Welcome back to the third session of my interview with indie author Elizabeth D. Marie. We've been discussing her writing with a focus on her newest series of fairy tale retellings: the "Crown of Stars" series. Today, I'm highlighting book three in the series, "Finding Mera."
Book Review: Finding Mera (Crown of Stars series book 3) by Elizabeth D. Marie
Finding Mera by Elizabeth D. Marie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was already predisposed to like this book having read Chasing Cinders. My expectations were met and exceeded. At every turn, the characters surprised me. This particular tale presents a hero in a tight spot and a heroine filled with self-doubt. Both are plucky characters, though, and how they overcome their personal troubles and learn to trust builds a tale you shouldn't pass up. My favorite character in this book is Ari. The way he works out his problems and doesn't quit, even when he's discouraged, inspired and encouraged me.
I love how the author is building up her fantasy realm. Her retellings are like no others I've encountered and therein lies a great joy. The connections are interesting and keep me wondering what will happen next, while I still gain closure from each book in the series. (I'm only missing out on book 1, which I'll be working hard to pick up soon, and book 4 which just came out. Can't wait to see how those fit into the series!)
If you enjoy fairytale retellings, you won't go wrong giving this one a try.
View all my reviews
Author Spotight: Interview with Elizabeth D. Marie Part 3
The third session of my author spotlight interview with indie author Elizabeth D. Marie continues...
Me: Sometimes it's really hard to be confident as an indie author. I know I am often encouraged by others who are beating the odds and just going for it. What's one piece of advice you'd give to writers who are just starting out?
Elizabeth: One of my favorite quotes about being a writer that I have ever come across is one that says: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” So my advice would be to write something you love—a book you would want to read. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to write what is popular and trendy, cause the trends will change faster than you can follow them. And if you are writing what you love, then that will show in your work and others will be drawn to that passion.
Me: Great advice! It's also so much easier to be yourself. I think writing allows more room for this than many other pursuits.
How did you come up with the ancient language your characters refer to? What inspired it?
Elizabeth: Most readers assume this is a made-up language. It actually isn’t. While I do take some creative-license with it—because I am mostly self-taught and don’t expect to get it flawlessly correct—the kingdom’s Ancient Tongue is the transliteration of Biblical Hebrew. I did have a reader quite recently message me asking if the language was Hebrew, because she recognized it. So that was exciting!
My inspiration for this was in my own study of Scripture and how beautiful and deep the original language is. No translation can quite grasp it! Words often have more layers to it than one simple, basic meaning. It really is very fascinating to me.
Me: Ah! I thought I recognized some of those words. Our family enjoys reading the Complete Jewish Version of the Bible and the names and some of the words referring to different religious specifics are written as pronounced in Hebrew. It is indeed quite fascinating!
I consider myself to be a person of strong belief in the God of the Christian faith. In some ways I find it hard to writer fantasy when the genre is overrun with many things contradictory to that faith. Do you consider yourself to be a person of faith (any religion)? If so, how do you think this helps or hinders you in writing fantasy novels?
Elizabeth: Yes, I definitely consider myself to be a person of faith. I believe in the God of the Holy Bible, and my writing is always meant to glorify and honor Him who gives me this gift to write in the first place. I don’t write to be preachy in any way, but faith is certainly the foundation for anything I write.
For me, no matter what genre I am writing in, there are certain boundaries I stay within because of that. As I mentioned before, a lot of fantasy deals in witchcraft and sorcery. If there is any presence of that nature in my stories, it is always depicted as being evil, not good. I don’t deal in the magic elements of fantasy in the same way as most of what you find on the market either. To me, this often falls under that same category as witchcraft and sorcery. I try to make clear the source of anything perceived as ‘magic’ and prefer not to use that word. There are blessings and curses, and supernatural powers—and these powers are either from Creator, or from the Adversary, who are of the supernatural realm. I tend to lend more of an allegorical-twist to the fantasy I write, rather than write mainstream fantasy, if that makes sense. You could say The Chronicles of Narnia was a good example that inspired me when I started writing this genre.
Me: Yes, it makes perfect sense and I think it's an admirable goal and very brave of you. I think you've pretty much nailed your goal in that respect, at least from what I've seen so far.
"Finding Mera" is the third book in the Crown of Stars series. I've never seen another "Little Mermaid" retelling quite like it. How did you decide on the characters and plot for this one?
Elizabeth: I knew the original story of The Little Mermaid was a tragedy, and in a way, my story was meant to reflect tragedy as well. I wanted it to be more in-tune with the original rather than the Disney animated remake. The difference is my tragedy lies in the past, and Mera (my little mermaid) is dealing with the consequences. The history of the Meran people is the foundation, and that came from another story I had been writing on the side. So this story is partly a rewrite/inclusion of a different fantasy story of mine: The beloved of Creator was led astray and betrayed His heart, and was cursed for it—to search for love and never be satisfied. Because love apart from True Love can never fully satisfy. I am tempted to go back to that story-inspiration, because it introduces the ancient-history and supernatural-unseen side of things. I’m hanging on to it, because maybe that opportunity will come up in the future.
I had already introduced Ari in my first book of Crown of Stars, so for him it was just picking up on his introduction as a ship Master. But Ari and Mera both want something. Neither are satisfied. I realized that while they both were on separate paths, with separate goals, they were both seeking satisfaction and meaning in the wrong places. And they both had one ultimate need: Redemption. So that became the theme of this story. I started with that. The journey for redemption, and the looming tragedy that could destroy them both.
Me: Excellent! I honestly wasn't sure what to expect with this tale but you totally blew away any expectations I had (which were positive by the time I read 'Chasing Cinders') and replaced them with respect. I read this one second so I still didn't know about Ari. But it's truly a must read for Little Mermaid enthusiasts, I think, who wish for a more reltatable story.
I'm intrigued by back-story for epic tales and series like this one. I'd love to hear more about the history so I hope you'll be able to continue working on that. It's also interesting to see how your stories weave together. You keep them loosely connected so each book can stand alone but that overarching plot is a serious mystery. In this book especially it stood out to me. How do you keep it all straight as you write each volume of the series?
Elizabeth: It is a lot of information that continues to grow and expand as I write more books. I do keep documents and notebooks of information on the side—histories and stories and reminders that aren’t explained in the books themselves, and aren’t necessarily important on their own—that are all part of the foundation that makes up the Crown of Stars kingdoms, and are meant to be brought together in my final book for the series. Yes, there are times I need to go back and look up a reference in a previous book while working on a current one.
I don’t want anything to be confusing where someone won’t pick up the second book just because they haven’t read the first. I know my own instinct is not to pick up a book that’s part of a series unless I’ve already read the first one. But I like to see readers glean a little extra insight by following the timeline. I am very excited to bring it all together in that final book, and definitely recommend being sure to have read all the other books before the last one comes out (yet to be announced). I’m not there yet, so you have some time!
[...Conclusion Next Wednesday...]
Next Wednesday will be the final installment of my first Author Spotlight Interview. Don't forget to mark it on your calendar, spread the indie love, and support indie creators like Elizabeth!
*I will only do interviews with people I send requests to whose works I have read. Please do not send me requests for interviews or solicit me to buy your book. I have to plan these things out very carefully considering my tricky budget and schedule. Thanks in advance!
**Neither Elizabeth D. Marie nor Amazon nor any other third party paid me to link to their products or sites, or for doing this interview. I chose to do this on my own and the only way I earn money is through the selling of my own books or through my Zazzle store or DeviantArt sales which are clearly noted. I will not ever accept payment for promoting an indie author or creator whose work I've enjoyed. I'm simply sharing the joy.
Melody Kittles writes fantasy fiction under the name Robin McElveen. She loves God, her family, the arts, a warm cup of coffee or tea, visiting friends, and collecting coffee & Pusheen items.
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