I'm honored to be participating in Rebecca Ryals Russell's Blog Tour for her debut release: Odessa - The Serapym Wars. The YA fantasy was released April 1st from Muse It Up Publishing. Here's a description of the story:
Myrna Watts, 17 years old, struggles with the inner demons for an attack at age 15 by men with 'glowing red eyes.' Now, two years later, she finds herself mysteriously transported to a frightening foreign planet ruled by demon-dragons.
The some cute but too-sweet young man tells her she's there to fulfill her destiny which was written in some Prophecy millions of years ago? Yeah, right.
Rebecca was kind enough to answer some questions both for readers and for writers.
For readers/adoring fans --
Describe Myrna’s personality. What makes her different from other main characters?
Myrna is a high school senior. She’s shallow and pedantic; has an in-crowd group she hangs with who teases others who are slightly different/unusual or just have the bad luck to come from situations they have no control over. She skips school to go shopping at the mall. Her dad, who owns the largest advertising agency in Jacksonville, Fl, gives her a brand new Tesla car for her seventeenth birthday. She takes it for granted. And her English Professor mother has her registered at the university already, even though she doesn’t want to attend college at all. But she plans to go just to keep peace, and the money coming in.
But she also struggles with inner demons from an attack by three red-eyed boys when she was fifteen; and then a vision of those same boys murdering her favorite brother, the one who saved her two years ago.
Then she wakes one morning to discover she must fulfill a prophecy on the demon home world of Dracwald. Throughout this discovery, the quest and training, she changes and realizes what a poor excuse for a human she was. She eventually takes on the quest as leader of the Vigorios (seven teenaged demon hunters) and becomes quite skillful with the sword--but only after many stumbling errors in judgment and a lot of self-doubt.
She also has to deal with the attack from two years ago when three guys raise those scars to the surface of her heart, eventually forcing her to choose between them.
What's something that readers would be surprised to know about Myrna (that doesn't give any plot points away)? I mean, does she bite her nails, gag on broccoli, secretly read US Weekly when she's on Earth?
As badass as Myrna thought she was in high school, she’s still a virgin and very uncertain of herself around men. Placed into this strange, dangerous situation on Dracwald, all affectation falls away and she realizes how simple and vulnerable she really is. For the first time in her life she sees that she must depend on others for help. She has a really irritating habit of saying “Mother o’ pearl” about everything, too.
The idea of demon-dragons is really cool. Was there anything in particular that inspired this idea?
Actually, the idea came from the statement in Revelations, in the Bible, about Satan being a dragon and God leaving him in that form. I took that a step further. I imagined Satan (whom I call Narciss) and all of the angels who follow him and are then cast out of Heaven (Asgard) remaining in their dragon forms as a means of punishment. Laud (God) tells them that in order to return to Asgard and their old forms, they must be repent and accept him as Holy Leader. They refuse and become completely evil, corrupting the planet of Dracwald with their evil—it spreads throughout the waters and soil, poisoning the inhabitants and creating monsters.
For writers who are interested in your path to publication --
Tell us what drew you to MuseItUp publishing. You've got several more books coming out with them, they must be great to work with, yes?
My first contact with MuseItUp Publishing came in a chat with Lea and her editors, cover artist and current authors at the time. This was a few months into the beginning of the company. I was impressed with the family atmosphere and attitudes. I wanted badly to become part of that family. Since joining them last July, I have been pleased to notice this family feeling continues even as the company grows in size. We are now over 100 authors and adding more weekly. Yet Lea continues to share everything with us—discussions are held constantly in our author’s loop, about how to improve the eBook industry and make MuseItUp the best eBook publisher out there.
I currently have seven contracts with Muse, through mid 2012, and am working on several more manuscripts in the Seraphym Wars and Stardust Warriors series. My website has all of the covers I’ve created for each book contracted, excerpts, release dates and more.
How much input, if any, did you have into your cover art?
We have an awesome cover artist and Lea recently hired another one. For the Odessa cover, I designed and used one of my own while waiting for the official cover. My oldest daughter was the model (and actually is the concept for Myrna as well, with some of my other daughter mixed in). I loved the way my cover turned out, so I showed this to Delilah who took the idea and ran with it, coming up with her version. We tweaked a little here and there, added the sword through the word Odessa and such, and wa-la! Gorgeous cover! I love it.
I have one for Zarena, the next book due out in July for the MG Stardust Warriors Series. I really like it and hope the official one looks similar to it.
What's been the most fun thing you've done since Odessa launched on April 1st?
I had my first speaking engagement at the Naples Press Club Writer’s Conference April 9-10. Sandy Lender asked me to speak on Writing for YA. I chose to do a presentation comparing writing for Middle Grades vs Young Adults. I was so nervous. I made my first power point presentation, which my advertising hubby said was wonderful, especially for a first; and spoke for nearly an hour. The computer glitched and I didn’t make it through my whole presentation, but the audience said I was good. I got to spend the weekend with my hubby in a gorgeous hotel, eat out all the time and I bought a beautiful linen skirt set, so that made up for any problems, right?
Thanks to Rebecca for stopping by for an interview and allowing me to participate in her blog tour. For more information on Rebecca and her novels, check out her website. To read an excerpt and get a longer book description of Odessa, head to Muse It Up Publishing. Finally, you can buy Odessa anywhere ebooks are sold.