The Wedding of Eithne by @MDellertDotCom – Interview by #thetoiboxofwords

Greetings readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors and welcome to The ToiBox of Words. I’m your host Toi Thomas, author of Eternal Curse, and today I’m sharing a special interview with author, Michael E.  Dellert, about his fiction book entitled, The Wedding of Eithne. Enjoy! 

Where did the idea for The Wedding of Eithne come from?

“The Wedding of Eithne” (and my books before it) have their origin in the first complete book that I ever wrote. In rewriting that book, I created a “Cuts” file as a place to dump a lot of back-story and exposition that was superfluous to that story. The “Cuts” file eventually came to some 191 pages of good story ideas in their own right. So in a sense The Wedding of Eithne is the last of a series of “prequels” to a book I’m still polishing for publication.

How did the title of this book come about?

For this book, I wanted a simple functional title that linked well with the last book in the series, since this was a continuation of that story from a new perspective.

I also wanted something that spoke to the particular story question: Will the Lady Eithne actually get married after everything that’s happened in the series to date, and what obstacles will come between her and the final decision to accept or reject the arranged marriage of the title?

What genre is this book and why did you choose to make it so?

“The Wedding of Eithne” is primarily a heroic fantasy novel, like the other works in my Matter of Manred series. The title heroine, Lady Eithne, is of relatively humble origin (being from the lowest rung of the aristocracy, and a bastard branch of her family besides), and has been reluctant for three books now to become an arranged bride, but she’s thrust into making this choice by events beyond her control. I wanted a smaller, intimate, character-driven story that explored questions of fate, free-will, pre-destination, family, and obligation, without the world-shaking overtones of epic fantasy.

What would you say is the overall message or the theme of this book?

I was raised Catholic, and have read a lot of “Chosen One” fantasy fiction over the years, and as a father of daughters, and a feminist-friendly person in general, the question of choice and free-will in relation to romance and religion is important me. So questions about fate, free-will, and the nature of evil feature prominently in the heroine’s development. It’s something of an “Abraham & Isaac” story, told from a female viewpoint, with marriage as the sacrificial altar. So these are the predominant themes in “The Wedding of Eithne.”

Tell me about the experience of writing this book; how long did it take.

Parts of “The Wedding of Eithne” go back fifteen years, and the original draft from which the core of this story emerged was written two years ago in about 90 days. And then this particular book was drafted last year in another 90-ish days, and went through about six months of rewrites before I was happy with the final draft. The process involved many years of researching medieval Irish culture, particularly marriage practices, myths, and legends. I even went to Ireland for a few weeks to immerse myself in the culture.

Tell me about the main storyline within this book.

The Lady Eithne has lived her whole life under a magical prohibition: she may not marry until the portents are favorable, but she’ll always have the right to choose her husband. Now, the portents are favorable, AND they coincide with an ancient prophecy. Eithne is left with little more than a day to decide whether to accept marriage arranged for her. But rival religious and political factions have their own ideas about her wedding plans. How can she avoid becoming a pawn for one side or another, yet still exercise her free right of choice?

Who is the protagonist of this story?

The Lady Eithne is the daughter of a minor aristocratic family, raised in a remote mountain village. Because of her magical prohibition, she aspired to a life beyond the typical fate of being married off as a teenager to the first man who could afford her bride-price. When the years went on, she began to think she’d end up an unmarried “spinster,” and learned about “men’s ways” in order to make an independent life for herself. Now that an arranged marriage has been contracted for her, she has to decide what love really means to her.

Who is the antagonist of this story?

This was actually an interesting problem in writing this novel. The visible antagonist is His Reverence Inloth, a priest who believes that his local religious institutions are corrupt and in need of reform, particularly its marriage practices. He is a native of the milieu, but studied abroad and returned with “foreign ideas” and a mission to make his countrymen “see the light” of the larger religious order. But there are also political opponents and “hidden” antagonists. Inloth’s reformation isn’t all that it seems to be, and not all of his villainous allies are honest and earnest.

What is the major conflict in this story?

