The Big What-We've-All-Been-Waiting-For

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Let me distract you with marvelous news. The lovely and most writerly Anne Elisabeth Stengl will soon (as in, tomorrow soon) be publishing her fifth book. The title Dragonwitch is enticing enough. The cover certainly does it justice. And the actual literature? Excellent. (But you should decide for yourself.)

This book, the fifth in it's still-continuing series, is of the incredibly unique sort that stands on its own. As in, to read Dragonwitch, you do not have to read the previous books. (But of course you will want to when you're finished Dragonwitch, if not before.)

And today, I not only have an exclusive interview with the authoress, but a little surprise at the end of the post.

1. Hello Anne! It's a pleasure to have you here on my blog. Having read all of your published books, I found Starflower to be my favorite to read, but writing a book and reading it are two different things, as we all know. Which Tales of Goldstone Wood book was your favorite to write?
Hmmm . . . my favorite is usually the one I’ve just finished. So in this case, that would mean my Super-Secret project, which I’ll be announcing in another two months!
Starflower and Dragonwitch were also particularly satisfying to write, since they are both stories I have been planning since I was a teenager. All the other stories in the series, so far, have been more recent ideas, but it was great fun to dip back into some of the original plans for this world and find out what they were truly made of!

2. Did Dragonwitch seem to naturally need writing after the other books, or was it something you knew was important to the story, and therefore put yourself to writing?
Dragonwitch has always been a vital part of the series. It has been heavily foreshadowed since Veiled Rose¸ and loosely foreshadowed even since Heartless. Because, as stated above, it was a story in my head long before any of the first three novels were conceived, those three were built with the idea that the story of Dragonwitch was part of their past . . . and, in some ways, part of their future.

3. What was your biggest fear when first publishing a book?
Reviews. I despise them. Even positive reviews can be distressing, especially if the reviewer takes one small issue with what they consider to be an otherwise great read. Because I, as the author, will always fixate on that one issue and go round and round and round in my head, wondering whether or not I was right to write the story the way I did. And negative reviews are utterly devastating. I really shouldn’t read any reviews at all . . . but after all the work that goes into each of these stories, it’s pretty hard to resist sometimes, especially with a new work!

4. I've heard the whisper that there are to be around 15 books in the completed Tales of Goldstone Wood series - was that your original plan from the start of Heartless?
The original plan was around 12. It’s definitely grown. I get at least one new idea with each novel I write, sometimes more. And, when the Super-Secret project is revealed, my readers will see that 15 books is no longer very likely either! This is a big, broad world to explore. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out to be something like my own version of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Disc World (and yes, I own all thirty-plus of his series!)

5. Do you have any other book ideas for when you have completed the Tales of Goldstone Wood books?
If I should ever complete the Tales of Goldstone Wood, I will think about that . . . :)

6. When did you start writing/plotting Dragonwitch?
Well, the first ideas came to me when I was seventeen. This incarnation of it, however, I didn’t start until 2011. It’s my usual practice to make a few notes about any idea, then let it sit without touching it until I am truly ready to write it. So Dragonwitch brewed for quite a number of years before the specific plotting began.

7. At what time of day do you most often write?
I am definitely a morning person. If I can start writing at 8 or even before, I usually produce my best work. I like to write on the manuscript from 8 to 12, take an hour for lunch and clean-up around the house, then spend the rest of my afternoon on marketing and promotion (such as interviews!). I used to write in the evenings too, but I rarely do so anymore. Once in a while . . .

And, of course, if the story is going really well, I’ll write straight through the day with hardly a pause. I’ve written from 8-5 before, with only a banana and tea to sustain me . . . and when my husband comes home, it’s all I can do to keep my eyes open and pretend that I’m paying attention to his concerned scolding! But it’s worth it. ☺

8. Are there any specific works of literature or periods in history that inspired your book series? 
Too many to offer a complete list, but I’ll name a few. In Dragonwitch, you will find nods to George MacDonald, Shakespeare, Browning, Terry Pratchett, Shelley, etc. A number of Victorian poets, you’ll notice . . . they’re all such romantics, and they suit my fancy! And Shakespeare’s just delightful!

