Monday, April 15, 2013

Interview & Excerpt: Melissa Eskue Ousley, author of Sign of the Throne

Today we have an interview with the author of Sign of the Throne, Melissa Eskue Ousley! We also have an excerpt from the book! Check out the synopsis:

Abby is an ordinary girl haunted by dreams of ivory castles, blood-thirsty monsters, and a striking stranger. Working as a babysitter for a family of mythology lovers in wealthy Newcastle Beach, California, she struggles to define herself among the elite class while trying to make sense of her strange visions. Upon meeting David, the doppelganger of the mysterious young man in her dreams, Abby’s life is changed forever.

Encountering the queen of Cai Terenmare, a magical kingdom in a parallel world, Abby learns of an evil lord hell-bent on usurping the throne, the murder of Cai Terenmare’s king, the solas beir, and the kidnapping of the solas beir’s infant son.

As the kingdom struggles to endure, the queen shows Abby the full extent of her destiny. She must convince her mysterious crush, David, that he is the lost heir. While braving attacks from the dark lord’s sadistic minions, David must realize his true identity and return to Cai Terenmare to claim his throne before time runs out, lest the evil that was temporarily locked away be unleashed, threatening to destroy both the kingdom and all of humanity.

Where do you get your ideas for writing?

Ideas come from a lot of places: dreams, conversations, observing people and nature. There’s some pretty gruesome stuff that happens in the animal kingdom. The Western Oracle, for example, was inspired by a rather horrifying clip from Animal Planet. Life experiences play a role. Cassandra Buchan is based on a dear friend who teaches statistics. And I do actually come from a Scottish heritage and am a descendent of the Buchan family. The motto inscribed on Riordan Buchan’s letter opener in Sign of the Throne is the real Buchan clan motto.

You have a background in psychology. How does that influence your writing?

I’m interested in both psychology and mythology—they intersect in Jung’s theories. When you start looking at the mythology of different cultures, you see similarities, not only in archetypes, but also in legends about mythical creatures. Certainly humans in different parts of the world share similar fears, and it makes sense that our boogeymen resemble dark, shadowy creatures that come in the night to steal us away. But I’m also fascinated by tales of other creatures, like mermaids for example. There are mermaid stories from all over the world—from the selkies of Ireland to the mermaids of Puerto Rico and Thailand. Psychology also influences my writing in the development of characters and themes, and through the inclusion of various concepts such as probability and synchronicity. I also like symbolism. Some, but not all, of my characters’ names have a symbolic meaning. For example, Tynan Tierney means “dark lord”.

Did you always want to be a writer when you grew up?

Yes…and no. I wanted to be a lot of things during my childhood. A geologist. A marine biologist. An astronaut. I tried on different identities. My father would work all day and then after the family had gone to bed, he would stay up late and write. That may have rubbed off on me. I think though, that I was always telling myself stories, even if I wasn’t always writing the words down. I often got bored in school because I finished my work quickly, so I would draw to stay out of trouble. My drawings were more than doodles—they were entire stories, with the dialogue playing out in my head. And I was always a reader. I did get in trouble for reading in class a few times. In college I majored in English, but took a detour when I worked as a counselor and then, after getting my doctoral degree in Higher Education, I worked with students at a university and conducted research. But eventually, the stories that were in my head came together in a cohesive way, and I had to write. That was when I started to write the Solas Beir Trilogy.

What do you like to read?

I enjoy the young adult genre and read a lot of books with themes similar to my books. I also enjoy fantasy and horror. Some of my favorite authors are Stephen King, Christopher Moore, Terry Brooks, and Neil Gaiman. The Talisman was my introduction to the world of Stephen King and is still one of my favorite books. I started reading his books in sixth grade and have been reading his work ever since. His book On Writing is one of the best books out there for teaching people how to write.

What advice do you have for writers seeking to publish?

Don’t underestimate the value of an editor. It’s important to present your best work, and the insight from an editor in your genre is invaluable in helping you strengthen your manuscript. It can be costly, but well worth it. Think of it as an investment in your writing.


Excerpt from Sign of the Throne:

