Welcome to Stitches Thru Time, Kathrese. For those of us who don't have the privilege of knowing you, tell us a bit about yourself.
Thanks, Crystal, I’m happy to be here. For those who haven’t met me before, I am an author, teacher, and editor. My goal is to write epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life's difficult questions. That means exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship. I am married to my college sweetheart, and we have four children, two grown-ups and two teenagers, three girls and one boy. I wasn’t born in Texas, but I was born to Texans. I hope that counts.
What are you currently writing?Currently, I’m working on the second full-length novel in the Mardan’s Mark series. The first book is Mardan’s Mark, and the second one will be Mardan’s Anointed. There is a novella, Healer’s Curse, that should be read between the two books. I call it a companion novella to Mardan’s Mark because it takes place concurrently with that book. Characters from Healer’s Curse reappear in Mardan’s Anointed.
But back to your question. Mardan’s Anointed is at 135,000 words and counting. I’m close to the end, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will have to give it a savage edit to keep the word count reasonable. I keep thinking about J.K. Rowling’s books in the Harry Potter series and how they grew longer as she progressed.
Mardan’s Anointed has to be on the long side because Aldan and Srilani, the main characters, both go through huge changes in their lives. That requires space. It feels like I’m writing two books at once, but hopefully, readers will appreciate how their stories intertwine.
I love the covers of your books! They look and sound so intriguing. Where did you get the inspiration for your story?I would say that the entire series was inspired by Old Testament stories, especially the story of Deborah, but it’s a mash-up of patriarchs, judges, and kings. And pirates. Ha!
But seriously, my children were my inspiration for getting started. Back in 2007, I challenged my oldest daughter, Sarah, who was a senior in homeschool, to do NaNoWriMo with me.
We both wrote up a storm that November, and I simply kept writing after NaNoWriMo ended. I have notebooks full of handwritten chapters that will (thankfully) never see the light of day.
Later—much later—I decided that I had to get serious about Young Adult fiction, and I rewrote Book One with the encouragement of Laura Anderson Kurk, my critique partner and mentor. She writes Contemporary YA, but she graciously helped me with my epic adventure fantasy. I will forever be grateful to her for getting me started.
I hope they will take away a deeper appreciation of God’s nature without feeling as if they have
read a sermon. In my stories, the Creator is referred to as “El.” Naturally, I want my readers to
experience a rollicking good time, but I also want them to think about the nature of God and his
care for us. His justice and his mercy. His timing and his will. My characters get pushed hard to
make difficult, life and death choices. They believe in El, but they have to learn to trust him too.
I expect any mention of a Creator will put off some readers, but for those who are searching, I
hope they will be drawn closer.
I'm glad you're working to give our young folks something wholesome to read that includes a great and godly message. What do you hope folks will take away from your story?
Sounds like a wonderful message that you've weaved into your story. Thanks for sharing, and speaking of sharing...
Do you have a favorite scene in the book? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?Hmm. Can I do that without spoilers? Well, I suppose anyone who reads the cover of Mardan’s Anointed will be able to figure out that Srilani’s transition to palace life from surviving in the wilderness isn’t going to be a smooth one. One of my favorite scenes is between her and her maid, Ana, as Srilani insists that she will be wearing a sword at all times from then on. Srilani asks Ana to procure a more attractive belt and scabbard. Here’s a snippet:
"But why? None of the other ladies at court wear swords."
Srilani gave an unladylike snort. "None of them have been stolen by pirates either.” She closed her hands into fists on her lap. “We were with a squad of soldiers when we were abducted. We were supposed to be secure. The one lesson I learned from that experience is that I am responsible for my safety. If Father sets guards around me, I can’t rely on them entirely.”
Ana’s sympathetic expression encouraged Srilani to finish her confession. “I keep thinking that if I had worn a weapon that day, been a little quicker, fought a little harder, then things might have turned out differently." She stood and picked up the belt. "So tonight, I will wear my sword in this ugly scabbard, but for tomorrow evening, I want something more fitting. Can you do that?"