Author Spotlight: MT MAGEE Interview and Giveaway
Today we will be interviewing first time author MT Magee. Her first book The Treasure of Gwenlais: The Rienfield Chronicles was released September 17th, 2015. It currently has all 5 star reviews and in my opinion it deserves every single one. Please help me give her a WARM WELCOME and a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your release.
MT will be giving away an e-book copy of The Treasure of Gwenlais: The Reinfield Chronicles as well as gift set of Irish tea and shortbread. Be sure to leave a COMMENT and ASK a QUESTION here or on Facebook in order to be entered into the random drawing. MT is looking forward to reading and answering all of your questions about herself and her book. A winner will be drawn and announced on Monday November 17th, 2015 @ 8pm est.
Before we get into your book, let us get to know you better
Hi Everyone, My name is M.T. Magee and I live in New England on our small farm with my husband and son. We raise an assortment of silly goats, quiet rabbits, far too many ducks and chickens, and a high strung Border collie cross named Gronk. I have always loved fantasy and fell in love with Tolkien at age eleven. I read all of his works at age twelve. I have been writing stories since I was ten years old and have always wanted to be an author. After fulfilling my dream of becoming a nurse, marrying the love of my life and having two wonderful sons, I have finally been able to fulfill my first dream of publishing my first book. My youngest son is severely disabled and I am his full-time caregiver. The long winter months here in New England make it virtually impossible to go out very often, so I used this time to begin my story The Treasure of Gwenlais. Fifteen months and 1144 pages later I am very happy to present my story to all of you. I love strong female characters, who are still able to convey a sense of vulnerability and be very relatable. I also love strong male leads who are not afraid to show their soft side. Love of family is important to me as I am sure it is to everyone and I convey this in my story. So welcome to the world I have created and I hope you enjoy visiting often. I hope you all enjoy the brilliant work of my cover artist Tyler Donnelly. The world I have created, comes from the inspiration of both my Scottish heritage and my husband’s Irish descent, with pride and respect for both cultures. The beauty of the Scottish Highlands, as well as the lush rolling meadows of Ireland, serve as a backdrop for the mythical realm of Rienfield. Many of the names of villages and towns that are used are actual names of towns and villages of Scotland and Ireland. They are used in direct correlation for what their rich past made them known for and is applied with loving respect for their history in the story. Many of the names of the characters are Irish, Scottish, or Gaelic, again showing my love and admiration for our heritages. The characters also speak Old Irish, from time to time, referring to it as ‘old speak.’ I hope you will find this as fascinating and beautiful as I did. You will find the Kingdoms of Gwenlais and Heathwin filled with wonder, danger, adventure, romance, love of family as well as betrayal. The people, races, and beings, will beckon you to return and visit, over and again, sharing in their joys, sorrows, tragedies and triumphs. Richard Armitage, physical inspiration for my male lead Caleb, is actually a funny story. My husband and oldest son were watching BBC’s Robin Hood. I looked up from my computer and said ” Oh my gosh that’s Caleb!”
Both son and husband look at each other and then me in total confusion. “No hon, this is Guy of Gisborne,” my husband informed me. I then preceded to explain, that the character Caleb in my book looks just like that. Both husband and son look at each other again smirking, then turn back to watch the show. That is when I started paying more attention to Richard Armitage. I was able to create my female lead Laurel, in The Treasure of Gwenlais, by going to a makeover site, looked for a model who resembled what I had envisioned Laurel to look like. I adjusted eye color, skin tone, hair style and color, eyebrow shape. Then Laurel was born.
Do you have a day job? Yes, I am the full time caregiver for my son and I work on my farm.
What is your favorite color? I have 2. Any shade of green and mauve.
Tell us about your grandest adventure? My husband and I were married for 6 months and we slept in a lean-to on an island on Lake Champlain, during a thunder storm.
What is your greatest accomplishment? I have been married to the love of my life for 31 years, I was barely 21. And raised two awesome sons.
What is your biggest fear in life? Not being good enough at what I am passionate about.
Do you have any unique talents or hobbies? (besides writing) I can mimic Peppa Pig to help my son through an autistic meltdown.
How do you spend your spare time? Sleep! I don’t have much spare time.
Who is/are your biggest supporter(s)? My hubby!!!
What made you decide to put pen to paper and write your first novel? I’ve been writing since I was 11. When it became possible to be an Indie author I knew it was time.
How did you choose the genre you write in? I love the journey that fantasy takes you on and wanted to do the same for readers.
