Meet Joshua Winning, whose book Sentinel I reviewed recently.
1. Tell us a little about yourself.
I'm a British journalist and author who drinks far too much herbal tea. I just released my first book, a dark young adult fantasy called Sentinel, which is the first instalment in the Sentinel Trilogy.
2. When did you start writing, and why?
I started when I was very young, basically as soon as I could read. It's difficult to remember that far back (feeling old), but I think I started as a way of exorcising all the random stories and characters floating around in my head. Wow that sounds more dramatic than I intended...
3. What do you write, and why? What do you enjoy about what you write?
I write fantasy, which is just the way my brain is wired. My imagination is dangerously over-active. I grew up watching films like Neverending Story and Labyrinth, and my go-to authors were CS Lewis and Robin Jarvis. I just can't get enough of it.
Fantasy got a bad rep for a while; only 'nerds' were allowed to like it, but that's swung totally in the opposite direction now (thanks to a certain boy wizard and Game of Thrones), so it's a really exciting time to be writing fantasy.
What I enjoy most about writing is finding the hidden depths. The little details that make a person tick. Why do they talk the way they do? Why do they react that way? I find that fascinating - especially when you figure out a way to put your character in a bad situation that really shows what they're made of.
4. What is your latest book or series? Any forthcoming books?
Sentinel came out on 1 May 2013, and the sequel, Ruins, is reducing me to a shadow of a man as we speak. Though I love writing, it's easy to forget how tough it can be sometimes when you're trying to break a story that's being obstinate. That's also part of the joy of it, though.
5. "Welcome To My Worlds": Tell us a little about the world of your latest book or series.
The world of Sentinel looks just like the world you see every day - except there are things lurking in the darkness, just out of sight. It's a world you, hopefully, believe really could exist. I know I do.
6. Introduce us to some of your characters. What do you like about them?
Nicholas is our Luke Skywalker. He's young and naive (on the cusp of 16), and totally unprepared for the adventure he's about to go on. Luckily, he's pretty bolshie and has a smart mouth, which should help him out along the way. I worried for a while that he was too 'normal', too much of an average Joe, but now that's what I love about him. The fact that he feels like a real, overdramatic, tantrum-inclined teenager gives a little edge to Sentinel. And, of course, there's more to him than meets the eye…
Then there's Malika, a sultry immortal who likes getting her way. She's just one of the kick-ass females in Sentinel, but she's also a villain. Her motives are mysterious and it's unclear exactly where her loyalties really lie. She's really fun to write; I get to engage my inner warrior princess and just her loose.
Possibly my favourite character is Isabel. But you'll have to read the book to find out more about her...
7. A fun fact you would like your readers to know about you or your book.
Sentinel took me 16 years to complete, which either means it's really good, or it's really bad. Hopefully the former. [Kyra sez, I'm going with really good!] I'm not planning on taking as long with book two - I'm already seven chapters in, so it's looking good!
8. Blog/site link, and where your book is available.
Amazon (UK), Amazon (US)
Welcoming Nikki Broadwell, who I'm hosting today on her book tour with Saskia Book Tours!
What have you published recently?
Over the past year and a half I’ve published three books of a Celtic fantasy trilogy—“The Moonstone”, “Saille, the Willow”, and just this month, “The Wolf Moon”.
How, and when, did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve always loved writing from the time I was in grade school. In college I majored in English and Art, going back and forth until I had enough units for a degree in both! However, I didn’t do any serious writing until about seven years ago when I took a writing workshop. The moonstone, first book of the trilogy, was begun from a writing prompt in that class—from then on I’ve been hooked!
Where can we find your published writing?
I have several short stories up on my Goodreads site and my books can be found on Smashwords, Amazon, as kindle or paper, and can be ordered from any bookstore.
What is a typical day like for you as a writer?
I don’t keep any particular schedule but usually I’m at my desk by eight or nine a.m. If I’m working on a project it’s hard to pry me away from my computer—I’m one of those who types rather than writing longhand. I leave my desk to eat and sometimes to take a walk or a yoga class but I can easily write for six hours in a day. What I have to watch out for is not writing into the evening—if I do I’m often plagued with insomnia as the characters parade through my mind willing me back to my desk.
What are your favorite characters that you have created? Tell us about them.
The first one that comes to mind is the antagonist who has a part in all three books. He’s a priest gone bad, a complex character with a history of abuse and a twin sister who is a seer. He and his twin were once so close that they could communicate telepathically, but now Brandubh is taking his orders from their sorceress mother, a woman who feeds off others to retain her youth. MacCuill, a druid is another of my favorites—he’s a wise sort of Gandalf-like character who literally has magic at this fingertips! I also made up a race of people called the Crion who are the ‘keepers of the wisdom’ in the Otherworld. And of course I’m very fond of the main character, Maeve, a young woman faced with a destiny she didn’t bargain for. She needs to find inner strength in terrifying circumstances.
Do you find you “mentally edit” other writers’ works as you read them? Does doing this help you or bother you?
