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A quick word from Bobbi Dumas, your host.
Hi everyone! Welcome to Read-A-Romance Month. You can find out more about this fun, month long event here. And check out all the great authors taking part this year on the calendar, here.
The theme this year is The Romance Of Reading, The Magic Of Books and we have an awesome assortment of writers – both romance and mainstream fiction authors – sharing about books, reading, romance & magic. I hope you’ll visit everyday.
(Also, be sure to check in to The Romance Of Reading FB page, where one of the RARM authors will be hosting the page each day in August. Today Maria Vale will also be on the page.)
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Maria Vale – Spinning Truth, Spinning Tales
I write paranormal. For a lot of people that means purple smoke and demons and things outside of nature.
I prefer the original meaning of “beside normal,” like Normal’s wingman, following everything Normal does, but from the perspective of the passenger seat.
The Legend of All Wolves centers on the Great North Pack. They are first and foremost wolves, only putting on skin because it’s what they need to do to protect their land and their pack in a world where humans are the apex predators and wolves are the ultimate symbol of a wild that has yet to be conquered.
They are born wolves and stay wolves until the dreaded Year of First Shoes, when they start to learn how to walk on two feet. How to manipulate the short, thick tongue into forming words. How to wear clothes that itch and confine. How to interact without biting. How to try to understand the world around them without sniffing it first.
Their training gets progressively subtler and more complicated and through Leonora, the Human Behaviors teacher, I get to comment on what we are like from the wolf perspective. For example, Leonora has a mnemonic to help her wolves learn the varieties of human misrepresentation: JAFFEWIP–jokes, advertising, falsehood, flirtation, exaggeration, white lies, irony, and politics. There are many ways of spinning the truth, but they all require a subtly different response for wolves who are trying to seem human.
To me the real magic comes with what every writer does or tries to do, anyway, and that is to immerse themselves in another person’s mind, to see the world through another person’s eyes. And to do it so completely that they drag an unsuspecting reader along with them. It’s just in my case, I’m trying to see the world through the eyes of a wolf.
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It’s so hard to whittle down my list of recommendations. I tried to include writers in a variety of the genres that I read.
Jackie Lau – jackielaubooks.com – @Amazon
For someone who isn’t a big reader of contemporaries, I really like Jackie Lau who combines true tenderness with love of family and an embarrassing amount of food porn.
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2019 RARM Questions:
Tell us about a time in your life that felt magical to you.
My great aunt lived to be 104 in a tiny house that had one biggish room and two small rooms, a wood stove, an outhouse, an outdoor pump and an enormous ancient tree on a hill overlooking surrounding farmland where I spent the family’s dutiful visits reading and imagining myself as a pirate in its branches, surrounded by the smell of musky old house and cut hay.
She did not have electricity or a phone.
Her house would have been recognizable to farmers centuries ago and yet I remember it so clearly and as I edit this on a phone that is exponentially more powerful than the computers that launched the space program, I can’t help but feel like a time traveler, a stretched out link connecting the past and present.
Tell us about a book that was magical for you.
A book I loved as a teen was The Persian Boy by Mary Renault. I haven’t read it in decades, but recently I read Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles and the story of Patroclus and Achilles reminded me—rightly or wrongly—of the story of Bagoas and Alexander. So strongly that while I was reading it I felt transported back to my father’s house during the summer where I’d first read The Persian Boy. My dad’s been gone for over 20 years so there was definitely a kind of melancholy magic about it.
Tell us about a “magical moment” in your writing or your career?
Like every writer, I was very nervous before The Last Wolf debuted. I hadn’t yet learned the cardinal rule of writing: Never Check Reviews of Your Own Books on Goodreads. I’d seen some very nice reviews (yay!) and some not so nice reviews. I hadn’t realized that this was par for the course and was afraid that my “career” was over weeks before it had even begun.
I’d been to a concert and on the bus back, I checked the smoldering tire fire that is my social media. That’s when I saw that my 50 followers on Twitter had gone up by one. But that one was Jeaniene Frost. I love her writing, she’s so funny and smart and passionate, filled with immediately engaging characters and such great dialogue, so when my publisher asked who I would pick to write my dream blurb, I’d immediately said Jeaniene Frost.
I tried to tell myself not to get excited. That it was probably a mistake, she’d definitely meant to follow somebody else, but then a day later, she posted something so kind and wonderful. She blurbed my book! Then she blogged about it! For a writer who is so talented and busy to take the time to read a book by a total unknown? To me that was—and still is—magic.
Jeaniene Frost – jeanienefrost.com – @Amazon
For writers who use magical aspects in their books, what attracts you to those elements? For those of you who don’t, are there specific themes or elements you’re attracted to and find yourself going back to? Why do these resonate with you?
I believe in the magic of the unfamiliar. Most magicians of an earlier era were simply people who knew things that others didn’t: a little knowledge of celestial mechanics + theater = magic!
In the volume I’ve just finished, the hero is an outsider who is struck by the pack’s almost mystical ability to know things that seem unknowable. Through the course of the book, he comes to realize that it isn’t magic, but rather that his perceptions are constricted by a very human focus on what is seen and what is said. For the Pack, those are just isolated points on a continuum, but they are aware that life still happens in the vast spaces in between.
Creativity is a kind of magical experience. What inspires you, keeps you going, helps you when you lose focus, etc.?
My muse is a narcoleptic, I feel like I spend too much time dragging her body across the page waiting for her to wake the heck UP. I belong to a number of groups with other writers, many of whom are relentlessly productive and creative. When they say they have down times, too, it makes me feel better.
DRAWING – Maria is hosting The Romance of Reading page, and her giveaways will take place there.
However, comments will also be entered to win a bundle of books from the Week 2 participating authors. You may enter by commenting on this original blog post and/or on the Read-A-Romance Month Facebook page post, here.
Each first unique comment at each space offers an extra chance to win, so check in with each author. Must comment by 8/21/19 11:59pm Eastern to enter.
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Maria Vale is the author of The Last Wolf (An Amazon and Library Journal Best Book of 2018), A Wolf Apart (A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018) and Forever Wolf, which the New York Times called “an impressive achievement.” A logophile, bibliovore and worrier about the world, she lives in New York with her husband, two sons and a long line of dead plants. No one will let her have a pet.
Discover all of Maria’s books:
*Please note that the Amazon button, most cover images and text links connect to an affiliate portal. Thanks so much for your help & support!