If you are looking for the live-blog experience on January 5, 2013 , 10:00am – 1:00pm PST, please go to http://lovemadeofheart.com/blog/please-help-me-welcome-author-wendy-d-walter-to-this-live-blog-appearance/ now. Thanks!
Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan here . . . wishing you a Happy New Year! Below is the interview with delightful Wendy D. Walter, author of Ambril’s Tale, The Return of the Dullaith (compelling story for teens . . . any age really).
About Ambril’s Tale, The Return of the Dullaith
Fourteen-year-old Ambril struggles with the mystery surrounding her father’s death when she moves back to the mysterious town where she was born. When she accidentally uncovers a secret which threatens to destroy her entire family, she continues her quest, against all odds, to clear her father’s name. But will she be able to claim her magic and heal the rifts in her family?
Ambril’s Tale, The Return of the Dullaith has received great 4-5-star reviews. Readers are impatiently demanding Book Two, which will be out early Spring 2013.
Be sure to come back to this blog on January 5, 2013, 10:00am-1:00pm PST
Wendy will be giving away a prize — a copy of one of her books (paperback or e-book).
Also, you can enter her End-of-Tour Grand Prize Giveaway of a hand-painted gnome, hand-painted by Wendy herself! Click on http://wendydwalter.com/blog-tour/
What to expect on January 5th? Click here.
Coach Teresa’s Interview-Questions for Author Wendy D. Walter
Coach Teresa: Wendy, what is the symbolism behind Ambril and the Dullaith?
Wendy: When protagonist Ambril moves back to the weird, little town where she was born, she is immediately attacked by a smelly, smoky, demon called a Dullaith. But the demon is more than just a salivating monster who wants to make Ambril a bedtime snack. Ambril soon finds that there’s a connection between it and her father’s death.
Smoke swirls around the Dullaith, just as lies cloak the truth about her father’s death. Ambril realizes that she must choose between acceptance in her new home town, and shining a light on the dark truths surrounding her father’s mysterious death.
We, as humans, tend to protect the status quo, no matter how rotten, to avoid destabilizing events. The Dullaith represents how a festering half-truth can balloon to demonic proportions. All it requires is for us to close our eyes, and look away. It’s so easy . . . until it turns around, shows its jaggle tooth grin, and chases us.
Coach Teresa: What makes fantasy tick?
Wendy: It isn’t really about gnomes and fairies. Fantasy provides us with an opportunity to flex our creativity and dream big. It’s also the perfect platform for dealing with human flaws. In fact, we fantasy-writers have it easy. If it suits us, we can dress up our bullies and despots as demons, give them breath so bad that it singes everyone’s eyebrows, then trounce them in battle…soooo satisfying.
We get to the heart of the matter with less fuss this way. This allows us more time to spend showing, rather than telling, how to deal with the sometimes monstrous behavior of our fellow humans.
Coach Teresa: Bullying behavior is a hot topic today, tell us how you deal with it in Ambril’s Tale.
Wendy: I have to admit, bullying is overused in YA fantasy books. Why? Because it works so well, as we’re allowed to paint human emotions with a broad brush. Bullying is an obvious abuse of power, it works well within worlds where it’s clear who the good and bad guys are, most of the time. But because it’s overused, it has to be done…delicately. That’s why, when I chose to sprinkle bullies throughout Ambril’s Tale, I did so with caution. But I did it, because I wanted to use them to expose nastier forms of abuse.
Bullying is just as rampant in Ambril’s world as it is in our world. Lance, one of Ambril’s schoolmates, is a classic bully. He shoves kids around and gleefully abuses his brother. But Lance has a reason for doing this, his fate hinges on his relationship with his father and brother, and how his family relates to the village of Trelawnyd. Because the abuse of power becomes especially bad if it’s allowed to fester, the secrets of Trelawnyd threaten to bring everyone to their knees.
The only method of ridding ourselves of bullies and despots of all shapes and sizes is through education, intervention, or by forcing the bully to live with the consequences of his/her behavior. Lance’s behavior sets in motion a power greater than his own, and it changes him. Whether it’s for better or for worse, you’ll have to keep reading!
Coach Teresa: Ambril’s Tale has many references to ancient Celtic magic and nature based magic. Why is that?
Wendy: A while back, I stumbled on a genealogy website. As a child of the melting pot, I had never thought past my American heritage. But I was intrigued, so I started clicking and soon found myself back in a small Welsh village. The place where my ancestors had stumped around in Wellies—and whatever came before Wellies—for nearly 500 years. It was a little place, a village called Trelawnyd.
Nature and magic. This is where it all began for us humans. Around the globe, religion started out as a way to tame the elements, and to minimize the damage nature often exacts. In honor of my newly found heritage, I named my fictional California town Trelawnyd. There, Ambril finds that nature based magic is alive and well.
We live under the threat of Global Warming, rising seas and raging storms. I thought that by using the ancient magic of the Celts, and their firm belief that a balance of nature must be maintained, it might help us gain the courage to face our man-made demons and make some much needed changes.
There are little bits and pieces of Celtic magic everywhere in Ambril’s Tale. The demons in Ambril’s Tale take the form of unbalanced nature. The Dullaith is made of noxious smoke and the big, bad guy in the series, Moroz, is something only a mad scientist would be proud of; a toxic mesh of humanity and tortured tree. I don’t want to say anymore as I’ll probably ruin it for you, Book 2, Riding the Cursed Shoots will be coming out in March!
Coach Teresa: Is there a particular human flaw that you most wanted to address in Ambril’s Tale?
Wendy: Every writer has issues to put forth in their books. One of mine centers around my experience of moving to Utah from California at the age of ten.
Before I go any further, I have to say that this is a human problem, not a religious one. In fact, there are football fans who exhibit what we’re about to discuss.
Coming from California, Utah felt cold and closed. I found it hard to fit in. Why? Was I weird, were they, or was it something else? I’ve thought long and hard about this and, although I am a little weird, I think that it was something else. For when 90% of your neighbors, the kids at school, and your parent’s friends share a restrictive belief system, everything is just a bit skewed. People strive to cover up their idiosyncrasies, they hide away their family secrets and desperately pretend to be normal.
In Ambril’s Tale, Trelawnyd mirrors the environment I found in Utah. It is a village obsessed with pretending to be something it isn’t, normal. Magical beings are everywhere, in the forests, the skies and among the villagers. But no one ever talks about them. Keeping this secret has made the villagers fearful and suspicious of outsiders. Though Ambril has roots in Trelawnyd, most villagers regard her as an outsider. She has to tread lightly as she tries to unlock the secrets surrounding her father’s death.
Coach Teresa: Tell us about Ambril’s source of power and why you created it.
Wendy: Magical objects imbued with power, are a great way to showcase just how much power corrupts. In fantasy, we use them to convey power exchanges. They get stolen, destroyed, ransomed, enslaved—etc. In real life, we exchange power in conversation, body language and transactions. But real life is complicated, it is difficult to tell if someone behaved honorably when he’s caught holding your wallet. Did he really pick it up off the sidewalk or did he pick your pocket? Because he’s your cousin, exactly when do you ask him about the missing $100 bill? In front of the cops? At Thanksgiving?
It’s often a relief to see how well our moral compasses work when given clear choices. And with practice, perhaps it may even work better in real life, so that you can find a way to recover your $100 and remain friends with all of your cousins.
Coach Teresa: Some believe that the violent nature of fantasy stories is too extreme. What are your thoughts?
Wendy: Death, destruction, mayhem—it’s everywhere in fantasy stories. Without them, the good guys don’t shine nearly bright enough. Stories of all genres require a broad spectrum of life to ring true, particularly so with fantasy stories.
Physical violence and emotional abuse are all too common in our world. If we practice dealing with it in a world where we can’t personally get hurt, it helps us deal with real life bullies, thieves and people on the verge of going postal.
I have had my share of dragon bosses, ferrety friends and relatives who would give the Wicked Witch of the West pause. Fantasy characters may look different, but most of them are human inside. Learning how to deal with monsters in a fantasy world such as Ambril’s might help everyone deal with the nasty’s in their life. I know it’s helped me. Practice, practice, practice.
Coach Teresa: In your book Ambril’s Tale, Return of the Dullaith . . . Ambril heals her family. Did you set out to write this familiar theme in your YA (young adult) novel?
Wendy: All those with perfect families please raise your hand…Yeah, I thought so, are there any? Let’s face it, we all have family issues; crazy uncles, aunts who drink too much at Christmas, and the occasional incarcerated cousin. Kids fantasize about fixing these problems. If only Mom and Dad would fall in love again, then we would all live happily ever after…If only Dad stopped drinking…If only Mom wasn’t working so hard…if only, if only…
Ambril is no different than any other kid. There is a secret hidden in Ambril’s family, a secret that no one is willing to talk about. Ambril realizes that if she can drag this secret into the light, her family might begin to heal. She is desperate for this, and risks everything to reveal this one secret including: losing her friends, her future in Trelawnyd…even her life. All for the chance of knitting her family back together again.
Coach Teresa: What specifically is empowering to women in Ambril’s Tale?
Wendy: It’s electrifying to see through the eyes of a demon slayer and share the triumph when power is snatched from the hands of the evil overlord, isn’t it?
One of the things that I find thrilling is the proliferation of female warriors today. In our world, there are few outlets for women to be warrior-like as it counters our nurturing image. Secretly, I suspect that the women of the world would love to try it once in a while, and fantasize about it when they can.
I’m one of those secret warriors. Secret, because it never works in real life for me. When I take up a cause and go once more, into the breach, I usually find myself going off a cliff and into the mud…amidst laughter. It’s so humiliating. Fantasy books allow me to be physically adept and best the bad guys, occasionally.
In fantasy, the rules are clear and the tasks simple: save the universe or everyone dies. There is absolutely no ambiguity. It allows us to escape the shifty, gray edges of human morality. When we root for the good guys, it refreshes our view of reality. Because we all know we can’t slug our overbearing, bombastic bosses in real life. But besting demons in Ambril’s world feels almost as good. It’s exhilarating and empowering.
Be sure to come back to this blog on January 5, 2013, 10:00am-1:00pm PST
Reward Number 1 for showing up on this blog on January 5th: Schmooze with Wendy D. Walter!
Another reward: Wendy’s publisher will give away a prize — a copy of one of Wendy’s books (paperback or e-book). The giveaway ends five days after my blog post goes live.
Another reward: Over 6,000 readers visit my blog each month. Introduce yourselves and ask Wendy questions, so that everyone will get to meet you too.
About The Author: Wendy D. Walter
Writing was an early passion for Wendy. As a kid, she wrote lots of stories, but being shy, those usually ended up under the mattress. When she finally set out to tell Ambril’s Tale, she decided not to write a story but a world, full with her own marvelous illustrations. She considers The Return of the Dullaith as just the curly tip of the fairy boot. Wendy lives near San Francisco with her husband, daughters, cat and border collie. More information about Wendy’s book and art, check her site: http://wendydwalter.com
Where to Find the book Ambril’s Tale, Return of the Dullaith:
See you on January 5th!
Coach Teresa LeYung-Ryan says: “Reach out, not stress out, to materialize your dearest dreams.”