Friday, August 24, 2012

Author Interview + Giveaway!!!

There was a once a sad point in my life where I was pretty much convinced that I had read almost every good book worth reading, and it was downhill from there on out. :) Since, then, however, and particularly in the past two years, my hope in modern fiction has been renewed, and during the next few weeks, I would like to spot-light a few of the authors I have discovered. 

Starting with the most recent and probably farthest from my typical genre - Tales from Goldstone Woods, whose author, Anne Elisabeth Steingl, has offered to do a giveaway as well!

After seeing rave reviews on blog after blog, I picked up Heartless, and then Moonblood, curious to see for myself what her books were about, and found them a fascinating blend of pure fantastical fairy tale and intriguing insights into of faith, love, and forgiveness. 

After reviewing Moonblood, I decided to interview Anne Steingl so that you (and I ;) could learn more about her and her books! And she has offered to give away a signed copy of Moonblood!

To enter the giveaway, please simply go follow her blog and then leave a comment here saying that you have done so! Also, she will be checking in here throughout today, so if you have any questions for her, feel free to leave them in a comment as well!
The giveaway itself will end on Sunday, at midnight.

And now for the Interview... :)

1. Can you give a brief idea of your books/what they are about?

The Tales of Goldstone Wood are adventurous fairy tale novels set in the realms of the Near World, the Far World, and the World Between. In the Near World, mortals go about their daily lives, for the most part believing themselves separate from the magical Far World where Faerie beings dwell. But sometimes a Faerie might slip into the Near World or a mortal might wander into the Wood Between . . . and that's when the excitement happens!

Dragons are a huge are prominent in this series, representing all the worst that humanity (and, in this world, Faerie) may become. But there is also grace, as seen through the love of the Prince of Farthestshore from beyond the Final Water, Lord of all the Faerie Folk.

2. What is the most important thing God has taught you through your writing?

Each book is a new learning experience for me through which God teaches me different things. Picking the most important lesson is awfully difficult! The theme of the manuscript I'm currently drafting is waiting on God's timing and following His path even when it doesn't make a great deal of sense from our mortal perspective. A very important message for any time of life, but one I am definitely feeling the importance of now, at this stage in my career and personal life!

The fact that these stories exist at all is testimony to God's leading and provision in my life. The idea for Heartless, the first in the series, came to me so suddenly after a writing dry spell of several years that I know it had to be God's gift to me. The story came, I drafted it within months, found an agent within months after that, who found it a publishing house within months after that!  None of this had I expected or even dared hope for . . . but it was so clearly God's work. He has called me to this task, and He will enable me to complete it.

3. What book/author has influenced you the most?

Oh, dear. So many. In the end, I really have to say C.S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia. My husband and I are reading the series aloud together (the first time either of us has read them in a good ten years!), and I am amazed all over again by the blend of fantastical storytelling and godly truth contained within each slim volume. I know that everything I do now in my writing springs from a very early love of Lewis's work.

But stylistically, I would probably call my writing a blend of Robin McKinley and Diana Wynne Jones, with an occasional sprinkling of Sir Terry Pratchett. And if you haven't read any of these wonderful (secular) authors, do yourself a favor and find some of their work at once!

4. What's the craziest thing you've ever done for story research?

Heheheh, well, there's a story to that one! But I'll try to keep it brief. Due to the fencing scenes that cropped up in the drafting of Heartless, I decided I should probably take fencing classes just so I could write those scenes from a perspective of experience. So I signed myself up for fencing classes . . . the same class, as it would happen, that my own personal Prince Charming had signed up for!

Yes, I met my husband over dueling sabers. And it's been a fairytale romance ever since!

If you're curious about the rest of the story, you can go here ( where I wrote it out in detail.

5. How many stories are you currently writing?

I am busily drafting the next several books in the Tales of Goldstone Wood series. Book 5, Dragonwitch, is about to go through a rewrite, but I need to complete the rough draft of Book 6, Shadow Hand, first. I'm also putting together notes and ideas for more stories to follow, but can't say much about those just now . . .

6. Is your next story, Starflower, about Eanrin? (I really liked him XD)

I really like him too! In fact, Eanrin is my favorite character in the series as a whole, and a character about whom I've been writing since before Heartless was ever dreamed up. Starflower is his story, yes . . . or part of his story at least. There's more to the romantic poet-cat than can be summed up in a single novel, but Starflower will certainly give you a nice plunge into the depths of his character! I had a wonderful time writing it and am looking forward to sharing it with my readers.

7. Magic in your stories - closer to Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter?

I suppose Lord of the Rings. The Faeries are "magical" due to being "different from humans," but there is very little sorcery to be seen. In later books, there are a few bad characters (like King Vahe) who work evil magic spells. On the whole, however, I would say the magic is more a matter of "otherness" than it is of spell-casting. Eanrin, for instance, can change his shape . . . this isn't magic so much as what he is.

8. Bad unicorns and good goblins? Why?

Good question! Both the unicorns and the goblins are bad when they are no longer what they were meant to be. The unicorn, in its pure and proper state, is a thing of beauty and song, as hinted at in Moonblood. Only when removed from that proper state (or, in the unicorn's case, abandoning it) does it become the monster we see in the novel. The same is true for the goblins . . . but I can't go into a great deal of detail without giving away spoilers!

Both the unicorn and the goblins can be seen as symbols of humanity. In our perfect state, when we were what we were created to be, we were good, in harmony with God and nature. When sin entered in, however, we were corrupted and became evil. Full illustrating this required both the unicorn (a traditional symbol of good) and the goblin (a traditional symbol of evil). Using both these classic archetypes, I was better able to construct the parallel of fallen vs. redeemed humanity.

