Sorry it’s been awhile since my last interview. I’ve been trying to catch up with some reading and one of those stories was Surrender, which I reviewed on Friday. Today, I would like to introduce you to Rhiannon Paille, author of Surrender, the first in The Ferryman and the Flame YA fantasy series. She also was the coordinator for the C4 Lit Fest that I wrote about in April. She is a very talented lady, in more ways than one so without further ado, here she is:
Hi, Rhi! Thanks for joining us today!
For starters, would you mind giving my readers a glimpse into the life of Rhiannon Paille?
Crazy doesn’t cut it. I write books sometimes, read minds a lot of the time, organize events (I used to have 2 a year, now there are 4, and one of them is really really big) Plus I have 3 cats, 1 tiny chihuahua, and 2 cleaning fairies–I mean children, who are in elementary school. If that wasn’t enough I also teach Metaphysics, and my husband and I own 2 comic book shops.
Did I mention the crazy part?
Crazy busy, I’d say!
Growing up, what were your favourite types of stories?
I was into Nancy Drew, Christopher Pike, Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High. While I write Fantasy now, I didn’t grow up on it at all.
Before we talk about The Ferryman and the Flame series, please tell us a little about the first stories you wrote and what inspired you to write them.
I wasn’t inspired to write, so much as kicked out of English class and told to do “creative writing”. That was when I was 11, and I wrote a few short stories about creepy possessed dolls, forbidden love stories, and serial killer stories.
The world and characters in Surrender blew me away! Is Orlondir a mythical place or one you created in which to set your characters?
Aw, thank you so much! Avristar is actually the unique name I gave to the island of Avalon, and if you read it again with that in mind you’ll see a lot of the correlations to Celtic Myth. I suppose when writing, the island did take on a life of its own, but I felt like the land was just as important as the characters living on it.
When I was studying with the Grove of Dana College for Druidry, we talked a lot about spirits of the land, marrying the land, true kings, ecopsychology, and rites of passage. A lot of those lessons went into the world building for Avristar.
How did your two main characters, Kaliel and Krishani, evolve as your writing of Surrender and the series progressed?
Aw, well Kaliel and Krishani came to me as pre-built characters in the sense that I knew what types of people they were, what was important to them, and how they perceived the land they lived on.
I always knew Kaliel was a Flame, and I also knew her fate, which is actually what I built Surrender around. Krishani was quieter, giving me subtle clues about who he was. For the longest time the things I knew about Krishani I only knew because of Kaliel. Then when I began writing Justice I had to bond with Krishani and that was when I found out more about what he was and what it meant.
Kaliel and Krishani are in their mid-to late teens so I assume the story is considered YA. You wrote several intimate scenes between them. Do you have any concerns regarding the subject of intimacy and sex in YA? Do you think it’s okay to have explicit sex scenes or should the subject be handled more discretely? (This is something I struggle with in my writing, so I’m interested in your thoughts.)
Ahhh, I do have quite the opinion on this subject. I struggled with the sex too at the beginning, not wanting it to come off creepy, but romantic. My characters were actually the ones who kept pushing me in that direction, so I went with it, but tried to keep it tasteful. There’s a difference between sex and making love, I tried to make it sexy but appropriate for the characters.
In this case, I did think more about the characters than the readers. I have two arguments when it comes to readers. The first is that reading a dirty book is not the same as watching porn. A book is non visual, making the reader envision what’s happening more than seeing it on screen (as in movies and television.)
My second argument is that teens learn everything from what they see in movies, television and books. Let’s face it, when I was a teen, I didn’t know the first thing about what was good and what wasn’t good when it came to sex. Books are a great way to know what to do and what not to do in that category. And the final argument is that a lot of teens are going to experiment with sex whether you include it in your book or not. Another argument is that if you don’t include it in your book, someone else will.
We could have this same conversation about all the violence and brutality in the Dystopian novels that have hit the shelves.
That’s very true!
Please describe some of the mythology around the characters, The Flame and The Ferryman. What attracted you to these particular myths and where might one find more information about them?
Ahh, you give me good questions, Susan. I love it!
The Ferryman is traditionally from Greek Mythology (that word at least) but they are known by many names, Valkyries, Grim Reaper, Death Walkers, Archangels even have been known to help a soul on their journey through death.
In Krishani’s case I discovered that the reason there was such a dire need for Ferrymen, Valkyries and the like were due to the fact that if the Ferryman did not send them to the after life, there was a chance other entities would come and take them to places like Hades and Purgatory, or a chance that these entities would consume the soul altogether and that person wouldn’t be reborn again.
Sadly, a lot of what I research isn’t easy to find on the internet. It’s in books like Walkers Between Worlds by Caitlin Matthews and The Druids by Jean Markale, Celtic Myth by Peter Beresford Ellis, and The Mabinogian.
Ferrymen haven’t been at the forefront of many fictional series before, and when there is a Ferryman present, he’s never depicted the way Krishani is.
In some ways you have to take Kaliel and Krishani and the mythology surrounding them as something you’ve never explored before.
That being said, there’s even less on The Flames. Eastern myth speaks of a Violet Flame, but thinks of it as a spiritual energy– a thing, not a girl. It also fails to recognize the other eight Flames, but I’ve explained in the series that Kemplan, The Great Librarian worked very hard to erase the Flames from existence.
So again, the mythological references out there are scant and you’ll have to read the series to get to know more about Kaliel and Krishani.
It will be my pleasure! 🙂
With regard to the magical elements in the story, did you research magic, wicca, &/or alchemy to make it ‘real’ or did you create your own ‘rules’ about how it should work in the series?
I’m a Druid, and I have studied for roughly eleven years now. I also have a PhD in Metaphysical Science and Parapsychology. I’m a world renowned Metaphysical Therapist, so I, um, read minds when I’m not reading books.
When it came to magic in books, some of it is the unexplainable type, like Kaliel blooming flowers with her touch, and some of it is the methodical magic, like when Kaliel can astral project, or has visions of the other Flames.
I like working with all types of magic in the series, but I don’t make magic a focal point of the series, as in, magic is just there, it’s part of everyday life for my characters, and in some ways it’s not as important to my characters as say, being with each other and not being magical is.
A major theme in Surrender is that of choice and temptation, something young readers deal with on a daily basis. You also explored the consequences of giving in to temptation and what can happen if one chooses the wrong path. Was this a conscious thing when you began writing the story, or was it something that evolved as the story developed?
Funny, I set out to write a tragic romance that would break hearts. The idea of temptation was a bit of a detour to that, but definitely became woven into the entire series as things progressed.
There was definitely a sense of choice in this story but I suppose I was always rooting for the happily ever after with my characters. I wonder if anyone else felt that as perfect as Avristar was, its views on love were imperfect, and perhaps that one small flaw could turn it from a utopian society to a dystopian one. There really is a fragile balance between right and wrong in Surrender, and I definitely wanted to keep readers on the wire.
You certainly succeeded at that! 🙂
Are there any other media sites you’d like to share with my readers? (ie. Facebook, website, etc.)
You can find me:
Is there anything else you’d like to add before we close?
I always tell people that Surrender is a nice book that reads like a nice book, that isn’t a nice book. I hope you love and hate it for everything it is and isn’t.
I did love it but I can’t say there was anything about it I hated!
I appreciate you spending some time with us, today, Rhi.
And, readers, if you want to read a fun adventurous fantasy, I highly recommend Surrender. Personally, I will be heading on-line very soon to purchase the sequels! Good luck with all your endeavours, Rhi! 🙂