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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESA native of Honeoye, New York, Andrew Cratsley lives in North Carolina. Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is his debut novel. Cratsley is a lifelong fan of fantasy books, films, and RPG-style gaming.  A champion of literacy issues and proud supporter of the World Literacy Foundation, Cratsley will donate a portion of the proceeds from Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows to the World Literacy Foundation’s fight against illiteracy.

Twitter: @Mortiscet / www.keeperofrunes.com

https://www.facebook.com/andy.cratsley?fref=ts

Interview

Q: Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows. What was your inspiration for it?

A: I can’t point to specifics, but I would blame a life long obsession with fantasy in the form of movies, books, and RPG’s.

Q: Tell us something interesting about your protagonist.

A: Corinth is a young elf who obsesses with righting the injustices of the world, but like many so young; he must learn himself and the full reality of the world around him. His 3 companions share his depth and face similar transformations throughout the series.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any bumps along the way?

A: The road is treacherous and painful, but is equally rewarding to complete. It’s an exciting journey interrupted by many writer’s blockades.

Q: How do you keep your narrative exciting throughout the creation of a novel?

A: Concise writing and appropriate word choice is what I value most. Adding unnecessary content makes a work read like a weather forecast.

Q: Do you experience anxiety before sitting down to write? If yes, how do you handle it?

A: Not at all. I’m excited and eager to see what my efforts will create. Not all days are fruitful, but the good ones are amazing.

frontcover_444x664Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I’m still figuring all of that out, but the vampire in me releases my creativity after sunset. I don’t why I was born with this internal clock, but it works.

Q: How do you define success?

A: Success is a state of mind, not a list of assets.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers whose spouses or partners don’t support their dreams of becoming an author?

A: Life should be about achieving happiness and our first step is to figure out what is truly important. This is often difficult to figure out, but you should realize your passions and cultivate them.

Q: George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Do you agree?

A: It does take a certain obsession to follow through with such a task. I think something unique drives each of us authors, and the desire to finish what I started is fueling my obsession.

Q:  Anything else you’d like to tell my readers?

A: Thank you for taking the time to get to know me, and of course my work. I hope you enjoy, because the story has only begun!

About the Book

An extraordinary coming-of-age fantasy tale written by a dynamic new voice in the world of fantasy, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows has garnered high advance praise.  Kirkus Reviews notes that Cratsley “believably and authentically develop[s] his characters” and calls the book a “promising debut.”  In a Clarion Review, ForeWord Reviews reports that Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows “has all the color, imagination, and drama one might expect from the genre as well as emotional depth.”  Moreover, the review states that the book’s “fast pace and gaming-style characteristics may appeal to more reluctant readers and inspire future fantasy enthusiasts.”

About Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows:  At 120 years old, Corinth is young by elf standards.  But even as a young elf, Corinth is haunted by his sordid past. When he emerges from his solitude within the eternal forest around Enzlintine, Corinth is sent away to quell the troubled region plagued by Khalid, the Lord of Conquest.  But this will be a journey like no other. Corinth bands together with two curious companions—the human ranger Aventis and the oh-so-spirited Nadine—until the trio is captured by an insidious necromancer, Mortiscet. A vile dark elf who forces the group to help his daughter Rieka find a mysterious object, Mortiscet thrusts the group into increasingly dangerous circumstances. Can Rieka escape the clutches of her wicked and overbearing patriarch?  And what will happen when the group launches towards a frigid wasteland in search of the bane of the evil that stalks them?  On this perilous journey, they’ll have to battle assassins, ominous creatures and the forces of Khalid. Expect the unexpected—because sometimes, the best intentions come from the darkest recesses of the heart…

A splendid and magical tale with a captivating storyline, extraordinary characters and a plot brimming with action, intrigue and adventure, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is a fascinating read that captivates from page one. Resplendent with characters that come to life within the novel’s pages, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows is a beautifully-written, imaginative, and inventive tale.  With its strong central female characters, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows offers a refreshing diversion from fantasy tales that focus largely on male protagonists and male supporting characters.

A mesmerizing work of fantasy geared towards young adults, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows will also appeal to adult readers of fantasy, as well as fans of such fantasy classics such as The Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series.  According to Pacific Book Review, Keepers of Runes and the Tower of Shadows has aspects to entice most any reader, whether lover of fantasy or not…. readers of fantasy will delight in Cratsley’s work.”

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All her life, the archetypal hero and his journey have enthralled Darby Karchut. A native of New Mexico, Darby grew up in a family that venerated books and she spent her childhood devouring one fantasy novel after another. Fascinated by mythologies from around the world, she attended the University of New Mexico, graduating with a degree in anthropology. After moving to Colorado, she then earned a Master’s in education and became a social studies teacher.

Drawing from her extensive knowledge of world cultures, she blends ancient myths with modern urban life to write stories that relate to young teens today.

