Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Featured Author: Tiffany Carmel Lake

Tiffany Carmel Lake is here to talk about her epic fantasy, Stelletwal Vengeance & Domination, published by Virtualbookworm Publishing. This is book three in the Stelletwal series. Read on for an interview with the author and an excerpt from the book.

About the book:

The truce between the Elves of the Southern and Western kingdoms has ended, forcing King Rinion and Queen Kaliopy into war against the Southern Clans.  The conflict escalates as the Southern Clans reveal their hidden strategies.  But just days before the battle begins Azuryne, the High Priestess, is hesitant to commit Stelletwal’s magic to the cause as she doubts the foundation of her faith.  Princes Rylan and Chalorys find evidence of an ancient weapon which could alter events further, sending the twins on an adventure far away from their homeland.  As Rinion and Kaliopy turn their attention to the needs of their people, an old foe threatens to resurface.  But there are others who can justifiably lay claim to the throne.  The struggle will not cease after the King is dead. Stelletwal Vengeance & Domination is the sequel and continuing saga, following Stelletwal Deception & Illumination.

Other books by Tiffany Carmel Lake:

Interview with Tiffany Carmel Lake

Tiffany, this is your third book. How long have you been writing, and how did you start?

I started writing in late January, 2009. Several days prior, a friend of mine encouraged me to start keeping a diary. I put up a lot of resistance to this idea. But later that same evening, I mentioned a childhood dream I had of hosting an elaborate masquerade ball. Rather smugly she teased, “Why don’t you write about it? Spare no expense. Plan your masquerade as though money was no object.” A day or two later, an Apache medicine woman told me that I had Faeries all around me. Again, I was carried back to a time I had forgotten. But this time I recalled how I used to sing to small, colorful orbs in my backyard. I mulled this over for a couple more days before I finally placed pen to paper.  It was a rainy morning. I sat at my kitchen table, in my pajamas, with a steaming cup of coffee and a blank paged subtly ornate journaling book. I did not have any aspirations to write. I never dreamed I’d write one book, let alone begin an entire series. It took filling three of those fancy journals and more than 100 typed pages before my husband asked me, “Do you think this is turning into something?”  I didn’t know. But I couldn’t stop. I was scribbling dialogue on every random piece of paper I could find. I was writing while I was driving (I do not encourage, nor do I support this practice by the way!!!). And I’m pleased to say that my obsessive writing binge has calmed down considerably. So, returning to that rainy morning when Stelletwal was birthed into my awareness…The spark ignited when I thought, “If I am sparing myself the reality of dealing with money, why am I dealing in my reality at all?” Instead of writing from my perspective, I decided to write through the eyes of a Faerie. Kaliopy came to me like a childhood friend, and the masquerade turned into a relatively small aspect of the overall story. To this day, I still love to write while it’s raining.

How did you come up with the title of your book?

Each book has a sub-title, but Stelletwal is a Faerie kingdom and the main title for the series. The name is made up of two words, both meaning “star.” Stelle is Italian and Etoile is French. I put them together and American-ized the spelling so the integrity of the pronunciation would remain more or less intact. Since Stelletwal was founded on the night of a meteor shower, I thought it was a good way to have the star connection without being too obvious.

Do you have another job outside of writing?

I am a professional singer.

That is so cool! What song would you pick to go with your book?

There is no way for me to choose only one song. Yet I cannot simply let this question slip by without an acknowledgment. First of all, I have always thought the main storyline in Sacrifice would make for a wonderful opera. Now that I’ve gotten that out, I can admit that I’ve pieced together entire soundtracks for my books. I’ve even composed music of my own which was inspired by my books. But in a nut-shell, I would like the music to be a blend of Verdi’s Requiem and Trent Reznor. Throw in a hint of Gothic rock, Taiko drums and dramatic classical vocals…I think we’re beginning to get the varied emotional impact I have in mind.

How did you create the plot for this book?

The development for each book’s plot has been a little different. Since Vengeance & Domination is a continuation (Parts 3 and 4) of a larger story, I knew where it needed to begin. What I was not sure of, was how it would (or wouldn’t) end. But two things remain consistent: First, I do not write linearly, so the stories unfold as one might consider putting together a puzzle. And second, I physically feel like I’m a little outside of my body and taking dictation with a lot of vivid images flashing in my head.

What’s your favorite line from a book? Have more than one? What are your ten favorite lines from a book?

…from one of my books or from any book? One of my favorite lines from Vengeance & Domination is contained in Part 4, where the Northern Clan King reminds his son that “…histories are interpreted through the eyes of survivors.” 

