Kristen Taber stopped by The Library to day to chat a bit with us as part of her virtual book tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card or one of ten audio books. You can see the other stops on the tour here: http://goddessfishpromotions.blogspot.com/2014/03/virtual-book-tour-aerenden-series-by.html
How did you get started writing?
I’ve been writing stories a lot longer than I could write with pen and paper. Somewhere around the age of four, I started creating plays for my friends to act out, and then after I started school, I lived for the assignments involving writing. I credit my grandfather with instilling this passion in me. He’s a gifted storyteller, the type of person who commands attention when he talks. I’ve been listening to his stories my entire life, awed by his ability to paint pictures, and I only hope he’s as proud of my books as I am of his gift.
What was the inspiration for your book?
The Ærenden series has been twenty years in the making with inspirations cultivated in dozens of places along the way, but the initial seed that sprouted the idea was planted in high school. A friend and I had an assignment to create a story. We played with the idea of two twins who came from another world, only discovering their identities when an acquaintance told them the truth so they would return home to save their planet. We joked around that we could be the twins, but after a while we grew bored with the idea and turned in separate assignments. The story disappeared into the abyss of my memory until about seven years ago when I dreamed about a young man and a young woman undergoing a magical event in a secluded cabin. Their story branched out over the next year and I realized the Ærenden series’ resemblance to the tale my friend and I concocted in high school. Though one of the twins no longer existed in my mind, the other still remained and called to me. I’ve been listening to her ever since.
What’s the one genre you haven’t written in yet that you’d like to?
There are so many, I’m not sure I can pick one! I’d love to be able to do mysteries, though I don’t think that will happen until I have time to do more research on police procedures. Dystopian would be great, since that seems to be everyone’s favorite right now. I’d love to finish a few children's books that I have ideas for. I love comedy and would like to be able to write that, but I have no skill for it. Hmmm…I guess I’d try every genre if I could, but if I you insist on me picking, I’d have to go with mysteries. The task of building a case that’s hard for a reader to guess really appeals to me.
So, what are you working on right now? Got any releases planned, or still writing?
I just released The Zeiihbu Master (Ærenden #3) at the end of March, so I’ve been focused on promoting that, but once I’m able to sit down and write again, I intend to finish the last two books in the Ærenden series. I’m also in the process of finishing the final draft for my novel Of the Ashes, the first in a contemporary romance series. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll publish it, but I’m still having fun writing it. It’s a drastic departure from YA Fantasy, so it’s challenging.
Book that inspired you to become an author?
The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien was the first book that truly mesmerized me (it was in one single book at the time). I read it over the summer between my sophomore and junior years of high school and it’s been my benchmark for writing ever since. Tolkien is the best world builder I’ve ever read. His characters became my friends. His monsters kept me up at night. His prose kept me flipping pages. I could not stop reading and once I’d finished, I wished the story hadn’t stopped. Since the moment I closed the back cover on that book, I knew I wanted to have his mastery over words. I wanted to touch other people and their imaginations in the same way he touched mine. And I’ve been working toward that goal ever since.
Which of your characters are you most like and how/why?
Although I wish I was more like Meaghan, my heroine who learns to be strong in spite of her fears, I think I’m closest in personality to Nick. He’s lost a lot in his life. As a result, he tends to be a bit more afraid of taking risks and potentially losing the people he cares about. His fear-based behavior holds him back from really experiencing life at times, and often frustrates those around him because he tries too hard to protect those he loves, but he’s truly a wonderful person at heart. He cares deeply about his family and friends, and even though he’s a little difficult to get to know, once he allows a person into his heart, he cherishes that friendship for life. All of these things are true about me, though I loathe admitting some of it. I guess we all have our idiosyncrasies, right?
Any writing quirks?
Not really, unless you count writing to the point of exhaustion, forgetting to eat, and not being able to focus on anything else until a book is done. If you count those, I might have a few :-).
What advice would you give to your teenage self if you could go back in time?
Keep writing. Be confident in your abilities. There will come a time (lots of them) when you feel like you’re a hack with a broken pen, but keep writing anyway. Let creation overtake you. Keep practicing. You’ll improve; I promise. You’ll get better and someday your skill will match your talent. If you stop, it’ll take you at least a decade to get back on track and letting life waylay what you love will be your biggest regret.
Favorite book that was turned into a movie?
I hate to sound like a broken record, but Lord of the Rings here, too. I consider all three films to be one, kind of like I do the books. I felt that Peter Jackson did a great job of interpreting Tolkien’s trilogy without going too far off track and the scenery is truly breathtaking. It put New Zealand at the top of my bucket list. Plus, Howard Shore’s score is brilliant. I still listen to that on a regular basis.
When did you know that you were a writer?
I can’t say that I ever feel like a “writer”. I love words. I love to create. I’m a storyteller. I’m a fictional historian. I catalogue worlds and share other people’s lives. But I have yet to reach that “a-ha” moment when I look at myself in the mirror and say “I’m finally a writer”. Maybe I’ll reach that point if I ever see my name on a New York Times Bestseller list, or on a movie marquee. Maybe it will happen when I see my daughter reading one of my books or a stranger holding The Child Returns on a subway. Or maybe I’ll never reach that point. It’s hard to say, but right now I’m just enjoying the ability to share my stories with others and know they’re enjoying Nick and Meaghan’s journeys as much as I do.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Honestly, what I wrote to my teenage self applies here, too. It’s easy to get caught up in comparisons to other writers and live by the fluctuating average of a book’s reviews. And it’s just as easy to lose passion when those external yard sticks measure short. In the end, a writer has to recognize that art is subjective. The only way a person can truly get better at it is if he or she uses today as tomorrow’s benchmark. Wake up each day and strive to learn something new. Work to write better than yesterday. Write with passion and freedom. You may not get rich, but money has a way of skewing what’s important in life. Follow your muse. Enjoy your gift. Live for the joy of creation. That’s the best advice I can give.
Is there anything you would like readers to take away from your book?
My dedication in the third Ærenden book, The Zeiihbu Master, pretty much says it: “Bravery is not always about wielding a sword, but standing strong against adversity despite our fears.” So much of the series deals with fear and what makes us strong human beings, what truly holds value in our lives. These days, a lot of YA fantasy can be black and white, but life is rarely so simple. It’s important for us to recognize our own truths within the sea of confusion and stand brave for what matters. There are many potential lessons hidden within the Ærenden series, but that’s the one that means the most to me.
Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.
After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.
Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.
But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom's fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.
Several months after Meaghan’s return to Ærenden, the kingdom’s war has taken a turn for the worse. The Mardróch army hunts the new King and Queen, destroying villages in its wake. And Meaghan and Nick, training for battle in their remote section of wilderness, are far from safe. Danger hides in shadows and behind innocent faces. Allies become foes. Each day is a fight to survive. But in the end, only one threat matters. And it’s a threat they never see coming.
Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.
While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen's young son, before Garon can use the boy's power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.
Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan's greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.
Buy Links for Book 1
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Buy Links for Book 2
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