Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love for all things vampire or werewolf related. You may also know about my fascination with history. So, when my next guest released a book about ancient Egyptian artifacts and werewolves, I was hooked! That book was Son of Anubis, and you can read my review HERE.
On the 8th October, fantasy author, Stacy Bennett released her latest novel, Quest of the Dreamwalker and I’m incredibly excited about this book, so excited in fact that I stalked her until she agreed to visit my blog! Over to Stacy…
The Fun Stuff:
What part of the world do you come from?
I’m a Jersey girl, truly a denizen of suburbia. Before you ask: The exit is 120; we called it Taylor’s Ham not pork roll; and I didn’t learn to pump my own gas until I drove down to graduate school in Baltimore. To my shame, I waited there quite a while before I figured out they weren’t going to come pump it for me.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly, I really wanted to train animals for the movies, but that didn’t seem in any way practical.
List three words to describe yourself:
Kind, funny, supportive.
Who would play you in a film about your life?
I don’t generally think in these terms but… maybe Kim Basinger? Though perhaps a more accurate choice would be an awkward Tina Fey.
What is your favourite snack food when writing?
Donuts. And coffee, definitely coffee.
If you had a super power what would it be?
Ms. Rowling once said that having money was a superpower. I’d like that one and not because then I could quit the day job, although at this point that would be very attractive. A sizeable bank roll enables you to do things you normally wouldn’t be able to do, help people you normally couldn’t help. There are so many worthy charities and causes out there that I’d love to contribute to. I do what I can now; but with real money, I might be able to make real change.
However, if you meant like a comic book superpower, then I think shape-shifting would be fun.
The Sensible Side:
How did you get started writing?
When I was growing up, there was no internet, and my family didn’t have much money. Kid-TV was almost strictly confined to Saturday mornings and Monster Week on the 4:30 Movie. My brothers and I entertained ourselves mostly. We were scientists, nerds, math geeks (at least they were. Even now, I’m not sure what I am), and as with many intellectual families reading was high on the list of entertainment choices. With enough time on your hands and enough stories in your head, I believe anyone would start to write.
I recently dug up a group of embarrassing poetry I’d written for English class in junior high. I spent a lot of time and heart on those (almost all in iambic pentameter BTW), so I know I loved the written arts. But I think my real start was when I wrote the first draft of Quest of the Dreamwalker, (originally titled Sisters Under Gemini) on an old Brother manual typewriter at the end of high school. Of course, I had no idea what I was doing. I had no idea about story structure or character arcs or even passive voice. But I did finish the story, plunking away at that cheap typewriter. Now that I’ve done a NaNoWriMo or two, I realize what an accomplishment that was, just finishing it. I can still smell the ink of the ribbon, and the dustiness of the onion skin I typed on. I spent many sunny summer days inside writing, loving every minute of the story in my head.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m a single working mom. My days are pretty full. I do love nature walks, always have. I also love movies. You’ll hear me quote movies quite a bit. Netflix is a helluva distraction, let me tell you. I totally agree with you on that one, Stacy! 😉
Where did the inspiration for QOTD come from?
I’m not exactly sure. I guess I’ve always felt a bit scatter-brained in an eccentric, binary sort of way. Like part of me is the mirror image to the other part. For example, being an extrovert and an introvert at the same time. Well, not exactly at the same time; those traits take turns expressing themselves and I flip back and forth between social and isolative. But that strange dual organization percolated for a while, and I started wondering what would happen if instead of two sides of a person, those facets were actually two separate people. No one wants spoilers so the long and short of it is that I used that duality as the basis for my heroines. I added some magic to explain things that science could not, plopped them into a strange land and let the story play out.
What do you like most about writing fantasy?
Definitely, the world-building. But to me, there is more fun in creating the social system they live in, a reverse sort of cultural anthropology than devising the settings. That is the best part, where the world influences the characters. I do enjoy deciding on what plants and animals there are, though I no longer think renaming everything is a good idea. (Yeah, it sounds cool to start with but becomes a major enterprise, trust me). I get to decide what kind of planet they’re on, what technology is available, what political system exists (if that’s an important thing to the story). As a writer, you have to set up a magical system that has rules and consequences and is consistent. And you do have to watch your language, especially idioms. I mean your character can’t be “bulletproof” if guns haven’t been invented, right? And that’s all fun.
But the best part is how people and societies interact in that world that you’ve just built. Classically, sci-fi/fan works take real world problems, both personal and on a larger scale, and sets them in a world apart. It enables the author to show those situations without the reader’s preconceived notions necessarily getting in the way. The fantasy setting sneaks past our rationalized, social opinions and asks our hearts what we really think. And I think therein lies its power.
