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Author Interview: Melissa Dickerson

Melissa Dickerson is a young adult science fiction writer who is occasionally funny but mostly just tries really, really hard.  Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

Author Melissa DicersonI’m Melissa, and I love books. I adore them so much that I write them as well as read them. I love libraries and book fairs. My favorite books are ones that take place in our reality, but with a twist (Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files), anything post-apocalyptic (Divergent, Hunger Games), or anything YA. YA is my guilty pleasure.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I’ve just always had the urge. I was always that weird kid in school, scribbling in a notebook when everyone else was doing classwork or playing games. My prized possession is a writing assignment from second grade. It has one of those writing prompts at the top that says, “As the clock struck twelve on Christmas Eve, the lights went out!” Then I had to write a story that complimented the prompt. I’m sure that I was intended to write something about Santa, or my parents… My story has a burglar, dodging bullets, and a fight scene. I’m sure my teacher thought I was deranged. I’m not certain she was wrong!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have a horrible case of impostor’s syndrome, so I didn’t consider myself a “Writer” (capital letter emphasized) until I finished my first book. Then I couldn’t deny it anymore! I’m still working up the confidence to introduce myself as a writer instead of saying “I work in IT”.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

I’m working on the sequel to Cured, which is tentatively titled Controlled. In it, Emma discovers that there is still a good bit of the government intact and it is not friendly to post-zombies. It’s Cured, but with the volume turned up. More fight scenes, more intrigue, and more snark. I can’t wait to finish it and share it with you! I think you’re going to love it.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had this image in my head of a girl in a hospital gown, covered in blood, looking helpless, only everyone is terrified of her. I had to explore it, and that turned into Cured. Then I discovered that there was a second book in there, too. My mental image of Controlled is of Emma standing before a bunch of armed humans, showing she’s unarmed – only they’re still terrified.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write what I like to read, and I like to read books that draw me in with great drama and characterization, and then make me laugh out loud. So serious subjects, but with a narrator who has an irreverent outlook on life. That’s what I aimed for, anyway!

How did you come up with the title of this book?

Cured was easy – it named itself, since it’s all about what happens if you cure a zombie. Controlled was harder. I went around in circles for a while, then ended up having to brainstorm with my writing group.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There are plenty of overarching themes and ideas, but the one I really want to drive home is that women are awesome! I am a huge believer in gender equality and want young women to have a good role model in Emma. I think her belief in herself is inspiring and her impetuousness is relatable for young women.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

The story of Emma’s mother sticking up for her in Cured is loosely based on real events. Emma’s mom and mine share a lot of similarities. Livvy is a combination of two really good friends who have always supported me, no matter what crazy shenanigans I get up to.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Stephen King, definitely. I was reading him in middle school, and his stories were terrifying and delightful. His writing taught me that it’s okay to have dark and twisty parts of yourself (which I definitely do), and more than that, it taught me that it’s okay to occasionally let them out to see the light of day.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Someone told me that I write like Jim Butcher, and so now I can die a happy girl. I actually met him at San Diego Comic-Con one year, and he was the nicest guy ever even though I was a total fangirl lunatic. I love his writing style and that he considered himself a “long shot” as an author in the beginning. I feel the same way about myself, so I feel like maybe, just maybe it’s possible for me to be successful too.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Believe it or not, it’s a stock photo. I ran across it while looking for ideas for the cover and couldn’t get it out of my head. Once I saw it, I fell in love, and there was no other option considered.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Stick with it, and keep going. Finishing what you start is the hardest part of writing. The second hardest part is believing in yourself. If you just keep writing, you’ll get better and better at it.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you, from the very bottom of my heart, for reading. I’m so glad you gave me a try.

CuredMelissa Dickerson
Costa Mesa, CA

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Cover Artist: Peter Juhasz
Publisher: Infinitely Improbable Press

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Author Interview: Xavier Leggett

Science fiction author Xavier Leggett focuses his writing on the emotional trauma that his characters face as they grapple to comprehend sudden death at very high speeds in deep space, or on alien worlds. I am pleased to welcome him here on No Wasted Ink.

XavierLeggettI started writing and drawing at a young age. Science fiction always intrigued me and I based a lot of my early writing on Jules Verne, 20,000 Leagues under the Sea; Isaac Asimov, Fantastic Voyage, I, Robot. I always craved adventure stories and that’s what I wrote.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Difficult question to answer, because I’ve always considered myself to be an artist of one sort or another, but I didn’t think I was a serious writer until I began working on The Blood of the Empire. When I had determined not to write the same three chapters over and over and decided to forge ahead and finish the book. I set up a schedule, daily and weekly goals, and just went for it, thinking more about writing than my current ‘day job.’ That’s when I knew I was a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

The Blood of the Empire is my first novel and The Furies of the Empire is my second. Currently, I’m working on my third and fourth novels of the ‘Empire’ series. Novels three and four are tied closely together in much the same manner as novels one and two. At this stage I’m herding all of my characters, trying to get them to stay within the framework of the plot. Which is a challenge for any author because characters tend to want to run off and do their own thing.

What inspired you to write this book?

The inspiration for writing The Blood of the Empire was the desire to take the space opera just one step further. Key to this inspiration was Star Wars and Star Trek. I wanted to write about heroics of larger than life characters, maintain a the sense of wonder, but make my stories a little more violent, turn the sex appeal up a notch or two, make the combat scenes more frantic, chaotic—more realistic. That doesn’t necessarily mean making the scenes bloodier, it means putting the characters in the thick of highly stressful, life-and death situations, where everything is coming at them all at once . . . there’s noise, screaming, heat, sweat, debris flying through the air, acrid smoke stinging their eyes. That’s what I wanted, and that’s what I write.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style can be quite poetic in some areas, quite descriptive at other points in the prose. I feel that you shouldn’t overdo it; you have to get your words on paper and get your characters from one scene to the next, and hopefully there’s something nasty there waiting for them, trying to kill them.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

For The Blood of the Empire I wanted something that sounded epic, something that would get a potential reader’s mind to race. But there is a danger. Gone with the Wind isn’t about bad southern weather or tales from tornado alley. The Catcher in the Rye, isn’t about mid-western flour mills or the life of a snarky baker. A few people even thought that The Blood of the Empire was about teen inner-city angst and vampires. But my story’s about three friends, struggling to trust each other and survive a brutal galactic war . . . if they don’t kill each other first.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Without being too obvious, I just want to let my readers know that there are alternatives to the typical heroes they may see on movie screens or read in novels. These heroes may be hidden at first, but they’re out there. They’re not sidekicks, they aren’t going to play second fiddle to anyone, they certainly don’t want to be your buddy. A quick look at my book covers should give you a good clue as to what I’m talking about—my heroes they are out there, saving the galaxy, dealing with their own demons, fighting the ‘good fight’ for those who can’t. . . or won’t.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

All experiences featured in my novels are fictional. Some of the characters may sound like people I’ve known during my life—it’s amazing what you pick up eavesdropping on conversations—but 99.9 percent of it is highly fictionalized. However, many of the battles have components based on actual historic battles, just to keep that sense of realism locked-in.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

When I was young it was Verne, Asimov, Bradbury, and Wells. As a teen, I read Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff about a dozen times. The way he described the rigors of astronaut training with a humorous, yet his commanding sense of detail was incredible. I wanted to emulate that. Later, as an adult, I began reading Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy thrillers. It was at this time that I began the first draft of The Blood of the Empire and found myself suddenly reading Elizabeth Moon, Robert Jordan, David Eddings and Terry Brooks. Discovering all these writers, writers from divergent genres . . . helped to strengthen my own writing. But I think there are two at the top of the list that I almost forgot. Frank Herbert and Robert Heinlein.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Every book that I read is primarily for entertainment, secondarily to learn something new about the complex craft of writing, literally every author is my mentor. With each book I read, I can analyze the plot, dissect character development, and engage in my own bit of editing.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I illustrated the cover myself. I taught myself a few programs, DAZ Studio, Poser, and Photoshop. Currently, I’m sinking my teeth in Zbrush which will provide more 3D art for use in future cover and art projects.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Writing is tough art form to master, you could be a best-selling author for twenty years then discover a quick change of scene trick and think, ‘why haven’t I been using this before?’ It’s a pleasure to write, but you have to be disciplined, and you have to put in brutal hours to be good at it, and still there’ll always be new things to learn—and there always will be. So keep writing, make it more important than breathing.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you—thank you very much for you support and encouragement. Dannen, N’ckshell, and Rook are alive because you believe in them. And they will do everything in their power to make you cry, laugh, or pull your hair out when they do something stupid. I enjoy writing because I enjoy taking readers, like you, to places you’ve never been.

Empire_Front_Cover_1000Xavier Leggett
Missoula, MT

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Author Interview: Scarlett Van Dijk

Scarlett Van Dijk is a young Australian writer of young adult fantasy stories. She currently has two novels released, Sky Stone and Guardian Core, of the Sky Stone series. Please welcome her here to No Wasted Ink.

Author Scarlett Van DijkMy name is Scarlett Van Dijk and I was born in 1993. I am an Australian author of Young Adult Fantasy stories. Besides authoring, I work as a radiographer and like to keep myself fit with pole fitness. I enjoy dancing, reading, role player computer games, and desktop publishing. I keep two mischievous, attention-seeking kitties who are constantly getting in the way while I’m trying to write.

When and why did you begin writing?

Right back in the beginning, my love for writing began with school and writing short stories and poetry. However, the first time I thought to try my hand at something more was when I was fourteen years old. However, this novel flopped badly (I didn’t have a plot… Kinda important). I began writing Sky Stone, my first full novel at the age of fifteen although this was originally supposed to be a standalone novella. I had no idea that it would become a novel length story which would become the first in a trilogy.

I guess the reason I love writing is because it gives me a release and a way of expressing myself. I love the act of creating something that came to life in my mind and then sharing it.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer when I began writing Sky Stone. I had a purpose, and an idea I could get down on paper and wanted to share. This was the first time I had put effort into a story, based on my own motivation not for a school assignment, and intended to see it finished.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest release is Guardian Core, book 2 of the Sky Stone series. It continues the story of Skyla, a girl who had been stripped from her home in modern day Australia, and sent to the medieval land of Branzia. After becoming a legend throughout Branzia, she believes she can finally live in peace with her true love. However, the life of a Sky Guardian will always be filled with obstacles. In this instance, she must help to found a safe haven for all Sky Guardians, the Guardian Core. Soon this promising future is threatened and Skyla is torn between her own personal battles and her duty to the Sky Guardians she must protect. With her biggest weakness exposed, every step becomes a struggle.

What inspired you to write this book?

After writing Sky Stone, the first book in this series, I actually planned never to write another novel! It was soooo much effort! But, keeping an author from writing is like keeping a moth from a flame; you know it could end badly for you but you can’t avoid the temptation. Without expecting it, ideas for a sequel to Sky Stone formed in my mind and I couldn’t push them down. Guardian Core was born from my day dreamer’s mind. I can’t pin point an exact inspiration for Guardian Core but it is likely that music was involved. Music has been a major inspiration for my day dreams, and story ideas, for a long time.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Generally, I write in first person past tense, occasionally mixing it up just to keep myself versatile. Some people frown upon the use of first person point of view, however I love how it gives readers a more intimate feel for the main protagonist. I can easily express my main character’s fears and emotions, her thoughts and motives. My style had changed as I have grown up writing, and will likely continue to change as I mature.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

For this series I am going for two word titles, based on the title of the first book, Sky Stone. Sky Stone was an obvious title to me, referring to the pendent which sends Skyla to Branzia and gives her Sky Guardian’s abilities. Guardian Core was chosen in a similar way, based upon a major idea in the book, the Sky Guardian’s new haven. In this way, I have decided upon a title for the third book that is currently being written, Magic Spawn.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There is a running message through the Sky Stone series. That is for young people to realize they don’t need to struggle alone, to share their load and allow others to be there for them.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

I think many of my ideas are based on experiences from both my own life, and those of people around me. However, I also think they are based on my own wishes and fantasies. Skyla is based fairly strongly on myself. I think myself as self-sacrificing and Skyla also portrays this characteristic of always putting others first despite possible personal harm. A fantasy of mine is to have the power to actually do something meaningful, Skyla has this power as her ability to fight and wield magic among other things.

What authors have most influenced your life?  What about them do you find inspiring?

