I am really excited to participate in the unveiling of S.J. Aisling’s cover for her debut novel, Becoming the Chateran, and I can’t wait to introduce this new author to you. Stacia and I have been good friends since we were munchkins, and I’m elated that I’ve been able to tag along with her on this journey to publication. In this post, you’re going to get to see the beautiful cover of the novel, get to learn a little about Stacia, read a snippet of the book, and view one of the many illustrations within! I hope by now you’re excited, but that’s not all! You can also participate in a fantastic giveaway.
When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in serving their sentence:
Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.
Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom of Gemworthy oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.
My interview with Stacia:
When will Becoming the Chateran be available for purchase, and where can I get it?
~ Becoming the Chateran will be available this December as an ebook and a paperback, and you can buy it via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the website of my publisher, Life Sentence/Aniko Press. In fact, you can preorder your own paperback copy now from the latter location – preordering it will up your chances of getting it in time for Christmas!
Where did you find inspiration to write Becoming the Chateran?
Years ago while studying medieval history in school, a friend of mine and I pretended we were knightesses (prince/princess, knight/knightess, right?). I was Rhea, and my friend was Hiylienea. We had so much fun with our fantastical adventures that I decided to write everything down so we could remember it all, and so doing created the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has expanded and matured a lot since then, but all the major elements and characters of the original make-believe are still there.
Any hints as to what awaits in the rest of The Chateran Series?
~ Most of the characters from Becoming the Chateran will reappear throughout the rest of the series, as well as many new ones. I’m personally really excited for this second book of the series to come out, as it will tie up a several loose ends/foreshadowed events from Becoming the Chateran… as well as introducing new conundrums to tease you with. This second book features a shy minstrel girl, an awkward archer, a talking White Stag, revengeful Sídhe, enchained jewelry, and a civil war.
The Chateran Series is medieval fantasy. Have you been doing much research for writing it?
~ For the past seven years and counting I have lived half in this world, and half in that of this series. I’ve been walking around with a notebook all but attached to me, stuffed with notes about food, geography, clothing, character sketches, scene descriptions, and snatches of poetry and ballads. Tailoring myself costumes based off those my characters wear was one of the most amusing and insightful things I did, as I’d dress up in full rig to act scenes out in my back yard or parks before I wrote them, to make the action and descriptions as accurate as possible. I also tried my hand at archery and horseback riding, proudly became the owner of several encyclopedias on world costume and armor, and studied heraldry and the cultures of multiple medieval cultures. My father is a research scientist. I think it rubbed off on me.
Do you have any tips for fellow writers on staying focused on a story?
~ To me, staying driven to write a book depends on finding the happy medium between planning out what will happen and what they characters are like so you start out with good solid ground under you, and leaving enough out so that even you, the writer, is chaffing at the bit to find out what happens next.
Also, I feel too many writers start out by trying to write what they don’t know about, and their lack of knowledge and interest is crippling. But do more than simply write what you know. Write what you are passionate about – readers are smart people, and they’ll notice the conviction ringing through your story, and it will touch them as only fervent honesty can. And as a side perk, you’re more likely to actually WANT to write, as it will be something you feel/believe strongly about. This automatically makes the whole process a lot easier.
Do you like to write from an outline, or do you go by the seat of your pants?
~ I’m somewhere in between. I like to have a general structure of the major plot line down before I start writing, but the real planning I do is in the construction of my characters. As I broaden their personalities, life experiences, and quirks, they tell me the story they want to have told. I’ve always been a big fan of character-driven stories. And whenever I do take a lot of time to plan out the plot, my characters pretty much trash it and do whatever they want, anyway.
What did you enjoy most about writing Becoming the Chateran?
~ As Becoming the Chateran was the first book I ever wrote, the whole discovery of creating and entire fictional world is what delighted me the most. I’m the daughter of an artist and a research scientist, and I like to joke that I’ve got the best of both worlds from each of them – I love to push my creativity, and discover the facts and reasons behind why it would work. I’ll actually be sharing a lot of how I plan and construct the worlds for my books in an intensive miniseries about world building on my blog pretty soon.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve had to do for writing this book?
~ That’s actually a really hard question to answer. I’ve done a lot of weird things. Googling how to inflict and treat wounds Medieval-style was probably the one that would get me the most odd looks from anyone reading my search history.
Isn’t that cover fantastic? And just so you know, there are 40+ illustrations/visuals in this book–all created by Stacia, including the cover. Now for a sneak peak of Chapter One’s illustration and a bit of the story:
Outside, the sky was flushed with pink and faint gold over the white-flecked sea far below the castle, and a ray of sunlight foraged through the window into the darkness of the staircases and halls. A glimpse of steel caught the light under the figure’s cloak but was swept out of sight again as the figure adjusted the hood to hide its face more effectively. All around, the sounds of disturbance in the castle grew louder, shouted commands echoed down the hallways themselves, and the castle bell in the northern tower rang out the hour of five in ripples of silver music. At the sound, the shadow jumped, heart leaping, and ran up the staircase, only to stop short. Footsteps were coming. Footsteps and the merry sound of a few bars of whistled music. Across the eager face, half-hidden by the dark hood, a smile flashed for a moment, before the cloaked one leapt forward to disappear into the shadow of another flight of stairs just ahead.
He is coming!
Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran
. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series
. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator.
When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children’s ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.
Here’s how you can connect with Stacia:
Now I’m sure you’re all wondering about the giveaway, so here it is. Follow all the directions and you’ll be entered to win one of those prizes!