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Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Today's Special - - Anna Steffl


PJ here.  It's my pleasure to welcome two people to the blog today:  Dish reviewer J. Perry Stone and fantasy romance author Anna Steffl.  Long-time friends, J Perry Stone leaped at the opportunity to rake Anna over the....ah....that is...she agreed...graciously agreed...to gently lead her friend through her first Q&A here at TRD.  Yes, that's what happened.  I'm sure of it.  Almost.  So, without further ado  - and before I get myself into more trouble with both of them - please welcome Anna Steffl and J. Perry Stone. 

Take it away, ladies!


J:  Welcome, my dear friend.   As you well know, it’s one thing to present a professional face to the reading public, but quite another to meet your friend--with whom so many unprofessional phone conversations have occurred--on that same professional playing field.   If I ask you a personal question or two, forgive me.

That out of the way, why don’t you give the Romance Dish audience an overview of your fantasy SOLACE TRILOGY.

Anna:   Between a woman and the powers of hell
Arvana thought she’d found refuge from the pain of earthly love when she joined the cloistered community of Solace--then...
Stand a relic
In the dark of the superior’s chamber the ancient Blue Eye relic begins to glow, and the creatures of the Reckoning are resurrected. As the one Solacian who can use the Blue Eye, Arvana is commanded into society on a secret task to find a champion to wield the powerful relic.
Two men
Arvana’s choice seems simple: a charismatic prince or a battered captain of proven courage. But when one man demands her love and the other inspires it, her mission unravels.
And a last chance at solace
Will a single forbidden moment endanger the fate of the world and destroy Arvana’s hope of solace with the man who opened her heart?


J:  Okay, I’m in.  Any kind of love triangle upon which not only the heroine’s heart, but the world’s fate hinges is a must read for me.  I’ve heard you describe your series as “Game of Thrones for chicks.”  As an avid GoT fan I have to ask, how sexy do YOUR characters get? 

Anna:  There’s gobs of sex in GoT, but it isn’t sexy to me. Sexy is a desire so strong it defies gravity, turns your world upside down, and makes the blood rush to your dizzy head despite how hard your heart is thumping. In GoT, the blood mostly rushes to, er, other body parts.  

I have a love triangle between a nun-like heroine and the two men she must judge for worthiness to wield a dangerous relic against a brutal, supernatural foe. The allure of love and vanity versus the demands of honor and obedience is what the book is about—well, there are those pressing matters of dragons and creepy evil villains. With a nun character, you can’t get overly explicit without making her a too deeply flawed character. But, the struggle with forbidden love makes the physical scenes all that much more emotional.

J:  I totally agree.  There is nothing sexier than a bit of unrequited love.  It’s the perfect avenue for some amazingly taut sexual tension.   On another note, you mention dragons.  This is a fantasy, of course.   Can you describe your specific brand of world building? 

Anna:  Fantasy world building is damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t. Some fans savor every word of description. Others skim what they consider bloat to get to the next plot point. I’m a skimmer, so I keep my world building short and to the point.

J: Has fantasy always been your favorite genre?

Anna:  Yes. Everything decent I ever wrote has speculative elements.

J:  And now on a little more personal side: how did you become a writer?

Anna:  I made up fantasy languages, maps, and quests as a kid. Rather doomed, don’t you think?   



J: Absolutely doomed.   So now that you are a writer and can speak from experience, what is it about the writer’s life--a solitary existence to be sure--that appeals to you?  

Anna: It makes being a hermit acceptable and a little cool.

J: Are you a voracious reader and if so, which kinds of books keep showing up on your TBR pile?  
Anna: I read five to seven books at once. I’ll have a classic, a few romances, a sci-fi or fantasy, economic theory, history, spirituality, political theory, and a humor piece 
J: You know I’m not going to ask you to elaborate on the “economic theory” part of your answer, Anna.   So who are your favorite writers?
Anna: Jane Austen. Leo Tolstoy. Willa Cather. Patrick O’Brian. Phillip Pullman. Ursula Le Guin.