OMG. YES! I am always doing this even when reading authors who are on the best-seller list! I worked really hard to edit mine and it irks me to find typos and mistakes. Of course there are always a few that slip by, but it’s obvious when an author hasn’t hired a proofreader. And dealing with the publishing companies such as Createspace or Lightning Source can be maddening when the formatting adds even more mistakes!
What music do you listen to, while writing?
It is too distracting for me to listen to music while I write—especially songs with lyrics! If I listened to any it would be new agey with a drumbeat or rhythm—something to get my second chakra going…(creativity)
What do you eat while writing?
I bring in breakfast and lunch sometimes, spilling crumbs into my keyboard and making it filthy and greasy. I also drink espresso and if I’m not following my ‘no writing after five’ rule I bring in wine.
Five for Fun:
What is your favourite non-alcoholic drink?
What is your favourite cartoon character?
Hmm..I’m sure this will date me, but I would have to say the roadrunner. I don’t watch cartoons now so can’t even think of a more current figure unless it was a character from Studio Ghibli, the Japanese anime`—if you haven’t seen them, they’re remarkable!
What is your favourite movie of all time?
Would have to say ‘”The King of Hearts”. I also loved the first three “Star Wars”, “Matrix” and “The Lord of the Rings” and many many more.
What do you like to do for fun or just to relax?
I love watching series and movies and I love reading. I also love to hike in wild places with my dog. Yoga and meditation are a big part of my life as is going out for lunch and having a glass of crisp chilled wine!
Where can we find you on the web?
My Website: https://www.nikkibroadwellauthor.com/
My blog: http://niksblog-authorinprogress.blogspot.com
About the Author:
Nikki’s college education centered on English and Art and she graduated with a B.A. in both. While her children were in middle school she began a greeting card business and then later, when they were out of the house, she began painting on silk, selling her scarves and wall hangings to high-end galleries in California and Oregon .Now she writes full time, working on a sequel to Wolfmoon as well as a fictionalized version of her parent’s life based on journals her father kept during his time as a POW duringWW2.
Having recently located from Portland Oregon, Nikki has become a resident of Tucson, Arizona where she lives on a hill at the base of the Catalina Mountains with her husband, and standard poodle, Buddha and Eesa, the cat.
The Wolf Moon (Wolfmoon Trilogy Book 3) By Nikki Broadwell
It is close to the winter solstice when Maeve Lewin’s simple trip to Scotland to re-unite with her mother throws her headlong into a dangerous world.
A prophecy written centuries before seems to describe her as ‘the one’, and despite Maeve’s insistence that this couldn’t possibly be true, her mother and grandmother both agree.
What Maeve doesn’t know is that her boyfriend is part of her destiny, mentioned in the ancient text as ‘the one of noble birth who will stand by her side’. But Harold’s only plan is to join Maeve Scotland for the New Year before the two of them fly home to the States.
The night of the winter solstice brings Maeve face to face with a terrifying reality, but it's Harold’s arrival that forces her to come to terms with the truth. He seems to have lived in this parallel world before and his part in future events has been sealed as surely as hers.
With dark forces hunting her relentlessly and confronted with a fate she didn’t choose, Maeve must come to terms with her future and somehow find the strength to fulfill the perilous task set before her.
Other Books by Nikki Broadwell
Taking a break from the character interviews and author spotlights and book reviews just to do a quick update on what's going on in Kyra-land.
I'm doing Camp NaNoWriMo again this month, writing Book 4 of Daughter of the Wildings. Having tons of fun with it; I just love Silas and Lainie, it's always fun to dive into a new book with them. (In fact, once the series is ended, I don't think I'm going to be able to let them go!) The rest of the series story arc is developing nicely, and I can mostly see my way through to the end. This book involves a cattle drive, which is something I previously knew nothing about, so it's been fun researching it. Two of the resources I'm using are The Log of a Cowboy, by Andy Adams, who was a real working trail cowboy in the 1880s, and the blog Wild West History, particularly the linked post on daily life on an old west cattle drive.
Here's my daily progress so far:
Day 1: 1266 words, 1266/30,000
Day 2: 1563 words, 2829/30,000
Day 3: 1347 words, 4176/30,000
Day 4: 1459 words, 5635/30,000
Day 5: 1606 words, 7240/30,000
The novels in this series have been fairly short so far, novella-length, but I tend to "write short" in my first drafts and expect they'll get considerably longer in revision.
The Lost Book of Anggird is undergoing its final big revision, with line-editing and proofreading to follow. I'm hopefully looking at an October release. Sarya's Song is in the initial revision phase. So far I'm very encouraged; it really isn't as bad as I was afraid it would be. Looking at, hmm, early next year for that to come out.
I'm also working on proofreading the proof copy of the paperback version of Chosen of Azara, and will put up buy links once I approve it and it becomes available for purchase. Just a reminder, for a limited time you can read Chosen of Azara for free, serial-style, right here on the site!
And finally, July 1-31 is the Summer/Winter Sale at Smashwords! During this month, you can get Urdaisunia and Chosen of Azara for 50% off! Just follow the links and use coupon code SSW50 at checkout.
