Christine E. Schulze is here today to tell us about her epic fantasy, Bloodmaiden. Let's give her a warm welcome!
**Contest: Christine is offering a copy of Bloodmaiden, a promotional postcard and a magnet. All you have to do is leave a comment or ask a questions and you're entered to win! Note: prizes will be mailed out late Dec. or early Jan. 2011.
Why don't we start with you telling us a little about yourself:
I am a lover and writer of fantasy and Christian fantasy who has been crafting stories since I was at least four; my first books contained just pictures but told imaginative and complete tales none-the-less! I love experimenting, both with types of stories and writing styles, and I really love connecting my books into a coherent whole. Almost all my books, series and stand-alone books included, comprise a thirty-plus book collection called The Amielian Legacy. While each book can be read individually, there are rewards for those who read them all and see how all ultimately connect.
For now though, I hope you just consider joining me for Crisilin’s epic, magical, musical quest in Bloodmaiden.
In your new release Bloodmaiden there are Four dynasties: Zale, Gauthier and Varden, Tynan. Tell us about these dynasties.
There are four dynasties that comprise the world of Sulaimon—the fourth being Tynan, where the main character, Crisilin, lives. In each dynasty, a race of people and a race of dragons dwells. Each dynasty is unique physical setting, as well as the dragons and peoples having distinct personality types.
The dragons of Zale are more laid-back, enjoying meditation and considering peace and wisdom highly important to obtain; both dragons and people are highly friendly.
The dragons of Gauthier are strong, sturdy, and consider physical strength an important trait; the people and dragons there are not so trustworthy of outsiders.
In Varden, both dragons and people are laid-back and friendly, much like in Zale, but their focus is more heavily on art and intellectualism; they especially love a good riddle.
Tynan has become a place of fear; each year, the peoples of each dynasty are to pay a tribute to the dragons in exchange for their protection. However, the dragons of Tynan have made their tribute turn into a ritual which has gone too far, to the point of the horrific—
But I’ll leave readers to discover the secrets of Tynan for themselves.
Without giving too much away, tell the readers about Chalom and Crisilin. What is their quest and how did it fall on their shoulders?
Chalom and Crisilin are very young and forced to take place in a terrible ritual, one meant to help and protect the people of Tynan but which has since been corrupted by the Tynanian dragons.
I don’t give an age for Crisilin so that readers of any age can imagine themselves as her, though originally, I thought of her as being around thirteen; still young, pure, and naive enough about the world to make her the character I wanted to create. While some readers have been put-off by Crisilin’s character, perhaps because she is not the feisty, sassy, gung-ho heroine which many books contain and which can become cliché at times, others found her sweet, innocent, naive character to be quite refreshing. I think that’s part of the reason many readers seem to either strongly connect with Crisilin or not connect at all; she is a very specific character, and not necessarily the norm for a fantasy book. She is brave, to be sure, but also scared and not afraid to admit it. She is very true to herself and her feelings.
Readers almost embody Crisilin, in a sense. Thus, they are not told all the details of what is going on right away but must feel their way through the world, joining Crisilin on this new, jarring venture as though standing right beside her, feeling and thinking all she does.
Chalom, on the other hand, is a quiet character in the book. Some have found this to make him rather “flat”; in essence, Chalom was never meant to be the most developed character. He is there as Crisilin’s other half, but his main role is to help and support her, though we do get a glimpse inside his head and of his own fears by the end of things. Brydon’s and Pan’s characters, however, are definitely well-developed, and they share an intriguing and intricate tale which proves for a deep sub-plot.
As for Chalom’s and Crisilin’s quest, it involves them escaping Tynan to travel to the other dynasties, in hopes to collect the Aria, magical strains of music which can help heal Tynan of its evil—but what that evil is, and how they must overcome it, I will leave to the readers.
What inspired your vibrant fantasy thriller? Is this a series? If so tell the readers what to expect.
Bloodmaiden was inspired by several things; first off, I had intended to write a novel based upon the first few suspenseful chapters of Bloodmaiden. I was also interested in writing a novel based around the concept of four magical Aria. Then, as I often love to do, I combined these two concepts into one coherent whole which eventually became the book.
