Monday, September 23, 2013

Autumn Bash ~ Celebrating with Anne Elisabeth Stengl!

Today's guest is Anne Elisabeth Stengl, author of Dragowitch and the upcoming "Tales of Goldstone Wood" novella release, Goddess Tithe, which will be available November 12th! Read on to learn more about Anne Elisabeth and the characters (and cover) of Goddess Tithe...


Amber: Welcome back to the blog, Anne Elisabeth! What does autumn mean to you, in your writing career and in your life? Is there something you especially love about the season?

Anne Elisabeth: Funny, since autumn is a time of quieting-down, of death and deep sleep, but I find the season rather an exciting one! I recall the summer I wrote Heartless, my debut novel . . . the first half of the book blazed to life for me in a few weeks, then stopped dead. I had to sit on it for most of the summer as I dealt with various difficulties in my own life. But then, come September and the onset of autumn, I felt a renewed interest and excitement in the project. I finished it up in a matter of weeks, and I’ve been working steadily on various writing endeavors ever since!

These days, autumn often means a deadline for me. This year, I have a deadline to finish my book 7 by the end of October, which is starting to loom a bit more than I like. LOL. I also have the excitement of Goddess Tithe’s release this November to look forward to. Hoorah for autumnal projects!

Amber: I love how the change of seasons can inspire us. You sure are keeping busy with your projects! Congratulations on the upcoming release. =)

Speaking of Goddess Tithe...if the hero was invited to a harvest party, what would be his reaction? If he decided to go, what would he wear and how might he get involved? 

Anne Elisabeth: Munny, the young hero of Goddess Tithe, grew up in the dockyard slums of vast Lunthea Maly city, about as far from harvests as he could be! However, this doesn’t mean that autumn didn’t bring changes and festivities. At the turning of the year from summer’s heat to the cooler days of autumn, all Lunthea Maly likes to celebrate. A parade marches through the main streets, making its way from the emperor’s palace down through the city, then back up again to finish at the Temple. Parade day is one of great excitement, and Munny used to enjoy following the procession as far as he could, hollering and shouting, trying to provoke the solemn priests and musicians into cracking smiles.

But at moonrise the day turns more solemn. For Munny is the son of a sailor who was lost at sea. On that night, the wild merriment of the parade forgotten, he and his mother would make their way down to the docks along with hundreds of other widows, orphans, and bereft mothers. Munny and his mother would save their pennies for weeks in order to afford to buy a humble white paper lantern and the candle shining inside it. Munny would build a little raft out of sticks and string and, as he murmured prayers for rest and blessing in unison with his mother, they would set their lantern adrift into the harbor. Before long the whole ocean was lighted up like the sky fallen to earth. Munny liked to think that the Lady Moon and her children in the heavens would look down with compassion on those lights and guide his own lantern safely out to sea where it would rest at last over the very place where his father drowned.

This year, Munny’s mother would have to celebrate Lantern Night on her own, for Munny was far away on his first sea voyage. He wondered if she managed to scrape together the means for a lantern . . . and he wondered if she, not knowing his fate, lit one for him as well . . . .

Amber: Oh, Anne Elisabeth, you capture the excitement and melancholy of the season so well in your descriptions! Sounds like this would be a hard time of year for Munny and his mother. 

What is/was your heroine’s favorite part about autumn in her hometown? 

Anne Elisabeth: When she was younger, Munny’s mother used to enjoy the coming of autumn. Her Kitar family was affluent, and she herself was a great beauty, so she enjoyed great prestige among her peers. Autumn meant a time of dances and parties, celebrating the phases of the moon and the turn of the year.

But now, her circumstances reduced, she enjoys more simple pleasures. The light she sees in her only child’s eyes when he, coming back from watching the great parade, tells her all that he has seen and all that he did, exaggerating tremendously so that she knows she ought to scold him . . . but can’t quite bear to. And she loves the sound of his young voice murmuring the prayers of rest and blessing as he kneels beside her to set the lanterns afloat on Lantern Night. He never knew his father, but she hears the truth in his words, and she knows he loves this man for whom he prays yet whom he will never meet.

Amber: Munny's mother sounds like a special woman and a wonderful parent.

Now, could you share a snippet from your latest release?

Anne Elisabeth:  Here is an excerpt from the middle of the story. In this scene, Munny has been ordered to Captain Sunan’s cabin to clear away his breakfast . . . an unexpected task, for a lowly cabin boy would not ordinarily dare enter his captain’s private quarters! Munny hopes to slip in and out quietly without attracting the captain’s notice. But his hopes are dashed when Sunan addresses him, asking how their strange, foreign stowaway is faring:

 ~ Excerpt from Goddess Tithe ~

“And what do you make of him yourself?”

Munny dared glance his captain’s way and was relieved when his eyes met only a stern and rigid back. “I’m not sure, Captain,” he said. “I think he’s afraid. But not of . . .”

“Not of the goddess?” the Captain finished for him. And with these words he turned upon Munny, his eyes so full of secrets it was nearly overwhelming. Munny froze, his fingers just touching but not daring to take up a small teapot of fragile work.

The Captain looked at him, studying his small frame up and down. “No,” he said, “I believe you are right. Leonard the Clown does not fear Risafeth. I believe he is unaware of his near peril at her will, suffering as he does under a peril nearer still.”

