Friday 20 June 2014

Reborn Blog Tour - Interview and Review

Happy Friday! Today I'm very proud to be able to help out the talented Cherie Reich with the blog tour for her debut novel, Reborn. It's by no means her debut book though - I've thoroughly enjoyed Cherie's work in shorter forms, and Reborn does not disappoint. I got a chance to pick her brains on the genesis of Reborn and her love of classical mythology, and here are the results...

Hi Cherie. Congrats on the release of Reborn - I thought it was an excellent, involving read. Can you tell us a little about how the story came about?

Thank you, Nick! The idea blossomed from a character (Clarissa Black) I created for an online Harry Potter roleplaying game. This character was equally given the gift of prophecy after being brought back to life at birth. The idea stuck with me, even though Yssa and Clarissa had very different lives.

The thing about those ideas that want to be told is they don't leave you alone until you've dealt with them!

Can you tell us about how you started writing? Any tips for those who are considering such a career?

Back in 1999, I was obsessed with Phantom of the Opera (the musical, the movies, the books), so I started roleplaying in that world. For over ten years I honed my writing skills by roleplaying in different worlds and writing fanfiction. Although I don’t have an actual count, I probably wrote millions of words during this time. It wasn’t until 2009 that I decided to write in my own worlds.

My major tips for those who are considering a writing career are to write a lot and read a lot. Get your worked critiqued and pick up some smooth grammar moves.

Sounds like you have done some solid training. You can't beat reading and writing!

You write across a wide variety of genres - science fiction, horror, fantasy, yet each is recognisably your voice. Did this happen by accident, or was it a conscious decision to try lots of different things?

I wish I could say it was a conscious decision, but it wasn’t. I read different genres. I grew up reading mysteries, thrillers, and horror. In adulthood, I also added fantasy and some science fiction to my reading list. Reading across genres means my ideas often cross genres.

It's definitely good to read and write widely, some say you should choose your genre niche to write in, but I find it interesting to read different genres by the same writer. 

One thing that particularly impressed me about Reborn was the rich and multilayered worldbuilding. It seemed like a huge amount of time and effort had been put into creating this universe before you even started writing. Was that the case, or did it develop organically as the story went on?

A little of both actually. Back in 2006, I had the idea for this trilogy, so I drew a map and took some notes on gods, creatures, and people. I daydreamed about the storyline for three years before I wrote the first word. Some of the world came out in that first draft, but the world was honed and enriched during revisions and edits. To this day, it’s still showing me new things about it.

I thought the maps were a great touch. And it's always good to know exactly where your characters are!

You incorporate elements of classical mythology in your work, even in books that are set in space. Where did your interest in this area start, and how much time do you spend researching it? Do you have a favourite myth?

I’ve always love mythology. I enjoyed watching Hercules and Xena and seeing the gods and such interact with mortals. In high school we read Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. In college, I majored in Ancient Greeks and Romans (they called the major Classical Antiquities, but I often get confused looks when I say that) and minored in the Ancient Near East. I took classes on comparative mythology, which also included the Norse myths. So my majority of my research came while getting my Bachelors of the Arts.

My favorite myth would have to be the Homer’s The Odyssey. Odysseus is my favorite hero, and Athena, who features prominently in the tales, is my favorite goddess.

I like Jason and the Argonauts. Ray Harryhausen's films are also excellent myth adaptations.

Yssa has the ability to foresee events, yet she doesn't always appreciate this gift as it comes with a heavy burden of responsibility. What would be your ideal magical power?

As golden as it would be to see the future, I’d rather have the gift of speedy travel, whether it be flying or apparating from place to place.

That would be a heck of a time saver!

Another thing that stands out in your work is the romance element, with characters that come across as real and relateable no matter what race or species they are. Would you have any plans to write a straight romance story?

Yes, I do have plans for a few actually. Back in 2011, I wrote a YA contemporary novel with romantic elements. It needs a major rewrite, and I have to come up with my own musical for the novel to work, but I’d one day like to get back to it. I also have a couple ideas for NA contemporary romances. Of course, I find that contemporary needs so much more research than fantasy. I can’t just make things up. LOL!

Good point. A musical sounds very ambitious!

You keep up a very active social media presence, and also work as an editor and library assistant. How do you go about balancing all these roles and are there any tips you can pass on? Can you tell us a bit about your daily routine?

Balancing different roles can be very difficult. In the past year I’ve had to give up being a freelance editor, although I still do critiques for my critique partners. I had to decide if I wanted time to work on my own writing or other people’s, and I chose my own. I’m very lucky I work full-time for a small academic library. When I don’t have work-related work, then I can do as I please, whether that be social media, reading, or writing. So I’ll often come into work, catch up on the day job, check out social media, and then see where the rest of the day takes me, whether it includes writing, editing, blogging, or reading.

The best tips about balancing multiple roles are to be organized, make lists, set goals (daily, weekly, monthly), and not be too hard on yourself if you don’t get everything done as planned.