Darby lives in Colorado with her husband, where she still teaches at a local junior high school. She enjoys running, biking, and skiing the Rocky Mountains in all types of weather. Griffin Rising is her first novel. Visit the author at her website: www.darbykarchut.com.

Your first teen novel, Griffin Rising, blends ancient myths with modern urban life. Please tell us a little about the book.

For centuries, rumors have abounded of a lowly caste of supernatural beings known as the Terrae Angeli. Armed with the power to control Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, these warriors secretly serve as guardians for mortals in danger.

But for one young angel-in-training, Griffin, life is hell as a cruel master makes his apprenticeship a nightmare. On the verge of failing, a new mentor, Basil, enters his life and changes it forever. It is their father-and-son relationship, sometimes turbulent, often hilarious, always affectionate, that is the heart and soul of the story.

Masquerading as the average teen next door, Griffin struggles to learn his trade, navigate the ups and downs of modern life among humans (including falling in love with the girl next door), and prepare for the ancient trial-by-combat every apprentice must pass at sixteen or be forced to become mortal.

How did your fascination with mythology start?

All my life, the archetypal hero and his journey have enthralled me. A native of New Mexico, I grew up in a family that venerated books and I spent my childhood devouring one fantasy novel after another, especially the works of J.R.R Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander. As a teen, Joseph Campbell’s writings made me aware of the power in the great myths from around the world, so I attended the University of New Mexico and graduated with a degree in anthropology.

Why an angel?

One day, in the summer of 2009, I was browsing in my favorite bookstore and discovered a book about legends from the Middle Ages. Obsessed with all things medieval, I thumbed through it and came across a short paragraph that described a lowly caste of guardian angels that were said to control the ancient elements of Earth, Fire, Wind and Water. Not being particularly interested in angels, I put the book back and forgot all about it.

A few days later, while running the trails in the foothills near my home, the idea of writing a story about clandestine warriors-angels, who live among us while training their young apprentices, just roared up behind me and slammed into my head. Like an avalanche, you might say. And thus Griffin, Basil, and all the other Terrae Angeli were born.

Is the book part of a 3-book series? What is the theme of the series as a whole?

The book is the first in a possible 4-book saga. The theme is simply: On the road to adulthood, every hero-figure needs a father-figure. Once in awhile.

What about your protagonist will make readers want to read about him? What qualities make him a hero?

Griffin is the classic flawed hero. Surviving a brutal past causes him to have moments of self-doubt. Except when a mortal is in peril, than his true nature as a guardian angel shines forth. And, although he is one of the good guys, Griffin can be as snarky as the next teenager, especially to his mentor and surrogate father, Basil.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Since I had never written anything before, I had no idea what I was doing. I was beyond clueless. So I simply wrote the first draft of the book, then went back and studied everything I could about writing. Each time I learned something new, I went back and re-wrote the book. I must have written over twenty drafts before I began submitting it to various agents and publishers. I also read three to four YA novels a week. The more I read, the better I wrote.

How do you balance your teaching job with writing? Do you have a writing schedule? I’ve trained myself to write whenever I have a fifteen-minute block of time: lunch break, after school, evenings, and weekends. It does take discipline, but I love writing, so it’s more like play to me. And I never watch TV. Or cook.

I heard you love the revision process. What about it do you enjoy so much? Most writers find it tedious.  OMGosh, I would STILL be revising Griffin Rising if I could. I live to tweak. I find the more I polish a piece of writing, the better it gets. Without exception. For me, the first draft is the hardest part – it’s excruciatingly painful. Even with a strong outline, I have to wrench each scene out of my head word by word. But then once that draft is finished, I dive in and begin tweaking and polishing, adding and taking away.

How did you find Twilight Times Books? Did they offer a contract for the series based on the first manuscript? I began submitting my manuscript to both agents and publishers in the spring of 2010. Since Twilight Times Book has a sterling reputation and is well respected among small and mid-list book publishers, I sent them a copy of the manuscript in April and kept my fingers crossed. In June, I was offered a contract. Subsequently, I have also signed a contract for the next book in the series, Griffin’s Fire.

How do you market your books? It is a multi-pronged approach. Prior to release, I sent out close to 80 copies to various YA book bloggers, reviewers, and local bookstores as well as networking within the YA book world via my own blog and website. Anything and everything to get a “buzz” going. As the school year begins this coming fall, I will also be doing author visits to various middle and high schools in my area. My publisher also sent advanced readers copies to the well-known book reviews such as Library Journal, Foreword, School Library Journal, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and so on.

I understand you’re working on the sequel, Griffin’s Fire. When will this one be out? The release date is tentatively scheduled for April 2012.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us? I would encourage anyone interested in writing YA books to read extensively in that genre. Best thing you can do as an author is saturate your mind with good writing. There is an old saying: you read and you read and then one day, you throw up a book. Inelegant, but so very true.

Learn the rules of writing, then break them as necessary to make your story better. Everything is about The Story.

Thanks, Darby!

Thank you, Mayra. I had a terrific time visiting with you.

 

 

 

 

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