The SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS column on Mondays and Wednesdays is a place at Shannon Muir’s author website showcasing books from a variety of fiction genres, with an emphasis on interviews and guest posts from other authors. One thing Shannon firmly believes in for readers not only to learn about new books available, but about those who craft the tales behind them. As its name implies, SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS weekly column features writers from all genres of fiction who want their potential audience to get to know them, and their works, better.
Today, we look at TALES OF TARYA.
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Harlequin’s Riddle (The Tales of Tarya #1)
by Rachel Nightingale
Genre: YA Fantasy
Release Date: June 2017
The Gazini Players are proud to present
For your Edification and Enjoyment
Tales of great Joy, and of great Woe
Ten years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again.
On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for story telling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.
Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a story teller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?
Columbine’s Tale (The Tales of Tarya #2)
Release Date: September 2018
For three hundred years the travelling actors of Litonya roamed the land entertaining crowds, but secretly leaving devastation in their wake. Is Mina the only person with the power to stop them?
In the ethereal otherworld of Tarya, Mina begins to master the rare, inexplicable powers attached to her gift for storytelling. She discovers she can touch dreams, influence the real world, and perhaps find out who is manipulating Tarya for dark purposes. In the waking world Mina is on the run, beset by divided loyalties between the travellers, and caught between two men she could love and a brother who desperately needs her help.
“Mysteries and machinations, tragedy and heartbreak, love and betrayal, adventure and fantasy come together in this spellbinding book.” — George Ivanoff, award-winning author of the Other Worlds series
Pierrot’s Song (The Tales of Tarya #3)
Release Date: November 2019
The travelling players of Litonya have destroyed many lives by manipulating the mystical realm of Tarya, and Mina has discovered her brother is one of their victims. Although she is determined to stop them, her hopes for help from the Council of Muses have been dashed. The only possibility for healing lies in a journey to the heart of Litonya, and into a past long lost to history.
When ancient stories give up their forgotten secrets, a path forward begins to appear. But love and talent are pushed to their limits as Mina and her companions come face to face with an enemy who has finally stepped out of the shadows.
Harlequin’s Riddle: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1922200999/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2
Interview with the Author
What initially got you interested in writing?
My father, Bob Larkins, was a copy writer and movie reviewer in his day job, and also did a bit of acting on the side. But the truth is that he was a wordsmith. He loved words, and books, and writing. He wrote a novel which was never published, and two non-fiction books that were. Even when I was very young he encouraged me to read a lot – although I didn’t need much encouragement – I loved books. We used to go to the library every Saturday and I would read my way through whole sections of books. He also introduced me to extraordinary writers such as Ray Bradbury, and we would play word games when we were waiting for the bus home after ballet lessons. So I was immersed in the wonder of words and when I started writing my own stories I was captivated by what writing let me create.
What genres do you prefer to write in?
I don’t tend to think in genre – I leave that to publishers and booksellers because I think genre is about deciding how to market a book. And it can be pretty fluid. My Tales of Tarya series was knocked back by one YA publisher because they said with its complex ideas it wasn’t YA – but the publisher who picked it up (Odyssey Books) markets it as YA. So I have no clue! I just write the stories I feel need telling. Sometimes they’re historical, sometimes they’re fantasy… People are complex and not easily characterized so I think stories, which are about people, are pretty much the same.
Are there any authors you prefer to read and why?
I love Ray Bradbury – he is a master of the short story form. All the books I read as a kid still hold a special place in my heart – things like Susan Cooper’s Dark is Rising series and Diana Wynne Jones’ books. I’m pretty obsessed with the Harry Dresden books by Jim Butcher – they’re so cleverly plotted and very funny. Through doing lots of conventions in Australia I’ve been lucky to be exposed to lesser known Australian authors who deserve more attention, such as Laura Goodin (think Indiana Jones-style adventures) and Angela Slatter (urban fantasy set in Brisbane).
How did you make the move into being a published author?
I had just about given up, to be honest. I had tried all the big Australian publishers, with a few close calls, but never got the final ‘yes’. But a close friend, Tudor author Wendy Dunn, told me my books should be read, and encouraged me to send Harlequin’s Riddle out to some smaller presses. And the first publisher I tried accepted it. I will always be grateful to Wendy for helping me keep going.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Setting your imagination free is just so much fun. The great thing about creative writing is that it can literally go anywhere. I’ve been involved in a lot of theatre, and there are always constraints – if you want a story with a pirate ship, you have to actually build the ship, so the audience can see it. Which takes a lot of time, effort and money. But with a book, all you need are words, and there’s your ship, sailing across an ocean that could be any colour you want, or made of clouds or fairy floss. So being able to bring worlds and people to life from my imagination has to be the most rewarding thing.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
Writing takes discipline. You have to be willing to sit down every day and get some words on the page. Which requires a high degree of self-motivation. I find it difficult to fight off distractions and focus. Particularly if I have family commitments, which means I spend time away from the story. It can be difficult to pick up the threads of story again when you’ve dropped them.
Do you have any tips for writers who find themselves experiencing writer’s block?
My number one tip is always to recover the magic of books. Which books or authors made you want to start writing in the first place? Which stories made you fall in love with reading? Revisit them and that will hopefully help you find the spark you need, that little bud of inspiration that you can flame into story. And try writing something you’ve never written before. Between Harlequin’s Riddle and Columbine’s Tale I was struggling a bit with momentum. So I took a break and wrote a few plays. It re-energised my creativity.
What advice would you give to people that want to enter the field?
The standard, and definitely excellent, advice is read a lot and write a lot, but I also think it’s important to go in with the right attitude. Recognise that becoming a good writer takes work. The first thing you write won’t be amazing. It definitely won’t be the best thing a publisher has ever read. Everyone makes rookie mistakes. Having an arrogant attitude can burn bridges with publishers, agents and those who can help you. Being willing to take feedback and having the desire to get better will help you achieve your goals. Learning to edit your own work is a crucial skill. The first draft is just the beginning.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
The Tales of Tarya series is about the magic of creativity so I hope it inspires readers to go and make their own magic! Mina, Luka and the other travelling players need to use their gifts, such as storytelling, acting and singing, to solve a centuries-old mystery. So it’s saying that creative artists can make a difference in the world. It makes me sad that artists of all types are underpaid and even exploited, and that what they do is not appreciated enough. When you look at what has survived from long-gone cultures, it is the beautiful creations of forgotten artisans – not the banking systems or laws – and these creations can still bring joy today.
Is there anything else about you that you think readers might find interesting?
My series has a mystery running through the three books – and there are clues even at the beginning of the very first book. So it’s definitely worth paying attention to everything – descriptions of places, anything that has come down through time, and some of the things that people believe are true. For readers who love solving riddles, Harlequin’s Riddle is more than just a book title!
About the Author
Rachel Nightingale was a highly imaginative child who used to pretend she was wandering the woods looking for adventures on her way home from school. Once she understood creating stories gave her magical powers she decided to become a writer. Some years, and many diversions later, she is an award-winning playwright, and the author of The Tales of Tarya trilogy, a fantasy series published by Odyssey Books. Having survived improv theatre, traveled the world and immersed herself endlessly in research and creative practice, she often finds herself at the mercy of stories that demand to be written.
Website – https://www.rachel-nightingale.info/
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/NightingaleRA
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