Fairies and forest fantasy with Blaine D. Arden – plus an e-book giveaway!

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CONTEST NOW CLOSED AND WINNERS ANNOUNCED HERE

Crossposted from kayberrisford.com

I’m thrilled to welcome to the blog – Blaine D. Arden! Blaine was kind enough to answer a few little questions all about her awesome self. Plus, if you leave a comment at the end of this post, you can with any one of her back catalogue of fantasy m/m romance.

Okay, I was a fan of Blaine’s as soon as I saw these lovely covers, and I bet I’m not alone!

Q. Hi, Blaine. Tell us a little about your background and who you are. How long have you been writing?

Hiya *waves* I’m Blaine, a purple haired, forty-something, writer of gay romance with a love of men, music, mystery, magic, fairies, platform shoes and the colours black, purple and red, who sings her way through life.

I was born and raised in Zutphen, the Netherlands, a city I never quite managed to leave, and now am not so sure I want to leave, unless it’s to move to the UK after my husband’s retirement. I spent most of my rather sheltered youth reading, day dreaming, making up stories and acting them out with my Barbies.

Over twenty-two years ago I married a very patient man who’s given me space to grow, is my staunchest supporter, and doesn’t mind me bringing home strangers for sleep-overs. We have two sons and a foster son, aged 17(almost 18), 21, and 19, and a ten year old cairn terrier named Kendra.

I’ve been writing since my early teens, though I’ve been telling myself stories for a lot longer than that. They always helped me sleep. Being a bit of a hoarder, I still have a box or two with stories that I wrote when I was younger—all hand written, of course—including my very first gay fiction.

Q. Many of your stories have fairytale and fantasy themes-I’m desperate to read The Forester. What drew you to the woodland realm?

Magic, I guess. I’ve always been fascinated by magic, and magic does so well in forest surroundings. Also, I tend to shy away from electricity in my stories. I’m not even sure if that’s a conscious decision, but I like the idea of having candles—or glowing crystals—as a source of light, and a nice open fire or stove, and doing the dishes by magic. It’s romantic, basic, but I don’t think it has to be primitive. And that’s where my magic comes in again. I just love the idea of magic being something you use in every day chores, instead of just trying to save damsels in distress.

Q. What is your top source of inspiration?

Good question. My brain, I think. Because no matter what I see, read or hear, it’s my brain that sparks the connection, and swamps me with ideas and images at the drop of just one word. I have a very vivid imagination. J

For example: I participated in the Hurricane Sandy Relief Auction, where a number of authors auctioned off stories for the highest bidder. The moment I read the word dragons when my winner contacted me, an idea immediately came to me. Even though I’m working on a NaNoWriMo project—and I’m editing another project—I found myself penning down information on my three main characters on paper, including their races, what sort of persons they are, etc. It’s like, once the floodgates are open, I can’t close them again.

Q. Tell us about a typical writing day in the life of Blaine Arden.

I have typical days? Do any of us?

Anyway. On weekdays, my husband alarm rings at 06:15, and depending on how warm my bed is and how awake I am, I get up somewhere between that and 07:00. I do laundry, because the washing machine and dryer are the attic right next to our bedroom. When I get downstairs, my husband will have just finished breakfast, and is about to take the dog out for a walk, and I fire up my laptop to check mail, twitter and whatnot. Then I’ll make my omelette and do some cycling on my exercise bike, and I’ll be watching some TV while I’m having breakfast—keeping one eye on my mail and twitter, of course. Not always in that order, and yes… sometimes I forget about breakfast and the cycling, because I can’t tear myself away from twitter.

I tell myself that I want to start work between 09:00 and 09:30, but depending on how focussed I am, it may be later, but I will be working at ten. Upstairs in my office, where my computer is, and I’ll be away from the email and twitter on my laptop. Unless I have an appointment in the morning, then I’ll stay downstairs and work there until I have to go—packing up either e-reader or laptop to take with me. And twice a week I pack everything up and move to ‘t Warnshuus, a local community centre, where I’ll be writing my morning away—and observing people while doing that.

Lunch means watching a TV series, and again, keeping an eye on my mail and twitter. I tend to stretch lunch out a bit, so I’ll be back to work an hour later—again, unless I have an appointment somewhere.

Who cooks depends on mood, who’s more tired and what’s for dinner, but we’ll be having it together with our kids while watching something on TV that we all like, and make fun of while we watch and eat. I know, not the standard dinner conversation, but it works for us.

Evenings, I do whatever I want to. If I had appointments during the day, I’ll be doing some writing, otherwise, I’ll be twittering, chatting or just plain browsing. Except on Mondays, because I have choir practice then.

Jeez, my life sounds boring…

Q. Any WIPs that you’d care to tell us about?

Like any author, I have a couple of those ;)

– I’m working on The Forester Two—I know, very lame working title—the sequel to The Forester, which came out last December, that I’m editing so I can send it to my critters. In this second part of the Forester trilogy, a boy is kidnapped, and Kelnaht, Ianys, and Taruif are, still, anxiously awaiting for Taruif’s sentence to be reduced (in a nutshell).

– My NaNoWriMo project is all about faeries and corporate espionage. It’s about Wisc—a faerie visiting his great uncle in a human city called Kirroj. Wisc has always been taught that technology and magic don’t mix, but when a case of mistaken identity garners him the interest of a faerie thief and a security agent, Wisc learns that his magic might be the key to solving the case.

– And then there’s the story I’ll be writing for the winner of my Hurricane Sandy Relief Auction. I’ve only just created the characters for that, and I have a world for them to play in, but I don’t have much more than that, yet. But it will have a dragon called Buttercup.

I have many more ideas, inlcuding The Forester Three, and even a couple of finished first drafts that I can play around with, when I’m done with the ones I mentioned.

Q. Do you believe in fairies?

Yes, though, I’m sad to say, I haven’t seen one yet. Well, except in Lady Cottington’s pressed fairy book. But it isn’t the same, is it?

Maybe not quite ;) But I think your writing day sounds far from dull, and thank you for tellins us about all your exciting forthcoming projects.

Blaine’s books are available at Storm Moon Press, Amazon, and Are

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Please scroll on for an excerpt from The Forester and a selection of titles from Blaine’s back catalogue – any of which you can win by leaving a comment here on this blog!

The Forester – Kelnaht, a cloud elf, is a truth seeker caught between love and faith. Worse, a murder committed ten days before Solstice reveals an illicit affair between two tree elves he desires more than he can admit: Kelnaht’s former lover Ianys, who once betrayed him, and the shunned forester named Taruif, who is not allowed to talk to anyone but The Guide, their spiritual pathfinder. When Taruif turns out to be the only witness for the crime, Kelnaht has to keep Ianys from sacrificing himself and losing his daughter, while at the same time realizing he’d gladly sacrifice himself to end Taruif’s loneliness.

Excerpt: Tired as I was after spending all day scouring the clearing for evidence and examining Cyine’s body, I wasn’t granted any rest yet. Someone knocked on my door just as I finished washing up and changing my clothes. I regretted opening the door as soon as I saw Ianys standing on the other side, but I resisted slamming it closed.

“What do you want?” I asked, not caring how hostile I sounded.

After all this time, Ianys couldn’t even look at me as he stood there, fidgeting with his tunic, eyes lowered to the ground.

Ianys was as gorgeous as he ever was. Brown, short cropped, messy hair, as if he had just risen from sleep, his muscles visible through the tight tunic. He was a tree elf, broad and more muscular than when we had been together, but as a smith that was to be expected; working the bellows was a pretty hefty workout in itself. I pushed down the memory of watching him work when we were together.

In all the turns since he’d left me, betrayed me, he had barely spoken two words to me. Instead, I had to watch from afar how he vowed himself to another, only to lose her to illness after their daughter, Atén, was born. I’d watched how hard he worked at being a good father, how he, finally, became a full-fledged smith. He’d never once approached me, but the hope lingering inside me could never be buried deep enough. How could I still want him? After eight turns, I should know better.

“I don’t have time for this, Ianys. I am tired and I—”

“I need to talk to you.”

“Can’t it wait till morning?”

I had to bite my lip to keep from reacting when he finally looked up. His green eyes, filled with turmoil, drew me in the way they had always done. I loved him once. I shook my head. Who was I kidding? I never stopped.

Holding the door open, I stepped aside to let him in, staying in the small hallway until I managed to compose myself.

“He didn’t do it, Kel.”

Whatever whoever had or hadn’t done was the furthest thing from my mind when Ianys called me by that name. I clenched my fists and turned my back to him, hoping he couldn’t see how it affected me. “You have no right to call me that.”

A long silence followed. I tried to school my features, but I was too drained. Instead, I kept my back to him and waited for him to break the silence. I heard him sigh.

“I heard they accuse him of killing Cyine, but he didn’t do it,” Ianys finally said.

“Who?” What could Ianys know about the murder?

“Taruif.”

I froze. My first instinct was to tell Ianys he shouldn’t be saying the name, shouldn’t even think it, but there was something in Ianys’ voice that made me stop. Something of a memory from long ago, when I didn’t know how Ianys betrayed me, and we lay together in the dark, and he would whisper my name in that same way.

It could not be true. But when I finally turned around and looked at him, it was all too clear in Ianys’ face. The one I loved-had loved-and the one I desired, joined in illicit relations.

I should arrest Ianys, should send him to face the elders and have him punished, shunned, shut out for his digression. But then I pictured Atén looking at me with those same green eyes, and I knew I could not rob her of a father as well.

“He didn’t do it, Kelnaht. He couldn’t have done it, for I—”

I shook my head and held my hand up to stop him. “Don’t tell me, Ianys. I beg of you, do not confess to this… this abomination.”

It hurt me to say it, having the same feelings myself, but if he told me, I could not help him. Being caught talking to the Forester was bad enough, though I had the right to pardon him for that, a first offence. But confessing to laying with a shunned, that would have to be reported to the elders; it was my duty. I would not be able to save him then.

“He saw someone outside, Kelnaht. He didn’t see Cyine, but he noticed someone out in the dark in that clearing.” His eyes begged me to understand, begged me to help him, but I was rooted to the floor.

I knew the Forester—I could not allow myself to think of him by name—knew he hadn’t killed Cyine, even if the evidence was still inconclusive. I had no doubt in my mind, no matter how loud Olden proclaimed him guilty. And here Ianys was, confirming my belief in his innocence and giving me the best and worst witness I could ever have. No matter whether I believed Ianys or not, I could never use this information. The Forester was out of bounds.

“Kel, please, help us. Help him. I could have been out walking when I stumbled across the clearing. You know I don’t always sleep well.”

I bit my lip and clenched my fists. I didn’t want him to bring our history up. I didn’t want him to tell me about the Forester. I wanted him gone, wanted him to go back to his daughter and go back to not being part of my life. But I found myself unable to turn him out.

“You would perjure yourself, would risk losing your daughter?”

“No! No one but you knows the truth.”

I laughed at that, flinching at the harsh sound. “I am the Truth Seeker, Ianys. I seek the truth; I do not bury lies.”

“But I was in the forest.”

“But you didn’t see what he saw. One mistake and you will be shunned, just like him.”

Ianys flinched then. He shook his head. “There has to be a way.”

“Get him to talk to the Guide.”

“Anything the Guide hears during those conversations is confidential. He can’t reveal anything Taruif tells him.”

“Please.” The word left my mouth before I could stop it. I couldn’t handle him speaking that name with such devotion. Not when I ached to be able to myself. “Remember who you are talking to, Ianys. Do not incriminate yourself any further.” I leaned back against the wall, trying to keep upright and closed my eyes. “Go home, Ianys. I need to… I need to think.”

I swatted away the hand touching my cheek and waited until I heard the door close before letting myself slide to the floor.

***

Also by Blaine:

Oren’s Right (in the Carved in Flesh anthology and set in the same universe as The Forester) Veld is an Elf who has known for years that his mute friend Oren is spoken for; the design of scars spanning Oren’s torso reminds him with every look. When Oren’s vowed, Haram, is killed, Veld must not only help to prove his own innocence, but also tread carefully as he discovers Oren’s Right and Haram’s last request.

The Fifth Son – Llyskel is the fifth son of a King, but, unlike his brothers, he doesn’t have a career in politics or the military to look forward to. In a world where everyone possesses magic to some degree or other, Llyskel is powerless, unable to perform even the smallest magic-based tasks. All his life, he’s been under constant guard for his own protection from the magical world around him, much to his annoyance. The only time Llyskel feels free is when he paints, where the only spells he needs are the ones he weaves with brush and paint, capturing moments of beauty and giving them immortality on canvas.
Llyskel harbors a secret wish, though, a dark desire that haunts his nights. Only Ariv, a captain in the King’s army, seems to sense the truth of Llyskel’s needs. The pull he feels to Llyskel is unavoidable, and the passion between them undeniable.
But Ariv isn’t the only one interested in Llyskel. The Queen of a neighboring country expresses her interest in the boy’s talents, but her true intent goes far beyond a love of art. And what she asks may be too high a price for any of them.

Aliens, Smith and Jones – Connor Smith works for Primrose, an organization that makes aliens their business. Noah Jones is a former alien who turned human to survive. The same web of dangers and conspiracies that threatens them somehow manages to bring them closer at the same time.

Okay, I want them all!

If you would like to win your choice of Blaine’s book, please leave your email in the comments, spelling it out to e.g. katy2222@gmail.com would be katy2222 at gmail dot com.

Alternatively, email me at kayberrisford@yahoo.co.uk, with “Blaine Contest” in the title line and you will be entered. No emails will be retained for any other purpose, and the winner will be chosen by random selection software and announced on kayberrisford.com by 1st December.

All commenters will also be entered in a draw to win a copy of my (Kay Berrisford’s) new m/m time travel fantasy, Simon, Sex, and the Solstice Stone and a $15 Loose Id voucher.

Thank you :)

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16 responses

  1. landale at me dot com.

    What beautiful art! I would love to win The Forester, but I’m happy just to learn about some new books that I’m most certainly interested in!

    • thank you :)

      I’m so very blessed with the work Nathie (Forester/Aliens/Carved) and Sylwia (Fifth Son) did. They really brought my characters to life :) (though, technically, Carved wasn’t created for my story solely, since it’s an anthology)

  2. Men, men, and magic is an unbeatable combination! I must get my hands on these, since I love fantasy, thanks!

    brendurbanist AT gmail DOT com

  3. purple hair. haha <3 awesome.
    oh gosh… all those covers are so damn pretty… lol…
    Thanks for the contest! :)

    Judi
    arella3173_loveless@yahoo(dot)com

  4. Great interview! I enjoy seeing through a window into other writers’ dens, how they do their “thing.” Thank you for sharing this!

  5. That is a very lovely cover on your book, and nice interview too :)

    penumbrareads at gmail dot com