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Monday, July 28, 2014

Author Spotlight -- Angel Blackwood!

This is my friend and editor, Angel Blackwood. She did an author spotlight on me (available on her page), and I am returning the favor! She has excerpts, pictures, and all kinds of story-related stuff on her page: Angel Blackwood -- Facebook Page

What inspired you to write your first book?
Way back when I was nine, I watched a news story about veterans writing their life story. It made me want to write. That was my first little piece of nothing book. I wrote my first real book when I was thirteen. It was 380 or so handwritten pages. A friend I’d made that year introduced me to writing. It was originally to help me get the demons out during a very dark time in my life, but it soon became something I loved.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I write fantasy, third person omniscient. It’s where you can be in any of the character’s heads at any time. I try to keep it mostly in one person’s head per scene, but sometimes I jump. I try to have variety depending on whose scene it is. For example, Zahir’s parts tend to be more stilted and awkward because English isn’t his first language while Althea’s parts tend to have more fragments because that’s how she talks.  

How did you come up with the title?
The series I’m mostly focused on right now is The Obsidian Embers trilogy. Obsidian because Zahir is dark-skinned, and the magic they fight is dark. Embers because it made me think of something smoldering right beneath the surface, something that, if it were fanned, would spark and burn brightly. The rebellion, to me, was that. As for the titles of the first book… Kindling is what starts a fire. It’s also a word for beginning, awakening, the start of a blaze.
I’m also working on The Tales of The Lone Guardians right now. It’s easier than the other to explain. These are tales of the group known as The Lone Guardians. The first book, Death and Other Inconveniences, is named such because Alexander, Ursula, Raphael, Mace and Hellequin experience a lot of terrible things, a lot of setbacks, and plenty of death.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In The Obsidian Embers Trilogy – Fight. If you see a cause that needs championing, don’t wait for someone else to do it. Stand up for freedom, for your rights, for those who can’t stand up for themselves. It doesn’t matter if you think you’re qualified, it doesn’t matter if you have money or a pedestal to stand on. Stand up and fight for the things you know to be right.
In Tales of The Lone Guardians – Redemption. It doesn’t matter your past or where you came from, everyone has the potential to be redeemed. Prostitutes, runaways, swindlers…it doesn’t matter. With hard work and a genuine desire to be a better person, it can be done. 

How much of the book is realistic?
There’s magic and whatnot, but I try to keep things as realistic as I can. There are rules that the magic follows. I try to make sure that everything in the book that can be realistic should be.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nothing in particular is based on my real life, but there’s some abuse and insanity I can connect with. Besides that, I try to put myself into all my characters. I was educated in criminal justice and psychology, so that helps a lot too.

What books have most influenced your life most?
When I set writing aside somewhere around fifteen, RA Salvatore made me want to write again. His books are amazing and they inspired me to pick up my pencil again. Later, Joe Abercrombie wrote his books and let me know that real life is dark and crummy sometimes and it was okay to write it that way.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
RA Salvatore shared some great advice with me a few years ago. And I really look up to Joe Abercrombie’s style. They write indifferent styles, so I can choose them both. :P

What book are you reading now?
Well, I’m reading yours, Angie. It’s grabbing my attention the more and more I read your new book one. Aside from that, I’m not currently reading anything. I’m gathering some money to buy the new RA Salvatore books I’m behind on. Then I’ll be getting Half a King by Joe Abercrombie and The Broken Eye by Brent Weeks.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I recently read some sci-fi type books by Nick Sagan (Carl Sagan’s son) and really loved them. Halloween is by far my new favorite cynical character in a sci-fi novel. I’m anxious to see if he writes anything after the Idlewild series.

What are your current projects?
I’m working on The Obsidian Embers Trilogy right now, which I talked about up there. When July is over, I’ll be going back to working on Tales of The Lone Guardians, too. I’ve also got some historical romance and a sci-fi novel rolling around in my brain. And I’m trying to help my husband write his first sci-fi novel, Bargaining with the Beast.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My friends try to be supportive. I can tell they don’t necessarily get wanting to write as a career, but they do their best. Everyone in the writers group here on facebook has been really supportive.

Do you see writing as a career?
Of course! I want it to be my full time career one day.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Well, book one is actually now book two, and it will be revised heavily. I am already changing a lot, and more will change too. The only thing I’d change apart from what I’m already planning to change is just to write it better, use better descriptions, fewer words to explain myself, etc. And not repeat myself so much! Ack!

