We are excited to welcome author, Melissa McPhail, to the nest today. Giveaway details can be found at the end of this post. The Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents for hard copies and internationally for eBooks.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: How long have you been writing?
Melissa: I started writing as a child with poems scrawled in crayon on construction paper while my grandmother made dinner every night. My love of writing blossomed in high school, and by the time I graduated, writing had become an integral part of my life.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: Can you describe your novel in five words?
Melissa: Hmm...how about adventurous, complex, intense, thrilling and funny? Or possibly, mysterious, intriguing, complicated, introspective and compelling. Could also use those last five to describe many of my characters. :)
Andrea @ Reading Lark: Where did you get the idea for this novel?
Melissa: Cephrael's Hand has seen about thirteen different iterations over the years. I started working on it more than a decade ago, but as soon as I finished the manuscript, I would go back out into the world and read more great works and realize my novel had to be better. This realization usually resulted in scrapping 80% of the manuscript and starting over, each time attempting to craft something different and new, to fashion an epic tale that fantasy readers hadn't already read fifteen times in various permutations.
I landed on the idea for this final version after studying game philosophy (which you can read more about on my blog - http://melissamcphail.com/blog). This philosophy applies the theory of games to everyday life and includes an anatomy of games with roles of a Maker of Games, Pieces, Players, and Broken Pieces. I took this context as a framework for the story, and it all came together.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: Which character is your favorite to write?
Melissa: I enjoy writing all of my characters. They each represent a different viewpoint on the world and provide a means of conveying or exploring varied ideas, backgrounds and experiences. This said, I most enjoy writing Tanis, my truthreader. Tanis has an innate innocence and an incorruptible goodness, and writing from his viewpoint allows me to see the world very much as it should be. This isn't to say that Tanis doesn't face his share of terrible experiences - especially in book 2 - but these horrors don't change him. They don't define him. He is the willow that bends beneath the storm, weathering it with his heart in tact though he may still emerge stripped and bare.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: What was the road to publication like for you?
Melissa: I'm writing an epic fantasy - one story spanning several books. Oftentimes it feels as if I'm channeling this tale, whole cloth, from somewhere in the ether, where it's just waiting to be absorbed and retold. I know many writers feel this way. It has always been very important to me to be able to tell this story as I envision it, without cutting huge sections from the tale because of word-count concerns. Essentially, I wanted the creative control self-publishing provides to be able to emerge from the publication process with my integrity and the integrity of my story in tact.
Bringing my series into print has been a remarkable experience so far. I've received incredible support from the independent publishing community and the host of generous bloggers who've agreed to review the book. It's won three awards and has a 4.9-star rating on Amazon. I feel blessed to be able to tell the story exactly as I've envisioned it and receive in return the appreciation of fantasy fans, who've entered my world of Alorin and been entertained there.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: Who are three of your favorite authors?
Melissa: Ayn Rand tops my list. Her work profoundly influenced my life and viewpoints coming out of high school. Victor Hugo's prose is enrapturing. And Oscar Wilde ever astonishes me with his inimitable caustic wit.
Andrea @ Reading Lark: What is your favorite bird?
Melissa: The hawk. As represented by the avieths of Cephrael's Hand (avieths are shapeshifters with both a hawk form and a human one).
Melissa McPhail is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader. With as background in philosophy and comparative religion, she is passionate about the Fantasy genre because of its inherent philosophical explorations. Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, their twin daughters and two very large cats. Cephrael's Hand is the first novel in her series A Pattern of Shadow and Light. Book Two, The Dagger of Adendigaeth, is scheduled for release in October 2012.
"All things are composed of patterns..." And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross: In Alorin three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor's brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D'Lacourte's mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he'll have to find him.
In the kingdom of Dannym the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.
In the Nadori desert tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.
Melissa has been kind enough to offer up TWO copies of Cephrael's Hand to our readers. U.S. winners will have a choice in format (eBook or hard copy). International winners will receive an eBook.