Munny made neither answer nor any move.

“We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly, won’t we, Munny?” the Captain said. But he did not speak as though he expected an answer, so again Munny offered none. “We will bring him safely to Lunthea Maly and there let him choose his own dark future.”

“I hope—” Munny began.

But he was interrupted by a sudden commotion on deck. First a rising murmur of voices, then many shouts, inarticulate in cacophony. But a pounding at the cabin door accompanied Sur Agung’s voice bellowing, “Captain, you’d best come see this!”

The Captain’s eyes widened a moment and still did not break gaze with Munny’s. “We’ll keep him safe,” he repeated. Then he turned and was gone, leaving the door open.

Munny put down the pot he held and scurried after. The deck was alive with hands, even those who were off watch, crawling up from the hatches and crowding the rails on the port side. They parted way for the Captain to pass through, but when Munny tried to follow, they closed in again, blocking him as solidly as a brick wall.

“Look! Look!” Munny heard voices crying.

“It’s a sign!”

“She’s warning us!”

“It’s a sign, I tell you!”

Fearing he knew not what, Munny ran for the center mast and climbed partway up, using the handholds and footholds with unconscious confidence. Soon he was high enough to see over the heads of the gathered crew, out into the blue waters of the ocean. And he saw them.

They were water birds. Big white albatrosses, smaller seagulls, heavy cormorants, even deep-throated pelicans and sleek, black-faced terns. These and many more, hundreds of them, none of which should be seen this far out to sea.

They were all dead. Floating in a great mass.

Munny clung to the mast, pressing his cheek against its wood. The shouts of the frightened sailors below faded away, drowned out by the desolation of that sight. Death, reeking death, a sad flotilla upon the waves.

“I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Munny looked down to where Leonard clung to the mast just beneath him, staring wide-eyed out at the waves. “How could this have happened? Were they sick? Caught in a sudden gale? Are they tangled in fishing nets?”

There was no fear in his voice. Not like in the voices of the sailors. He did not understand. He did not realize. It wasn’t his fault, Munny told himself.

But it was.

~ End of Excerpt ~ 

Amber: Oooh, what an intriguing glimpse into the novella. And Leonard is back! So glad to have you back today, Anne Elisabeth - thank you for sharing all this with us!


Cover Reveal!

Talk about awesome timing - the Autumn Bash coincided with the cover reveal for Goddess Tithe! I also posted about the cover on The Borrowed Book today, so be sure to head over there if you want to learn more about the cover design, illustrations, etc. And now, for the epic reveal...

The Vengeful Goddess
Demands Her Tithe 

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya's only hope to return safely home. 

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown's garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe. 

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend? 

My Thoughts: I love the colors and motion of this cover! It looks mysterious and intense, promising danger, adventure, and a little bit of magic, if I may call it that. The red adds a certain "pop," and perhaps symbolizes the sacrifices that must be made along the journey. The boy himself looks a bit hardened by circumstances - his posture shows he's up for a challenge, but there's a certain sadness and loneliness in his face. The cover overall feels a bit melancholy, but hopeful with the splash of colors in the sky and sails. And the blurriness of the background gives a sense of distance, placing the story very much in the fantasy/fairy-tale realm. The cover reminds me a bit of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis - and that's not a bad thing at all!



Anne Elisabeth is doing a special giveaway in honor of the cover reveal. If you're a resident of the U.S. or Canada and you'd like a chance to win one of two proof copies of Goddess Tithe, enter via the Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Tomorrow's guest is Melissa Tagg, and we'll be chatting about Made to Last!


Anonymous said...

First of all... another beautiful cover... I am so excited to read Goddess Tithe! :)
Now for my question, I've been hearing different things, but want to know: is Goddess Tithe actually the 7th Tales of Goldstone Wood book, or is it a novella fitted in somewhere?
And are you working on anther tale from Goldstone Wood? :) :)
Love your stories, Anne Elisabeth!! Excitedly waiting to read Shadow Hand and Goddess Tithe!
-Shantelle (

Barbara Thompson said...

I am thrilled about Goddess Tithe. Wonderful book and great author. Thank you.
Barbara Thompson

Amber Stokes said...

Hello, Shantelle & Barbara! Thanks for stopping by. :)

Shantelle, Goddess Tithe is in fact a novella, and from what I've heard it fleshes out one of Leo/Lionheart's adventures, focusing on different characters' perspectives. And I've also heard that Anne Elisabeth is indeed working on a 7th book, with many more in the series to come! :)


bonton said...

How did you come up the storyline?

Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!


Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

Thank you, Amber, for hosting me on your lovely blog! :)

@Shantelle, who asks, "is Goddess Tithe actually the 7th Tales of Goldstone Wood book, or is it a novella fitted in somewhere?"

GODDESS TITHE is just a little novella I am slipping in between Books 5 and 6. But I am currently writing a full-length Book 7 (which is easily my biggest book yet!), which will release late 2014. And there are PLENTY more Goldstone Wood books to come, both novels and novellas! :)

Anne Elisabeth Stengl said...

@bonton, who asks, "How did you come up the storyline

I actually wrote up the whole story of how I came up with GODDESS TITHE here:

I hope you will enjoy reading how this story came to be! :)

Amber Stokes said...

Anne Elisabeth,

My pleasure! Thank you for all you do, and for stopping by to respond to questions! :)