Author Kristy Brown visits today to talk about her Young Adult Fantasy, Kiera’s Quest: Awakenings, Book One of the Kiera’s Quest series.
Welcome, Kristy. Tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?
I am from a small seaside town in the North East of England, UK.What sparked your interest in writing?
From an early age, I used to write short stories and poetry.
What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
I try to write believable, and likeable characters.How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
Middle grade/young adult fantasy/adventure.Do you set your books/stories in your hometown, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
Kiera’s Quest is originally set in a small seaside town, but it explores other realms and fantasy locations.How much of your writing is based on people or events familiar to you?
I do try and write about things I’ve gone through as a teen, feeling isolated, wanting to fit in, confidence issues and first crushes.What inspired you to write Kiera’s Quest: Awakenings?
My first little boy was sleeping a lot through the day, and the character of Zakk just popped into my head.How did you come up with the title?
I wanted the hero of the book to be a girl, and Kiera is a strong name that I’ve always liked, and it flows well with ‘Quest.’What was the hardest part of the story to write?
The end was difficult, because I was building up for so long to get there, and I didn’t want to disappoint the readers. I also writer’s block at chapter 7 for a few months!What was the easiest part of the story to write?
Creating the Witch Queen. She is so twisted and evil, yet at the same time, fun and childlike!Was there much research involved?
Like all writers, I read lots of popular books in this genre as the book was developing. I also set up a Face book page, promoting the book using the first two chapters, asking for honest feedback.Is there a message in your story you want readers to grasp?
Believe in yourself, is the main theme, but feedback from the readers suggests to me that people have been inspired by the book and can relate to the characters on many other different levels.What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
I like to think that my use of humour and dialogue is strength. I try to add light to the darker themes explored in the book.When your first started writing, did anything about the writing process surprise you?
Many things! The timescale involved was immense, and I never really realized what a perfectionist I am.Do you celebrate when you finish a story, and if so, how?
My friends organized a party for me, with a huge cake, which had the front cover artwork on it! There were a few tears that night!Do you have a set writing routine?
Back then, it was writing until I ran out of energy! Now, after book two, and the current writing of book three in the Kiera’s Quest saga, I handwrite a chapter in rough, then type up and edit as I go!Do you listen to music when you write?
Never. I know some people work really well under these conditions, but I need total silence to stay focused.What do you like least about writing?
Edits!! I understand the process and how important it is, but it’s so laborious!Give us a mini-tour of your writing space.
I usually write at my dining table, in silence, when the kids are at school.Which authors do you feel have influenced your writing most?
So many! C.S. Lewis, Tolkein, Roald Dahl, J.K. Rowling…Name a few titles I’d find if I browsed through your personal home library.
Hush Hush series by Becca Fitzpatrick, the Fallen series by Lauren Kate, Harry Potter, Twilight, Lord of the Rings and Starcrossed.If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a bottle of wine?
That’s like going into a sweet shop and choosing only one thing! Maybe, C.S. Lewis, or even Harper Lee as To Kill a Mocking Bird was the first book I remember that I really connected with.You’re marooned on a desert island. What’s the one book you’d want with you, and why?
Hot Chocolate for the Mystical Soul. This is always by my bed, and if I’m ever down, one of the stories within that book always makes me smile.I’ll have to look for that one. Have any new authors caught your interest?
There are so many good ones under my publisher MuseItUp! Ryan Miller perhaps.What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story in the near future?
Kiera’s Quest: Sacrifices is due out July 2012. Book three is near completion, and I have a skeletal draft for book 4, continuing Kiera’s adventures. After that, I have a brand new young adult story already in mind.Who supports your writing activities most?
My husband and my family really support me. So many of my friends have been amazing. Having over 1000 fans on my Face Book account really helps lift my confidence too!What does your family think of your writing?
They love it, and can’t wait to get to read the first draft, before I send it to the publisher.What advice would you give an aspiring author?
If you believe in your story, regardless of the rejections, somebody out there will believe in it too!Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
I love watching movies, reading, spending time as a family with my kids on days out and chatting with my girly friends.Let’s have a peek at Kiera’s Quest: Awakenings.
Meet Kiera, a pretty, intelligent, and talented girl, brought up by her uncle, and abandoned by her parents. Life is as normal as she believes it to be, apart from the deep ache inside her, telling her she’s different. For years, Kiera had dreams where she ventures into a different reality. She’s not alone; a presence is always there, keeping her safe, yet she feels vulnerable, and hunted.
Zakk, Prince of Zantar, is under the Witch Queen’s spell as she tries to take over his world. He crosses paths with Kiera, and their fates are entwined.
As their journey unravels, she learns that she is not the only one affected by this prince. Who is on her side? Will she find out why she has been chosen? How can someone so young, defeat such evil? Will she find the strength to save the ones closest to her? Will this be Kiera’s only Quest?
Zakk felt his throat grow tighter, barely able to breathe. Sweat dripped from his brow.
"What…what did I do wrong?" Zakk gasped helplessly. He could see nothing but felt the invisible hands clamped around his neck. "Please stop, please." Zakk was on the verge of falling down a bottomless black hole. He felt heavy like lead, dragging him deeper and further down. Knowing this to be his ending, he managed to push out with a thin, shallow breath, "I’m sorry."
Suddenly, the vice gripping his throat loosened and discarded him to the ground like a crumpled tissue. Maybe an apology was all that ‘it’ needed. Minutes passed, feeling like an eternity. All seemed quiet in the icy air. He dared not move. Zakk tried to collect his thoughts and regulate his breathing. In and out…in and out slowly, he told himself. He tried to catch a glimpse of his jailer but couldn’t see past his own shadow. There was a definite presence watching him, enjoying the show. A wave of emotions passed through him; pain, loneliness, emptiness, dread, but most of all fear. They seeped into him, like black ink coursing through his veins, devouring his consciousness. For the first time in his life, he felt totally alone. He knew if he could scream, no one would come. If he tried to run, his legs would not aid him.
"Who are you?" Zakk whimpered.
"Who am I? Who am I?" This voice somehow seemed strangely, and uncomfortably, familiar to him. The voice broke into a spine-chilling laugh.
"Don’t you know?" it mocked. "Look hard, deep into yourself. You know who I am. I am your darkest fear when you close your eyes. I lie in wait at your very core. Who am I?" The voice seemed outraged not to seem significant in Zakk’s life.
Zakk nervously fiddled with the dull glass ring on his middle finger. It had belonged to his mother, and just touching it reminded him of her warm smile, her golden silky hair and the lullaby she sang to him to tuck him up each night.
"You’re the Witch Queen!" He realised instantly, like a storm cloud had passed letting the sun reign through. He’d waited so long for answers but still was not face-to-face with this cold blooded murderer. "You killed my mother."
"Clever, clever Zakky. Clever child," she hissed. "Your mother would be so proud of you."
Silence fell upon him again. He felt deeply saddened but immensely angry. If he was going to die here in this cave, he needed to know. Zakk spoke calmly and evenly, trying not to annoy his captor.
"Why did you take her from us?"
"I should have ruled this world. I should have been queen. She was useless. I will do better. I should have been at your father’s side. She never loved him." She spat out her words as if they were poison.
"But you did?" Zakk asked, even more confused. "You loved my father?" Surely she was not capable of such an act.
"Silly boy, silly little Zakky. I do not love. It is a weakness. It eats you alive, swallows you whole then moves on to dessert." She spoke as if she’d tasted this bitter pain, but no one this void of life could have. "I got my sweet revenge on Helen when I threw her body into a D’rog pit. They tore into her like she was a yummy treat."
Tears pushed under his eyelids. He couldn’t swallow, for the boulder-like lump blocked his windpipe.
"She was tossed from one to the other, like a little raggedy doll," she sang, with great malice and delight.
Zakk, now broken, wept. He could no longer hold the tears at bay and gave in to his despair. He pictured his mother’s gruesome death and melted into a pool of sorrow. The Witch Queen poked her spindly leather finger into Zakk’s cheek, but she was still covered by the veil of darkness. Watching his tears run down her long, ugly finger, he noticed a very familiar glass ring at the end of it. Shaking his head in disbelief, Zakk looked again, recognising his father’s ring. Time slowed down in his mind. Sweat gushed down him like rain.
"Father!" he cried. "Father?" Zakk knew his only response would be that of his own echoes chasing each other round the stone cave walls.
"He’s gone," she said, stepping a little closer so he could just make out her eyes. He searched them wildly for a hint of compassion, but there was none to be found. Like hard coal, they were dead inside.
"No, no," pleaded Zakk, kneeling on the floor with his arms clasping his chest. He held on to all he had left. Himself.
"I will rule Zantar; it is meant to be. All will live in despair and fear of my gaze upon them. I thought you might have been my biggest barrier. But as I look upon you, crying like an infant, I find you weak, boy. It will be easy to send you to join your parents. It’s only fair after all."
Immediately, as if from nowhere, flames bolted toward him. Bright reds and dancing oranges licked at his heels, engulfing him. Zakk raised his hand to shield his eyes. This is it. I am finished. I couldn’t save my family, or my people. I am nothing.
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Kiera’s Quest: Awakenings / Available from