Today I want to extend a warm welcome to fantasy author Anne Elisabeth Stengl. I discovered Anne's books this summer, and have been hooked since. Tales of Goldstone Wood is a series that follows brave young men and women who come of age in a world of dragons, enchanted forests, and powerful races. These poetic fairy tales contain messages of faith that resound throughout each book. I'm very happy that she's taken the time to come to my blog and say hello!
Thanks for stopping by! Let me start out by saying that the Tales of Goldstone Wood series is one of the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. The story is intricately woven and the young characters grow in strength and bear believable flaws and motivations. How did your ideas for these unique fairy tales come about?
Thank you so much, Brandi! I'm glad to hear you're enjoying my unfolding saga!
These ideas have been in my head for so long that it's hard to pinpoint when they first began developing. I can say that Starflower has been a story brewing since long before the first novel, Heartless, was even dreamed up! My first ideas for Starflower were hastily penned in a spiral-back notebook when I was seventeen. Two years later, I wrote a short-story version of it but found the concepts a little too big and unwieldy for me, even in a shortened form.
I think I honestly needed to live a little longer, experience a few more heartaches and triumphs, and learn more about myself and other people before I was ready to write Starflower. I also believe I had to write Heartless, which is a simpler story and possibly a better gateway into my world, before Starflower would come together the way I wanted it to.
One of the neat things I’ve noticed is that the series can be read in any order, with new facets and viewpoints of the characters revealed in each novel. That’s talent! Tell us a little about your writing process.
All of the stories in the Goldstone Wood series are inside my head, ready to be told, and I keep them all in mind as I'm writing individual tales, hence the intricate cross-referencing you see already in the first three books. It only gets more intricate from here! I have a ton of notes and documents to help me keep track of the world, histories, and timelines.
The individual stories are complex in themselves as well. Usually when I sit down to write a novel, I start with a pen and paper and simply rough out the concept in a shortened, fairy-tale form. I've done this since Heartless, and it works well to give me a basic sort of outline on which to build. Then I flesh out the outline, plugging in connections to other stories so that I can see at a glance as I go along how everything is fitting together. Despite the complexity of the outline, a surprising amount of spontaneity goes on within each draft, which keeps everything fresh and fun!
I noticed that you are a fencer. So am I, but you could probably make short work of this amateur, lol. What else do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Oh, I'm actually a terrible fencer! You probably could beat me! My husband is quite good and fun to watch at tournaments . . . I, on the other hand? Heheh. (Though I will note that the only time he and I have ever sparred, I won! A fluke win, sure, but I'll take what I can get.)I enjoy a lot of things. Since getting married, I have perfected the art of pastry-baking to the pleasure of my pastry-loving husband. I make pies, tarts, cream puffs, pasties, meat patties, etc. I am a decent classical pianist . . . nothing to write home about, but good. I really love music, and I used to sing jazz standards for wedding receptions and small restaurant gigs. Haven't done that in a long time, but it was fun!
I'm a former art teacher, and I still draw and paint a little as I have time. But the writing has eaten up the bulk of my creative energies, so art has definitely gone on the back burner!
And I am a total crazy cat lady. We live next to a feral cat colony, so my husband and I rescue and foster kittens until we can find them homes (though one or two of them found homes with us . . . lol). I also catch the wild adults and get them fixed, hoping thereby to fix this problem. No more homeless pets! Spay and neuter, my friends!
Oh, expect all the best things from fairy tales! Danger, dragons, curses, betrayals, poetry, monsters, heroes, one very spunky heroine, and, of course, a touch of romance!
Starflower is set a good 1600 years before the other three books in the series. So while there are many familiar characters, they may not seem familiar at first! Some of them go by different names; some of them have very different characters or personalities. Even some of the geographical locations are different from what you've come to know! It was an exciting challenge to tackle . . . and I am so pleased with the result. Starflower will be tremendously fun for those who have read the first three novels and are curious about some of the hinted storylines and relationships. It will also be an excellent beginning to the series for new readers!
I love watching these adventures unfold. Finally, any words of advice for our writers out there?
Read. Read and read and read! Read things you love, read things you don't love, and study how and why they were written that way. Read the classics . . . those writers knew how to tell a story that lasted, so you can bet they've got things to teach you! Read poetry, read history, but most especially, read the genre you love most, because that's the genre you should write.
For other writing-related advice, be sure to check out my blog (anneelisabethstengl.blogspot.com) every Friday for a Friday Tidbit. These are weekly offerings of writing advice that many young writers have found useful.
Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog, Brandi! This was a fun interview. And I hope all of you readers will enjoy Starflower and Eanrin's adventure. To keep track of all Goldstone Wood-related news and updates, please follow my blog and “Like” me on Facebook! (I'm also on Twitter, but still figuring out that bit of technology, so bear with me . . . )
Thanks for stopping by, Anne!
Hope you enjoyed meeting Anne. What were some of your favorite fairy tales growing up?