Where and how did you come up with the concept for your first book? I was taking a walk through our pasture, it was misty and mysterious looking and I thought, hey this reminds me of pictures I’ve seen of Ireland and Scotland, land of fantasy. I just went from there.
What comes first, your characters story or the plot line for the book? The character story, then I just let the character develop until his or her story begins to shape the plot. It helps me to make the plot more plausible for the characters.
Did you work with an outline, or just write? I just write and let the story unfold, it keeps my imagination flowing.
What process did you use to research for your book? Even though my book is a work of fantasy, I wanted it to have as much real facts such as names of places and the mind set and family dynamics of 12 to 15th century Scotland and Ireland as possible. So I looked up the old Irish language, primarily the Connacht dialect. I studied documents written by historians who studied the social structure of the times, and looked up wonderful places in Scotland and Ireland and the history behind them.
Who was the hardest character to write about? Given you the most trouble? The easiest? Actually there were two characters that gave me trouble. The heroine Laurel was very hard because I wanted the reader to watch her grow and evolve in the first book. She is a bit spoiled and sheltered in the beginning and you had to grow to love her, so writing her personality took effort because I had to keep her growing and adapting to all the changes going on around her. The second character was Morene the hero’s first wife. She is brutal and hateful, but she has reasons for being that way and I wanted the readers to understand where she came from without completely hating her. The easiest was Caleb. My husband is the heart and soul of this character and I know him better than anyone. Developing him was a joy, I took aspects of my real love and aspects of what I thought readers would love, and combined them.
If you could be any one of your characters who would you choose? Why? Queen Alana of Heathwin. She has watched her family and her people struggle through the most difficult and often heart wrenching of times. And each time she did this with dignity, grace, compassion and a sense of humor. I would like to always be that way in real life.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published? The biggest challenge for me was time, as so much was going on then. Things have settled down a bit so the next book should be easier to deal with. Not to mention just the terror and self-doubt you feel with putting yourself out there for the first time.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change? Using more than one platform in the very beginning.
If you could go back and experience any time period, which would you choose and why? Medieval 15th century Ireland and Scotland. It was a harsh and difficult time but it was also beautiful and romantic. The castles, the woodlands and mountains, would have been so wonderful to see.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult? I have three. All the works of Tolkien. Anything from Jane Austen and North and South from Elizabeth Gaskell.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for you? Facebook, Twitter, Word slinger and Book Bear. Facebook has been very helpful and has introduced me to many wonderful writers and readers.
Can you tell us about any upcoming books you may have? Yes my 2nd book in my series will be out in the spring, continuing the saga I have started with the same characters and some new surprises. Lots of adventure and of course romance.
Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published? Stay true to yourself and write what is in your heart no matter what the trends may dictate.
What character, that you haven’t written/released yet, are you most looking forward to sharing with your readers? A very interesting little Kedesh male. Also the Yak Women, all that is grand and glorious about being kick butt and scary. I think readers are going to really enjoy them.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment? When I was younger writing essays and short stories for contest etc. and being told I would never accomplish anything with my silly writing. My best compliments were being told by several readers they were reading my book again because they either missed certain characters or I gave them a nice place to go back to. I loved that.
What is the last book you read? Are reading now? Looking forward to reading? The last book I read was North and South again to get back into the prose. I’m not reading anything else at this time as I am back in the writing zone. When I write I only read research material, that way I’m not distracted. When I’m finished I want to read Leigh Lee’s Vows of Pain and Passion.
If you had to the opportunity to turn this book into a movie who would you cast in the leading roles? Because he is the right age Aidan Turner as Caleb, with blue contacts of course. Irish actor Ben Barnes as Aiden. Irish actress Sarah Bolger as Laurel because she looks just like Laurel would. Richard Armitage as King Fergus, Irish actress Orla Brady as Queen Alana, and Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd as Phineas.
How do you decompress after typing ‘The End’ on a book? Give myself a facial then take a long hot shower.
How did you celebrate the publishing of your first book? My sweet husband went to our favorite restaurant we don’t have the chance to go too often, ordered a wonderful meal and brought it home. Then we put our son to bed a bit earlier and snuggled reading the book together.
