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Words hold so much power.
I grew up in the California hills with my four siblings, building forts in the oaks.
The fuzzy-sweet smell of acorns and moss joined the perfume of lupines and golden poppies under the summer sun. We didn’t have TV in the evenings but listened to the night-song of crickets and dreamed of our day’s adventures. We hunted ground squirrels with our home-made bows, but never got any; rode our Red-flyer wagon down our mountain, and roamed far and wide.
I learned to read early and entertained my brothers and sisters with many stories. They loved Narnia, The Young Trailers, and extraordinary fantasy. Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword enthralled me.
I have never found enough fantasy adventure with threads of beauty, romance, and wonder.
Now I enjoy family, old bookstores, and hiking the wild.
Falcon Heart and my other books are written for everyone who enjoys adventurous fantasy with threads of myth, romance, and mystery.
Since I began Falcon Heart, I’ve attended conferences and devoured how-to books from James Scott Bell to Sol Stein, including Deborah Chester’s The Fantasy Fiction Formula. While writing the Falcon Chronicle adventure, I journey beside the fascinating stories of my writing group, Fantasy for Christ, and I enjoy many other authors traditionally and Indie published.
Immersive fantasy adventure like Falcon Heart and the rest of the Falcon Chronicle series releases the imagination to the beauty of new worlds. Worlds that hold fast in the face of evil, and explore the inexorable forces of love, fear, hatred and hope.
Blurb for Falcon Heart:
The first book in a historical YA fantasy series, Falcon Heart is a medieval adventure where a heroine struggles for her people and her place. Similar to Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel, it is set in the time of Stephen Lawhead’s King Raven. The Chronicle series premise explores what might happen when an early form of martial art – Soo Bak Do – reaches Britannia by the hands of an enslaved stronghold first daughter.
A band of Arabic slavers kidnap Kyrin Cieri and murder her mother on the coast of Britannia. Forced to sail for Araby with an exiled warrior from the East and a peasant girl closer than blood, Kyrin learns Subak to protect those she loves. She vows to face the blade that killed her mother and gain justice for her blood. For she must return to her father’s side and take up the stronghold keys as Cierheld stronghold’s first daughter.
On the perilous caravan march to Oman, a strange dagger of Damascus steel shaped like a falcon pursues Kyrin through tiger-haunted dreams. She escapes from raiders of the sands only to be embroiled in the secrets of the caliph’s court.
Kyrin’s master wants many things of her. But first he must make her his tool and the caliph’s.
To keep her friends from a lingering death, Kyrin Cieri, keeper of the keys, takes up justice against hate and a dagger against her master’s sword. She can save them . . . if she can pay the price for hope that the falcon dagger demands.
Kyrin’s story gives shape and mystery to historical fantasy—to its many roots in the past and its flowering in the twenty-first century. Words hold so much power.
What wall bars you from mystery, from courage, from those you love? Is it a fear of the unknown, fear of a known pain, fear of … ? Overcome in another’s journey, find keys to overcoming your own challenges, and enjoy a clean fantasy.
Epic, historical, and family friendly. Don’t miss the adventure.
Crossover: Find the Eternal, the Adventure.
If you wish to contact me about Falcon Heart or my other novels for a book review or for more information, please send your email here:
Azalea Dabill – Dynamos Press
Interview – 11 Author Q and A
Q 1: You write clean YA fantasy adventure—what is that?
A: Words hold the power of life and death. The adage about “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is nonsense. Things that hurt the mind, heart, and soul also impact the body. It might not be immediately apparent, but they do. Fantasy has a peculiar power to tap into facets of life harder to show in other genres. And I have never found enough clean fantasy on digital or physical shelves. By clean fantasy, I mean adventures with a sense of the mystery of life, the beauty of things known and unfamiliar, and of our Creator, who gave such wondrous life to all of us. Clean fantasy always has a kind of attraction about it, and I don’t mean the expected romance thread. I mean attraction in the old meaning of “Romance” – the awe-infused sense of the supernatural, the heroic, and the mysterious world. I want to add more of this type of epic romantic fantasy to our entertainment.
Clean fantasy releases our imaginations to new worlds; to hope, despair, weakness and strength; to kingdoms won and lost under suns near and far. Such stories weave human experience into a myriad adventures and explores the indomitable force of true relationships in the face of evil.
And the clarion-clear cry of clean fantasy adventure is hope. Hope despite the wrongness in the world and in ourselves, despite fear, despite death, in spite of life challenges. Indeed, fantasy shows us how to overcome our challenges, how to use them as steps upward, toward love and joy.
Q 2: What is Falcon Heart about?
A: Falcon Heart is an immersive YA fantasy with threads of wonder, romance, and mystery woven in. Fans of Anna Thayer’s The Traitor’s Heir (The Knight of Eldaran series), Lisa T. Bergren’s River of Time series, and Patrick Carr’s The Shock of Night (The Darkwater Saga) would enjoy Falcon Heart.
It is a medieval tale of Kyrin Cieri, stronghold first daughter, who fears a blade after her mother is murdered and seeks courage to win back her freedom and her place. Kyrin’s dreams of a tiger and a captive falcon lead her into a deadly conflict of revenge, compassion, and intrigue between the Caliph’s slaver and those she loves.
The Falcon Chronicle is an epic story of assassins and war, friends and enemies, betrayal and a love that must choose. She must struggle for her freedom, her heart, and her people. If you enjoy YA fantasy adventure, Falcon Heart is for you.
Q 3: Kyrin Cieri journeys from Britain to Arabia in Falcon Heart. Did you find the research daunting?
A: Reading Wilfred Thesiger’s account of Arabia, among others, was so interesting I did not have time to think of being daunted. Other books about early Britain also drew me in deeply.
After a lot more research, when Falcon Heart was going to my editor, readers brought a few questions to my attention. I admit the research felt daunting then, as if Falcon Heart would never be finished.
Q 4: Medieval Tae Kwon Do and weaponry and warfare play large roles in Falcon Heart. Where did you learn about these?
A: I have practiced martial arts and archery, and I’ve also worked with hand weapons a little. The fight scenes in Falcon Heart are a combination of research and my knowledge of weapons and hand-to-hand fighting.
Q 5: How long did Falcon Heart take to write?
A: Before college I started writing on a different novel, but I stopped after a few chapters. Later, I realized I gave up too easily. Then when Falcon Heart began to grow in my mind, I told the Lord I would not quit until it was finished. Unless he made it clear he wanted me to stop. So I wrote around school, life, and work.
For four years of the last fifteen since I began the series, I wrote constantly. With my novel at four hundred pages and growing, Jeanette Windle, author of The DMZ, helped me see that I had drawn the bones of Falcon Heart and a second book, the sequel, Falcon Flight. The first half of the manuscript went to my editor soon after as Falcon Heart.
Q 6: What was your most difficult obstacle in writing Falcon Heart?
A: Two things threatened to stop me: uncertainty that Falcon Heart would reach readers beyond my family and friends, and my conviction that this sentence or that word could be tinkered into better shape.
Q 7: What is the theme of Falcon Heart?
A: Overcoming fear. Fear of uncertain life, fear of loss, and fear of love and the vulnerability it brings. In a word, fear of growth.
Q 8: What inspired you to write such a fantasy of fear, struggle, and hope?
A: Please don’t laugh. In the beginning I was young. I saw some early Xena, Warrior Princess episodes and Kyrin’s story sprang from what Xena stirred in my imagination. She fought evil and was brave, though not invincible. I admired her for that.
Xena also made me sad for how much deeper a character she could have been, for how much she missed as a person, falling for vague lies about the meaning of her own life and the world. And Kyrin’s story has similarities mostly to the surface aspect of martial art, since her Subak ability is portrayed without requiring gravity’s suspension. You can laugh now – since this pertains to all real martial arts.
If you like clean fantasy adventure, you will find pictures, peeks, and Falcon Heart at www.azaleadabill.com.
Q 9: Are you writing more fantasy novels like Falcon Heart and Falcon Flight?
A: Three companion stories to finish out the Falcon Chronicle series are in draft process. Gathered under one title, The Falcon Dagger, these three continue Kyrin’s story of courage. They are the epic tale of a monk’s battle for the freedom of Northumbria and Kyrin’s hold, how her first armsman discovers a mysterious lost sword and gains his true love while defeating a new enemy, and the final fate of the falcon dagger, entwined with that of Kyrin, Cierheld, and all the familiar friends of the Chronicle.
Currently I have a file of lined story cards (converted recipe cards) where I jot down scenes and story ideas. Most of them are fantasy, not in the same place or time as Falcon Heart. Sign up for my Blog Letter for up to date news.
Q 10: Falcon Heart’s characters live rich, varied lives. Is Kyrin, Tae, or Alaina modeled on a real person?
A: Yes, but on more than one person, blended. Because all people play more than one character role. And no one’s personality is simplistic.
Kyrin’s fears and her battle to overcome them in order to live well and heroically resonate with me. Also, many facets of the lesser characters and their struggles in Falcon Heart are things I have either knowledge of, or enough knowledge and imagination to extrapolate from. Which is an author’s business.
I should mention that readers may glimpse part of themselves in the story. But that is what a good book does. All the characters we travel with reflect us in some way, unless they are completely alien. And even aliens in Sci-fi are not usually that alien, or we put the book down because we can’t relate.
Q 11: When you mention clean fantasy—do you plan to write more, even if they are other worlds than that of the Falcon Chronicle?
A: Clean fantasy adventure means any story that includes the timeless things our spirits thrive on: things like truth, loyalty, sacrifice, and love, the mystery of life and a sense of joy, without getting into unnecessary details of muck, evil, and immorality.
To my mind, fantasy adventure often reflects something of the epitome of sacrificial love in our history that showed us what that kind of love actually is. This reflection in Falcon Heart springs from the mystery and power behind the peregrine falcon as a symbol to Kyrin, and the bird’s brave sacrifice, an idea that works into Kyrin herself, and is revealed when she answers the final call to grasp a falcon’s courage.
As to writing more fantasy adventure, I don’t think I can avoid it. Fantasy enthralls me. I write facets of what I see and dream about, and I see truth active in many ways this world. And in written worlds I imagine by extrapolation from ours.
On a finishing note, I don’t define “fantasy” as some use it, as a kind of story-telling that creates deception or delusion. I use it in the sense of C. S. Lewis’s “Mythic Fantasy” as he says on page 66, 67 in An Experiment in Criticism:
Surely the author is not saying [about Mythic Fantasy]‘This is the sort of thing that happens?’ Or surely, if he is, he lies? But he is not. He is saying, ‘Suppose this happened, how interesting, how moving, the consequences would be! Listen. It would be like this.’ … The raison d’etre of the story is that we shall weep, or shudder, or wonder, or laugh as we follow it. … Admitted fantasy is precisely the kind of literature which never deceives at all.”
And as J. R. R. Tolkien says in On Fairy-stories:
When we can take green from grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter’s power—upon one plane; and the desire to wield that power in the world external to our minds awakes. … The peculiar quality of the ”joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a “consolation” for the sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, ‘Is it true?’.
Yes, with Lewis and Tolkien I believe clean fantasy adventure contains many truths that point to absolute truth. To spiritual truths that lead us into adventure, into mystery, and into untold delight.