The most influential of authors to my life is Tamara Pierce, author of the Song of the Lioness series. As a child I hated reading. I blame this on undiagnosed Irlen’s Syndrome which I was diagnosed with at the age of about eleven. Concentrating of reading for long periods was difficult for me and so I avoided it as much as possible. Even so, I still enjoyed writing short pieces. When I was about thirteen I finally picked up my first fantasy novel and read it without anyone telling me to. This was one of Tamara Pierce’s books. If I hadn’t picked up that book from my school library, I would not have gained my love for reading fantasy, and definitely never would have considered taking up writing as a hobby. Tamara Pierce’s genre also influenced what I liked to write about: sword and magic fantasy, based in a medieval setting. She also wrote about young women who had overcome overwhelming odds to accomplish their goals.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

If I could ask for an author mentor, I would ask Brandon Sanderson. Since first reading his Mistborn series I have been in awe of how he could reel me in as a reader, make me believe one thing was happening, and then turn the whole world on its head with plot twist after plot twist. Each of his characters are expertly crafted so that you can relate with both the bottom dwelling thief or the high born lord. His worlds are so different from anything I have read about before and are so thoroughly thought about that you feel as if you know his fictional worlds… can you sense my awe?

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I designed and created my own book covers. I use Adobe Photoshop and Indesign to create covers using stock images for only about $30 out of my own pocket. I enjoy desktop publishing and have had a small amount of training in it from school and university.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

What I always want other writers to remember is why they started writing in the first place. Surely you didn’t start writing just for the money (hahaha…). You likely began because you loved writing, you loved expressing yourself and creating. Don’t get caught up on the ‘should’ and ‘have to’. Why write if you can’t write what you want, if you’re forced to write in a niche just because it ‘sells’. Every author’s goals are different: some just want to write, some want to publish, some want to make money. But, in the end, are you doing it for the same reason you began? Do you still enjoy it?

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you very much for reading, I truly appreciate your support. This year I hope to have the third and final book of the Sky Stone, Magic Spawn, finished and published. Please follow me on any of my social media outlets to get the latest information on my writing. I’m always happy to have a chat so give me a buzz!

Guardian_Core_Cover_for_KindleScarlett Van Dijk
Adelaide, South Australia

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Author Interview: Elizabeth Guizzetti

Author Elizabeth Guizzetti is a science fiction author who writes what she wants and hopes to slay her readers with an emotional connection to her characters. Please welcome her here on No Wasted Ink.

E_Guizzetti_BlogHi everyone, my name is Elizabeth Guizzetti and when I am not writing or drawing, I also enjoy hiking and birdwatching. I live in Seattle with my husband and two dogs.

When and why did you begin writing?

When I was twelve, I decided I wanted to be an author. I began writing and illustrating my first fantasy story about a princess who leaves home to go on adventures. I think I just didn’t want to go outside to play, but I also had this idea that writing could be a job and I could make a ton of money. (Haha!)

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Though I have been writing for over twenty years, and self-published my comics since 2008, and have two novels published by 48Fourteen, I only considered myself a writer fairly recently. In the summer of 2015, not only did my second novel, The Light Side of the Moon, come out, but I was also notified that Other Systems was on the short list for the Canopus Award. Seeing my name in a press release on the list with other authors, suddenly I realized I was a “real author” too.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest book The Light Side of the Moon is the second book in the Other Systems Universe, but it is not a sequel. Both novels begin when the Kiposians arrive on Earth looking for healthy young people to immigrate to their colony then they veer in different directions with different characters. Other Systems follows Abigail Boyd Lei to Kipos. The Light Side of the Moon follows an impoverished girl, Ella Sethdottier, who runs away from an arranged marriage and follows rumors of plentiful jobs on the moon.

What inspired you to write this book?

I originally planned Other Systems to be a stand alone story, but readers asked for a sequel. Though I wanted to continue exploring the Other Systems Universe, but I knew I didn’t want to write a direct sequel. I started to ask myself what would it be like for the people on Earth who chose to stay or were left behind. Pulling out the few Earth chapters in the beginning of the first novel, to ensure society matched, I built the setting of Earth and the lunar colony. Then the protagonist slipped into my mind. At four, Ellie was too young to go. (I mentioned in Other Systems, gravcouch nanites can cause a cascading allergic reaction in young children.) Other reasons why people would stay came to mind and the cast of characters started to come together.

My research began influencing the story. Not only did I look into the science for the lunar colony and rocket speeds, but I began researching stories from the time of penal transportation to the Americas and Australia, Colonial law in America, modern prisons and the Stanford Prison Experiments. Finally, current events always leach into my stories: the atrocities which ISIL has been committing and within the US, police brutality and the demonization of the poor. The Light Side of the Moon took shape.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I write character driven stories, which I would like to read. Then I cross my fingers and hope other people like them too.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

The Light Side of the Moon was a challenging book to write and name. I had four titles that I liked—my favorite was Lift. In a blog post I asked for advice and my fans didn’t like my original ideas. So I spent a day writing down a list of possible titles. Two words kept repeating: Light and Moon.

When going over them aloud, my husband suggested The Light Side of the Moon. (He is a Pink Floyd fan.) I realized how perfect it is. Not only is it a story of hope, but the location of the colony is on the Sea of Serenity.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

If we don’t work to solve some of our problems now, space travel will not free us. We will bring our problems to our colonies. In a way, it’s the anti-Star Trek.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Nope, but I do add stories that I read in the news.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Margret Attwood, David Brin, CS Forrester, Tanya Huff, Stephen King have all written books that touched me in some way—mostly by writing characters that I was willing to follow during their adventures. That at times I would weep for or root for or laugh with or whatever it was the author wanted me to feel.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Stephen King. I read his book On Writing many times and pick it up now and again to find comfort in his story of failure, and with the help of his wife, picking himself up and continuing on.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

I created the artwork. I wanted something that mimicked the feeling in Other Systems, and something that said “hard science fiction.” So I chose to create a spaceship over a planet using the same blues from Other Systems. Then 48Fourteen hired Lyndsay Johnson to do the font treatment. Ms. Johnson is one of the illustrators 48Fourteen often works with.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Yes. I have two main pieces of advice. First all authors sometimes feel competitive with each other which leads to jealousy. I found a great way to combat that tendency. When I get jealous, I try to figure out why I feel that way, then I do an action. For example: if I am jealous over another author’s great review, I send out a couple of review requests.

Secondly, I have heard advice that an author needs to be putting out new work all the time. However, if I want to write well, I need time to write well. Though 48Fourteen had published Other Systems, they originally rejected The Light Side of the Moon, but gave me a long feedback letter. The most important point was to slow down. It took me a few weeks to get through the disappointment I felt, then I really thought about what the feedback letter said and re-read the manuscript.

I did not follow their advice, but it did give me many ideas on how to make The Light Side of the Moon better. For example, my feedback letter suggested I remove the android characters, because the editor didn’t feel anything for their storyline. I kept the androids, I just made the editor care about their story.😉 It took me four months, but I sent 48Fourteen another version of the book which they accepted.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for reading my books. I hope they grabbed you. I appreciate the time you take to read my books, drop me lines of encouragement and/or review them.

The Light Side of the Moon CoverElizabeth Guizzetti
Seattle, WA

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Author Interview: Elizabeth Gaines Johnston

A huge fan of fantasy and medieval history, Author Elizabeth Gaines Johnston loves weaving complicated storylines together to create characters who feel like real people. She enjoys using words to paint a picture, so my worlds have a tangible feel to them. Please welcome this up and coming fantasy author to No Wasted Ink.

Author Elizabeth Gaines JohnstonMy name is Elizabeth Gaines Johnston, author of the Gilded Serpents trilogy, as well as the upcoming sequel series, The Realm of Possibilities trilogy. I am a single mother of two sets of identical twin boys (ages 16 and 10) as well as a busy school volunteer, where I direct and teach the theater program for 2nd-8th graders, as well as helping publish the school’s student paper. I have a BA in English Literature with an emphasis on medieval studies, and a History minor. I love to travel. I don’t get to do it as often as I’d like. I’m also a fan of Doctor Who, Firefly, Marvel, some DC (mostly Wonder Woman), The Princess Bride, and many fantasy series.

When and why did you begin writing?

