Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Sign of the Throne by Melissa Eskue Ousley: Interview and Excerpt


Tell us about your current release.


Sign of the Throne is a young adult fantasy filled with magic, adventure, romance, mythology, and blood-thirsty monsters. The main character, Abby, finds herself haunted by dreams that start coming true. Some of her dreams are nice, like the ones about a handsome stranger. Others, like the one about the bogeyman in her closet, are not so sweet. When she meets David Corbin, the doppelgänger of the young man in her dreams, her life changes forever. She and David must brave the attacks of sadistic shape-shifting monsters to save a magical realm in a parallel world. Sign of the Throne is the first book in The Solas Beir Trilogy. The second book, The Rabbit and the Raven, will be released this spring.

What would we find under your bed?


Dust bunnies, hiking boots, a plastic box filled with wrapping paper and craft supplies, and an aluminum baseball bat. Hopefully no bogeymen.


What does your significant other and family think of your writing career?


My husband has been very supportive of my writing—he’s made a lot of sacrifices to give me the time to write, and is my first reader. My twin boys, who are ten years old, are very excited about the release of Sign of the Throne. They are awesome kids, and they love books. The rest of my family has also been supportive. My grandma is my street crew—she’s been telling everyone she meets about the book.


Plotter or Pantser? Why?


Both, but more of a pantser. Sign of the Throne is part of a trilogy, so there had to be some plotting to keep things cohesive, but as I’ve gotten to know the characters, I’ve been surprised by things in each book, and the endings are not always what I expected. I’ve also had the luxury of being able to work on all three before the first one has been published, so that helps smooth things out. Too much plotting, however, feels contrived to me. I really like listening to what the story needs, and what the characters want, and letting that guide me, adjusting things to remain true to the story. It sounds crazy, but for me, the story takes on a life of its own—I’m just watching things play out and transcribing what happens as I listen to my characters. I’m not the first writer to see it this way (see Stephen King’s On Writing), and it’s a blast when it happens, and not nearly as creepy as it sounds. When you get lost in the world of your story, it’s thrilling.


What was the scariest moment of your life?


One hot summer day, my husband (then boyfriend) and I were hiking in a ghost town in Arizona (you know, the kind that, in the movies, is always home to a homicidal family wielding rusty saws). I was wearing shorts and hiking boots, which proved to be a very bad wardrobe choice, and peeking in the windows of this cool, abandoned church. In the back of my mind, I knew I was being careless and I should be watching where I stepped, but I was so interested in the church I ignored the voice of reason. Two steps later, I heard a sound that made my blood run cold. Nestled against the cool concrete steps of the church was a rattlesnake, coiled up and ready to strike. That was the last thing I remember. Everything went black, and the next thing I knew, I was standing some twenty feet away next to the jeep, with no memory of how I’d gotten there, frantically inspecting my legs to see if I’d gotten bit. According to my husband, an adrenaline rush must have kicked in and put my body on autopilot because when I saw the snake, I let out a high pitched squeal and hopped away, doing this weird jumping dance like I had helium-filled balloons tied to my boots. It wasn’t the most coordinated or courageous reaction, so perhaps it’s best I don’t remember. But I lived to tell the tale, and I’m more careful about where I put my feet.

What group did you hang out with in high school?

I was all over the map in high school. I was a cheerleader (which seems surreal now since I’m fairly introverted), and I was also in drama and other clubs. It was a small high school so I had friends who were cheerleaders, athletes, and cowboys, as well as friends who were more on the margins because they were smart, or gay, or had taste in music that was too edgy (awesome) for the confines of a small town. I still have diverse friends and find myself in a lot of different social circles.


Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?


