How exciting! I'm doing my first author interview this month with Elizabeth D. Marie. She's one of my new favorite authors. Her 'Crown of Stars' series features fantastic retellings of classic fairy tales. I loved them so much I wanted to be certain other readers get the chance to give them a try. Read on to see my short book review of Saving Beauty (which might be my favorite up to this point) and see part one of my interview with Elizabeth, the author of these wonderful books.
Book Review: Saving Beauty (Crown of Stars book 1) by Elizabeth D. Marie
Saving Beauty by Elizabeth D. Marie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
So I read this series backwards, or all jumbled up. Since each story is a stand-alone tale and only connected to the others by small pieces of the underlying plot, I don't think it diminished the joy of this tale in any way. When thinking about fairytales, the story of Beauty and the Beast is not one of my favorites. This retelling, however, tugged on my heart the entire time I was reading. From beginning to end, my attention was caught and held by captivating characters and awesome adventures. The story is well done, the plot believable, and I absolutely cannot wait to read book four which just came out a little while ago. If you love fantasy, clean reads, and fairytale romance with a bit of a twist, then you should definitely give Saving Beauty a try.
View all my reviews
Here's what I didn't say in my review. (It's likely I'll update my review at some point in the future but for now, it'll have to stay in its current state.)
1. My favorite character is Garren. I love the way his story builds throughout the book.
2. Orabelle is an interesting female character. She has a strong sense of loyalty and determination. But in spite of being forced into a life she didn't choose, this doesn't tear down her innate femininity or ability to love and care for others.
3. The way the characters grow throughout the novel is pretty amazing. I liked how they struggled with real feelings and situations, looking for ways to fight through bad ones and questioning good ones. That sort of uncertainty is relatable and really drew me in to their struggles.
4. This was a page turner. I didn't want to stop reading when it was time for me to shut things down for the night.
February Author Spotlight: Elizabeth D. Marie
Instagram has been a wealthy resource for networking with other authors. It's how I discovered Elizabeth D. Marie and was able to download 'Chasing Cinders' when she was offering it free for a limited time. I'm so glad I decided to try it! I found a new favorite author and a new favorite book series. For now, I own the ebook versions of the four books she's written for this series but one day, I'd love to own hard copies of each. To read more about her and her work, you can check out her blog, her Goodreads author page, and her Instagram profile.
I was beyond nervous to ask for an interview. I don't normally ask people questions. ...-->introvert<--... But I know one way to introduce readers to new authors, especially those without a publishing company, is to share their story. So let's get started!
My Interview With Elizabeth D. Marie - Part 1
Me: Welcome to Robin Takes the Scenic Route, Elizabeth! Please introduce yourself. What do you want readers to know about you up front?
Elizabeth: Hi, I’m Elizabeth D. Marie, author of fantasy and historical-speculative fiction. I was born in Idaho, and now reside on a square of wooded country in Indiana that has been home to me since I was three years old. I spend most of my time between current writing projects, reading, and being entertained by my Bengal-mix cat, Captain—who rules the house.
Me: Wow! I've heard Bengals can be a handful but very loving. I think some kind of pet is essential to a creator, perhaps because we need those breaks and get too focused on work. Who knows? :)
How long have you been writing and what prompted you to start?
Elizabeth: My love for written words began when I fell in love with the world of Narnia while stretched out on a hammock one summer day. I was seven or eight at the time. I haven't stopped seeking out new worlds and characters since. I started by creating stories in my head, until I had an epiphany one day that I should be writing them down!
As an avid reader, I have grown steadily disheartened by the content in books these days, especially for young adults—particularly in the realm of fantasy fiction where witchcraft and sorcery are painted in a positive light—as well as strong language and sexual scenes. My heart is to bring mainstream epic fiction to both teens and adults that portrays relatable/flawed characters in stories free of this content.
I believe stories have power; they can have a hold over us long after we close the book. Through the characters we grow to love, they tell us how to live in response: what is normal and acceptable. They color how we view this complicated mess called “reality.” I write stories in the hope of encouraging and inspiring my readers.
Me: That's great! I can see your love for what you do shining in your work. And I have to agree with you about the sorry state of book content these days.
What was the first book you ever published? Did you self-publish or submit it to a publishing company?
Elizabeth: When I was a teenager, I declared to my family that I was determined to have my first book published while I was still in my teens. My family was supportive, but had their doubts. But in November 2008, at 19 years old, I published my first book. It was a time-travel adventure story set in medieval times, and first book in a series. “Web of Time: Awaiting the Dawn.”
At that time, publishing so young was not as common as it is these days. Alongside that declaration was my desire to be self-published. There were not a lot of affordable self-publishing platforms available either. But my brother—shoutout to him for his wonderful support!—did the research and helped get me set up with a print-on-demand platform, Lulu. Now I operate on both Lulu and Amazon KDP’s publishing platforms.
Me: Why did you choose to write 'Saving Beauty' first? What you like most about it? What do you hate most?
Elizabeth: Well, the simplest answer to the first part of this question would be: I didn’t. But I guess that takes explaining. You see, this was never meant to be the Crown of Stars series, because it was never meant to be a series at all. It was meant to be a stand-alone, and I wrote it as such until I was nearing the end. I even had an epilogue planned! Saving Beauty just happened to be the first story that ended up creating the series (thanks to the presence of a certain young King).
What I like most: It is a retelling of my favorite fairytale, and it is the foundation for the series that developed. At least one of each of my main characters from the other books in this series can be found entering a scene in this book. What I ‘hate’ most: I suppose the fact that, being the first book, I continue to learn and grow as I write, and I look back at this one and think, shoot, I could have written that scene a little differently and it could have been even better! I suppose, in a way, I do that a little with every book.
Me: I totally understand! I feel that way about my own work so often.
Speaking of feelings... I felt kind of bad for the character Grey. Do you think we'll see him more often in further installments of the series?
Elizabeth: Grey is certainly a character I found my heart breaking over as I wrote him into this book. I don’t want to give specifics away, but he does appear later in this series.
Me: Yes! Don't spoil it for us. :) But I'm glad to know he'll not be disappearing.
What's the one thing you'd like readers to take away from reading "Saving Beauty"? Why's that important to you?
Elizabeth: My favorite quote from the book, if I’m allowed to have one [laugh], is one I ended up incorporating into an underlying theme through the other books of the series: “We all have a choice, to be monsters or men. It is not a matter of blood, but a condition of the heart.” Meaning, it doesn’t matter where you come from—what is in your past. You choose who you will become.
I want to remind my readers that, even though we go through dark times, and things happen to us that are completely out of our power and control, we don’t have to let it define us. We can choose to be a light despite the darkness.
[...Continued next Wednesday...]
My interview with Elizabeth D. Marie will continue next week on Wednesday. Mark it on your calendar, spread the word, and join me in supporting this indie author!
*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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