Today, we have a very special guest, Christa Kinde (KIN-dee), prolific author of fairy tales, epic adventures, comic misadventures, light and sweet romance, clever allegories, whimsical fantasies, far-flung journeys, knotty mysteries, and more.
Christa, thanks for posting in The Scriblerians ‘visiting author’ slam book:
Nicknames: Marmee, CJ, codename “Sugar Daddy” (my husband is “Nacho Mama”) Genre: Fantasy & Christian Speculative Fiction Personal Philosophy: “Be brave and do your best.” Fave Scripture: “Do justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.” –Micah 6:8 Fave Quote: “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” –C. S. Lewis In high school, I was a… voracious bookworm with lamentable social skills and a formidable vocabulary.
Christa we’re delighted you joined us today to talk about the Galleries of Stone series. After publishing so many successful books, why did you write this trilogy under the nom deplume C. J. Milbrandt?
The books I’ve written as Christa Kinde—both fiction and nonfiction—belong solidly in the Christian market. When I approached my publisher about doing a fantasy series, they advised me to abandon the plan. It didn’t fit my author brand. So I shelved a short stack of magic-laced manuscripts and focused on the angels and demons in my Threshold Series.
But I began quietly investigating my indie options. Maybe it’s because I’m a “from scratch” kind of gal, but I love managing the creative process from start to finish. So my family-friendly fantasy is published under my maiden name—C. J. Milbrandt.
And all of us are very glad you made the decision to follow your dream! I recently read Rakefang, the riveting third book of the Galleries of Stone, and I found it very hard to put down each night. What is your inspiration for such diverse stories?
Story ideas aren’t hard to come by. It’s near impossible to avoid the pesky things. Their ambushes throw my imagination into a tizzy and make me wish I could type faster.
However, Galleries of Stone trilogy is a special case. The story began as a personal challenge. For one year, I used an online dictionary’s “word of the day” as inspiration for my daily installment. On January 1, all I knew for sure was that the Keeper of the Gray Mountain was a banished Pred—a sheep in wolf’s clothing. And that Tupper Meadowsweet, his new Flox servant, was either brave, dense, or brilliant.
With each day’s addition, new complexities unfolded. I built the world to suit the story’s needs, making new discoveries right along with Tupper. By December 31, I had 366 chapters (2012 was a leap year) and more than 300,000 words. After some minor edits and a few additions, I released Galleries of Stone as a trilogy: Book One: Meadowsweet (2013), Book Two: Harrow (2014) and Book Three: Rakefang (2015).
Your target audience is tweens/teens, yet I’m also drawn to the delicately entwined layers of allegory and symbolism. What do you hope readers—of all ages—will take away from your books?
I’ve often wished that books could be rated “E for Everyone.” I write what I enjoy reading—adventures with action, a surprising turn of events, a hint of mystery, and a smidgen of romance. If only “heart-warming” was a genre.
Takeaways? Hmm. The three highest compliments my stories have received are laughter, tears, and a warmly-expressed intention to re-read. I want folks to come away from a book feeling that they know the characters. Let’s add joy over the journey they’ve just taken. Satisfaction in its resolution. Anticipation for what’s to come. And with each successive title, a deepening trust in the storyteller.
Well, I for one am hooked because I’ve already started re-reading them. One of the things I like is that Galleries of Stone and your other series immerse readers into the heart of a rich story world, where customs, culture, and relationships unfold in a natural way (and I’d be remiss to not mention that the covers and chapter headings are like works of art). Can you tell us more about how you develop such detailed, fantasy worlds?
Over the course of the trilogy, I invented multiple cultures. Pred are vicious conquerors with an elitist mindset. Grif add a showman’s flourish to all they do. Drom are cantankerous plodders with a passion for spice and melons. Clow honor their tribal ancestry. Fwan are gentle lovers of beauty, but brutally superstitious. It’s a vast and varied world.
By contrast, Tupper’s whole life is bound up in one small village. He didn’t know there were other races of men. He’d never heard of magic. He had no concept of an ocean, let alone distant continents. But when confronted with a wider world, Tupper rolls up his sleeves and chips away at racial barriers. He adapts and adopts new ways of thinking, seeing, and doing. Frey’s “lambkin” makes a big difference in small ways.
Yes, he does. Tupper is one of my favorite characters. In the Galleries of Stone series, which character is most like you and why?
There’s a little bit of me sprinkled throughout the trilogy—attitudes, insights, bits of advice, turns of phrase. The strongest resemblances would likely be Carden’s love of family, Freydolf’s restlessness to create, and Aurelius’s formidable vocabulary.
If you could meet one of your characters in real life, which one would it be and what would you do together?
I wish I had the courage to say Aurelius, but he scares me. So Freydolf. And since the Keeper can’t stray far from his mountain, I’d ask for a tour of the Statuary.
I, too, would like a tour of the statuary and the magical figures the Keeper carefully reveals within the stone! The mountain is a place that came alive for me through your writing!
Christa, thank you for coming on The Scriblerians to talk to our readers! I’ve listed her contact info below. Her websites and blogs are a wonderful world of sample chapters, beautiful artwork, and behind the scenes info on your favorite stories. Check it out!
Continue reading below for a sample chapter from the first book of the Galleries of Stone Trilogy and a chance to win an autographed, beautifully-illustrated book and an e-book as well!
Website/Blog – https://christakinde.wordpress.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ChristaKinde
Twitter – @ChristaKinde
GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/642522.Christa_Kinde
Website/Blog – http://cjmilbrandt.com/
Galleries of Stone on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Galleries-of-Stone/1480104452254159
Byways on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Byways/840562655975459
Twitter – @Elymnifoquent
GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7465580.C_J_Milbrandt
Christa’s books are available here:
Christa Kinde on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Christa-Kinde/e/B007O45N7A C. J. Milbrandt on Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/C.-J.-Milbrandt/e/B00H1D6PLW
Excerpt from Galleries of Stone, Book 1: Meadowsweet
With a flurry of silk and sulk, Aurelius burst into the workshop and demanded, “Have you seen the sprat?”
Freydolf glanced over the top of the golden stone he was marking and inquired, “Recently?”
“Since breakfast,” his brother-in-law clarified.
“I’ve been a little distracted.”
“And I’m being driven to distraction! Do you know how much work is waiting?”
“Yes and no,” Freydolf replied vaguely. “I usually leave such things to you.”
Aurelius rolled his eyes. “Very trusting of you, but I thought we’d agreed that you’d be entrusting your pet to me for the duration.”
“So you haven’t seen him?” Aurelius prodded.
“Maybe he’s hiding from you.” Giving the other man a stern look, he added, “You could have been more polite at breakfast.”
“I was!” he insisted. “For me.”
Freydolf snorted and said, “If you don’t bridle your tongue, you’ll never win the lad over.”
“I’ll bridle my tongue when you collar your pet,” Aurelius muttered. “He’d be easier to find if you kept him on a leash.”
“Have you tried behind the rimbles in the upper loggia?”
The other Pred blinked. “The what in the where?”
“In the upper loggia,” Freydolf patiently repeated. After offering a convoluted set of directions to the tucked-away spot, he remarked, “It’s pleasant there, especially in summertime.”
Aurelius stared dubiously at his brother-in-law. “Do you really expect me to believe that I’ll find him way up there?”
“Not really,” Freydolf admitted, turning his attention back to the stone and making a sweeping chalk line along its side. With a growl, Aurelius exited the workshop, and Freydolf looked down at the boy sitting on the floor between his feet and winked broadly.
Tupper’s eyes shone with gratitude, admiration, and the rare delight of a shared secret. He was quite sure that his Pred was bigger and better than any other.
–End of excerpt–
Dear readers, we would love to hear from you. Tell us which book of the Galleries of Stone you’d like to win, or ask Christa a burning question you’ve always wanted to know about the fantastic realms she creates, or simply leave your thoughts on today’s post!
One lucky commenter will win The Blue Door from Christa’s Threshold series and another lucky commenter will win an e-book of choice from the Galleries of Stone trilogy.
(if you have technical problems leaving a comment, scroll up and click on the blog title; the comment form will then appear at the bottom!)