In Which You Meet Uri (INSPIRED Countdown Q and A)

Eleven days until the release of my first novel with J. Taylor Publishing! Wow-ee-wow, who’d have ever thought?!

As a little warm-up to help get all of us into an INSPIRED mood, I decided to sit a few of the novel’s main characters down for a quickie Q&A in which we cover all the basic who, what where, when, and whys. Today, meet Uri!

<<<>>>

Who are you?

She snorts. “You tell me. Seriously, somebody tell me. It’s kind of driving me insane, not having a clue.”

What one word do you think best describes you?

“I dunno. ‘Jaded’? As far as humanity’s concerned, I’m pretty much over it.”

Where do you feel most at home?

“On wheels,” she says, tapping the skateboard held under her arm. “Maybe people who actually know who they are feel driven to aim higher, but as is, I’m more about coasting through life.”

Uri Quote

When is your favorite moment in “Inspired”?

“Fave, huh? You mean I get to look ahead? Hallelujah. Let’s see, what’ve we got?… Oh, wow, that part looks cool. Let’s go with the part where I’m skating through hell.”

Why do you want your story told?

“How ‘bout so I’ll know it? It seems the only time some authors bother to figure out what’s going on with their characters’ lives is when they need a fix for their writing habit. So yeah, sure, publish my totally unauthorized biography; just let me read it, too.”

<<<>>>

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

INSPIRED (and Uri) – coming March 17th!

In Which You Meet Wilbur (INSPIRED Countdown Q and A)

Just a few weeks until the release of my first novel with J. Taylor Publishing, and it still hardly feels real!

As a little warm-up to help get all of us into an INSPIRED mood, I decided to sit a few of the novel’s main characters down for a quickie Q&A in which we cover all the basic who, what where, when, and whys. Today, meet Wilbur!

<<<>>>

Who are you?

His lips curve into a lopsided smile. “An imaginary character, it turns out. I must say, that came as something of a surprise. Apart from that, I’m training to be a protector of my people. …and, well, of anyone who’ll allow me to protect them, really.”

What one word do you think best describes you?

“‘Safe’, I hope. I would like to think I may be thought of as safe – neither causing nor allowing harm.”

Wilbur Quote

Where do you feel most at home?

“Outdoors, in the grass and the sun – with friends, ideally, though it’s not a bad sort of place to spend alone, either.”

When is your favorite moment in “Inspired”?

“Hmm… Difficult. There are a lot of nice moments. Find the one where the most people seem happiest; it’s rare enough to see some of them happy at all, never mind all at the same time!”

Why do you want your story told?

“If it were only mine, I don’t know that I would. But it isn’t. It’s shared. And I want the people I share it with to be known. They’re extraordinary, all of them; far too wonderful to exist in a handful of minds alone. I hope to see them a part of the wider world’s imagination. Both they and the world deserve it!”

<<<>>>

INSPIRED (and Wilbur) – coming March 17th!

And hey, guys! Guess what? Don’t bother, I’ll just tell ya:

J. Taylor Publishing are giving away FIVE ARCs of Inspired by Danielle E. Shipley!

Check it out!

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

INSPIRED is an innovative glimpse at the true muse of a writer, a tale told with style and wit. And J. Taylor Publishing is giving away FIVE ARC copies.

To YOU!

You don’t even have to be a book blogger!

Nope, so long as you are willing to leave an honest review between the dates March 3rd and March 17th 2014, you are eligible to enter.

Interested?

Then just fill out the form and keep your fingers crossed.

You have until midnight of March 2nd to enter.

 

In Which You Meet Abishan (INSPIRED Countdown Q and A)

Oh my word, can you believe there’s less than a month to go until the release of my first novel with J. Taylor Publishing? Because believing it is coming a little bit hard, for me!

As a little warm-up to help get all of us into an INSPIRED mood, I decided to sit a few of the novel’s main characters down for a quickie Q&A in which we cover all the basic who, what where, when, and whys. To start, meet Abishan!

<<<>>>

Who are you?

He swishes his tail in idle irritation. “If you don’t know, you can’t be local. Every creature in my territory recognizes me for what I am: Their sovereign god, the quintessence of cats.”

What one word do you think best describes you?

