Author Alice J. Black, soon to be published over at our young adult imprint Fire and Ice sat down to question Fantasy Romance author Mysti Parker on the second book in her Tallenmere series.
First, a bit about the book:
No one ever said love was easy…
Serenya Crowe may be a half-elf commoner, but she’s no ordinary woman. With the ability to interpret dreams, and a birth defect that forces her to wear gloves, she’s endured gossip and the cruelty of her husband, Sebastian, The Earl of Summerwind. All she’s ever wanted is to live a quiet life and raise a family. When she meets the new stranger in town, her world and her heart, are turned upside down.
Wood-elf Jayden Ravenwing is an ex-secret agent who wants nothing more than to forget matters of the heart. He left the bustle of Leogard and his failed marriage to make a fresh start in Summerwind. He never planned to fall in love again, especially with the enchanting Serenya Crowe.
When a strange portal opens on the Crowe property, Jayden is thrown into an investigation, knowing that if he fails, Serenya and everyone in the town may die.
Together, he and Serenya must overcome an ancient evil, and their own inner demons, to save Summerwind and find the love they’ve always dreamed of.
Mysti Parker: Not anyone in particular, though I admit to some parallels in my own life, like having a stepfather and never knowing my real father. Her struggle to discover who she really is and how she fits into the world around her is also something I can relate to.
AJB: What about Jayden? Do you know anyone who has been a womaniser such as he?
MP: I know a few, but not naming names! Jayden is very special to me. He’s the only character so far who has played significant roles in all the books in the series, so I’ve been able to really develop his character and get to know him inside and out. Whether he’ll appear in later books is yet to be seen, but I’d say it’s likely. My husband feels very sorry for Jayden and calls him my whipping boy. I do put him through the wringer, but I think he’s strong enough to handle it.
AJB: Does Serenya and Jayden’s relationship remind you of any in real life?
MP: I can’t say their trials reminded me of anyone in particular, because of all the supernatural elements involved. But metaphorically, their challenges represent a real relationship or marriage and all the work two people must do to stay together. Their love (and that of any of the couples I write) is also a reflection of that between me and my husband—challenged but unconditional.
AJB: Who was the best character to write?
MP: Serenya was probably the most fun, because I had never written anyone like her before, nor had I read any characters like her before. I didn’t depend on any well-known paranormal subjects, like vampires or werewolves. All her secrets were a fresh creation on my part, so my imagination had a field day!
AJB: Who was the hardest character to write?
MP: Sebastian Crowe, the Earl of Summerwind. As Serenya’s abusive husband, he took a great deal of work to turn him into a well-rounded character that ended up playing a big part in the book. At first, he came across as just a nasty brute, but I (and my critique partners) wanted more out of him. So, after 287 drafts, I think I finally got him right.
AJB: What inspired you to write Serenya’s Song?
MP: Jayden did. He needed somewhere to live after A Ranger’s Tale, so I built Summerwind for him and stuck him into another impossible love story. As the story’s themes emerged, I felt inspired to emphasize the theme of stepparents and how they can love their stepchildren as much as a biological child. I think Serenya’s relationship with her stepfather Douglas reflected that theme well.
AJB: The world that Serenya lives in is complex, did you always know there would be different creatures within it?
MP: Oh yes, from the start, I wanted to build a fantasy world from the ground up, taking readers on a grand tour so they can enjoy the ride as much as I’ve enjoyed designing it.
AJB: Serenya embraces her new identity. What advice would you give to someone who found themselves in an identity crisis?
MP: Having been in an identity crisis myself, I know how hard it is to rediscover who you are. I’ve been a mom since 2001, and now with three kids, a husband, and a constant slew of chores, it’s too easy to lose myself in the process of caring for everyone else. That’s why I write. It’s always been something I enjoy, and when I create a new story, it’s something I can claim just for myself. Writing a story or book is something that has a definite beginning and end. It’s not like laundry or dishes that have to be done over and over and over. The process is hard at times. I won’t lie about that. But, the sense of accomplishment when I hold the finished product in my hands is so freeing.
So my advice would be to find something you truly enjoy doing, whether that’s writing or painting or playing golf or reading, and make that your “thing”. Make time for it, set goals for yourself and work at them until you accomplish them. You’ll find yourself somewhere along the way.
AJB: Are you currently working on something new? If so would you care to share a snippet with us?
MP: I’m actually working on my very first historical novel. Here’s the blurb (for now):
Set in 1866 Lebanon TN, Portia McAllister, having lost both husband and only child to the ravages of the American Civil War, leaves home to take a job as tutor for a widower’s child. All she wants is to escape the grief, to guard her heart and never love again. Fate has other plans.
