Saturday, February 7, 2015

Featured Author: Cheryl Matthynssens

About the book:

Bloodmines is Book #3 in the Groundbreaking series The Blue Dragon's Geas, which begins with Outcast (Book #1) and moves on to The Blackguard.

Alador discovers that there is more to his geas and the bloodstone than he had ever imagined. As its true nature is revealed, he alone must figure out how to complete the geas. His first task is to obtain the support of the one dragon that he and Henrick know how to find. But... how does one garner support from a dragon you have previously shot?

Follow Alador as he sets out to gain the support of the dragon, dodge Lerdenian politics and his scheming uncle, at the same time as he attempts to come to terms with the continued ripples that one large bloodstone has brought into his life.

Interview with Cheryl Matthynssens

Cheryl, what’s the story behind the title Bloodmines
Man has always harvested what he wanted from the world even at the cost of destruction of natural beauty, an ecosystem, or a species. In this case, moral man is hunting dragons to leech the magic from them. A dragon's blood has magical properties and thus the bloodmines were created. A place where dragons are held captive and their blood is drained regularly. A place the hero, Alador, plans to destroy.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
The first book, Outcast, is more of a world building tale. You could read The Blackguard and be fairly secure without Outcast, though some of the cultural and backstory for Alador would be lost. However, Bloodmines really needs The Blackguard to be read first as the two go hand in hand.

What do you love about where you live? 
I live in the Okanogan Valley of Washington state. I love that we have four seasons here. I grew up on the West Coast of Washington close to a temperate rain forest. I was used to two seasons: rain and construction. 

Now I love in this rugged High Mountain desert, and it is so beautiful and was the inspiration for the Daezun lands.

Have you been in any natural disasters? 
Yes,  When I loved on the coast, we had to evacuate more than once because of storms coming off of the Ocean. When I was a child, we lived fifty feet from the winter high tide line. The two actual disasters that stand out really were significant. The first was a New Year's Eve storm. The road home was closed and the police routed us another way. It flooded as we were crossing and we had water coming in our car. Fortunately, my husband knew to keep the motor at a certain speed to keep it from sucking water into the engine.  Three of my children were in the car. It's a scary memory. When we got home, the hill behind our house had collapsed and filled our garage and back yard with three feet of mud.

The other disaster was an earthquake. We lived two miles from the epicenter. I can't even describe how it felt. It was more like an explosion than an earthquake due to how close we were.

What’s one thing that you wish you knew as a teenager that you know now?
I wish I had known that at the end of the day, other people's opinions really don't matter. If they are not part of my big picture, then they can like, hate or gossip all they want. I used to put far too much stock in what other people thought of me.

Do you have another job outside of writing? 
Yes, I do contract speaking or teaching engagements. I am totally comfortable in front of a group of people. I mostly teach a cognitive behavior curriculum which I have total belief in for people who struggle making the same life error choices over and over.

What’s one of your favorite quotes? 
Well, I don't know where it came from but I use it all the time. 
“It is what it is,
It was what it was,
It is not my today!”

How did you create the plot for this book? 
Well, the first book started out just wanting to tell a story about a victim of bullying that was not the typical rise out of the ashes and become a hero. Sometimes bad things happen when people are bullied. After that, it sort of took on a life of it's own. Bloodmines needed to show Alador coming into his power. One thing that did help with this plot is that I put out to my readers a question of what they wanted to see. I used many of these ideas as they worked with the things I knew would come out the other side.

What would your main character, Alador, say about you?  
Alador would say that I was creative, flexible, and probably a bit cruel. The poor boy has had a bit of a hard time with having to grow up quickly and his brothers seem to have this habit of punching him in the face. He is not your typical all-powerful hero, even though he keeps plaguing me to give him a break.

Are you like any of your characters?
I actually really like Jon and Sordith. Jon's flat, matter-of-fact manner makes me smile every time I write a conversation with him. The other is Sordith. I had originally created him to be an antogonist, but the more I played around with his character, wrote some lines for him, the more I realized I didn't want him on Luthian's side. He took on this life that really makes me want to write his story when I am done with this series.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)? 
I am currently working my way through the Myrddin's Heir Series by Robin Chambers. He has a unique style that I love and definitely has put a spin on urban fantasy that I would have never considered. I am  on book 4 right now and still loving every chapter. I also am learning things for my own writing as his style of prose has elements I want to be able to emulate.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing? 
I think hands down it was from my father. My father is a western reader and was really apprehensive about reading my first book as he is not into dragons and magic in his reading. However, being his daughter, he agreed to take a plunge and read Outcast. He called me two days later and this is what he said: “I finished your book. You are on restriction until book two is done.” It may seem strange to most, but that was one of the highest compliments my father has ever given me. It makes me smile every time I think of it. Of course, having a reviewer post that my story is “epic” always makes me smile.

What’s one pet peeve you have when you read? 
I hate it when I am really into a story and the build up is perfect throughout the book.  Then suddenly the protagonist solves all the problems with their magic without much of a struggle in a single chapter. I hate it when characters have no problems winning that climatic battle. I want them to win, but at least take a blow or two.

Why did you decide to self-publish? 
Honestly? Fear. I was afraid of that gatekeeper that publishing houses have and the rejection letter they could send. One person's opinion would decide if I was worth reading. By going the route I did, if my work was not liked by actual readers then I knew I could just fade back out silently. To be honest, Outcast's negative reviews were heart-breaking at first. However, I have left it in its original form so I could learn. I do not see the same negative comments in books 2 or 3. Now that I have learned what I can from Outcast's feedback, I am going back and re-editing it.

Other books by Cheryl Matthynssens

The Blackguard

Children's Dragon Books:

About the author:

I am Cheryl and go by Cheri. I am a . . . never mind my age . . . older woman with grand-kids. However, my heart is forever young and I hope I never grow up. I was born in Upland, California. I have four wonderful children and four beautiful grandchildren. I started adult life as a mother. I went back to school and got my teaching degree. Between teaching positions, I ended up working in a prison on the coast of Washington State. This led to gaining credentials and a license to be an addictions counselor. This unique combination has allowed me to interview hundreds of personalities over my career. I love the uniqueness of human beings and work hard to make sure I build this into my characters. I want each major character to have a form and manner that makes them unique from the rest. 

I recently received a diagnosis of cancer. No worries, not stopping my writing, but it did slow me down a bit until I got into the routine of chemotherapy. On September 25, 2014, I took a leap of faith and left my career as a counselor to take care of myself for awhile and to write full time. 

I have been an avid reader of all things fantasy and science fiction. I have been a GM for dungeons and dragons for 25 years. Yes, I played when the original books came paperback in a little red box. And now . . . I have dated myself!

I love the fantasy world because it taps into the creative mind. I have always been one who could visualize what I read and so fantasy became a colorful escape to lands of mystical beasts, fantastic quests and where the hero really does save the day. Since becoming a more mature reader and writer, I have found writing can be an avenue to learning and teaching while still enjoying that creative mind-scape. I have worked in a world where the hero doesn't always win and sometimes beloved characters fall and don't get back up. 

From these experiences of reading, role playing and writing, the world of Vesta came to life. Vesta has it's own map, weather and history. It is filled with its own races, beasts and unique attributes. Because I have developed my own world, I found I was not limited by Tolkien views of elves and dragons. I could expand on the magic of dragons and mystic powers. Many artists, writers and other role players have contributed to make Vesta what it is when I finally put pen to paper. Welcome . . . and I hope you enjoy my unique world of fantasy novels and children's books.

Connect with Cheryl:
Website  |  Blog   |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads