Odessa | The Seraphym Wars Series | Young Adult | April 1, 2011
Myrna Ashlin Watts graduated from High School in Jacksonville, Fl just in time to find herself transported to a bizarre and primal planet corrupted by demon-dragons. And they want her DEAD. Her problem is she has been recruited to kill them, too.
18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape two years earlier, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother's recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets Michael, who becomes her guide and explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island.
Reluctantly, and knowing it is her only way to get back home, she agrees to lead, battling dragons and monsters while crossing swamps and mountains, forests and seas. She wrangles with the old inner demons when three very different men join her quest-a seasoned demon/dragon-slayer who irritates but beguiles her, a tender and sweet mentor in whom she trusts completely and a roguishly handsome Scientist who sets her senses aflame. How is she expected to lead the others and keep everyone safe with so much inner turmoil?
Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?
Please describe your writing environment.
Odessa was written in a log cabin on my five acre property in North Central Fl. Lately, however, the cabin has been rented on a regular basis for vacations, so I set up a corner office in the livingroom. This allows me to work at all hours and still be with family.
Tell us your latest news!
My debut novel, after 30 years of waiting to be written, released April 1st. It is a YA Dark Fantasy about the war between Seraphym and Demons and seven teens called Vigorios who are recruited to help.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have several favorite authors, for different reasons. One is Ray Bradbury who writes Science Fiction with a twist. I would love to be able to write short stories with the depth of plotting and twist endings like he does. Another is JRR Tolkien, who was a brilliant man and author. Odessa is modeled after the quests found in LoTR. Stephen King is an author I admire for his ability to make evil seem everyday and yet horrifying. George Orwell had an amazing way of turning political situations into scary scenarios. I love to imitate Earnest Hemmingway's and John Steinbeck's writing style--abbreviated sentences full of meaning--making every word count.
What main genre do you write in?
Teen / Young Adult
Who has been your best supporter? How have they been there for you?
My husband has supported my writing since the day we met. In college I was a member of the Literary Magazine and he was on the School Newspaper. That's how we met and six months later were married. He had only been in the United States, from Ireland, six month. That was 35 years ago.
Since then he has encouraged me to write, but with teaching and raising four kids, there wasn't a lot of time or energy left for it. When I retired from teaching, he said to use the cabin as my office and write my book. So I did, and six months later had 215,000 words written.
He helps me design all of my marketing strategies, websites, pamphlets, business cards, everything, since he is in Advertising. He even accompanied me to a Writer's Conference in April, critiqued my power point presentation and encouraged me every step of the way.
His hope is I will become the next JK Rowling and he can be my Marketing Agent.
Do you like to mix genres?
I think mixing genres is a terrific way to garner new readers. My favorites to mix are Fantasy/Horror/Supernatural/Romance/Steampunk/Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic--all for YA or Middle Grades, of course. Any combination of these makes for fun stories.
Odessa is a combination of High Fantasy/Horror/Steampunk/Romance/Supernatural.
What book are you reading now? What are your thoughts on it?
I'm currently reading City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, the second of her Mortal Instruments series. I believe these are the best written books I've read in a long time. As I go through the book, I keep a small sticky pad handy and mark all of the incredibly wonderful writing she has used. I'm amazed as page after page gets marked for bearing clever, creative use of the language.
What inspires your writing?
My series, Odessa, was inspired by the increasing growth of evil in our world. In order to keep the story from being preachy, I set it on a new planet, called Dracwald, where the demons originated. But the violence seen by the Protagonist through visions or during their quest, all originated as actual news collected over the course of a couple of years from around the world. I couldn't imagine or create more evil than man inflicts on himself.
Do you have any cool promo tricks you can share with other writers?
About the only promo advice I can give, is find as many genre-appropriate author/reader loops, sites, blogs, forums as possible and be as active on them all as possible. Develop a multi-purpose website that incorporates a blog. Blog at least weekly, on a regular schedule, about topics readers of your genre find interesting. Also develop a landing page website for each book or series and keep it up to date. Either design your own Virtual Blog Tour, or hire one of the many groups who will organize one, for each new book release. Provide prize packs of swag and a copy of your book. Have a separate email address used exclusively for writing, to keep things separate from your personal life. Design a Facebook Fan Page and keep it up to date. Create a Twitter account and be active on it--twaitter.com helps a lot for scheduling tweets so you don't have to sit on the computer. Talk with other authors, especially those of common genres. Share advice, ups and downs, questions.
Do you have any animals? Do they influence your writing?
We have several cats, indoors and out. For many years we had two black indoor cats, but one died suddenly a few months ago, so now we have one. He stars in a Tween series I've begun called Masquerade the Scaredy Cat. Masquerade is a coal black kitty who used to be a little girl. She accidentally drank a teenaged witch's brew which transformed her into a cat--being an orphan she stayed and they travel around and through time together. The first book is a trip to the moon. The series will be appropriate for 2nd-4th grade class sets with teachers' guides.
If you had to choose one person to have dinner with, who would it be? And why?
My 16-year old son because he makes me think. We have deeply philosophical discussions about religions, politics, classic literature and movies, history. He has a wide variety of interests with a lot of opinions, reads a lot and is very intelligent. He's a combination of my two favorite men in the world--my father and husband.
Rebecca Ryals Russell
MG/YA Dark Fantasy Author
a.k.a. Yellow Hat Writer