Sounds like the sort of job I'd like. And it's quiet, too!

How are you getting on with the follow-up works in the Fate Challenges series, and are there any advance nuggets of info you could share? (Feel free to shoot me rather than answer this question, if you'd prefer!)

Well, I must admit working on the next books has been rather slow. I spent the past five months almost exclusively on Reborn, so I’m a bit out of practice when it comes to writing first drafts. I’m currently working on Repledged (a prequel story set 800 years before Reborn, which I plan to offer for free later this year). After I finish Repledged, then I will write Remarked (a novella told from Liam’s point of view and book 1.5 in the series). Then, it’ll be time to write Repledged (#2), Reigned (another prequel set 500 years before Reborn), and Redestined (#3). My goal is to write and publish the rest of the series within the next couple years.

And I’m really trying to keep mum on what happens next, even though I want to tell everyone what happens next, but I can say The Fate Challenges isn’t the only series set in the world of Amora. The God Challenges will feature the god Apenth and a new Phoenix Prophetess set 2500 years after Reborn. There will also be a prequel novel, which will explore the true Prophecy of Sólfœra and will be set 2000 years after Reborn.

You've got your work cut out! I look forward to reading them all.

Finally, could you sum up Reborn in five words? 

A prophetess must challenge Fate. OR Coming-of-age tale with chosen one.

I do love the idea of her not only foreseeing fate, but having the ability to change it. It's a great hook!


To save a kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.

On the day of Yssa’s death and rebirth, the god Apenth chose her as the Phoenix Prophetess.

Sea serpents and gods endanger the young prophetess’s journey and sour the omens. Yssa is cursed instead of blessed, and her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove it. She spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. But the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son Liam proves to be a distraction she can’t predict, even though he rarely leaves her alone for two sand grains.

Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when visions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races across an ocean to stop the future. If she can’t change Fate, she’ll refuse to be the Phoenix Prophetess any longer. Fate, however, has other plans for her and the kingdom.

Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight to change Fate.

Available in Ebook and Print!

Click here to add on Goodreads.

The authors of Untethered Realms and I are giving away over $50 worth of books to one lucky winner. The giveaway is open internationally.

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A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the horror collection Nightmare, a space fantasy novella collection titled Gravity, and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles and The Fate Challenges. Reborn is her debut novel. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms. For more information, please visit her website.

And for good measure, here is my review of Reborn. I was honoured to receive an ARC from Cherie.

Reborn is a brilliant, absorbing fantasy novel that really gripped me and didn't let go. It has many classic fantasy elements, as well as some that may not be so familiar, but what really made it work was coupling these with the story of a young girl that is easy to relate to. Yssa is a typical teenage girl in many ways - growing up on a small island, she is slightly gauche and unsure of herself. She has a crush on her childhood friend. But she has been marked out as special from the day she was born (or reborn) as the Phoenix Prophetess, a child chosen by a god to serve her kingdom by foreseeing events. She doesn't always appreciate this gift, and longs to be normal. There is a heartbreaking moment that makes her feel her blessing is more of a curse. But she is also a brave character, and rises to the challenges that come her way. I feel Yssa was a really well-drawn character, and that also goes for the other main players in this book, especially Queen Samarra, who I never entirely trusted.

Another main point that made me love this book was the worldbuilding. It is clear that Reich has spent a lot of time and effort painstakingly creating a universe with its own races, laws, customs and gods. Sparkling descriptions made me feel fully involved in the scenes. There were even maps provided, which you don't get in every book. There were many interesting creatures, such as the karshiptas, perytons and woodwoses.

The pacing, I feel, was spot on. It is a fairly slow start, but this allows the scene to be set and the reader to become familiar with the characters' world. After the heartbreaking moment alluded to above, it just builds and builds until it becomes unputdownable. And you don't get much higher stakes than the destruction of an entire kingdom. Although the story was resolved at the end, there are still questions unanswered and I can't wait to read the forthcoming installments to find out more. All in all, a rich and satisfying fantasy with characters you can invest in that I would recommend to anyone. 5 stars.


Elise Fallson said...

Congratulations, Cherie! And what a great interview and review. :)

Heather R. Holden said...

Such a great, thorough interview with Cherie! This review has made me more intrigued by Reborn, too. I've always adored mythology and am constantly inspired by it, so it's cool to see that Cherie is as well! :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

She does have a very distinct voice - and that's a good thing.
Congratulations, Cherie!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I think a lot of people would say you have a dream job. Congrats, Cherie.

Anonymous said...

Cherie's great at speculative fiction and I think she'll do well in contemporary fiction too.

Loni Townsend said...

Grats Cherie! I'm convinced it's a book I want to read. :)

Cherie Reich said...

Thank you so much for hosting me, Nick, as well as reading and reviewing Reborn!

Thank you, Elise!

