Wahoo! We’ve got Young Adult Fantasy author Tamara Shoemaker swooping in on the wings of dragons to share with us about her latest release, Embrace the Fire.
She’s a hoot (dragon sex, anyone?), always wildly entertaining, and so I invite you to sit back with favorite brew in hand and read all about … the chocolate preferences of her characters? Yes, and MUCH more…
Embrace the Fire is the second in your Heart of a Dragon trilogy, the follow-up to Kindle the Flame. What do you find the most challenging part about writing the middle book in a trilogy? What is the most fun?
The most challenging part of avoiding that middle book syndrome is finding a good balance for your overall story. You have to carry a storyline that keeps flowing, doesn’t grow stagnant, maintains and builds the plot threads and the romantic chemistry and the character development and the rising action and the tone and the voice and the structure… all without tipping over the precipice into the land of “resolved” yet, because hey… there’s still another book to be written, and you have to save something for then. 😉
The most fun part is everything I just listed. Sure, it’s hard, but who said writing a book was ever easy, and if it were easy… would I enjoy it? I love the challenge of throwing myself heart and soul into a project, tearing out my hair, sometimes even crying over my inability to make plot threads meet—but, oh boy, the adrenaline rush at the end!
Some people jump from planes for the amazing feeling of accomplishment when they land on the ground. Me… I just write books. 😉
Which character from this trilogy do you most enjoy writing, and why?
I enjoy the wide variety of the cast; there are so many and varied tastes and textures. It’s like an artist’s palette, and I get to choose a brush and make a stroke along a canvas whenever I break out into some of the descriptions.
I just added a new character in Embrace the Fire that I didn’t have in Kindle the Flame—Ashleen. I’ve totally enjoyed exploring the depths of her character. She’s nearly opposite me in personality—unafraid and absolutely self-confident. She makes a nice contrast to Kinna, my female lead, who struggles with discovering who she is and becoming comfortable with what she’s meant to do. I’m widening Ashleen’s role in the third book, and am having fun seeing how elastic her character is and how far she’ll stretch.
How do you think up such intricate plots and such fantastical creatures? Because I totally want a Mirage dragon.
Short answer: I have no idea. 😉 Lol!
It starts with a seed (what if I wrote a list of all the fantastical creatures I’ve ever found in stories, and then included them all in one book?) that I faithfully water every day (and then what if I made a world where all of these creatures were separated into Clans by a tyrannical king who used them for his own ends?), and then it eventually sprouts into a full-blown tree complete with twigs, blossoms, and leaves (and then what if there’s an epic struggle between the king and the rightful heir to the throne, and the eternal poser of Might Is Right comes into heavy play throughout the entire trilogy? How epic would that be?).
This is very important: Which would each of your four main characters (Kinna, Ayden, Cedric, Sebastian) prefer: dark, milk, or white chocolate. Believe me, this reveals a lot about their personalities.
Haha!! I can only imagine. Shall I analyze why I think they like what they like? Here we go:
Kinna likes milk chocolate, because she’s not one to obsess over the added sugar. And it tastes better than white chocolate. She’s a bit more of a go-with-the-flow girl, and she’s at peace with that. Although she has a strict sense of right and wrong, she knows it’s silly to think that all dark things are inherently evil, and all things of the light are unmixed with the dark.
Ayden also likes milk chocolate for many of the same reasons as Kinna, but he’s seen too much of the underbelly of the world to think that he wants to spend any more time in only dark chocolate. It’s too bitter, and he’s had enough bitterness to last a lifetime.
Cedric enjoys dark chocolate, perhaps because until the age of seventeen, he’s never experienced chocolate of any kind, and doesn’t know the effects that chocolate has on the culture he discovers when he leaves the only life he’s ever known. Too much sweetness sours his stomach, and he can only handle small amounts at a time, no more than a square inch if pressed.
Sebastian has towers of his castle filled with the white chocolate gunk. He rolls in it. He stuffs his cheeks like a hamster and then gets on his political wheel and runs aimlessly for hours while he lets the sickly sweet saliva leak from his mouth and drip from his chin in drops of tyrannical drool.
So… how’d I do? 😉
(ML says: Best. Answer. Ever. And I knew that evil Sebastian was a white chocolate guy. I just knew it.)
