Friday Fanfare Welcomes:
Naomi Stone, ‘Spirited!’
How did the writer’s journey begin for you?
My parents had to go and teach me to talk. Then they sent me to school where I learned to read and write. Seriously, that’s where it started. I learned to read and pretty soon I fell in love with books and stories. Even before that I loved to daydream; I daydreamed myself into adventures with my favorite TV characters. I dreamed up adventures crossing time and space on my own, meeting characters out of history and stories. Books gave me the sense that there was a home waiting for my daydreams, a place where they belonged. I loved fairy tales and tales of magic from the very start.
Tell us three things about you-the writer-readers wouldn’t typically know.
1. I’ve never been diagnosed, but I figure I have some kind of adult ADHD – a friend calls it ‘shiny object syndrome,’ but it’s more than that for me, more than simple distraction. I become deeply fascinated with all sorts of different subjects. I will devote hundreds of hours to various arts and crafts – inventing a dozen different styles of beaded bookmarks, (I am a bookmark Geek!) turning a tattered paper parasol into a refurbished Steampunk lace parasol, painting a whole series of watercolors inspired by mudras (reading books and doing the research to learn about the mudras), etc. The dark side of this is the hundreds of hours spent building a kingdom in Castleville, or furbishing a house in SimsSocial.
2. I love to filk. For those who think that’s a typo, it did start life that way. Filking is the folk music of the science fiction fan community. Early science fiction writers and fans started a tradition of re-writing lyrics to familiar tunes – and some original tunes. Think: Crazy Al Yankovich. The tradition continues to this day with people gathering to share their songs at each others’ houses or at science fiction conventions. I participate in a monthly gathering and in song circles at our local conventions. The songs are written by a wide range of fans and authors. Our local group still sings songs written by golden-age writers Gordy Dickson and Poul Anderson many years ago. My favorites include such titles as ‘Cats in Zero-G’ and ‘Smaug the Magic Dragon.’
3. I once illustrated a complete coloring book inspired by a made-up religion based on worship of the Goddess Eris. In the early 1980s Robert Anton Wilson and Bob Shea wrote a set of books known as ‘The Illuminati Trilogy’ inspired by all the conspiracy theory letters they encountered while working as editors at Playboy Magazine. The books include plots by the Bavarian Illuminati, space aliens, and everything else one could think of, including a cult of Eris worshippers whose goal is to balance the principles of chaos and order. The Principia Discordia sets out a philosophy supporting silly and creative disorder as a counterpoint to excessive, stifling degrees of control. My coloring book illustrates these principles and Discordian Catma such as ‘The conclusion you jump to may be your own’ and ‘Is the thought of a unicorn a real thought?’
Haha I can relate to creative disorder and conclusions being my own. 😆 So “If a tree falls in the forest and there’s no one to hear it, does it make any sound” would fit into this line of thinking?
It all began when…
Two seeds of thought came together and gave birth to an idea. The first seed sprouted when I learned about certain Harlequin guidelines requiring that the hero of a romance must be at least a millionaire.
I was out of work at the time and going through a very difficult period of life, facing bankruptcy and foreclosure on my home. I had problems that could be solved by money, so yes it would be wonderful if some multi-millionaire fell in love with me. I should be able to build a wish-fulfillment story about that … but, something in me rebelled at the thought. The second seed sprouted from my feminist/science-fiction fan sensibilities. I didn’t want my problems solved by some rich man. And, while I was dreaming, why stop at the problems money could solve? Why not dream bigger? What I wanted was magical powers that would help me solve my own problems. If I had the kinds of power a magical djinni might have, I could turn lead into gold, cash it in, and solve the monetary problems – and I could create things not found in any store, help clean the air and water, provide food and housing for the homeless, cure diseases… the possibilities were endless.
Thinking about those possibilities inspired me to write about them. But where would my heroine acquire such magical powers? Okay, I’d go Harlequin one better with a hero possessing vast magical powers. My heroine would encounter a djinni who would fall in love with her. He’d make sure she had the powers to take care of herself, whether she liked it or not.
This was the first full-length novel I’d attempted to write after a hiatus of twenty years. I took advantage of NaNoWriMo to bull my way through a first 50,000 word draft. It needed a lot of work. I cut about 30,000 words of backstory and wrote a lot more action and adventure to bring the story back up to 90,000 words. I worked with my wonderful critique partners to edit and revise and polish the story through many more drafts.
Since part of the story is set in the remote past, at the very dawn of human civilization when the djinni was originally enslaved, I did a lot of research on ancient Mesopotamia and was fascinated by what archeologists have learned of the culture of that period. But I wasn’t concerned with the past alone. I wanted this story to convey a sense of the vast scope of human history and our future possibilities. I wanted to convey a sense of hope for humanity, to share the belief that we have the potential to think far beyond our present limitations and to imagine and build toward solutions to the problems we face today.
I want readers to take away that sense of hope and possibilities from reading this book.
I think we all want that from our writing, Naomi.
Tell us about the finished book. Is there anything special we might not know after reading it?
Readers won’t know the whole 30,000 words worth of backstory that I deleted from the first draft, but I don’t think they’ll miss it. The story makes enough references to the past to suggest how much led up to the time of the story, and the adventure keeps things moving too fast to leave time for more.
As it should.
Amelia Swenson’s plans for the weekend didn’t include a sexy djinni or saving the world from demons, but plans change. Her whole life changes when Amelia discovers the ring to which the handsome djinni is enslaved, and at the same time accidentally unleashes a demon into the world. The djinni, Al-Marid has been alone for three thousand years—is it any wonder he falls for the woman who frees him? But Amelia’s not prepared for love, magic, or the evil creatures that threaten her friends and her world. Now she must face all of these, with the help of her djinni, in an adventure that takes her to the ancient past, challenges her to open her heart again and reveals the world to be more miraculous than she had ever imagined.
Brilliant light and a crash of sound erupted around her.
“Holy crap!” Amelia’s chair went down as she scrambled back, heart thumping wildly. She could hardly see anything through the thick haze boiling around her, or hear for the ringing in her ears. The hairs on her arms and back of her neck stood erect, tingling as the air around her crackled with energy. She took another step back, away from a dark shape in the haze. She held her breath, waving a scent like hot peppers and cinnamon from her face, groping frantically to understand what was happening. The air cleared as swiftly as it had filled, revealing a huge man standing smack in front of her.
He loomed between her and the kitchen. He must have come in through the back, throwing in some kind of flash bomb or smoke bomb… Amelia stumbled farther back, banging into a bookshelf. The edge of a protruding volume jabbed her thigh. She felt oddly light, poised for action. She still had the small file she’d used to free the ring. If she needed a weapon, she could use that—and her wits. Where were her wits? Her heart drummed double-time in her ears.
“Who the hell are you and what do you think you’re doing here?” she snapped, surprising herself with her own ferocity.
The strange man looked around as if he’d never seen an ordinary, though cluttered, dining room before. He looked like a cross between a Greek god and Mr. Clean, standing well over six feet in height, clad only in loose white pantaloons, shaved head, olive skin, broad shoulders, a remarkably well-defined bare chest. His mustache framed a stern, beautifully shaped mouth, and his cheekbones jutted, prominent, below eagle eyes turning now to meet her own.
Meeting his eyes brought an electric jolt of recognition in which her every sense sprang to sudden life. Amelia might have just wakened to realize that a long night of wandering through strange streets running senselessly together was only a dream. Surely she knew him? But in some way she couldn’t explain and refused to believe. Those keen, dark eyes looked all too admiring, all too sure. With not so much as a twitch of his lips, she could swear he laughed at her.
“I am the slave of the ring,” he announced.
Where can readers find you and your books?
I have a Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/naomi.stone.5) and am on Twitter (@Naomistone0RWA) and have a website here:
‘Spirited!’ is published by Champagne Books and can be found here: http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=648
Is there anything else you want to share or add?
Stay tuned for the release of my next book, ‘Wonder Guy; a tale from the files of the Fairy Godmothers’ Union’ which will be released in May from Lyrical Press.
I’m sure we’ll all be watching for Wonder Guy. What a fun twist to Fairy Godmothers. J
Thank you for visiting, Naomi.