Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Interview with Marlene Wynn Author of Chandrea

·       What inspired you to become an author?
o   Its strange…Initially, I wasn’t inspired to write the story so much as I felt challenged to simply write.  Not to brag, but I’ve always known that I am fairly decent with the written and spoken word.  But, when I attempted to draft documents for work, my bosses always red-lined 90% of what I wrote before I was allowed to send things out.  It was extremely frustrating to me, as I knew that there was nothing wrong with what I’d written…it was just too long and had too much extraneous detail for them.  One day I found myself at my computer just wishing I could write something for pleasure instead of business.  Something where length and extraneous detail were not only accepted but encouraged!  And, from that, Chandrea was born.

·       Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
o   I think the overall, unspoken message is to just keep trying.  No matter what life throws at you, no matter how hard it is right now…you’ll get through it.  The “other side” may not be what you expect, but it will be right for you if you don’t give up. 

·       Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?
o   There really wasn’t a source of inspiration for my protagonist, Chandrea.  However, my antagonist, Leilah, was based off of a woman I knew whose mercurial mood swings could leave your head spinning.  One minute she was your best friend, chatting you up, smiling and laughing.  The next minute, she could turn on you and verbally cut you to shreds without hesitation.  And, while she was always right (why wouldn’t she be…after all the universe did revolve around her, didn’t it?), she was never at fault.  Needless to say, I was very happy to leave her company

·       What books/authors have influenced your life?
o   Terry Goodkind.  Though fantasy adventure, his books are full of life lessons and wise advice.  Every time I read them, I come out with something new.

·       If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
o   Either Terry Goodkind or Jim Butcher.  Both are amazing authors and storytellers, and yet have such completely different “voices”.

·       What book are you reading now?
o   Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series.  I am on the latest book, “Deeply Odd”.

·       What books are in your to read pile?
o   Honestly, I am someone who just goes to the bookstore and finds what looks good at the moment.  I’m too busy to browse for future reading and create a “to read” pile. LOL

·       What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?
o   I have finished my 2nd novel in the Averill Series, “Chandrea – Sacrifice” and have submitted it to my editor.  While I’m waiting for the first set of edits to be done, I am creating the outline for the 3rd novel in the series and hope to start writing it soon!

·       Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
o   The timeline and placement of characters.  I’ve always loved big, thick novels with numerous characters scattered all over but converging together at the end.  I’ve modeled my books after this theme, but never really knew how difficult it was to orchestrate such character movement until I got into the middle of it.  You have to keep some kind of “record” of time (hours, days, weeks, etc) passing and who is where – and why – at any given time.  I use an Excel spreadsheet to plot my timeline and characters.

·       Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?
o   No…all my travel is done through Google.  LOL

·       Who designed the cover of your latest book?
o   I dearly love graphic design, and have self taught myself through YouTube video tutorials and trial and error how to work in graphic art programs.  I would call myself an advanced beginner. LOL.  I really, really wanted to design my own cover art for my book, but no matter how hard I tried, no matter what I did, it still looked amateurish.  After the millionth rendition of my cover art, I finally decided that I wasn’t going to be able to do what the professionals do, and started researching cover artists.  I was very lucky to find Fiona Jayde (http://fionajaydemedia.com/).  She worked with me to come up with a much better rendition of the “child of two worlds” theme that I was trying for.  Through lots of back and forth between the two of us, we finally reached a wonderful cover for my novel.  Fiona was always very helpful and professional, even going so far as to let me know when my ideas might not work very well (gently and politely, of course!).  That is a valuable asset to have in a cover artist.  Someone who wants your book to look as good as it can

·       Do you have any advice for other writers?
o   Have you ever watched the American Idol tryouts, where the person sings and then the judges tell her that she should never, EVER be a singer?  I don’t believe in that.  If you write something, put your heart and soul into it, and someone tells you that it stinks…don’t stopFind out what was wrong and fix it.  If you think that you are meant to be a writer, hone your craft.  Very few people in this world can’t actually sing.  If you are taught how to sing properly, you will sing well.  The same thing applies to your writing.  Maybe you are the next J. R. R. Tolkien or J. K. Rowling…maybe you have this amazing story inside your head, but your vocabulary or grammar skills are not very good.  So…fix it!  It may take some time, but if you are meant to be an author, don’t let anything stop you from letting that story come forth!

The Return of the Avatar Queen
Marlene Wynn

Book Description:

Chandrea Averill thinks she’s just like any other normal young woman.  But, on the day of her 23rd birthday, her life changes forever.  Surrounded by magical creatures, dangerous sorcery, and insidious political intrigue,

Chandrea desperately wants to return to Earth and the only life she’s ever known.  But, the longer she stays, the more she realizes that she may be the only one with the power – both magical and political – to save the people of Lyrunia. 

Will she find the courage to remain and fight for her home world?