Beau Stanford came home from war to find his wife dead and his once-thriving horse farm barely hanging on. He takes in a young widow to teach his son and help run the house while he tries to turn things around.Despite his best efforts, he’s drawn to Portia from the start.
Amid post-war restoration, racial violence, and a morphine-addicted friend, love seems like an unnecessary luxury. When Beau’s late wife’s beautiful, rich young cousin arrives in town with her sights set on him, he’s forced to decide between a woman who’s lost everything but has won his heart or a woman whose money can protect his livelihood. His choice holds more impact than any of them realizes.
And here’s an exclusive excerpt that hasn’t been shared anywhere else. Enjoy!
Rubbing her bare forearms nervously, she broke the awkward silence. “Thank you for the dress. It was quite unexpected.”
“I felt the need to replace what you lost.” Dropping his foot back to the ground, he pushed off the wall and stepped closer. “I didn’t think you’d come tonight.”
“I didn’t know if I should…or if you…wanted me to.”
The musicians must have come back from their intermission, because the flowing, rhythmic sounds of a waltz floated across the veranda.
Beau held out his hand, breaking the border of shadow and light that separated them and revealing the callouses of a hard-working man. “May I have this dance?”
Her heart thumped a warning inside her chest. You’re stepping over a line you shouldn’t cross. But the warm beacon of his eyes caught her in his spell, and she lost all notion of refusing him. Slowly, carefully, as though she were about to touch Briar Rose’s spindle, she accepted his hand. His other hand settled on her waist, and he drew her to him, away from the window and prying eyes. They stood like this for one eternal moment, secure in their shadowy refuge. Portia could have soared into the cosmos, had Beau not kept her secure in his arms.
“I don’t dance very well,” she admitted quietly as she rested her palm on his chest. She could feel his strong muscles and the steady rhythm of his heart.
“It’s just a waltz. Simplest dance there is. It’s the only one I ever learned, though Claire tried her best to teach me. Her toes paid the price.”
“My toes are just as penniless as I am, so let’s not spend beyond their means.”
Portia smiled, relaxing with their easy banter. Beau led, keeping her hand in his firm but gentle grip. She followed, and they soon fell into the rhythm of sultry strings and piano chords. Glancing down at her feet, she missed her step and landed on Beau’s toe.
“Up here.” His soothing, deep voice eased her fears as expertly as he calmed his horses. “Don’t look at your feet. Always look ahead or into your partner’s eyes.”
It is easier this way, looking into your partner’s eyes. And there was no place she’d have rather looked right then. His deep-set eyes were gray in this light and softened by his serene smile. She could have stared into them until her feet grew numb if time would allow.
As the last notes of the waltz glided out onto the veranda, she burned into her memory the strength in his hand on her waist, the way he smiled and gently guided her back into the step when she lost focus. No matter what happened from this night on, she never wanted to forget the way it felt right then, dancing in Beau Stanford’s arms.
The final chords faded into silence. Beau went still, but he held her there against him. She longed to remain in the sanctuary of him, man and woman, united body and soul. He let go of her hand and touched her face, trailing his fingers lightly along her cheek. Portia lifted her chin to accept his kiss, but her spirit fell back to earth when his jaw tightened.
He spoke in a ragged whisper. “There’s something I need to tell you…”
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About Mysti Parker
ysti Parker (pseudonym) is a full time wife, mother of three, and a writer. Her first novel, A Ranger’s Tale was published in January, 2011 by Melange Books, and the second in the fantasy romance series, Serenya’s Song, was published in April 2012. The highly anticipated third book, Hearts in Exile, has already received some great reviews. The Tallenmere series has been likened to Terry Goodkind’s ‘Sword of Truth’ series, but is probably closer to a spicy cross between Tolkien and Mercedes Lackey.
Mysti’s other writings have appeared in the anthologies Hearts of Tomorrow, Christmas Lites, and Christmas Lites II. Her flash fiction has appeared on the online magazine EveryDayFiction. She has also served as a class mentor in Writers Village University’s six week free course, F2K.
Mysti reviews books for SQ Magazine, an online specfic publication, and is the proud owner of Unwritten, a blog voted #3 for eCollegeFinder’s Top Writing Blogs award. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband and three children.
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/pages/Mysti-Parker/103786449704221
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About Alice J. Black
Alice J. Black was born in the North East England and even as a child had more fascination with books than the outside world. She writes in the supernatural young adult genre and likes to experiment with other genres. She’s an avid writer on her second home, writing.com. Her debut novel, The Doors, is due for publication in September 2014 from Fire and Ice YA Books. She has had other short works published previously in the Writing.com Anthology 2013.
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Read the book that started it all!
A Ranger’s Tale by Mysti Parker is a free e-read!