9. What one (or two) little random things always seem to accompany you when writing?
Well, at the moment, I have a Magrat-Fat-Cat in my lap, intermittently grooming my arms and her paws . . . and snarling at any other kitty who dares approach. (She likes to fancy herself the only cat, which is difficult in a household of five.) Notebooks and pens, since I often turn to writing by hand if I find I’m hitting a wall. Plenty of tea! In mugs, of course.
And, most importantly, my writing sweater. I get cold easily. I recently had to replace my former sweater, which was affectionately known as “Yuck Sweater” due to its incredibly unattractive color. But it was comfy, and it did the trick! And it was also made of angora yarn . . . which doesn’t do well in the wash . . . which my darling, helpful husband didn’t know . . .
Yuck Sweater might now, at a pinch, fit a six-month old.

So my Rohan recently bought me a new sweater, which is a much more appealing color, and about five times too big for me. Perfect!

10. Could we have a sneak peek of Dragonwitch?
Sure thing! How about the moment my hero, Lord Alistair, meets my heroine, Lady Leta . . .

 Excerpt from Dragonwitch

Lady Mintha, sister of Earl Ferox, wrapped her fur-edged robe tightly about herself as she waited to receive the Aiven envoy. The cold morning tipped her features a raw red, but could do nothing to emphasize the chill in the gaze she turned upon her son.
"Alistair!" she cried, smiling to freeze the blood as Alistair, still buckling his cloak, hastened to join her in the inner courtyard of Gaheris. "You've kept us waiting, my darling. I was beginning to think your uncle would be obliged to escort Lady Leta inside himself."
"Forgive me, mother," Alistair said, dropping a kiss on his mother's cheek . . . or rather, on the air just above his mother's cheek. He feared his lips might ice over if he actually touched her. Then he offered a hasty bow to his uncle.
Earl Ferox, though he had been a magnificent man in his prime, trembled like a gutted old tree, still standing, but only just clinging to life. His eyes, once bright with warrior's fire, were filmed over with dullness. He was not an old man; a few years younger than his sister, even. But the wasting disease struck even the mightiest, and neither leech nor herbalist could prolong the span of his days.
He kept living, however. Long after many had thought he would succumb, he continued his labored existence, day after dogged day. He had not yet seen the earls of the North Country offer the crown to House Gaheris. He could not die. Not yet.
He nodded to his nephew and bade him rise. "This is a great day for Gaheris," he said, his voice quavering but determined. "Long have I wished to see the houses of Aiven and Gaheris united in purpose. Today marks the beginning!"
Even as he spoke, he stepped aside. The hunched mass of his body moved to reveal the form of the maiden standing beyond. And Alistair had his first up-close look at his future bride.
Light of Lumé, she was much younger than he’d thought!
Or perhaps, he decided on second glance, she was merely small for her age. And the way she stood, head bowed and eyes downcast, gave her the look of a very young girl rather than the woman he had expected. She wore a white barbet and veil that covered all her hair, decorated by a simple gold thread.
And the eyes she raised to meet his, though gray, reminded him of a fawn's timid gaze. The poor girl was at least as unhappy about this arrangement as Alistair, which was some consolation at least. Alistair offered her what he hoped was a friendly smile.
"Welcome to Gaheris," he said.
She opened her mouth. For a moment she said nothing, and he could see by the look in her eyes that she was trying to think of something clever, something charming. He braced himself. In the end, however, she managed only a weak, "I—I'm pleased to make your acquaintance, Lord Alistair."
He felt his grin sliding away, so he stepped forward swiftly and offered his arm. "You must be cold," he said. "Allow me."
She slid her hand up onto his wrist and walked beside him, her head scarcely coming to his shoulder, and said not a word the rest of the day unless spoken to. There was no doubt in Alistair's mind.
He would never love Lady Leta of Aiven.

Interest peaked? Anne has consented to give away one (1) copy of Dragonwitch to one of y'all, a giveaway exclusive to this blog. (For another chance to win, hop on over to the Goldstone Wood headquarters, where Anne is hosting her own giveaway.)
Enter below:
And don't forget to visit the next stop on the tour!


  1. I want to win Dragonwitch because it sounds like an interesting book!

  2. Great questions! I love seeing everyone's different questions on the tour. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Neat interview, Anne and Bree!

    I'm in awe of how much you can write, Anne! And how cool is it that the "Tales of Goldstone Wood" might be the next "Disc World" series? I'm all for that! ;)

    As for reviews... I'm starting to understand, now that I'm getting my first reviews from early readers for my August release. I'm really not looking forward to the negative ones that will come. :( I want to keep it all in perspective, and I hope it will help that I'm a reviewer myself, but I totally know what you mean about having a hard time not reading reviews after you put so much work into the story! *sigh* I love them because it's a way for readers to communicate with one another, and it's a way for a reader to critically examine a story and grow in their understanding of certain truths and the art of storytelling...but it's also hard to have the work of your heart critically examined. :( It's a good lesson for me, I suppose, as a reviewer! But, from the reviewer's POV, with so many books to read and review, it's not always easy to make everyone happy and keep the author in mind... :\ You've just gotta be honest without being cruel (when your honest opinion is more negative in nature), but also realize that you're just one reader. I've heard it said that reviews are for the readers, and I think that's mostly true. I think they can be helpful and sometimes encouraging to the author, but they also have to be approached so carefully, something I imagine I'll be struggling with!

    Anywho, sorry for rambling! ;)


    1. Agreed, Amber. The other thing to remember about reviews is that they can only be carried out in future books - the author can't go and change things after the book is published! :)

      Thanks for the long comment - those are my favorites. ;)

  4. I would like to win Dragonwitch because I have never read any of Mrs. Stengl's works, and am eager to start. The exerpt peaked my interest. :)

  5. I've been interested in Anne's Tales of Goldstone series for a long while now, but lacked the courage to venture reading it, having my reserves about fantasy stories other than Tolkien's or Lewis' - but I should like to read Dragonwitch and the other books in the series sometime and it has certainly very much piqued my interest - this snippet from the book is so interesting!! I love the idea that it has the potential to becoming such a big series, and also that Dragonwitch was a story inspired from many years before. I have many stories that I long to write, ideas, that I feel will turn into something in the future but aren't ready yet to be penned.
    God bless and wonderful interview, Bree and Anne!

  6. I have read the first four, and definitely want to read this one! They are wonderful books!

  7. so many wonderful words to read, thank you so much for sharing!

  8. I refuse to read any excerpts until I actually have the book - but it's hard to resist!

    I wasn't aware that the Tales of Goldstone Wood was going to be so large. I'll have to buy a new bookcase just for the series, and I really, really don't have room for that. But don't worry: I'm sure I'll reconcile myself to it in time.

    Oh, and I would like to get me a copy of Dragonwitch simply because it is the only one I'm lacking. I seem to have missed the rush for review copies, so now I find myself a little...Dragon...witch...less.

  9. This looks exactly like my kind of book! :)

  10. Why would I love to win? Because I love to read and am trying to get all of the books in this series. I would also love to review it on my blog.

    Wow, had no clue the series was going to be so large! I had kind of thought it would likely be just 6 or 8 books. I'd better get cracking and read the ones currently out so I can be ready to dive into the next ones as they release!

    Jasmine A.

  11. I confess after reading the excerpt I am eager to read the book in its entirety. I have been searching for a good read and I believe this would be the perfect novel for a porch swing and a sweet ice tea. :)


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