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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Starlight Saturday

Welcome Author
Renee Wildes

Renee Wildes

When you think of Wisconsin, one of the first things that comes to mind would be one or more of the following: Beer, Brats and Cheese (anything dairy as we are the "Dairy State"). But "writer" or "author" wouldn't necessarily get added to that list because not everyone realizes just how many authors actually reside in Wisconsin. Not all of them were born here (Peter Straub came from Milwaukee), but many of them, like Neil Gaiman, have settled here from somewhere else.

What does that have to do with a romance author? Well, Renee is one of those authors who resides in Wisconsin - it doesn't matter if she's homegrown or transplanted, she's still talented and I like it that she calls Wisconsin home!

Renee's here to promote her latest release, Dust of Dreams. Let's check out her interview and she what sneak peeks she has for us!

ME: Almost anywhere you go in the US, Independence Day is celebrated with parades, firework displays, cookouts and music – sometimes on July 4th and sometimes earlier depending upon what day of the week the 4th falls on. What celebration plans are going on in your area, and when will they happen?

RENEE: We live in Wausau - a small city in central WI. They have a parade, and a fair that goes on all weekend. Rides, carnival games, fair food. They bring in bands – and beer. For the fourth they usually schedule fireworks at dusk. But we’ve had so much rain the fireworks never happened.

ME: What kinds of festivities would a traveler find at this celebration? What sights, sounds and smells might he or she encounter?

RENEE: It’s just like a small-town county fair w/o the critters. People put up flags all over town. It smells like a big BBQ – roasted corn on the cob, BBQ ribs and bratwurst. (We ARE talking WI here!) The ground gets really sticky w/spilled beer. The bands play all day, and there are the flashing lights from the carnie area and the clank of the rides. You have to watch out for all the power cords so you don’t fall flat on your face.

ME: What about you and your family? What plans do you have for celebrating Independence Day?

RENEE: We usually go to my trainer’s farm for a big BBQ w/fireworks, but the last couple years they haven’t had one. (Finances have hit everyone pretty hard – we’re all cutting back.) We just had a family cookout, with sparklers and those popper things you throw at the sidewalk for the kids. It ended up pouring rain so we went to the movie theater and saw “Knight and Day.” Place was packed – lots of people trying to escape the rain.

ME: Is there any favorite treat that you must consume during an Independence Day celebration?

RENEE: Always have corn-on-the-cob and those red-white-and-blue popsicles

ME: In many areas, people like to purchase their own fireworks and set them off – snakes, bottle rockets, and sparklers among others. What’s your opinion on fireworks – take them or leave them? Which ones are your favorites?

RENEE: I love watching them but leave them to the professionals. They’re dangerous! We stick to poppers and sparklers. Love the colored sparklers – kids have fun with them. They pretend to have wizard duels with them.

ME: A day some might consider as equally important is Bastille Day on the 14th commemorating the storming of the prison fortress, Bastille, in 1789 when the French people stormed the fortress, putting an end to “the tyranny of King Louis XVI’s monarchy”. Celebrations are beginning to be held in major cities across the country celebrating French history. One of the largest celebrations in the country happens in Milwaukee, WI (4 day long festival beginning with a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille, complete with a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica) a tradition starting 27 years ago makes it one of the city’s oldest festivals. Is Bastille Day celebrated in your area? If so, how? What sights, sounds, and cuisine will travelers stumble upon?

RENEE: N/A up here.

ME: Are there any other festivities that take place in your area that a traveler might enjoy local culture and traditions? If so, what are they and where would a traveler go to find them?

RENEE: We have an annual hot air balloon rally, a Chalkfest where local artists draw on the sidewalks all around the town square, a couple of citywide art fairs, a “battle of the bands” and a blues festival. Go to for full listings.

ME: We’ve had our fun now, so let’s put the focus on your writing. While there are many genres to choose from, what specifically brought you to romance? Why this genre over the others?

RENEE: Not just romance, but for me FANTASY ROMANCE. I’m a huge Joseph Campbell disciple. I own the Kalevala. I grew up reading fantasy authors Terry Brooks and Mercedes Lackey, and then got into reading romance (Julie Garwood’s historicals).

