Jun 12, 2012

Dragonswood Blog Tour: Interview & Excerpt

Today I have author Janet Lee Carey on the blog as part of her blog tour for Dragonswood hosted by Dark Mind Book Tours! I'll be doing an interview with her as well as sharing an excerpt from Dragonswood with you guys! You can find the next tour stop over at All Things About Books.

Summary from Goodreads

Wilde Island is not at peace. The kingdom mourns the dead Pendragon king and awaits the return of his heir; the uneasy pact between dragons, fairies, and humans is strained; and the regent is funding a bloodthirsty witch hunt, hoping to rid the island of half-fey maidens.

Tess, daughter of a blacksmith, has visions of the future, but she still doesn't expect to be accused of witchcraft, forced to flee with her two best friends, or offered shelter by the handsome and enigmatic Garth Huntsman, a warden for Dragonswood. But Garth is the younger prince in disguise and Tess soon learns that her true father was fey, making them the center of an exciting, romantic adventure, and an ancient prophecy that will bring about peace between all three races - dragon, human, and fairy.

Me: When did you first know you wanted to write a book and become an author?

Janet: I first knew when I was up in a tree. Seriously! I read fantasy stories high in the branches of acacia trees when I was a child, I fell in love with books and wanted to become an author.

 (Janet with a banyan tree)

Me: Where did the idea for Dragonswood storyline come from?

Janet: All my novels come from character and the struggles of the human heart. I was studying the bizarre beliefs that led to the witch trials in medieval Europe when I landed on the fact that woman were made to give up theirs friends name under torture. I asked myself how I'd feel if I'd given the names of my friends and was responsible for their arrest, torture, and possibly their deaths. I knew then I had found a "story seed". I soon discovered the danger Tess gets in after she divulges the names of her friends to the witch hunter and the three girls have to go on the run disguised as lepers. Tess is determined to right the wrong she's done to her friends. She's also hiding a secret that draws her deep into the fey realm of Dragonswood. The story tests her loyalty to her friends, her first love, and ultimately to herself.

Me: Did you intend for Dragons Keep to be a stand alone or did you know that you would be writing Dragonswood to go with it?

Janet: I thought Dragons Keep was a stand alone. Was I wrong about that! New characters and stories keep entering through the door I opened in Draongs Keep, and more keep coming all the time. Jackrun appears in the epilogue of Dragonswood. He came to the page bearing his own story which unfolds when he's seventeen in book three, Dragons Gift, where I explore dragon fire, family brokenness, and healing.   

Me: If you could spend a day with one of your characters from Dragonswood who would you pick?

Janet: I'd spend the day with Tess. I'd feed her (the poor girls been starving) then take her to the beach where we could hike and swim and where she could climb trees-we're both tree climbers.

Me: The cover for Dragonswood is really gorgeous! Did you have any say in how it turned out?

Janet: A few ideas popped into my head as I wrote Dragonswood. I imagined Tess entranced by the vision she sees in her fire-sight of a man swinging his sword in the flames. Later I thought it would be interesting to show Tess disguised in her leper's clothing and clutching a knife. I wanted to show how strong she is and what she's up agaisnt. I talked about these images with my editor, Kathy Dawson, at Dial. It wasn't till later when we were discussing the kind of gown Tess would wear that I realized the cover art might end up being far different than what I'd imagined. But I wasn't quite ready to let go quiet yet. In one phone call I asked my editor, "Will Tess have a knife in her hand?" Kathy paused a moment, then said, "I think you will be surprised in the direction this cover is going Janet."

A few weeks later I clicked on the art photo she sent. My first reaction was one of awe. I was so grateful to the team at Dial for going in an entirely different direction than I'd envisioned, and for their stunning work.

Me: Thanks so much for answering all these questions Janet! It was a pleasure having you hear today.

Janet: Thank you for the interview questions and the chance to share stories and dreams with you hear on Novel Nerd.

And now here is the excerpt from Dragonwood! This excerpt will be coming from Chapter Five when Tess, Poppy, and Meg are on the run from the witch hunter. Enjoy!

Dragonswood was just across the road from our camp here in the cliff. I’d tried to convince Meg and Poppy we’d be safer walking inside the refuge. Dragonswood’s eastern wall traced Kingsway north to Oxhaven, where Grandfather lived, and beyond that all the way to Pendragon Castle. But my friends wouldn’t go over the wall. Poppy feared we might be fey-struck like Mad Jack, who’d gone off hunting one day, and returned a week later, singing, snarling, and pissing in public. Meg believed the gossip that the fey cruelly punished trespassers, casting spells on them and turning them into Treegrims. All the years I’d gone to Dragonswood, I’d never seen a dragon or a fairy harm a man or find a person magicked into a tree. Still, in our four days running north, I’d stayed on this side of the wall.
We’d not gone far enough; spent too many hours searching for food, begging in our leper’s garb. Tomorrow I would make my friends walk faster no matter how hungry we all were. I was thinking this, stirring the coals, when a woman’s high-pitched screams cut through the night. We all jumped up, alert and trembling.
“Where’s it coming from?” Poppy cried. 
We raced to the cliff edge overlooking town and harbor. Far below us, smoke rose from the town square. At first I thought a cottage was alight. Thatch roofs easily catch fire, and when they do, the house burns swiftly. But from our lookout spot, I focused on the rising smoke and saw now it came from a witch fire in the middle of the town square.
Townsfolk dressed in black moved in a great, slow circle around the bonfire. The girl they’d bound to the stake shrieked louder as the blaze raced across the logs, catching her white gown at the hem. Up on the cliff under the hawthorn trees, I clung to Meg and Poppy. Her screams ripped through us.
Two mounted figures rode in, the bonfire bathing them in golden light. Meg saw who it was and yelped. Poppy quickly covered her mouth. “The witch hunter can’t see us so far away up here,” she said. “And these trees and bushes will hide us.”
From behind us, I heard the deep woofing sound of pumping wings. A massive shadow swooped overhead. Against the night the dragon’s scales seemed black. Tail whipping in the wind, he dove for town. At first the townsfolk did not see him, so when the dragon swept into the square, tearing the girl and staff straight up from the burning pyre, the folk below had little time to run. Some few scrambled into shop doorways. Most dropped to the cobbles, covering their heads.
The dragon spooked Lady Adela’s horse, who galloped off full speed, the Gray Knight racing behind. High above the town, the dragon dipped up and down awkwardly, trying to reach the sea. The tip of his left wing burned, and so did the girl in his claws. He made it just beyond the harbor. Skimming but a few feet above the bay, he dipped both girl and wing in the water, and put the fire out.
Meg and Poppy stayed by the hawthorns, but I stepped out a little, watching the great dragon. Twice lit by the moonlight above and reflected in the sea, the dragon was the same old one I’d spied from the branches, the same one who’d dropped a turtle in the millpond. His yellowing scales and the long neck scar confirmed it. 
   His flight was so ragged from his damaged wing, I feared he might drop the girl, yet he kept aloft. Over the sound of waves, I heard the girl sobbing. She was injured from the fire and, no doubt, feared her rescuer, but I was sure the dragon meant to save her. I saw how he pressed her against his coppery chest scales as he soared closer to our cliff.
Somehow the dragon had unbound the stake the girl was tied to. He dropped the charred pole, and I jumped back as it hit the grass, tumbled off the cliff edge, and landed on the rocks below. 
Too late the church bell down in Hessings Kottle rang out a dragon warning. He had already flown back to the sanctuary. 
The bonfire burned. The girl was gone.

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