For as long as she can recall Bryn Halbrook has seen a golden aura around certain people, and it is only when her new best friend Joshua dies that she understands the glow means death. Bryn struggles to adapt to a new town and a new foster home while trying to deal with the guilt of being unable to save her friend. Until mysterious biker-boy, Aidan Lee arrives.
When Aidan unexpectedly takes off he leaves behind a shattered heart, a ton of unanswered questions and a mysterious book that suggests Bryn may be a Valkyrie. Bryn is faced with questions about Aidan’s real identity, the real reason he came to Craven, and that Odin, Freya and Valhalla just might be real.
As if accepting her new wings, new life and new home in Asgard isn’t difficult enough, Bryn is forced to find and return the precious necklace of the Goddess Freya. The only problem is – if she fails, Aidan will die.
Saturday the 25th of February saw the launch of South-African born, New Zealand-based, T G Ayer’s debut novel, Dead Radiance, the first book in the Valkyrie series. I “met” Tee online and we’ve been corresponding for a while, sharing stories of our respective writing journeys.
Now I’m delighted, as part of her promotional blog tour, to welcome T G Ayer to Absolute Vanilla.
Thank you for having me, Nicky! This is my first interview in South Africa and I feel rather special about it *grin
Now that it’s finally happened, Tee, tell us what it feels like to be published?
Slightly surreal, actually. I’ve been so looking forward to the release day that, to be quite honest, I would have blinked and missed it had I not slowed down. I’m pretty glad that my family organized an awesome little Release Day celebration to commemorate the day. I did feel awfully special when the 26th of Feb drew around.
Can you tell Absolute Vanilla readers a little about Dead Radiance and what inspired you to write it?
Dead Radiance is story about a teenage girl who discovers she is a Valkyrie. But such a privilege must have a price, and she is soon at the mercy of the goddess Freya, forced to find the goddess's precious necklace. The price for her failure - the life of the boy who betrayed her. Bryn's story is about dealing with the wishes that are finally granted, it's about yearning for closeness and then allowing oneself to trust. It's about a family that is joined not by blood but by love.
Watching my teens and their friends tiptoe through the minefield of teenhood was enough of a reason for me to write about Bryn. I wanted to inspire my readers, to remind them that courage and strength is always inside you, and that no matter what life throws at you there is always a positive side to life. Above all I didn't want to write a dark book. I have plenty of dark manuscripts to share with readers in the future, but Dead Radiance wrote as a story with hope and courage and trust within its pages. I hope that after reading Dead Radiance readers go away with a great experience in Norse Mythology and a desire to learn more about this interesting lore. And secondly I hope that readers are inspired to have take a chance on themselves, to trust in their own strength and to have courage to pursue life to its fullest.
As a South African, living in New Zealand, you have a wealth of mythologies you might have draw on, so what prompted you to explore Norse Mythology? And why Valkyries in particular?
I’ve always been a mythology nut. I have a deep respect for the concept of a mythology in that it is a representation of a society and its vision of what the world and life means. Each culture has a unique way of explaining how life works and what life and all its complexities really mean. But even then one can identify the similarities, the sharing of myths among cultures through trade and time.
Norse mythology is one set of Western myths which have not been overdone. Indeed it’s barely been touched within the YA genre itself. I’ve seen a bit of it in Carrie Jones’ NEED Series and Jennifer Esteps’ Mythos Academy
You must have done intense research for Dead Radiance, can you tell us about your process of researching and can you give other writers any tips about researching their own novels?
It was double action research – I used Google- there are so many amazing websites and blogs that are filled with information, its really interesting to read different opinions and analyses . I also use textbooks on the relevant subject so my non-fiction library is growing slowly :-)
Your main character, Bryn, is a very feisty girl. Can you tell us more about her, the development of her character and your thoughts about the importance of strong female characters in fiction?
I do believe, as a storyteller, you tell more than just the tale. Isn’t there always a moral to the story? End even when writers claim not to write a story with a moral running through it, as humans, we cannot deny that our life experience, opinion and essence of beliefs filter through to the words on the page.
You are right though, Bryn is a strong character, and although she is lonely she is not a wilting maid in desperate need of male attention. In fact, at times, she is too independent and does need to learn to trust again.
Aidan, the mysterious love interest in Dead Radiance, is a very vivid character. How important do you feel it is for YA fiction to contain a love aspect?
