(Note: This is part of a blog tour. I've gotten to know S. J. Aisling through the GoTeenWriters Facebook group, and can wholly vouch for her awesomeness. Plus, newly published books are epic, so I wanted to spread the word.)
When will Becoming the Chateran be available for purchase, and where can I get it?
~ Becoming the Chateran will be available this December as an ebook and a paperback, and you can buy it via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the website of my publisher, Life Sentence/Aniko Press. In fact, you can preorder your own paperback copy now from the latter location - preordering it will up your chances of getting it in time for Christmas!
*Aniko Press, while a Christian-owned publisher, doesn't consider Becoming the Chateran to be Christian fiction (nor does Stacia), so it's not being marketed as such.
Where did you find inspiration to write Becoming the Chateran?
Years ago while studying medieval times in school, a friend of mine and I pretended we were knightesses (prince/princess, knight/knightess, right?). I was Rhea, and my friend was Hiylienea. We had so much fun with our fantastical adventures that I decided to write everything down so we could remember it all, and so doing created the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has expanded and matured a lot since then, but all the major elements and characters of the original make-believe are still there.
Any hints as to what awaits in the rest of The Chateran Series?
Most of the characters from Becoming the Chateran will reappear throughout the rest of the series, as well as many new ones. I'm personally really excited for this second book of the series to come out, as it will tie up a several loose ends/foreshadowed events from Becoming the Chateran… as well as introducing new conundrums to tease you with. This second book features a shy minstrel girl, an awkward archer, a talking White Stag, revengeful Sídhe, enchained jewelry, and a civil war.
The Chateran Series is medieval fantasy. Have you been doing much research for writing it?
~ For the past seven years and counting I have lived half in this world, and half in that of this series. I've been walking around with a notebook all but attached to me, stuffed with notes about food, geography, clothing, character sketches, scene descriptions, and snatches of poetry and ballads. Tailoring myself costumes based off those my characters wear was one of the most amusing and insightful things I did, as I'd dress up in full rig to act scenes out in my back yard or parks before I wrote them, to make the action and descriptions as accurate as possible. I also tried my hand at archery and horseback riding, proudly became the owner of several encyclopedias on world costume and armor, and studied heraldry and the cultures of multiple medieval cultures. My father is a research scientist. I think it rubbed off on me.
Do you have any tips for fellow writers on staying focused on a story?
~ To me, staying driven to write a book depends on finding the happy medium between planning out what will happen and what they characters are like so you start out with good solid ground under you, and leaving enough out so that even you, the writer, is chaffing at the bit to find out what happens next.
Also, I feel too many writers start out by trying to write what they don't know about, and their lack of knowledge and interest is crippling. But do more than simply write what you know. Write what you are passionate about – readers are smart people, and they'll notice the conviction ringing through your story, and it will touch them as only fervent honesty can. And as a side perk, you're more likely to actually WANT to write, as it will be something you feel/believe strongly about. This automatically makes the whole process a lot easier.
What did you find surprising about working with your publisher?
~ Aniko Press respected me fully as the illustrator and cover designer/creator. Writing and art have always gone hand in hand for me, so the thought that I might not be in control of the visuals of my book was frustrating. But this was not the case at all. They heard all my ideas and suggestions, and gave me plenty of freedom to illustrate my characters and scenes in the way they appear in my mind. I couldn't be happier!
Who are some of your favorite literary characters (from which books) and why?
~ I'm just going to have to go with the first two who popped into my mind, because otherwise we'd be here a while. Puddleglum from C. S. Lewis' The Silver Chair (Book 5 of The Chronicles of Narnia): He's brave and hilarious, and ever the optimistic pessimist, always mentioning the worst thing that could happen in a failing attempt to make any bad situation somehow feel better. Another of my favorites is David Balfour from Robert Louis Stevensons' Kidnapped and it's sequel, Catriona. He's honest, somewhat awkward, always tries his best, and is just so utterly human. Not to mention he's Scottish…
Could you give a summary of other books you're working on?
~ Aside from the books following Becoming the Chateran in The Chateran Series, I'm also working on a stand-alone science fantasy/steampunk story called The Phoenix Thief, and Conductive, a sci-fi/paranormal trilogy.
The Phoenix Thief is about a boy whose only key to his past is in an old notebook, a girl who knows everything about a world she is separated from, a man who lives for revenge, and a friendly automation of armor; a story of a city of machines, a forest of Reavers, and a very special bird.
Conductive is mainly in it's planning stages, but I'm already quite obsessed with it's characters, the Conductives themselves. Conductives carry enough of the recessive Conductivity Strain to gather energy and store it in their bodies. But unless they learn to control and release the energy, life becomes a struggle, waiting for when the next big shock might come. The rise of visionaries intent on exploiting the Conductive condition to further their goals certainly doesn't make anything easier.
You can learn more about both The Phoenix Thief and Conductive at sjaisling.com.
What's a crazy thing you've done in the name of writing?
~ I injured myself a while ago, and went into shock. Instead of freaking out and moaning for people to help me, however, I disregarded my bleeding limb and tried to haul myself to a pencil and paper, in order to write down what shock felt like so I could aptly describe it later in a book. As I was also laughing weakly at myself the entire time, I'm afraid I rather frightened everyone who saw me. I'm certain they thought my shock had escalated to delirium.
When Princess Rhea's actions inadvertently condemn innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even royalty is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in serving their sentence:
Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.
Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom of Gemworthy oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.
As the rest of The Chateran Series progresses, the affect of Rhea’s actions and the battle with the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen reaches beyond Gemworthy’s borders. The Dragons’ mistress seeks revenge for the damage done to her plans of conquest. Amidst the chaos, Rhea and her companions join forces with a motley troop of other brave men and women, all united by their call to protect their countries and their loved ones. They must learn to overcome their differences, pasts, and fears, and take up the quest of the Scintillatearian Swords to answer the challenge of evil as the Order of the Chateran.
An encouraging tale of friendship, true nobility, and coming of age that young adult readers can relate to, Becoming the Chateran also features over forty illustrations created by the author.
Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator.
When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children's ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.
If you want to contact her, or learn more about her, you can use the following links: