Monday, November 26, 2018

Meet the Author: Loretta Goldberg

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome author Loretta Goldberg, whose exciting debut, The Reversible Mask is set in Elizabethan England. Loretta shares her history and insights into the new novel.

Loretta, thanks so much for being a guest!

***

What drew you to the Elizabethan period of history?

First, Lisa, I really appreciate your welcoming me into your blog, which I’ve admired for a long time. So thank you. Let me explain my affinity for English history.  I grew up in Melbourne Australia, a commonwealth country, like Barbados. English history and culture was in our skin cells, hair and stomachs. Especially our stomachs. Plum pudding, for example. I don’t know about you, but in the sweltering heat of down-under summers, Christmas meant steaming plum puddings, hung in cellars for months infused with alcohol, served with hot brandy sauce, with three pence and sixpence coins inside for lucky kids who sucked and nibbled rabbit-like, before swallowing. Woe if you swallowed your wealth! That was a cultural imprint. Then there were postage stamps. Each set from a Commonwealth nation was a lesson in geography and history. So although my biological tribe is Ashkenazi Jew, my consciousness was of the colonies.

Coming to the Elizabethan period, in particular, any place or time can yield riveting tales of intrigue, love, greed, courage, great virtue, and betrayal. It was Elizabethan language that entranced me. I did my first degree in English Literature, Musicology and History at the University of Melbourne, and taught in the English Department before coming to the USA on a music scholarship. The language was at peak creativity, with influences from other languages freely incorporated. It was as much of a golden age for clerks, lawyers, and diplomats as it was for poets and playwrights. Lower class folks too. If you read law trials of murderers, thieves, pirates, or women healers recounting dreams, they had earthy metaphors, inventive curses and a gift for description. Shakespeare only had to walk down the street to get his “low life” scenes. Then, at the government level, Elizabeth appointed councillors as strong-willed as herself. Tussles over policy were copiously documented. Whether the issue was marriage and the royal succession, war, diplomacy, trade, taxation, the myriad shades of religion, you find interpersonal dramas. These Tudor imbroglios fascinated me as much as Greek and Roman writings hooked the Elizabethans.

Other aspects of the period also drew me, a shaking up of things that resonated for me with contemporary life. The invention of the printing press late in the fifteenth century spawned uncontrollable outpourings of information, dissent, and wicked satire. Institutions reeled, their leaders often responding with appalling cruelty. There was a siren call for religious martyrdom.  Traditional alliances were upended, there was a heady excitement at new learning and an expanding geographical world. Militarily, no side could annihilate the other, so violence was intermittent but never-ending. However, the era also brought the notion of companionate marriage, secular social welfare programs, and more education. Social change hovers over everyone in the novel, an unloved guest no one can ignore

My fictionalized anti-hero, spy and adventurer, lover and betrayer, steps into this messy world. He’s a Catholic Englishman miserable at living under a Protestant regime. Trying to reconcile the conflict in his heart between faith and patriotism, he inserts himself into the religious wars, striving to moderate English and Spanish policy. The Reversible Mask is a quest novel.

Did anything unexpected or unusual come to light during your research?

A location. The first alpine tunnel –nearly three miles long--was hewed through Monte Viso 1480-1490 and used until1582. King Louis XI of France and Ludovico II Del Vasto, Marquis of Saluzzo, built it so their traders could evade Tuscan taxes. The former financial advisor in me was tickled by this. I send my main character, Edward Latham, and his sworn oath brother, Don Cristobal, through the tunnel when they were still serving the Catholic side. A workable alpine tunnel in the fifteenth century seemed like a miracle to me. A friend scoffed at that, saying it couldn’t compare with the Egyptian pyramids. True, but think about the different incentives. The ancient Egyptians were stretching to transcendence, starting from sand, while these trading monarchs started near the mountaintop and burrowed, wedged and fired for the base worship of Mammon. It reminded me of some of the generation-skipping trusts and other financial devices I studied as an insurance agent.

If you could experience any other time in history, what would it be?