“‘Feline’. That covers all the basics; strength, elegance, dignity, all around superiority…”

Abishan Quote

Where do you feel most at home?

“In the sheltered shadows of a lush, green jungle. Or in a warm lap, when the whim strikes.”

When is your favorite moment in “Inspired”?

“Mm, I don’t know. I like it when I’m eating.”

Why do you want your story told?

“Why wouldn’t I? It’s about a cat god. That’s a good story.”

<<<>>>

Inspired_Cover_Draft_Final_web

For a muse like Lucianíel, one story’s end is another’s beginning.

In the wake of his author’s sudden death, Luc takes ownership of her surviving creations—four fantastical characters with tales yet to be told—saving them from unwritten lives crumbling around them and giving them a second chance at a literary future.

Luc finds that chance in the unsuspecting mind of Annabelle Iole Gray, a quirky teen with her head in the clouds, nose in a book, and imagination ripe for a brilliant muse’s inspiration.

Or so he hopes.

Neither Luc nor Annabelle, however, realize all they’ve undertaken. Even with a to-write list including accounts of a shape-shifting cat creature, gentle knight-in-training, vigilante skater girl, and a mystery boy smothering in unspoken fear, the most remarkable saga created between author and muse just may turn out to be one stranger than fiction.

Their own.

INSPIRED (and Abishan) – coming March 17th!

“Artist” or “Introducing Wilderhark’s Shapes-and-Colorsmith”

Those of you who have received Seven Swans a-Winning prizes from me (which I think is all or most of those who should have, right? I’ve seen some happy photos via Facebook and Twitter ^-^) may have noticed the gorgeous set of bookmarks that came with your goodies. Certainly, you’ve all seen the beautiful cover of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales”, right?

Well, the same talented “one who practices an art; especially, one who creates objects of beauty” is behind all of the above. I came across her lovely gallery on DeviantArt (feast your eyes!), messaged her a pitch about creating my “Wilderhark Tales” art, crossed my fingers and mumbled prayers. Receiving her “yes” was almost as exciting as a contract offer from a publisher (which, thanks to J. Taylor Publishing, is a feeling I’ve come to know). Gazing at the work she’s done for me never fails to put a smile in my heart. And today, I am sooooo happy to present to you… an interview with Yana Naumova!

Yana ID

Me: Introduce yourself to the readers, if you please!

Yana: Hello! My name is Yana Naumova, I’m 25, and I live in the beautiful city of Samara in Russia.

Me: When did you decide you wanted to create art professionally, and how did you get started?

Yana: I was very fond of painting since childhood, and I devoted all my free time to this occupation. I’ve always had a lot of albums and notebooks completely filled with various drawings. I imagined drawing whole books with fantastic stories that consist only of pictures. My parents always encouraged my interest in creativity; they often drew and sculpted with me in the evenings. My father told me various stories about the artists and about the time he went to art school. I think it had a great influence on who I am now.

At the age of ten, my parents sent me to a children’s art school. There I learned the basics of drawing and got an idea what I would be faced with if I chose the artist’s profession. I caught a good teacher who encouraged pupils to experiment. At 16, I entered the Pedagogical University to the fine arts. Getting an art education has become for me a solid foundation in my artistic development, and prepared me to move on to independence.

Me: What is your creative process like?

Yana: My creative process from the external point of view is quite simple – I just sit and draw something, sometimes at my working place, sometimes on my bed. From inside it resembles dreams – I’m trying to grasp suitable forms and lines, to determine the color, to convey feelings and mood, as if you create or unravel the mystery of a series of characters/symbols.

Me: What are your favorite subjects to paint/draw, and why?

Yana: I love to experiment with methods and techniques of drawing, but most of all I like to paint landscapes and fairy scenes; I like to create illustrations for the stories. This process fascinates me!

Me: How would you describe your style?

Yana: This is a hard question. I can only identify the main lines of my work, which were formed under the influence of Art Nouveau and symbolism.

Doctor Villem Deere, Sula, and Sigmund, in a triptych of bookmark glory.
Doctor Villem Deere, Sula, and Sigmund, in a triptych of bookmark glory.

Me: ( It was her work’s Art Nouveau-esque qualities that first caught my eye. It’s just what I wanted for depicting Wilderhark!) What has it been like collaborating with me on the “Wilderhark Tales” project? (*sweats bullets awaiting my performance review*)

Yana: Taking part in this project was fun and easy for me. I was really inspired by the characters and story, and we’ve got comfortable and fascinating discussion of the characters. You have created the most favorable conditions for my creative work, and your comments and remarks were very appropriate.

Me: (Hooray! I’m so pleased to hear it. ^-^) Which of the “Swan Prince” characters did you most enjoy bringing to visual life?

Yana: I can’t choose, I think that I loved to draw them all 🙂 I liked to draw Doctor Deere’s face, trying to express his thoughtfulness and calmness. It was fun to work with ‘plumpness’ of characters; at first I somewhat succumbed to the stereotype that all fantasy characters should be skinny and starving 😉 It was quite refreshing to look at corrected/finished picture of Sula.

(MeSula may or may not take that as a compliment. XD But I certainly do!)

Y: One more thing – some days after I drew Sigmund, I entered your gallery and was amused that one of his pictures resembled my work a lot (his pose and appearance). I’m sure that I didn’t see this work before.

Me: (I was tickled by the similarities, too! Click here to compare for yourselfif you like, readers. It’s such a joy to have my characters’ selves shine through in the work of another artist – especially an artist with so much more skill than I’ve got!)

Thank you so much for agreeing to let my readers meet you, Yana! (Double brownie points for answering all my nosy questions in a secondary language; her mad skillz trump mine again, folks!) And while I’ve already thanked you a hundred times for your Wilderhark drawings, prepare to be thanked a hundred times more, from me and my outstandingly-rendered characters, too! After all, we’ve still got five more novellas to go… (:

“Roundup 3” or “Between the Fine Lines”

I would like to take this time to recognize two more much-appreciated buddies who took the time to recognize me on their blogs during the launch week of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales)”.

Thank you, Jillian!
Thank you, Jillian!

* * * * *

Over at A Fine Line, Jillian Cottle and I chat about my relationship with the dear friends who live in my head … which just goes to show the effectiveness of carrying on like a madwoman at restaurants in San Francisco as a networking ploy. (That’s one small display of charming artistic insanity for me, one giant leap onto the blog of another member of writerkind!)

* * * * *

Thank you, Krystal!
Thank you, Krystal!

Meanwhile at Between The Lines, I had another writer-to-writer dialogue with Krystal Maestas (or @KeeKeePie, as she’s known around Twitter, where we rub each other’s elbows the most). There’s more character talk, naturally (conversations about me where I don’t mention characters are the exception, never the rule), as well as my advice for anyone who wants to be Danielle E. Shipley when they grow up by self-publishing a book. (Good news, kids: You don’t have to grow up to be me. I haven’t!)

* * * * *

I’ve said it already, and I’ll say it again: Thank you, Jillian and Krystal, for your time and attention! I thank you, my characters thank you… And speaking of characters and rounding up, I managed to wrangle the main cast of “The Swan Prince” into sharing why they think you ought to read their book. So for today’s ending note, here’s Doctor Villem Deere!

* * * * *

Doctor Deere as drawn by Yana Naumova.
Doctor Deere as drawn by Yana Naumova.

Why Villem Deere thinks you should read “The Swan Prince:

His thoughtful eyes pierce the distance as he analyzes the market. “Fans of fairytales will likely enjoy the creative reimagining of archetypical elements. Danielle’s narrative voice has already received high praise, hailed as witty, beautifully-crafted, and even reminiscent of Tolkien; this should please much of her potential readership, I think. It may excite the female demographic to know that Sigmund and I seem to be considered attractive male leads. And if you like your heroines sharp and stubborn, Sula ought to suit you just fine. My author has put a great deal of care into the production of her visually attractive, reasonably priced debut novella, and any positive attention her work garners from you will be, in my estimation, well earned. Do please consider purchasing your own copies today, and, once having read it, leaving a review of your impressions. Your time is much appreciated.”

“Roundup 2” or “The Flame Writer, The Ink Caster, and Batman”

With the dust and confetti finally settling after the wild lauch week of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales)”, here’s comin’ atcha with three more generous promotional features for the book, brought to you by some of the best chicks a gal could befriend on the internet.

Kendra Conine
Thank you, Kendra!

* * * * *

First, Kendra Conine of the Flame Writer blog, whose advance review of my novella would have had me blushing, if my face actually did that. As it was, I just smiled a great deal.

Thank you, Tirzah!
Thank you, Tirzah!

* * * * *

Next up, Tirzah Duncan, the mysterious character behind The Ink Caster blog / my oft-mentioned writing bestie. Not that she let our eternal bond of sisterhood color her advance review of “The Swan Prince, nay, never. She’s far too scrupulous a word-lover for that.

Thank you, Sam!
Thank you, Sam!

* * * * *

And third, Samantha Chaffin of the blog Her Inklings, whose in-depth interview with me covers all the important topics – from self-publishing to theme songs, from inspiration to pants. Sam probed where few who aren’t secretly Batman would dare to go, and I withheld nothing.

* * * * *

I’ve said it already, and I’ll say it again: Thank you, Kendra, Tirzah, and Sam, for your time and attention! I thank you, my characters thank you… And speaking of characters and rounding up, I managed to wrangle the main cast of “The Swan Prince” into sharing why they think you ought to read their book. Here’s Sigmund what Sigmund had to say!

Sigmund as drawn by Yana Naumova.
Sigmund as drawn by Yana Naumova.

* * * * *

Why Sigmund thinks you should read “The Swan Prince:

He gives an elegant shrug. “Looking at it from the outside, I suppose it’s very well written. Not that I paid much attention to such things while I was living the story; I had quite enough to deal with, then – magical transformations, a harrowing quest, Sula… but I suppose I can’t go into all that without telling you the whole story. And if you wish to know the whole story, you ought to read the book. That’s most easily done if you buy it, which you can do in a few simple clicks by following this link, or several others peppered throughout the blog. Danielle’s made purchasing the story a far less difficult task than starring in it. She’s arbitrarily considerate, that way.”

* * * * *

Thank you, my swan prince. (:

On a final note … who wants to see some “One More Day” anthology-related images, all gorgeous and ready to download and share?!

* * * * *

Behold, the banner!

* * * * *

There’ll be a blog tour coming! When I know more, you’ll hear about it!

* * * * *

Kinda makes you want a copy of the anthology for your digital reading device, doesn’t it?

* * * * *

Or if your prefer paper books, like I do, good news!

* * * * *

‘Cause it will totally come in paperback form!

* * * * *

And the cover comes in wallpaper form, ooh-ah!

* * * * *

Makes for a good header or Facebook cover pic, dontcha think?

“Roundup” or “The Spotlight Bounces Back”

Previously on Ever On Word, the release of “The Swan Prince (Book One of The Wilderhark Tales)” ushered in a week-long giveaway extravaganza that took up all my blogging attention (not to mention much of my Facebook and Twitter attention. Thank you, everyone who didn’t yell at me to shut-up about the stupid giveaway, already! Believe me, I came close to wanting to yell at myself).

With all that finally over with, I can take the time to properly express my gratitude to some treasured souls who have graciously joined me in promoting “The Swan Prince” on their own web spaces in the past weeks. Rather than overwhelm anybody with an onslaught of articles all at once, we’ll start with a reasonable three features for our first “summary of information” and continue on to the rest at a later date.

Emerald Barnes 2
Thank you, Emerald!

First up, Emerald Barnes (author of “Piercing Through the Darkness” and “Read Me Dead”), who was kind enough to not only interview me on her blog (read it here!), but also to provide an early-reader review of my novella so I could include it in my book like a glorious stamp of pre-approval.

Kimberly Kay
Thank you, Kimberly!

Ginormous thanks also to Kimberly Kay, whose short story “Sleepless Beauty” will appear along with my “A Morrow More” in the One More Day anthology coming out in December! Kimberly featured me on her blog twice: One happy-author-making book review, and one way-too-fun interview. (Throw two fairytale-lovers together on the internet, and let the shenanigans ensue!)

I’ve said it already, and I’ll say it again: Thank you, Emerald and Kimberly, for your time and attention! I thank you, my characters thank you…

Sula as drawn by Yana Naumova.
Sula as drawn by Yana Naumova.

And speaking of characters and rounding up, I managed to wrangle the main cast of “The Swan Prince” into sharing why they think you ought to read their book. So for today’s ending note, here’s Sula!

Why Sula thinks you should read “The Swan Prince:

She looks askance at the internet, arms folded, eyes narrowed in skepticism. “Well, speaking as a person, I’m not wholly sure I like the idea of anyone and everyone sticking their noses into this particular period of my life. It’s hardly their business. Speaking as a character, though,” she says, reconsidering the matter, “why go through everything I have if no one’s going to read about it? I certainly feel entitled to some manner of compensation! And if it won’t come in the form of Danielle rewriting the end of the book so I get to strangle a certain antagonistic force (naming no names; spoilers, and all that), then I’ll take fame for me, fortune for my author, and a few hours of reading pleasure at my expense for you. See? Something in it for everyone. So go on: Buy the thing.”

“Profiled” or “Guest Posted”

Bwah-haha, my old foe... we blog again!
Bwah-haha, my old foe… we blog again!

Ha – “or” nothing. I’ve been both!

Blog buddy— ahem, I mean, blog arch nemesis Rewan Tremethick, aka The Hyperteller, has granted me a double boon in the form of an interview and guest piece in his latest blog post. (Thanks again, dude!) What kind of awesomeness awaits you? I’m very glad you asked:

In the “formal summary or analysis of data…representing distinctive features or characteristics” portion of the post, I look back on my best blogging experience, name my pick for Post I Am Most Proud Of, and pull off a summarization miracle by describing myself in a mere hundred words.

Following that is my “visiting performer, speaker, or contestant [or blogger!]” piece written especially for The Hyperteller, “Fantasy vs. Casserole Romance”, featuring the top reasons that I write fantasy (it involves unicorn-demons), complete with fun fictional examples made up on the fly.

It’s not to be missed, so don’t you do it! Go show your love for me and/or Rewan and/or your mother and enjoy the post!

“[Dis]course” or “Any Port in a Word-storm”

For my next Buccaneer Blogfest trick, I am to interview the person signed up below [me] on the linky and post that interview.

*Flash!* We interrupt this blog post to make a quick announcement! And when I say “we”, you all know I’m the only one here; ergo, I must be a royal. And speaking of royals, for those of you anxiously awaiting the final installment of my serial fairytale, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears”, fear not, it’s totally coming. I shall post it on Monday – meaning, Buccaneers, that my Monday blogfest post will be bumped to Tuesday. Everybody got that? “BSaT” conclusion = Monday. Next Buccanner post = Tuesday. That is all. Back to the interview.

…Which I can’t actually post just now, as I’ve yet to hear back from my interviewee. But ne’er fret, me hearties! If its “verbal exchange; conversation” between bloggin’ Buccaneers you wish, they’re happening all over the seven seas!

This one over at Tangent Shell is good (includes practical tips on desert island literature; good to know, should any of us aboard ship find ourselves marooned).

I enjoyed this piece at Writing In The Crosshairs, too (another instance of an absent interviewee, but this blogger makes the best of it in a deliciously strange way).

Ooh-arrgh, and Amanda Foody interviews yours truly upon the shores of It’s All in My Head!

There, now. You’ve been given several headings. Pick a “point on the compass, especially the one toward which a vehicle, such as a ship, is moving”, and speed on, full-sail!

*EPILOGUE* My interviewee has blown in at last! Blogger Nanette Pitts is in the building! …er, aboard ship! Either/or!

1) Your blog, Grace Paige’s Storyland, is agleam with flash fiction. Would you consider short stories to be your preferred genre to write, or do you enjoy tackling longer works as well?

I enjoy Flash Fiction, it keeps my brain frazzled. However, I do enjoy writing short stories that can allow me to go into a little more detail. Along with that, I am writing a novel. So really any size writing format suits me. I’m keen on supernatural genre, but I’ve read sci-fi, fiction and non-fiction. My general rule is, if a book can capture me within the first few pages, I’ll read it.

2) Do you type up your early drafts, write them hand, or some combination thereof?

I do a lot of typing, but I keep a pad of paper and pen handy at all times.

3) Which story that you’ve authored would you say you’re most pleased with, and why?

Probably the story I’m working on right now. It’s taken so much of my thought, time and soul.