I’ve always loved to write, in my pre-teen and teen years it was mostly short stories and poetry for friends. When I was first married, right out of college, we moved from California to Minnesota, and so while my husband was in med school, I took whatever jobs I could to keep us solvent. To keep my sanity, I used my lunch breaks and after hours writing what I initially thought would be another short story. However, the characters had other ideas, and soon, I found myself writing Dragon’s Gift, the first book of my first trilogy.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Good question. I suppose in college I began to think of myself as a writer, but it wasn’t until I had over 1000 pages of my trilogy written that I knew myself to be one. I finally felt like an author when I sold my first book to a total stranger, who later told me how much they enjoyed it.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

All three books are out simultaneously, so no one has to wait to find out what happens! The first book, Dragon’s Gift, is the most lighthearted, as out heroine is starting out on her journey, meeting new friends and acquiring new skills. The second book, Magic’s Price, is the longest of the three, mainly because that’s where the divisions naturally occurred. It is more complex, as several key players become separated during this time, and they find they must face challenges they never expected. Our heroine, and her friends, also grow more and more to doubt themselves during this portion of the tale. Finally, in the conclusion of the trilogy, War’s Toll, our main characters have to overcome tremendous odds and their own misgivings in order to defeat the great evil threatening their lands.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always loved the fantasy genre, but the majority of the books have a main male character at their core. I wanted my story to revolve around my heroine, but also to show the strength she gets from those beside her. Not just in the sense of romance, though there are romances in my books, but also from family and allies, some of whom she never expected to find rallying to her cause. I also wanted to give young women the sense that if they believe in themselves, they have already won the most important battle.

Do you have a specific writing style?

I try to give the reader a chance to see things through the eyes of different characters. I hate to compare myself to another author since each of us has a distinct voice. I am particularly proud of the images I am able to create with my words. I like the sense of painting a picture that the reader can see.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

For each book, it was what the heroine found herself facing. In Dragon’s Gift, Kwyleeana finds herself in possession of a magical pendant given to her by Baelwyn, a dragon. This gift opens her to an entirely new world around her. In Magic’s Price, she has to come to terms with what the magic she is using costs her. She also must decide if she is willing to pay that price. In War’s Toll, the war has arrived, and all the characters, our heroine included, will be forced to face the devastation and loss that wars bring.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Empowerment. I have always felt if you believe in yourself, you are well on your way to success. The worst thing we do is defeat ourselves before we’ve begun. Also, I’m a strong believer in the concept of relying on the strength of those around you…none of us is in this world alone, and the greatest burdens become lighter if we have loyal friends beside us willing to share the load.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

As this is a fantasy novel, not really. However, I spent many years as a member of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), and several of my characters in this world are amalgams of people I knew from those years. It also helped me add a real authenticity to my dialogue and details of a medieval-esque fantasy world.

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you  find inspiring?

As an English lit major, I found a lot to inspire me. The strength of Isabel Allende’s women, the rich details of Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Arthurian tales, the fun and excitement of David Eddings, and the way I can lose myself in the worlds of Terry Brooks. I also find hope in the tales of Brooks and J.K. Rowling, who were in other careers and did not find success as authors until later.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Terry Brooks. The way he incorporated what he knew into his books, and then cast aside his career as a successful lawyer to follow his dream of being a fantasy adventure author.

Who designed the painterly cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Kimberly Daniel designed all three book covers. The first one she did for me as a friend, because all the covers I was being sent by my first publisher were awful, and didn’t fit my writing style at all. I then contracted her to design the other two to keep my styles consistent. I also knew she would give me what I needed for a design, and would do it on time and professionally.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Don’t try to be anyone else. Be true to your own voice. The biggest mistake you can make is to write for what pleases other people. If you write to please yourself, that’s when you will create brilliance. And like my heroine, Princess Kwyleeana, believe in yourself, for then you have the strength to win all battles.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

All authors need readers to support them. If you like my book, please give me positive reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other websites. Ask your local bookstore to stock my books. Recommend my books to friends (or better yet, buy them copies as gifts). And never be afraid to contact me. I’d love to hear from you.

Dragons Gift Book CoverElizabeth Gaines Johnston
Los Angeles, CA

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The Gilded Serpents Trilogy

Cover Artist: Kimberly Daniel

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE