Can you tell us a little bit about "Phoenix Rising”?
Phoenix Rising is the first book in my YA series Maggie Henning and The Realm. In this first book, we meet Maggie, a 16 year old girl living in a small Upstate NY town and under the shadow of her father. Her father was sentenced to serve life in a psychiatric hospital after firebombing a church and killing the 8 people inside. Maggie receives a strange letter in the mail, offering her a warning to “guard the blood”. Seeing the return address as the psychiatric hospital, Maggie sets it aside and chalks it up to some sort of mad ravings. Maggie receives the same warning during a visit with her father and it’s after that verbal warning Maggie begins to see strange visions. People change--their once normal faces look to be rotted flesh or bones, mouths full of pointed teeth. These are creatures called Revenants, and they have been waging a war with The Realm, beings that live parallel to our own world, a world Maggie never knew existed. Maggie is the last of an ancient race of Phoenixes, beings with the ability to control fire, and the Revenant leader Ossa needs Maggie’s blood to “cure” him and his followers and rise to control both The Realm & The Mortal worlds. Maggie must learn what she is and who to trust, what her destiny is, and to fight to save creatures of myth and legend.
What's your background with writing?
I have been writing for as long as I could hold a crayon in my hand! I grew up in a small town, the daughter of a nurse and a house painter, so as you can imagine, money was pretty much always nonexistent. I learned at an early age that books, and the fantastic stories within the pages, were a great way to escape everyday life- a little vacation of sorts. I used to write poetry, and still do from time to time. I have tons of notebooks, full of stories. I have always been drawn to fantasy and paranormal genres, seeking out the strange new worlds and beings only found in places like Tatooine or The Shire.
Who are your inspirations/influences?
My mother and grandmother were always my biggest supporters. They were avid readers themselves, as well as my go to folks when I was seeking a creative word. My eighth grade teacher, Mr. Knodel, would be the driving force though. As our final exam that year, he assigned us to write a 1,000 word story about anything we chose and he gave us one weekend to do so. The following Monday, while my classmates were turning in their tales, I handed in a typed story about a plantation owner’s daughter who falls in love with a slave… and it came in at almost two dozen pages. After reading my story, Mr. Knodel asked me to stay after class. He asked me to always carry a notebook and writing utensil with me, wherever I went, and told me “you have stories to tell that people will want to read.” That advice always stuck with me, and I followed it. Even to this day. "Phoenix Rising" is dedicated to him.
What was it like working with Firefly & Wisp Publishing?
Firefly & Wisp has been fantastic! Today, the YA market is simply flooded with all sorts of books, and I knew early on the odds of getting my story published were slim because of that. The attention I’ve received from FF&W has been sensational! It’s a small company and all of the authors are more like family to me than merely fellow authors or coworkers. They have been supportive of my whole process from signing the contract, to cover art, to editing, to finally seeing Phoenix Rising out for sale. I’m not sure how the huge publishing houses do it, but I bet they could learn a thing or two from Firefly & Wisp. It’s been a sensational experience!
Who was responsible for the cover/book design?
I actually designed the cover for Phoenix Rising! I had a vision of what I’d love to see there and was fortunate enough to make that vision a reality.
What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?
This has been the most difficult part for me, as I tend to want to be a more private person living vicariously through books or my children’s accomplishments! I have my first blog tour coming up. It begins August 25th and is being set up by Tempting Book Tours, a fantastic group of authors who want to help other authors spread the word. The tour will run until September 23rd. I know that I have a Blogtalkradio interview on September 11th at 1 pm est., too. My publisher hosted an online Facebook launch party on release day with contests and giveaways. That was a humbling experience- to see so many people, most whom I don’t know, spend a couple of hours learning about my book and supporting me. I can’t thank folks enough! I will also be having an author chat with Addicted 2 Books Book Reviews in the near future.
Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?
As I’m still new to this, I haven’t had any of these for my own books. However, this past April, I drove over 10 hours to Cincinnati, Ohio to attend a book signing that JR Ward (The Black Dagger Brotherhood book series) held. When I finally reached the table where she was signing, a friend with me asked how her arm was doing. Ms. Ward commented that her shoulder was getting a little sore (she was on signing #350 by that point.) I remarked that I’d driven the 10 plus hours for her signing. Ward laughed and replied, “So you’re probably saying ‘to hell with you b*tch! I can’t feel my ass!’” It was in jest, but I immediately went fan girl and responded ‘Oh no! Never! I don’t need to feel my ass to see you!” The line laughed at me, as I realized exactly how loud my voice really was!
What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
I have a small blog on my websiteand I’m attempting to get better about actually writing on it! Also on the website, I have a monthly newsletter with character interviews, contest information, and news about my books. I also post snippets from my books as well as the playlists that help inspire the writing. I also like to share books that I have read/am reading that visitors may enjoy.
What projects do you have planned for the future?
Book two in the Maggie Henning & The Realm series--"Phoenix Burning," is set to release this September, so I have the final edits to go over in preparation for its launch. Book 3 is also finished and I hope to have that out early next year. I have many other little stories I’m toying with, almost all in the fantasy or paranormal genres, and I continue to work on the Phoenix books.
Is there anything else about you we should know?
I love tattoos! I find them to be pieces of living art work. I currently have nine, but I plan on growing my “collection”. I’m a mother of 3 kids and have been married to my husband for 12 years. I am also a volunteer advocate with Parent to Parent of NY State, helping families navigate their ways through the Special Education system, (I have a child on the Autism Spectrum.)
Thank you for taking the time to discuss my book!
About the Interviewer:Walter Rhein is the author of Beyond Birkie Fever and The Bone Sword which are both available over at the Rhemalda Bookshop or here and here at Amazon. If you happen to pick up either of these books and write a review somewhere, please let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org!