The conversation was interrupted by the ringing of the doorbell. Cassandra looked at the door and then down at the pan she was still holding. “Oops, guess I forgot to put this in the oven. I’ll take care of this if you’ll get the door.”
Abby shook her head and laughed at Cassandra’s absentmindedness. “Nooo problem, Professor.” Smiling to herself, she trotted over to the door and opened it. 
David Corbin stood in front of her. Seeing her smile, he smiled back. “Hello, Abby. Is Aunt Moira here?”
Abby was so caught off guard by David’s sudden appearance that it took her a full second to remember who Moira was and that he was somehow connected to her. “Oh! Of course. Please, come in, and I’ll let her know you’re here.” Abby gestured to the living room and turned toward the kitchen, almost colliding with Cassandra, who had emerged to greet their visitor. 
“David,” Cassandra said warmly. “How sweet of you to pay Aunt Moira a visit. I’m sure she will be happy to see you. Abby—why don’t you keep David entertained, and I’ll get Moira.” 
“Oh,” Abby said. “Sure.” 
Cassandra disappeared down the hallway, leaving Abby and David to stare awkwardly at each other. 
“So…” Abby began. She racked her brain, desperately searching for something to say, and drew a complete blank. It was all his fault. He looked amazing, standing there in his leather jacket and jeans, his blue eyes burning into hers. 
“So?” David smiled, waiting. 
Abby put her hands in her jean pockets. “So, I guess I’m supposed to keep you entertained.” 
He nodded. “Guess so.” 
And it’s going very well so far, Abby thought. “So, um, that’s really nice of you to visit your aunt. I’m sure she has missed you.” 
“Well, technically, she’s not my aunt,” David said. 
“Oh?” 
“She’s been a part of my life forever,” he replied, “but we’re not actually related.” 
“I see.” Abby paused, unsure of where to go next with the conversation. David was not being terribly helpful either. “Well, I imagine she will want to hear all about your trip. You were in the South Pacific?” 
“Yes, in Thailand and Australia,” David said. 
“And what was your favorite part?” 
“Hmmm, good question,” he said. “It was all beautiful and amazing, but I guess I’d have to say diving off the Great Barrier Reef. That was incredible—there was just so much life down there.” 
“Wow—what did you see?” Abby asked. 
“More than I would have imagined,” David said. “Sea turtles, feather stars, lion fish, sharks—” 
She stared at him, widening her eyes. “Sharks?” 
“Just little ones on the reef,” David said. 
“Define little,” Abby said. 
“Black-tip reef sharks, maybe four or five feet long—no big deal,” David said. 
“Four or five feet? I’m like, five foot seven—that would be a big deal to me.” 
David laughed. “Well, they’re not really a threat to divers. They tend to keep their distance. Anyway, I enjoyed that so much that I went on a cage diving expedition with great whites.” 
“No way.” 
“Way.” David grinned. He seemed to be enjoying the look of shock on Abby’s face. 
“Why would you do that?” she asked, incredulous. 
“Why wouldn’t I do that?” 
“Um, gee, where do I start?” she asked, putting her hands on her hips. David chuckled. 
“It’s not as scary as you might think. Sure, they’re these huge, powerful
creatures—” 
“With a reputation for eating people…” 
“Well, that is a consideration,” he conceded. “But they are also beautiful and amazing. You just have to stay away from the bitey end and try not to look like prey.” 
“Oh, is that all?” Abby asked, raising her eyebrows. 
“Actually, yes,” David said, nodding. “I mean, they cruise by the cage and check you out, but they don’t automatically attack you. They’re curious, not ruthless. When they attack, they’re just doing what they were built to do. And they don’t attack people that often.” 
“No big deal.” Abby shook her head in disbelief. This boy is nuts. Cute, but nuts.
David laughed. “Have you ever traveled abroad, Abby?” 
Abby frowned. “I’ve never had the opportunity.” 
“Well, if you ever do, don’t be afraid to seize the day,” David said. “Travel opens you up to new perspectives, new opportunities that you might never ordinarily enjoy.” 
“I’m not afraid of taking risks,” Abby protested. “I just don’t see the point of putting my life in danger for no good reason.” 
“I didn’t put my life in danger,” David argued, stepping closer to her and staring into her eyes. “It’s just when you immerse yourself in another culture, you let go of some of your former inhibitions. The thing about Australia is that there are so many things that can maim or kill you there—sharks, crocs, snakes, spiders—BIG freakin’ spiders—even the duck-billed platypus is venomous. So you kind of make peace with that and enjoy yourself. Life is too short not to have
a good time.” 
Abby found herself caught in his gaze—she couldn’t look away. She hoped David wouldn’t quiz her on the many ways she could die Down Under, because she had gotten bewitched by the sound of his voice and had failed to catch the details of what he’d said. His voice had a rough, gravely edge, but it wasn’t unpleasant. It was deep and seductive, even when she thought he might have said something about a potentially lethal platypus. She’d have to look up that tidbit of trivia later—it sounded like something important to know if she ever found herself ambushed by egg-laying mammals. Or she’d ask Ciaran—he would know. 
“Carpe diem,” Abby said, laughing nervously, less because she was worried about death by Australian fauna and more because of her awareness of how close he was. 
David nodded “Exactly.” He took yet another step closer. 
Abby felt her breath catch—he wasn’t touching her, but she could feel him. It was as if some kind of warmth radiated from him, washing over her skin, drawing her to him like the pull of a magnet. 
“David!” Moira called as she emerged from the hallway, Cassandra at her side. 
Abby suddenly felt awkward about David’s closeness and prayed he didn’t notice the sly smile that Cassandra was giving her. She also hoped he missed the brief scowl Moira directed at Abby before turning her attention back to David. 
“It’s about time you came to see me, boy,” Moira said. 
“Hello, Aunt Moira.” David smiled and stepped away from Abby. “You look lovely as ever.” 
“You are a terrible liar. I’m old,” Moira replied, putting her hands on her hips. 
“Well, you’ll always look lovely to me,” he said. 
Moira smiled—a genuine smile. Abby was shocked. The woman was so cranky around her and the Buchans that Abby would not have believed her capable of that kind of affection. The smile actually softened her and took about twenty years off her face. There truly was something special about David Corbin.

About the Author:

Melissa Eskue Ousley lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family and their Kelpie, Gryphon. When she’s not writing, Melissa can be found hiking, swimming, scuba diving, kayaking, or walking along the beach, poking dead things with a stick.

Before she became a writer, she had a number of educational jobs, ranging from a summer spent scraping road kill off a molten desert highway, to years spent conducting research with an amazing team of educators at the University of Arizona. Her interests in psychology, culture, and mythology have influenced her writing of The Solas Beir Trilogy.

For more about Sign of the Throne check it out on these sites!


2 comments:

  1. I love the premise of Sign of the Throne. I'm kind of scared of David now because what kind of person is not scared of a frikkin' shark????

    Anyway! Definitely hoping to check this out soon.

    Angie @ YA Novelties

    ReplyDelete
  2. I loved the cover when I saw it...drew me into it..it has depth. I like the idea of being a Marine Biologist...not so much astronaut..I worry about peeing in space and the other...lol!!

    Great excerpt!!

    Michelle

    ReplyDelete

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