Monday, October 7, 2019

Interview with novelist Anne Marie Lutz

Author Anne Marie Lutz is here today to chat with me about her new fantasy novel Taylenor.

Anne Marie Lutz is an author of fantasy novels and short stories. Her newest novel, Taylenor, was released in August through Hydra Publications.

Anne Marie has loved science fiction and fantasy since she was a child. She started with the classics – Bradbury, Heinlein, McCaffrey and many more. She especially loves the amazing variety of fantasy, and that’s what she usually writes.

Anne Marie was born in Pittsburgh and raised in Youngstown, Ohio. She received a degree in journalism from The Ohio State University, and then an MBA a few years later. She has worked as an office manager and an operations analyst. She currently lives in central Ohio with her husband. She loves to travel when she has the chance, and likes cooking when she doesn’t have to.

Welcome, Anne Marie. Please tell us about your current release.
Taylenor is the story of Jaena, a young priest of her goddess, who travels to homesteads and villages that can’t afford a priest of their own. She blesses births and sings the souls of the departed to her goddess. In one village she finds Wiel, a boy with the rare mage talent known as taylen that is linked to a fatal illness.

Jaena takes Wiel to the city to try to save his life. Too late, she discovers she has delivered Wiel into the hands of the Mage Defender, who rules by stealing the magic – and the lives – of children.

Desperate to right the wrong she has done, Jaena races for aid to save Wiel and destroy the Mage Defender. At stake are the lives of the last remaining taylenor as well as Jaena’s own survival – and the destruction of an ancient scourge that has reawakened to threaten all the people of Cassahn.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was intrigued by the idea of a traveling priest, and also by the other premise of the book, a magic talent that is inextricably linked to a fatal illness – or so Jaena believes. The character of Jaena inspired me, too – she’s not a fighter, not what you would call a powerful woman, yet she has great strength in her own way. She accepts her responsibility for something she knew nothing about, and spends the rest of the novel trying to save Wiel and the country of Cassahn.

Excerpt from Taylenor:
Jaena knew as soon as she set foot in the village that a gifted child lived there.
She opened up her senses and cast wide. Taylen lay over the place like a layer of mist floating over fields on a damp morning.
Her first thought was to run away. She could return to Iryor for help, turn Ears around and vanish on the road leading through the ripening grain, leaving the village of Bless-us-goddess none the wiser that she’d been there. Mother Thara could return with Jaena and take over the burden of convincing the parents to let the taylenor child go.
Jaena shivered. This was her duty, the thing she’d been trained for above and beyond the years she’d studied to be a priest. Now, with taylen so thick in the air it prickled her skin, she wasn’t sure she could complete her task.
Small figures appeared between two houses and shrieked a greeting. Two of the children of Bless-us-goddess raced towards Jaena, braided hair bouncing. Her chance to avoid this task was gone.
In only a few moments more children surrounded her, focused on the donkey pulling Jaena’s utilitarian cart. These children were all too young to be the taylenor.
“Her name is Ears,” Jaena told them. The children laughed and clustered close to the donkey’s flanks to pet her.
The headwoman awaited them by the market circle. She was lean and sun-browned, with striking silver hair. She invited Jaena into her house to drink tea.
“It's been two years since we've seen a priest -- old Priest Mag it was last time,” the headwoman said as she sat and poured the tea. “You’re very welcome here. We’ve had two babies born since the last visit.”
“Any deaths?” Jaena asked.
The headwoman had brought out her best mugs, blue-glazed treasures from the artisans in Duscapi. No doubt they’d been purchased at great cost to this tiny village and were brought out only to honor guests. Guilt pricked Jaena. The headwoman might not be so welcoming if she knew Jaena would be taking a child away from Bless-us-goddess.
“Thank the goddess, no deaths. But we have a newly wedded couple, Sella and Gray, who will need their marriage bed blessed.” The headwoman smirked. “If we can get them out of it long enough for you to bless it.”
“All the better,” Jaena said. “Imn-ashu smiles on eager couples.”
The headwoman snorted with laughter. “Indeed, we’re glad to see you, Priest! You may stay here, in my daughter's room. We’ll put up your donkey and your cart. No need to camp outside when you’re with us.”
Jaena thanked the headwoman. It would be pleasant to sleep in a warm room and have someone else take care of Ears for a change.
The evening was long, filled with tea and then grilled meat, wheatcakes and beer. Jaena delivered news from the capital and gave the headwoman Master Harling’s predictions about weather and crop yields.
In the morning Jaena went to the market circle, and the babies were brought for her to sing over. One child wasn’t really a baby anymore – she walked around on chubby legs and clung to her mother. The other baby grinned up at Jaena, gurgling as she cradled the child and sang the goddess's blessing.
None of the parents complained about Jaena's off-key singing. Nobody asked how a woman with such a flat ear could serve the Goddess.
The heavy sense of taylen had receded this morning. Jaena began to wonder if they had hidden the gifted one; but it was unlikely the people in this little village would know anything about the taylen. Certainly not enough to want to hide their sons and daughters away.
By Jaena’s third morning in Bless-us-goddess, she had come no closer to discovering the source of the talent. She prepared to take her leave, wondering what she should do. As she guided Ears out of town, she noticed a small house at the edge of the village. It stood a little apart from the other houses, in the fields to the north, framed by golden grain.
The sense of taylen intensified as she neared the house. Jaena’s head swam with its strength. She stopped the cart, wrapped the driving rein around a post, and knocked on the door.
The heavy-set woman who opened the door sighed when she saw the green priest’s badge on Jaena’s cloak. “I suppose you must come in,” she said. “I’m Cedon. Make yourself comfortable in the kitchen, Priest, and I’ll get you some tea.” She called out to a child of about six who peered from behind a door. “Kio, get your father please!”
Jaena sat at the scarred wooden table and sipped tea. Cedon’s silence was like a wall. The woman didn’t like priests, or maybe she had a hint of what Jaena was about to tell them.
Then a boy walked into the room, and Jaena knew he was the one she’d been seeking. He still looked healthy and strong, his brown skin gleaming with perspiration from work in the fields. It would be hard to convince Cedon and her husband to let him go.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on something rather new to me – a stand-alone novel that has elements of science fiction and also of fantasy. The story takes place on another planet with some advanced technology, but yet there is magic, and a young woman who finds out some shocking facts about her own past.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose I’ve considered myself a writer since I was nine years old, when I wrote my first space opera in a composition notebook! I’ve written stories ever since, as much as school and real life would allow.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time. But finding time to write is always hard, because something in me wants to start cleaning the house, or paying the bills, or taking care of other important business instead of writing! Whenever there’s solitude and quiet in the house, I try to write. That used to happen in the mornings, but now I have time-shifted to afternoon writing.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Well it might be interesting, or it might just be annoying, but I have to have silence to write. Although I love music, I can’t listen when I’m writing. Since I do live in a house with other wonderful and beloved family members in it, this can sometimes make it a little hard to find time to be productive!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer. Always a writer. And I took a few detours, but I was fortunate enough to be a writer after all!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just wanted to thank you for interviewing me on your blog -- and thank your readers for reading this far! I appreciate the opportunity to talk about Jaena and my new novel.

Thanks for being here today!

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