4) In your maternal experience, which is harder: Naming children, or naming characters?

That is a tough one. Since I’ve had to name both. You want your children to love their name, they’re the ones who can really express to you if they like it or not. If a name doesn’t suit a character by book’s end, a little backspace can correct that.

5) In your bio, you list “Grease” as one of your favorite movies. I’m a fool for musicals, so I gotta know: Which of the song numbers is your favorite, and why?

Beauty Shop Drop Out”. Though Frenchie was following her dreams, you mustn’t skip the important stuff.

6) If you could spend a day hanging out with any fictional character you’ve ever read, who would you choose?

Oh man…this is a tougher question than #4. I’d hate to leave out any character, they all hold a special place in my heart. A few men come to mind, but really I think I’d choose Sookie Stackhouse from Charlaine Harris’ books. That way I’d meet up with her, let her poke around in my head a bit and in theory she’s a magnet for trouble so I know I’d get to meet the “guys”.

And tha-a-ar you have it, folks. (:

“Swap” or “20 Questions with Tirzah!”

You all remember Tirzah, right? My bestie and partner in literary crime? If the name’s not ringing a bell for you, worry not; you’ll be hearing plenty from her today, just as her blog’s audience will be hearing plenty from me. Ever On Word and The Ink Caster are hosting an interview “exchange of one thing for another”! 20 questions mostly more to do with writing than not, 2 writing buddies who had way too much fun answering them. Read on below for Tirzah’s responses, and then zip on over to her place to compare and contrast my thoughts!

The notorious Ink Caster, still at large.

1) What’s one of the first stories you remember writing? — “The Ugly Gril with Pretty Hair”, a one-page chick-lit complete with envy, judgment, revenge, and crayon stick figures. I believe I was under the misconception that “girl” was pronounced “gril”, at the time, and spelled accordingly.

2) Name a book you read that you wish you’d written. — Oh man, I’m torn between the “Trickster” books by Tamora Pierce and “Prince of Foxes” by Samuel Shellabarger. The first two are fantasy intrigue, masterfully executed by my favorite author. The latter is a rich and captivating historical fiction—intrigue again. Both of them have charming, sneaky main characters. Those of you who know anything about my Syawn will not be shocked at these choices.

3) Name someone else’s character you wish you’d created. — Oh, there are so many characters out there I revel in knowing… But if I must narrow it down… I wish I’d come up with Darken Rahl, a villain in the “Sword of Truth” series. (NOT THE SHOW, PEOPLE, just the books.) I have never feared any villain more than that blonde, blue-eyed bi-polar maniac of a wizard ruler.

4) Name a character you wish you were.Butler, from “Artemis Fowl”. A sad, world-shattering truth: I will never be a 6’6” Eurasian bodyguard with an Irish accent, a Sig Sauer P220, and a loyalty to my charge that goes beyond the grave. I will never be the epitome of understated efficiency. I can only shave my head, learn martial arts, wear a Kevlar vest under my suit and hope for the best.

5) Who is your favorite side character that you wrote? (Because the main characters are always hogging the love.) — Hmmn. I have to say Harn; a surprisingly friendly fellow in a race of notoriously unfriendly giants. A widower with a death wish and a soft gallantry in his pursuit of vengeance. A poet and songster whose verses flow as easily to my fingertips as his character.

6) Who is your favorite character that I wrote? — Gant-o’-the-Lute. I’ve been in love with him for the last year-and-a-half, as none who know me could escape noticing. A minstrel arrayed in skiest blues, a lutenist with a voice that calls to mind flaming golden bells and sunbirds. A lad with an unconsciously commanding nature and the capricious carelessness of a breeze. I’ve only written him, what, several poems, a slew of love notes, and 15,000 word fan fic? Yes, suffice it to say, he is my favorite.

7) What were your early thoughts of me? — It was National Novel Writing Month. You’d spotted me on a forum and, intrigued, asked to read my work as it came; I was gratified and nervous. Then you sent me your writing, and I remember thinking “Oh—dear, I didn’t agree to read your work, too. Gah, a first draft in a headlong word-scramble like this is bound to be horri…ble…” my mental protests trailed out as I read, and realized that, good Lord, this was gold. So yes, early thoughts: Unexpectedly great writer.