I have to have my HEAs! I love stories where good always triumphs over evil and the girl always gets the guy, so now I write my own.

ME: Even though the popularity of the romance genre continues to grow, it’s still not always a highly respected genre. What, in your opinion, is the reason for the continued interest in the genre and for the lack of respect it receives?

RENEE: Ouch! I think the popularity is the escapism into a fantasy where no matter how bad things get in the book, you KNOW things’ll turn out right in the end. So much of real life is NOT a HEA. People need something positive.

I think people who don’t get it think it’s some kind of “crutch.” Or they confuse love scenes w/pornography. I always tell people I’m proud to write stories with strong heroines who make a difference in their worlds, with supportive heroes who are strong enough to let the heroines be themselves.

I want my daughter to grow up to be a strong woman who takes control of her own destiny, and my son to grow up to admire and respect women as equals.

ME: A holiday we didn’t discuss above is Parents’ Day. What traits, in your opinion, make for a good parent? Have any of these traits, been inspiration for a character’s personality and actions in your stories? If so, how? Which character(s), which trait(s) and why?

RENEE: A good parent has to set an example. They have to be a good listener, open-minded, consistent and fair. They have to be adaptable and know when to compromise and when not to. I learn as much from my kids as I hope they learn from me.

My heroine in Lycan Tides is Finora, a stranded selkie who’s also a widow and a single mom. She yearns to return to the sea, but fears finding her skin because then what happens to her children? Everything she is and does is colored by the fact that her kids come first. Part of her challenge with the hero Trystan is coming to understand that moms are women, too, and sometimes it’s okay to do something just for yourself.

ME: For a writer, inspiration can be found everywhere and in almost anyone, but sometimes specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits, events or situations that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, Dust of Dreams, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?

RENEE: It sounds like a weird combination, but it wasn’t a specific person, but a couple of events. I’ve always loved the principle of the Olympics, how everyone can get together for a common goal, a sporting event, regardless of politics or whatever. I wanted to get an “enemies-are-just-people” theme going. And when I was teenager, I was a big-time tomboy. I was in a Wilderness Challenge club with snowshoeing, whitewater rafting – and caving. We took a caving trip in Missouri that I remember to this day. Dark winding passages, sticky red-clay mud, mineral water – and bats. So I did a setup where my elven hero has to help a goblin child (elves and goblins have been warring for centuries) and the goblins live underground.

ME: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is not the first book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)

RENEE: Pryseis is a dream faerie with amethyst eyes and iridescent hair. Her wings are actually solar panels, which is why going underground to help a goblin child escape his nightmares is so personally risky for her. Benilo is an elven spirit healer, with pale blond hair, blue eyes (and yes, pointy ears). They actually meet in a dream. She’s determined to help the child. He’s determined to help her. They’re both compassionate, serious people with a rebellious streak. They have to be rebels, or neither would have been permitted to help a goblin, child or no.

EXCERPT: Deciding it worth the risk, he drew Pryseis into his arms and held her close, reaching out with his own mind to brush hers. “Pryseis?” He waited a moment. “Can you hear me?”
Pryseis stirred. “It worked. You’re still alive.” She opened her eyes, and gasped. “You look terrible!” she whispered, reaching out her hand to trace his lips.
He fought the temptation to drown in her misty amethyst gaze, and reached out with his mind to touch the pain she bore—part overreaching with her own gift and part the sorcerer’s attack. He pulled it from her, much as he had the nightmares of the women and girls in Shamar. Then it had poisoned him. One more now would not make much difference.
But it would help Pryseis.
“What did you do?” she mind-sent. “Cease. Heal yourself first.”
“I did.” He pulled some more power from the elements until the double-headache receded. “I imagine I look worse than I feel.”
She snorted. “Somehow I doubt it.”

ME: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes, even if the author did not intend this to happen. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these characters gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? Is there the possibility for them to get their own story? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)

RENEE: I ended up with a subplot of Pryseis’ nephew and Benilo’s apprentice teaming up on their own rescue mission. Dax is half-forest troll, half-dream faerie – he’s dealt with the prejudice of others his entire life. Prince Brannan is a fledgling elven spirit healer whose younger brother was killed in battle by trolls. They have to learn to work together, and actually start to become friends before something threatens to break that bond forever. Prince Brannan’s a recurring minor character throughout the series. Dax, though, got to me – he’s getting his own book down the road.