Sentinel, by Joshua Winning
Kyra's Star Ratings:
Characters: * * * * *
Story: * * * * *
Writing: * * * * *
Emotional Engagement: * * * * *
(I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of giving an honest review.)
"Sentinel" is the story of a fifteen-year-old boy, Nicholas Hallow, who, when his world falls apart, learns that he has abilities and a heritage that he never dreamed of. Evil beings who were long held at bay by the Sentinels have begun to gain a foothold in our world, and Nicholas finds himself the object of the stuggle between the Sentinels and the servants of the Dark Prophets.
This book grabbed me from the beginning and didn't let go till the end. The sense of menace never lets up - even when Nicholas finds refuge, the danger is still out there, waiting. The descriptions of a world where evil is gaining power are chilling, as are the antagonists themselves. The characters are vividly drawn, and I found myself loving the good guys (and girls) and loving to hate the baddies. The book is also emotionally gripping - I felt the highs, lows, fear, relief, and shock right along with the characters.
"Sentinel" is described as "dark YA fantasy," but it hits that sweet spot of having a teen protagonist and being appropriate for/interesting to teens, while also being written with a deeper, more sophisticated adult voice and outlook and featuring some adult point-of-view characters. I'm not a big YA reader, preferring adult characters and an adult voice, but I found myself deeply engaged in and satisfied with reading "Sentinel." Besides being a good example of YA-adult crossover, I think this book would appeal very much to teen boys who enjoyed the Harry Potter books.
It isn't perfect; there are a few bits of the story that didn't quite hang together for me, though it never lost my attention, and the author occasionally uses words to attribute dialogue that don't really work as substitutes for "said." There's also a technical editing glitch (looks like a search-and-replace mistake) that I brought to the author's attention and will be corrected soon if it hasn't been already.
Other than those tiny nitpicks, I thought "Sentinel" was fantastic, and enjoyed it immensely. (Plus it gives a whole new meaning to the term "crazy cat lady"!) I highly recommend it, and I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
Okay, so Estefan from Chosen of Azara got really annoyed with me because I haven't interviewed him. And I quote, "How come that SOB who keeps trying to steal my fiancee gets an interview and I don't when I'm a hundred times more awesome than he is?"
So, just to get him to leave me alone, here's Baron Estefan Mirenne.
1. What is your full name? Is there anything significant about your name?
My name is Baron Estefan Lesander Danel Mirenne. The "Baron" part isn't a name; it's my title.
2. How old are you?
I am 25 years old.
3. Tell us about your family. What do you like and not like about them?
My father died when I was ten, and at that time I inherited his barony and his title, though I didn't take full possession of them until I reached my majority at age 20. My mother is Lady Alise Mirenne. I also have some aunts, uncles, cousins, and sisters.
Petir and Pavel Barille are nearly brothers to me. After my father died I was fostered with their family, and grew up with them. A man couldn't ask for better friends.
4. Who was your first kiss, and what did you think of it?
It was... No. Wait, let me think. That dairymaid with the [censored]? No. Hmm. It must have been the little blonde, um, what was she? Actually, it might have been...
I'm afraid I don't remember, but I know I liked it.
5. What is your occupation?
Look at question 1. I'm a Baron.
6. What are your best and worst qualities?
I've won more than my share of summer tournaments the last several years. I'm good with a bow and arrow, and a dueling sword. [cue sniggering from Petir and Pavel] I also ride well, and have a fine voice, and the ladies don't seem to be able to resist me.
7. What quality do you value most in a romantic partner?
I like a girl who's got a figure that gives me something to grab on to, who's lively in the hay or between the sheets and none too fussy about how and when, and...
Oh, you mean... Okay. Right.
I am engaged to marry Miss Lucie Barille. I grew up with her brothers and they're still my best friends. The Barilles are one of the best families in the Lower Districts, along with my own, so it's a good match. She has a nice figure and a pretty face, and stands to bring a good-sized dowry to the marriage. She's a bit empty-headed and eccentric, and not as agreeable as I would like, but my mother will take her firmly in hand and make sure she knows everything that's expected of her once we're married. And she adores me. Of course, I made the arrangements with her father before anything about our engagement was said to her, but then Baron Robart insisted I actually ask her if she wanted to marry me before he gave the final approval. Well, I knew even without asking that she would want to marry me. Why wouldn't she? But he made me ask anyway, and I have to say it was gratifying to see how flattered she was that I was personally asking her to marry me.
8. What is your favorite thing to do?
I like a good hunt, a good tournament, a good beer, and a good tumble with a lively girl.
9. What is your greatest fear?
I can't think of anything that I need to be afraid of. Maybe that I'll never get this new bow I just bought working right. Something's wrong with it, and I can't figure out what.
10. What is your most treasured possession?
I'm fond of my sword [cue more sniggering from Petir and Pavel]. I mean the dueling sword I inherited from my father. It's old fashioned, but perfectly balanced and I've won a lot of tournament duels with it. And I've got a fine hunting horse, best in the Lower Districts, everyone says. And my manor house. It's the newest house in the Lower Districts, only being fifty years old, and has all the latest comforts and conveniences. It's the envy of the Lower Districts.
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