Friday Review – The Lake and the Library

The Lake and the Library

Today, I’d like to rave about a new fantasy tale by another local writer. The Lake and the Library, by S. M. Beiko, is an imaginative tale about Ashleigh, a sixteen-year old malcontent, who has waited ten years to hear her mother say, “Were leaving.” Getting out of the crumbling, incredibly boring small Manitoba town has been the only thing she’s talked to her friends about for more than half her life. However, now that it’s becoming a reality, she’s discovered something that threatens to keep her there forever.

The Lake and the Library is not just about a girl wishing to leave a dull life behind and finding excitement in a place that seems too good to be true, it’s an analogy of what books do, in general. They take us to places where dreams come true, where we can interact in fantasy worlds, and where spirits become real. The Library holds such magic for Ash.

When she strikes out on her own without her friends, Tabitha and Paul, to learn the secrets of a place she has always felt held a certain mystery, Ash discovers more than she bargained for. At the abandoned building, she meets an intriguing, yet mute, guy, who silently draws her away from the humdrum into a make-believe world of their own making. It’s a hurricane ride that threatens to overturn her lifeboat of reality and plunge her into the depths of madness.

I found the story fascinating. Samantha’s references to so many classics made me want to go back and immerse myself in those words, once more, and I hope it will encourage her young readers to check them out for themselves, if they haven’t already read them. Her descriptions transport the reader into the magical library and make them feel as if they are Ash, taking part in a marvelous adventure and falling in love with a boy who seems to be everything she’s been craving.

Since the Library becomes a bit of an addiction for Ash, as a reader (and a mom), I felt a certain amount of anxiety while reading, worrying how far Ash would go before she’s lost all touch with reality and what that might do to her. I would love to find out if the story affects a teen the same way or whether they’d feel like Ash and not want it to end! That shows how powerful a story this is, when I can be that drawn into the story that I feel intense motherly protectiveness towards a fictional character!

I hope you will check out The Lake and the Library and let me know what you think. Did you feel the same way I did, or did you just float along and enjoy the magic, like Ash?

*****

The Lake and the Library book blurb:

Wishing for something more than her adventureless life, 16-year-old Ash eagerly awaits the move she and her mother are taking from their dull, drab life in the prairie town of Treade. But as Ash counts the days, she finds her way into a mysterious, condemned building on the outskirts of town—one that has haunted her entire childhood with secrets and questions. What she finds inside is an untouched library, inhabited by an enchanting mute named Li. Brightened by Li’s charm and his indulgence in her dreams, Ash becomes locked in a world of dusty books and dying memories, with Li becoming the attachment to Treade she never wanted. This haunting and romantic debut novel explores the blurry boundary between the real and imagined with a narrative that illustrates the power and potency of literacy.

About S. M. Beiko:

S. M. Beiko holds a degree in English Literature from the University of Manitoba and this is her first novel. She lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Sunday Interview – Rhiannon Paille

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. 

Hahaha!

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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. 

Justice-by RIP ebooksm

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:

www.facebook.com/rhiannonpaille

@rhiannonpaille

www.yafantasyauthor.com

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! 🙂

Rhiannon Paille:

Author, Cookie Burner, Mind Reader, Karaoke Singer, Nerd, Wonder Woman
Follow Me: TwitterFacebookBlogWebsite
YA Fantasy:
Surrender (The Ferryman + The Flame #1) on Amazon
Lantern & Poison (The Ferryman + The Flame #1.5) on Amazon
Justice (The Ferryman + The Flame #2) on Amazon
Blood & Gold (The Ferryman + The Flame #2.5) Amazon
Non Fiction:
Integrated Intuition: A Comprehensive Guide to Psychic Development on Amazon
Follow Me: TwitterFacebookBlogWebsite

Sunday Interview – Julie Czerneda

Julie Czerneda author photo credit Roger Czerneda Photography

Hello, my faithful readers and anyone else who may have popped in today to join us!

I am pleased to be involved in another blog tour. Many of you may know Canadian author, Julie E. Czerneda, as the former biologist turned science fiction novelist published by DAW Books, NY. You may have read her Clan Chronicles series or you’re a fan of Mac or Esen from her other work. Maybe you’ve heard she’s an editor. Also, true. This spring, however, prepare to meet the Julie you don’t know. After three years of work, she’s letting out her whimsical side with the release of her first fantasy novel, A Turn of Light, also from DAW.

Hi, Julie! I know you don’t have a lot of time these days as you launch your latest book, so I would like to jump right in and talk about it.

What inspired you to write, ‘A Turn of Light’? 

I was hungry for the kind of fantasy I remembered and loved, but couldn’t seem to find any more. Don’t get me wrong, it’s likely out there on someone’s shelf, just not mine. As a writer, I tend to write for myself anyway, and I have specific tastes in dragons I wanted to indulge. Add that to my distaste for the fairytale about the princess and the frog prince? The whole thing became irresistible and I succumbed, gladly.