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I mentioned it up there. I saw a news program once when I was nine that made me want to write. And, when I was thirteen and going through a very dark time in my life, my friend let me read some things she was writing. She suggested that I write. It snowballed from there.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Of course. Here’s a bit I wrote recently:

“Matron, let me introduce Prince Gajendra to you.”
            Desdemona rose one delicate white brow and stepped forward. She looked up into Jen’s bearded face. Her eyes seemed to bore into him as she studied him, and he shifted nervously. She lifted her hand and cupped his chin, tilting his head from side to side. She pulled his head down so she could touch his hair. After a moment, she smiled and let him go. He immediately scrambled behind Dejanira.
             “I suppose a good job is in order,” Desdemona said. She stepped up and looked up into Dejanira’s eyes. “And a how dare you.”
            “What?” She shook her head and started to step away, but Desdemona narrowed her eyes. The look held her as still as any bonds.
            “How dare you make a spectacle of yourself at the auctions? How dare you disrupt my plans for your own pigheaded sense of pride? How dare you send such an important man off with a servant all alone? How dare you lose him?” She took hold of Dejanira’s chin and jerked her head down so they were eye level. “And especially, how dare you walk in here as though you’ve done nothing wrong?”
            Dejanira gulped and, to her disgrace, she felt tears well in her own eyes. She tried to pull away, but Desdemona’s fingers were like iron. If only they were the type of iron she could command. 
            “Please, Matron, I meant no harm.” She cleared her throat and tried to sound more confident. “I wanted to bring him to you myself. I don’t know what came over me. Please forgive me.”
            “You very nearly ruined everything,” she said and gave Dejanira’s face a hard shake. “No matter.”
            She released her with a little push, and Dejanira stumbled backward. Desdemona stepped back and leaned her hips against her desk. She nodded to the corner of the room where a dark-skinned man lay bound and unconscious.
            “As you can see, I have my prize. No thanks to you.” She folded her arms and tilted her head, a gleam in her eyes that Dejanira surely didn’t like. “I do congratulate you on bringing me the prince. That wasn’t easy. Good job.”
            “So, I’m forgiven?” she asked, hope edging into her voice despite her efforts to keep it away.
            “Forgiven? No.” She waved her hand and the little door that lead into the library opened behind her desk.
            Two men slid into the room, and Dejanira immediately recognized them. One had the pink eyes and white hair of a rabbit and the other had the dark skin of a piece of burnt wood with eyes like coals. Dejanira was fond of keeping opposites in her personal menagerie, and these two were her favorites.
            “As punishment, I’m releasing your two most prized men. They will leave from here with the next trip to the neighboring city.” Dejanira gasped and tried to protest, but at a look from Desdemona, she snapped her mouth shut. “And you will be confined to the quiet room until I see fit to let you out.”
            “But Matron-“
            Desdemona quickly stepped up to her and slapped her hand over Dejanira’s mouth. She squeezed her cheeks and a pull like her very soul was being ripped from her mouth came over her. She groaned and her knees buckled. Jen shot across the room and cowered against the door, face in his hands as he trembled.
            “I am the Matron, not you. I am in charge, not you.” She pushed and Dejanira was forced to arch her back. “I give the orders, and you follow them.”
            She dropped her soft voice down until she was whispering. “Is that clear, puppy?”
            Dejanira nodded quickly, her head swimming as black spot erupted over her vision.
            “Good.” With that, she released her and Dejanira fell all the way back.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
No, not really. Sometimes it’s hard to get into the characters minds, especially the more girly of the women or the children. But really, I don’t find any of it overly challenging.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
You’re going to be hearing a lot about these three. RA Salvatore is a favorite because he has amazing fight scenes and his heroes are wonderful displays of the good and his bad guys are a little more gray than most peoples. Joe Abercrombie is a favorite because he writes dark, gritty, realistic fantasy. Brent Weeks is a favorite for the same reason as Abercrombie, but he goes a bit further. Brent Weeks uses children in his novels and says “Sometimes kids have a bad life. Sometimes things are dark.” 

Which character has been the most challenging to write and which the easiest?
Absalom has by far been the hardest person to write. He’s closest to a purely good character in my books, and I’ve found it very difficult to write someone who is so good. He’s got some moral gray zones, but ultimately, he is so good it makes it hard for me to get in his head. As for easiest, I very much enjoy writing Verin. He’s dark and twisted, but he has a tortured soul and good spots. It’s easier to write someone gray and dark.

Who designed the covers?
I design my own covers. When I’m actually published, someone else will do it, but right now, I get to put all my own artwork on the cover.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
There was a pretty dark moment in the original book two where Marietta remembers rape. That was enormously hard to write for me.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’ve obviously learned how to be a better writer. I’ve learned a bit about risk taking. I have to take risks and put my stuff out there to get feedback so I can be better. I have to take risks and write the things other people aren’t willing to.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Set a time and write. Even if it’s just thirty minutes a day, write during it. Slowly bump it up to forty-five minutes, an hour and so on. It will really get you used to writing. And let people who aren’t your friends and family read it. They will be honest with you.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for loving my world as much as I do. And to all my future readers when I’m on the shelves one day, thank you for giving me a chance.

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