I have always loved writing. But in college, I went down a different path, I chose architecture. I liked it, as it was a challenge to train my brain to think big, about what changing the shape of a window might do to the room it was in and the exterior of the skyscraper it punctured...all at the same time. But after a few years, reality slayed me. All the meetings, schedules and fussy clients made it hard to remember what I liked about architecture in the first place.
I searched everywhere for the perfect career, one that was challenging, but that wouldn’t empty me every day, and leave me with just enough energy to pass out on the sofa with the latest Ben and Jerry flavor. I wanted to make a difference in someone’s day. After decades spent trying on different careers like hair styles, I came back around to writing. It’s such wondrous fun, and allows me to do what I do best, to create. I know it’s odd, but I call it frolicking because that’s exactly how it feels (for more on this, see my blog post on architecture, frolicking and fantasy).
Which authors inspire you the most?
I am enthralled by Dianna Wynne Jones, The Dark Lord of Derkholm is my favorite fantasy novel; and I absolutely adore the Harry Potter series, especially the early books. But my all time, favorite author will always be Jane Austen. I usually read one of her books every year or so and I’ve yet to be disappointed. Every time I crack one open, I discover something new to love. Now that’s the mark of a great writer isn’t it?
How did you get the inspiration for your novel?
Ambril’s Tale grew out of a snowy move to Utah when I was ten. It was quite a shock to a California girl like me. My sunny California friends were relaxed, and smiled a lot. In Utah, I found myself wedged into snow boots and lady like behavior.
I wanted to magic my way back to my California roots in the worst way, but settled for the magic I found in books instead. I started to write stories about escaping into other worlds and doing battle with dark demons. It helped me battle the demons of adolescence, though I wondered if I would ever tame them. I kept writing, off and on, for most of my life, then I mustered the courage to publish.
What is your favorite part about being an author?
I adore being able to produce something of my own, all by myself. My stories are something that I can give, whole heartedly to others. I weave my tales, conjure up my characters and hurriedly try to get it all down on paper as the scenes play out in my head. Then I wrap it all up with illustrations and hope that everyone likes it.
Illustrating my book helped me visualize my characters with greater clarity. I spent so much time with them that I felt I truly knew every detail. But the reality was that they were a little hazy around the edges until I sketched them. For instance, I always knew that Mr. Pinwydden wore socks, but I didn’t know that they were argyle, until I drew them!
What is your least favorite part about being an author?
Editing, editing, editing...yuk.
Sadly, I don’t think that I’m alone here. For fantasy writers like me, it’s tough to endlessly redo, restate, and reorganize. It’s loads more fun to break new ground and build out the backend of a kingdom. As Mark Twain said, “Writing is wrongly named, it really should be called Re-Writing.” Finessing sentences and phrases can get tedious the thirty fifth time around.
I have spent many a day beating my head against the pages of Ambril’s Tale until I’m bruised and bloody, striving for the perfect sentence.
Could you write a bit about what your publication process was like?
I belong to the California Writers Club. The year before I published Ambril’s Tale, we were inundated with lecturers telling us about how the traditional publishing world was in free fall and was just inches away from going splat on the pavement. We’re still waiting.
But let’s face it, the Internet is faster-cheaper-better. Traditional models of publishing will never be able to compete, unless they make serious adjustments to how they do business. As changes didn’t appear eminent, I decided to self-publish. I’ll probably continue to do so for the next couple of years—then I’ll go for a movie deal!
Do you have any upcoming projects?
Book two in Ambril’s Tale, Riding the Cursed Shoots, will be coming out in early 2013. I’m putting the finishing touches on it right now, including the illustrations. Hopefully, I will soon turn my attentions to the cover art. What fun!
Book three is still an unnamed first draft but is slated for release by 2014. That is, if I get Book 4 drafted by then! AARRGH! There is not enough time in the day.
Describe in three or fewer sentences what makes your book unique and why a reader should buy it.
Ambril’s Tale is a story for those who love to take sharp left turns into magical fantasy adventures. It’s a heartfelt story about a kid who sets out to heal her family, but who accidentally stumbles upon a secret which threatens to destroy her world. Will she be able to solve the mystery of her father’s death before she’s taken down, into the dark, by the demon who killed her father?
And Book Two, Riding the Cursed Shoots will be out in early 2013!