A time when women had more equality. Pre-agrarian. Anthropologists say hunter-gatherer societies were more egalitarian, had more leisure and even better health than property-governed societies.

Where would you live, and what would your profession be?

The ancient fertile crescent. I’d be a healer, expert in herbal medicine, passed on orally by generations of ancestor healers. The social organization would be like some Australian aboriginal tribes, where fifty people can breed legally among fifty, a defined group. I’d have four children, two apprenticing to me, and child-rearing would be a collective activity.

Now that you’ve completed The Reversible Mask, what can readers expect next?


Initially, lots of blogging. I’m also writing about an intriguing primary document I located during my research: an “insider” European view of Ottoman politics in the 1570s. One culture’s verdict on another is always fascinating. My website is www.lorettagoldberg.com, so do please visit. Feedback and questions are welcome. The sequel to The Reversible Mask will centre on a conflict between the Hanseatic League and Elizabeth. Drake captures an entire merchant convoy of over 60 ships bringing war materials to Spain, based on Latham’s spying. New fictional characters I love, a Fleming Hansa merchant and his wife, play major roles. Stay tuned!

Sounds wonderful! Thanks so much again, Loretta, for sharing The Reversible Mask with readers.

Now's your chance to read an excerpt of this debut novel. And, want to know more about Loretta? Follow her on Facebook!

**AN EXCERPT FROM THE REVERSIBLE MASK**

CHAPTER 3: First Urgent Intelligence.
(Latham is now a spy for the Spanish Catholic side.) 

Paris, July 1572

     Rays of a late afternoon sun dissected the street’s stone buildings, painting them golden and brown. Albert Braak, Latham’s tousle-haired, bow-legged Huguenot quarry, glanced behind him as he turned into a side street, prompting Latham to slip into the shadows. They weren’t far from The Yellow Cock Spur tavern, where Latham had once met David Hicks.

    The tavern wasn’t Braak’s destination. He turned a corner, and another, stopping outside a stone building with a wooden addition on one side. It looked like an old school that had been hastily expanded during Paris’s population surge in the 1520s. The addition leaned against its host, each decrepit construction propping the other up. The roof sported a sad-faced stone lion with half a mane. The windows were dark, but fresh horse dung in the street indicated life inside.

     Braak peered at the side of a window frame, opened the door and went in. Latham walked to the same window. A freshly scratched spur was visible on the flaky shutter; easy to sand off. He grinned. A clandestine cockfight, as David Hicks had said. More men approached as Latham left.

     He needed a drink before suborning Braak. Back at the Yellow Cocks Spur, every post had a horse tied to it, and inside, a crowd of men in livery drank companionably, there to collect their employers after the fight.

     Latham squeezed onto the end of a bench and called for ale, thinking about his task. He had to confirm that Genlis had left Paris because he’d raised the troops he needed; that this force was going to attack the Spanish army at Mons; and what Genlis expected to gain by leaving his courier, Braak, behind.

     He stared at the thick white froth in his tankard, trying to imagine the next hour. Hélène had said Braak was a gambling loser. Latham intended to cover his debts with coin, jewels and fur trim, and had dressed opulently. In addition, he’d sewn onto his doublet sleeve a little red rose with white inner petals nestling on green leaves. It was the Tudor emblem, meant to mislead Braak about his allegiance. Latham expected that if Braak faced debtor’s prison when his duty was to rush messages to Genlis, his gratitude would overcome caution, and he’d betray Genlis. But what if Braak won? What if Hélène was wrong about his haplessness? Latham had no alternative plan. He pushed this worry aside; he trusted Hélène’s assessments of men gone bad. On these subjects she was wise.

     Getting what he needed from Braak would require better playacting than he’d done before. Up to now, in the guise of a trader, he’d mostly assembled pubic facts about commodity prices. It was the pattern that his Spanish spymaster sought: sudden sustained increases often implied military mobilization. Today is different, he mused, I must dig out of Braak a secret he’d never otherwise reveal, which means stripping him of agency. He conjured up a world of deception. Must I become a theologian of deception, like the old scholastics? Is there a hierarchy of deceit, a netherworld where lies whirl in serried ranks? How many lies can dance on the head of a pin?

     “A turn and a half of the glass. One more flagon,” a servant called. An hour and a half left of the fight.

     Latham had to go. Girding himself, he returned to the schoolhouse, crossed the empty lobby, and pushed aside heavy curtains. Vendors in the ante-room were hawking food and drink; a few customers were relaxing.

     Opening the hall door, he was greeted by heat and noise. Resin wall torches and candles set on traverse ceiling beams lit the room. Looking up, Latham laughed. In a corner was the customary man-sized basket suspended by chains from a ceiling beam, used to string up a gambler who couldn’t cover his losses.


Friday, November 16, 2018

Al-Andalus Authors Newsletter Launch: Why Moorish Spain

I'm a part of Al-Andalus Authors, a cooperative formed with David Penny, John D. Cressler and Joan Fallon, who have each written about Moorish Spain's history. Our first newsletter is available NOW! Every month on the 15th day, we'll provide fascinating insights into Moorish Spain, our passion for its history and our books. This month's topic, "Why Moorish Spain." Here's a snippet:

"About Moorish Spain
Why Moorish Spain? For any traveler who has marveled at the beauty of Seville's Giralda or Alcazar, wandered between the columns of La Mezquita in Cordoba or explored Granada's timeless Alhambra, the answer is easy. Moorish Spain captures the imagination. A sentiment shared by John D. Cressler, Joan Fallon, David Penny, and Lisa J. Yarde when they formed Al-Andalus Authors.

Moorish Spain or Al-Andalus in the time of Muslim people who once ruled the land is the predominant setting for many of John, Joan, David and Lisa's novels. Inspiration comes from the richness of the region's history and culture, and the influence the Islamic religion on the architecture, language, and food. Spain is a beautiful country of ice-capped mountains in the north, and sage green grass and red ochre soil in the central tableland. Heat stifles the south in summers. Spaniards inherited a rich legacy from the Celts, Romans and Goths, and Christians, Jews, and Muslims. But it is in the vestiges of Moorish Spain alone that the influence of the latter remains best evident today.

John, Joan, David, and Lisa each have unique and deeply personal reasons for having chosen this place in time as the setting of their most beloved novels. They invite you to share their insights now."

Want more? Then you have to subscribe. Sign up at https://goo.gl/xTwyPK.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

New home, new title: The Bajan Scribbler

Big changes! The Brooklyn Scribbler is now The Bajan Scribbler.

Prompted by my recent move to Barbados, the place of my birth, effectively immediately the name of this blog has changed as well. The link from my website will redirect here, too. If you've saved the URL, please update it to http://thebajanscribbler.blogspot.com/.

So, what do all these changes mean? Just a new address. I'll still be writing and blogging, working with the HNS-NYC chapter and sharing a lifelong fascination with all things Moorish Spain at Al-Andalus Authors; the first newsletter will launch on November 15. I hope readers will continue the journey with me, too.


Friday, May 11, 2018

FLASH SALE - Free on Kindle today: Sultana: The Pomegranate Tree

For the first time! Download for free and save $3.99; this weekend only. ENDED MAY 13. Check out other promos on my website.




Book #5 of the Sultana series. 

In fifteenth-century Moorish Spain, Aisha, the descendant of the Sultans of Granada endures a life imperiled by dynastic warfare, loss, and cruel fate. Enemies descend on the kingdom from all sides and threaten to tear it apart. 


To preserve a fragile peace, Aisha suffers a sham marriage to a cruel tyrant, forever divided from the love that once ruled her heart. Years later, when a trusted confidante becomes a powerful rival, Aisha must fight for the future of the next generation or witness the destruction of her family and the last vestiges of Moorish rule in Spain.


