, then you are aware of the importance I place on it.”
7. Haven, with Clint's deployment coming up, do you think you'll be alright without him?
“I think it'll be an adjustment. And I think it'll make him coming back home to me all the sweeter.”
8. Tell me about your first kiss together.
*Haven giggles* “It was amazing...a little unexpected, but amazing. And sweet. And strong.”
“Did I hurt you?”
“No babe. Of course not.”
“If I hurt you-”
“It was fine Clint. Better than fine. It was heart stopping. It was one of those memories that I'll never forget.”
9. Clint, you see rather protective of Haven. Do you think she's protective of you as well?
“I do. I think in different aspects we protect each other. My methods may be a little more obvious and forceful at times, but my Angel protects the man that I've become each time she takes a breath. If she's safe, I'm safe.”
10. I've asked many tough questions, so how about I end on a lighter one. You two get to take a vacation anywhere in the world together. Where would you go?
“I think it would be fun to go somewhere like Paris and taste the pastries! And the fresh baked bread! It would probably look really pretty lit up at night.”
“I'll go wherever she wants.” *Haven gives him a disapproving look*”Okay. Fine. I'd wanna go somewhere tropical but private. Seeing Haven in a bikini is a sight I want to see, but only me. Plus laying in a hammock with her curled up next to me reading a book is something I couldn't pass up.”
Thank you both for your time! And thank you for these cookies...I may grab a couple more before I go.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know these two! You can read more about Clint and Haven in "Havoc" by Xavier Neal coming October 10th!

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