Hello everyone !
Today I am bringing to you another awesome Author Interview and Giveaway! I am incredibly excited about this one as I loved the book so dearly. You can find my review for Starflower here. Starflower is book #4 in the Series called The Tales of the Goldenwood. But since it is a prequel you don't necessarily need to have read the previous three. It is the first in the series that I read myself and as I said before, I fell completely in love with it and I know you will to! So be sure to enter our giveaway after reading our awesome interview with the very lovely Anne Elisabeth Stengl :).
1. Please tell us some interesting facts about yourself, we love getting a further peek into the author behind the stories we love.
Hi there! I am Anne Elisabeth, a lover of Fairy Tales, cats, Sri Lankan teas, classical piano, fuzzy socks, and classic literature. I'm also the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, a series of fantasy adventure novels told in the classic Fairy Tale style. I live with my handsome husband, a gaggle of cats, and one long-suffering dog in Raleigh, NC. My novels include Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, and Starflower. Both Heartless and Veiled Rose have been honored with a Christy Award.
2.Starflower is definitely one of the best fantasy stories I have ever read. Is fantasy something you have always been partial to?
Absolutely. I spent my early childhood years in England, surrounded by landscapes right out of fairy tales. My father and older brother used to tell me exciting stories about goblins and elves and wicked fairies that lived in the forest right by our house. I grew up with an active imagination and a fascination for all things fantastical. When I got a little older, I fell in love with the works of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien, and after them, with Robin McKinley's amazing retold fairy tales. There is no genre I love more!
I am not at all surprised by your answer. After reading your book I immediately would class it amongst stories such as Chronicles of Narnia and works of Tolkein!
3.Your characters are all so well developed and real. I always had such vivid images while reading your story. Are any of them based on someone you know personally?
Much of the reason the characters are so vivid is because I have been writing about them for a long time. Eanrin, especially, was a character I loved and wrote stories about when I was in high school. While Starflower is the first novel he's featured in as the main protagonist, he has always been my special favorite. Of course, he has grown a lot as a character even as I have grown as a writer. These days, he is also very loosely based off my husband in some ways . . . all the most charming ways. (But my husband is the most unselfish man I know, so in that they are polar opposites.)
For the most part, however, I would say that all of my characters are little pieces of me. I'll take an aspect of my own character and personality--good or bad--and then imagine that quality embellished into a whole person with a whole new background and motivations. All of my characters, even my most hideous villains, are extensions of me. Thus I know them intimately.
I love that you take your individual traits and turn them into an entire person. That is the first time I have heard an Author say that about their characters. It seems like such a great idea, because as you said, since they are a piece of you, you automatically know them intimately. That's just awesome!
4.In my review it's pretty obvious I adore this book and recommend it to any and all, but for what reasons would you yourself recommend this book?
Well, I'm a bit biased, but I truly do think that Starflower has it all!
It has the fairy tale themes we loved as children, so there is a sense of familiarity. But you can never predict where the story is actually going, so you are kept in suspense the whole while.
It has an amazingly charming hero, and an amazingly strong heroine, and yet they are nothing like any hero or heroine you've met. The hero is as vain and selfish as you can get . . . but I dare you not to fall madly in love with him! And the heroine cannot speak a word and certainly can't wield a weapon . . . but I defy any monster to face her!
It is a magical book full of twists, surprises and--Oh yes: A healthy dose of romance.
But then, like I said, I am a bit biased. J
5.Your story is so beautiful, where do you draw your inspiration from?
I am greatly inspired by such authors as C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald. These gentlemen combined their faith with their love of fairy tales and fantasy, and wrote meaningful fantasy fiction such as you don't often see today. Unlike modern authors, they weren't primarily focused on the BANG! ACTION! ADVENTURE! of their stories. They didn't simply race from one exciting sequence to the next. They wrote brilliantly engaging stories that not only catch our imaginations, but also capture our hearts. They wove meaningful themes, universal and spiritual truths, and unforgettable characters into elegant narratives.
6. If you had to pick a favorite character from this story who would it be?
Easily Eanrin. Don't get me wrong! I adore my Starflower as well. She's a wonderful, lovely, admirable character. But I just adore my poet-cat, and all his charm and selfishness! He always takes me by surprise, and he always has a witty word to offer. I've been writing about him for so long, I don't feel like I actually create any of his scenes anymore. I simply sit down and watch him go. He is the darling of my heart, and my favorite not only in this book, but also in the series as a whole.
I definitely have to agree! I just loved Eanrin right from the beginning! He was so adorable and clever, I just wish I could have strolled in and became his friend :).
7. Moving away from your story for a second, who are some of your own favorite authors/books?
I really love the following:
C.S. Lewis--Chronicles of Narnia and Till We Have Faces
George MacDonald--The Princess and the Goblin
Megan Whalen Turner--The Queen's Thief series
Robin McKinley--Rose Daughter and Beauty
Sir Terry Pratchett--Nation
There are so many more, but these are definitely among my all time favorites!
8. If you could write a story with any author, alive or not, who would you choose and what would you want to write about?
Wow, that's a really interesting (and tough!) question. I think I would love to write a story alongside C.S. Lewis, though. We have similar ideas about tying real-world mythology into our own invented worlds, and we both love to bring in allegorical themes. But our styles are VERY different, so I don't know how that would go! Maybe if we tackled a fairy-tale retelling, though. That would be interesting! Maybe a novella-length retelling of Beauty and the Beast. That would be fun to do with C.S. Lewis, and I would drink in anything he had to teach me!
