The Enchanted Skean – Book I of The Chronicles of Lifthrasir is a 430-page, Young Adult fantasy novel filled with action, adventure, and magic. 14-year old Beck Conleth is living a quiet life in the seaside town of Queen's Weather when his grandmother sends him on a journey to Ulfwood to retrieve his father's bones and a family skean (dagger). After reaching Ulfwood, Beck discovers the skean is magical, and that it answers only to him. Soon the enchanted skean and its owner attract the attention of dark mages, goblins, and worse. Helped on his journey home by wisewomen, warriors, shape-changers, and the other good folk of Lifthrasir, Beck faces death, danger, and the theft of his skean.
Accompanied by his best friend, Beck stows away on a ship, takes back his skean, befriends a dragon, and escapes with a troop of retrievers of stolen items. After reaching a dock in West Arnora, the company heads for the fortress of Ravens Haunt. As Beck and his companions face a hideous Skullsoul and an army of ogerhunches, he realizes there is a developing confrontation between good and evil, and he and his enchanted skean have a role to play.
My name is Vonnie Winslow Crist. I was born in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, and currently reside in a rural area in Maryland.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
In addition to being a writer, I'm also an illustrator. I do both cover and interior art for books and magazines. While my favourite subjects are fantasy and science fiction, I've illustrated everything from cookbooks to life-style books to poetry collections.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The Enchanted Skean is a Young Adult/ Cross-Over fantasy novel filled with action, adventure, magic, and memorable characters. Here's a link for readers who'd like to read a 3-chapter excerpt: http://vonniewinslowcrist.com/books/the_enchanted_skean_excerpt
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
The publisher of The Enchanted Skean is Mockingbird Lane Press, but my books have had different publishers. My speculative short story collections, The Greener Forest and the soon-to-be-pulished Owl Light, and my two ebooks, Blame it on the Trees and For the Good of the Settlement, are from Cold Moon Press. Both of my myth-based poetry collections, River of Stars and Essential Fables were published by Lite Circle Books. And my children's book, Leprechaun Cake & Other Tales, was published by the VRGroup. I think writers and readers need to remember that each press has their own book preferences and focus.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
It varies. As far as The Enchanted Skean, it took me less than five months to write more than 95,000 words. But the book has gone through several rewrites and edits since that first draft. The editing process took much longer than getting the story down on paper.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Even as I type this, Owl Light, a collection of speculative stories with a pinch of poetry and illustrations is in the final stages of production. I have another YA novel, which I've been working on that I'd like to complete prior to writing the sequel to The Enchanted Skean. It's actually a science-fiction novel with a female protagonist. It features colonies of dragon-like creatures called bodaway, the balance between honoring old traditions and new ideas, guild members who harvest nests from caves, and murder. I've got about 15,000 words written that I'm pleased with, and more words written that I'm less than pleased with!
What genre would you place your books into?
Speculative – meaning my books are either fantasy, science-fiction, or myth-based.
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
I try not to have a favourite book – it's like picking a favourite child! That being said, I think I'm always “in love” with the project I'm working on. When it's first published, I think: “Now, this is my best book.” But of course, as soon as I start working on the next story or book, then that new project becomes my favourite.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
Yes, I read all the reviews of my books that I'm aware of. Each is the opinion of a reader – and whether they're posting on Goodreads or Amazon or publishing a review in a well-known journel, as an author, I can learn what one person thought about my book. Perhaps that reader will give me insight into how to make my next book better.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Never. A reader is entitled to their opinion, and even if I don't agree with it, I must acknowledge that it is true for them.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books? Who designed the Cover of your books?
I title my books during the writing process, and haven't been asked to re-title any book yet. As far as cover design, I usually do a piece of artwork that I think would be appropriate for the cover and send it to the publisher (but remember, I am an illustrator). The publisher and/or art director make the design decisions. In fact, the cover of The Enchanted Skean is actually the third painting I did at the request of the publisher. It might not be my favourite painting – but it was the publisher's favourite, so it's the one that was used on the cover.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I begin writing the book first. The “right” title will eventually emerge from the manuscript. I don't think I'd be comfortable selecting a title and trying to mold the manuscript to fit the title.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
I've enjoyed reading myths, legends, fairytales, folklore, and fantasy since I was young, so there are many authors who influenced me. But if I had to choose a few, they'd be JRR Tolkien and his The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, CS Lewis and his The Chronicles of Narnia (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe remains my favorite), Andre Norton and her Witch World series, Anne McCaffrey and her Dragons of Pern series, and JK Rowling and her Harry Potter books. The thing all of these writers have in common is they created one-of-a-kind, believable, well-developed, magical worlds that readers want to inhabit. I was one of those readers, and now, I'm hoping to build my own magical universe for other readers to enjoy.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I hope not. I think there is something quite special about holding a book in your hands, feeling the weight of it, hearing the rustle of the pages, feeling the paper, smelling the scent of library or bookstore, and gazing at a “real” page. Ebooks are convenient, but I find them lacking.
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
I still have a stack of fairytale booklets from the 1930s published by Platt & Monk Co. The booklets were given to me one-by-one by an older family friend to keep me entertained each time we came for a visit. The stories were magical and the illustrations were charming. I think those booklets probably had a lot to do with where I've ended up in my writing and illustration career.
What do you think about book trailers?
Mockingbird Lane Press produced a book trailer for The Enchanted Skean: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-8C9OkyJCU It's my first experience with a book trailer, but the more of them I see, the better I like the concept. I think they might convince movie-minded people to read a book.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Believe in yourself. Read. Write. Revise. Then, repeat as necessary. The writers who suceed are those who persisted.
Where can readers follow you?
Buy Links: Amazon- http://tinyurl.com/Vonnie-Winslow-Crist-Amazon ,