Argh! I hate when I lose track of things. This was supposed to go up on Saturday, but I had sort of family crisis and didn’t get it up. I have Linda Ulleseit promoting her new book, “Under a Wild and Darkening Sky,” the third book in her YA fantasy series. This is part of the “Back To School” blog tour.
On Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/437332
1. What first made you want to write?
I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil. I still have a story about a pig written in second or third grade. I know it’s about a pig because there are large pink circles illustrating it. I suppose there have always been stories in my head that needed to get out. In writing my novels I search for understanding of a particular person’s motivation. For example, my first novel started out as a way to understand my mother’s point of view during a difficult time in our relationship. All those details were completely buried in the final book, but that was the motivation to begin.
2. I know you’ve written a few YA fantasy books. What about this genre appeals to you?
I have always loved to read fantasy. When you immerse yourself in a made-up world, it’s easy to imagine solutions to difficulties you experience or see in the world. You can be braver or smarter or more athletic than you are in real life. You can explore personality characteristics that may be hidden by your real life. For example, I know that if I were faced with a world-threatening problem I would not be the girl who hides in the cellar. I’d want to be in the action, assisting the fighters at the very least.
3. Tell me about your latest book.
I released two books in May of 2014. Under a Wild and Darkening Sky is the third book in my flying horse series. It deals with a brother and sister who move with their family to High Meadow, home of a herd of flying horses. Ralf knows he must take over his father’s bakery, but is it wrong to want some adventure before he does? New to High Meadow, he is befriended by the beautiful and dangerous Branwen, who has her own goal—to entice Ralf to help her steal a winged horse and return it to Tremeirchson. Meanwhile, Ralf’s sister, Alyna, dives into barn life. Becoming a groom to a winged foal is a lot of responsibility to the horse, to the barn, and to her father, who idolizes the wrong barn leader. Politics, greed, and revenge swirl around the teenaged siblings as they struggle to be true to their family and their future.
The other book I just released is very different. Under the Almond Trees is the story of my family – three ordinary women in California who lived extraordinary lives. It started with a falling tree branch that killed Ellen VanValkenburgh’s husband in 1862, forcing her to assume leadership of his paper mill, something women weren’t allowed to do. Women weren’t allowed to vote yet, either. Ellen decided that had to change, and became a suffragette. In 1901, Emily Williams , Ellen’s daughter-in-law, became an architect – very much against her family’s wishes. No one would hire a woman, but Emily would not be deterred. She and her life partner Lillian set out to build homes themselves. By the 1930’s women enjoyed more freedom, including the vote. Even so, Ellen’s granddaughter Eva VanValkenburgh chose a traditional life of marriage and children, even closing her photography business at her husband’s insistence. When he later refused to pay for their daughter’s college education, Eva followed the example of her Aunt Emily and reopened her photography business. I am proud to call these women family and honored to share their story.
4. Who is your favorite writer, and why?
My two favorite authors are Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series, and Anne McCaffrey, author of the Dragonriders of Pern series. Both authors create wonderfully rich worlds with terrific characters. As a reader, I fall into their books and never want them to end. When I finish reading them, I think about the characters and imagine what they would do within the context of my life. That is powerful writing.
5. If you could have any kind of a magical creature, what would it be, and why?
Well, I’d better say a flying horse, right? I’ve always been fascinated with horses. When I read Lord of the Rings, one of my favorite scenes to imagine was the gorgeous horses of Rohan galloping across the field. When I needed a focus for my book, I combined those horses with Anne McCaffrey’s dragons and came up with flying horses. Something about a human flying aboard a massive creature like a horse ignites the wonder inside me, and that’s what a fantasy book should do.
6. What are you working on next?
I have just begun Aloha Spirit. It is historical fiction, like Under the Almond Trees, and features my husband’s grandmother. Everyone who visits Hawaii experiences the warm acceptance of the Hawaiian people. All visitors are ohana, or family and welcome. The natives call this the spirit of aloha. Carmen Jaime was born on Kauai in 1915. Her mother died when she was a baby. Her father gave her away when she was a young girl. Her husband left her with three small children when she was twenty. How then did Carmen learn to embody the aloha spirit?
7. I know you set your first book in Wales. Have you been there? What was it like? And if you haven’t been, do you plan on going there someday?
I’ve never been to Wales. An early reader said my setting sounded like her grandmother’s farm in Wales, so I moved the setting from California. I’ve researched the country and read both nonfiction and fiction featuring it. I know people whose ancestors grew up there, and who’ve been there. I would absolutely love to visit!
8. What advice do you have for other writers?
Top advice is the same from every writer, I think: Write what you know and write every day. If you want to write young adult fantasy, that’s what you should read. A lot. Write about relationships in your own life set in a world you make up. The solid grounding of your own experience makes the story relatable. If you set aside time to write every day, which is very difficult, you may someday finish a book. If you don’t reserve the time, it’s too easy to always be the one who wants to write a book instead of the one who has.
Author Bio: Linda Ulleseit was born and raised in Saratoga, California, and has taught elementary school in San Jose since 1996. She enjoys cooking, cross-stitching, reading, and spending time with her family. Her favorite subject is writing, and her students get a lot of practice scribbling stories and essays.
Someday Linda hopes to see books written by former students alongside hers in bookstores. Her first novel, ON A WING AND A DARE, was published in 2012. It is a Young Adult fantasy set in medieval Wales, complete with flying horses, a love triangle, and treachery. It’s sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER, was released March, 2013. The focus of that book is the misty past of a groom and the murky future of a rider. The last book in the trilogy is UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, May 2014. It follows a brother and sister, new to High Meadow, who become involved in a plot to steal flying horses. As a child, Linda always loved to write. She took her first creative writing course in seventh grade, accumulating a closet full of stories that she never showed anyone until 2007. At that time, she gave the first draft of a flying horse book to a teacher colleague to read. ON A WING AND A DARE began as a NaNoWriMo novel in 2009. It was revised with the help of reviewers on thenextbigwriter.com over the next two years.
For NaNo 2011, Linda drafted the sequel, IN THE WINDS OF DANGER. NaNoWriMo 2012 brought the first draft of UNDER A WILD AND DARKENING SKY, and NaNoWriMo 2013 saw the completion of UNDER THE ALMOND TREES. This last is a historical fiction that follows three women who struggle for women’s rights in early California. Linda has also written a novella titled WINGS OVER TREMEIRCHSON, released as an ebook in Fall 2013. It follows the story of Hoel and Neste, parents of a main character in ON A WING AND A DARE. Follow Linda Ulleseit Ulleseit@wordpress.com