Saturday, 7 September 2013
Author Interview & Giveaway: Shadows of Valor by Elsie Park
Growing up in a small mountain town outside of Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A., I enjoyed playing soccer, playing piano, reading, writing, art and spending time with family and friends. Years ago I spent 18 months in Italy teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing the castles and old Roman cities only added to my fascination for ancient and medieval culture. In college I studied zoology, botany and criminal justice. I’ve worked as a wildland firefighter, security guard and a police officer, but I am currently a stay-at-home mom, spending time with my children and husband. I love thinking up new ideas for interesting stories and musical compositions to go with them.
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Do you plan everything or just let the story flow?
With my first draft of SHADOWS OF VALOR, I tried to just let the story flow, but it ended up disorganized, confusing, and having so many holes in the plot that it resembled Swiss cheese. I soon discovered that I can’t write this way. I now have to plan everything out to keep the story, plot, and characters in line.
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
*laugh* No, I’m pretty structured with my characters. Meticulous is a good word. As mentioned in the answer above, I plan and plot everything out, so I know exactly what they’ll do and say in any given scene.
What is your favourite food?
Ham and pineapple pizza, A&W root beer and a large slice of cheesecake with cherries on top. Anything chocolate is great too *smile*!
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
A night owl all the way! I love to stay up late with my family and friends and then sleep in the next day, but now that my girls are back in school, I have to get up early to drive them – eesh!
Where do you dream of traveling to and why?
I’d actually love to travel to England and Scotland. Many of my ancestors came from there, but it’s also where I’ve set my story. I’ve only been able to study England from history books, internet, maps, travel shows, and from what my parents have shared with me after visiting the country. I’ve never actually been there myself, so it would be an absolute treat to go . . . finances permitting, of course *smile*.
Do distant places feature in your books?
Well, my setting in England is a distant place to me. I mention the Far East at one point in the book, but I don’t actually venture into that part of the world in this story.
Do you listen to music while writing?
Not usually (I know, I’m boring, right?), but once in a while I get the itch to listen to an instrumental movie soundtrack like The Lord of the Rings,The Hobbit, The Princess Bride, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean,Star Wars or Anne of Green Gables. All great music to write to!
Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
SHADOWS OF VALOR takes place in 1300 A.D. England. The Shadow (aka Sir Calan), a knight-spy working under the direction of King Edward I, hunts down and arrests smugglers who defy the law and evade paying their taxes. The Shadow’s duty is fueled by vengeance from a childhood experience against smugglers. Dealing with society at its worst, The Shadow becomes cynical and struggles to rein in his desire to execute lethal justice before turning the perpetrators over to local authorities. He feels his soul turning black with hate in his continual fight against evil. A childhood acquaintance, Lady Elsbeth, who has a story of her own, enters his life years later, bringing light to his soul once again, but in an effort to keep his identity and duty secret, he must also deceive her. This creates distrust and uncertainty between them, as she accepts another man as her suitor. Smugglers infiltrate the area and The Shadow must discover who they are before Elsbeth and others are hurt or killed.
SHADOWS OF VALOR releases September 7, 2013.
What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Oh wow, I’ve learned that no matter how much I learn, there’s always something more to learn - LOL. I’ve learned to not overuse “like,” “-ly” verbs, and to “show and not tell.” About publishing: I’ve learned that upon signing the publishing contract, an author has lots of work to do afterards: More rounds of edits, creating a social media and marketing presence through blogging, Facebook, Twitter, and other avenues. Authors stay busy responding to fans who, in many instances, become good friends. Don’t ignore the fans. They’ll carry your book to heights never thought possible. Fans ROCK!
Who, or what, if anything has influenced your writing?
I’m inspired by wonderful movies, great books and my own imagination. When I watch or read neat stories, I sometimes think of alternate endings or outcomes to particular scenes and *bam* there’s an idea for a whole other story. Some stories that have influenced my writing are:
IVANHOE by Sir Walter Scott. I love the way he wrote his dialogues in old English. IVANHOE is full of intrigue, jousts, sword fights, robbers, deception, and daring rescues.
I adore the love-hate relationship between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in Jane Austen’s PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. I had those scenes in mind when I wrote some of my “discussions” between my two main characters, Sir Calan and Elsbeth.
THE SCARLET PIMERNEL by Emmuska Orczy is the perfect example of a hero harboring a dual identity and having to keep it secret even from the one he loves. A great inspiration for Sir Calan in SHADOWS OF VALOR.
And I am a HUGE Tolkien fan. I love THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT. These awesome high-fantasy adventures are an inspiration to all writers and readers of imaginative worlds and diverse characters. Tolkien added poems to his stories, inspiring me to pen my own for SHADOWS OF VALOR and go so far as composing the music for them too. At least one of the songs, in sheet music form, will appear as an addendum in SHADOWS OF VALOR, and all the music can be found on my blog www.elsiepark.blogspot.com under the page entitled “S of V Piano Sheet Music.”
Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Don’t tell yourself that the idea of writing a novel is too daunting to even begin. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Just start out by jotting down a few ideas, and then a tentative plot . . . or vice versa. Make an outline of what you want to occur in your story. Write one short scene, and then add to it. Little by little, the story will grow and shape itself. Listen to seasoned writers. Don’t get upset over harsh critiques, but learn from them. Attend writer’s conferences and grammar classes. Learn all you can. Study your favorite books and see how they do dialogues, characterization, settings, scenes. Never stop learning as you create your stories.
What are three words that describe you?
“Social,” and “happy,” but somewhat “self-conscious”
Blurb of your work in progress (WIP).
I’m currently working on another story that takes place several years after SHADOWS OF VALOR. I’ve taken a minor character from SHADOWS OF VALOR and have weaved a story around him. The story takes place in England again, but ventures into Scotland as well, drawing on the historical happenings and battles that took place between the countries at that time. You don’t need to read SHADOWS OF VALOR to read my next book. Though they share a common character, it’s not a sequel. It’s a separate story.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog, Annette! It’s been fun answering these questions. I’m grateful for your kindness in hosting.
Shadows of Valor
by Elsie Park
Available in ebook, hardback and paperback
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Blurring the psychological haze between justice and revenge, Park's debut novel brings new meaning to the Dark Knight.
On the surface, Graywall is content and booming. Lord Shaufton, who presides over the city, is a fine ruler. The poor are well-cared for, the area is popular, and morale is high—but within Graywall’s roots, something dark is stirring. This darkness threatens to overpower the once-peaceful town, until a mysterious figure appears: The Shadow.
As much a figure of fear to the unruly as legend to the innocent, The Shadow is an enforcer of justice and aid to the King. Due to an outrageous export tax set by King Edward, smuggling has tainted the kingdom, so The Shadow is sent to hunt the smugglers down. Contrary to legend, The Shadow is simply a man known as Sir Calan who, although talented and just, struggles to keep his dark thoughts of revenge from becoming ruthless action.
Due to sheer coincidence, The Shadow learns of a deadly plot against Lord Shaufton on a journey to Graywall. Now, he must enter a pseudo courtship with Lord Shaufton’s daughter under his original guise of Sir Calan, all while old emotions are stirred by the lovely Elsbeth, Lord Shaufton’s niece. Elsbeth, it seems, is the only woman who can heal his troubled soul, but she has a story of her own. What transpires is a glorious tale full of deceit, greed, inner struggles, betrayal, and most of all—love.
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