Another line I like from the same book is contained in Part 3, when Rinion playfully asks Kaliopy and Rylan (his oldest son), “Where is my other son?  He understands the art of melancholy.”

One of my husband’s favorite lines is contained in Deception & Illumination Part 1, when Rinion announces to his father that he and his wife are expecting a child. Ryshan teases his son by saying, “My boy, that is the way to christen a ship.”

If I had to pick a favorite line from someone else’s book, my first thought goes to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, “Not all those who wander are lost.”

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for.

I’ve lovingly gifted many copies of The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Not only is it a story about following your dreams, but it is about the importance of the experiences during the journey.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?

I fell in love with Skryshayn. Everything about him contains elements of danger and beauty. He is a classic example of someone who often has noble motives, but goes about accomplishing his goals in the most terrible ways.

What would your main character say about you?

She would probably tell me I need to practice more.

If you could be one of your characters, which one would you choose?

When I began writing, I felt like Kaliopy chose me. She is a Faerie Princess, but she is portrayed in the most non-stereotypical manner… She was born into a royal household, but she was trained as a warrior. A part of me understood that polarity. Growing up, I wove flowers in my hair, put on a fancy dress, climbed a tree, and got into a brawl with one of the neighbor boys…all in the same afternoon. As I continued to write, I felt a stronger connection to Chalorys (the younger of the twin princes), as he struggles to discover his life’s purpose and path. But, if I could choose to be anyone, I’d want to be Finyanna from all three books OR Admiral Flarnyan from Vengeance & Domination. Both of these women are strong, confident and they just seem to have it all figured out.

Tell us about your favorite scene in the book.

Again, taking the series into consideration, one of my favorite scenes is in Stelletwal Sacrifice. Near the beginning of the story, Tsavryel and Ryshan are on a ship together.  The sun is just beginning to rise, and Ryshan awakes. He goes onto the main deck to find Tsavryel dancing to nothing but the sound of the water and the gentle creak of the wood and the rigging. It is such a beautiful interaction between the two of them, but there is also so much uncertainty. I loved writing that chapter.

In Vengeance & Domination, I still get wrapped up in the chapter where Setryel is introduced. I see the images as though I’m watching Japanese Anime.

In Deception & Illumination, there is a paragraph when Dalsyus captures a moth and releases it out a window and into the night. Even though he is one of the antagonists in the story, that small action exposes an important, tender facet within his character.

Who are your favorite authors?

JRR Tolkien and Raymond Feist

How long is your to-be-read pile?

Strangely, I am not much of a reader. Someday I’d like to read the Harry Potter books, or I have a feeling the George RR Martin series A Song of Ice and Fire (Game of Thrones) would also be right up my alley. But I haven’t been reading (or watching) much of anything since I started writing. 

I hear you! Writing can be all consuming. Okay, let's say you get to decide who would read your audiobook. Who would you choose?

Ian McKellen and/or Claudia Black.

You’re given the day off, and you can do anything but write. What would you do?


You can be any fictional character for one day. Who would you be?

A mermaid.

What are you working on now?

I’m in between opera seasons right now, so I’m collaborating on a couple of other shows/projects with some of my musician friends. As for the books, I’m currently working on the fourth and fifth books in the Stelletwal series. I promised the muses I will continue to write as long as they keep sharing their tales.

Excerpt from Stelletwal Vengeance & Domination

Setryel ran her pale fingers along the dark green and navy blue embroidery which accented her black sleeves. There was no excuse for her sudden chill, but she almost felt numb as she continued down the windowless corridor. For the past couple of years there had been rumor of the souls who haunted the two rooms at the end of this hall on the castle’s upper level. The disappearance of a mighty Faerie sorceress and her half Elfin daughter gave the entire community great cause for suspicion, and the rooms were sealed closed when it was evident they were never going to return. No one truly knew their fates, but the magic the two women practiced caused an eerie presence to linger in the air. While this was enough of a deterrent to keep most everyone away, it was a positively irresistible lure to Setryel.

She was the first maiden born to the kingdom with wings in nearly two centuries, and this display of royal blue, violet and absinthe green distanced her from her peers. Magic had vanished from her society in exchange for darker activities, and she guessed that may have been some of the attraction for a long dead commander named Dalsyus. It was he who brought the Sorceress into their fold, and it was he who nurtured her gifts in exchange for the blood which abundantly flowed through her veins. He had the influential power to commit their army to the pursuit of her desires, but he perished on the night of the first skirmish. Undoubtedly the sacrifices Dalsyus made on Finyanna’s behalf were romanticized over the years, but at their core, the stories were true. The Sorceress became one of the strongest and most powerful women in the kingdom’s history. Now Finyanna and her daughter Kryasa were gone, but their history lived on. Setryel often dreamed of the day when her own talents would be recognized, and her differences would allow her the opportunities to rise to greatness.

