Final day of the Blog Tour! What a great week. Ready for tomorrow!
Today I’m fortunate enough to be featured on 2 different blogs! First up, a big thank you to Rachael at https://rachandbooks.wordpress.com/ the review and interview!
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Door Keeper by Steen Jones from Royal James Publishing and read the book within two days! It’s a very unique Fantasy book that is all about navigating your destiny, the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, family, love, grief, loss, and courage in the face of adversity and the unknown. Not to mention a cast of characters that you will certainly root for the entirety of the book. I have not read many (or any?!) Fantasy books with a single mom as the protagonist and it was genuinely refreshing to read about. The story pulls you in from the beginning, and once you get to the meaning behind the title of the book, the story becomes even more enjoyable, fun, and incredibly intriguing. And the traveling between worlds is always a big ‘ole plus in my book! 😉 Steen is an enchanting, creative, and compelling writer and I will definitely check out the next book in this series. And I am delighted to say that I conducted an interview with Steen below that dives into her life and more about this debut novel! Check it out!
Hi, Steen! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, Rachel! Well, I’m a southern girl who has lived in Georgia my entire life, yet for some reason sometimes ask questions with a British accent. I’ve been married for over 15 years to my amazing husband and a mom to two incredible kids. I completely love Jesus, but sometimes get frustrated with the institution of religion. Within the last three years, I’ve become an avid dog lover, adding 2 pups to our family. I love to read, watch movies, paint, and sit in the sunshine any chance I get.
How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
In the winter, you’ll find me cuddled on the couch with the dogs and my husband drinking wine and binge watching shows on Netflix. That’s about it for winter, I tend to go into hibernation. But in the summer, I’ll be outside at the pool soaking up the sun and relaxing by our pool. I love to garden, growing vegetables, and colorful flowers. I’ve recently taken to cooking and baking, sometimes getting lost in the kitchen for hours. (Too bad I don’t have a house elf to clean up after me, though.)
Where did you get the idea for this novel?
That’s actually an interesting story! About 7 or 8 years ago, I noticed a door on the edge of a field close to where I lived at the time. It was a freestanding door that lead seemingly nowhere, but of course, with my imagination, I immediately decided it went to Narnia. Every time I drove by it, I’d add a little something to the story in my mind, then would forget about it again. Finally, I jotted some notes in my phone and over the next few years, the story developed into a different version than what it is today. Finally, almost exactly 2 years ago, bored one day, I wrote an outline. After that, I simply couldn’t stop. FYI, the door is no longer where it originally was, because it now is in my backyard! (Great story for another time.)
Tell us about the cover for The Door Keeper and how it came about.
The book cover was very important to me. As an artist, the visual picture is almost as critical for me as the words of the story itself. I wanted the cover to feel a bit vintage, something that reminded the reader of older, more simpler time. For me, this story is like a grown up version of The Chronicles of Narnia, so I wanted to cover to reflect that. I have a friend, (the most talented Meg Brim,) who created the logo for my business many years ago, and I knew if anyone could capture my vision for the book, she could. And boy did she. I am so incredibly happy with the cover and the beautiful introduction it gives my readers to this story.
Give us insight into your protagonist, Eden. What makes her unique?
I think what makes Eden unique is the tension she wrestles with. I’m not sure I have read a fantasy book yet where the protagonist is a mother and feels torn between what lies ahead and what lies behind. She has so many responsibilities in this world, it makes it difficult for her to pursue her destiny in others. She can’t just jump in feet first, she has to hesitate, question, and attempt to balance the increasing complexities of her existence. I think this tension is unique in the fantasy book world, but not in the real world of working mothers. I feel this tension resonates with many of us moms that want to make our mark on the world.
Was there a real-life inspiration behind your characters?
Um…heck yes. They say write what you know, and I definitely did that. I think that is why I’m so nervous about this book coming out. Yes, it’s a fantasy book about magical places, but the characters and relationships are all very personal. Almost every character started based on people in my life, but I will say most morphed into their own beings. The people who know me and my family personally will recognize everyone immediately. What can I say? The people around me are fascinating and interesting characters.
What drew you to the Fantasy genre?
I love fantasy because of the grand, epic story lines. I adore all things magic and the escape that fantasy provides. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting lost in another world and my imagination being stimulated. There are no rules in fantasy unless you want there to be. My entire life, I’ve daydreamed, and this gave me an opportunity to actually call it work.
What did you enjoy most about writing The Door Keeper?
I loved the research aspect of writing this book. My imagination would take me somewhere, then I would have to allow my brain to catch up so I could do it justice with words. Some of my most favorite days were days I spent Googling things and researching. I also loved the moments when I solved a plot problem or that moment that a new world was born. Those sparks of inspirations that immediately clicked into place with the story.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
I think my favorite part was writing Eden’s first entrance into her home world. I’d been waiting and looking forward to writing it for months. I love all things sunny and hot, so of course, her homeland encompassed those things. I remember the day I wrote it was freezing and there was snow on the ground. I woke up so excited because I knew that day was the day, and there was nothing more I wanted to do that day than pretend to be warm and toasty in Caelum.
Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than others?
I would say that for me, the hardest scenes to write are the set ups. The times I need to catch the reader up without being able to use dialogue. I like writing actions and conversations, but sometimes you just have to get some info to the reader without those things. Those are the most difficult for me, and I’m still trying to figure out how to do them well.
Did you have a favorite world in The Door Keeper and are you planning on revealing more worlds in the sequels?
Of course I’m planning new worlds for the sequels! I’m extremely excited for 2 new worlds in the sequel specifically. Terra Arborum will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first world I created, but Caelum is my favorite. If I’m being honest, if I were actually from a different world, I think it would be Caelum. Maybe that’s why I created it for Eden.
What research went into writing this book? Did you travel for any research?
I wish I could say that I did. Positano is the one place on this Earth I want to be more than anywhere. I had already planned my dream vacation there before I started the book, so I already knew it relatively well. Of course, I spent days and days researching restaurants, villas, and blogs of travels there so I could do it justice. Villa Le Sirene is an actual place you can rent to stay. I reached out to the owners, letting them know I was using their place in my book. One day, I will hand deliver them a copy.
Did you plan to write The Door Keeper as a trilogy from the beginning?
Yes, I did. I knew there was a ton of story to tell. Honestly, I see it being sets of trilogies. The first revolving around Eden and her family. Because of the different worlds I’ve created and the time table established, I can see there being other trilogies featuring other Door Keepers, perhaps in other times or based in different worlds. We will see how this one goes.
Is there a message in this book that you hope readers will grasp?
Great question. I hope that people read The Door Keeper and walk away with a reminder that fear can twist you and your decisions if you let it. Fear is manipulative, and it can rob you of adventure, love, and your destiny. I have a necklace I love that says, “fear keeps life small.” For me, that is a huge take away from the book.
Is there anything you can tell us about the next book or something to look forward to?
Besides new worlds, and interesting new characters, you will finally see why Eden’s mother put her on the path she did, and the fulfillment of Eden and her family’s destiny. There will be a lot more action and adventure in the sequel, now that the characters and worlds have been established. I seriously can’t wait!
Everyone give a round of applause to Steen because those were some awesome answers that give us some more insight into her brain, life, and the world(s!) of The Door Keeper. Make sure you pre-order and read it when it comes out on February 20th! Thanks again to Royal James Publishing and Steen Jones!
Next up is my friend over at Happy Meerkat Reviews!
Thank you to C at https://happymeerkatreviews.wordpress.com for the interview.