EXCERPT: Pryseis stumbled from the chambers, numb with disbelief. Dax caught her elbow and steadied her as she made her way down the long glittering hallway to her rooms.
“You needn’t do this,” he stated.
She turned to him. “A child needs my help.”
“A goblin lad,” he snarled. “He’s not worth your life.”
She faltered at the depths of his rage. Fierce and bitter. ’Twas the true Dax. His deference was but a mask. “What makes my life more worthy than his?” Pryseis challenged. “Goblin, troll or faerie, a child is still entitled to grow up without harm or fear.”
“And what about your need for sunlight?” Dax clenched his square jaw and traced the edge of one of her wings with his finger. “You’ve never gone without direct radiance for more than a night afore. I don’t want you to end up like Shallar. You’re all I’ve got.”
She felt her smile wobble. “I love you too. I’ll be fine. We’ll be back afore anything happens.” Did she try to reassure him, or herself?
Concern flickered in his eyes. “It could be a trap. You can’t trust the goblins.”
Which troubled her more—the direction Dax’s mind wandered, or the part of her suspecting he might be right? Was there more to the lad’s calling? There must be a better way than suspicion, accusation and conflict. Pgah, she tired of it all!
“’Tis a suffering lad. He’s in my head and in my heart. I must help…or I’ll go mad.”
He raised a heavy brow, but stepped aside at the door. “Try to get some sleep.” Matted coils of brown hair swung about his broad shoulders as he strode away. The confident stalk of a predator, long-legged and full of lethal grace. At least his troll blood negated a faerie’s need for the pool. Dax never craved the waters, never faded from their lack.
Unlike Pryseis, who soaked the sun in through her wings and drank from the pool to sustain herself.

ME: So, want to read more? Here's more of an excerpt from Dust of Dreams:

All her light—and all his love—may not be enough to hold the nightmares at bay…
Guardians of Light, Book 4

Mingling with other races is strictly forbidden, but dream faerie Pryseis has no choice. An innocent goblin child suffers dangerous nightmares, and it should be a simple task to cure him and return to her anxious sisters before the council knows she’s gone.

Yet there’s a reason a creature of air and sunlight has no business underground. Now in chains, prisoner of an ungrateful goblin sorcerer, Pryseis despairs that anyone will save her. Her only comfort—the memory of a man she can only touch in her dreams.

Benilo ta Myran, with the reluctant blessing of his elven king and queen, takes up a quest some would call mad, driven by the certain knowledge that the beautiful faerie who invades his dreams is in danger. He carries a terrible secret—war has broken his healing powers—yet he cannot leave her to face the darkness alone.

The first touch of their flesh surpasses their most erotic dreams, but the nightmare has just begun. There’s the suffering child, and a sorcerer who won’t go down without a fight. And the clock is ticking down for Pryseis, who must return home—or fade away.

Warning: Beware of wounded bunnies, hungry trolls, low ceilings, glowing mold and goblins bearing gifts. Most of all, beware beautiful faeries and hot elves appearing in your dreams. They may lead you astray…and steal your heart.

