Genre: Epic fantasy
Synopsis: Two fairy tribes hover on the threshold of war when Varia, an AirWalker, falls in love with Loben, an EarthSeeker. The Fairies of Feyllan recounts the trials of two opposing clans while mystery, deceit, calamity, and dragons threaten the once-peaceful existence of the fae in 1920s England. As chaos and rebellion ensue, the dominion of a fairy kingdom hangs in the balance.
Publish date: July 2013
Publisher: Mischievous Muse Press
Check out my review of The Fairies of Feyllan here: http://huntersofreloria.weebly.com/2/post/2013/12/book-review-the-fairies-of-feyllan-by-cat-spydell.html
Here's our interview:
Kasper: Hi Cat, I'm so excited to be interviewing you after I enjoyed reading the Fairies of Feyllan. It's my favourite genre.
Kasper: When did you start writing and why?
Cat: From the time I was in Kindergarten I drew “stories” and made up characters. Later as a kid my brother was on the golf tournament circuit, so I spent many long hours waiting for him to play 18 holes in country clubs. I learned to bring a ream of paper and a pen, and started writing books at about age 9.
Kasper: Wow, you started young. What made you choose the fantasy genre?
Cat: I am the biggest fan of Tolkien, so this was a natural leap for me, even though my last book was young adult (with a sci-fi twist, called The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High).
Kasper: I'm a big Tolkien fan myself. Tell us the story behind your book title?
Cat: As an English major in college I learned to love unique words, and the root of words. This is one of the reasons I enjoy the works of Tolkien so much, because he was a philologist first, author second. I love looking up words and creating new ones, so Feyllan is a Welsh-based compilation made up word that would roughly transfer to “fairy land”. I used the words fae, faery, and faeries in the book, and did not continue to use the common spelling “fairy”, but used it in the title so people unaware of other spellings could easily locate the book for purchase.
Kasper: Ah, you've just answered my query about your use of 'fairy' and 'faery'. Which scene from your book do you like best and why?
Cat: I think the scene I enjoyed writing the most was the birth (or hatching!) of Smote the dragon. Smote was a unique character, based on my ridiculously large but beautiful, regal, yet sometimes silly white Colorado Mountain dog Drinian. Writing about a dragon hatching and Varia’s reaction to it gave me goosebumps. Her reaction to seeing him for the first time was an emotional scene for me, because it reminded me of when I first met my own canine soul mate.
Kasper: That was my fave scene too! Which is your favourite character and why?
Cat: I relate well to Varia, because she is a well-meaning trouble maker and I’m the same way in my town, as I am always fighting to save trees and stop overdevelopment. But Smote is my favorite character. I loved creating a dragon and really spent a great deal of time thinking about how a dragon would react to certain situations, and tried to keep in mind his youthfulness and playful nature, but also that he is a deadly dangerous beast. He gets himself into some pretty unusual situations!
Kasper: Yes, Smote is an awesome character.
Cat: There are two places, aside from my home outside of LA, that are in my heart and where the fae must surely linger: Comptche, California, in redwood country where I lived for several years outside of Mendocino, and England. I lived in London several months and consider that a home I would like to return to. I love all things British, and consider myself a “Britophile”. I took the story of the 1900’s photographs of the Cottingley fairies and incorporated it into the backstory of The Fairies of Feyllan. The green lush atmosphere of both places is prevalent in the book’s Feyllan description.
Kasper: It sounds like you've lived in some beautiful places. What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?
Cat: A song I listened to over and over again while writing The Fairies of Feyllan was The Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin, my favorite band. The lyrics I could most relate to during the war scenes were:
' Oh war is the common cry, pick up your swords and fly./ The sky is filled with good and bad that mortals never know.
Oh well the night is long the beads of time pass slow, /Tired eyes on sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow.
The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath,/
the drums will shake the castle walls, the ring wraiths ride in black, ride on.'
Kasper: It sounds like Zed Zeppelin were Tolkien fans too.
Kasper: What are you working on now?
Cat: I am working on a couple books under aliases that are for eBooks only for DPR Press, and I am considering a sequel to The Fairies of Feyllan incorporating dark faeries. I have two books coming out in the next two years that I wrote years ago, so I will be busy promoting those books; The Planted Seed about a hippie family growing marijuana in Northern California’s “Emerald Triangle” and Epona’s Gift, about a foster teen who secretly buys a horse.
Kasper: You've been very busy, Cat. What’s your writing routine?
Cat: I spend one whole day a week devoted just to writing and then weekends, evenings, and whenever I can squeeze it in.
Kasper: Wow. That's a cool way to go. How did you go about developing your amazing cover artwork?
Cat: Creating Varia was exciting! She is my main character, an AirWalker fairy, and I knew just what she looked like, but getting to help design her was an awesome process. I worked with the Mischievous Muse Press design team and got to pick out her hair, her clothes, her pose, her eyes, piece by piece, and then they created her. It was so unreal watching her become “real”!
Kasper: That sounds like a fun process and it's good you got to have so much input. Who’s your favourite indie author and why?
Cat: I enjoy Elayne G. James who wrote The Lightbridge Legacy series, and April White, who wrote Marking Time. They both are so creative and do great indie marketing to promote their books. They are inspirational!
Kasper: I'll have to check them out. What is your favourite quote?
Cat: If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit. That is actually a family rule as well, haha.
Kasper: :-D Do you have a blog?
Cat: I do have a blog, but I only get to it about once a month. I mostly write about the writing and publishing and marketing process.
Kasper: Yes, there's so much to do as well as writing these days. What’s your favourite line from a book?
Cat: “It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings
Kasper: It relates to our job too, I think. Who inspires you?
Cat: Aside from J.R.R. Tolkien, I am inspired by J.K. Rowlings. Everything from her writing to her personal story keep me motivated as a writer.
Kasper: Yes, she's had a bit impact on the fantasy cross-over genre. I can relate to her trying to write with young children around too. It's not easy!
Who would you choose to read your audiobook?
Cat: Dame Judy Dench!
Kasper: Yes, she's a legend!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Cat: I horseback ride, attend concerts, surf, garden, and spend time with friends.
Kasper: What’s your favourite pet?
Cat: I have an animal rescue with 17 animals as of now, the number changes often, so I have a pony, goats, pig, pigeon, etc, but it’s that magical dog of mine, Drinian, who is my canine partner in life!
Kasper: Thanks for sending in a picture of Drinian, he's gorgeous.
Do you prefer ebook or hardcopy?
Cat: I prefer the smell and feel of a real book. I only read eBooks for work when I’m on the road. Real books rock!
Arriving at the footfall of night, Varia entered her father’s palace, Erendome, high up in the familiar giant whitebeam tree. The structure took up every branch and limb, mostly built of materials found in the sacred valley of Ashenthorne, where Varia’s kin had lived in peace for many generations. Her home had tall arched ceilings, many stems high, carefully crafted from the soft bending branches of a willing willow tree near the Craggyrock Lake to the south. The rooftop itself, made of leaves hardened with the waxy resin from the maple trees that lived in groves to the north, supported crystal-clear domes popping up all around the glimmering leaf tiles. At sunset Erendome shone like amber in the evening light. Not that Varia saw the gloaming time; she could barely see the special luminescent glow of her home as she flew into the whitebeam and landed at the palace entry. In fact, the sky boiled into dark and angry clouds overhead as she pushed back the heavy door, woven of bark and leaf fibers, and ventured inside. “Ah, here she is, here she is!” said the strong voice of her father, King Dreya.
“Father! I’m sorry if I concerned you, I fell asleep and was delayed,” Varia said as she noticed that at least a dozen Wilhvyre, the palace FlightSoldiers, were dressed in their warmer clothing for nighttime flight, at the ready to fly out. Ezia was among them, of course. Rumedah, her father’s elderly advisor, gave her a curious look. Varia felt he could see right through her.
“You were not in the foreign tree’s grove where I left you, Sister, and the peppertree told a story that you left with urgent haste.”
Varia nodded, realizing with a start that the tree, if it was paying attention, could have told Ezia the truth about where she had gone. She made a mental note to ask the tree at sunrise to not share any part of a conversation it may have heard by listening to her thoughts. One never knows with trees, whether they are paying attention or not.
All eyes burned on her, and Varia felt like ducking back out the door into the dangerous night. She could see her sister Alshea and her favorite cousin, Irea, staring at her with concern. No, the look in Alshea’s eyes was suspicion. Varia flushed.
“I remembered I had to visit with the linden tree, but alas, I was chased, by a marsh harrier. I hid in a comfortable leaf bed, exhausted from the pursuit, and thus slept.”
“Ah,” said King Dreya. “There we have it, the faegirl has explained herself. All is well and forgiven.” The tension in the main hall melted away, and the FlightSoldiers on call meandered out of the room, clearly disappointed that their services would not be needed. Except Talow. He stayed. Talow, Varia’s childhood playmate until things grew awkward between them as they merged into their maturity suns,* stood at attention, staring at Varia in a way that made her feel uncomfortable. Alshea and Irea noticed him lingering. Irea giggled, but Alshea glared.
“I apologize, Father, for any problems my absence has caused,” Varia said. “I will take my leave.”
“Very well,” said King Dreya. His trimmed blue beard outlined his chiseled features, and he thrust out his chin in his kingly fashion and turned toward the entertainment hall.
Several of his subjects followed, but Rumedah touched Varia on the wrist. She looked down at his wrinkled claw of a hand on her skin and realized with a start he was thisselling, or “reading” her. She pulled her hand away.
“I see what is in your soul,” Rumedah said in a voice as crinkly as his old face, that reminded Varia of the covering on a pepperberry. “Your intentions may be honest, but you must beware. Do not interfere in the world of warriors, Princess Varia.”
Varia smiled at the man who had been like a grandfather to her as she grew up in Erendome. “I will be cautious, Sage Rumedah. I thank you for your concern.”
Varia saw Alshea and Irea waiting for her by the ceiling-high door of the great hall. She joined her sister and cousin and they flew up the wide portals together into their bedchamber off the main hall, in the upper story of the old whitebeam tree.
Alshea burst into laughter as they entered the top room of the palace. “I apologize for any problems my absence has caused,” she mimicked. Even the more reserved Irea smiled. Varia sighed.
“Oh, hush! Do you really want to mock me now, when I have news?”
“Oh, I know your news!” Irea said. “When it was first discovered you were missing, Ezia brought us to the spot he’d last seen you. Lucky for you, Cousin, I reached the tree before him and told it what to say. The tree told me you went out looking for the EarthSeekers!”
Alshea looked shocked. “What? I didn’t know that, why didn’t you say so, Irea? Truly, I’ve been with you since dawn!”
“Tell you?” Irea fluttered up to the high ceiling of the faegirls’ bedroom, and floated easily down onto her soft bed, made of stitched-together layers of imported Mediterranean lambsear’s leaf. “Yes, tell you, and then what? Have you whisper all that you know to score your romance points with Talow? I’ve seen the way you flirt with him. I believe you’d sacrifice your own sister to get on his good side.”
Alshea turned bright red and said nothing, unusual for her. Alshea was prone to having much to say. Varia squirmed in the room’s silence.
“I appreciate your tact, Cousin,” Varia said to Irea. “And yes, it’s true. I did look for the EarthSeekers!” Varia smiled at the shocked looks on her sister’s and cousin’s faces.
*In Feyllan, one year is called a sun, and represents the amount of time it takes the sun to return from the first day after the first Frost Moon
Book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCMc_svrHME