Today I am pleased to announce I am once again taking part in The Door Keeper Blog Tour and have an interview with the author of this great book Steen Jones! I’ve already reviewed The Door Keeper as part of the blog tour and after thoroughly enjoying it I wanted to find out more about the author. As well as an interview below there are also a couple of giveaways happening so please stay tuned and keep scrolling down! First the interview! 🙂
1. What was the inspiration for The Door Keeper?
The idea for this book came from a real door that I saw on a regular basis. About 7 or 8 years ago, I noticed a door on the edge of a field close to where I lived at the time. It was a freestanding door that lead seemingly nowhere, but of course with my imagination, I immediately decided it went to Narnia. Every time I drove by it, I’d add a little something to the story in my mind, then would forget about it again. Finally, I jotted some notes in my phone and over the next few years, the story developed into a different version than what it is today. Just in case you were wondering, the door is no longer where it originally was, because it now is in my backyard! (Great story for another time.)
2. The book focusses on Italy and the descriptions are so vivid, did you have personal experience with the place and if so what’s your favourite part? (if not would you like to go?)
I wish I have been there! I’ve been wanting to go to Italy for as long as I remember, and only a few years ago discovered the coastal city of Positano. In answer to your question, I have detailed and planned an extensive 10 day trip to Italy starting in Venice, traveling through Tuscany and ending in Positano. One day, my husband and I will take that trip.
3. Did you do a lot of research for this novel?
I did a ton of research. I wanted the parts of the novel that took place in this world to be as real as possible, so I used actual places. All of the sights you read about in Italy and Georgia actually exist, so I wanted to do these places justice. Also, I found myself researching herbs, flowers, and medicinal properties a decent amount when writing parts about other worlds.
5. The worlds that are visited in the book are really well imagined, was it easy or difficult to come up with so many original places?
Thank you! I would definitely say that some parts were easier than others. Most of the worlds I have created began from a single inspiration. With out giving too much away, Caelum was sparked from my sitting on the beach and watching an unusual set of waves flowing into each other. World building is absolutely one of my favorite parts of writing, day dreaming and imagination are part of my life long strengths.
6. You decided to publish your book with Royal James publishing. Have you had any problems with the publishing process and what made you choose this method of publishing?
I decided to publish with Royal James because they are a smaller start up business. I loved the idea of being a collaborator in the process rather than have my hands tied with a larger publisher and I knew this way would give me a better chance with that. I wasn’t scared of the “start up” part because I’ve worked with start up over the last 5 years and I know that no one works harder or has more to prove. There is of course trial and error with a starter business because you have to learn the best way to do things, but I have to say that working with Royal James has been worth it! They have allowed me to be a part of the process, from designing the cover to the Blog Tour and hosting giveaways.
7. Are you working on anything new or taking some time off?
I’m excitedly working on the sequel to The Door Keeper!
8. Does anyone inspire your writing?
I would absolutely say that my family inspires my writing. The door may have inspired the fantasy side of the story, but my family and our unique trials of life inspired the relational story of The Door Keeper. They also helped serve as inspirations for many of my characters.
9. Do you have any favourite book(s)/ author(s)?
I love C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. (I’m obsessed that these two were friends.) I also like Rick Riordan, he is so gifted with intertwining mythology and the modern world. I am currently reading the Harry Potter series for the first time, so J.K. Rowling is blowing my mind.
10. Any advice for new and aspiring authors?
I still consider myself new and aspiring. 🙂 But, as far as advice in general, I’d say that patience is the most important aspect of following your dreams, no matter what they are. It’s the toughest thing to learn and everyone wants it, but no one wants to learn it.
Some fun questions:
11. Cats, dogs, meerkats, nothing or something else?
Absolutely dogs. I have a beagle and a bassador. (Half basset hound and half lab. He looks like a white dragon.)
13. As a British tea drinker I’m always curious: Tea, coffee or something else?
Coffee every morning, but every now and again I enjoy a cup of exotic tea with honey in the evenings.
14. If you could live in any book which would it be and why?
It sounds corny, but The Door Keeper. I adore the idea of being able to cross worlds. Although, who knows…maybe the doors do exist and we are ALL currently living in it.
Thank you so much for your time Steen! 🙂