What’s the story behind the story? What inspired you to write Seven Strengths: A Tale from Turaset?
With all the difficulties in the world these days, it’s easy to lose sight of how much good surrounds us. We’re all strong in our own ways, and that’s where the title Seven Strengths came from. We each bring something of value to our relationships and communities. I wanted a fantasy/sci-fi story that focused on the strengths of community, family, and friendship. Also, I wanted to tell a coming-of-age story that could lead into my broader series: The Industrial Age, which currently has two full-length novels in it.
If you had to pick theme songs for the main characters of Seven Strengths: A Tale from Turaset, what would they be?
Oh, this is a great question because I actually wrote a song for this story! It can be sung to the tune “Sweet Betsy from Pike.” Here it is:
Gather round and I’ll tell you of Val and her strengths/A feisty young woman who went to great lengths/To travel alone, independence to guide her/Believing she needed no others beside her. The morning broke bright under skies blue and clear/Val rose and she stretched/A young woman drew near/“May I travel along? For it’s better with two”/Val found contentment in traveling with Sue. CHORUS: They crossed the wide fields; into woods they did roam/Never regretful of leaving their homes/Believing between them they’d surely succeed/They had inner strength, to find what they’d need. Two other wild ones they met in the wood/Val said to Sue, “Wild never looked so good”/They banded together in search of adventure/Their new wildling friends said, “We’re sure glad we met you.” The winds turned a-blustery; the women grew weak/A raging bear lunged upon Sue, and she shrieked/The three other women swung knives at the beast/The storm weren’t so bad with a fire-roasted feast. (CHORUS) Then what happened next, but four wrathful men/Happened upon them in a meadowy glen/Val fought with persistence and so did her friends/The bandits turned tail and were ne’er seen again. Our untiring wand’rers found fullness of heart/’Til the wildlings said time had come to depart/Sue said to Val, “Hold my hand as they’re leaving/Let good times and memories soften our grieving.” (CHORUS) Val swore she’d never abandon dear Sue/Sue said their friendship had proved itself true/Devotion, that tie, the next strength they found/Devotion’s enough for two hearts to be bound. The tale of our wanderers doesn’t end here/They left wood and stream for the wild frontier/Their strengths, ever growing, still carry them through/and finding our own strengths will carry us too.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Is it the same as your favorite genre to write?
This one’s a toss up between science fantasy and historical fiction. And yes, absolutely, it’s the same as what I enjoy writing!
What books are on your TBR pile right now?
I need to read The Midnight Library, because I love Matt Haig. But also, I’m catching up on a few Le Guin titles: The Dispossessed and The Tombs of Atuan.
What scene in your book was your favorite to write?
So, writing scenes with new fantasy creatures was a blast. How bizarre can we make these things? Those were my favorites. But I also enjoyed writing a steamy scene that turns up late in the book. No spoilers about how these two things connect!
Do you have any quirky writing habits? (lucky mugs, cats on laps, etc.)
We’re all so quirky, aren’t we? When I get blocked, I lie on my stomach, on the bed, and write long-hand. It helps me through the block.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
Be the change, man, be the change…
If you could choose one thing for readers to remember after reading your book, what would it be?
We are all in this together! Be strong, believe in yourself, and have fun on this crazy ride!
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