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Interview with Author Octavia J. Riley

1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?

It’s a little funny how I started writing seriously at the age of twelve. I’d been an avid reader for so long, but I didn’t like how the Twilight books portrayed vampires…so I wrote my own vampire book. Of course, it was terrible, ha! However, that inspired me to keep writing. I started writing fanfiction at an early age, and fanfiction gets a lot of bad hype, but it’s sort of like a writer’s version of playing house with dolls. You already have the characters fleshed out, and now you can do whatever you want with them! All the inspiration that came from that started fueling more original content, and by the time I started writing really seriously I had several years of feedback and practice under my belt.

2) What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve always had the idea of a creature sanctuary in my head since I was in high school, but I could never implement it in a book. I would start it and then…I’d lose interest. I must have started a book with that idea in mind at least one hundred times. My co-author, Nia Rose, is actually who truly inspired me to write Secrets of the Sanctuary. She had this base for a world but was just starting out, and through nights of bouncing ideas off each other until dawn we came up with the world we’ve come to love so much.

3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?

I really hope readers will take away that it’s okay to rely on others. Even in your darkest times, there are people who are willing to be there with you. You don’t have to be alone in your struggles. At the same time, you are strong enough to stand on your own two feet. I hope that doesn’t sound too contradictory.

4) What drew you into this particular genre?

I’ve read so many different genres and reading levels, and while some are good for a quick fix or a short indulgence, I really love the whole package fantasy provides. The possibilities are endless, and, if say your main protagonist needs to contact someone and cell phones aren’t a thing *poof!* you make something up as you go!

5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?

Oh, tough one. Thea is my baby and an inspiration drawn from myself, Cressida is a queen all her own, Leslie cracks me up and was originally supposed to be a joke, but honestly? Probably Tasgall. Tassie has been with me since I first came up with the idea of a creature sanctuary. She’s transformed so much, but she’s always been the bubbly, mischievous, short, red-headed bartender. I’d probably ask her how she came to befriend Me’Glach and O’Glach, and why such a strong-willed girl like herself didn’t just defy her father and join the Coven anyway?

6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?

Probably Facebook. I see so many authors trying to promote their work, and I’ve found some pretty interesting novels to get into because of all the groups I’m apart of.

7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?

Make. A. Facebook. Page. It is tiresome and tedious trying to find relevant content (Pinterest is a life saver here) to post day-to-day on top of you going to school, work, raising children, or just writing. However, over time as your page grows and you sprinkle in your projects, more people see it. Also, run advertisements for LONGER rather than trying to reach more people over a shorter period of time. Be engaging in your advertisements and have visually pleasing content attached to the ad to catch people’s attention.

8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?

Oh my God, yes. So, Coven Chronicles is a six part serial where Nia Rose writes three books and I write three. Two down, four to go. We’ve already come up with the next four titles and we’re really excited about that. I have a stand alone for the same world where my main character sets off to find out the cause of Aeristria’s yearly blizzards (expect dragons). Then, just recently I came up with an idea that takes the concept of fairy godmothers and turns it completely on its head.

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Northfighters: The View From The Christallis by Colm Dowd Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Worlds collide in author Colm Dowd’s debut YA novel “Northfighters: The View From The Christallis”. The first in what hopes to be a powerful new YA series, a world filled with magic and creatures unlike anything our world has ever seen merges with our own world, and four kids find themselves thrust into a war they never asked for. Here is the synopsis:

The Synopsis

What happens when you start to write a book for your kids to compete with Pokémon but you take so long to write it, it ends up more influenced by Smallville, Lost, Lord of the Rings and The X-Files? (To name a few) You end up with ‘Northfighters – The View from the Chrystallis’.

This is not your typical fantasy book, but it is a fantasy. And it has it all.

Eleven year old Chris Talbot is the likeable protagonist, with his nerdy friend Josh, his bully nemesis Mike, and his heart’s desire Sylvia. All four of them end up avoiding near death on their school trip near Seattle. They are being pursued by ghoulish monsters that have been sent after them by the charismatic yet maniacal super villain Salazon. Salazon ‘The Evil’ as he would prefer to be known has supreme psychic powers and a pretty big chip on his shoulder. He has an elaborate scheme to trigger a massive battle between two of his world’s people that, he just doesn’t want to have around anymore.

Salazon has been given a forewarning that this boy Chris is somehow going to be a thorn in his side. Luckily for Chris and his friends, they are taken through a portal to a strange and beautiful land by the heroic Talbar, a lord of the Northfighter people. Talbar, with three of his fellow men, make it their duty to guide the children on a trek with war and deceit all around them, to try to find the real reason the kids have ended up here.

The spectre of Salazon builds throughout the book, but he is not the only stuff of legend that is to be found in this land. Fables tell of great and powerful beasts, the true Northfighters, namesakes of the people that came after. Do they exist? Salazon and Talbar both believe that they do. And this may be where the children are to come in.

Back in the real world the tough and cynical detective Janet Lansing is perplexed by the mystery surrounding the missing kids. Where this is all going and why is anyone’s guess. But it’s an entertaining ride, come jump on.

The Review

This was a fantastic read. Some of the most original fantasy driven characters and creatures I’ve read in a long time, this novel blends the real world drama of four children disappearing from a school field trip and the police investigation that sparks as a result, to the heroic adventures of a rag tag group of warriors and four children who try to stop all out war between various nations. The mythological scale of the battles and the power of the villain Salazon will keep readers entranced throughout the entire story.

While there were brief areas within the story that held some minor grammatical errors, the overall story and mythology built by the author was so powerful that these moments never deterred from the overall story. The characters were relatable and engaging, while the setting felt like the YA equivalent to Game of Thrones. The blend of fantasy and drama felt natural and helped the story flow smoothly, making this read truly amazing.

The Verdict

Overall I loved this book. Filled with action, character development and shocking twists and turns, readers will love to get lost in this new fantasy world created by author Colm Dowd. With a cliff-hanger ending that leaves room for a hopeful sequel, this is a must read YA adventure like no other. If you haven’t yet, pick up your copy of Northfighters: The View From the Christallis today!

Rating: 9/10

https://www.amazon.com/Northfighters-View-Chrystallis-Colm-Dowd-ebook/dp/B07J1Z5TXM/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1540436403&sr=1-1&keywords=9781999466602