Character Interview: Abbi from Deception Peak


A portrait of Abbi by author-artist Dianne Lynn Gardner

Today, I’m pleased to be interviewing Abbi, a character from Dianne Lynn Gardner’s epic series, The Ian’s Realm Saga.  The first book in the series, Deception Peak, has just been re-released by Rara Avis and is now available from Amazon and other retailers.

A little about the book: The first book of the Saga, Deception Peak is a young adult adventure fantasy about a teenager, Ian Wilson, who follows his father through a portal that magically appears on their computer screen. They travel into a deceptively beautiful Realm, where horses run free, the wind sings prophetic melodies, and their computer avatars come to life. But when the two are separated, Ian is abducted by a tribe of dragon worshipers and is forced to find his courage. As he struggles for his freedom and embarks on a perilous search to find his father, Ian meets the true peacekeepers of the Realm. It’s then that he learns there is a greater purpose for being in there. 

Now that you’ve read about the novel, let’s hear from Abbi!

Gwen: Okay, Abbi, here’s my first question: How did you meet Ian? What were your first thoughts upon meeting him?

Abbi: I met Ian in my freshman class. We were in math together and I was amazed at his skills.
He never spoke much, kept to himself, but whenever he was called on he just rattled off the answers like he was some kind of computer or something. Then he’d just act all nonchalant. The boys laughed at him though and I felt sorry for him.
He’s really good looking and he has the sweetest smile.

I could tell the laughing irritated him but he never did anything, not until Johnny Cramer came along when we were sophomores. John was new to the neighborhood but boy he got a following really quick. He’s full of himself, that dude.

Gwen: So what did you think about when you saw the Realm for the first time? Did that change what you’d thought about Ian?

Abbi: Well, it blew me away when I saw those lights and Ian and his dad disappeared. But I didn’t know it was the Realm, you know. I thought something horrific happened to them. But when Ian clammed up about it not only did it raise my curiosity, but it got me mad because I usually can persuade Ian to talk about things he doesn’t tell anyone else. Then when his dad popped in from the portal I was like…WOW! Once Alex started explaining things I was hooked. It bugged me to no end that Ian didn’t want me there. It hurt. I thought I was his friend.

I guess he was just being his normal self though. It takes Ian a while to adjust to things. I knew things would be okay between us when he helped me back on my horse. But the Realm? uh uh. No…not my cup of tea, not with a dragon.

Gwen: Wait–what do you mean, dragons? Dec

Abbi: That was the rumor going around. That little talking man – who was mind blowing enough -mentioned a dragon and I was out of there. Then when I realized Ian and his dad went back in I’m terrified. I’m really worried about them.

I keep checking their house but no one’s been home and the door is locked. The computer is still on, I can see the stars on the screensaver when I look in the window. I don’t know what to do. I’d hate to report them as missing and get the police involved.

Gwen: What are you going to do now? Do you think Ian and his dad will return?

Abbi: All I can do is hope. That’s it. I’ve been checking their mail. I suppose at some point I’ll have to tell someone. I’m going to give it another week. If there’s no sign of either of them by then, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll tell mom and dad…I’m scared for them and I miss Ian, I reallly do. I hope he’s okay.

Want to find out how Abbi’s story ends?  What happens to Ian and his father in the Realm?  Check out the links below to find out more!

Visit Dianne Lynn Gardner @ Facebook

@ Twitter

@ the series blog

Enter an awesome giveaway for the series here!



Character Interview: Autumn Augustus of Heaven’s Fate

Today I’m pleased to be interviewing Autumn Augustus, a character from Andre Alan’s epic adventure, Heaven’s Fate.

A little about the novel:  

Thame Elliot, an expert Rietsu martial artist, is consumed with thoughts of avenging his father’s death and rebuilding the legendary Tundra Sword. Little does Thame know that his aunt, the first empress of the human continent, Eioda, Autumn Augustus, has set the nation on a course that can only lead to war with the Orcs. The mystical inhabitants on the planet, Threa have been plunged into a struggle for the ancient artifacts buried in the mysterious, Consummate of the Trust. Not only that but his aunt is hell bent on marrying him to a corrupt military admirals daughter while Thame’s spiritual guardian, Masaya from the Astral Plane tries to manipulate him in order to keep the heavens from falling apart. The fate of mankind rest in Thame’s young hands but does he even want the responsibility that goes along with being the chosen one? Or will Thame’s spiritual twin, imbued with dark powers granted by the evil one, assassinate him before he can fulfill his destiny?

Without further ado, I’m happy to present Autumn Augustus!

Gwen:  Tell us a little about yourself, Autumn.   Where have you come from?  What do you want out of life?

Autumn: As you wish, my name is Autumn Clementine Augustus. I am from Las Anglas, Eioda where I served as Rear Admiral of the Western Fleet before joining Parliament.

What I want is tough to answer since my job for so long has been to take orders. Now as empress, I seem to take orders from the Eioda people. But what I wish for is simple, for my people to prosper and for my family to be happy and healthy.

Gwen:  The novel opens with talk of your brother Alexander being a traitor.  What’s the real story there?

Autumn: Alex was a hero, a patriot, a one of a kind leader. He was betrayed, plain and simple. That day was like a living nightmare. I blame myself though. If I would have done more than he could still be here with his son, Thame.

Gwen:  Your nephew, Thame, refuses your offers of help.  What do you think motivates him?

Autumn: Revenge motivates him. A white hot hatred over losing his parents at such a young age. I believe that he is also angry at himself for not being able to help more I think, but he was so young.

Gwen:  How do you feel about Thame’s behavior?

Autumn: Well I don’t think there is anything too extreme about his behavior. Sure, he can be a bit snarky at times, some may say that he is a little selfish, and a bit of a jerk but he truly does mean well. I blame myself for spoiling him growing up.

Gwen:  If you could change anything about your current situation, what would it be?

Autumn: If I wanted more time, then I would wish to be born in a different age but if I could change one thing, it would be fate. If I could change anything, it would be to have Alex alive. I would change the fact that the Tales of Arcadia have come to incorporate everyone that I care about.

Gwen:  What do you think lies ahead for Thame?

Autumn:  I think that Thame will accomplish all of his hopes and dreams. I think it will be a rough road ahead, full of bumps, ups and downs but overall a great career and a long, happy life.

To check out this novel (and hear more of the characters’ stories), visit Heaven’s Fate at Amazon.

You can find out more about Andre Alan, the author of Heaven’s Fate, at one of these places:

Twitter: @AndreAlanAuthor

Behind the Villain: Ellette of Morning Star

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to interview Desiree Finkbeiner, author of the recently released Morning Star, the first volume in the Ethos series.  Ethos is a great new YA fantasy series that has inspired a lot of conversation between Desiree and I over recent weeks.  Among the things that I find so intriguing about Desiree’s work are the many facets of her characters, particularly the villain Ellette.  Because I had so many questions about the character, I asked Desiree to allow me to “interview” first her villain and then herself to learn more about the concepts behind Morning Star and the world that she has created.

First, I present the interview with Ellette, the fallen warrior of the Ethos series.

Gwen:  Ellette, what is the strongest emotion that drives your actions?

Ellette:  Fairness. Life is cruel and unfair to those who try to do the right thing. I did everything I was told to do; gave up my chance at happiness so that others could be happy, and look where it got me. What’s the point in sacrifice if it carries no reward? The universe is unfair to those who sacrifice, giving the spoils of their labor to schmuck who stands in line behind them with their hands out.

So I’ve taken it upon myself to be the great mediator, the one who makes it fair for everyone. Rather than a select few carrying the weight of the universe on their shoulders, why not force everyone to do their share? No one gets off without contributing to the greater good. Since life will be unfair to everyone, therein lies the fairness. No rich, no poor. Thus, no one will be special and no one will be left behind. I’ve a plan that will be the great equalizer of the people. In my name, all will be fair, unlike the balance of the so-called universe, which is really nothing more than the illusion of fairness.

Gwen:  Creating a fair world, by any definition, is not an easy task and requires making hard decisions.  I imagine that you’ve had to make quite a few in your life.  If there is one thing that you regret, what is it?

Ellette: I regret the time I wasted in the service of others who didn’t appreciate the sacrifice I was giving for them. All the wasted time and life energy I could have used on pursuing my own dreams, wasted on ungrateful souls could who could care less.

Portrait of Ellette by Desiree Finkbeiner.

Gwen:  As you think about all of those that you spent your time on,  was there someone who affected your life profoundly?

Ellette:  Aziza. Her name meant, cherished, beloved. And love her I did, as if she were my own. I met her in Africa while I was on post to watch over the mushroom. Aziza was the daughter of a very rich man, from the tribe of the small village where I traded for supplies. He had six daughters, and she was the fairest, the youngest. Perhaps about four of your human years in age. Never had I met a soul so filled with life and adventure before Aziza. She had given me so much, and filled my heart with love, something I had never experienced before. Because she had given me the gift of trust and friendship, I responded to her love with a gift of my own.

One night, on a full moon, I came to her as the village slept, so she could see me in my true form. I took her for a night fly, soaring high into the sky so she could feel the wind in her face. It was to be our secret, something we shared between us. Each time the full moon came, we did this until her family grew suspicious. She had spoken of my magic to her sisters and made them promise not to tell, but she had broken my trust by breaking her promise to keep it secret.

It broke my heart, so to teach her a lesson about loyalty, I told her I would not be visiting on next full moon. But she came seeking me, snuck out in the night all alone. I told her never to seek me because the land had been plagued with cobras and jackals. She didn’t listen, and it cost her life. Of course, I was blamed for her death and they rounded up a posse of their best warriors to hunt me, calling me the white winged demon.

I was heart broken and I regret ever loving her… had I not loved her, she’d have grown into a beautiful woman.

Gwen:  A tragic story.  Have you kept anything of her–even something that remains secret?

Ellette: I still have a lock of Aziza’s hair, taken from her corpse, as a reminder why love is dangerous.

After hearing Ellette’s story, I asked Desiree to expound upon what her creation was like from an author’s perspective.

Illustration from the forthcoming print edition of Ethos: Morning Star.

Gwen:  One of the most difficult challenges a writer faces is creating a great villain. What was your greatest struggle as you developed her character?

Desiree: The hardest thing was looking back into my past at who I was when I was younger. I absolutely loathe who I was from about age 17 to 20, I was a terrible person and made some poor decisions (wrote a book about it in high school but deleted the file later on, now I wish I could go back and read it). I really do feel that I was a wicked young woman at that time in my life; manipulative, controlling, prideful, stuck-up, attracted to darkness, seduced by the occult and dark arts. I based my villain off of myself. It was a time in my life where I was estranged from God and sought after worldly aspirations. I was spiritually dead to light, lost in a very dark place. But it’s because I have experienced falling and losing my path, that I’m able to craft a dark character from a realistic perspective.

I know Ellette’s demons all too well, for I had created my own hell and it took a miracle (and a lot of prayers) to free me from the prison I had built for myself. And though those experiences are very personal, let’s just say, I’m grateful for those who didn’t give up on me. Ellette is my flipside… So the hardest part was revisiting my past to allow that character to live once more in my fantasy world.

Gwen: Did you find it easy or difficult to relate to the choices that Ellette made?

Desiree: Obviously, I relate completely. I understand heartbreak and what it’s like to desire power over others. I also understand how easy it is to let hatred and bitterness canker the soul. Luckily, I also know what it’s like to embrace light and let forgiveness heal the wounds of past transgression.

Gwen: How do you, as a writer, reconcile yourself to writing “evil” or “dark” characters?

Desiree: Evil is a part of us all. Some of us embrace it, and some of us seek to cast off works of darkness to embrace light. Unfortunately, sometimes life requires embracing darkness before we can appreciate light. One cannot know love and joy without first having passed through loss and sadness. So those two ancient enemies (good and evil) are necessary for us understand the universal question “Why?”. Without evil, there could be no good, and vice versa… so in order for there to be balance in the universe, the two must constantly oppose one another and stand for their cause.

I like to look at it this way. Wherever there is light shining its rays to illuminate an object, there is also a shadow cast by the object where light cannot pass through. In order for something to be completely filled with light, it must first become transparent. But when something is transparent, it no longer has visible form to be considered beautiful by the naked eye. So the shadows cast by light actually create beauty in the world around us. One simply cannot exist without the other. So in order for there to be a hero, there must a villain of equal power to oppose the goodness and light, otherwise, there’d be no adventure… and no point for anything to exist.

Desiree Finkbeiner, author of Ethos: Morning Star

Desiree Finkbeiner attained a bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from Missouri Southern State University (2006) with a heavy background in business, marketing, music and fine art– She was heavily involved in campus affairs and served actively in several committees focusing on campus entertainment and events. She performed with musical acts/bands in rock and electronic genres, released seven studio albums, performed in 11 states and has written hundreds of songs. Her band, Carbon Star, was a finalist for VH1’s “Bands on the Run” reality TV show in 2000. Then she performed with Pointy Teeth until finally leaving the music industry for the quiet life.

Continuing education is a constant adventure for Desiree with topics of interest ranging from civil and corporate law, history, political conspiracy, homeopathic medicine and spiritual healing. She prefers to read non-fiction, especially on topics that educate and broaden her perspectives on controversial issues.

With thousands of completed art works in her archives, most of which appear in private collections worldwide, Desiree hopes to focus more on publishing, marketing and licensing her work so she can leave a legacy behind.

To find her work, visit her author page at Hydra Publications.  Ethos: Morning Star is currently available on Amazon.

Character Interview: Heart of the Hunter by Linda Anne Wulf

Gwen:  Hi, Linda!  As readers may know, your books The Heart Denied and Heart of the Hunter are both Amazon bestsellers (and available in print and e-format at a number of retailers).  Can you tell us a little about the books?

Linda:  Hi, Gwen! Yes, and thanks so much for asking. Both are in the historical romance genre, and were published late 2010 and early 2012 respectively, by Hydra Publications. The main themes in my books are perseverance and redemption, the latter of which comes at great cost to each of the heroes. And without their strong, persevering heroines, these guys might well have crashed and burned.

The Heart Denied is about Thorne Neville, a young lord who rejects all notions of love after the death of his childhood sweetheart. Instead, he plans to live a peaceful life at his ancestral home, Wycliffe Hall, with Gwynneth, the young woman he is contracted to marry–despite the fact he’s never met her AND she wants to be a nun. BIG mistake. The marriage proceeds despite Thorne’s misgivings, and Gwynneth proceeds to make his life anything but peaceful. While struggling to make the marriage work so he doesn’t shame Gwynneth or her family, Thorne finds himself inexplicably drawn to Elaine–a secretive young woman in his household who seems almost too refined to be the servant she is. Meanwhile, Thorne also finds himself fending off the relentless seduction attempts of Gwynneth’s closest friend, the stunning socialite Caroline Sutherland–who unbeknownst to him is secretly in cahoots with his stableman to rob Thorne of his entire fortune. As his carefully constructed life begins disintegrating in a succession of murder, suicide and betrayal, Thorne’s heart begins to open. Only then does he discover the happiness he had despaired of ever finding–and realizes it was right under his nose all along.

Heart of the Hunter is about Fianna Morgan, a young peasant woman forced to serve at Dinsmore Hall, her landlord’s household. There she recognizes his grown son Gareth as the boy who rescued her from a killer in Dinsmore Wood when she was eleven years old, swore her to secrecy, and then disappeared from her life. But Gareth claims he has never met Fianna. Further confusing her, he seems quite concerned for her welfare, but acts cold and distant. Determined to make him acknowledge their past connection, Fianna finally corners him, and learns the truth behind the terrible secret she has kept since that day in Dinsmore Wood–that the killer is a member of Gareth’s family and is living at Dinsmore Hall. Convinced that the killer hasn’t recognized her as the girl he pursued in Dinsmore Wood eight years ago, Fianna forges a secret partnership with Gareth to find the murdered corpses that will convict the killer of his crimes. Forced ever closer together in their search for this evidence, Fianna and Gareth must choose whether to deny or to trust their deepening feelings for one another. But Fianna soon discovers that the killer has indeed recognized her as the girl who ran from him in Dinsmore Wood. Terrified to find she is being stalked again, she also realizes she can’t tell Gareth. This time, she must stand her ground–alone.

Gwen: Now, we’re going to switch things up a little with a bit of a chat with two characters from Heart of the Hunter, Fianna Morgan and her younger sister, Brenna.  Let’s see what the characters have to say about this fantastic story.

Brenna, how would you describe your sister when you first left your home?  How did she change after she began investigating the mysterious events that you both became a part of?

Brenna: Fianna was a little like Mama even then, but more fun, except she was always telling me to mind my tongue. She thinks I talk too much. But she should mind her own tongue, you know. I’ve heard her swear, and I know it’s because her friend Darcy swears, because I’ve spied on them before. Anyway, after our cottage burned and we had to go to Dinsmore Hall, Fianna kept trying to run away to see Darcy, I think because Lord Graham’s son Gareth was so mean to us. And when Mama had to go to Birmingham and leave us at Dinsmore Hall, Fianna started acting like she really was my mother. I did not like that at all.

Gwen:  Fianna, how did having your sister with you affect some of the actions that you took?  Do you think that you would have been more or less daring if you hadn’t had to think of Brenna?

Fianna: Depending on the situation, there were times I should have been more cautious, but stubbornness can make me impulsive–such as the time I escaped my locked chamber and marched around to the front door to confront Gareth and Lady Pembroke, and the time I stole the pistol from the armory–and then later, when I decided to brave Dinsmore Wood alone to search for bodies. I nearly paid for that foolishness with my life, and Gareth’s, too. But there were other times that, had it not been for my concern for Brenna’s safety, I might have escaped Dinsmore Hall altogether. I should thank her, because if I had managed to get away, Gareth and I would never have found the evidence we sought and begun the life we have now. I would probably have married my friend Darcy instead, though it wasn’t at all what I wanted.

Gwen:  When did each of you start to realize that all wasn’t right at Dinsmore Hall?

Fianna: I first became suspicious when I saw, through my bedchamber window at night, a light moving through Dinsmore Wood. My suspicion grew when I snuck outdoors for a midnight walk and saw a horse and rider come tearing down the drive in the moonlight.

Brenna: I saw someone standing behind the suit of armor on our first night at Dinsmore Hall, but Mama and Fianna said I was imagining things as usual. But I knew something was awfully wrong when I was alone in our bedchamber and saw a hand reach out and close the cupboard door–from the inside of the cupboard! No one believed me, and that only made it more terribly and wretchedly frightful.

Gwen:  Brenna, when did you start to think that your sister was first attracted to Gareth?

Brenna:  When she wanted to freeze her tail feathers off riding with him in the forest–even though we were going to have hot cider and biscuits in the schoolroom!

Gwen:  Fianna, do you agree with her?  Or did it take you longer to realize?

Fianna: Neither Mama nor Brenna ever knew, but I had been looking for Gareth Graham for eight years. I knew at the age of eleven that I wanted to marry him someday, but I had no idea what his name was or where he lived. I only knew that he was a kind, handsome, older boy and that he had just saved me from a man who would have killed and buried me in Dinsmore Wood. Eight years later, when Mama, Brenna and I went to serve at Dinsmore Hall and I realized that Gareth was that boy, grown, I was utterly dismayed. How could a nobleman’s son marry me, even if he wanted to? Nor could I understand what had changed him so–or why he refused to acknowledge ever having met me. Well, I learned why when I cornered him, and at that point, love and terror became my daily existence at Dinsmore Hall. If it weren’t for Gareth and the way he looked out for us, I would have taken Brenna away from Dinsmore Hall the very night after my mother disappeared. But I would have had to take her through Dinsmore Wood to do it. And I know now it could have gotten both of us killed.

Gwen:  What adventures await the two of you?

Fianna: Gareth and I have exciting plans for his private estate. Suffice to say the place will soon be overrun by boys, to whom I’ll be both mother and teacher.

Brenna: I shall marry Eggy when I am sixteen and travel the continent with our eight children. I shall have at least fifty gowns, and we shall have houses in London, Paris, and Madrid. And maybe Spain.

To meet Linda in person, check out the Annual Authors’ Fair this weekend at That Book Place in Madison, Indiana!  She’ll be there along with a number of other fantastic authors.  

The Heart Denied is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s while Heart of the Hunter was just released in paperback!  For more information or to order, visit the Hydra Publications website.