What to do when nightmares become real?
Kneeling on the damp, stony ground, Pryseis took a deep, shuddering breath of frosty mountain air and stared at her sunlit reflection in the shimmering pool. She ran a hand through her hair, watched the long, iridescent strands slide through her fingers in the streaming sunbeams. Light which made her wings tingle as they absorbed energy directly from the sun’s rays. The fading glow warned her the end of the day fast approached. Dread seized her at the thought of sleep. Every night the same small, scared voice in the dark haunted her dreams. “Help me…save me…” She’d added her magic to her sister faeries’ to ease his suffering. But the group’s spirit-nets had no effect on the child. Now he’d faded from their senses and singled her out. None other still heard his cries. His anguish was in her head, in her heart.
And she couldn’t get him out.
Somewhere down below the barren mountain, in the Shadowlands, a goblin child needed help. He called to her. Just to her. Drew her to him with bits of nightmares, fear and anxiety. Pryseis ached to go to him, ease his suffering. Dreams were her especial realm. She never failed. The certainty had grown for days. She could help him…if she could find him.
There was the crux. Thanks to their need for the pool’s elixir, faeries never left Crystal Mountain. One cupped handful of the renewing waters every seven sunrises to stay strong and immortal. Just one had ever tried—her grandmother Shallan—and she’d failed, nearly died.
Pryseis’ sisters would never let her go.
She squared her shoulders and strode toward the shining crystalline palace where the council chambers were housed. This lad’s nightmares differed. They affected everyone around him. Something ominous stirred below the mountain. The traditional methods, gentle influence of the many, failed. Time for a new way. Light against darkness. One-on-one, she and the lad. Who would prove stronger? Who would prevail?
The council would capitulate. They must.
Dax met her on the rocky path connecting the pool to the palace. She stared up at her grown nephew, who stood a full head and shoulders above her. Halfling son of her dead brother—half dream faerie, half forest troll. Both. Neither.
“Good morning, Lady Aunt.” His voice was deeper than her brother’s, rough-edged.
Lursa, that title turned her into a doddering oldster! “Good morning, Dax. I go to address the council. Care to walk with me?”
He fell in one step behind her, deep brown eyes downcast. Pryseis wanted to scream at his deference. Why did he never look her in the face? What expression would he show? What did he feel, think of all this? “I’m requesting you as a bodyguard,” she announced.
Dax froze. “What?”
Her small wings fluttered with agitation in the cold light of the setting sun. They prickled as they wrung the last bit of energy from the waning sunlight. “You heard me.” He was the only one she trusted to stand with her in the upcoming confrontation with the council.
And after.
Dax grunted and resumed walking. He took troll stoicism to new heights.
Pryseis stared at the crystal palace, glittering with icy radiance against the stark grandeur of the barren mountaintop. Home of the faeries for millennia. Creatures of air and fire, bound to water, stuck on earth. High atop Crystal Mountain, she touched sun and sky, that glorious cold streaming light. The dreams and secrets of the world swirled around her, carried on the wind.
What lurked in the darkness below, so far from the light of the sun?
Yet the darkness drew her, spun from the child below.
Please let the council see the light of truth.
A massive rock troll named Braxx greeted her at the palace entrance. Twice as tall and broad as Dax, the armed sentry bowed, a mountain unto himself. Rough, bark-like skin stretched taut across bulging layers of muscle. “Lady Pryseis, I was about to summon you. Lady Maeve orders your presence.”
Pryseis shivered. Maeve had watched her these past few days, ever since the nightmares ensnared her. Maeve could be her staunchest ally or fiercest opponent in the next few minutes. “Best not keep her waiting.”
Braxx moved to block Dax. “Just council members.”
“Dax is with me.” Pryseis stared down the immense troll as if he didn’t tower over her.
Braxx yielded, lowering his gaze. “As you wish, Lady Pryseis.”
Pryseis raised her head, squared her shoulders and swept into the council chambers, Dax in her wake. “You called for me, sisters?”
Silence greeted her inquiry. Maeve, council Prime and strongest of the golden hope faeries, recovered first. She straightened in her ornate thronelike chair. “We worry for you, Councilor.”
Not good news when they addressed by title rather than name.

4 Moonbeams (comments):

Sandy said...

M.E., you ask the most interesting questions. Great job.

Renee, it sounds like your story could be set in present day. Very good.

Renee Wildes said...

I try to keep w/relevent themes, and cooperation and friendship are universal. But I like the "escape from the everyday" worldbuilding, too!

katsrus said...

Hi Renee. I didn't realize you from WI. I live in Stoughton. I'm sure you already know I think your book cover is amazing. And the excerpt of your book sounds so good. This was a great interview. Learned some more about you and your books.
Sue Brandes

Carrie said...

Thanks Sandy! Thanks for stopping by! Interesting profile image! Now I'm curious - where do I find it! lol!

Renee - Thanks for being so patient with me! I'm finally now just starting to feel better! Thanks again for joining us! We really would love to have you in the moonlight anytime!

Thanks for stopping by Sue! Glad you enjoyed the interview! Nice profile pic!