I’d love to hear from everyone,
Excerpt Chapter One
Of Chicken Legs and Bad Breath
The last thing Ambril remembered was the chicken-legged monster bending over her. She was pretty sure that had been after the tree ate the other thing. The creature with breath so bad that it had nearly melted her fingernails. But she couldn’t be sure.
Too many monsters—way too many.
She lay there for a time, letting her body wake up slowly. There was something covering her eyes, but she was too shaken to remove it. Oddly enough, she felt warm and cozy, like she was being rocked to sleep. Was this how it always felt after a near-death experience? She had nothing to compare it with, as she’d lived an ordinary life until an hour ago, when she’d been pelted by Brussels sprouts, accidentally fought off a demon with a decorated stick, and was almost vacuumed up by a smelly, smoky monster.
How had this all started?
Exactly when had she taken a sharp left turn into this weird, monster-infested place? She began thinking back, over her upside down day, trying to make sense of it all.
Her day had started when her mother had raced into her room and vaulted onto her bed. “Get up! We’re already late,” her mother had peered out the window at a murky yellow van parked in their driveway. “The movers are on time for once, which makes us, later than usual.” Her mother had cinched the tie of her robe more tightly when one of the movers had squinted up at Ambril’s window. “How many times is this, Sweetie?”
Ambril grunted from under her quilt as she felt her mother prod her with her big toe.
“Come on, Ambril, I’ve lost track. How many times have we moved?”
“Nine times.” Ambril’s tousled brown hair emerged from the covers.
Her mother smiled magnificently, “Nine times is the charm!” She jumped from the bed and was through the door before the old bedsprings had time to squeal. Ambril heard her skip down the stairs, and open the door, then the murmur of polite conversation had started up. Move number nine had begun.
Ambril groaned. She did not want to get up ever, ever again. She loved this old house, stuck on a hill and overlooking the San Francisco Bay. It had been home to Ambril, her brother and her mother for over a year, the longest time they had lived anywhere. But now, she had to act happy about moving to a boring, country town. OK, so it was the town where she’d been born, but it didn’t count if you didn’t remember it. They had left when she was only three. Trelawnyd, it was a stupid name for a town, Ambril thought, as she burrowed back under her quilt.
About Ambril's Tale, The Return of the Dullaith
Fourteen-year-old, Ambril struggles with the mystery surrounding her father’s death when she moves back to the mysterious town where she was born. When she accidentally uncovers a secret which threatens to destroy her entire family, she continues her quest, against all odds, to clear her father’s name. But will she be able to claim her magic and and heal the rifts in her family?
Ambril’s Tale, The Return of the Dullaith has received great 4-5-star reviews. Readers are impatiently demanding Book Two, which will be out early Spring 2013.
Giveaway InfoAt each blog stop on her tour, Wendy is giving away a prize, a copy of one of her books (paperback or e-book). You can also enter her 12-12-12 Grand Prize Giveaway of a sterling silver pendant of the Tree of Life, and an End-of-Tour Grand Prize Giveaway of a hand-painted gnome, hand-painted by Wendy herself! There will also be some surprise giveaways along the way! Stay tuned!
1) To win a book: leave a comment on this blog post about what you like about magic to be entered to win a copy of Ambril's Tale: The Return of the Dullaith in paperback or e-book format. Be sure to leave your email address in the comments so we can contact you if you’re the lucky winner. This giveaway ends five days after the post goes live.
2) To win one of the Grand Prizes: Click the link to go to Wendy's website and enter the Rafflecopter at the bottom of the page. A winner will be selected on Dec. 12th for the 12-12-12 for the sterling silver pendant of the Tree of Life. Here's Wendy's site: http://wendydwalter.com/blog-tour/.
(TO BLOGGER: if you can embed the Rafflecopter html, you’re welcome to do so! If you do embed it at the bottom of the post, then mention that in #2 above.):
a Rafflecopter giveaway
About The Author: Wendy D. Walter
Writing was an early passion for Wendy. As a kid, she wrote lots of stories, but being shy, they usually ended up under the mattress. When she finally set out to tell Ambril’s Tale, she decided not to write a story but a world, full with her own marvelous illustrations. She considers The Return of the Dullaith as just the curly tip of the fairy boot. Wendy lives near San Francisco with her husband, daughters, cat and border collie. More information about Wendy's book and art, check her site: http://wendydwalter.com.