Interview: mythology retelling author Meadoe Hora

It’s been a minute! I took a couple of weeks off after Enchanted Waters was published in July, and then it was my birthday last week, so I’ve had a lovely break, but I’m back and ready to settle into my writing cave for the rest of the year.

I’m getting The Solitary King, The Fair Chronicles #2 ready for my editor towards the end of the year, and outlining my story for our next anthology, Enchanted Forests. My story, One Fair Eve, will be a reimagining of Goblin Market by Christina Rosetti, and I’m really excited to start sharing snippets and teasers with you!

Before we jump into today’s interview with the fabulous Meadoe Hora, I’d absolutely love if you could spare a second to vote for Enchanted Waters in the All Author cover contest! It’s currently in second place and winning would mean so much to us, plus it would help us to raise lots of money for Ocean. Click here to vote!

Thank you so much for your support. Now, on with the show!

Hi Meadoe, thanks for chatting with me today! Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in the US midwest with my family, a bossy basset hound and a spoiled black lab. Aside from writing, I love yoga, hiking and doing taekwondo with my family. 

That sounds wonderful, we’ve got two dogs too, I find they force me to get out of the house and exercise when I’d probably sit at my desk all day if we didn’t have them. When did you start writing and what inspired you?

I’ve written as long as I can remember. I took a long break when my kids were little and being a working mom sucked up all of my time. I’m so happy I started writing again. For me, writing is the best self care around. It grounds me and makes me feel more like myself. 

I feel exactly the same! Being a working mum to a toddler is so all-consuming, it’s hard to find the time for something that’s purely for me. But I feel so much better after making that time for myself. What are your favourite books and genres to read?

I will read any book that has good characters. I love those stories that are passed down through the generations. Lately, I’ve been loving fairy tale retellings and stories rooted in mythology. I love all the strong female and diverse characters that are popping up in YA fiction today. 

I’ve become addicted to fairy tale retellings recently, I think it’s the fact that I have a vague idea of where the story will take me (underrated in a world that’s been flipped upside down lately!), but I love seeing how each author twists and spins it to their own design. Do you have a favourite book of your own that you’ve published?

I wrote 2 children’s books with my son when he was about 9. We published them to raise money for a local inner city martial arts program. Those will always be my favorite because it was so fun writing with my son and I’m always happy to support that martial arts program. It’s a 2 book series called Superhero Kick Team.

After that, I published Ariadne’s Crown, which is a retelling of the Greek myth about Theseus slaying the Minotaur, but from the POV of the girl who helps him. I thought she needed a story of her own and I loved researching it and writing it.

My new book Curse of the Furies is a modern take on mythology about a daughter of one of the Furies trying to save her cursed father. It comes out Aug 31st. 

I love the sound of publishing a book with your son, what a special experience and something he can keep and always remember. Gosh, I’m tearing up just thinking about it – crazy motherhood hormones! So, where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings?

Everywhere! In my latest book, I had the Greek gods causing trouble in a town similar to the one I live in. So, there are a lot of familiar places. 

I love using settings I know, it feels so much richer when I’m writing (and reading) them. Even if it’s just as inspiration for a fantasy setting. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Plantser. I’m not good at outlining. I like to have a general idea of where I’m going and just start writing. 

I’m a plotter-leaning-plantser. I need a good, strong outline, but I also like to have room to be surprised every now and then. What are you working on right now?

I’m working on editing book 2 of the Furious Legacy series. I’m hoping to release that one later this year. 

That’s so exciting! Good luck with your upcoming release! It’s be so lovely to chat with you and find out more about your books. Before you go, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Read a lot in a variety of genres. Write. There is no training or book or webinar that will take the place of just writing. Figure it out as you go and don’t demand perfection of yourself. Perfection is the death of creativity. Just write. 

Fantastic advice. Writing is the most important thing a writer can do. My mantra as I edited my debut novel was “Done is better than perfect”. How can we find out more about you and your books? 

Meadoe’s Website

Sign up to Meadoe’s Newsletter and get a free short story

Follow Meadoe on Instagram

Like Meadoe’s Facebook page

Preorder Curse of the Furies


I haven’t read many Greek mythology retellings (aside from Percy Jackson, of course), but I think that’s about to change! How good do Ariadne’s Crown and Curse of the Furies sound? They’re going straight on my TBR.

Lyndsey

x

Interview: fantasy and myth-obsessed author Ben Lang

It’s been a good week in the Hall household, me and my husband both got our first dose of the vaccine! And we’ve seen a few friends and been for a couple of meals out, so it’s safe to say life is starting to return to normal, and it feels really nice.

This week I’ve been chatting with another fellow Brit, and a local boy at that – the myth-obsessed fantasy author Ben Lang.


Hi Ben! I’m so excited to chat to a fellow Notts-based author! Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I am from London, but my family moved around while I was growing up so I spent a few years living in Beijing and a couple in Singapore. I live with a hamster called Zarniwoop (after the Hitchhiker’s guide character), and a human called Megan (name origin unknown). 

I traveled to Singapore a few years ago and absolutely adored it! I’m so jealous you got to live there for a while. When did you start writing and who inspired or encouraged you? 

I started having ideas for stories very young. My parents strongly encouraged it, especially my mum who helped me write many of them. Alice Ivinya and I have been friends for years and showed one another a lot of our early stuff. I was inspired by her example of getting some of her wonderful stories published, and she gave me the first encouragement to get something to a state to show people.

Alice is such a wonderful supporter and mentor, you’re so lucky to have her as a friend. And your parents sound so encouraging! What are your favourite books?

My favourite genres are science fiction and fantasy. My favourite book at the moment is probably Hyperion (Dan Simmons), but I have a wide range of things I really like. Growing up The Hobbit was my favourite for years, along with some Narnia. The Tombs of Atuan is probably my favourite short story.

I love The Chronicles of Narnia, and I need to read The Hobbit one of these days! Tell us about your upcoming release.

My first published story will be The Bridge, a short story appearing in a collection called Enchanted Waters. The story opens with a chance encounter between an elephant-riding preacher and a lonely young woman. The “vibe” is vaguely South-east Asian, although I cheated a little with one character who would be more at home in Camelot. I didn’t realise until more than a year after the story was finished, but it has a lot of elements in common with the Monkey King adventure involving the Golden Rays monastery.

That sounds fascinating, I’d love to read more fantasy stories set in or inspired by South East Asia. Where do you tend to find inspiration for your stories?

Obviously other books can be a good inspiration. Strangely I find the stories people tell at a dinner-table can be a good seed. These are often based on something strange that someone thinks is noteworthy. They are real, and therefore usually quite devoid of tropes and standard structures, but they are polished a little by the speaker. Really good seeds.

That’s genius! Like people watching on a much closer scale. Would you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Had to look these up! Certainly a pantser. When I sat down to write The Bridge I knew nothing about what was going to happen except that I wanted an elephant and that my first line was “They met at the edge of the river”. I didn’t know who either of the “they” were until I got to the next line. This worked out well for The Bridge and I think the “making it up as you go” technique has the nice side effect of making it feel like a spoken story.

Winging it this way was a bit of a revelation as everything else I had tried previously was more planned, and a lot worse. I have tried the “know nothing” tactic a few more times and learned it doesn’t always work out as well, although its generally better than planning for me. Recent attempts have been a hybrid.

I find a hybrid to be the best way for me too, I do love to plot and plan but I also leave room for a bit of discovery writing along the way. What are you working on right now?

I have half a short-story about a tortoise which is looking for a second act. I also have one about some cowboys that kind of spirals into nowhere because winging it didn’t pan out – I would like to fix it at some point although maybe it belongs on the dead heap.

Never delete anything! You never know when a scene or snippet from an old trashed story will be the perfect addition to your new WIP. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Try writing a short story with no plan.

I had been revising my fantasy novel for years and it was by that point built on foundations laid when I was a decade less able. It was overburdened with stuff, was never actually going to be finished and was certainly never going to tie together. Plus, whenever I sat down to work on it I knew where things had to go, but somehow characters would say and do things I hadn’t planned and I had to either abandon the plan or not use the new text.

Writing something short gives you more freedom from plans and a better chance of finishing it. Once you have one finished thing you can show people and that adds momentum to write another.

That’s great advice, free writing can be so good for creativity, and I’ve definitely found writing short stories to be a totally different challenge to novel writing.

Thank you so much for speaking to me today, Ben, it’s been so much fun! How can we find out more about you and your books? 

Check out my Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ben-Lang/e/B08RXHZPSH?ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vu00_tkin_p1_i5


Ben’s story The Bridge will be included in Enchanted Waters alongside my short story Daughter of the Selkie King, coming out 16 July. Another one of Ben’s brilliant short stories, A Junk Out of Cinderbar, is going to members of the EW street team as a thank you for joining and agreeing to support our anthology with reviews and social media posts. Interested in joining?

Click here to join the Enchanted Waters street team!

Lyndsey

x

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Welcome back to my blog, readers and writers!

Before we get to today’s review, I have some exciting news! I’m over halfway through draft two of my WIP The Fair Queen, and thought now would be a good time to share another excerpt (you may have read the first draft of my prologue when I shared it a few months ago).

So, now I’m sharing the first three chapters of The Fair Queen with you all! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it, email me, tweet me, or leave a comment on here.

All you have to do to get your chapters is sign up with your email address and you’ll receive a link to download them, and if you’re already subscribed there’ll be a link in every email so you can download and read them at your leisure!

Head over to my Books page to sign up by email and get your chapters!

Right, on with the review!

 

The Raven Boys

5 stars

Let me start by saying that I am years behind, the final book in this series was published in 2016, and The Raven Cycle has been on my TBR for ages, but until I read The Scorpio Races recently and remembered how much I loved Maggie Stiefvater, it had languished at the bottom of the list. (I am ashamed. Too many books, too little time.)