That’s a good question. I think in most tales, no matter the author, the love aspect plays a part. It’s part of human nature to need someone, and teenhood is the maelstrom of human emotion. Even as adults we yearn for closeness, for a spouse, for a family. As such I don’t think it’s easy to remove all romantic tones from any novel. And I think it’s only as important as the story itself.
DEAD RADIANCE is about Bryn and her trials, her emotional journey. Her emotional connection with Aidan is part of the story but is in no way the essence of the novel. I hope readers will love the romance, but I do want them to indulge in the intrigue, to explore the new worlds that Bryn visits and to enjoy the growth she experiences too.
What, for you, is the most important element of Dead Radiance?
For me it’s about Bryn’s inner strength. A strength she never acknowledged. And it’s something that each and every person has within themselves. So many of us spend years being lost, unable to find that strength and stand up for ourselves, to defend our beliefs and have the courage to go beyond our social or familial constraints.
Bryn’s journey is essentially about her strength. But the strongest thing anyone can ever do is to put their trust is someone else, to let go just a little bit, and to allow yourself to lean on someone. Strength is important, but without trust strength is just bravado.
You have two more books in the Valkyrie series coming out this year – can you give us a sneak peak into what readers may expect?
I don’t want to give too much away so all I can say is expect more travels within the realms of Norse Mythology, a few revelations, and, of course, there is betrayal. Yup, big-time betrayal. You won’t see it coming...
Tell us a little bit about your writing journey and your writing influences?
I’m a horror fan so Dean Koontz, Stephen King and Anne Rice
I love fantasy too so Marion Zimmer Bradley, Tolkien and David Eddings
I’ve written most of my life, I read every genre out there including science fiction and even romance. (Although I am not a fan of contemporary fiction or chicklit)
Do you have a special place where you like to write and a set writing routine?
I have a little library and I have a thing about my books. I love being surrounded by my books when I write so generally my writing takes place in my ‘library’ which is technically a small area in the corner of my lounge.
As for routine I write every day from 8.30am to 11am, then again from midday to 3.30pm. Often after the dinner rush I get back to work and usually go from 9pm to 11pm or midnight.
When I’m editing everything else is put aside, sometimes even meals and housework. I hand everything over to the family and say feed me and check for signs of life every so often :-)
You’ve been published by Evolved Publishing which describes itself as “In the simplest terms, we’re an Indie Publisher that’s part publisher, part authors’ cooperative, part self-publishing on steroids — a new hybrid.” How have you found working with an indie publisher? And what prompted you to go this route?
I love the advantage of truly professional editing. I also adore the fact that I was able to use my own cover artist, giving me full control of the creation of my cover. It’s really special knowing that what you see on the cover was exactly what I wanted- my cover artist worked with me to make my vision come true.
Working with a small press/hybrid like Evolved has opened my eyes to the complexities of publishing, and educated me no end.
The only reason I chose this route was the control really. I enjoy the fact that I have a lot of say in how my book is created and promoted. I think it’s very important for an author to have sufficient impact of the final result and indie give you that much more say in the end product.
And finally, where would you like to see yourself in five years time?
I see myself writing away – no attic though. My aim is to coninute to create more stories, to bring to life all my ideas that I have stockpiled away for when I get the time to write them. I actually can’t wait.
Do you think you’ll still be writing genre YA fiction or do you think you’d like to try something else?
I love writing YA, and I do certainly see myself continuing within the genre, although as we speak I have a psychological horror and a good-old fantasy well and truly screaming to be written so who knows what the future holds.
And, do you think you might ever consider writing something that draws on the mythologies you grew up with in South Africa and those you currently live with in New Zealand?
Definitely. African Mythology is fascinating and you hear so many stories growing up - my favourite and most hair raising tale is the Tokoloshe – so who knows, that little poltergeist might be a good story source soon enough.
As for New Zealand I am still learning the Maori mythology- but again the most famous spirit is that of the Taniwha – the whole story scares the liver out of me so possibly it might surface as more of a horror than a paranormal YA.
Thank you so much Nicky and I am so happy to have stopped over in my homeland during this tour :-)
You can buy Dead Radiance at Amazon.com and all other Amazon marketplaces as well as Bookdepository– both in paperback and e-book.
Reviews can be found on both Amazon and on Goodreads
You can find out more about T G Ayer on:
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