The dragon aspect came in because dragons were a fantasy creature I’d never heavily written about; I’m honestly not usually into dragon stories myself. However, for this piece, I did some research on different kinds of dragons, crafted my own unique dynasties from there, and came up with a beautiful story I am quite pleased with.
As for those first few chapters mentioned above, their lovely metaphorical language and the suspense and imagery richly interspersed throughout, they were actually inspired by a fiction writing class which challenged me to focus not just on story but on language as well, more heavily than I usually do, as well as a photo shoot my boyfriend and I did for fun. Bloodmaiden’s cover is one of the amazing results from that shoot.
What are your current projects and works in progress?
I have just finished re-editing The Last Star, a middle grade fantasy/adventure novel which I have chosen as “the book” to start submitting to agents, which I plan to do in a short while. Though I’ve loved self-publishing and working with smaller presses, it’s time to take the loads I’ve learned and bump things up a notch. Here’s a blurb of The Last Star, for all interested:
There were no Stars in Novalight that fateful night; they had all been extinguished save for one: and if Olette, The Last Star, were to lose her Starfire too, then all the land would be consumed by Shadow—and the very world would come to an uncertain end.
Thankfully, the work of the Shadows goes yet unfinished. Hope remains solely in Olette, the tiny winged fox who flies into ten-year-old Christya’s bedroom that dark night. As a Backwards Star, Olette’s life source—her Starfire—cannot easily be snuffed out like all the others in Novalight. Being the smallest and youngest of the Stars, can Olette take up the position of Blue Star and unravel the mysteries of Star Appointment? Can she help Christya and her other new friends discover the truth behind their parents’ disappearances? Together, can they overcome the Shadows with their newfound powers before every last Star vanishes from the sky?
Combining the magnificence of the heavens with the allure of magic to create a charming adventure, The Last Star is more than an enchanting tale of light against darkness: it is a story of friendship and forgiveness, one that shows how even the smallest person can become a light of hope after all the others have gone out.
What is your favorite reference book? Goodness, am I supposed to use those as a fantasy writer?
Honestly, I don’t like research at all unless it’s a subject I’m really interested in; that’s one reason I love fantasy, because it allows me the freedom to just delve in and create everything myself.
As a Christian fantasy author, I suppose I might say the Bible. Some of my books include Christian symbolism, or elements of Creation and such. I have a book called The Secret World of Unicorns by Pat Perrin and Don Roff that I've been using to create the world of Fairie for a book I'm co-authoring with a friend of mine, Amy Baker. I also have a book called Spirits, Faireis, Leprechauns and Goblins: An Encyclopedia, which I’ve used to find fantasy peoples and creatures I’ve not yet written about; I then take them, craft a story around them, and add a little twist to them. Beyond that, I use several books on gemstones, which factor largely into series like my Legends of Surprisers series, and would really like a book on castles.
For Bloodmaiden, in order to get inspiration for the four dragon dynasties, I studied different types of dragons on a website called http://www.mythcreatures.co.uk/
From there sprung the different dragon races presented in the book.
Do you prefer print books or e-books? I prefer print books, having grown up with them and being nicely used to feeling a good book in my hands. Reading on the computer too long hurts my eyes; however, when I do get an ebook reader, I think I would enjoy curling up with a good e-book. I like making my books available as both e-books and print to make them available to a wider audience.
Tell the readers where they can find you:
Several places, actually:
1. My Website ~ blog, pics, a discounted copy of Bloodmaiden available for order, and more!
2. Goodreads page ~ The best place to chat with me, read reviews, and keep a look-out for give-aways!
3. Blog ~ A blog which started with my original illustrations of characters and such and has since become the source for all kinds of updates on my books; see how my publishing venture evolved from start to the present!
4. Mrs. Fleming’s Choir ~ Gail Fleming, my choir teacher at Southwestern Illinois College, provided the inspiration for one of my best series published to date: The Gailean Quartet, combining music and magic to weave a most unique story. You can see my choir, as well as book trailers, me trying to sing, and other such at:
Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?
To both writers and other dreamers: Never give up on your dreams! Or, in the word of Mrs. Fleming, “Keep focused!” God has given us all a talent, sp work hard to use it to help and inspire others and fulfill your own dreams along the way. My dream has become the dream of my readers and an encouragement to them; seek to share the same encouragement through your dreams as well.
Thank you so much for joining us today. It has been a pleasure.