Becoming the Chateran

May 14, 2014 Blog Tours, Giveaways, Interviews 1

Becoming the Chateran

Becoming the ChateranBecoming The Chateran by S.J. Aisling
Published by LIFE SENTENCE Publishing on 11-29-2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 128
Format: eBook
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When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, however, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble, as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in their sentence:

Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama-Ael-Fen.

Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.

Interview With S.J. Aisling

Can you talk a little about what the book is about?


When Princess Rhea’s actions inadvertently condemn two innocent knights to death, she wakes to the hard reality that not even nobility is above the law. All her attempts to remedy the situation only complicate it, however, until she finds herself a fugitive in her own kingdom, having dragged her best friend into the trouble, as well. Their only hope for pardon? To accompany Sir Paladin and Sir Zephen in their sentence:

Slay, or be slain by, the Dragons of Sama Ael Fen.

Travelling incognito, they meet with more malicious Phoenixes than could be coincidental, discover the mysterious disappearance of numerous citizens, and come face to face with a reawakened evil power. With the kingdom oblivious to the connection of these dangers, it’s up to Rhea and her outlaw companions to stop the rising threat and redeem their names – if they can survive their quest.

Where did you get the idea for the book?

Becoming the Chateran is based on a play of make-believe that a friend and I made up in our backyards when we were thirteen. It was an adventure filled with magical creatures and sword-swinging adventures, and we kept it going for weeks.

What message do you want readers to get from reading the book?

This story is titled Becoming the Chateran for a reason. In Gemworthy, the country where the story takes place, ‘chateran’ is a title given to men and women to honor brave and noble deeds. But people are not born brave and noble, and nor are these traits one-time, split-second decisions to be unlocked like achievements on a video game. We become brave, noble, and good by choosing to act so every day.

This aspect of Becoming the Chateran was largely influenced by a quote from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick: “Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness.” There is a heartbreaking lack of people determined to do good in this world when their peers think it stupid. Doing what’s right is rarely easy, but through Becoming the Chateran I hope to inspire even one person to determine for themselves, just as Princess Rhea does, that “even if the rest of the [world] says my honor is ruined, I shall not stoop so low as to prove it right.”

How long did it take to write the book?

I completed the first draft of Becoming the Chateran about seven years ago, and it went through several major revisions and rewritings since. In all there were five drafts of the book, the final one being completed within the four months before it’s release in December of 2013.

Who is your favorite character, or what character was the most fun to write?

Julen Priolee is certainly on my list of favorite characters. Scenes that include him are a wonderful release for my inner goofball, and I’m never quite sure what is going to happen when he shows up. It’s a little like releasing a toddler in the mall.

Did you do any outlining?

Initially, I did not. As mentioned before, I wrote the first draft when I was thirteen, and back then I knew nothing about writing. Everything was very spur-of-the-moment. But I did some outlining the latter drafts of Becoming the Chateran, and now that I’m writing the books following it in the series, I’m employing it more. My outlining is fairly minimal, however – I’ll have a list of pivotal scenes for a book lined up, but don’t like to detail everything about how they link together. I leave that to the characters to figure out, giving them plenty of room to grow, react, and interact in the ways that suit them best.

Did it take you in any unexpected directions?

Princess Rhea turned out to be much more of a handful in the first half of the book than I intended. While I was writing, she and I were constantly butting heads at how we wanted the plot to flow. But she won in the end and I let her character take control. And I’m glad it turned out this way, because without it I doubt Rhea would have grown and been changed by her journey in Becoming the Chateran as much as she did.

If you could go back and change anything in the novel, what would it be?

Like many, if not most, creative people, I feel there is always something I could go back and improve in my work, and right now I’m a little sore about the length of Becoming the Chateran. I err on the side of verbose every chance I get, and I would have liked to tighten up the plot a bit more. But Becoming the Chateran was my first book to ever be fully completed, so I’m not beating myself up over it. Good writing is a skill that takes time to hone; it’s not magically achieved upon the first shot.

How did you come up with the cover?

I designed and created the cover myself, influenced by the tooled leather on illuminated manuscript covers, and the beautiful, flowing art of Alphonse Mucha. The sword, feathers, and flame-like images are all symbols of what takes place in Becoming the Chateran.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Becoming a writer wasn’t really one of those things I decided to do. I just did it. I read a lot of books and got way too many ideas released into my already-overflowing imagination, and the only way to save my sanity was to write.

What was the first story that you ever wrote?

Becoming the Chateran was actually the first story I wrote! It’s come a long way since its barely-100-pages-long first draft, though.

What are you favorite books and authors?

The works of Charles Dickens, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Louisa May Alcott, The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, The Art of Racing In The Rain by Garth Stein, The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo, The Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis, and the books and illustrations of James Gurney and Jan Brett, to name a very few.

What are you working on next?


The rest of The Chateran Series holds top priority, and I hope to have the series fully completed and published over the next four years. But I’m also working on several other manuscripts on the side, and two in particular are simmering almost constantly on my mental backburner. There’s The Phoenix Thief, a steampunk-flavored standalone novel loosely influenced by Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird and an odd dream I had about Leonardo-style flying machines and a quiet boy with missing fingers. Then there’s Conductive, a science fiction trilogy about people who can conduct and store large amounts of energy and electricity in their bodies.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don’t write what’s popular – copycats aren’t known for their own abilities, but for the accomplishments of others. And don’t write what you simply know, but write what you are passionate about. You’ll enjoy yourself more, if nothing else.

How do you juggle writing with family time?

Sometimes it’s quite difficult. I really enjoy spending time with friends and family – people in general, actually – but once my ‘people-time’ quota is filled, I rapidly devolve into my grouchy writer form and won’t be appeased until I’m curled up with my laptop typing as if my characters’ lives depend on it – which they probably do. But I find when I have a set word-count goal for every day, and a specific time to write it in, I do better at remembering that there are other humans in the world.

Giveaway

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Excerpt

Shouting and confusion suddenly rose up from within the castle, and Julen, almost losing his footing once more, scrambled for a better hold on the window bars. He faced into the wind as it shoved him against the tower, the loud cry ringing off the walls of the castle once again, and his jaw dropped. A flashing, red thing was speeding through the air towards the castle. Its enormous wings created the gale that had suddenly burst out, followed by waves of heat. Julen couldn’t move, clinging to the tower in horror as the Dragon swept low over the castle.

Valkdrava… the rumors are true, then!

All the brown-tinted trees far below shook and creaked, leaves scattering thick on the blast of wind. The power of the Dragon’s wingbeats pushed Julen from his window ledge, and he tumbled down, landing miraculously on the castle wall fifteen feet below. Bursts of light exploded in his view, and he couldn’t breathe, but then larger, fiercer, and redder flashes rent the air above him, and the voice of Vanna crying out his name stirred him. Somehow he found himself on his feet, swaying like a reed in the wind, and yet clutching his drawn hunting knife in his fist. The Valkdrava banked on the sweltering wind of its own creation, sending hay from the stack by the stable, torn pennants, and loosened tiles swirling through the air. Opening its mouth, it sent a stream of fire onto the wooden structures inside the bailey. The terrified shrieks and cries of the horses and other livestock in the buildings filled the air, and the shouting and screams of people joined the din as the Dragon swooped down again and again, each time sending fire into yet another spot within the castle. Within moments, Julen found himself surrounded by flames on the walls, with no way of getting down into the bailey and helping.

A troop of guards and soldiers burst from the armory and raced towards the Dragon, which had just perched on top of the great hall’s roof with a splintering of large glass windows and an avalanche of carved stone and tiles. The Dragon gave one look at the advance, and within seconds, all that remained of the soldiers lay piled in ashes and twisted metal in the courtyard. Then the Dragon, after grinding in the roof of the great hall like a kitchen maid kneads dough, turned and fixed its livid eyes on Julen. 

About S.J. Aisling

Stacia Joy has always loved to tell stories and invent fictional lands and characters. But she never considered becoming a writer herself until age thirteen, when, inspired by a pretend play she invented with a friend, she wrote the first draft of Becoming the Chateran. The story has since expanded into what will become The Chateran Series. Stacia Joy also writes in several other genres, including steampunk and paranormal/science fiction, and occasionally writes poems about buffalo.
Wanting to be able to show others what her imagined universe looks like, Stacia Joy taught herself to draw by studying the work of illustrators like Alphonse Mucha, Arthur Rackham, Kate Seredy, and Jan Brett. She also received training in illustration and graphic design at Madison Area Technical College, and plans to become a full-fledged freelance illustrator before long.
When not immersed in writing or art, Stacia Joy spends her time playing the piano and folk harp, composing music, Irish dancing, singing at the top of her lungs, and learning new things. She also enjoys helping with children’s ministry at her church, and currently resides in the Madison, Wisconsin area with a kitten named Lord Peter Whimsey.

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