Tell me about your book
Give us a 30-word or less tagline: The Treasure of Gwenlais, is an epic romantic fantasy adventure. It is filled with wonderful warm, and sometimes frightening characters. They live in a fantastical realm filled with beauty, excitement and danger.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book? Anyone really who loves an epic fantasy. But it is my hope that women read my book, as I feel they will fall in love with the characters, especially the Hero, and be able to relate to what many of the characters experience. Fantasy is also still a male dominated world that doesn’t always fulfill what the female reader is looking for. I also think that fantasy is not always kind to its female characters or on the other end of the spectrum does not allow the female characters to be what makes women wonderful and unique. By not allowing women to be women, instead making us more like men. I feel it is time we embrace and express our femininity, as it is truly where our beauty and strength comes from as it is what makes us special. I wanted to give women that, as well as male characters that love and appreciate women. I also wanted to express how important love of family is, as so often fantasy often makes families mistrust and even hate each other.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series? Gwenlais is an old Gaelic word meaning home in the field or glen. It was important to me to find a name that would be truly unique and correlate very closely to the story. To allow the reader to discover for themselves why I picked the name that I did.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork? It was a combined effort of both my husband and I, and our cover artist Tyler Donelly. I wanted to have an actual scene from the book be on the cover. Have it framed as if the reader were looking in on the world in front of them. I wish to follow this design concept with each book in my series.
Tell me about your Hero and Heroine? Caleb is the Prince of Heathwin and heir to the throne. He is not only a skilled warrior, but also intelligent, compassionate and insightful. He has a temper that sometimes gets the best of him, but is man enough to admit if he is wrong. He is fiercely loyal to all he loves and to his people, and can be bit domineering at times. He is also very passionate and is not afraid to show his feelings. He is very proud of his lineage and has a charming sense of humor. Laurel is the Princess of Gwenlais. She is feisty, sometimes stubborn, but loves her people and cares deeply how others are treated. Laurel is also complex and sensitive. She stays true to her convictions and loves completely the people in her life. Once Laurel overcomes her pain and grief, she becomes more involved with what is going on in her world and how important her role becomes.
How did you come up with your characters names? I wanted most of the names of the character, including the horse, to be Scottish, Irish, or Gaelic. I looked up names and their meanings to have the names correlate as much as I could with either their physical features, personalities or both.
Are your Characters modeled after any one in your life? Caleb as I mentioned earlier is closely modeled after my husband. Laurel and Queen Alana share a bit of my personality and physical traits. The rest are just bits and pieces of people I have known and just imagination.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why? I would have to say Caleb. Because he holds my heart and I wanted also to make a Hero that women would fall in love with and I feel with Caleb, I have accomplished this. I took all that I fell in love with and added nuances that I felt others would love and feel connected to as well.
Do you have a least favorite character? What makes them your least favorite character? Tramaine. He is all that is hateful and cruel in the human spirit. He only has in own interest in mind and will stop at nothing to see his agenda played out.
What was your favorite chapter to write? Scene? Why? I have two favorite chapters actually. The River Crossing, because it gives the readers a chance to see the passion and dynamics of Caleb and Laurel’s relationship as well as a real look into the mysterious life of the Rabkins, and Caleb’s connection to them. Wendell the Scribe is the other. It gives a great overview of all the main characters personalities, the good and the bad. It also gives an interesting perspective on Caleb’s kingdom of Heathwin. My favorite scene was in The River Crossing, when Laurel is thrown from her horse into the flooded river and loses something precious to her. Caleb picks her up before she is washed away, but she reacts angrily because of losing a particular item. His reaction is not typical to how men would have reacted in that place in time. It again shows what makes his character so, as one reader put it, “swoon worthy”. Loved hearing that, as that is exactly what I was trying to accomplish.
If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why? This is a tough question as I don’t wish to sound full of myself. I thought at first I would make it a bit shorter, but in doing that I would not have been able to tell the story I feel completely. So I guess I wouldn’t change anything.
Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series: Even though it is a fantasy world my backdrops are Scottish Highlands and forest for Heathwin. And the lush green meadows and mossy woods of Ireland for Gwenlais. All the names of the Rabkins are Welsh. When you see the words italicized in the book it means they are speaking either, old speak, Kedesh, or Rabkin. Caleb can speak four languages. His own, which is old speak, Kedesh, Rabkin, and common, which is what the majority speak. I combined both Scottish an Irish wedding traditions for the wedding chapter and had them recite actual old Irish vows. The world of Rienfield, where the entire story takes place, has twin moons.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books? My website is still in the works so for now here is my Facebook author page where you can leave a comment or ask a question and I’ll get back to you. As soon as my website is finished I’ll be placing that link on my author page. https://www.facebook.com/therienfieldchronicles/
What can we expect from you in the future? More books to add to the series, lots of romance, adventure and intrigue.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? Tell everyone!! LOL!! Let others know what you thought and what you liked about it. I loved how one reader told me she didn’t read fantasy but that she loved my slant on the genre. That was just wonderful to be told that.