8) If you had to describe Stranger Than Truth to a stranger in three sentences, how in the world would you? — An over-the-phone RPG club with 50-ish members, four of which are on our plane of reality, the rest of which are awesome people we would refer to as “fictional”. We act out hypothetical dramas, deal with real drama, ask poll questions, giggle over nonsense, develop improv skills and a deeper understanding of our characters without even trying, and talk about feelings (to the horror of the fellows… and a couple of the chicks, for that matter). Two sentences, HA!

9) You get to have a monument erected in the middle of San Francisco! Describe it! — I think I would have to pick the statue “Life” from “Faith of the Fallen”: mankind, as the powerful creators our Powerful Creator meant us to be.

10) Who’s your favorite poet? — The great creator of “MacPherson’s Rant”, “Scots Wha Hae”, “Loch Lomond”, “Ye Banks and Braes”, and many more of my favorite auld Scottish songs. Robert Burns groupie forever!

11) Name some specific someone out there that you’d really love to love your book. (Fellow author, celebrity, friend/family member, real or fictional, living or dead…) — Tamora Pierce. I think I would cry with pleasure if she loved my book; she is one of my greatest influences, and though I never try to emulate her, her fingerprints are fairly evident throughout my work. Heck, I’d love to have a book of mine signed by her!

12) What are your thoughts on realism in fantasy? — While I hate it when magic has no explanation and few rules, I can put up with it in the work of others. I think the most important piece of realism in fantasy is this: humanity. Culture variation, sure, but if you’ve got humans or human-based (or anthropomorphic) characters, they must act like humans, both as individuals and as a society.

13) What are your thoughts on vampire-infested chick lit? — Eh. In spite of vampiric pheromones or what have you, it doesn’t draw me in. Dracula is more up my alley. Though after hearing one-too-many intriguing excerpts from Roh Morgon’s “Watcher”, I had to pick it up… and now I await the sequel as eagerly as any fan. As for “Twilight” — I may touch the series with a ten-foot pole, once the craze has faded.

14) What is your deep, underlying desire for why you want to be a successful author? (Not just “money/fame/etc.”, but “why-y-y money/fame/etc.”.) — It’s fairly simple, when I dig to the heart of it. Writing is what I love to do. If I can make a career of it, then why would I do anything else? Not as glamorous as wanting to make an impact on the world (which I do) or immortalize myself in the written word (which I do) or get fan letters from ecstatic readers (which I do), but when you boil down the stock this is what you get: I want to do what I love to do, for the rest of my life.

15) When would you consider yourself to be a successful author? — Now and never. Success comes in degrees, some of which I have attained, some of which I will never gain, because I will always be setting the bar a little higher than I can jump. The bar “write a novel to your satisfaction” has been leapt; I now adjust it to “novel is published and in the market”. Ever upward (or On Word)!

16) If you couldn’t write fantasy, what would you write instead? — Gritty lit-fic, probably action-adventure. I plan to write historical fiction anyway, so I’d do that. As it stands, I shy away from sci-fi, but if you took away my fantasy, that’d be the best way to scratch my world-building itch.

17) If you couldn’t be a writer at all, what would your dream job be? — Oh, I’d be bound to pursue business of some sort. I wouldn’t mind being a high-powered executive in the corporate world… or a bodyguard! Or a cop! Or a mercenary!

18) Popcorn or potato chips? — Depends on the flavor, quality, and arbitrary preference. Kettle sea salt and vinegar chips over microwaved popcorn any day, but if it’s Lays vs. a tub of freshly-popped, buttery, cheese-powdered theatre popcorn, popcorn wins.

19) Top hats or capes? — Well dang, what top-hatted be-caped villain is making me choose? Well, I don’t have a top hat (though I would dearly like one), and I get along. I’m not so sure I would survive if you snatched away my cape and cloaks; such are fashion necessities. The cape is the little black dress for geeks.

20) “Writing” is to “Tirzah” as…? — “Expansive gestures” are to “Storytellers”, as “Boasting” is to “Braggarts”, as “Lovebird” is to “Lovebird”.

~ Thank you, my lovely! If anyone out there has any more questions for Tirzah, leave ’em in the comments — or over at her blog — and I’ll bug her until she answers. (: