Author Interview: Melissa Caruso

Author Interview

Meet Melissa Caruso.

Melissa Caruso Author Photo 2

Social media links:

The Interview.


Hi Melissa! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Sure! I’m the author of the Swords & Fire series from Orbit Books, including THE TETHERED MAGE (2017), THE DEFIANT HEIR (2018), and THE UNBOUND EMPIRE (2019). I’ve got a new book coming out in June 2020, THE OBSIDIAN TOWER, which is the first book of a new trilogy set in the same world as Swords & Fire, but with new characters and 150 years later.

My books tend to feature intrigue, magic, murder, betrayal, twisty plots, and explosions. THE TETHRED MAGE was shortlisted for a Gemmell Morningstar Award, and THE UNBOUND EMPIRE received a Kirkus Star.

As for me, in addition to being a fantasy writer, I’m a larper, tea drinker, mom, and all-around geek. I’m married to a video game designer and have two amazing daughters, and I live in Massachusetts with a wonderful old Labrador and assorted cats.


What are your top three favorite things to geek over?

Oooh, that’s a tough one! I’d say Fullmetal Alchemist (especially the manga by Hiromu Arakawa! MOST PERFECT MANGA EVER), larping, and writing craft. Birds come in a close fourth, but the rabbit hole of bird geekery goes very deep and I barely have my toes in it!


If you had to choose one of your books to live in, which would you pick?

Well, they all take place in the same world, so if we’re talking about the specific locations and events visited in the books…Hmm, I might have to say THE DEFIANT HEIR. There are some pretty good parties in that one, the outfits are fantastic, and I get to visit more places and meet more characters than in THE TETHERED MAGE (especially Kathe). THE UNBOUND EMPIRE is just too plain dangerous!


Did you ever create yourself, a family member, or a friend as a character in any of your story drafts?

I’ve never based a character directly on a real life person. Some of my family think La Contessa is based on my mom, but my mom is much nicer than La Contessa! There are certain aspects of real people I may have drawn on with certain characters—like I might think sometimes of someone’s voice or way of standing or general energy. And sometimes I think of which of my friends I’d cast as a particular character if I ever ran a larp based on my books! But for me each character is their own unique person, without a direct real life model.


How did you start your world building for the Swords & Fire trilogy?

In early drafts of THE TETHERED MAGE, it was a historical fantasy, based in an extremely alternate Venice. It kept getting more and more alternate, though, so it was a relief to revise it into an original world and to be free to really expand the worldbuilding! I thought a lot in doing my worldbuilding about how the magic in my world would have shaped history—how it would have affected who was in power, what conflicts arose, how it would have shaped the development of science. The history of the world and a lot of the core conflicts in the trilogy arose naturally from that thought process.


As a reader, what keeps you intrigued in a book?

I love books with well-crafted plot twists, great pacing, and really fun characters I’d want to hang out with (or love to hate, in the case of villains). And a cool magic system! I’m always extra excited when there’s some mystery or secret I can speculate about, or some source of tension that keeps me on the edge of my chair.


Are you a plotter or do you write as you go?

A bit of both, but leaning toward plotter! I always have an outline and many pages of notes where I figure things out in advance, but I also inevitably diverge from that outline as I get a better understanding of the story as I write it. I tend to update my outline as I go to reflect my new direction, and I don’t feel like I need to have EVERY SINGLE THING figured out before I write. So I guess a flexible plotter!


What was the hardest scene you ever had to work on?

The hardest scene emotionally for me to write was this one about halfway through THE UNBOUND EMPIRE where Amalia has to walk away from a certain situation, with heartbreaking consequences. I knew what was happening in that scene, and what would happen after it, and it broke my heart to write it.

The hardest scenes for me in terms of sheer bang-my-head-against-the-wall factor are always transitions! Getting my characters from one location to another (or passing time) without it feeling clunky or grinding the story’s momentum to a halt is like trying to push my face through the holes of a cheese grater, I swear.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers?

I’m really excited about my new trilogy, Rooks and Ruin, which begins with THE OBSIDIAN TOWER, out this June! It’s about a young woman with deadly, broken magic who lives in a rambling, magical castle with an ancient secret at its heart, locked behind a forbidden door. And about what happens when she makes one terrible mistake that could change her world forever.

It’s got all new characters and takes the worldbuilding in a new direction, and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!


Thank you Melissa for joining us today!


Author Interview: Isabel Ibanez Davis

Author Interview, Misc.

Isabel Headshot.jpgMeet Isabel Ibanez Davis.

Isabel Ibañez Davis is the author of WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT (Page Street, Fall 2019), an award winning designer, illustrator, wife to Andrew Davis of Portlandia, and mom to a golden-doodle named Piper Bramble Buns. She’s a Pitch Wars class 2015 Alum. She’s also the creator of the new Pitch Wars branding and mascot, Poe Warburton. Isabel is also mentoring for Pitch Wars in the YA category. This is her third year mentoring.

By day, she designs greeting cards for 9th Letter Press, a company she founded and sold in 2017. Her work has been sold in over 350 mom and pop shops around the country, as well as in nationwide brands like Crate and Barrel, Anthropologie (a dream come true),  and Paper Source.

By late, late night she writes YA fantasies featuring amazing food and strong Latina characters who are often running for their lives. Her favorite stories always feature atmospheric settings, far-off places featuring lush landscapes, kissing, and action scenes. When she’s not doodling or writing, Isabel can be found playing board games and talking trash with fellow players, or traveling with her husband to far-off places. She loves to cook, but is a terrible baker despite her best efforts. One day, she’ll learn how to make the best carrot cake on the planet.

In college she majored in Creative Writing and History, but never dreamed that her work might one day be published.

Isabel is represented by the tenacious Mary Moore of Kimberly Cameron & Associates.

Social Media Links:
Twitter + Instagram | @IsabelWriter09

The Interview.

Pitch Wars has begun! Can you share what inspired you to apply to be a mentor and your experience so far as a YA mentor?

I’ve been involved with Pitch Wars since 2015 when I first applied to be a mentee. The community I found within it has been life giving and I learned SO much from my mentor, Megan Lally, and my PW sibling Sheena Boekweg. To this day we remain very good friends. The next year, I became a mentor and I haven’t stopped being one since. I wanted to give back and help writers with their own stories.

How does one become a “giant word nerd?” Frankly I need a t-shirt and design for that immediately!

Oh man, T-Shirts would be great—why haven’t I thought of that before? I became a “Giant Word Nerd” because of my parents. My first language was Spanish and growing up, I pronounced English words like my parents did—phonetically. It’s how one learns Spanish, by sounding out each letter. In English, that doesn’t always work and you may end up saying “Salmon” or “Epitome” wrong. 😉

This is when I really sought to learn English well, constantly reading, sometimes with a dictionary and I learned to looooooove words.

To follow up with my question – tell us your “word nerd story” in five words or less.

How about my favorite words?! Vellichor, Eloquence, flibbertigibbet, hiraeth, effervescence.

What was your first illustration project and how did you find the illustrator in you?

So, I majored in Creative Writing + History, but ended up going back to school for Graphic Design. I really wanted to become a children’s book illustrator, but ended up falling into designing wedding invitations. I love love and this turned out to be a great outlet, which lead to me founding 9th Letter Press, a stationery company that churned out greeting cards, wedding invitations, etc. I’ve since sold the company, but to this day I remain an avid paper lover.

How does your writing process look? Are you a plotter? Do you let your characters take the lead and see what happens?

I am SUCH a plotter. For a long time, I wondered why it was taking me so long to write books. Why some writing sessions took longer than others, and finally I figured out the problem. I am the most effective writer when I know where I’m going. Without direction, I flounder and spend too much time asking myself is this the right way forward. When I plotted and wrote an outline for the first time, I ended up finishing a polished version of WOVEN IN MOONLIGHT, my debut, in three months. This was a game changer!

My outlines are very detailed, and on top of that I actually block out each chapter, writing not only what happens but how my characters are feeling as well. In the moment, if something feels right I let myself go down that path, and that’s allowed for spontaneity. I actually think those moments exist because somewhere in the back of my mind I know if I get lost, that I have a map to find my way.

Name one book in 2018 that has stuck with you.Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

One book!?!?!? That’s the hardest question ever. There have been so many that I’ve loved, loved, loved. The first one that comes to mind is SPINNING SILVER by Naomi Novik. Her writing is incredibly atmospheric and lush. There’s also this fairytale tone to her work that pulls me right into the story.

I also loved The Cruel Prince and it has everything to do with the main character, Jude. She’s an adorable, scheming, and vulnerable muffin and so well written, I can’t stand it!

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

I am around twitter (my DMs are open) and I always love to interact with avid readers to talk about favorite books. Don’t hesitate to say hello! 🙂

Author Interview: Laurell Galindo

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Laurell Galindo.

Laurell GalindoSocial media links


The Interview.

Hi Laurell! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised in Meridian, Texas, and graduated from Meridian I.S.D. in 2003. In 2004, I enlisted in the United States Army Reserve to serve as a Public Affairs Broadcast Specialist. I was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2005 to 2006. There, I completed multiple missions to create broadcast news stories and anchored the Baghdad based program, Freedom Journal Iraq for the American Forces Network. I separated honorably in 2012. I was prompted to write VET-ONATION because of a personal goal I’d set for myself. In May 2016, I began writing. I wrote several chapters but had to put the book on hold due to my late husband’s illness. He passed away on April 1, 2017. Afterward, I took some time to re-evaluate my life moving forward as a widow and single mother of three. Then I took a deep breath and recommenced writing. I did not want to write a book about war. It has been done. I’ve read several. In my opinion, war should never be glorified. In many of these types of novels, it is. War is a misogynistic and challenging endeavor. War changes a person dramatically. I wanted to address the internal aspect of war, but more specifically, military sexual trauma. I wanted to provide a narrative women could relate to in VET-ONATION.


How did you feel while writing your first broadcast?

One of my first broadcast stories was about the Iraqi referendum which took place on October 15, 2005. The threat of terrorist attacks did not phase the Iraqi people. They took advantage of the historic political process by voting in record numbers. At that time, approximately 15.6 million of Iraq’s 26 million people were eligible to vote. On that day, election officials confirmed as many as 65% of those people made their way to polling stations throughout Iraq, surpassing the 58% recorded in the previous January elections. The high voter turnout caused several polling stations to run out of ballots. Iraqi police and election officials rushed to re-supply these stations so voting could continue. It was an amazing day to witness and document. The Iraqi people made a great stride toward democracy. Their determination to vote showed they were open to a new way of combating violence and political problems in Iraq. It truly was an honor to be able to cover this historic event.


Was there a story at any point in your life that really struck you; that then you needed to tell people about?

A story that I was fortunate to be a part of and like to share is that of the Ibn Sina Hospital in Baghdad, Iraq. This hospital took Yugoslavian architects and Iraqi engineers nearly two years to build.  In 1964 the hospital opened, meeting Iraq’s need for a medical facility in Baghdad. The aim of the founders was to provide a hospital giving the highest standards of medical care and attention to its patients.

During his reign, Saddam Hussein took over the hospital using it as his own private medical facility for his family and the Baath Party elite shutting it off to the Iraqi people. After the U.S. invasion, the hospital became the referral hospital providing medical care to the majority of U.S. Troops, Coalition Forces, and resuming care of the Iraqi people.

Dr. Kadhim Shubber was one of the founders of this facility. I was able to document the day his children, Anisah Shubber and Dr. Jawad Shubber, toured the hospital for the first time in many years. Their visit brought back many memories which they shared as they posed to take pictures in front of their father’s old office. It was touching to see how proud they were to see their father’s hospital. Dr. Jawad Shubber shared that he was very proud of his father’s legacy and added it was a privilege to tour the hospital and to see the work of the U.S. forces in its mission to restore the facility. He added that he felt his father’s hospital was in good hands. I was privileged to be a part of many different stories. While some were happy occasions, others were somber ones. I feel blessed every day to have gotten to experience as many stories as I did.


Are there any characters or scenes in VET-ONATION that are influenced by real life experiences?

A scene that is influenced by a real-life experience is that of the sexual assault in chapter seven. I am a survivor of a military sexual trauma (M.S.T.) which took place in Baghdad, Iraq. I chose to remain a silent survivor for many years due to shame much to the dismay of my sanity. That choice almost destroyed me. Even after I disclosed the event through the proper channels, this information was on a need to know basis as far as I was concerned. I then wrote a book which discussed sexual assault. Unfortunately, I erroneously thought I would be able to skirt the issue and not address my own experience with inquiring minds. I was wrong. It’s difficult to talk about something you’ve kept a secret for so long.

Since VET-ONATION’s release, I have had a lot of tough, anxiety-inducing, emotionally exhausting conversations. I’m still working through the lasting effects of M.S.T. within myself. I hope others who have been affected by sexual assault will read VET-ONATION and be inspired to continue working on their recovery as well.


What is your writing process?

My writing process isn’t too technical. I start by contemplating the topic I’d like to write about. Then I work on a general outline. I try to have at least five main points I’d like to cover within each chapter but keep these general as to allow the characters to grow and change through a natural progression. I don’t give myself deadlines because I don’t want my writing to read like it’s forced. The most important thing is to start writing. The first draft is not going to be great, but at least it’s out of your head and on paper. I never write hungry. I don’t beat myself up over writer’s block. I am patient with my characters and myself. In all honesty, I wasn’t sure how VET-ONATION would end until the morning I sat down and wrote the last chapter. It had been two months since I’d written anything. I needed to give myself and my character, Lauren, time to decide what was best for her. It came to me unexpectedly, and I knew without a doubt it was exactly how the book should end. When I read the ending now, I’m so glad I gave myself time.


From VET-ONATION, what is the main thing you want readers to take away from the novel?

Although the protagonist, Lauren Mayer, is a veteran, she’s still just an average woman struggling with her journey. She faces many tests along the way. While she doesn’t navigate them all well, she’s determined to confront her failures and overcome her obstacles. Her life is a tangled mess of romance, sweet memories, painful moments, and regrets. Lauren’s strength demonstrates what’s possible when we shine a light on our demons and embrace the changes in ourselves.

VET-ONATION is a fictional story. I wrote it with the hope that the protagonist would resonate with any woman who has struggled with a life-changing event and difficult circumstances. It is a book that is close to my heart.


What to you makes a strong storyline?

A strong storyline is made through storytelling and creating believable characters whom the reader truly cares for.


Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

VET-ONATION, which is derived from Veteran’s Detonation, talks about relationships, service in Iraq, military sexual trauma, mental health, and recovery from a female veteran’s perspective. VET-ONATION is an excellent book for female Veterans or any women who has struggled with aspects of service and life following this type of traumatic event, including addressing sexual assault and mental health.

Guest Post: “Tackling the Schedule: The Benefits and Challenges of Writing with a Partner” by Brad McLelland

Guest Post

Meet Brad McLelland.

Born and raised in Arkansas, Brad McLelland spent several years working as a crime journalist in the South before earning his MFA in creative writing from Oklahoma State University, where he met his writing partner, Louis Sylvester. A part-time drummer and singer, Brad lives in Oklahoma with his wife, stepdaughter, a mini-Aussie who gives hugs, and a chubby cat who begs for ham.

Author Website:
Amazon Author Central:


The Guest Post.

Tackling the Schedule:

The Benefits and Challenges of Writing with a Partner


In February 2016, my writing partner Louis Sylvester and I received the phone call that changed our lives. Our agent, Brooks Sherman, informed us that Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, wanted to acquire all four books in our Legends of the Lost Causes western series.

After thoroughly thanking Brooks, (and picking ourselves off the floor), Louis and I sat down to a long phone conversation about how to proceed. Since we live more than a thousand miles apart (Louis lives in Idaho, I’m in Oklahoma), we knew that writing three more books under contract with Henry Holt would present a host of challenges for our writing schedules. We had started writing Book 1 all the way back in 2010, and had enjoyed plenty of time to tinker and redraft as needed—but now we were staring at real deadlines with a real publisher.

Needless to say, we couldn’t help feeling a bit overwhelmed. Especially when our new editor informed us that the first draft of Book 2, The Fang of Bonfire Crossing, would be given a five-month window for completion. Not five years—five months! The clock would start ticking in January 2017, and the alarm for the draft would go off in May.

After picking ourselves off the floor again, Louis and I talked out the writing schedule that would become an integral part of our lives for the foreseeable future, a schedule that we still maintain.

Here’s what we do:

Because each novel in the Legends series is divided into three major sections—Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3—Louis and I schedule one part per month for drafting. So for Book 2, we wrote Part 1 in January, Part 2 in February, and Part 3 in March (we approached the first draft of Book 3 in the same way, and are repeating the formula for Book 4). That leaves two months to scribble out any remaining pieces, flesh out underdeveloped scenes, adjust any character arcs, and do a lightning-quick edit job of the entire book. Then we turn the manuscript over to our editor, who then works closely with us on subsequent drafts.

Compounding the challenges of writing under deadline and so far apart, Louis and I both hold full-time jobs outside of kidlit publishing. Louis is an English professor; I work as a technical editor for a publisher of fire service training manuals. Our daytime professions keep us hopping throughout a typical week, so it’s vital that we establish a writing routine that not only succeeds for Henry Holt, but also works for our families and our employers.

In order to keep to our one-part-per month drafting formula, Louis and I alternate the chapter writing within each section of a book. A typical Part 1, for example, consists of about ten chapters, which means that Louis and I will write five chapters each, going back and forth with a detailed outline to ensure plot consistency. If possible, we each stick to a chapter a week. Then we switch our respective chapters to perform personal edits and layering for voice, style, and tone.

For me, this means lots of nighttime and weekend writing. Since I work four days a week at my day-job, Fridays tend to be my most productive days for drafting, but I also grab as many Saturday night and Sunday evening sessions as I can. Each week I spend thirty to forty hours on writing, so drafting each book is the equivalent of a second full-time job. There’s little time for Netflix (though I do sneak in occasional episodes of She-Ra and Scooby-Doo with my stepdaughter).

I would not be able to accomplish any of this, of course, without a wonderful support system. My wife and stepdaughter understand the time that I need to co-write the novels, so they provide me the appropriate space and time to get the work done. Each month we carefully plan our family outings and events, and we take summer vacations after first drafts are turned into the publisher. We schedule activities to get excited about, and we celebrate and embrace the simple things (such as going to the movies or playing board games).

By taking a measured, meticulous approach to our writing schedule, Louis and I no longer feel like we have to pick ourselves off the floor. We’ve endured the challenges, we’ve undergone the adjustments, and now we’re finding ourselves in the Book 4 homestretch.

Our biggest hope, at the end of the day, is that our readers see the story and not the schedule. If we accomplish that, we can wrap up the day’s writing with a sense of pride and purpose.


Thank you Brad for sharing!

Brad’s latest book, The Fang of Bonfire Crossing: Legends of the Lost Causes, is available now!

Guest Post with Kaya Quinsey: “Writing With Time in Mind”

Guest Post, Misc.

Kaya Quinsey - Headshot 6Meet Kaya Quinsey.

Kaya Quinsey holds her undergraduate and master’s degree in psychology. Her first novel, Paris Mends Broken Hearts, was released in April 2018. Her second book, A Coastal Christmas, was released in October 2018. Her books have sold in seven countries. Kaya’s passion for culture, travel, and psychology blend for a reading style that is fun, full of surprises, and easy to read. A romantic at heart, Kaya’s writing offers a contemporary twist to traditional love stories. She hopes to inspire women through her stories to fiercely chase their dreams.

Social Media Links:
Author Central:

Guest Post

Writing With Time in Mind



Here is some advice I’ve found helpful on how to finish your manuscript relatively quickly (and with minimal headaches). Enjoy!



1. Write first, edit later


If you start to painstakingly sift through sentences as soon as they are typed up, it is going to be a long road to get to the finished product. Some writers will type away at a blacked-out screen, so they aren’t even tempted to edit throughout the process. Get the words out, finish your idea, and don’t let yourself get in the way. This leads into my next point



2. Let go of perfectionism


It is difficult to finish writing a book if you are critiquing it the entire time. Remember that the more you practice, the better you will get. So keep practicing.



3. Write every day


I have found that writing on a daily basis has been helpful to maintain a plot driven story line. It takes discipline to stay focused, to keep writing, to have patience with yourself each day. Stick with it.



4. Set a word count


When working on a book, I typically aim for between 1000-2000 words per day. Within a relatively short span of time, you’ll have a first draft of your book.



5. Plan your plot


Having a general overview of what is going to happen in your story can be helpful so that you have a sense of direction when you are meeting your daily word count (see number 4), on a daily basis (see number 3). You don’t necessarily need to have it all figured out, but an overall big-picture idea can be helpful to guide the path.



6. Set hard deadlines for yourself 


When I say “hard headlines”, I don’t mean set difficult deadlines (e.g., “I will write a whole novel by Wednesday!”). What I mean is set goals about when you want to have Chapter 1, 2, 3, etc. done by. Keep those promises to yourself. Remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect the first time you write it. There will be time to go over it all when you’re done! Which leads me to my final point…



7. Schedule time to revise



Congratulations! You’ve written a book. Now comes the real fun (just kidding).


Good luck with your writing and I wish you all the best.


Rae, thanks for having me on A New Look On Books.



Thank you Kaya for stopping by again!

In case you missed it, check out Kaya’s interview here!




Interview With Author Valerie Roeseler

Author Interview

Meet Valerie Roeseler.

Author Valerie Roeseler.jpg

Valerie Roeseler is a #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of The Helio Trilogy. Her debut novel, Midnight Divine, is the first book in the trilogy. It was released in April of 2016 and was praised by Insite Magazine for its intense action and complex love triangle. Many others have compared the trilogy to the movies Constantine and Lara Croft: Tomb Raider rolled into one universe.

Valerie has the determination of a queen bee. When left to her own devices, she tends to forget that sleep is a necessity. She began writing as a child, creating fantastical stories with villainous animals on her toy typewriter. In her teenage years, her poetry writing was kept a secret before she wrote music, transforming them into lyrics. Her early inspirations came from her obsession with Greek and Egyptian mythology, as well as British literature from the Neoclassical period. Born in Austin, she is a native of the great state of Texas, raised in the outskirts of Houston. She is an enthusiast of art, music, tattoos, coffee, and wine. When not writing, she is an Executive Creative Art Director/CEO of Eden Elements Publishing. She has over two decades of playing guitar, which led to writing music for personal pleasure. She has five tattoos, each with their own significant stories behind them. Being a mother of two, if coffee had not been invented, the world would stop spinning. After a long day of chasing deadlines and toddlers, a nice glass of fine wine helps relax her creative mind.

Author Links:
Facebook Group Team Roeseler:

The Interview.

How did you first get attached to writing paranormal stories?

a) Even as a child, the supernatural world fascinated me. I have always loved the idea there could be more in the world we don’t perceive, hidden behind a veil of secrecy. Do I believe in the paranormal and things I write about? To an extent, yes. I believe anything is possible.

What do you struggle with as a writer to overcome based on current societal biases when it comes to books and book content?

a) The Helio Trilogy is based on Christian beliefs of a Heaven, Hell, Fallen Angels, the Apocalypse, and the constant war between good and evil. Though these concepts were expounded fanatically in The Helio Trilogy, I wanted to remain respectful of other cultures and beliefs, just as I do in my personal life. Not once are the words ‘Heaven’ or ‘Hell’ used. Instead, they are referred to as Paradise (a common idea of what Heaven should be) and Sheol (the word used in the Hebrew bible that represents Hell). I didn’t want the focus to be on religion. The Helio Trilogy is not about religion in any way, shape or form. It’s about the personal struggle to be the perfect being society expects you to be and accepting the fact everyone is fallible. It’s about embracing your mistakes and flaws and being proud of who you are, because that’s what makes each of us the amazing beings we are. That’s why the tagline for the third book in the trilogy, Vermilion Horizon, is, “True Beauty and Strength Come from Scars of Darkness.” It is not until a being can embrace their imperfections and downfalls will they be able to conquer their journey.

How do you spin the trope of light vs dark in your stories?

a) This is one of the reasons I wrote The Helio Trilogy! I read a lot of Young and New Adult Urban Fantasies. While I loved many of them, I felt I hadn’t found the one book I was looking for that would connect with my soul. When I began writing the first book in the trilogy, Midnight Divine, it truly clicked in my mind what had been missing. I made it my mission to settle my soul with The Helio Trilogy. The key to the story was to write characters that not only were lovable, but relatable. Too many stories these days clearly define whether their characters are good or evil. Most of the time, the main character, who is always the hero/heroine of the story is too good. We love them…but they’re not relatable. They are not realistic.

The main character of The Helio Trilogy, Ivy Harris, is not your typical heroine. She is not sweet or righteous or so perfect it makes you want to puke. That is what people love about her. She curses, drinks, struggles with right and wrong, and has a temper to be reckoned with. On the other hand, she is compassionate, loving, loyal, protective, and genuinely sympathetic. Don’t get me wrong, she’s not always tough. She has fears, heartache, self-doubt, and overwhelming indecision. But Ivy Harris is the perfect balance of flawless imperfection. She struggles with darkness. She struggles with light. The best thing about her is she learns to balance both and creates a cohesive relationship with others who struggle with one or the other.

The point is, darkness and light are not two completely ends of a spectrum. There is a gray area. It is where we accept the darkness and the light within us and utilize it to become something greater than what is expected of us.

What was your favorite part about writing The Helio Trilogy and later companion short stories that come out this year?

a) The research that went into creating The Helio World was quite the feat. I took past and present myths and gave them their own spin that connected so well, it is logically believable. I also did a lot of research for the action scenes. My husband thought I was insane the first time I asked him if I could try a hand-to-hand combat move on him to see if it was being conveyed understandably in my writing. With the companion short stories, I loved being able to give my readers the backstories of the main characters while also providing a sequel that gives the sense of completion. It was bittersweet to write the last words of Ashes of Paradise, yet it left me able to breathe, knowing The Helio World is at peace, resting for the next adventure.

I have to ask… are there any villainous animal characters in your current trilogy that reflect on your stories you wrote as a child?

a) It is so funny you ask that! Nobody has thought to ask me this before. Yes, there is a villainous animal character in The Helio Trilogy that reflects on stories I wrote as a child. When I was a child, I was obsessed with The Neverending Story. Gmork is the evil, black dog in that movie. I feared that dog more than ‘The Nothing’ when I was a kid. I wrote about overpowering him when I was a kid. In The Helio Trilogy, there is a hellhound named Sasha. She is based on Gmork.

Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers today?

a) The Helio Trilogy is an epic story with many characters who have a past connection of how they ended up together. The companion novel, Ashes of Paradise: A Novel in Stories (The Helio Chronicles), gives the backstories of those characters while also answering a mysterious event from the end of the trilogy. It should not be read before the trilogy as it would ruin so many things for the reader. The thing I love the most about Ashes of Paradise is the way it connects with The Helio Trilogy in a full circle.
I do not plan on continuing stories based in The Helio World. Though, it is not an impossibility. I purposefully gave Ashes of Paradise the series titleThe Helio Chronicles for two reasons. One, being it is a chronicle of events from many of the characters lives. And two, because it leaves it open for me to write more of The Helio World if the time ever arises. For now, I am focusing on the release of Ashes of Paradise. I am also in the planning stages of a new series. If you want to stay up to date, you can join the Facebook group “Team Roeseler”. Team Roeseler members are my VIPs. Before anyone else, they know about events and giveaways, see teasers and excerpts, and have the opportunity to beta read material. They hear news and updates first.

The Helio Trilogy (Volumes 1-3) are available in a single eBook on Amazon Kindle and is free if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership.

Ashes of Paradise: A Novel in Stories (The Helio Chronicles) releases on July 6, 2018.