Did you notice, my dear readers, she mentioned DRAGONS (among other things)! Sorry for the aside, Julie, but I have a few very loyal readers who absolutely LOVE dragons – and so do I! 🙂

A Turn of Light Cover

I also love history and was excited to learn your story is set in pioneer times. What kind of research did you need to do for it?

Thanks! Once I’d chosen that time and place as the foundation for my world-building, I discovered a love of history too. While I’m curious about everything, I hadn’t ever scoured the history section of used bookstores, or gone to museums with writing about a place in mind. (Biologist, you see.) I started with the physical details. Structures, technology, what would be deemed worth carrying to a new home in the wilderness and what wouldn’t. That took me to pioneer villages and old barns. I needed to understand the daily life and occupations, which led me to the books the settlers themselves would have used as references (so cool!). At that point, I spent a few weeks pondering what would or could take place in a community the size of Marrowdell, and what they’d need to obtain from larger settlements. Hinges became a brief obsession.

Then there was the mill. My photographer-spouse and I toured every abandoned mill in reach, taking all manner of reference photos. We did the bulk of that at a working mill, Watson’s Mill in Manotick.

Aside from this kind of research, I became something of a voyeur, diving into the actual accounts by those settlers. The letters home, the dreams and plans they had, even the birth of Canadian publishing. I’ve written about this in an essay at the end of TURN. It definitely informed the characters as well as the world. 

You’re a girl after my own heart! I did a lot of the same things when I researched my own books. 🙂

Would you please introduce us to your main characters?

There are three: Jenn Nalynn, the miller’s youngest daughter; Wisp, the disgraced dragon who’s been her invisible friend since birth; and the stranger who arrives in Marrowdell, Bannan Larmensu.

Innocent and good-hearted, as the story begins Jenn is about to turn nineteen, her adult birthday, and wants more than anything to leave the valley of her birth and see the wonders of the wider world for herself. 

A former soldier, Bannan longs for a simple life, to be a farmer. Having inherited his family’s gift, he’s a truthseer, able to know if someone is lying or telling the truth. When he arrives in Marrowdell, he finds far more, for here his ability lets him glimpse the magical realm of the Verge and to see the true nature of Jenn Nalynn, for she was born by the light of both worlds and carries a growing power as her birthright. 

(I should mention that Bannan has also inherited the family warhorse, Scourge, who isn’t like other horses. For one thing, he eats rabbits.)

Wisp comes from the Verge, the magical realm tied to Marrowdell by some cataclysm years ago. He’s perilous yet plays with thistledown. Old, yet able to learn. Having learned to love Jenn Nalynn, he nonetheless understands his duty may mean killing her. For if she ever steps beyond Marrowdell, his world and hers will be torn apart.

Which is why it’s really not a good thing, when Jenn Nalynn does her very first magic and turns Wisp into a man.

You’ve got me hooked!

I’m always curious about magic in fiction. How does the magic work in your story?

It’s elemental. Primal. Wild. Part of the landscape and inherent in certain beings or forms of life. I don’t have magic users in TURN as such. There are those who know very well where not to go, or who’ve learned good manners. Marrowdell sits along an edge, connected to the Verge, where magic is everywhere.

That said, at the turn of light, sunset, what lives in Marrowdell that came from the Verge can be seen, if the watcher knows where to look. I love that part.

Without spoiling the story, I can say that there are beings of magic who use their power with great deliberation and impact. Choosing to do so, however, is something fraught with risk and consequence. I love that part too.

In your promotional photo, I noticed you had a statue of a frog (or is it a toad?) on your lap. What is the significance of that?

Ah, the house toad. I wanted something ordinary in the village that would, if you looked closely, be rather odd. Toads fit the bill. Harmless and small, yet so much more in Marrowdell. They’ve become iconic, really. I take one to each of my events to leave behind. Every one should have a house toad, believe me.

The one on my lap was a gift from our daughter, Jennifer Lynn. If you notice something familiar in the name, yes, it’s true. This is Jennifer’s first “tuckerization” and I’m very proud.

Very cool! I’m sure she’s thrilled. 🙂

frog1

I’m partial to frogs and toads, myself. Here’s one that I put out in my garden, each summer:

Are there are any other links you would like me to share with my readers?

My event calendar can be found at http://www.czerneda.com/events/events.html. Another link of possible interest is http://www.watsonsmill.com

I’m happy to connect with readers via twitter @julieczerneda, facebook (look for the Marrowdell page), and goodreads.

Thank you, Julie, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us.

My pleasure. Great questions!

If you want to learn more about Julie and her writing, Derek at Speculating Canada did a really in-depth interview of Julie, which you can find here.
And now, I have some exciting news! You may have a chance to WIN one of six copies of A Turn of Light donated by Penguin Canada for Julie’s contest, “Awesome Turn Blog Tour Scavenger Hunt”! Doesn’t that sound like FUN?
I hope you will check out her events calendar (link above) which will send you to the other blogs who interviewed her in order to find the answers to her questions, which you can answer on her website: www.czerneda.com or specifically, here. Sorry, but I’m afraid those who live somewhere other than Canada or the United States are beyond the limits of the shippers.
Good luck! 🙂