You also just released the middle book in your Guardian of the Vale series, Shadows of Uprising. How on earth do you keep the characters and storylines straight? Have you ever mixed them up and found yourself sticking Kinna into Clayborne, or having Jayme ride a dragon?
Yes to both. I always proofread my books after I finish writing them—multiple times—and it never fails but that I find the wrong character show up in a book.
Even when I was only writing ONE book at a time (instead of two or three as I am now), I’d still find the characters cropping up in my present story that I had wrapped up in the book I’d finished months ago.
I figure it’s just part of the process. And hopefully I always catch any stray displaced characters in a story before it goes to press and return them to their rightful homes.
Once you finish these two series, what’s next? More sci-fi/fantasy? Or might you, gasp, actually take a break?
Hahahahahaha! Take a break, she says. 😉 I’ve learned never to lay out solid plans too far in advance, because there’s too much of a risk of breaking those plans. I hope to keep writing YA fantasy for years, but at the moment, I’m concentrating on just getting these two trilogies done.
I do have a historical romance series in my head that’s been simmering for the last few years, and I kept discarding the idea because I don’t write straight romance. I’ve finally decided to give it a shot. I have no idea if it’s a good decision or not; it might be a walk on the wild side. But I figured I may as well have fun with it. I enjoy the lightness of romances; it’ll be a nice break from the intense and deep and epic plot threads of my fantasies (I say that now—watch my romance evolve into a ridiculous creation that’s waaaay too deep to call it a simple romance). 🙂
(ML says: “Simple” romance? Methinks you and I must talk, m’dear. There are plenty of dark, twisted romances out there, as well. 🙂 )
You’re a freelance editor as well as a writer. How does editing others’ works influence your own?
To hone a skill, you have to practice… and practice and practice and practice, right? I practice writing all the time, as well as editing my own work all the time. But I have one basic style, and freelance editing opens up a world of other styles to me. It’s wonderful; I get to do what I love best (read and write) while helping other authors do what they love best (write), and it also helps me hone and sharpen my skills. It’s a win/win situation.
If you could give people one reason to read this trilogy, what would it be?
Three words: Dragonly coital habits.
That would totally be too much for my curiosity. But if you need a little more convincing, here’s my shot at it:
If you want to read a story with reminiscent touches of Martin’s or Tolkein’s fantasy action, if you want a YA romance that takes you back to the Twilight days, if you enjoy the political intrigue and mystery of TV series similar to Reign and/or the Tudors… or if you just enjoy really, really awesome dragons, then this book is most definitely for you. 🙂
Wanted by King Sebastian, Kinna, the long-hidden daughter of the assassinated King Liam, flees for her life, determined to seek out her twin brother and free him from Sebastian’s dungeons. Meanwhile, the King holds Kinna’s adopted father as collateral to ensure she keeps her betrothal to a man she does not love.
Once cursed by King Sebastian to turn everything he touched to ash, Ayden suffers from new, searing pain that heats his flesh in a different way. Searching for answers, he digs into the histories of West Ashwynd’s Clans, and his discoveries lead him to the Amulet he’d thought had rid him of his curse. When he finds a rare Mirage Dragon, hope for vengeance upon Sebastian fills him again.
Captured and stripped of his power as Dragon-Master, Cedric resists using his Dragon-speak to advance Sebastian’s political aims. When he escapes the King’s clutches, he resolves to find his twin sister, Kinna. But the enemy has a long reach, and Cedric’s chains are unrelenting.
Ice and agony torment Sebastian, King of West Ashwynd. His fury rages unabated as he prepares for war. When treachery leeches into his ranks, he turns against everyone he trusts. Sebastian believes he cannot be outwitted, but…
Kingdoms rise and fall; wars transform nations—
but who can survive the fires of Dragons?
Tamara Shoemaker lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia with her husband, three children, a few jars of Nutella, and a never-ending carafe of coffee.
She authored the Amazon best-selling Shadows in the Nursery Christian mystery series and Soul Survivor, another Christian mystery. Her fantasy books include the first two books of the Heart of a Dragon trilogy: Kindle the Flame and Embrace the Fire, as well as Mark of Four and Shadows of Uprising, the first two books in the Guardian of the Vale trilogy.
In her spare time, she freelances as an editor for other works of fiction.
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