9. Did you mean to write an allegory or were you just writing a story?

I find this very difficult to answer . . . You see, I do set out with the hope and intention of writing allegory (or at least constructing a certain amount of allegorical symbolism), but I never start a book with that allegory in mind. I simply start with the story, and I hope and pray that God will reveal the rest as I go! So far there has always been a strong allegorical thread, usually pertaining to what God is teaching me in my own life at the time.

10. Was there ever a point where you found your characters annoying or flat-out unlikeable while writing them - or were you always able to remember enough about where they were headed to like them?

Oh, my protagonists are always such flawed people, it's hard not to find them annoying sometimes! Especially Lionheart . . . there were times I really wanted to strangle him (though I got to relieve some of that ire by throwing all sorts of terrible/embarrassing things his way). But I have to say, the more flawed they are, the more I tend to love them. Una's immaturity, Lionheart's cowardice, Rose Red's lack of faith . . . these are all characteristics to which I can deeply relate! So it's either judge them or love them, and I tend to love them.

11. Which is your favorite of your books/favorite part of one your books?

My favorite book is usually the one I just finished writing . . . or the one I'm just about to finish!
I really can't pick an absolute favorite, so I'll list a few favorite bits. I love the fencing scenes in Heartless and the climactic moments with the Dragon. I love the interactions between Rose Red and Lionheart/Leo as children in Veiled Rose, especially "Bloodbiter's Wrath" and the hunting of the postman's boy. I love the sonnet-war between Eanrin and Lionheart in Moonblood. Heheh, that's one of my favorite scenes ever! And in Starflower I really love . . . Oh, wait! Can't say yet, can I? (You almost got me there!)

12. Is there any lesson or idea you hope readers walk away from your books thinking about?

The ultimate theme of all my stories, and therefore the series theme (though through no intention of my own!), is undeserved grace. In every story, again and again, through various means and adventures, we see the undeserved grace of the Prince of Farthestshore bestowed upon my less-than deserving characters. My prayer is that readers will come to the end of any one of these little tales of mine and be left with that message in their hearts: It's not about what I deserve; it's about what I don't deserve and he gives me anyway.

Thank you for hosting me on your lovely blog, Katherine Sophia! I hope you (and all of you, dear readers) will enjoy the continuing adventures of Goldstone Wood!

It was great to have you, Anne Elisabeth! :) I am looking forward to seeing more of your work!  

11 thoughts shared:

Miss Melody Muffin said...

I follow her blog!

I loved reading this interview!!

I haven't read Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones or Sir Terry Pratchett yet. (His name's familiar, did he do Discworld?) I'll have to look them up...

Meeting Price Charming in fencing class!! What a unique story!!

Bad unicorns and good goblins? These books definitely sound intriguing!!

cgehman2 said...

I follow her blog too.

I liked the Weekly Fairy blogs. Are you still doing those?

I like how you said the ultimate theme is grace in all your stories.

I haven't read any of Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett either.


cgehman2 said...

I follow her blog too.

I liked the Weekly Fairy Blogs. Are you still doing those?

I liked how you said the ultimate theme is grace in all your stories.

I haven't read Robin McKinley, Diana Wynne Jones or Terry Pratchett either.


Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Hi, Miss Melody Muffin! To answer your question concerning the marvelous Sir Terry Pratchett: Yes, he did and still does write Discworld, which is a wonderful, thought-provoking, hilarious series. I adore his work . . . I don't always agree with his world-view, but I ALWAYS love the stories he tells! :)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

You know, I'm taking a break from the Weekly Fairy series while I'm writing my A-Z series on aspects of MOONBLOOD. But the fairy series was a fun one to write, so I might go back to it when the A-Z posts are done! I also did a Tuesday's Dragon series for a while last fall . . . you might enjoy those articles as well, under the 2011 postings. I learned a lot about various literary dragons while researching for those!

And if you love fairy tales and fantasy, I definitely recommend those authors. :)

Emily Bennett said...

I follow her blog! :) and her cat's blog too! :P

Jessica said...

I follow! Theses stories sound absolutely fascinating!!! I shall have to go to the library and see if I can't get my hands on a copy.


Hannah said...

I follow Anne's blog. This is a great interview, and it asked some wonderful questions. One of my favorite questions was "What is your favorite part of your books?"
Reading the answers back was great, as I also love the sonnet-war between Eanrin and Lionheart.
And then I held my breath, wanting SO bad to know her favorite scene from Starflower...and...and...she remembered that she couldn't tell us about it.
As Minerva Louise, the Ruling Despot of Rooglewood, would say...
"Wretched Anne Elisabeth!"
Thank you for your stories Anne, and I can NOT wait for "Starflower!" :)

Amanda Stephan said...

I follow Anne's blog ~ and thank you for hosting her here today. I actually just found out about her this afternoon. My daughter and I were in the bookstore, and she begged for the book, Veiled Rose. Of course, not knowing Anne, I looked at the publisher. Barbour ~ good sign! (I'm a picky mom, what can I say?) Long story short, we bought the book, and I'm tickled to read her interview here. I love knowing about other authors, and I'm always looking to have good books around our house.

Thank you for the opportunity to learn more about her ~ :)

amanda38401 at gmail dot com

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Emily and Hannah: Minerva Louise appreciates your faithful reading of her blog . . . and, as I had the audacity to leave her and the other felines for the weekend, she is now very definitely declaring, "Wretched Anne Elisabeth" to all who will listen! ;)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@Amanda Stephan: I am so pleased to hear that you and your daughter have discovered the Tales of Goldstone Wood! I hope you will find Rose Red and Leo's adventures exciting and be ready to read on about them in MOONBLOOD. :)


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