I am thrilled to have Serena Chase here on the blog today to talk a little about her young adult fantasy series Eyes of E’veria! I first met Serena through the blogosphere and she’s become a friend and blogging mentor to me over at the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog. Then I read her books and fell madly in book-love. Check out my reviews of The Ryn, The Remedy, and The Seahorse Legacy to find out why. And if you haven’t read them yet, you’ll want to get on that, because rumor has it The Sunken Realm is coming soon!
Karen: I love the bio you share on your author blog, especially the bit where you say, “Some might say I am a connoisseur of random quirkiness and I have been known to live vicariously through my hair.” Which leads me to wonder, what color is your hair now?
Serena: Ha! I love this question! I rarely emerge from two consecutive salon visits with the same combination of colors on my head. Right now my hair is a dark, warm brown base with caramel highlights and the tiniest hint of very faded pink highlights. The faded part makes me sad because I love my pink highlights, which I’ve had three times now… but they rarely last more than a week. I like this combo the best of any I’ve ever had and might just stick with it a while. I only hope I can find a way to make that pink last longer!
Karen: Could you tell us a randomly quirky fact or two about yourself?
Serena: I’m full of random quirkiness. Let’s see … I’m an action movie junkie. I especially love an action flick where there is a comedy vibe going through. Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon franchise… love ’em. I recently discovered a love of Indian food, thanks to Carla Laureano, who shared a recipe with me and started that ball rolling. When I was in college (Belmont University in Nashville, TN), I interned at WAY-FM Christian Hit Radio in Brentwood where I was known as “Goddess of the Corn” by my supervisor and as “The Corn Queen” by the DJs, because I’m an Iowa farmer’s daughter. To celebrate that nickname and prank the DJs, I teamed up with a few other Belmont Music Business majors to write and record a “Christian Hit Radio” styled Christmas song about . . . corn. I’m giggling even now, remembering how the DJs were so jazzed to hear “this new band I discovered” — HA! — and how everybody laughed and laughed and laughed when they realized it was all a big joke. (Corny lyrics aside, it was a pretty good tune, considering we wrote it in an evening and recorded a few days later on a Tascam on a pool table in a guy’s basement!) Let’s see… other quirks… Thanks to my years in the Nashville music scene, I can WHIP pretty much anyone at a game of Six Degrees of Separation. Or Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, if you prefer that version, ha! I can recite the states in alphabetical order. I played Mark Lowry’s “nerdy little sister” in a parody music video as part of the Mouth in Motion collection in the early 1990s. (My good friend Cristy got the role of “Beautiful Girl” in the parody Mark did with Michael W. Smith–not that I was jealous . . . okay, maybe a little, ha!) I’m not what anyone would consider ‘outdoorsy’ — I only like being outdoors if there is an ocean nearby–and not just because I love the beach/seaside, although I totally do! I have horrible sinus allergies that virtually disappear when I’m at the beach! I think it’s a sign I should move. *sighs* If only I could convince my Iowa farmland-loving, antique tractor-collecting husband.
Karen: Please share a little about the origins of the Eyes of E’veria series. What inspired you to write these books? What was your starting point – theme, character, plot, setting, or something else? Have the books shaped up as you expected, or have there been surprises along the way?
Serena: This series has been one giant surprise after another, honestly. It has been written entirely organically, totally by the seat of my pants–which I don’t advise. (Unless, like me, you just can’t seem to help yourself!) I started out thinking I would write a short, fun, expanded retelling of one of my favorite childhood fairy tales, Snow White and Rose Red, kind of like Gail Carson Levine did in Ella Enchanted. But the story took on a life of its own. Seven years after that initial start, my ‘fun little retelling’ published as an epic fantasy told over two books, The Ryn and The Remedy. Pirate Cazien de Pollis showed up in The Ryn rather unexpectedly (as happens when you write by the seat of your pants) and as his character developed in those few scenes, I simply fell in love with him and knew he had to have his own tale. I intended (even while writing The Seahorse Legacy) to base books three and four on another childhood favorite, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. But while creating book 4, The Sunken Realm, the story kept straying away from that focus. I read and reread that Grimm Brothers’ tale with adult eyes, trying to find ways to apply it to a resolution of all that happened in The Seahorse Legacy, but I finally realized … and this is going to sound really bad, but … The Twelve Dancing Princesses? It is really a horrible story. Sorry, Grimm Bros, but it is. I can only assume my childhood love for it was born out of the sheer number of princesses and the cleverness of the soldier who foiled their selfish ways–for his own selfish gain. It just doesn’t resonate with me anymore. I mean, where’s the redemption factor? They’re all a bunch of selfish jerks! It took me a little longer to let go than it should have, which meant a LOT of rewriting–numerous rewrites!–until I finally realized that it could still be a small element of the Cazien/Erielle adventure without being the main thrust of the tale. Surprise!
Karen: After reading The Seahorse Legacy, I’m eagerly awaiting the continuation of Cazien and Erielle’s story, and I know you’ve been hard at work getting The Sunken Realm ready to release soon. Would you mind telling us a little about this latest book? Maybe some hint as to what to expect? Or is it all very top secret and hush-hush at this point?
Serena: I would tell you, Karen, but then I would have to kill you. Kidding! In all seriousness, The Seahorse Legacy left Erielle in a very bad way, and I can tell you that she has a long recovery ahead of her, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And her troubles are far from over! There is a new riddled prophecy to solve and attend, a new life, a new homeland, and a new adventure awaiting her in a foreign and elegantly hostile land. And lest you think this is all about Erielle, I assure you it is not! Cazien has a rather big secret or two (or bajillion) to share with her. The safety of the entire world is riding on their shoulders as they sail for the Island Realm of Nirista where the Tournament of the Twelve is about to commence. Expect danger, some comedy, surprising revelations, a few clever insults, the appearance of some old friends (and enemies!) from the first three books, and a lot of intrigue and violence. That’s all I’m going to tell you for now!
Karen: Sounds great! I know you’re a voracious reader and that you review quite a few books at USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog as well as the Edgy Inspirational Romance blog. Could you name a few titles you’ve read that you think fans of your books are especially likely to enjoy or that you particularly loved?
Serena: With pleasure! My favorite books to read are found on the YA shelves. I totally fangirl over A.G. Howard’s Splintered series and it is my personal mission to convert all my YA fantasy-reading friends to the Morpheus fandom. These books are so original, such a crazy-bold take on the Alice in Wonderland world. It’s a dark story, with neon-vivid imagery that is not for the faint of heart. Just amazing. A series I recently discovered is the TimeShifters series by Jess Evander. Saving Yesterday (book 1) and Capturing Today (book 2) are AH-MAZE-ING. So fast paced, so tightly written. I am just in awe when someone writes action and romance with such white-knuckle precision and yet . . . grace. Katie Ganshert (writing as K.E. Ganshert) has a new YA out, The Gifting–and it blew me away. Total reinvention of voice for Katie, who is a fave inspy/women’s fiction voice. I’m crazy excited to dive in to the next book in the series, which is taunting me from my Kindle even now! It’s summertime, so I’m picking up contemporary romances, too–as I so often do in the warmer weather. I just read Just One Summer, the new novella collection from Nicole Deese, Tammy L Gray, Amy Matayo, and Jenny B. Jones and it is fabulous and fun! In inspy contemporary I recently read Betsy St. Amant’s Love Arrives in Pieces and it’s really good, too! I could go on and on… but I need to get back to work, I suppose. These pirates aren’t going to finish editing themselves!
Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Serena!
Readers, don’t forget to come back here tomorrow for an E’verian cover reveal and giveaway. Meanwhile, here’s a bit more about Serena, with links to where you can find her on the Web:
SERENA CHASE lives in Iowa with her husband, two teen daughters, and a big white dog named Albus. A frequent contributor to USA Today‘s Happy Ever After blog, Serena is an avid reader of young adult fiction and inspirational romance and has become a respected influencer within those communities. When not engaged in her varied roles within the publishing industry, Serena can be found coaching her local high school’s Color Guard, watching action movies, and dreaming about someday living in a cottage by the sea. Connect with Serena Chase on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter (@Serena_Chase) and visit www.serenachase.com to subscribe to her newsletter and gain access to exclusive, subscriber-only content.