As G.K. Chesterton said, “Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” For that to be true, the world of the story has to feel real to your reader. World-building is how we do that. And when you accomplish that and your readers talk about your characters and your world as if they are real things, which is the best feeling in the world.
Can you give us a brief excerpt?
When she opened her eyes, Father stood before her. Reith Carter’s death had restored the old man’s power. His face was fleshed out, his hands smooth, his height restored. And there was a dangerous gleam in his eye.
“What mischief have you done, girl?”
She shrank back in the chair, the book sliding from her lap as he leaned down with a cruel smile. She didn’t need her gift to tell her Father was not himself. Sometimes the ritual did this. He would become another man for a time, often a violent one. And at such times, she feared him with good reason.
“What have I done?” she protested, stalling for time as her heart pounded like the wings of a bird against the cage of her ribs.
“Do you deny consorting with prisoners?”
She knew the question was a trap. Neither a confession nor a simple lie would placate him, and she froze.
“Well? Answer me.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You can do better than that. C’mon, lie to me,” he hissed. With a flick of his finger a whip of flame lashed her arm, raising a blistered welt and making her cry out in shock.
“In the dining room, I heard a voice,” she whispered, hoping to placate him with truth. “I was curious. You saw me. But I left when you told me to.” Tears dripped from her lashes. His nearness was suffocating.
“That wasn’t hard,” he said, drawing back. “Was it?”
She shook her head slightly, not trusting his sudden ease.
“It was the red-haired one, wasn’t it?” he said as if refreshing his memory, though she doubted he needed to. “A strong man, indeed. I’ll enjoy killing him.” Her father gripped the arms of the chair, trapping Cara in her seat. “But I think you’ve neglected a part of the story.” Little angry curls of smoke rose from the fabric beneath his hands to dance between them.
“There’s nothing more to tell,” she said weakly.
He slapped her cheek and gripped her chin with hot fingers, forcing her to meet his glare. His breath was foul.
“No?” he asked. “Then who is Mason Khoury?”
“Mason Khoury?” She feigned ignorance, her mind scrambling for a way out.
“Yes. The last thing in that little thief’s mind was you saying that name.”
Cara couldn’t breathe. This was impossible. “But how?”
“The ritual. You didn’t suspect?”
She shook her head, speechless with shock.
“There are no secrets in my Keep. Whether you tell me now or during the ritual, eventually I will find this Mason Khoury.” His finger traced the track of a wayward tear down her cheek, and his hand came to rest threateningly on her throat. “You know Carter was not a very nice man. He killed his wife, among others.”
Was that who her father was now? Reith Carter, wife murderer. She wondered about all the men he had feasted on. How many had been like Archer and how many like Reith? Cara thought of Khoury’s strength and forced a calm she didn’t feel as she looked Father right in the eye. “I honestly don’t remember saying anything to him.”
He stared in surprise. Then his face contorted with rage. “How dare you.”
Cara tried not to flinch.
“Have it your way. In two days, I will drain this Northerner while you watch. And believe me, I will make him suffer. Then, it will be your turn and I will discover the truth.”
He stood up and went to the door but paused to turn and look at her. “Do not become attached to creatures whose only purpose is to serve me, girl. You’ll end up regretting it.” Father murmured a few words, waved his hand and the fire in the hearth went out. With a swish of ebony robes and the hard slam of the door, he disappeared.
Cara shivered with shock and sudden cold, despair drifting like snow around her heart. As her tears washed over her stinging chin, she pressed a cool hand to the welt on her arm. Cara had never questioned the nature of Father’s dealings with other men. Why should she? But then, she’d never seen friendship or loyalty before either. Hadn’t she tried to warn Archer that she couldn’t help him? A snowflake cannot fight the heat of such cruelty.
But she couldn’t let her new friend die. Trapped between her father and the men below, she wracked her mind for an answer.
And then, something stirred deep inside her heart. Something new. She found the barest hint of willfulness. In the bleak darkness, Cara came to a daring decision she never dreamed she could make. Oooh, I love this! Can’t wait to read more.
Which is more important plot or characters and why?
Always character. I’m a very internal person and the motives and conundrums of people fascinate me. Why a person chooses a course of action (whether they are the villain or the heroine) is infinitely entertaining. What better way to explore our foibles and strengths as “humans” than to show how essentially normal people can become either extraordinary light-bringers (even unwittingly) or fall into darkness.
Best thing about being a writer?
I can always change the story if I don’t like it.
What can we expect in future?
There should be at least two more books of the Corthan Legacy series, and I have another series called The Goddess Stone. I have plans for a few stand-alone books as well since not everyone wants to read series. And I have been requested to find time for a sequel for Son of Anubis.
How can we contact you and find out more about your books?
You can find me here:
Thank you SO much for joining me today, Stacy.