I did. I attended my ten year reunion, and my twenty year reunion is this year (I’m unable to attend that one because of a conflict with my schedule). I think the longer we’re away from high school, the more people let go of things and focus on doing what makes them happy. The older you get the less you care about what people think, and the more you can be yourself, and allow other people space to live as they wish. If I were to go back in time, I’d tell myself to chill out about a lot of things that seemed important at the time, because in ten years, twenty years, who cares? It doesn’t matter. Just be yourself and do what makes you happy. It can be hard to do that in high school, but things change. Things get better.


What are 5 random things about you?


When I was in kindergarten, my teacher thought I was dyslexic because I wrote everything backwards. Turns out, I’m just left handed and wrote the mirror image of the letters.


When I was a kid, I had a cat named Trash that my family rescued from the dump and nursed back to health (thanks to my dad’s DIY vet skills).


We also had a pet cemetery, but this was unrelated to my dad’s vet skills. We lived in rattlesnake territory in Arizona, which is not great for dogs and cats. (And sometimes not so great for people either.)


I’m part Scottish and I am a descendent of the Buchan family. The motto used in the book is the real Buchan clan motto.


I have an MA in Counseling and a PhD in Higher Education. My background in education and psychology has influenced my writing.


About Sign of the Throne

perf5.500x8.500.inddAbby is an ordinary girl haunted by dreams of an ivory castle, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelgänger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.
Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the Solas Beir, and the kidnapping of the Solas Beir’s infant son.
As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.
Abby spent the next evening babysitting for Cassandra and Riordan. She putthe kids to bed and laid out her homework on the coffee table downstairs. She was immersed in her work when she realized—the house was quiet. Eerily quiet.

She was used to the familiar creaks and groans of the old house, and night ushered in the occasional chirp of a cricket or flutter of moth wings around theantique sconces lighting the room. Tonight she heard nothing—there was only dead silence. She felt a prickle at the back of her neck and realized she was shivering. The room had gone unnaturally cold, and she had the distinct sense that she was not alone.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadowy presence, someone standing still, watching her. She turned to look, but there was no one there. She felt a terrible unease twisting in her gut. Something was wrong.

Responding to her intuition, she got up and climbed the stairs to check on thechildren. Ciaran was snoring, perfectly at peace. He had wriggled out of his covers in his sleep. Abby tucked him back in.
Leaving his room, she walked down the hall to the twins’ room. The nightlight inthe hallway began blinking erratically. She entered the room and froze. Perched monkey-like on the corner of Rowan’s crib was a shadowed figure thesize of a small boy, leaning over the sleeping child. Sensing Abby, it turned its head, blood-red eyes meeting hers.

Abby gasped with horror as the creature leapt with unnatural agility from thecrib and crouched like a spider high on the wall, staring down at her. Slowly, it smiled, revealing rows of pointed narrow teeth, sharp as razors. And then…it pounced.

Abby raised her arms to shield herself, scrunched her eyes shut, and screamed. But there was nothing. She heard a low chuckle behind her and saw the creature near the door. The shadow boy laughed and ran out. Thesmoky form changed into a large black housecat before disappearing throughthe hallway wall.

Abby ran to the twins’ light switch and turned on the lights. She checked to make sure Rowan and Siobhan were unharmed, and then hurried to Ciaran’s room, flicking on lights as she ran. Ciaran was still fast asleep—her scream had not disturbed him at all.

She jerked open his closet door and found his aluminum baseball bat. Then, scooping him and the quilt up from his bed, she ran back to Rowan and Siobhan’s room. She shut the door and nestled the five year old into a make-shift bed on the floor. Sitting against the dresser next to him, she hummed, trying to reassure herself. Armed with the bat and the adrenaline coursing through her body, she waited.

Melissa Eskue Ousley is the author of The Solas Beir Trilogy. “Sign of theThrone,” the first book of this young adult fantasy series, will be released on September 14. She is currently working on the second and third novels in the trilogy, “The Rabbit and the Raven” and “The Sower Comes.”

Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found swimming, hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping roadkill off a molten desert highway to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona.

Melissa’s Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads



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