Thursday, 23 October 2014

THE OUTLANDERS Blog Tour: An Interview with Erin Rhew

Today I have the honour of welcoming back Erin Albert, author of the YA high fantasy THE PROPHECY from THE FULFILLMENT series. If you missed Erin’s first interview with me about THE PROPHECY, you can read it here. Erin is back today to discuss the sequel to THE PROPHECY – THE OUTLANDERS.

Hello again, Erin! Welcome back. What have you been up to since your last visit?
Well, I’ve been crazy busy since my last visit. I moved across the country—from the South to the Pacific Northwest. Upon arriving at the Pacific Northwest, I moved a second time and now live in a beautiful Victorian home. I also got engaged to Deek Rhew

And I got a job at BookFish Books. I started out as the line editor there, but I just recently became the social media director. So, my life has gone through quite a few major changes, but they’ve all been for the better!

Wow! That’s all so wonderful! Congratulations!! What can you tell us about THE OUTLANDERS?
The Outlanders picks up right where The Prophecy ended.  You’ll receive some answers to questions raised in Book 1: What happens to Wil and Vespa, who are the Outlanders, and what happened to Layla’s parents. But new questions will arise as well. ;)

Sounds intriguing! It’s been almost a year since THE PROPHECY was released. What are three things that you learnt or experienced this past year that you didn’t expect?
1) I can tell a big difference in my writing. I’m going back and working on The Fulfillment (the final book in the series), and I can really see how much I’ve evolved.
2) I didn’t realize how much time authors spend doing activities other than writing. There is so much marketing and promotion involved in getting people to actually read your book.
3) I didn’t realize I’d meet so many truly wonderful people. I’m very fortunate to have met all sorts of amazing friends throughout the writing and promoting process. 

All good things! What has been the most stressful part of this journey?
Balance. I’m not super great at balancing all the different elements of my life anyway. Then add in all the extras, and I’m like a chicken with its head cut off. LOL!

Haha, yes, balance is key to most things in life! But it can be tough to find. What has been the most fun?
The most fun has been interacting with readers, bloggers, and other authors. The writing community is just beyond wonderful!!

I wholeheartedly agree! You had already written this book and the third and final instalment of THE FULFILLMENT series before THE PROPHECY was published. Did fan reactions to THE PROPHECY make you want to change anything in THE OUTLANDERS and THE FULFILLMENT? If so, did you make any changes?
While fan reactions didn’t make me change things (though I did second-guess myself sometimes), I am in the process of making changes to the third book based on changes my editors and I made to the first two. The trickiest part of writing a fantasy trilogy is keeping everything consistent!!

Yes, that can be a challenge. Have any fan reactions to THE PROPHECY surprised you?
I think I was surprised by how much bigger “Team Nash” is than “Team Wil.” My Dream Team (my group of friends who were instrumental in helping me complete this novel) split right down the middle, so I assumed readers would do the same.

Okay so now I have to ask…Are you Team Nash or Team Wil?
You know I can’t answer that one! LOL! I will say I DO have preference between them… ;)

Haha. How has the reality from this past year differed from your expectations?
It hasn’t really. I knew books take a long time, sometimes years, to really get off the ground. So I came into this process with a “marathon” mentality. ;)

Ooo I like that. It’s always a good idea to have realistic expectations. If you could go back and speak to Erin from last year, Erin from before THE PROPHECY was published, what would you say to her? What advice would you give her, if any?
I would tell her to be bold. Chase her dreams and fight for what she wants because the result is even better than she could imagine!

I love that. It reminds me of one of my all-time favourite quotes… “Be BRAVE. FIGHT for what you believe in and make your DREAMS your REALITY.” Regular readers of my blog (or really anyone who has spent more than five minutes with me!) will know who said that little piece of awesomeness* Tehe. Have you been working on anything new?
I am currently editing The Fulfillment to prepare it for my editors. I’m also working on a futuristic thriller called Number 25589. Last year, I wrote a short story called “Volatile,” and lately, that one has been occupying a lot of my mental space. I think it wants to become a full novel! ;) Deek and I have also begun work on companion novels, loosely based on our love story.

Busy, busy, busy! Both the curse and the blessing of having a creative mind. Has your writing process changed now that you know what to expect when your book is accepted for publication? If so, how?
My writing process has changed a great deal. I now split my time between writing and marketing, so I get a lot less time to actually write. The move to the Pacific Northwest also changed my writing habits. I used to write consistently from 3-4 daily. But my life has changed such that I tend to write in the evenings. The catalysts for these changes are all positive, so I’m not complaining! ;)

Do you remember the moment you came up with the idea for THE FULFILLMENT series? Can you describe it to us?
One night, I was watching a movie, and the words “Vanguard” and “Etherea” popped into my mind. They were soon followed by the names “Layla,” “Wilhelm,” “Nash,” and “Samson.” From there, the story began to take shape in my mind. I wrote down my idea and emailed it to my friends to see if the story sounded like something they would read. They said, “YES!” I started writing right away. These same friends helped keep me on track and spurred me on to write more. They became my Dream Team.

I love that. I’m fascinated by the concept of an idea, because everything starts from just an idea. It’s really kind of incredible to look at how a person develops an idea and turns it into something tangible. Making reality from a dream. It’s sort of a minor miracle to me. If you had to describe OUTLANDERS in only three words, what would they be?
Complex, unexpected, and fast-paced

Three very good words! Thank you so much for stopping by again, Erin! THE OUTLANDERS is available NOW.

With King Jesper dead and Prince Wilhelm mortally wounded, Halfling prince, Nash, and the Fulfilment, Layla, assume the throne of Etherea. They must contend with a new Prophecy Candidate who asserts her position, and Layla is surprised to find her fate intertwined with this challenger. Facing a myriad of choices, Nash and Layla’s decisions affect not only their own futures but that of two kingdoms.
Unbeknownst to the Ethereals or the Vanguards, a slumbering menace stirs in the south, awakened after centuries of slumber. The mysterious Outlanders, a force shadowed in mystery, sit poised to tip the balance of power, sending ripples of fear throughout both warring kingdoms.
Elder Werrick proved a formidable foe, but Layla may yet meet her match in the monstrous Outlander queen. This mistress of the dark’s plans, rooted in revenge and ancient lore, now threaten the livelihood of all three kingdoms.
Racing against time, Layla travels to the Borderlands—home of the Voltons and Ecclesiastics—to discover as much as she can about the war, the First Ones, and the prophecy itself. Lives teeter in the balance, kingdoms sit on the cusp of ruin, and a beast, greater than any she’s ever faced before, plots a catastrophic attack.

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police." A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.
Find Erin Online:
Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks

Read on for an excerpt from Book Two of Erin Albert’s THE FULFILLMENT series: OUTLANDERS.

Everything about Mia felt wrong. The girl, who looked so much like Layla, just happened to be where Samson could find her and came with him to the home of her enemy without any resistance? Whole generations of Ecclesiastics searched for entire lifetimes and never found the Fulfillment, yet Samson encountered two potentials in short succession. She couldn’t pinpoint the reason for her unease, but something tickled the back of her mind, inching toward the surface with painstaking sluggishness.
“I don’t understand why she would just come with you to Etherea.” Layla struggled to keep her voice level and calm to avoid raising Samson’s hackles.
            “She didn’t have anywhere else to go. Vance killed her family in Vanguard.”
            Layla made a mental note to confirm Samson’s version of the story with the information Nash managed to extract from Mia. “If she’s a Vanguard, why would she come with you to Etherea?”
            “You came here,” Samson shot back, his inexplicable protectiveness for the mystery girl heightening her concern.
            She treaded with care. “Well, some insane man in a black and purple robe stole my brother, so I didn’t really have a choice.”
            Mia stared at the young man before her with a mixture of curiosity and weariness. She understood why others found him so handsome—rich, dark hair and those shocking green eyes. If she succeeded, he would be her…she stopped herself, determined to keep her mind clear. She had to give off an air of mystery, to lure the Ethereals into her web so they followed her plan. More than anything, she needed them to follow her plan, so much depended on it. She could not slip up. She could not make a mistake.
            Taking a steadying breath, she refocused her thoughts and slid her amethyst colored eyes across the prince in front her. She wouldn’t even think his name or give any indication she already knew about him. She had to forget how much she’d been told about him…how much she’d been told about them all. Feigning ignorance factored into her plan.
            “Who are you?” he asked, after spending an inordinate amount of time regarding her.
            She noted how his gaze bounced from her eyes to her hair and back again. As planned, her appearance intrigued him. Though he’d asked a different question, she heard the real one layered beneath it. He wanted to know why she resembled the proclaimed Fulfillment. That question would then lead him to an inevitable one…could Mia be the Fulfillment instead of Layla? And if she were the Fulfillment, what did that mean for him? For Wil? For Layla?
            “I’m Mia.” She almost grinned, pleased she’d answered his question but given him nothing more. When his lips twisted, her grin broke into a full smile at his evident irritation. “And you are?”
            He hesitated. “Nash, brother of the king.”
            “The injured king?” He flinched, a subtle movement most might miss, but she caught it.
            “According to our friend, Samson, you’re an Outlander.”
            “He found me in the Outlands.” The less Nash knew, the better.
            Frustration flickered across his face, marring his otherwise handsome features. She smiled to herself, not trusting his patience should her lips turn up yet again.     
            “Sooo,” he dragged out the word. “Are you an Outlander?”
            “No. I’m a Vanguard.”
            Nash cocked his head to the right. “Why were you in the Outlands then?”
            “I went to escape Vance’s oppression.” Mia stared at the wall behind him until her vision blurred. She willed tears to form. Given the pressure she’d been under, summoning them proved easier than she expected. When the familiar tight burning started near her lids, she blinked at the prince. He shifted in his seat. Mia wanted to snort at his reaction. Tears always made men uncomfortable. “Vance killed my family.” She paused and swallowed, hoping he believed she needed a moment to collect herself. “I ran as far as I could and ended up in the Outlands. Samson found me.”
            Nash cleared his throat and shifted again; she increased the flow of her tears in reply.             “What do you know about the Outlands?”
            “Very little.” She sniffed. Looking as pathetic as she could manage, she attempted to wipe her eyes, an impossible feat given her bound hands. Nash frowned as his gaze landed on her restraints. She bid him to unbind her hands, and for a moment, she believed he might. To her disappointment, he gripped the side of his chair until his knuckles turned white and left her tied up. Mia ground her teeth.
            “Do you believe you are the Fulfillment?” Nash kept his voice steady despite the turmoil she read upon his face.
            Mia waited a moment to respond, both to further escalate his frustration and to collect herself. In this moment, she needed to be most convincing, to begin what she’d been tasked to set in motion. She gestured with her chin, drawing Nash’s attention to the blazing “F” upon her upper arm. The dark purple birthmark matched the shade of her eyes.
            “The First Ones speak for themselves.”
            Nash shook his head. “It’s too obvious.”
            Mia’s head jerked back. She struggled to maintain her composure as his reaction, so unexpected, derailed her careful planning. Her mind racing, she grappled for a response.
            “Too obvious?”
            “Yes. See, Mia—” His clear distaste tainted the sound of her own name. “I know about the First Ones.”
            “Who do you think you are? An Ecclesiastic?” She smirked at him, acting like she retained complete control, but her insides knotted. She couldn’t lose her ability to direct the conversation.
            To her surprise, Nash laughed, though she noted no pleasure in it. “The Prophecy states, ‘In a time of war, when the land is divided amongst the two, she, with raven black hair, purple eyes, and a special blessing from the First Ones shall bring peace.’”
            “I think everyone in the three kingdoms and in the Borderlands is familiar with The Prophecy.” Mia rolled her eyes for effect. “What’s your point?”
            “My point is, the special blessing wouldn’t be something as simple as a birthmark. If it were, the First Ones would have just said raven black hair, purple eyes, and an ugly purple ‘F’ on the upper arm.” He flicked his hand toward her arm. “Special blessing is vague, indicating something mysterious. There is nothing mysterious about your birthmark.”
            Mia’s heart pounded as she felt the tables turn and the conversation slip away. “And there is something mysterious about her?”
            The word her hung between them for a moment. Mia took another deep breath, worrying she’d pushed him too far. Beneath his shirt, she saw Nash’s muscles ripple and hoped she’d managed to touch a new nerve.
            Mia clenched her teeth. She hated acting this way, so out of character, but she had to press on. No one could know the truth. She had to win this game…

Enter the draw to win a $50 giftcard from Amazon (international) AND signed print copies of the Prophecy and The Outlanders (US only)

*It was Jared Leto. Who else? :3