As a divorced Catholic, I am myself something of an oxymoron, faced with the question of whether my marriage is actually still valid (no according to the State, but yes according to my Church). So the fundamental question in “The Wedding of Eithne” is whether Eithne really has the free-will to choose her own marriage partner, and what the consequences of that choice might be. She is also faced with the problem of whether her choice (if it is truly free) would be legitimate and valid, given the political and religious conflicts currently dividing her land.

Where and when is this story taking place?

“The Wedding of Eithne” is set in the dark, medieval-style milieu of my Matter of Manred fantasy series. The setting and political culture were influenced by 12th-Century AD Ireland in the decades preceding the Anglo-Norman Conquest, and the religious culture was inspired by hybridizing Irish myths and legends and mystic Pythagorean philosophy with real-life Catholic Church conflicts of the period. Robert E. Howard, Evangeline Walton, CJ Cherryh, and Glen Cook were the primary influences on the writing style, but I could probably spend 100 words just naming authors that have influenced me, there are so many.

Who is your favorite character in this book?

Although I love Lady Eithne and her betrothed, two minor characters who first appeared in my second book recur here: Adarc and Corentin. The first is essentially a fourteen-year-old seminary student, acting as a guide and interpreter for the second, a foreign merchant’s apprentice “studying the market” for his trading company. I love them because they have such divergent world-views, the spiritual versus the commercial. In a way, they represent the warring halves of my own soul, the writer (an act of faith) and the publisher (with all my American capitalist commercialism).

Are there elements of your personality or life experiences in this book?

I’ve already mentioned a few of the elements of my own life and personality that have wormed their way into “The Wedding of Eithne,” like my Irish Catholic upbringing, my divorce, and my daughters. I think any writer worth his salt tells very personal–and sometimes uncomfortable–stories. I’ve certainly taken my own fears of failure and success, and my reluctance to disappoint, and weaved these into the characters. I’ve also drawn on my own family history in developing these characters, though it wouldn’t be appropriate to name names, considering how much the characters have diverged from their inspirations.

What is one thing from this book you wish was real or could happen to you?

I suppose the whole book is an act of wish-fulfillment in one way or another. I wish I could find the sort of love that the characters in “The Wedding of Eithne” are looking for, a partner that isn’t just obligated to be a part of my life, as a consequence of chance and circumstance, but who really wants to be there. Someone I can believe in and encourage, and who believes in and supports the person I am and want to become as well.

What is something you wish wasn’t real and hope doesn’t happen to you?

I most certainly never want to be attacked by giant bats, spiders, or snakes!

Let’s say your book is being turned into a feature-length film; quick- cast the main two characters and pick a theme song or score.

Two songs come to mind: “When Will We Be Married” by the Waterboys and “Short-Change Hero by The Heavy. As for casting the film, I’ll have to say Keira Knightley from her roles in “King Arthur” and “Domino,” and F. Murray Abraham as the villain Inloth.

Do you have any special plans for this book in the near or far future?

This book closes out what I call “The Eowain Cycle” of my Matter of Manred Saga, setting up the background for the story in my next major book. But one thing I’d like to do with “The Wedding of Eithne” is create an omnibus edition that combines it with the previous three books in the series. I’d also like to create hardcover editions of my books. Several readers have already asked about it. Like many writers, I’m a total narcissist, so I wouldn’t mind having such a thing on my own shelves, something that will really last the ages.

Okay readers, bloggers, geeks, and authors, that’s all for today. Be sure to follow this blog to see who will be visiting next time. To Pre-order your copy of The Wedding of Eithne (March 28th release), please visit the links provided.

AMAZON | Author Direct links: EBOOK | signed PAPERBACK

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Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Where do you draw the line on content? #read #rating

red-bricks-content

This article contains mature themes.

Content is key, but what if you don’t have a handle on how to gauge content? This big issue I’ve been faced with as of late is how people interpret my promotional policy. My policy was static for about two years, but now it seems I have to update it every other month. On one hand, I’m not one to shy away from expressing my opinions, but I also don’t set out to offend people. On the other hand, I refuse to be made to feel guilty for not wanting to promote something that I’m just not interested in reading and or promoting.