I definitely love mythology and it keeps inspiring me, Heather.

Glad it's a good thing, Alex! And here I used to worry if I had my own voice in writing only to find out I actually do. LOL!

I think I do too, Diane! Even though the pay isn't much, I wouldn't willingly leave it unless I was making a ton of money on my writing.

Thank you, Medeia! I do hope to branch into some contemporary fiction one of these days.

Thank you, Loni! :)

Stephanie Faris said...

Great interview. Cherie is very active on social media! So sorry she had to give up editing. I don't have the patience to sit still long enough to edit. I have to be writing!

Cherie Reich said...

I try to make the rounds, Stephanie. :) I enjoy writing much more than editing.

cleemckenzie said...

I agree that while you write in one or two categories, reading widely is a great way to improve and expand on your writing.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I love the five word summary of Reborn "A prophetess must challenge Fate." Its intriguing. Too bad Cherie had to give up editing. But,I think its for the best, as this way she can concentrate on her writing.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Flying would be a great ability to have! Great interview Nick and Cherie :-)

DMS said...

I'm so excited for Cherie. Her book looks beautiful and sounds so intriguing. What a great interview! I would love to have speedier travel abilities. Flying or apparating. Yes, please. :)

Patsy said...

Very dramatc cover.

Cherie Reich said...

I do love reading in many genres, Lee (cleemckenzie)!

Thank you, Rachna! The money was good when I was editing, but I love writing more.

It really would, Annalisa!

Aww, thank you, Jess (DMS)! I must admit I hate traveling because it takes too long, so if they could fix that, then I'd love to visit different places.

Thank you, Patsy!

Shelley Sly said...

That was a really neat interview, and the cover of Reborn looks so cool! I like that role playing led to writing. :)

Cherie Reich said...

Thank you, Shelley! And I definitely wouldn't be a writer today without having roleplayed first.

Leigh Covington said...

Fantastic interview and CONGRATS Cherie! The book sounds awesome and I am totally digging the cover! Can't wait to read it!

Michelle Wallace said...

That cover is striking!
Such a great interview!
Thanks Nick and Cherie.
Writer In Transit

Connie Keller said...

Congrats, Cherie!

The cover art is gorgeous. And the story sounds fascinating.

Nicole said...

V. cool to read how Yssa came about! Congrats, Cherie.

Cherie Reich said...

Thank you, Leigh! :)

Thanks, Michelle!

Thank you, Connie!

And I do love how Yssa came to be, Nicole.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic interview and review. You liked the same elements I did in the book, Nick. Cherie is a master at worldbuilding!

Unknown said...

Reborn sounds like such an intriguing book! Cherie, I love how you are so open and honest with how this story was lingering for years before you wrote the first word. I'm interested to see what kind of world you have created!
Best advice ever... to keep reading and writing. There is so much we can learn from reading each other's work as well as continuing to write our own; no matter how many genres we are in love with. Like yourself, I have several brands... from picture books to crime to fantasy. Best of luck with Reborn and thank you for sharing, Nick!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Cherie and Nick .. what a great post and review. Such an interesting background Cherie - no wonder you write .. and have found the perfect job ... sounds an ideal world: especially now you've given yourself more time.

The book sounds fascinating .. good luck with the sales ..

Cheers to you both - Hilary

David P. King said...

Glad you took your time developing this story, Cherie. Some like to jump right in, as was my case with my first story. I doubt I can fix it now. There are other stories I want to do but have decided to hold off because I don't yet have the skill set to pull it off.

Onward and upwards! :)

Cherie Reich said...

Aww, thank you, Christine! I must admit I do love world-building.

Thank you, Gina! That's so true about reading and writing.

Thanks, Hilary! As much as I enjoy reading and all the stories I've had in my head, it really is no wonder I turned to writing eventually.

I'm a dweller, David. I usually have an idea for a story months and years before I ever write a word.

M Pax said...

Cherie is a very busy person. She gets so much done. I need her mojo.

Crystal Collier said...

Woot, woot! Can't wait to read it. Way to go, Cherie!

kjmckendry said...

Loved the interview! Congratulations Cherie, I can't wait to read it it sounds great and the cover is awesome! I can't believe how many books you already have planned out, that makes me tired just thinking about it! :) Good Luck!

Shah Wharton said...

Congrats Cherie on a great review, he really sold your book to me (along with an awesome cover) and I loved the interview. I love getting to know more about my talented blog list. :)

Cherie Reich said...

Well, I always wish I could get more done, Mary!

Thank you, Crystal!

Hehe! Sometimes they make me tired thinking about them too, kmckendry! But they also excite me as well.

Thank you, Shah!

Morgan said...

Oh, Cherie rocks!!!!!

What a fab interview. I was TOTALLY all about Phantom when it was all the craze. Loved it. And Cherie's book of course looks Ah-mazing.

And Nick, it's been too long! I'm so glad to "see" you for a moment!