Blog Tour: Becoming the Chateran {Interview + Giveaway!}

I'm sure that none of you, my lovely readers, could forget my friend Stacia. At least, not after last weekend. Yes, I am referring to Stacia Joy Aisling, the girl who conjured up a tattooed boy on a motorcycle and ruined my life. Well, for whatever harebrained reason, I invited her back. But not the adorable jerk! No, he was not invited. Not today. Anyway, I'll let her take over now... *cries softly in the corner*

Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.

Wanting to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator.

When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children's ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey. Find her on FacebookTwitterTumblrWattpadDeviantArt, and her own blog.

Becoming the Chateran is a fantasy novel, the first book of The Chateran Series, and a good fit for teen through young adult readers. I am a Christian, and Life Sentence/Aniko Press is a Christian-run and owned publishing house/imprint, but both my publisher and I do not consider Becoming the Chateran Christian fiction. There are over 40 visuals/illustrations I created for Becoming the Chateran, including all borders, maps, etc, and I was also the one who designed the cover!

When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in serving their sentence:
Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.

Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom of Gemworthy oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.

When will Becoming the Chateran be available for purchase, and where can I get it?
Becoming the Chateran will be available this December as an ebook and a paperback, and you can buy it via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and the website of my publisher, Life Sentence/Aniko Press. In fact, you can preorder your own paperback copy now from the latter location - preordering it will up your chances of getting it in time for Christmas!

Where did you find inspiration to write Becoming the Chateran?
Years ago while studying medieval history in school, a friend of mine and I pretended we were knightesses (prince/princess, knight/knightess, right?). I was Rhea, and my friend was Hiylienea. We had so much fun with our fantastical adventures that I decided to write everything down so we could remember it all, and so doing created the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has expanded and matured a lot since then, but all the major elements and characters of the original make-believe are still there.

Any hints as to what awaits in the rest of The Chateran Series?
Most of the characters from Becoming the Chateran will reappear throughout the rest of the series, as well as many new ones. I'm personally really excited for this second book of the series to come out, as it will tie up a several loose ends/foreshadowed events from Becoming the Chateran… as well as introducing new conundrums to tease you with. This second book features a shy minstrel girl, an awkward archer, a talking White Stag, revengeful Sídhe, enchained jewelry, and a civil war.

The Chateran Series is medieval fantasy. Have you been doing much research for writing it?
For the past seven years and counting I have lived half in this world, and half in that of this series. I've been walking around with a notebook all but attached to me, stuffed with notes about food, geography, clothing, character sketches, scene descriptions, and snatches of poetry and ballads. Tailoring myself costumes based off those my characters wear was one of the most amusing and insightful things I did, as I'd dress up in full rig to act scenes out in my back yard or parks before I wrote them, to make the action and descriptions as accurate as possible. I also tried my hand at archery and horseback riding, proudly became the owner of several encyclopedias on world costume and armor, and studied heraldry and the cultures of multiple medieval cultures. My father is a research scientist. I think it rubbed off on me.

Do you have any tips for fellow writers on staying focused on a story?
To me, staying driven to write a book depends on finding the happy medium between planning out what will happen and what the characters are like so you start out with good solid ground under you, and leaving enough out so that even you, the writer, is chaffing at the bit to find out what happens next.
Also, I feel too many writers start out by trying to write what they don't know about, and their lack of knowledge and interest is crippling. But do more than simply write what you know. Write what you are passionate about – readers are smart people, and they'll notice the conviction ringing through your story, and it will touch them as only fervent honesty can. And as a side perk, you're more likely to actually WANT to write, as it will be something you feel/believe strongly about. This automatically makes the whole process a lot easier.

Do you base events or people in your books off of your life, or your friends' and family's lives? 
If you ever meet me in person, I'll probably warn you that you have the right to remain silent, as anything you say and do will be used in a book. Not only do many people I meet end up inspiring characters, but much of my personal life strongly affects my writing. For several years during middle and high school, writing was my coping mechanism, and still, when confused, angry, elated, or heartbroken, I have to use words on paper to aptly express myself. And in doing so, I've found I can connect with and encourage others on a much deeper level. This is actually one of my biggest motivators - by telling the truth about my life experiences through the lives of my characters, in some small way I can help my readers understand, cope with, and enjoy similar events/emotions of their own.

Who is your favorite character in this book?
That's not fair. I must say I really, really enjoyed writing the scenes that include the portly tradesman Borboe, prankster Julen Priolee, or Quavarelle the Deer-Satyr, though.

What was your favorite book or author as a teen? What’s your favorite now?
I was practically raised on C. S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia and a veritable army of picture books, and my list of favorite authors is broad, but currently I’m really enjoying the work of Garth Stein, Rick Riordan, and Shannon Hale.

Can you tell us anything about the publishing process? Was there anything in particular that surprised you or that was easier (or harder) than you expected?
Aniko Press was the first publisher I sent the manuscript of Becoming the Chateran to, and I expected to get little more than constructive feedback on it in reply, so the fact that they accepted it for publication was a pleasant shock in and of itself! What I found hardest about the publishing process, however, was the deadlines. Trying to complete 40+ illustrations and visuals, as well as a designing a cover and okaying manuscript edits on time while attending college was quite a challenge. Coffee was my life support for a few months there.

Come back tomorrow for a sneak peek into chapter 27, and one of the 40+ illustrations by Stacia Joy herself!

Finally... the giveaway!

Stop by to enter!

Don't forget to stop by to check out the other stops on today's tour!


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