As for what I read, I choose to read fiction that’s within my comfort zone, most of the time. How can I be expected to find an escape if I’m uncomfortable and frustrated with the content? And to be perfectly honest, I’m more open-minded about what I read, than many of the people I associate with. I have come across so many blogs and groups who refuse to review spiritual fiction, especially not anything religious or tied to a religious affiliation, and I have no problem with that. I don’t think these bloggers should be made to feel bad simply because they
choose not read something that makes them uncomfortable. However, when the tables are turned against any topic related to sex and or violence, people get mad and offended.

So here’s the big issue: what is erotica?

Heck if I know. I don’t read it, but I’ve read a few things I feel might be pretty close it and that’s one comfort zone I’d like to stay within. As an adult, I have no problem with anyone who reads or writes erotic stories. I even think some stories could use a little spicing up, but that doesn’t mean I want to be immersed in erotic language and images nor do I want to promote it. So all that’s left now is for me to decide how much is too much.

Goodreads
Goodreads

This would all be so much easier if there were some kind of industry standard, but there isn’t. Many will argue that some works are clearly Erotica, but what about all those that are “borderline.” I was recently faced with the challenge of trying to clarify my promotional policy by having someone compare the works, Fifty Shades of Grey and A Discovery of Witches. Taking into consideration that not everyone reads the same genres no matter how popular a book may be this comparison didn’t work; the author hadn’t read either of the books and hadn’t even heard of the latter. For me personally, I can scan the reviews of a book to get a feel for the content within, but we were in a bit of a crunch at that moment.

So now I’m felt looking back at my reading history and wondering where each book falls into my promotional policy. Have I read books that I actually wouldn’t promote?…Yes, and to be honest, I’ve never promoted those books. Some of them I didn’t finish and the few I did, I don’t think I’ve ever reviewed… Maybe I should.

Now it becomes a matter of what I think Erotica is.

I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I’m pretty confident it’s too extreme for me, along with other such titles as: Insufferable Proximity and His Possession (books recommended if you like 50 Shades). I guess if the major selling point of the book is sex, that’s a pretty clear indicator. What about all those books that actually have a well-developed story along with a lot of detailed sex?

Goodreads

Take the book Outlander for instance. To me this book is borderline Erotica, but I have a feeling the Showtime series is pushing the limits of that (I’ve never watched it). I read this book because it was recommended to fans of time-travel and historical fiction; both accurate descriptions. However, this book contains a lot of sex and some of it is what you might consider “kinky”. This book was very uncomfortable to finish, but the beginning was so good and the actual story and characters so compelling, that I plowed forward and tried to skip over the parts I didn’t like. It was truly an incredible story, but it’s not a series I will ever continue simply because of the intense and graphic content I choose not to read.

Now consider the All Souls Series, specifically A Discovery of Witches. There is no way I would let anyone under 18 read this, but I’m not a parent and  it’s really not that bad. It’s quite simply very mature and meant for adult consumption. This is an 18+ read, but I don’t consider it borderline and definitely not Erotica… I am way off and suffering from a delusion? I don’t know, but this is how I see this. I don’t exactly write children’s books myself (yet 😉 ), but I must draw the line somewhere.

www.wearemoviegeeks.com

I often try to compare book content to movie content, but even that’s not so easy to do. I often ask people that if a book was a movie would it be rated R or NC-17, but that’s not always a good indicator. Many R-rated movies are released only after a 2 or 3 minute clip is either edited or cut to bring it down from the NC-17 rating, and many PG-13 movies seem like they could be rated higher. There’s simply no way to determine where exactly to draw the line. In writing it goes even further. As much time as I may spend trying to define “What is Erotica?” others are arguing over what’s the difference and limitations between Erotica and Pornographic Lit. I can’t even imagine where it goes from there.

So in conclusion, I guess I’ll continue to update and tweak my promotional policy and continue to please some while I offend others.

This is an unoffical Author Insights post.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

Video miniseries & Book Blast by @toithomas. There’s a #yorkie, a #giveaway, and Eternal Curse: Battleground.

Welcome back friends to The ToiBox of Words. I want to thank you for giving me a chance to tell you all about my latest book. Eternal Curse: BATTLEGROUND is the second book in my EternalCurse Series and it is bigger and better than the first. Written for both teens and adults, this paranormal adventure is packed full of diverse and dynamic characters, exotic and remote locations, a not too distant future, and of course the ongoing battle between good and evil. Eternal Curse: BATTLEGROUND officially releases (one month from today) May 16, 2015 at the Tidewater Comicon in Virginia Beach, VA and also online. This is a great time to pre-order your copy today!

Sound interesting, but just not sure if the sequel is a good place to start? Have no fear, my You Tube miniseries Eternal Curse Influences and a Yorkie will help you feel right at home with this book series. So go ahead and check out this episode of the five part miniseries and be sure to enter my EC: BATTLEGROUND Pre-release Giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card, from April 13th through April 17th. Sorry, the Yorkie is not included in the giveaway and no purchase is necessary. 

This giveaway has been extended to April 30th.

Like that? Be part of the conversation on twitter and tell me what media (book/movie/show etc…) you think was influenced by some other creative work. Click here to reply to my tweet and use the hash-tag #influenced in your reply. I can’t wait to see what you all have to say.

One random tweeter will receive a free digital copy of both Eternal Curse companion guides. Qualification ends 4/18/15 at 11:59 pm ET. Winner announced via Twitter on 4/21/15 around 12:00 pm ET. And now, the book…

Book Title: Eternal Curse: BATTLEGROUND
Series: Eternal Curse Series (book 2)
Author Name: Toi Thomas
Publisher: Amazon, CreateSpace, The ToiBox of Words
Reading Level: Teen/Adult
Genre: Paranormal Adventure, Religious Urban Fantasy
Content Rating: PG-13
Available Formats: paperback, ebook
Number of Pages: 305
Pre-order: The ToiBox of Words

The Blurb
In the future, will all the petty problems of everyday life be fixed or will it all go down the tubes? Giovanni and Mira can’t really say since they are too busy fighting the ongoing battle between good and evil in order to save the world- fixing it will simply have to wait.

Sometime in the fairly distant future, Giovanni and Mira are enjoying a life together but they are living no fairytale. When tragedy strikes in a way Giovanni is not prepared to deal with, he will have to decide whether life amongst the humans is worth fighting for or leave it all behind to seek a righteous calling.

Giovanni, along with a new ensemble of half-breed comrades and human companions, head into battle to face Marcos, his greatest foe. Blood, bone, and ash will be left on the battleground and the world will never be the same.

~

Don’t forget about my giveaway. Just think, it only takes 1 entry for a chance to win this prize, but if you’re feeling frisky, go for more. Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords

 

Day 28- Spiritual/Religious Names: What’s in a Name? #write31days 2014

31day-edit

 

Term of the day: spiritual/religious names: name given or derived from religious or spiritual texts and practices.

Thoughts:

I’m not going back at this point to see how many names I’ve talked about already that either mean or are derived from the names of Greek gods, angels, and or pertaining to God. What I want to talk about today are names that are given based on spiritual or religious practices and beliefs.

Many native tribes, from all over the world, perform rites of passage at birth and then again at puberty. The names are given based on how a child handles or survives their trails and by spiritual interpretation. I was once given the tribal name of “smiling fury” by a Native American guide who worked at an animal preserve. The name is obviously a pet name, but he said he gave it me to because I always smiled while making bullies cry. I was really good at standing up for other kids when I was younger…Sorry for the tangent.

Let’s take a quick look at Catholic naming rituals. I always thought it was cool that my Catholic friends were given a saint’s name or saint’s day at their christenings. Obviously I don’t know the details about it, but it’s still pretty cool.

There are other instances I could mention here about the use and practices of religious and spiritual practices to give names, but I think you already get the idea.

Name of the day: Chandler.

Breakdown and meaning:

Chandler has both English and French origins that both mean “candle maker”. In my Eternal Curse Series, Chandler is the surname of supportive family, one to which my already mentioned, Jack, character is a member of. They appear in the second book, EC: Battleground and serve an important and lasting purpose.

Well, that’s it for Day 28. See you tomorrow.

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Go back to the beginning to see all the posts in this series.

Outside of my own personal search throughout the years, basic meanings and definitions of the terms used here can be found at the following websites:http://www.meaning-of-names.com/, Google search http://en.wikipedia.org/, and http://dictionary.reference.com/.


Learn more here.

Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords