Welcome, Anastasia. Thanks for being here.
Thank you so much for having me today, Charlene. My book wouldn’t be out without your support and friendship.
I’m thrilled to have been a part of it. When did you discover your love of writing?
I don’t remember a time when I didn’t love it. I suppose when I was younger I was more into reading. I fell in love with fairy tales, ya know, happily ever after, knights in shining armor, true love conquers all, etc. As I got older, my reading styles changed of course. Now I’m a huge mystery/crime drama fan. Somewhere in there, I thought “I want to write stories like THAT.” That touch on people’s emotions in some way. And tada, there it was. In high school when everyone else was talking about college and careers, and in college it was all about jobs and getting married. All I thought about was being a writer. It was hard going for a long time because, ya know, life gets in the way. But when my husband and I were expecting our son, we agreed that I should be a stay at home Mom. In the almost four years since then, I’ve written more books than I ever had before – and loving every minute of it.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote? That’s one I’d like to read.
Oh wow. I think it was a story about a Mommy bird and a Baby bird. I was maybe 5 or 6 years old so it was a little on the cutesy side of course. I don’t remember much of the actual story line, but had something to do with the Mommy bird trying to teach the Baby bird how to fly.
Who is your greatest influence for writing?
Oh boy, this is a tough one. I don’t think I have any one influence in particular. I mean, my husband is very supportive and I have two wonderful crit partners that keep me going. And I’ve met so many other writers online – each of them has touched me in some way and helped me grow as a writer. I can’t pick anyone person exactly, although, my husband would probably want me say it was him. After all, he has to live with me. LOL
You’ve written several books. What genres do you enjoy writing most?
Fantasy. All the way. I do have ideas for books in other genres but some might argue they are all still fantasy. I want to get into writing Science Fiction and I have a few ideas for some Urban Fantasy books as well. I’m not sure why I like fantasy so much when, quite honestly, I don’t read it that often – and never have. Some might say it’s a power trip thing, where I just want to play God so to speak. But I think really it falls back to my love of fairy tales. And frankly sometimes, I find faeries and elves more interesting than people!
Lol. And you do wield that power over your characters quite often in your books. *wink* Where do all those ideas for the stories come from?
Goodness, another tough one – that again I don’t have a specific answer for. More often then not, the characters come to me and tell me their story. On the rare occasion, the story comes first and in that situation it’s usually because something happened or my husband said something or I had a dream and thought “That would be a great story.” But mostly, the characters just sort of show up in my head with a story to tell. I just write it down.
Speaking of characters, if you could choose one to have over for dinner, who would it be?
Oh geez. Well, I would say Derac, Captain of the Kinir Elite, but I’m sure the rest of the team would get a little jealous. There is just something about Derac that I love, though I can’t really put my finger on it. Maybe because he talks to me more than the others – and visits my dreams more often too, but I’m not really sure what it is. He’s one of the easiest character POV’s for me to write, which I find funny, since he’s a guy. But, I’m sure dinner with him would be a treat as he would no doubt come up with something amazing, like – a picnic in a meadow of wild flowers in Kinir or something like that.
I can see Derac doing something like that for you. If your characters tell you their story, what is your writing schedule like?
I don’t really have a set schedule. I write when I can. My son just turned three so he’s very active yet wants to be independent. So, I get a few words in here or there during the day, but pretty much don’t get any serious work done until after he’s asleep. I use the day time for networking and promotion. Then at night is when my crit partners and I sit down together (yes, we do it everyday) and we’ll brainstorm, write, or just talk about our stories in some fashion. But I don’t actually write everyday. Even if I love the story, it’s rare that I can do that. I have to let scenes percolate in my head – and confirm details with the characters – before I actually sit down to write it. So I write more in spurts, getting 4,000 words written one day but then get nothing more added the next three days.
Your debut novel, Cleanse Fire, was just released. How does it feel?
I feel…like I’m bungee jumping! LOL I have jumped off the bridge and am free falling – WHEEEEE! At some point I’ll reach the limit and be sprung back into reality – upkeep with promotion, writing the sequel and what not. But for now, I’m just enjoying the free fall.
Will you tell us about how this particular story came about?
Years ago, I decided to write a story about my Dad and his military service. He served 20 years in the US Army and I wanted to share the story of his life. So I gave him a call and asked him a bunch of questions. He was so great and answered all of them though I’m sure some were hard for him. After I had a few pages of scribbles, I sat down to write. I was one paragraph into the story when I realized, there was no way I could write this story and do justice to my Dad. So, I let the story go; shoved it away in my idea notebook for later, thinking I’d return to it another day.
Well, when NaNoWriMo came around in 2009, I was looking through my idea notebook for inspiration and came across the papers of notes. And it was literally likeBOOM, there was the story – only as fantasy, not as non-fiction. The soldiers became elves but I tried my best to keep the life of a soldier intact. His dedication, loyalty, and courage I hope still resonate clearly within the warriors of my book.
So, you have a strong tie to those who sacrifice in the military. You’re doing something special for them with the proceeds. Would you fill us in on that?
Because of the story of my Dad, I decided to donate a portion of my proceeds to the Wounded Warrior Project. They weren’t around when my Dad served, being established a year after he retired in 2002. WWP helps wounded soldiers – and their families – heal after returning home. This includes both mental and physical wounds that soldiers endure. My Dad was lucky that he never sustained any physical injuries during his service, but I’m sure were some times when he could have used the help mentally or emotionally when he returned home.
If you want to learn more about them, and read a few stories from the soldiers they’ve helped, visit their website at www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
You know I’m going to insist on an excerpt.
Okay, Charlene, I’m sure you want me to share the ballroom scene, but since I was just bragging about Derac with the dinner question, I chose one that showed more of his “warrior” side, as the team infiltrates the underground country of Gorgan.
I can’t help it, Anastasia. I’m a romance writer. I love romance. *smile* But, this a great choice, too.
Before we head to the excerpt, is there anything else you’d like to share?
Join the Kinir Brigade by signing up for our newsletter! Get exclusive deals, access to special giveaways, and inside information about the series! Join the Kinir Brigade now! And don’t forget to visit our Facebook Page and Website too!
Overgrown bushes camouflaged the entrance to the mines. Derac never would have known it was there if Kie hadn’t pointed it out. He and Tyn pushed the branches out of the way and secured them by tangling them with the other branches and twigs.
Derac glanced over his shoulder to his team before he shoved his wide frame into the narrow opening. He waited a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the darkness and listened to the muffled noises ahead of him. His hand stuck out of the opening to wave his team inside. His shoulders scraped along the walls. Despite his uniform covering his arms, the rocks cut into his skin. Another uniform ruined.
Derac had visions of being buried alive as the long entrance led them deeper into the mines. The tunnel slanted downward, taking them further into the bowels of the mountain.
A faint light glowed around a curve a few steps ahead. He slowed his pace to peek around the bend before he inched his way around the corner. A few steps took him to the edge of the tunnel. It opened into a large, black cavern.
A winding staircase was carved into the walls of the cavern and led down into the blackness beyond Derac’s vision. Every few feet, a lantern hung on the wall but it did little to light up the expansive mine shaft.
He twisted his neck to look over his shoulder. Kie stood right behind him, pale as a sheet. His eyebrows creased together in concern. She held up two fingers and pointed down. He stared at her for a few more seconds before he turned his attention back to the cavern.
The hair on the back of his neck and arms stood on end. This was too easy. Even with their new plan, someone should have been around to challenge them. A guard, sentry, someone. His eyes moved up and down the staircase but no one was in the cavern with them.
He stepped out onto the ledge and froze. His ears twitched but the mines were silent. The captain squinted at nothing in particular and shook his head. The silence screamed at him to run back through the tunnel and leave the mines behind. His sense of duty kept his feet firmly planted on the ledge.
He prodded the team forward with a waggle of two fingers. The steel of his sword made the softest swish sound as he pulled it from its sheath. His ears twitched, listening for any noise. His keen eyes darted about the cavern. A bottomless pit. If they fell off the edge, would they ever stop? Would they end up on the other side of the world?
They reached the fourth level and Derac’s hand signals sent the group into action. Rakan and Jardel knelt next to the entryway for cover, their weapons trained on the stairway. A nod from their captain sent Aeli and Tyn to the right. Derac and Kie turned to the left.
Derac squinted again and faced Kie. Sweat beaded on her forehead and her lungs heaved with each breath. Her head jerked up and down to tell him she was fine – but he wondered if at any moment she would completely break down.
Where were the guards? Sentries? Dwarves on patrol? Someone should be out, even late at night. Did Kie feel the same? Could that be what made her so on edge?
Derac pressed himself up against the wall and slid the rest of the way down the tunnel to the opening. Kie copied his movements on the opposite wall. He leaned his head around the corner to take stock of the room. Three dwarves stood in the middle of the room, back to back. Long scraggly beards and unkempt hair made them look like furry creatures. All three wore brown tunics and pants, covered in dirt and grime. He held up three fingers to Kie then nodded.
She stepped out of the cover of the wall and fired an arrow. The two remaining dwarves shot to their feet but before they made a sound, Kie shot a second one. The third dwarf made a small squeak before he took an arrow to the chest.
Derac and Kie rushed into the room and stood back to back. The cave was lined with barred doors to carved-out cells. Ten to fifteen faeries were stuffed into each one, with barely enough room for all of them to sit. Derac snatched the keys from one of the dead dwarves’ belt and threw them to Kie.
“No! Don’t! It’s a trap!” a faery called out.
Derac spun around. The faery’s body stiffened then collapsed to the floor. A dwarf stood behind him, his sword covered in teal faery blood. The dwarf moved to open the cell door but Derac’s legs moved faster. He grabbed Kie’s arm and pushed out of the room, dragging her down the tunnel with him.
The rest of the team already moved up the winding stairs to the secret passage, with the faeries in tow. Derac let go of Kie’s arm and shoved her up the stairs. She cleared them two at a time until she tripped. He snatched his hand out and gripped her arm in time to keep her from falling over the edge.
His quick reflexes didn’t help when the wall next to them exploded. They both sprawled over the edge and slammed into the stairs below. He covered her body with his own until the rocks and debris stopped raining down on them. He glanced up and saw a group of dwarves rushing towards them. He craned his neck further to see the level above.
“Get them out of here, Tyn!”
The dwarves swarmed them and dragged them further down into the cavern. They were thrown into a small cell; the solid iron door slammed shut behind them.
Thanks for being with us, Anastasia!
It was my pleasure!
Get your copy of Cleanse Fire here:
Purchase for your Kindle at Amazon
Purchase for your Nook at Barnes & Noble
Purchase for your other E-Readers at Smashwords
Blog Tour Giveaway
In honor of Veterans Day coming up, I’m giving away an e-copy of Cleanse Fire! Leave a comment on this post to enter into the random drawing by 11:59 pm October 30 (Eastern Standard Time). You MUST leave your email address IN the comment so I can contact you when you win!
All commenters will also be added to the drawing for a chance to win a signed hard cover version of the book when it releases December 21. (My Dad’s birthday by the way….).
I’m having more giveaways throughout the months of November and December! “Like” the series’ facebook page to keep up to date on all the events!