Available at  BN  Smashwords  Amazon  Kobo  iTunes

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Learning magic sucked.
Tears of frustration streamed down Chandrea’s face as she ran into her bedroom at the inn and slammed the door, shutting out the world. 
Since re-arriving in Ri Miora five days previously, she’d been working closely with Adelaide and her three sorceress friends, trying to learn how to control her newly-acquired powers. Though she’d been born on Itova, on the day of her birth, her home and kingdom had been attacked by Svaran forces, and her parents assassinated.  To save her life, Adelaide had magically sent Chandrea to live secretly on Earth. There, Chandrea had lived as a normal person, utterly unaware that she was of royal blood and the crown princess of a wasted kingdom.  Her growing powers had been masked during her years on Earth by Adelaide’s spells, so she’d been unaware that she was also likely the most powerful sorceress alive.  On her twenty third birthday, Adelaide’s spell had reversed itself, and Chandrea suddenly found herself back on her birth world.  Luckily, when she’d sent Chandrea away, Adelaide had had the foresight to place spells upon her that allowed her to communicate with those she encountered once back on Itova. 
Well, everyone except Leilah, that is.
She leaned against the cool, smooth wood and pictured the past few days of sheer misery. First thing in the morning she would travel with Adelaide and her new teachers outside the city.  For her protection, Ayden had hired a number of men to travel with them and protect them from attack.  The men worked in shifts, so she always had at least fifteen surrounding her at all times. 
Thinking of Ayden made Chandrea smile.  Though he was only distantly related to her, she didn’t care.  For the first time in her life, she had real, blood family.  For her, it was a gift beyond measure.
For most of his life, the world had known Ayden as the crown prince of Svara.  He had been raised to believe that Chandrea was his mortal enemy, and had made it his life’s work to find the missing Averill queen and kill her.
Then in a moment of stunning truth, he had discovered that Leilah was not his true birth mother, and worse, that in an act of revenge, she had stolen him from his real mother, Reyna, on the day he was born, and raised him as her own.  His entire life had been one enormous lie.  Upon discovering this heinous act of treachery, Ayden had rescued Reyna, and abandoned all claim to the throne and Leilah’s affections. 
Unfortunately, neither he nor Chandrea could fully deny a blood relation to the Svaran queen.  Though Ayden was only distantly related to Leilah, Chandrea was not so lucky.  The woman who was bent on killing her was her aunt.
In fact, Leilah was the entire reason she was here in Ri Miora, which brought her right back to her original problem.  From sun up to sun down they’d drilled with her, trying one spell after another. To no avail.  Everything they’d asked her to do had gone horribly wrong.
When asked to create a breeze, she’d conjured a howling tornado.  As everyone ran screaming for cover, it ripped apart the wagon they’d traveled in.  The horses, which had been unhitched and left to graze, had spooked and ran away in terrified fright.  The group had been forced to walk the eight miles back to the inn.
When they’d tried to teach her how to turn a bucket of water into ice, she’d caused it to hail.  Softball-sized balls of ice had rained down from the heavens.  Everyone squeezed under the wagon… and listened to the poor horses being bludgeoned to death by the massive, lethal orbs.  And, once again, they’d been forced to walk back to the inn.
They took her out to a far away, deserted beach to work on fire.  She’d created a fireball so massive that it melted the surrounding sand into a shining sheet of glass for a mile out. 
They’d tried to get her to replicate the spell she’d used to create her viewing mirror.  Instead, she’d managed to open some sort of wormhole that began to suck everything into it.  It took some quick thinking and powerful counter spells by her sorceress teachers to close it back up again. 
Chandrea banged her head gently on the door and groaned out her irritation.  No matter how hard she tried, she just managed to create havoc and destruction.  And death, if one counted the poor horses.  How was she ever going to learn to control her magic?  The only time it seemed to work was when she was in danger and it came out instinctively.   But even then it was just as unpredictable.  She’d ended up transporting herself hundreds of miles away from her companions once while trying to escape from a spell that had been cast upon them. 
Unable to see much in the gloom of the evening, she shuffled through the chamber until she reached the double doors and, opening them, she stepped outside onto the large balcony.  Able to see a bit better in the near twilight, she made her way over to the railing and gratefully leaned against it. 
She closed her eyes and let the sounds of Ri Miora surround and soothe her.  Voices of people talking, laughing.  Horses clip-clopping by.  A baby crying.  A dog barking.  All such normal sounds.  Made by normal people.  Normal people who didn’t have the weight of the world resting on their shoulders.
She raised her face and let the cool breezes caress her flushed skin.  Breathing deeply, she could smell the hint of fall in the air.  She wondered for a moment what autumn would look like in this world.  Would the leaves flare into vibrant colors and drop to the ground as they did back home on Earth?  Or would they remain green and stay on the trees all year?  For all she knew, they might just turn a different color, like pink or turquoise.  She snorted softly, amused by the image that conjured.  What would winter be like?  Would they have snow, or would it stay too warm?  Having grown up in Virginia, she’d only experienced snow a handful of times as it was too warm there for the white stuff to come very often.
She gave a forlorn sigh, then reached into her pocket and pulled out her viewing mirror.  She unwrapped it and peered at it in the dim light.  This was one of the few things her magic had done that was right.  She had intentionally tried a spell and not only had it worked, but it had worked well.  This little oval piece of glass would let her see anyone or anything she wanted.  Even if they weren’t from this world.  
So, if she could do magic successfully before, why couldn’t she do it again?
She closed her eyes and pictured her friend, Ashlyn, from Earth.  Ashlyn was her dearest and closest friend, and Chandrea missed her desperately.  Ashlyn was the sister of her heart, and it hurt Chandrea terribly to know that Ashlyn thought something fatal had happened to her.  When Adelaide’s magic had taken Chandrea from Earth, no one had been there to witness it.  And, as the magic had left no traces or clues, no one knew where she’d gone. The first time Chandrea had viewed Ashlyn through the mirror, Ashlyn had been at the Norfolk Police Department trying to convince them to continue looking for Chandrea.  But without any clues, Chandrea was sure the police had stopped looking for her long ago and moved on to other cases.
The need to see her friend again burned painfully through Chandrea.  She pictured Ashlyn in her mind, all the varied nuances of her.  Her voice quiet and intent, she murmured, “Show her to me.”
The little oval shimmered and sparkled to life with a soft blue light, and there within its depths, was Ashlyn.  She sat at a table near a young man Chandrea had never seen before.  Dressed in a pretty little mint green sundress, her friend laughed as she ate.  Seated by a window, the late afternoon sun caused her honey blonde hair to glimmer with gold highlights.  The young man reached out and took her hand in his, rubbing her skin gently with his thumb.  Clearly on a date, Ashlyn looked happy and content. 
It was a bittersweet moment for Chandrea.  Though she truly wanted her friend to be happy, a tiny, selfish part of her was unsettled. Had her friend forgotten about her so easily?
Torn between joy at seeing her friend, and fear that Ashlyn had moved on already, Chandrea stopped the flow of power to the mirror.  Disturbed not only by what she had seen, but also by what she had felt, she changed her mind and searched again.
Closing her eyes, she pictured her new boyfriend and traveling companion, Shawn, in her mind.  Gathering her power inside her, she released it toward the mirror and whispered, “Show him to me.”
The blue light illuminated her face and hands as she peered intently into the glass.  Soon, she was rewarded with the sight of a Hafaba dragon swooping and cavorting in the evening sky.  Smiling, she shook her head at Shawn’s antics.  Born a shapeshifter, Shawn could transform into any living thing, and dearly loved becoming a Hafaba.  Covered mostly with scarlet and deep indigo feathers, its body narrowed down into a snake-like torso.  Flash and drama combined with speed and power to make, in his eyes, the perfect dragon. 
Plus, he needed to be far, far away from any negative emotions, and frolicking as a dragon was a great way to do this.  The Shadow Leaf he’d placed on his chest still exerted powerful, dark cravings in him, and he avoided anything at all that could allow the Leaf to take control of him again – including her practice sessions.  Though Chandrea had urged him to try to find the Light Fae in an attempt to remove it, he resolutely refused.  His place, he said, was by her side until this mess was over.  If she ran across some Light Fae in the process, great.  He’d take advantage of the situation.  Until then, he was on his own, and he’d manage things as best he could.
She released her power on the mirror with a deep sigh. The image of Shawn and the blue light slowly faded away until she was left looking at a simple piece of glass once more.  Pursing her lips in frustrated resignation, she wrapped the mirror back up and placed it back into her pocket. 
She turned away from the railing and moved to sit on one of the chairs on the balcony, intent on spending some quiet time alone with her thoughts.  Exhausted, she flopped into the chair and put her feet on the small, nearby table.  Leaning her head back, she closed her eyes and let her mind wander.
Some small instinct warned her that she wasn’t alone anymore.  The hair on her arms and neck rose up.  Fear washed over her, and she felt her magic begin to swell inside of her in response.  Unsure as to how someone could have come out onto the balcony without her hearing it, she nonetheless knew someone – or something – was now there.  She dearly hoped that, whoever it was, it was human.  As a third degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do, she was confident in her ability to protect herself physically.  It was the magical aspect she was afraid of. 
Swiftly opening her eyes, preparing to spring off the chair and defend herself, she instead stopped short with a gasp.  Amazement and fear battled for dominance within her at the sight that greeted her. 

About the Author: 

Marlene Wynn is a Utah native - fondly referred to as "Utonian" by a friend.  She transplanted herself in 1992 from the majestic Rocky Mountains to the beachy shores of sunny Virginia Beach, Virginia and has been there ever since.  Though she has worked in the benefits field for several years, she finally worked up the courage to chase her dream as an author.