Think about your book. You realize that we all read books at different paces, with varying amounts of distractions. Is there a particular part of your book that you want to highlight– not because it is your favorite – but because you want to encourage your readers to read it carefully and get all the details? Yes actually there is it is a very small part but it gives a glimpse of what is to come and here it is: The towering figure walked hurriedly down the wide corridor, the moons’ glow shining in from the windows above. His long robes fluttering softly behind him with his fluid gait, the nerves pulsating in his round head could clearly be seen on his hairless grey skin. He paused to take a deep breath before he entered the private chamber, walking in without knocking as he was being expected. Walking up to his Master’s spacious chaise, he did not speak, as he waited for his presence to be acknowledged. The two females dressed in the usual harem slave garb, the tall, slender human female, was massaging his neck, the other a Rabkin female her long multiple braids bound back by a copper band, was feeding the Master dainty pieces of melon. The Master hissed softly opening his black, unfeeling eyes, similar to the soulless eyes of a serpent, as he looked over at his steward, standing anxiously nearby.
“Has the grey falcon returned Gruffudd?” the Master asked, seemingly calm.
“Yes, Master it has,” Gruffudd answered with a tense hiss, his long grey tongue flicked out nervously.
“Was the mission successful?” the Master asked, looking at his steward intensely.
“No Master. She still lives. Our acquaintance blames the Rabkins and the barbarians of the west,” Gruffudd replied with trepidation, as he stepped back slightly.
The Master hissed again, becoming more intense until he rose to his full height, his hiss becoming a roar of rage as he threw his goblet across the room, causing the two females to run into a corner huddling together.
“Send the slayers to the Rabkin homestead! Have them kill all the younglings and females of the ones who were sent. This will show them that failure will not be tolerated,” the Master bellowed, his voice echoing through the spacious chamber.
“As you wish Master,” Gruffudd said with a deep bow, leaving the room as quickly as he could, not wanting to face his master’s wrath any longer.
Is there anything else you’d like to say? I would like to say thank you for this wonderful interview and the chance to basically introduce myself and my book to everyone. I would also like to thank my readers and those who have left wonderful reviews and all the warm encouragement. This has been an amazing journey and I look forward to see where it leads me.
And now, before you go, how about a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us: This is a scene where Caleb is just beginning to get a glimpse of the danger and intrigue his beloved Laurel faces, as well as both of their Kingdoms. Clust paced nervously back and forth, his escorts watching him with irritation, they had no respect for the smuggler and only guarded him as it was requested by the Master to do so. They found Clust to be cowardly, pathetic, pompous, but having very little confidence. His brown curly hair always appeared wild and unkempt, he took no pride in his appearance, his clothes often dirty and stained, from whatever he had eaten last. He complained incessantly, especially before each new group of slaves was brought to them. His small stature made him look quite insignificant, his only assets being, he knew a wide array of slavers and raiders, and hidden roadways and trails.
“I hate this infernal marsh. Why must we always meet the despicable slavers here? It is well past dawn, they should have been here already. Why are they not here?” Clust asked, raising his arms in exasperation.
He stopped his pacing just long enough to look at the stoic faces of his guards, their large golden eyes showing nothing but contempt, as they remained speechless.
“Why do I ask you abominations anything? Aside from being able to kill anyone in an instant, you are worthless. Do not hiss at me, you freakish thing. Just my luck, I abhor felines and I am forced to work with beings that resemble them. Oh…wait, what is that?” Clust asked nervously as he turned around looking at the tree line just in front of them. “Good, you are here. It is about damned time!” Clust shouted angrily, as the hooded figures approaching slowly on horseback.
The group slowly emerged from the forest, a large group of riders, and a very large and strong group of slaves, their hands bound in front of them, with heavy twine, heads bowed slightly not making eye contact. Clust gave an evil grin, impressed with how healthy and vital these slaves appeared. He began to look about, and when not finding what he was seeking, looked up at the three hooded riders in front of him, with a bemused expression.
“Where is Gibby?” Clust asked nervous annoyance.
“Gibby had an unfortunate mishap on the trail,” the hooded rider answered in a low deep voice.
“Unfortunate mishap? What kind of mishap?” Clust asked again, with an indignant tone, as his escorts began to glance about nervously.
“It seems his head was removed from his shoulders,” the rider replied, too casually for Clust liking.
“Well how did that happen?” Clust demanded in a frantic voice, his eyes wide with his growing panic.
The rider lowered his hood, smiling down at Clust mockingly, and his intense blue eyes flashing with contempt.
“Quite simply. I cut it off,” Caleb replied, with the same smile.
Suddenly without warning the ‘slaves’, suddenly sprang into action, pulling out swords strapped in back of them, revealing their hands were not bound after all.
Sentinels appeared out of nowhere all around them, bursting out of the forest on horseback, surrounding and overwhelming Clust’s guards in moments. Though the group of a dozen guards fought ferociously, they were only able to get off a few shots, of no consequence. They were cut down brutally and quickly, all three Hunters also being released, breaking the necks of three of the guards attempting to flee into the marsh. It was over it seemed, in a matter of moments, as Clust lay whimpering on the ground pitifully clutching on to the arrow in his shoulder shot by Aiden’s crossbow. Caleb walked up to him, getting down on one knee then reached over and pulled the arrow from Clust’s shoulder in one swift movement. The smuggler’s scream echoed throughout the marsh, as he looked up at Caleb with shock and fear.
“Now perhaps you and I could have a chat, with you telling me what I wish to hear,” Caleb stated in a calm and unfeeling voice.
“Anything! I will tell you anything!” Clust yelled out in frantic desperation, still clutching his bleeding shoulder.
“Very good. The first thing I wish to know is, where do you take the slaves?” Caleb asked him in the same low indifferent tone.
“We…we bring them to Achzib. They are tuned over to someone else. I do not know where they go from there,” Clust replied in a shaking voice.
“Clust, truly you must understand I find that very hard to believe,” Caleb answered back, shoving him hard in his side.
“No! No I swear I do not know! I am only told to bring them to Achzib. I hand them over to this tall gruesome looking fellow. He does not give his name, and he is dressed in long flowing robes and cloaks, and never fully shows his face. All I know of him is that he has many guards, comes off of a strange looking ship. He walks about as if he is someone of great importance, and those guards of his treat him as such, so do the harbor masters,” Clust continued his voice becoming weaker from the loss of blood, as he began to close his eyes.
“Hey now Clust! Open your eyes, I am not done with our chat yet,” Caleb said raising his voice slightly, smacking the side of Clust’s face twice, to wake him up.
Clust opened his eyes wide looking disoriented, and confused.
“I have another question for you. What are the slaves used for?” Caleb asked watching the smuggler’s expressions carefully.
“I…I am not sure. It is something that requires much work and it is dangerous. Many die each month, that is why there is such a need for them,” Clust stated with a ragged breath.
“Who is it that demands these slaves? Is it someone called the Master?” Caleb’s question causing Clust’s eyes to widen in surprise.
“Yes…that is what he is called. He is obsessed with obtaining more slaves and all who speak of him, are terrified of him,” Clust replied his voice becoming weaker.
“He sent Rabkins from another realm here. They spoke of the Master, wishing to destroy us all, wishing to kill the child Ollam. Why?” Caleb asked this simple question with such passion and anger, it caused all in hearing range to glance at each other.
“I…I do not know,” Clust answered his eyes filling with fear as he saw Caleb becoming angrier.
“You expect me to believe this?! You filthy insect, you do business with him, do you not? How can you not know something of this, of his plans?” Caleb demanded, grabbing him by the front of his tunic and shaking him roughly.
“No! I only know he is mad with power, and obsessed with killing this Ollam. I do not know why. Who would kill an Ollam?” Clust asked in desperation.
Then without warning, Clust began to convulse and foam at his mouth, his eyes rolling to the back of his head, then suddenly he went lip, his last breath coming out in a long hiss. Caleb and the others looked at him in shock, then saw a small dart sticking into his neck, Caleb looked over into the forest and could see a dark figure running off into the marsh. He stood up quickly, running forward to try and see better who it was, two Sentinels began to pursue the attacker, only to be called back by Caleb.
“Do not bother. They know the marsh well by now, it is too dangerous, they could fire the dart rom anywhere and there may be more than one. Let them return, let them tell what they have seen. Perhaps it will slow things down a bit,” Caleb said, walking back over to Clust body, examining it closer.
Thank you so much for being here with us today MT. Can not wait for your next release.