Most of the book bloggers and readers I follow online absolutely adore this series, although some weren’t happy with the ending (I’ve only read the first book so far, so I can’t spoil that for you!). I heard that Maggie is writing a companion series about Ronan, so I’ll be looking forward to that when I finish. I’m going to try and avoid spoilers as much as possible – I’m desperate for some fan art, but Tumblr is a minefield!

Synopsis

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is set in Henrietta, Virginia, a small town on a ley line, where psychics are real and magic exists. Gansey is searching for a dead Welsh king, and Blue is trying to avoid kissing any boys because her psychic mother and aunts have warned her that kissing her true love will result in his death.

“Impossibly, Blue realised that this other Blue was crying because she loved Gansey. And that the reason Gansey touched her like that, his fingers so careful with her, was because he knew that her kiss could kill him.”

Unlike her mother, Blue doesn’t have the Sight, but on St Mark’s day, she sees a spirit. The spirits that walk the corpse road on St Mark’s day are the people of the town that will die in the next twelve months. Mostly the sick and elderly. But this spirit is a young man, and for Blue to have seen him must mean that he is either her true love, or she is going to kill him. Or both.

The eponymous Raven Boys consist of:

  • Richard Gansey III, or just “Gansey” – a tortured soul in a Trust fund kid’s body.

“Gansey was just a guy with a lot of stuff and a hole inside him that chewed away more of his heart every year.”

  • Ronan Lynch – an angry, dark-humoured ruffian who drinks, swears and offends people. A lot.

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”

  • Adam Parrish – a sweet, intelligent boy who works three jobs to pay for school and wants to make his own way in life.

“The most important thing to Adam Parrish, though, had always been free will, the ability to be his own master.
This was the important thing.
It had always been the important thing.
This was what it was to be Adam.”

  • Noah – a vague, gentle kid with a warm heart and cold hands.

“Noah appeared beside Blue. He looked joyful and adoring, like a Labrador retriever. Noah had decided almost immediately that he would do anything for Blue, a fact that would’ve needled Adam if it had been anyone other than Noah.”

All but Adam live together in an apartment building owned by Gansey, Monmouth Manufacturing. Adam lives in a double wide trailer with his parents, to his embarrassment, and works several jobs to pay for the half of his school fees that aren’t covered by a scholarship.

The emblem of Aglionby Academy, where the boys go to school, is a raven. Hence the name.

“Aglionby Academy was the number one reason Blue had developed her two rules: One, stay away from boys because they were trouble. And two, stay away from Aglionby boys, because they were bastards.”

The atmosphere of the book is heavy and intense, like a hot summer. For those few weeks in the story, it feels like everything Blue and the Raven Boys do is life-or-death, and it just might be. Stiefvater is brilliant at creating suspense and a sense of urgency, it’s slow-building, picking up speed with each surprise revelation along the way.

The plot, whilst gripping, is almost secondary to the relationships between the characters. I’ve seen the group described as “co-dependent” and that couldn’t be more accurate, I can’t think of another group of teens in a YA novel that need each other quite as much as these do.

“Gansey could’ve had any and all of the friends that he wanted. Instead he had chosen the three of them, three guys who should’ve, for three different reasons, been friendless.”

There are a lot of components to The Raven Boys, but Stiefvater commands them all effortlessly, and it never feels like a single element doesn’t quite fit. Combining Blue’s world of eccentric women, mysterious psychic abilities and strong principles with Gansey’s world of privilege, money and the all-consuming search for Owen Glendower, the lost Welsh king, takes real artistry, and Stiefvater makes it look easy.

I’m giving The Raven Boys 5 stars, it is definitely one of my new favourite books – probably not quite surpassing The Scorpio Races, if only because it’s the first in a series rather than a standalone and so I won’t be satisfied until I’ve read the entire series!

I would liken it to Beautiful Creatures, thematically, which I sadly didn’t finish, but this is definitely the better book!

Have you read The Raven Cycle? Which other books would you liken it to? If not, I can’t recommend it enough, stick it on your TBR or bump it up to the top, and let me know what you think of it!

Lyndsey

x

I am a member of the Book Depository affiliate program, so if you click through and buy any of the books mentioned in this blog I might make a little commission, but I am not paid to review books and all reviews are my own opinions!

divider-grey

Currently reading:

Audiobook

And I Darken by Kiersten White

I’m only about 50 pages into this but I’m enjoying it so far, it’s different to my usual YA reads because Lada starts off as a young girl and grows up throughout the book, so she’s only about 13 right now and already she’s a badass. It’s fascinating learning more about Romania and the Ottomans, and it’s a really interesting adaptation of the Vlad the Impaler/Dracula story.

Paperback

The Shadow Queen by C.J. Redwine

I finally finished my beta reading, so I’m going to dive back into this one because it’s been sitting on my bedside table for weeks now, untouched. I’ve heard there are dragons, so I’ll be picking this back up sharpish!

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater review Lyndsey's Book Blog