Monday, July 28, 2014

The Aerenden Series by Kristen Taber

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kristen will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC and 10 copies of The Gildonae Alliance (Aerenden #2) Audible Book. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome, Kristen, to It's Raining Books. Why do you write in the fantasy genre? What draws you to it?

Fantasy is a remarkable genre for an overactive imagination. With most genres, authors are restricted by certain standards and rules that we all must live by in this world. I live by those guidelines when I write my Molly’s Tears romance series (unpublished currently), but when I want to break free from those restrictions, I write Fantasy. Obviously, authors have to follow their own basic rules within the lands they create, and their stories have to make logical sense, but Fantasy provides a bigger canvas to paint on. Inventing monsters and animals is a tremendous outlet for fears, anger, or just to have a little extra fun. And creating ancient civilizations and new magical elements can be an exhilarating challenge. Because I’ve established backstory for Ærenden that stretches thousands of years into the kingdom’s history, I feel more connected to its people and their plight. Not to say that I’m disconnected from the characters in my romance series. I love them just as much, but my fantasy world pulls on my heartstrings in a different way. Their stakes are so much higher. They have war to contend with and generations of betrayal. I can’t quite build those things into L.A. (the setting for Molly’s Tears) without crossing into a completely different genre.

What research/world-building is required?

I think it varies by author, but my research has extended from studying name origins to language theory (for parts of the ancient Æren language) to folk lore. The Mardróch, for instance, are modeled a little bit after the Grim Reaper and druid imagery, though obviously they’re a monster-human hybrid race of their own making. As far as world building, that is mostly derived from my overactive brain (and lots of sleepless nights), but I do have maps detailing the areas travelled in the book, and outlines for lands outside of the kingdom. Personal experience lends itself to the descriptions for these lands. Meaghan’s Earth home is similar to the area where I grew up in Maine, and the mountain areas of Ærenden resemble Shenandoah National Park in places. My family and I hike there every summer. Name one thing you learned from your hero/heroine.

When life gets hard, take a deep breath and charge forward. Strength is not a matter of having brawn, but having the courage to keep going despite our fears. In the past, troublesome situations have blocked me and instilled self-doubt, but since I’ve been visiting with Meaghan and had the pleasure of watching her grow into a strong, and often strong-willed, young woman, I’ve realized I need to borrow some of her traits for myself. Now, when a situation would make me feel uncertain, I push through it and find a solution. Strength is not about the weapons we carry or the fights we win; it’s about being resilient. It’s about believing in the person we can become.

Any odd or interesting writing quirks, habits or superstitions?

I don’t know if it’s really a quirk, but I write best at night. I try earlier in the day, but find I write twice as much and have stronger creativity between the hours of 7pm and midnight (or 2 am). Unfortunately, that doesn’t work well for my family life, so I’m trying to talk my muse into visiting earlier in the day. I also have to do a lot of my thinking by hand. Ideas and plot points get jotted down in a notebook. Once they’re solidly developed, they go on a white board in my office, along with characters and questions that need to be answered within the series. These are then connected by footnote-style numbers and color-coding. It would probably make more sense to do all of that in some sort of writing program, so I’m not trying to decipher my own scribbles, but I just can’t seem to fall in love with digital tools in the same way I have with a pen/notebook and marker/whiteboard.

Plotter or pantser?

Both. Well, actually, I’m a plotter, but my characters are pantsers and they always seem to win that war. As a good example, I did a basic outline for the 4th book in the Ærenden series, and the characters have already changed it. I wrote out the first chapter the way I wanted it, but then suffered from terrible writer’s block. The block only lifted once I rewrote the scene exactly as it had appeared to me originally (when I was writing book 2). My characters also visit me while I’m focused on other things (walking, working out, cleaning) to argue their reasons for why a story has to change, or explain to me why I need to insert something odd into a conversation or scene. By the way, before you commit me, I know my characters aren’t really there, but that’s how my creativity (or maybe subconscious) operates. And that’s why I think being a full plotter will never work for me. I do have a direction for the books and I know where they’re going to end, but sometimes getting there is as much of a surprise journey for me as it is for my readers.

Look to your right – what’s sitting there?

A window, although I’m not sure if a window can sit. The blinds are sitting on the sill, so maybe they count, but they aren’t very effective. The sun has been blinding me most of the day. I also have a rubber duck sitting on my desk that I picked up in the Picasso museum in Barcelona a couple of years ago. It always cracks me up, partly because it has a Picasso-style face, and partly because it reminds me of my friend and his wife who spent a couple of days in the city with us. We laughed more than not on that trip (including in the museum). I’ve included a picture of the duck for you.

Anything new coming up from you? What?

I’m currently writing Book #4 in the Ærenden series and anticipate that should be released around this time in 2015 (unless I suddenly get rich and can hire a nanny to help take care of my 1-year-old, then it’ll be 2014 ;-)). I also received some exciting news recently. Karen Savage, the audio book narrator for The Child Returns and The Gildonae Alliance (Aerenden #1 and #2, respectively) has signed on to read the 3rd book in the series, The Zeiihbu Master (the cover for the audio book is on the screen behind the duck). We’ll be working on that in June, with an anticipated release date on Audible and iTunes of sometime in July, if all goes well. I’m also putting the finishing touches on the 1st book in my romance series, though I haven’t decided if I want to release it myself or try to find an agent or publishing house for it. Each route to publishing has its own positives and negatives, so it’s a matter of deciding which road is the best one for that series.

Do you have a question for our readers?

Yes, of course. What a fabulous idea! My question is….

Who’s your favorite literary character and why?

I’m so excited to read everyone’s responses!

Book One: The Child Returns

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.


Book Two: The Gildonae Alliance

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.


Book Three: The Zeiihbu Master

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.

About the Author:
Kristen spent her childhood at the feet of an Irish storytelling grandfather, learning to blend fact with fiction and imagination with reality. She lived within the realm of the tales that captivated her, breathing life into characters and crafting stories even before she could read. Those stories have since turned into over a hundred poems, several short tales, and five manuscripts in both the Young Adult and Adult genres. Currently, Kristen is completing the five-part Ærenden series from her home office in the suburbs of Washington D.C.

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Buy Links for Book 1

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Buy Links for Book 2

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Buy Links for Book 3
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So... inquiring minds want to know: what do you think?