I would read a re-telling of beauty & the beast in a heartbeat! That is my favorite Disney story ever :).
9. What advice would you give to the aspiring writers out there?
Read! And read, and read, and read some more. Read things you love, read things you hate. Read tons of material from the genre you want to write. Read the classics, as many of them as you can get your hands on. The more you read, the more the writing world will open up to you. The more you read, the more other writers who have paved the way for you will reveal their secrets. So read!!!
10. With everything moving toward the digital age, what is your take on e-book vs print? And how do you prefer to read your books?
I confess, I don't actually own an e-reader, so I don't have a whole lot of experience with them. I've fiddled around with friends' e-readers, and they seem really cool. I also appreciate the opportunities they afford authors these days. One day I'll step into the modern age and actually get myself one.
I'm such an old-fashioned girl at heart, though. I love a "real" book. My husband and I just converted a room of our house into our official "library," and we're doing everything we can to collect classics in gorgeous, leather-bound editions. While I appreciate the convenience of e-readers, can you really beat beautiful leather and gold-embossing? Really?
You are not alone. I also do not own an e-reader. I can agree they are fancy and pretty and I'm sure they do come in handy. But I just can't see myself every picking up a piece of metal and such instead of book with real pages and missing out on holding and smelling an actual book. I just love everything about books. As well I really do adore shelves just covered with books, it's an amazing sight to me. I am incredibly jealous of your own personal library! Hopefully someday I shall have something like it!
11. Returning back to your story, what has been the most rewarding experience you've had since you have been published?
I think the most rewarding experience for me has been the interaction with my fans. I have developed a number of truly close friendships with people I never would have encountered if I weren't a professional author. A few months ago, I started an editing/mentoring business, and I have a wonderful group of young women/aspiring authors with whom I work. It's so rewarding to see them developing their skills as storytellers, and I feel very bonded to each one of them in different ways.
I have also had the honor of being awarded two Christy Awards in the last two years, one for my debut, and one for my sophomore novel. It was so lovely to attend the gala banquet with my husband, all dressed to the nines--and so terrifying to have to get up in front of everyone and give speeches! But I was thrilled and honored both years, and felt verified that I am doing what I am meant to do.
12. I've noticed that a lot of reviews for this book are in the 5 star area. And the reviews are well deserved I must say. How does it make you feel knowing people have connected with your story so well?
I suspected that Starflower would connect with a lot of people. There are so many different universal themes going on in the story, and if a reader doesn't connect to one, she/he is likely to connect to another. I think the reviews reflect that personal connection readers feel to the story.
That being said, I am THRILLED by this reaction so far! It's always utterly terrifying for me to send my "brainchild" out to the reading public. I love my stories so much, but I also know that not everyone is going to love them as I do or understand what I am trying to communicate through them. With past books, I've had aggressively negative reactions from some readers--one reader even declared one of my books a "publishing travesty" simply because she didn't like my writing voice! That's really hard to take, I can tell you.
But seeing each book connecting with the right audience--the people for whom I truly wrote the story--is wonderful and so encouraging. I feel very blessed by the reaction to Starflower so far!
13. This was the first book in the series I have read, I now had definite full plans to go back and read the previous ones. But can we expect to see more installments in the series? I'm hoping so :)
Oh, I hope so too! Heartless, Veiled Rose, and Moonblood are all set 1600 years after Starflower . . . but there are a LOT of things that happened in between. For instance, when you pick up Heartless, you're going to find a very different Eanrin in that book than you last saw at the end of Starflower. He's suffered some major changes, both emotional and physical. But we don't yet know exactly what happened to him between Starflower and Heartless. (Well, I do . . . but I can't say yet!)
Dragonwitch, which comes out next summer, continues some of the story threads left unresolved from Starflower, and I have a book 6 (as yet untitled) due to release spring 2014. After that, I don't know for sure. But I have many, many, many more stories to tell, so we'll see what happens!
I really need to get my hands on the rest of this series. I want to own it so I can share it with my children when they are older. I know what books I am adding to my x-mas list this year! Thank you so much for sharing this with me! I look forward to your upcoming additions to the story as well!
14. Using 3 words only, describe Starflower.
Romantic fairy tale.
15. If you weren't a writer for some crazy reason, what would you see yourself doing?
I would probably be an art teacher. I was an art teacher/portrait painter before I sold my first novel contract. And I really loved it . . . though not quite as much as I love writing! I still use my art for various promotional features for the stories, and I'm constantly doing paintings or sketches to go along with the stories. You can see a sketch I did for Starflower here: (http://starflowernovel.blogspot.com/p/illustrated-sneak-peek.html)
And, speaking of illustrations, be sure to check out my Dragonwitch page on December 7th! There is an exciting reveal coming that you won't want to miss! (http://dragonwitchnovel.blogspot.com/)
Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Meghan. These were fun questions to answer! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed Starflower. And I hope all of you readers will get a chance to pick up my story very soon.
I am so glad you enjoyed the interview, thank you so much for taking the time to answer all the questions thoroughly! I completely enjoyed reading your responses :). I also hope that all of our readers find a copy of Starflower to read as well, it's and incredible read they will be glad they read.
And now my friends it is giveaway time!
It is however US only (sorry!)
Winner will receive a signed copy of Starflower as well as some awesome swag!
One of you is going to severely lucky so enter below :).