J: Such a varied list, which, by the way, speaks to what I love about you—you’re so multi-dimensional.    However, I know a few things about you that aren’t so surprising.  If writers’ stereotypes are accurate, which ones apply to you (you know where I’m going with this ;-)  )?  
Anna: Would you be referring to the cat thing?
J: Of course!   But I’ll move on.   So, in conclusion, what is something odd/eccentric about you that readers may find interesting? 
Anna: My failed Vegas accordion career.
J: Readers, I have to add here that she’s not kidding.  




Thank you so very much for visiting the Romance Dish, Anna. Could you leave us with a juicy excerpt to whet our reading appetites?  
Anna: Of course! And if you’d like to read the trilogy, comment below and you could win it on ebook.

Excerpt:
Arvana swung her leg over the horse and began to dismount, but the prince grasped her by the waist and lifted her to the ground. The pressure of his hands so firmly on her body took her breath away and made her heart rise into her throat. No one had ever touched her like that except her father when she was a small thing learning to ride. But Chane’s hands weren’t her father’s hands. Why Chane’s hands were different her mind wouldn’t say, but her face burned. She wanted to step back, hide her face, but she couldn’t move. He was unconscionably close. Men helped women dismount. He had helped Jesquin. It wasn’t anything unusual, but Jesquin didn’t blush.  Arvana darted her gaze to her too-small shoes and forced herself to notice her toes throbbed.

Yet, one of his hands rested at her waist. It was so large and warm.

“Since you have named no prize, I’m forced to give you one of my own devise.” He took her down-turned chin into his hand and lifted it.

Why was he teasing her? Touching her face and making her pulse race? She raised her gaze to his to implore him to stop, but his eyes held no glint of the humor in his voice. His touch made her forget to breathe, and the earnest longing in his eyes arrested her thoughts.

As his face came nearer, he closed his eyes and by an uncontrollable impulse, she closed hers, too.
He gently touched his lips to hers.
“There,” he whispered, his lips brushing hers as he spoke, “you need that more than gold. Has anyone ever kissed you?”
Kiss. At the word, Arvana returned to her senses and jerked away. “Prince!”
“Don’t act surprised. I only lost because I wanted to watch you ride. It was quite a view.”
“That is…not true,” she stammered, bewildered between the exhilaration of the ride and the surprise of the kiss. “I won fair.”
“Yes, you won. You won me from the start. It was never fair.” He grasped her to him.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Readers, what's your favorite fantasy story, book or otherwise? What's your favorite love-triangle story?

Rafflecopter code to win the complete Solace Trilogy ebook:

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Anna Steffl lives in Athens, Georgia, home of the New World gods of football and alternative music. She has held a string of wildly unrelated jobs, from frying chicken to one that required applying for a Department of Defense security clearance.  She is a past president of Georgia Romance Writers and a Golden Heart Award finalist. 
Connect with Anna online at Facebook and Twitter

37 comments:

  1. Wait, I just had to stop myself from entering the contest. I already have the books, but I swear my fingers hovered over the mouse for quite a little bit. Oy.

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    1. LOL! I know what you mean, J. I want to enter it myself!

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  2. Loved book 1. Can't wait to read book 2!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Wendy!

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    2. Anna's wonderful, isn't she Wendy?? And I'm so in the mood for a little fantasy right now.

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    3. Well, these aren't door-stop fantasy books, so I guess they qualify as little fantasy.

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  3. Great Q&A, you two! I could hear both of your voices coming through strong and clear in the questions and answers. Always a delight!

    Anna, congrats on your books! I'm looking forward to reading them.

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    1. I'll lend you mine, PJ... emphasis on the "lend" ;)

      Truth is, you should have heard the phone conversation in which we discussed these questions. Now THAT would have been entertaining.

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    2. It would have had to be heavily censored. All my thanks for having me on Romance dish, PJ and Julianne. To quote JPS, "I love your guts."

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  4. Love the covers, Anna! Best of luck and I'm off to find my copies. Great interview!

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    1. Hi Jean! Thanks for stopping by.

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    2. Thanks for the cover-love, Jean. I think the third is my favorite.

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  5. I haven't read much of this genre, but I think I'll give Anna's books a try. Looks very promising. Best of luck, Anna. Nice interview JPS. (Ruth Atkinson)

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    1. Thanks for visiting Ruth. I like to think these books are a good intro to fantasy because they aren't as long or as complicated--though you do get to meet all three movers and shakers of the story in the first few chapters. After that, it is mostly hero/heroine.

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  6. Ruthie!! You know I love you and would never steer you wrong. Anna's a wonderful writer.

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  7. Kathryne Kennedy writes fantasy that I love. This too sounds very intriguing.

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    1. Catslady--does your screen name mean what I think it means? I adore you already. Thanks for the mention of K. Kennedy!

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  8. Try it, Catslady. Anna is terribly talented, bright, and sensitive--prerequisites to good writing, imo.

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  9. Anna, congrats on your new release! I enjoyed Seeking Solace and am glad to see the next book out!

    Favorite fantasy story is easy--The Lord of the Rings. Picking a 2nd-place story, though, would be tough, as there are so many I love. As for love triangles, I'll go with Lisa Shearin's Raine Benares series. Raine had to choose between Tam, the goblin prince, and Mychael, the commander of the city's guardians, or paladins, each of whom had magical gifts.

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    1. Oh, yeah. Lord of the Rings is king!

      And stop adding more to my TBR pile, Nancy. You do this to me, you know. Thank God.

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  10. Anna, I believe I'm going to have to move your books closer to the top of my TBR pile!

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    1. Rachel, thanks for bumping me closer to the top! I know how that TBR pile works :-) I shudder to think of how big mine is. If it was a highrise, it would get condemned.

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    2. I think TBR piles are really piles of bunnies instead of books the way they multiply exponentially.

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  11. I am woefully behind on my reading list, but I won't be with this series. Thanks for the great interview. I'm working on my Solace costume now.

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    1. Arvana wears sensible shoes...always. I think you need to play her. Plus, she isn't into hugging.

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    2. You wrote her with Nicki in mind, clearly!

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  12. Nancy, a big yes on LOTR. I need to read Lisa's Raine series. That sounds like something I'd get into.

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  13. Fabulous covers, as to Fantasy, I always get my genres confused. Is supernatural considered fantasy, if so I love Deborah Harkness's All Souls Trilogy, I read Cat Devon's vampire novels. I love the recent Nora Robert's The Dark Witch.

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    1. Hi Sharlene...yeah, it does get confusing over what is actually considered fantasy. Lots of people think of paranormal as a sub-genre of fantasy where the supernatural events all occur in this world instead of in imagined or future ones. I'd agree with that :-) Thanks for the cover love!

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  14. Okay, this looks like a must read for me....I am in! I am an avid Anne Mccaffrey fan. Loved the DragonSong books. And a few others...Thea Harrison....excited I found these books because they look really good.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by to comment, Hope. I'm honored to have you read my stories :-) I tremendously admire authors like Anne Mccaffrey and Thea Harrison. They step into a male dominated genre and really take it over! I'm excited that there are more women breaking into science fiction and add a romance elements, too.

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  15. Anna and J, thanks so much for a terrific day yesterday. Anna, wishing you all the best with your Solace Trilogy. I'm looking forward to reading it!

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  16. Oh dear, a love triangle. The story sounds wonderful & I'd love to read it but I hope I don't root for the 'other guy'. Please say there's a HEA!

    Fav fantasy: Anne McCaffrey's Pern series & also CL Wilson's Tairen Soul series

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    1. Well, now your can! Congrats on willing the series. Isn't CL Wilson fabulous? I have signed copies of her books :-)

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  17. Favorite fantasy book -JRR Tolkien- LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy.

    Favorite love triangle= PHANTOM OF THE OPERA

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  18. Hey Laurie, I forgot about the Phantom love triangle. That is a great one.

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