This was one of those books that makes you sigh in sadness when it's over, at least for me it was. In Holly Black's The Darkest Part of the Forest, brother and sister, Hazel and Ben, live in a town where the Fae folk and the human world co-exist, if not all together peacefully. And there's one Fae that both Hazel and Ben have long-been telling stories about since they were children—the horned boy who lays asleep in a glass case in the woods. They've told him secrets and wished deeply for him to awake since as long as they can remember. Then one day he does. Subsequently, the darkness of Fae world comes crashing in on their town and the task of saving it lands on Hazel and Ben, both of which have their share of secrets.
Black weaves magic into atmospheric scenes, while creating a wonderful mystery that had me turning page after page. While there was romance in the book, it didn't overtake the story, but it was still delicious. I would have even liked a little more, but I still felt satisfied at the end. Speaking of the end, I think it's probably the writer in me, but I am a huge fan of coming full circle, and Black did just that. It was crafted in such a way that I felt a sense of completeness. While the book stands on its own, I could see her creating another based on the world and characters. I would love it if she did.
I loved Jack, a changeling who has grown up in a human family and is Ben's best friend, and Hazel was a well-written, complex character. The history behind Hazel and Ben's wild days as children roaming Fae-infested woods was well brewed. If you're a fan of YA and stories about fairies, then you should check this book out. Fae lore is threaded throughout the story, lending true mystical darkness to the overall theme.
You can get it on Amazon for $8.99 in Kindle or $8.11 in paperback.
Please welcome author Jayme Beddingfield, a very kick-ass writer. I even used "very" to describe her and it's a non-essential word. *Free Edit tip!
Anyway, we decided to interview each other for a fun blog post, and when she sent me her questions I realized I had to up my game. Please read on to find out what fictional character she'd want to be best friends with, the color she'd choose if the world could only have one hue, and other similar important issues. You can also find out more about her and her writing, so please read on!
What books have you written?
The Highly Capable, which is the first in my new urban fantasy series The Ruby Dawson Saga.
If you could be best friends with a character from a book you’ve read, who would it be? Why?
I would pick Alice Cullen from the Twilight Saga. She was one of my favorite aspects of that series because she was such an awesome friend to Bella. Alice is so fun and enchanting, loyal, and supremely kick-ass.
If a magic genie said he could turn you into any kind of fantasy creature you wished, what would you be? Why?
I love this question so much. It’s hard to pick one, but assuming it would be a permeant transformation, I would have to go with a fairy.
What’s your favorite paranormal ability?
I’m always amazed by the mind which leaves me torn between telekinesis and clairvoyance.
If the world could only be one color, what would you choose?
I think a world that was entirely turquoise would be rather magnificent.
If you could be Buffy, Willow, or Anya, who would you be?
I love this question. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was my one of favorite shows, still holds a spot on the list of shows I’ll always love. I would definitely be Buffy. She’s a totally kick butt, witty and ambitious character.
What are you writing currently?
I am currently finishing up The Immensely Powerful, Book 2 of The Ruby Dawson Saga, and I’m also writing a coming of age young adult book that I’m really excited about.
What books or authors have served as inspirations to your own writing?
There are so many fabulous authors and incredible stories out there, and honestly, I gain so much inspiration from all of it. Everything tends to have a piece of inspiration I can take from it. That being said if I were to call out any one particular, it would be Katherine Patterson’s Bridge to Terabithia because it was the first book I read that truly turned me onto the world of literature, which has become such a big part of my life—sometimes my entire life.
What’s are some must-reads on your to-be-read list for 2016?
This is the year that I’m tackling all of Maggie Stiefvater's titles for sure. I’m currently reading The Dream Thieves, which is the 2nd in The Raven’s Cycle series. It’s crazy good. This year I have a goal of reading 100 books. I haven't made a point to do this since my sophomore year in college.
What is the best movie you’ve seen based on a book?
That’s easy. The Hunger Games Trilogy lent itself extremely well to the big screen. I love those movies, almost as much as the books.
If you found the fountain of youth, would you drink from it and be young forever?
Yes, I think I would. But, knowing myself I would probably bottle it up and think about it for awhile first, make a pro/con list, and then after some sleepless nights, I would drink it and then convince my loved ones to the same.
Where can we find your books? And what are your links?
My blog jaymethescribbler.com is an awesome place to stay update with my releases, events, and creative work. I’m always putting up short stories and various serials.
I was on my way home from my son's little soccer class tonight when we passed a house shining with the soft glow of the season. And lit up on the side of the house was the word "Believe."
Around this time of year belief plays a large role in movies and books—whether it surrounds believing in Santa Clause or faith—and in our interactions with our children as we strive to create one more magical Christmas where it's plausible an Elf sitting on your shelf truly flies or that Santa is truly watching.
My son has a logical little mind, and there's a part of me that thinks this might be his last Christmas believing. He asks questions and points out implausibilities on a regular basis. When asked if he thinks magic exists, he'll usually answer in the negative. But he is buying the Elf on the Shelf bit this year, at least I think he is. There's also the chance he's just playing along with Mommy's madness.
Belief recently played a role in an interaction I had with him at bed time, but this one was a little different than Santa Clause and elves. I was folding laundry while he ran around the upstairs giggling insanely as small children do when he came up to me with a blanket wrapped around his head like a bonnet and said in a high-pitched voice, "Hi, I'm Amy." I laughed and played along, although I had been surprised by his choice of names since I didn't know of anyone with the name Amy that he might know. Of course, there could be someone at school with the name, or maybe he'd heard it on TV, so I shrugged off my wonder.
A little later, after we'd read a story and had laid down to talk for a few moments before I left him for sleep, he said in the same high-pitched voice, "I'm still Amy." So I said, "Can I have [Son's name] back now?"
And his response was the catalyst for the next few minutes when he said, "[Son's name] isn't here right now."
Now, there must be at least a dozen creepy movies where a child is possessed and says something along the lines of what he had said. Of course, I just laughed and told him he was silly. He then turned to the side, whispered something, and turned to look at me announcing he was himself again with a thrilled little grin. But then he continued to turn to his side every minute or so and whisper to his new friend, "Amy." So I asked more about her, and he explained she comes from the mirror, and when I asked if she was invisible, he said, "no, she's like a ghost." He then told me she would come back through other people. Umm, like possession? I thought, feeling my skin crawl as my son wove his tale.
I have to say, that despite my rational nature and my intact skepticism, there's still a part of me that for a split second thought he was possibly talking to a ghost. I mean, I am a writer after all. Our imaginations some times get the better of us. Plus, he'd been talking about the "people in the mirror" since he was three.
Of course, I was home alone and I texted my husband our creepy little conversation, which he found hilarious. The next morning my husband asked my son about "Amy" and once again he started talking in a high-pitched voice. Then my husband took on the moniker of Christine and the two of them pranced around the family room talking like girls. It made for great entertainment while I sipped my coffee and laughed. I of course should have just asked my silly little creative boy if he was playing pretend or if he thought what he was saying was real. Because his answer the next morning was, pretend, of course! Sillier mommy.
Although only four, my son has inspired a story idea or two, something about the People in the Mirror. I feel a Middle-Grade novel in my blood, but it's still brewing alongside the developing mind of my growing son.
I DO believe that magic can exist in even the skeptic, as long as creativity is allowed to grow. So although my son may not believe in Santa Clause next year, or maybe he will, who knows, I know his imagination isn't lacking in magic.
From a reader and observer's standpoint, magic, vampires, angels, and witches have been hot trends and themes since the dawn of Harry Potter and Twilight. In came the era of fantasy and paranormal geared for young adult readers. Meanwhile, us OLDER "young adults," who'd long been searching for romances between teen vamps and vastly vivid magical world-building suddenly had just as vast of a selection of books to choose from.
As a reader who has been reading fantasy my entire life, it was amazing to have so many new titles and wonderous stories. And of course, it's been helpful to have launched my writing career in a time when the kind of books and stories I like writing are popular, in literature but also in television and movies.
So the point of this post ... A recent article in the Irish Times made the statement that fantasy in YA may be on its way out in 2015, making room for stories centered around more realistic themes. Now, while the author admits it's a sweeping generalization, I still felt the need to argue the point, specifically because of the reasons the author, Robert Dunbar, gives for this prediction in Realism Replaces Fantasy in Young Adult Fiction:
"Traumas and tantrums, often arising from clashes with various authority figures, remain a feature of the “growing up” process, but in the more accomplished novels they are seen as providing the opportunity for enhancing inter-generational understanding rather than merely creating an excuse for prolonged outbursts of shouting."
The writer of the article then goes on to mention two books, both of which explore elements of homosexuality, and the deeply moving adolescent experiences that are involved in these books. I'm not questioning his analysis, I'm sure they're quite deep. But in the midst of all that, fantasy in YA still has a place. Harry Potter himself dealt with insecurity, loss, bullying, child abuse, discordant friendships, consequences, and the sacrifice that comes with choosing to be a leader in a world of followers. These books were not just so wildly popular because of the amazing world and epic battle JK Rowling created, they also resonated on a human level.
Many YA fantasy books delve into heavier themes, including homosexuality, suicide, shifting parental relationships, abuse ... So my response to this article is no, realism is not going to be replacing fantasy in the YA genre in 2015. I think there's plenty of room for both. And often, they can be one in the same.
I have been redecorating my office as I mentioned in the last post. It's a very positive environment, cleaning out the old and making things new. I now have a space I enjoy, that's bright, airy, and waiting for inspiration to strike within its four walls. But as I was going through old boxes I came across an old notebook. I'm thinking it was probably from eighth grade if I remember correctly. My friend and I passed it between the two of us like a shared diary, sharing secrets and words of support. But we also shared something else. Our sour attitudes toward the clique-y school experience and our deep belief that we were witches.
Yes, I did just say we thought we were witches. Now, I know we're not alone. Many high school girls dabble in the occult, drawn to the mysterious, hoping that they'll magically and truly turn a spell. But here's the thing, looking back, I don't remember really believing we ACTUALLY thought we had some sort of power. Looking back, it seemed to me that we played with it and just hoped something cool would happen as a result.
We identified with the movie The Craft, which came out during this time. Not that we were so delusional we thought we could be them, we just had a sense that we could affect things. But I didn't REALLY believe we'd cast that love spell, or talked to that ghost on the Ouija Board, or set fire to a bush by looking at it (most likely the result of my friend tossing a lit cigarette into said bush). Or did I? All these years removed, and I truly believed I had some sort of perspective of my teen years. My perspective, as it turns out, has been completely skewed by years and growth. Because in this notebook my friend and I seriously seemed to think we had some sort of power. I read pages and pages and was enthralled by the girl that I had been. Because I could barely remember her. And I'd been thinking I was still so in touch with her.
Yet, despite all those years of perspective and reason, the older version of that girl is still in love with magic. I don't believe in soul mates anymore, it's a romantic notion I've far grown beyond, but I do believe in long-lasting love. And I know I am most likely not going to find a body of water and be sucked into a far away land, but I stick by my motto that anything is possible, especially if it would be really cool. Though if it does happen my son and my husband need to come with me.
As a result of my mystical exploration in my teen years, I write fantasy and build worlds made of magic. As a result, I still have books filled with spells, recipes for herbal remedies, and lore on the proper use for crystals. These have become the reference guides that sit on my red desk in the room of my own, newly created so that I can continue to perfect the fine art of weaving magic, mayhem, and magic together.
That red notebook went back into a box. Some years from now I hope to go back and read it and feel even more removed from that far-off, distant girl. Personal growth is good and she needed to grow. But I also hope I feel closer to her. I now realize that the distance between years really does make a difference on perspective, although one can still hold dear to the young idealist within, beliefs and dreams and hopes, and move on through time and embrace them in a new and inspiring way. Especially if you're a fantasy writer who once fancied yourself a witch.
Fractured Dream (The Dreamer Saga) is currently on sale for only 99 cents! But the deal ends on Nov. 5! Here's the synopsis if you're unfamiliar with the title:
Have you ever wondered where fairytales go once they're created?
It's been eight years since Story Sparks last had a dream. Now they're back,
tormenting her as nightmares she can't remember upon waking. The black
waters of Lake Sandeen, where her Uncle Peter disappeared decades
before, may hold the secret to Story's hidden memories, or a truth she'd
rather not know. On a bright summer afternoon, Story and her two best
friends, Elliott and Adam, take a hike to the lake, where they dive into
the cool water and never reemerge. What they find is beyond anything
they've ever imagined could be possible, a world where dangers lurk in
the form of Big Bad Wolves, living Nightmares and meddlesome witches and
Now Story must remember who she really is and somehow stop
two worlds from ultimate annihilation, all while trying not to be too
distracted by the inexplicable pull she feels toward a certain dark-eyed
traveler who seems to have secrets of his own. The fates of the worlds
are counting on her.
Here's what people have been saying recently:
"She has an incredibly vivid writing style that allows you to 'see' what you are reading. The worlds she paints with her words are very imaginative."
"Oh man, this book was a winner for me. I couldn't put it down in between jobs. I even told some of my patients about it. I don't know why but even from the beginning I was hooked."
"I loved the characters, the world building, and especially the back stories. I was really bummed when it ended and I can't wait for the next one."
Get it on Amazon here.
Several blogs on my current blog tour posted my dreamcast, but the whole cast I had selected hasn't ever been revealed. This was probably one of the most fun and grueling of tasks for the tour, because it was so hard to choose the perfect actors to play the roles of characters so near and dear to my heart. Anyway, here is my dreamcast for Fractured Dream. Hover over the pictures to see who is who.
This announcement is long overdue, but I finished the first draft of The Reaper's Daughter at the start of September. I absolutely can't wait to release it, and without totally having confirmed this yet with my
publisher, I'm hoping for a mid-January release. My cover is already complete as well, so that reveal will hopefully be coming soon.
I absolutely love this book, and yet, after spending eight years on writing Fractured Dream and only one on the rough draft of The Reaper's Daughter, is it strange it felt almost anti-climatic? I almost feel as if I cheated. It's more average sized as far as books go, while Fractured Dream is a bit longer. So perhaps that's it. I poured just as much love into this one, but it felt easier to write somehow. The common saying among authors is that the first book is always the hardest and I wholeheartedly agree. Perhaps it's the motivation I possessed writing the second one, it was so much more intense after finally finishing one book. I'm an actual author now, my inner self screams in delight, and the urge to continue weaving all the stories crowding my head make my
fingers go crazy on the keyboard as the "beast-creature ideas," as Ray Bradbury put it, demand to be let out.
I also have an urge to return to the world I built in The Dreamer Saga, to continue Story's story (ha ha). It's definitely a different experience soaring through a book in such a short period of time after toiling away for years with people questioning whether you'd ever actually finish the book. Then wondering if anyone would publish it, should I go indie? Traditional? Self-publish? But here I am a year later with a published book and a publisher behind me and a second book almost ready to go, but the beast-creatures in my head haven't had
their stories completed yet and so to the keyboard I return, a mad woman with a mission: to tell stories.
So here's to getting a book blurb for The Reaper's Daughter soon so that I can share with anyone who likes my writing or is intrigued by the title of this book and what it's about. Stay Tuned for more details.
My talented and amazing sister put together this awesome book trailer for Fractured Dream. It's got exactly the epic feel that the book has. I hope you enjoy!
K.M. Randall writes fantasy and paranormal for both a general and young adult audience. Her debut novel, an epic fantasy called Fractured Dream, launched in June 2014, and her second book, The Reaper's Daughter, launched May 2015. Randall also published Fairytale Lost, a prequel to Fractured Dream, as an exclusive on Wattpad. She blogs about dreams, female heroines, and activism and its relevancy to the literary and fictional world. And when in the season, sometimes she just likes to talk about Halloween. She is currently hard at work on the second book in the Dreamer Saga series, Shattered World.