Thick black drapes were hung over the chamber doors with the hope the rooms would be overlooked and eventually forgotten. Now, on this hot summer night, the maiden stood in the middle of the hall and wondered how she might gain access past the doors which were so carefully barred. She bowed her head as though she were about to pray. Calling out in her mind, she tried to summon any power which might answer her. Suddenly, she was inspired to address the very being which formerly inhabited the rooms, “Finyanna, I mean you and your belongings no harm. But I seek knowledge and your Divine guidance. May I enter?” Setryel began to lose her balance, but quickly recovered. The hall remained silent. Again, the maiden manifested her plea, “Great Sorceress, I humbly call on you to grant me entry.” Setryel’s head began to pound from the mental exertion. She rubbed her palms against her temples as she ran her fingers through her flaxen hair. Reaching her hands out toward both doors, Setryel called aloud, “I command you to respond.” Still, there was nothing. The maiden opened her eyes and nervously glanced around her. There was no sound and no movement. Her rapidly beating heart was the only rhythm which answered. She hung her head down with disappointment as she tried to consider another tactic. Suddenly, the drapes blew from the walls as an explosion forced them flying into the center of the corridor. Both doors violently swung open from their hinges and slammed against their stone frames with a deafening impact. Setryel fell to the ground in the wake of the blast as fragments of rock and plaster rained over her body, but no harm came to her. Immediately, silence followed and the maiden looked up to see one of the doors ajar under the heavy fabric which still hung from the ceiling.

Gingerly pulling herself to her feet, Setryel pushed back the curtain and stepped through the threshold. The room was not nearly as dark as the hallway, for the night was cloudless and the windows filtered the moon’s silver light into the chamber. She walked to a table and noticed a couple books left behind as though they were still the source of someone’s lessons. She picked up a text and walked toward the window so she might read some of the words. Gently wiping the dust from the page, she squinted to make out what was written. She had hardly deciphered a word when a movement in the shadows startled her, causing the book to tumble out of her grasp and onto the floor. The maiden was paralyzed with fear as the shadow stepped closer and into the light. The form materialized into a woman with thick auburn hair and pale blue eyes, “I do not respond well to commands.” The woman knelt down and picked up the manuscript. She cradled it against her chest as she reverently returned it to its place on the table. “The words preserved within these bindings are more than two millennia old. They should be treated with the utmost respect.” Gently running her fingers over a crystal orb, the ball responded to her touch by sparking to life with a swirl of purple and blue light. As she pulled her hand away the colors dissipated as though they had never been ignited, “Why have you summoned me?”

Setryel trembled, “Finyanna? You are alive?”

The woman measured the maiden standing before her, “Not by your definition. My destiny is no longer a part of this place.”

“But you are here now?” Setryel was still shocked by what was happening, and she could not recall the questions which had burned within her prior to this encounter.

Finyanna smiled softly, “I was born into your world with certain attributes, but those gifts required constant refinement.” She rested her hand on the book once more, “These texts served as a foundation for my studies. When you are ready to advance your skills, seek the Temple library at Stelletwal.”

Setryel shivered as she blinked some of the dust free from her eyes. She was still lying on the floor in the hallway outside of Finyanna’s chamber. Setryel was disoriented, but she tried to stand. She searched for any sign confirming what she experienced. The fragments which had fallen over her earlier were swept clean from the ground and the air seemed as though it had never shifted. Blindly, Setryel reached for the drape which covered the Sorceress’s chamber door. Stepping past the fabric, the maiden found the door to be closed, but the handle twisted easily in her hand. It was as though the seals had never been placed around the entrance. The maiden tenuously peered into the vacant room. It appeared just as it had moments earlier, except a single candle was burning on the table.

Stelletwal Vengeance & Domination, All rights reserved ©2013

About the author:

Tiffany graduated from California Institute of the Arts with her Master's Degree in Classical Vocal Performance. Her love for fantasy, stage combat, costumes and the rich traditions of grand opera have served as the foundations for her episodic legacy called Stelletwal. Her travels have taken her to Europe and Japan where she has gratefully experienced many cultures while communicating through the boundless language of music. Inspired by influential historical figures and timeless archetypes, Tiffany brings new life to Elves and Faeries exhibiting very human qualities while confronting and struggling with universal issues of honor, entitlement and personal growth. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and their cat.

Connect with Tiffany:
Website | Website 2 | Vocal Website | Facebook 

Buy the books:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble