About the author
Tell us your story? What made you start writing?
First, thank you kindly for asking me to do this! I’m so thrilled!
I started writing as a teenager (I’m almost 35 now) and I wrote mostly poetry at first. My dad is a great storyteller with an incredible imagination; furthermore, both of my parents are Disney lovers and believers in a romantic view of the world and introduced me to that musical, happy idea of Happy Ever Afters. Imagine my surprise finding out real life isn’t like the movies? That’s when I decided to tell my own stories. I adore the written word, the act of expressing yourself in words; I found that using language was one of my favorite ways to express myself…on paper. In person, I’m sometimes very chatty because I’m enthusiastic about, well, most things, and my thoughts aren’t as neatly packaged as with the written word. The short answer, I started writing to capture what I may have trouble saying and, in a world where I could. There’s a line in Spellbound that the character Baron Maxwell says, stating he feels poems are narrating the thoughts of the heart; he and I share that observation. I think that can go for stories as well. Anytime you get to share what you feel inside…that’s all heart! There’s a vulnerability in sharing your creations. It’s great and terrifying all at once.
And most recently, in the last nine years, I was cheered on to keep writing by my best friend and author M.K. Easley. She is supremely talented, smart, witty and her writing is top-tier. I’m in awe that she even likes my writing because hers is Bestseller material. Check her out (@mk.writer)! Her book The Reckoning is on Amazon and I’m so proud of her I could burst. ?
What’s your favorite family tradition?
My family and I try to visit Disney World every year. We are the biggest kids at heart and we absolutely love the immersion of a Disney park. I know more about Disney World than I do America…maybe. Ok, definitely.
We always go to Epcot the first day and the four of us (mom, dad, brother) share an enormous, salty German pretzel and a bubbly cup of grapefruit beer. We walk through the chilly, air-conditioned shops which are so welcome in the oppressive Orlando heat. Love those memories dearly. I’d rather be sweating standing in line for Big Thunder Mountain with my dad than do anything else on any given day. Stay magical, Disney fans! ?
If you had a warning label, what would yours say?
Caution: She’s not flirting, she just likes to smile all the time.
What’s your go-to guilty pleasure?
Food: Peanut M&M’s Movies: My Fair Lady (where my love of language originated) and music: Any showtune
Sabrina Hawes of Galen City is a common woman, a renowned sorceress who had a heart for adventure and a celebrated mind of magic. After tragically losing her parents three years ago, she confronted their attacker, a clergyman, but the confrontation accidentally ended with his death by her hand. Sabrina had retreated to the shadows of the city forced into hiding by rumor and suffocating city gossip. Though a position as one of the king’s advisors helped her keep a daily routine, she never fully recaptured the citizens’ good favor. With her days predictable and planned, she spent her leisure time exploring the world away from the eyes of the city where she once flourished.
The king’s nephew, affable Baron Maxwell Aldaine, is a Galen City soldier, recently wed to noble darling Hazel Barnaby. He lives the polished, rehearsed, and unhappy life of a young royal with a generous, phony smile to his skeptical citizens. He also had been missing for three months and feared dead, after he and a team of soldiers ventured on a rescue mission to save their missing friend, a Galen City naval captain. The failed operation left the baron alone in a lightless dungeon, waiting for death.
Sabrina, while exploring a neighboring island, stumbles upon Galen City’s nephew, Baron Maxwell, and rescues him. Through a case of mistaken identity, she believes he is but a common man. His irritability helps create a contentious journey home and lays the framework for two individuals always at odds. But they would soon come to realize their lonely hearts were beating for one another in a world where class dictates desire.
Tell us a little about the book. How did you come up with the idea for Spellbound
Spellbound is immensely special to me and I’m beyond appreciative that you’ve asked me to do this so I can continue boring people with how much I love it haha! I wrote it in 2012, the first version, at a very low point in my life. I was diagnosed with something called Meniere’s Disease which is a balance disorder that causes severe, unpredictable moments of dizziness and eventually possible hearing loss. I was unable to do much but watch TV and lay down. During that six-month period of illness, I decided to write and submerge myself in a world that was fantastical and wonderful.
I imagined Sabrina Hawes, this flawed, kind, beautiful heroine who was going to be everything I would love to be and love to see in a character; she was going to save me from the reality I had. Ultimately, she did. I gave her some things I admired in myself, like my kindness and desire to see the good in all situations, which is a daily practice I haven’t mastered. I added a little bit of magic, romance, and adventure, and voila! Spellbound.
I knew I wanted to write a romance. I have not been as fortunate (yet!) as Sabrina Hawes in the romance department. I’ve given my heart to the wrong man so many times that it’s
almost comical. Sabrina wasn’t going to have that same fate in my pages.
Ever see those Instagram posts or Facebook, those inspirational ones? ~Love yourself and you’ll attract the love of your life~. I agree that loving yourself is important, but it’s not always easy to love yourself. Maybe some days you love parts of yourself, but not all. Or maybe you have days where you do feel like a goddess. But when we are having trouble loving ourselves, are we less worthy of love? We aren’t—at least I don’t think so.
That’s when I decided my characters weren’t going to feel their best and would still have the most devoted relationship. Self-love doesn’t have to be a prerequisite to long-lasting romance. I may not have proof, but I just like to believe it. We’re all special and wonderful and deserve goodness on good and bad days.
Baron Maxwell is my absolute favourite fictional character ever since I’ve read Spellbound, because of the way he talks. Was there anything that you found difficult to write in Max’s perspective or did it come naturally?
This makes me smile even wider than I usually do! I love that you love him! I love him too! He was so fun to write. I mentioned that one of my favorite movies is My Fair Lady; the story of Pygmalion in a musical setting? Sign. Me. Up. I adored the way language was used in the movie, the way Henry Higgins used language as a way to charm or as a weapon. Top that off with a profound love of Shakespeare and the Queen’s English (or RP), I knew that Baron Maxwell was going to have that same cadence and care in his words and thoughts. He wasn’t going to be a man who was misunderstood; he’d speak and you’d not only understand him, you’d probably be charmed into a stupor. If he was speaking to someone, they were the only person in his view.
As I was writing everything from Sabrina’s point of view, I “heard” Maxwell in my head clearing his throat as if to say, “Forgive me, but I do have a thought about this. I think Sabrina’s extraordinary too…may I?” I’d open up another document and set him free. It turned out I had about twelve chapters of just Maxwell and his thoughts and decided to marry the two novels together.
And I adored writing him and it was oddly natural. I can’t remember where I read it, maybe Pinterest, but there was something about how we adore these men in romances because women wrote them. We know what we want and how we want to feel, and in turn, create these male characters displaying those traits.
The problem is, I feel like with romance novels, men are just there for sex and love and used as pawns without real depth. I wanted him to be like every other man in our lives: flawed, frustrated, emotional, and sensitive. He was going to have internal struggles and verbalize them and not be the broody savior. He was going to be fleshed out and worthy. He was more to Sabrina than just a love affair; he was her friend and companion and deserved a big presence. I wouldn’t have been able to publish the book without his voice.
Do you have a favourite scene from the book? Something you enjoyed writing the most or think came together well?
If I said it was difficult to pick just one it would be an understatement. I love the last scene in the graveyard where the teacher can’t figure out the fox and wolf figurines. It’s like a secret message for Max and Sabrina, the culmination of their playful love.
But I really enjoy the scene where Sabrina magically sends Lionel home with the ring. She thinks she’s dying at the hands of a serpent; she thinks the city hates her more than ever and she lost the love of her life to some royal beauty. She thinks she’ll never see her family again. After a futile attempt at trying to escape with Lionel, she sends him home otherwise he’d be good as dead too.
She’s a woman who will always do the right thing in the name of goodness, regardless of her own struggles. She’s selfless and generous and while I think it’s shown (I hope!) often throughout the story, that’s one of my favorite parts.
I also truly enjoyed writing a lot of scenes with Sabrina and the women in her life. I couldn’t wait to have their strengths and weaknesses on display and show there’s no wrong way to be a woman. A lot of those moments, not all but some, I took inspiration from the women in my family and my best friend MK, in Nell. Those dialogues are all special to me because of the people who inspired them and the moments I connect to them. Most scenes with Aunt Lydia are my great grandmother, Sabrina’s parents are glimmers of my own; the characters morphed into these superhuman beings of the best parts of the people I loved. Even Sebastian, Sabrina’s brother, is based on my close relationship with my brother.
But specifically, Sabrina’s strength and playfulness are an amalgamation of the women in my life who all showcase these traits in their own way.
If you were a character in Spellbound, who would you be and why?
Laila Beaumont. She’s the reason humans have access to magic. She gave birth to the world of sorcery on Andrilia and she’s the coolest girl. She’s a little more into revenge than our girlfriend Sabrina, but otherwise, I think she’s fabulous. And, obviously, Sabrina. I admire her strength and desire to love people who don’t always love her. That was difficult to write but such a pleasure to read.
What are your writing habits? Do you keep a schedule or is it chaotic, when inspiration hits kind of thing?
I write when the mood strikes mostly. Me and my friend M.K. joke about all the unfinished stories we have that we go back and write and then neglect (not on purpose). I also have this weird thing where I dream story ideas and write and then forget about it when I lose steam. I had two very ~romantic~ dreams and they remain two unfinished novellas. I also have a children’s book that came to me in a dream many years ago that I wrote. It’s finished but I haven’t started the publishing process. As soon as I find an illustrator, that’ll be my next project.
What challenges did you face when writing Spellbound?
Making it as cinematic as I saw it in my mind.
Stephen King was on the Today Show or Good Morning America some years ago and said that when you write, you have to give up the idea that it’ll ever be as good as it was in your head. Going in to write it, I knew as hard as I tried, I’d never fully be able to paint the epic scenes in my head that are vibrant and real to me. I had to let go of that and allow myself to trust that my words were good enough to spark the incredible imagination of my lovely readers.
Sometimes I’ll be on the treadmill or walking at a park and listening to music that may transport me to Galen City and suddenly I’m swept away into that world. That’s something I hope translates to whoever picks up the book.
Another challenge I had was creating a woman-empowered world. I know times are slowly changing, minds and ideas about women are evolving, but it’s not where it could be. I wanted the world I created to not only see women as equal but have them in power without a second thought. King Laraeo, when talking to Max privately about when there’s a queen ruling solo that I believe describes Galen City well:
“Pay close attention to them when they rule, Max. There’s an old saying, quietly hummed by the kings of our country, ‘A woman on the throne will give Galonians a happy home.’ It’s a saying because it’s true. And it’s hummed instead of shouted because insecure men know that it’s true while making damn sure no one else realizes it.”
I wanted to show that women were not only sought after but capable and while liked, there were still men in the city who felt inferior. I didn’t want it to be a utopia. Men and women will always have fundamental differences, but I wanted my world to have scaled the mountain of “can she?” and firmly planted a “She can and will” flag. Like any civilization, they are a work in progress, but in mind, they are slightly further ahead. And have magic.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part of publishing?
My favorite part was getting a cover for my story. That’s when everything felt real and I loved that moment (and thank you to my creative, friendly artist for the beautiful work! She’s awesome! Check her out on Instagram: arbookcoverdesign).
Least favorite part was uploading the document. Get a slow internet day? Phew. You better have a good Spotify playlist because you’re going to be there a while.
Are you planning on writing more books? Are you working on anything new at the moment?
I’m currently working on a few including a sequel to Spellbound that I’m excited about! But I also have a little novella I add to and, of course, the children’s book I’m working on.
I’m currently in nursing school and it is taking all of my free time! Every last second of it, haha! But I try to write here and there and then bug my best friend to read it. ?
You are lost in a foreign city. It is getting late. Your only options are to ask directions from a man hidden under a long black coat and sunglasses or a drunk woman in suggestive clothing. What do you do?
Ask the drunk woman for help. I like to think she’s probably an undercover detective on the street to thwart a drug bust. Who run the world (on Earth and Andrilia)? Girls.