Excerpt


“...I spoke so you would never forget who you are again. You have a proud heritage and Nasrid pride, the pride of lions who lived and ruled for centuries before your existence, and the Sultanas who would not let fate or circumstance bend or break them. Their blood flows in your veins! Saad and his son have taken from you. Show them that you are as fierce as Jazirah, Butayna, Fatima, and even Maryam the viper. As strong as the lioness upon the plains. A lioness of Gharnatah. You have not forgotten. You do not forgive. You shall have recompense for the lives they have ruined and the blood they have shed.”

Sunday, May 6, 2018

FLASH SALE - Free on Kindle today: Sultana: Two Sisters and Sultana: The Bride Price

Today, books #3 and #4 of the Sultana series are FREE to download on Kindle. Save $3.99. ENDED MAY 4. Check out other promos on my website.



Book #3 of the Sultana series

In fourteenth-century Spain, former friends vie for a man's heart and the future of his kingdom. Both women are captives sold into the harem of Sultan Yusuf I of Moorish Granada. A young girl with a hidden heritage, Esperanza Peralta, forges a new identity as Butayna and becomes the mother of Yusuf's firstborn son.The Jewess Miriam Alubel takes the name Maryam and also bears Yusuf's children, including two sons. The clash between former friends is inevitable, as each finds diverging paths in a dizzying rise to power beside their husband. Both remain aware of the struggle ahead, for only one heir may inherit Yusuf's throne and only one woman can claim the revered title, Mother of the Sultan.


Excerpt

"...Two heirs to sit upon the throne when there can be just one Sultan to succeed his father. Some would say Yusuf is fortunate to have two sons. Others would think him cursed. Regardless, I do not doubt the news will please him, given your recent tragedy."

Butayna's nails raked the doorpost. Her other hand went to her empty stomach, where six weeks ago her second child had thrived for five months until failure shattered her hopes. The court astrologer had predicted another boy.

Maryam added, "If you believe this is the last time I shall bear Yusuf a son, you are mistaken. I will not fade away, while you keep Yusuf at your side. He does not love me, not yet, but I will bind his heart with our children. If you think Muhammad shall inherit the throne just because he is the eldest, you are wrong."

A shudder coursed through Butayna. She fisted her hands at her sides before she turned to Maryam. "If you ever strike at Muhammad, no one, not even Yusuf shall save you from my wrath! I will choke the life from you with my bare hands. Do not mistake the measure of my love for my son."

Over her shoulder, Maryam said, "Do not underestimate my ambitions for mine."

Download now





Book #4 of the Sultana series. 

In fourteenth-century Moorish Spain, a marriage of convenience for the sake of peace leads to disaster in the medieval kingdom of Granada. The young queen Jazirah, caught up in a dynastic struggle between warring brothers, fights for her survival. Wed to a husband who looks at her with more suspicion than lust in his eyes, she must escape reminders of a brutal past in a quest to find forgiveness, hope, and love. 

Her husband Muhammad faces greater peril than union with a wife he cannot trust. Surrounded by enemies within his family who seek the throne and undermined by ministers who would alter the course of his country's future, he intends to rule the land of his ancestors alone. How can he endure against his most bitter opponents, not least among them, the woman whom he has chosen for a bride? 


Excerpt

"...Why do you speak of me as if I am not here?" Jazirah demanded. Despite the collective gasps from everyone in attendance, she continued, "We may address each other as equals for we are both the grandchildren of a Sultan of Gharnatah." 

Her father admonished, "Jazirah, you are not the equal of a man, least of all the Sultan! You will apologize and beg his forgiveness. Now!" 

Muhammad raised a hand. While Ismail fell silent and glared at Jazirah, she returned his narrowed stare with intense regard. 

The Sultan said, "Let her keep false words behind her teeth. I would not believe them. What else could I expect, but this behavior from the daughter of a traitor to his people and my father?"

Download now

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Meet the Author: John D. Cressler

With my next MEET THE AUTHOR post, I’m pleased to introduce John D. Cressler, as this week's guest author and share his newest novel. John’s stopping by to share an excerpt of Fortune's Lament, part of his Anthems of al-Andalus series set in Moorish Spain and to offer insight on his writing. Given my own obsession with the place and time he's written about, John's work has been of particular interest to me, so expect to hear more about him on this blog. As a bonus, John has generously offered to give away up to TEN  Kindle versions to those who leave a comment on this post! So, please do comment and INCLUDE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in the comment.

Here's an excerpt from the novel:

Interview with John D. Cressler

Welcome John, thanks for being my guest at The Brooklyn Scribbler. Please share some insight on your Anthems of al-Andalus series and the latest installment, Fortune's Lament.


Thanks for inviting me, Lisa! Let me give some background on this amazing period of history, and then zoom-in on each of my three novels in the Anthems of al-Andalus Series.

As you know, much of modern Spain was under Muslim control for nearly 800 years (from 711 to 1492 C.E.). Medieval Islamic Spain was deeply influential in world history, for a multitude of reasons, including the rediscovery, translation, and dissemination of the lost works of medicine, science, and philosophy of the ancient Greeks. The Muslim Umayyads (with roots tracing back to Syria) were lovers of books and learning, and helped launch a cultural revolution in Córdoba, which transformed the western world. An exceptional 200-plus-year period of peaceful coexistence occurred between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam under Muslim Umayyad rule, providing a powerful lesson in the practice of multiculturalism for our twenty-first-century world. This time period was both deeply influential in world history and riveting, and I have fallen in love with all-things-al-Andalus! All three of my novels are love stories interwoven into this rich history. 

Emeralds of the Alhambra, my first release, is a love story set in the resplendent Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, during the Castilian Civil War (1367-1369 C.E.), a time when Muslims took up their swords to fight alongside Christians. Emeralds tells the story of William Chandon, a Christian knight captured and brought to the Alhambra to be used by the Muslim sultan as a political pawn, and the Sufi Muslim princess Layla, daughter of the sultan’s chief counsellor. As Chandon’s influence at court grows, he becomes trapped between his forbidden love for Layla and his Christian heritage, the demands of chivalry and political expediency. Chandon and Layla must make choices between love and honor, war and peace, life and death, choices which ultimately will seal Granada’s fate as the last surviving stronghold of Islamic Spain. 

Shadows in the Shining City, my second release, is a prequel to Emeralds of the Alhambra, and immerses the reader in Islamic Spain’s Golden Age. Shadows tells the story of the forbidden love between Rayhana, a Muslim princess of the royal court, and Zafir, a freed slave. Young love blossoms in 975 C.E. in Madinat al-Zahra, the Shining City, Caliph al-Hakam II’s magnificent royal palace located just outside of Córdoba. Their love story is set against the backdrop of the epic rise to power of Rayhana’s ruthless father, Ibn Abi Amir, a man history will come to both celebrate and revile for the role he plays in the collapse of Islamic Spain.

Fortune’s Lament, my latest, is again set in Granada, 120 years after Emeralds of the Alhambra, and sets the stage for the final collapse of Muslim Spain. It tells the story of Danah, a young Muslim woman who aspires to be the first female physician in the city. Love unexpectedly blossoms between Danah and Yusef, a valiant prince of court from a rival clan, during the bloody final conquest of Granada by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Christian Spain. As the light of Islamic Spain dims, the Inquisition looms large on the horizon, as does the coming voyage of Columbus to discover the Americas.

When you first began writing, did you have a series in mind? If not, what changed your thoughts?

Yes, I intended to write a series from the very beginning. There is just too much fascinating history to be told. I envision the series stretching to at least 4 books, maybe more.

The women of Al-Andalus exhibit surprising behavior in your novels, moving beyond the traditional roles readers may expect of women in the medieval period. Where you surprised by the role of medieval Muslim women as you researched the period?

That is true, yes. I discovered many surprising elements to this history, including the strong role women often played in decisions that influenced pivotal outcomes (by a variety of means; some good, some bad), as well as the unusual social mobility women sometimes enjoyed. I wanted to highlight this nuanced piece of the history. Actually, there are three deeper themes present in all of my novels, themes that greatly interest me: 1) How strong young women cross the artificial boundaries society imposes. 2) The nature of love and its power to transform us. Yes, these are love stories! And 3) The importance of religious tolerance, and the beauty of multiculturalism. All of these themes firmly anchored to a riveting historical context, but are also highly relevant to our modern world.

Do you have favorite characters from each of your novels in the series? If so, tell us why you prefer that character above others.

Well, definitely my young female protagonists! Layla, in Emeralds, Rayhana in Shadows, and Danah in Fortune’s Lament. All are bright, all are strong-willed, all are determined to break out of the traditional roles and expectations assigned to them. AND…..all unexpectedly encounter love along their journeys… which changes everything (as love is wont to do!).

Do you plan to write more novels set in Al-Andalus? If not, where will your writing adventures take you?

Definitely! Novel # 4 in the series has already commenced, and it will be a sequel to Fortune’s Lament, telling the story of the final collapse of Granada in 1492. Beyond that, time will tellbut one thing is certain: there are plenty of stories left in the 800 years of al-Andalus that still beg to be told! Stay tuned.


Thanks again, John!


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Meet the Author: Kristen Taber

With MEET THE AUTHOR, I’m pleased to introduce guest authors and share their newest novels with visitors. This week, meet Kristen Taber! She’s stopping by to share an excerpt of her newest novel, The Shadow Guard, part of the Æerenden series.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 1:

ÆRENDEN’S RENAISSANCE had been one of beauty, full of art and discovery, friendship and kindness. Many in the kingdom spoke of it as if they had lived through each colorful moment and some had. It had only been decades since the renaissance had ended. War had a way of making years feel like an eternity.
In the height of that era, music had swelled within the castle’s great hall, bouncing from the windows, muffled by tapestries, echoing with joy. Bodies had danced and swayed. Laughter had resounded from the ceiling. Founders’ juice had flowed from carafes, drained from cups, and loosened lips. Meaghan imagined gossip had served as currency in this place, traded without regard for truth or belief in its details. Throughout Ærenden’s history, storytelling had blended with everyday life, entertainment valued the same as rare powers. When the revelers had left the castle’s parties, they would have paid no more heed to the tales they had heard than they did the king’s joking antics—the bets he had wagered with his Guardians or the contests he had arranged to see who among his people did not mind displaying their foolishness.
Queen Adelina’s father had been jubilant, by all accounts. Her mother had subjected him to frequent eye rolls, while hiding her own mirth behind an elegant hand.
Life had been carefree within these rose quartz walls, until the Zeiihbu War had become something more than distant skirmishes on the border. In its final years, everyone had lost someone they loved, battles had replaced jokes in conversation, and the people’s loyalties had become divided. Some wanted to annihilate the Zeiihbuans. Some wanted to assimilate them. And no one wanted to share Founders’ juice with those who had opposing views.
The parties stopped. The king died, the queen soon after, and their daughter closed the doors to the hall, and to her grief, using the space only for formal ceremonies.
After the war, Queen Adelina had wed King Édaire, affectionately known as Ed to those who had loved him, and they had conceived a child.
Meaghan had never had the chance to know her parents, beyond the fractured memories of toddlerhood. Ed had been murdered in this room, Adelina in their apartment, and Meaghan had been spirited to Earth soon after.
Now she walked the length of her grandfather’s beloved great hall, each footfall masked by graceful steps she had not realized she could muster. She kept her eyes focused on one point at the front of the room—a single throne representing so much history and pain.
Two amethyst-encrusted finials on top of the throne glistened in the noonday sun. Golden flowers curled around the throne’s arms and legs, symbols of growth and her family’s connection to the past. Their beauty would have brought a smile to her face, if she had not known her father had bled to death on the floor below them.
Or if she had not remembered the smaller throne that had filled the empty space on the left side of the dais before Garon destroyed it. Her father had used it in his duties as king. Her mother had ruled from the larger one.

Interview with Kristen Taber


Welcome Kristen, thanks for being my guest at The Brooklyn Scribbler. Please share some insight on your five-part YA series, Æerenden and the final installment, The Shadow Guard.

The Ærenden series starts on Earth and transitions to Ærenden, a kingdom on a world parallel to ours yet wholly different. Where we have medicine and science, they have magic---Healers, people who control electricity and the weather, Telekines, and Firestarters. Each person has a personal power, including Meaghan, a young woman raised on Earth but born within the kingdom she remembers only in nightmares. The series follows Meaghan and Nick—her personal guard and love-interest—as they fight to take back the kingdom from the man who assassinated the former king and queen. Along the way, what seems to be a straightforward black-and-white war turns into a complex puzzle of gray areas. Nick and Meaghan must navigate the secrets left behind by the royal family to uncover the truth and save the kingdom.

The final installment in the series, The Shadow Guard, brings Nick and Meaghan to a land outside of the kingdom thought to be uninhabited. What they discover leaves Meaghan with a choice that could turn her from a long-awaited hero into a villain with the power to destroy everything.

When you first began writing, when did you know that only a series of novels would allow you to fully realize the journey on which your characters were about to embark?

In the beginning, I thought the whole story would only consume about 300 pages, and it would be a neat and tidy standalone. Halfway through writing The Child Returns (book 1), I realized my characters had a greater story to tell. I hashed out a basic outline for five books at that point (not including background stories, historical stories, and potential spinoffs that currently reside in my head). Eventually those expected 300 pages turned into over 2,000 published pages.

Is there any secondary character in the novel who could have “run away” with the story and turned attention from your lead characters?

Yes, and she still may get her own book if the muses keep pestering. In The Shadow Guard, a shapeshifter named Faughn becomes integral to the storyline and assists Meaghan in her final battle with her nemesis. Faughn grew up in a harsh desert region with enemies constantly on the fringes of her awareness. One enemy killed her mother and kidnapped her brother. Despite her hardships—and because of them—she’s become a warrior who is capable of fighting and handling herself in precarious situations. She also knows how to trust, love, and have fun when time allows. Her self-confidence and composure as a result of growing up in a combat environment is a contrast to Meaghan, who has been thrown into a situation beyond her control and struggles to come to terms with it and become the hero required of her.  After writing Meaghan’s type of character for nearly ten years, Faughn intrigued me. I wanted to learn more about her and the inner-psyche she doesn’t show, that I know has to have stemmed from the trauma in her life. So many times, I had to fight the urge to deviate, to show Faughn’s building relationship with her love interest or her reactions with her brother-in-law or father, but I managed to curb that impulse. She did, however, earn a place of honor on the cover.

Any writing quirks? E.g. requiring music to read, favorite place, etc.

I have to have background noise, usually music or coffee shop chatter. For music, I bounce between classic rock, blues, metal, classical, and film scores, depending on my mood. When I need the coffee shop murmur but can’t get out of the house, I use a website called Coffitivity that recreates café noises. I wrote almost all of The Shadow Guard using that site or listening to the Lord of the Rings trilogy soundtrack.

If your novels ever became films, who would play your lead characters and why?

Oh goodness. Fans always ask me this, and I have so much trouble deciding. Meaghan has always been most difficult for me. I love the idea of an unknown playing her, like Emma Watson was before she starred in Harry Potter, so I don’t like to picture current Hollywood stars in the role. If I had to choose, Auli'i Cravalho looks similar to how I picture her so maybe I’d go for her. For Nick, I picture a blonde Logan Lerman.  And Faughn? Totally Yara Shahidi.

Thanks again, Kristen! 

Learn more about Kristen Taber


Buy The Shadow Guard, Æerenden series #5

Amazon Paperbackhttps://amzn.to/2pEgYI0
B&N Paperbackhttp://bit.ly/2pDNcTB





Meet the Author: Loretta Goldberg

Today, I'm so pleased to welcome author Loretta Goldberg , whose exciting debut, The Reversible Mask is set in Elizabethan England. L...