So, everyone... welcome Mysti Parker! *big show of hands, come on!*
Stef: Hi Mysti! Glad to have you here (I had to wrestle a bear to get this interview). Grab a seat, a cup of coffee and let’s get on it!
Mysti: Yum! Great coffee! Thanks for having me, Stefanie!
Stef: I’ve been following you around the blogosphere on your tour (yup, number one groupie here), and I’ve seen you giving a lot of juicy info on your book, yourself and your world. So I’m going to try and do something a bit different. (And of course, you know, I’m a character nut, so brace yourself). I'm a start shooting questions at you. How did you come up with the names for your characters? (Always interesting to know in fantasy)
Mysti: Would you believe me if I told you they just sort of come to me? Ok, I can do better.
I do try to pick names that sound like the character’s specific race, if that makes any sense. The high elves, like Caliphany Aranea, and her parents Sirius and Ellawen, will have more complex, formal-sounding names. Half-elves like Galadin Trudeaux will have half-human, half-elf-sounding names. Wood elves like Jayden Ravenwing will have names that contain something involving nature. As in the story I’m writing now—Zephyrus and Shade Windsong are a wood elf couple.
Hopefully that gives you some insight into the process.
Stef: Lol, you did do better. Yes, it makes perfect sense - it's the main reason I asked, because the names seemed to fit the status. Most of your characters are elves, so age isn’t really an issue for them, but if you were to put then in human years, how old would they be (asking because Serenya seems older than Cali , even if she is actually younger)
Mysti: What an interesting question, and I agree with you on that latter point! Cali would probably be your average 18-20 year old in human years, finally wanting to break free from home and getting the nerve to do it. She may be nearly a century old, but she’s a young soul, for certain. Galadin the half-elf, at 45, acts about his age in human years I think. Jayden is close to Cali’s age too, but he’s so serious, it’s hard to say what age he might be in human years—35 perhaps?
Stef: Wow...never thought Galadin that old. He was more likely 27 to me :p I know you must love all your characters, but which is your favorite? (to write and as a person – since it’s not always the same one)
Mysti: Oh wow, that’s a hard one. I really enjoyed writing Caliphany’s adventures. She’s so impulsive; I never knew what she might do. I think, though, in this particular story, I really like Galadin as a person. He’s fought the odds and lived to tell about it. He has a really good heart and loves Caliphany like crazy. I think we’d all like a guy like him!
Stef: Which character is most like you?
Mysti: *ahem* Caliphany. I’m a bit stubborn, not quite as impulsive, but I’m pretty fiery—not in the literal sense that she is though!
Stef: Lol - I know what you mean. That's the same thing I say about the character who's most like me. Uh, I'm most like Angie, but I'm not THAT impulsive :p I guess we push our own personalities further with these characters. You do an exceptional job with your support cast. What is your secret to making them so real?
Mysti: I love these questions—they’re really stretching my thinking muscles. Let’s see. With all my characters, I strive to make them realistically flawed in the midst of a fantasy setting. But they usually have a motivation for their flaws, which makes them more relatable, I think.
Cali’s father, Sirius, for instance, is a control freak that hasn’t let her travel out of the city or do anything other than train to be his replacement at the Mage Academy. But he wasn’t always like that. His first child and only son, Caelen, died fighting as a paladin in the king’s army. Sirius allowed Caelen to follow his dreams and lost him. He’s afraid he might lose Cali if he lets her out of his grasp. So, his obsessive behavior is not without reason.
Stef: There's a lesson we could all learn. So, where did you come up with the names for plants/animals/places/months in A Ranger’s Tale?
Mysti: Just like the character names, they came to me. Ok, so not entirely true. I do have a trick to those as well. I like to combine real names for things to make fantasy animal/plant names. Like willowvine for instance. Or I’ll take part of a word or fantasy word and add it to a basic word to make things like ebonwood or evynfruit, for instance. My favorites are probably the little elephant-like creatures called eleteens.
Months were a little trickier, but I’ve got a twelve-month calendar like our world, and several of the months, like Septune and Kersh, are based off dragon names that you will see in Book Three.
Stef: You have a winner there - it does make everything sound natural and cute. :D Do you plan on bringing Galadin and Cali back in a following novels? Give them some spot light?
Mysti: I think you’ve seen already that Cali is mentioned in my current WIP Serenya’s Song (for which you’re being a fantastic critique partner, by the way). I’d be willing to bet that she and Galadin will make an appearance there. Jayden’s going to need some help with all the crazy things happening in Summerwind.
Stef: Aaawww... Thanks, Mysti! Now let me torture you with some personal questions. Lightning round style. What helps you get those writer juices flowing?
Mysti: Reading and critiquing. I’ve been privileged to meet some very fine writers since I started this process. They are so inspiring!
Stef: What can’t you stand in a novel? Which results in a throw against the wall.
Mysti: Pointless babble is one thing. I actually started a romance novel last year from a bestselling author and skipped to the end because I was so bored. The hero and heroine just argued with each other through the first three-quarters of the book. Boring! Give me some action and romance, people! Doesn’t have to be erotica, but give me a story that keeps me rooting for the characters the whole way through.
Another thing that bugs me—pointless details. I don’t need to know the exact room dimensions and nap of the carpet. Let the characters pick out curtains off-screen. Unless it’s important to the meat of the plot, stick to the guns and tell the story!
Stef: What makes you love a novel? Can’t put it down, love.
Mysti: That one is harder. I’ve read a lot of books of many genres that are hard to put down. The characters have to carry it for me though. I’m a character-driven writer and reader. I don’t care how twisted the plot is, if I don’t feel like the characters are real, I’m not going to care about them.
The people need to be complex and emotionally-rich. Not 100% evil or perfect. And second to that is the plot and writing style. I don’t care if you know all the words in the English vocabulary. Please don’t use them all to tell the story. If a passage is so florid I have to read over it twice to understand it, that’s a turn-off. Simple language used in interesting ways keeps me turning those pages.
Stef: Give us something you’re scared of.
Mysti: Freaky-looking dolls. Even ones that aren’t that freaky-looking, like porcelain dolls. I don’t like being in the room with them. Seriously.
Stef: Lol, I get you. I watched Chucky when I was a kid and got so freakin' scared :p I always played with toy cars and LEGO when I was little, anyway. Something that makes you happy.
Mysti: Lots of things. Hearing my kids playing happily together. Or my son’s “monster hugs”. Or a warm cup of coffee. Good chocolate. Good books. Date nights. Sleeping late on weekends.
Stef: And now – give me an excerpt – I want your favorite scene from A Ranger’s Tale, right here, right now ;)
Mysti: As you wish, Miss Stefanie! I have a lot of favorite scenes, but this one is from chapter 8 (in Galadin’s POV), where Galadin is teaching Caliphany the art of concealment. I love this chapter because it shows how much fun these two have together as their romance blossoms.
It didn’t take me long to find her. She hadn’t mastered it quite yet, but she was having fun and truth be told, so was I. By the end of the week, I had a hard time finding her. I followed her tracks that particular day to the mouth of a cave at the top of a rise. The tracks ended before she reached the cave entrance. Crouching down, my back towards the cave, I studied the ground and smiled. She’d learned to cover her tracks, erasing them with a frond of fern leaves.
Before I could stand and catch her in the cave, she jumped on my back. I lost my balance, and we both rolled down the hill, tumbling head over heels until we reached the bottom. We sat up, leaves in our hair, dirt on our faces. When our eyes met, we melted into laughter.
I reached over and picked some leaves out of Cali’s hair. I brushed some dirt off her cheek, and my fingers lingered there a moment. Longing flickered in her beautiful eyes. The sounds of the forest faded, and for a moment, the world slipped away from my view. All I saw was the perfect creature in front of me, and my heart raced.
But I couldn’t let it go too far. With me, she’d only find trouble. It’s not like I hadn’t had a few trysts in my time, but this one was dangerous. If I wasn’t careful, she’d have my heart, and I couldn’t let that happen.
She nestled her cheek in my hand, but I pulled away and took my sword from its scabbard on my back.
It took me a second to find my voice. “N-Next week, we begin our sword lessons.”
Cali leaned in to look at the sword. “That’s beautiful. May I see it?”
I handed it to her. She held it on her lap and studied its design. Intricate engravings wound their way all along the double-edged blade and ivory hilt. It had been my father’s sword, the only thing I had left of him, and I’d fought tooth and nail to make sure it never departed from me. She traced her finger along the engravings; then she looked at me. Quick as lightning, she leaned in, and her lips brushed mine.I jumped up. “Well, um, we better get going. I’m sure you have lots to do, and so do I.” I brushed off my clothes and smacked the leaves from my hair. “Next week, bright and early.”
Stef: Awesome! Thanks for being here and for putting up with all my questions. I hope we’ll do this for Serenya’s Song as well ;;)
Mysti: It’s been fun and I definitely hope we can do this again! ~Mysti
Alrighty peeps, here's how it's gonna go down. Mysti is giving away a copy of her awesome book to some lucky groupie who will comment on her interview. So...here's the rules - if you're not already a follower, you know what to do ;) Then leave a comment with your email address, so I know who wants the nifty prize. Also, every commenter gets the chance to win a print copy of the book.
Winners of the e-book will be chosen on May 15th (so you have 10 days to comment) and the winner of the print copy, at the end of the tour.
So join the fun, and show Mysti the love. You can buy her book here and here.
Hope you all enjoyed yourselves. I know I did ;)