Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Wednesday Watch (8) with Melissa Petreshock PART 2

So last week I talked with Melissa about her writing during part 1 of her interview here. This week she is talking with me about her book and characters from her upcoming Stars and Souls trilogy. Her first book, Fire of Stars and Dragons, releases with Swoon Romance in March 2014. 

I have had the chance to read Fire of Stars and Dragons and I will tell you that you do NOT want to miss this book. The world and characters are like none you have met before. What's better than dragons, demigods, vampires, goddesses, AND elves?? Then add on the fact that there are a load of swoon-worthy men in there. ♥♥ I also LOVE the leading heroine Cait. She is my absolute favorite. She has a super spunky personality and will put anyone in there place.

I will be doing a FULL review when the book is closer to release time. I hope you enjoy reading more about the world and characters Melissa has created. Make sure to leave her some comment love. :)

Q: How did you come up with this amazing world that you have created? I want to know every little thing that inspired it. :)

A: I am certifiably insane? Um… Is that a valid answer? Honestly, I don’t know for sure where the idea came from, but I was taking a shower one night before bed and had this grand epiphany of what grew into the Dracopraesi dragons. That was the beginning of it all. (And to be truthful, I get the best ideas in the shower, where I often lose them because I can’t write them down. I’m lucky this one was a rather invasive, persistent one.)

As for the world, location, and such, those came about from a variety of sources. I used to live outside Boston, and it remains my favorite city so to make the capital city of America after it’s become a sovereign nation under the rule of supernaturals made sense to me. I know the city. It’s a location I could work with realistically yet change it to make it what I want. I chose to take the leap into the future, setting this in the year 2189, making this world ours, yet much has changed.

To me, the idea is that this IS our world, but things we believe NOW aren’t what they seem, and the world in my book is the TRUTH. There are dragons. There are vampires. There are faeries. There are elves. The deities of our so-called mythology are real, though over the millennia, we’ve mangled the reality of them into barely recognizable shreds of anything resembling who or what they are or what they are about. Mother Nature isn’t simply this “force” of the weather and such. She is the Mother Goddess and the supreme deity in a matriarchal deity system.

Honestly, I wanted something new to read. I like fantasy. I like dragons. I like vampires. I like faeries. I like all these different aspects of what you find in my books, but I’ve never found them used together in anything remotely similar to what I’ve written, not their mythology, not their character types, not their stories, not their ANYTHING. I wholeheartedly believe this is unique.

I don’t subscribe to the idea that if you write something with a vampire main character, that it’s a “vampire book”. Corrin is a great character, and I think the book would lack a great deal without him, but his presence as this ancient (though youthful and HOT) vampire who happens to be the king of America doesn’t make it a “vampire book”. He’s one part of a cast of characters.

As for the history and some things in the details of the characters, they come from both actual historical research I did to create their back stories and from recorded and completely fictional mythology.

I could write nearly a chapter’s length answer regarding the detail of origins, but I’d give away too much ;)

Q: Where did you get the characters names from? It's really something I wondered while reading the book. 

A: LOL. That depends on the character. Dante is a demigod whose name means “enduring”, with good reason. Corrin’s name falls back to his origins as a Celtic warrior in his human life and has Celtic/Irish origins with a meaning of “spearman”. His name is actually short for Corrigan, which is where the clan name comes from, a choice made by his father Cedric. (whose name means “chieftain”, harking back to his origins.)

Cait (Caitriona) comes from the older Irish form of Catherine, which is my oldest daughter’s middle name. In the story, Cait is named by her vampire “uncle”, who is technically an ancestor about 300 years old, and the name was her great grandmother’s, the only family member who knew what he was and accepted him as a vampire before supernaturals came out to the public. So, yeah… That’s the back story that isn’t in the books.

As for the dragons, most of them have names that came after their character’s personalities were pretty well settled out. Theo Pendragon is kind of the cool bad boy in a lot of ways, which I felt like the name fit, but you’ll have to read the second book to learn a secret revelation toward the end about the true origins of his REAL name. Sir OliverPendragon… Well, when you read and get to know him, something about Oliver just jumped out as the most fitting name for a dragon who lives to wear three-piece suits, can be the most uptight, by-the-rules, pretentious pain in the ass, yet you still have to love his character. Liam is named after Liam Neeson because I think Liam Neeson is totally kick ass and so is Liam Pendragon. You see even more of that in the second book. CliffordPendragon is simply the nerdiest dragon name I could come up with without sounding horrendous, and once you meet him, you’ll get WHY. Lol.

Agtos Pendragon… Um… I just totally made that one up. It sounded good to me. And he’s weird once you meet him, so he didn’t need a name grounded in reality.

Oh, Claaron Graywyne. I cannot tell you how much I ADORE the character of Claaron(sounds like Aaron just with a Cl at the beginning). After I came up with the parameters of his character’s personality, I needed a good name for him. Then I realized that I basically wrote a character that acts like the husband in the couple my husband and I are best friends with, so Claaron Graywyne is actually an anagram of his name. And no, it didn’t really take as long to do as you might think.

Jaiteru Faerwyng is totally made up as well. You just cannot use a real name for someone as unique as Jai. Pronouncing his name is the trick. The J is very soft with the “ai” sounding like in Thai. The rest of it is like “teh” and “roo”. Jaiteru is meant to be a soft, slip off your tongue kind of name because it’s of fae origins and suitable to Jai, who is quite gentle in nature, though extremely quirky.

Z Von Yalfayr is another one created completely by me. It’s based on an elfin legacy (familial bloodlines) naming concept I have in my head.

Oooh, and Corrin’s secretary Jennifer is named after my sister! :D

Q: Did you make up the Dragon language yourself?

A: Technically, Penfaeryn is the Fae language the Dracopraesi happen to use because it’s the oldest Earthen Realm language. In my world’s mythology, the faeries are the oldest race in existence. Their language, Penfaeryn, is a direct offshoot of the language of the deities,Altu Prifaeryn. And yes, I created that language.

It began as a system of alphabetic replacement. (My husband wrote a “quick and dirty” translation program for that part… Thank you, computer genius husband of mine!) I then go on to smooth it out for the sake of the fluency of the spoken word by working through it by hand. I keep a detailed Excel spreadsheet as I continue to build the language for the book series, tracking the translations, verb conjugations, etc.

Eventually, over time, I intend to develop an entire dictionary of Penfaeryn. Initially, I hadn’t planned to go “full Tolkien” with the language, but I rather like creating my own world and language, so I’ve had fun with it. It is time consuming, and not all of what is spoken in Penfaeryn gets added in the rough draft writing.

Q: Cait is a very vocal female lead, what made you decide to take her character in that direction?

A: That’s an easy question. I’m a mother.

I read the Twilight Saga and saw the example set by Bella for the countless number of girls, mine included, who read that series and knew there had to be a better role model for young women. I wanted to write a world where girls/women are repressed and write a female lead who doesn’t let that stop her from being who she is.

Cait has her breakdowns. She questions herself. She has her flaws. She doesn’t always know what do to, but she always has the confidence to do something. You’ll never findCait going catatonic over a break up or anything like that. She finds a strength within herself to deal with the mess she’s in and make the best of it. The law tells her she has to find a husband, and she throws herself into that mission wholeheartedly. She doesn’t do anything half-ass, but she doesn’t let anyone take advantage of her either. At the same time, she wants to do the right thing and isn’t hard-hearted. She cares about people. I wanted a good well-rounded female lead.

I have two daughters, a preteen and a teenager. My oldest is about to turn 18, go to college, and be part of the adult world. Cait is 21 and the kind of example of a role model I want my girls to read and connect with, to believe they can be, to believe it’s okay to be.

Q: I'm still on the fence if I prefer Dante or Theo yet, but can you tell readers anything more about them that they won't find in the book?

A: There is still a great deal to uncover about them both in the second book, and even in the third. That said, I can understand why readers would be on the fence between Dante or Theo. A lot happens in Blood of Stars and Gods. ;)

Dante: Well, he’s a demigod, and though he is half-human, he is fully eternal, infinite in his life, which you learn in the first book. He truly wants a family. As you learn in the first book, he has some version of that already, but it’s rather full of drama to say the least. Dante genuinely sees a life with Cait where he has a sense of normalcy and becomes a father, has the opportunity to pass on all the things he’s learned in the 7000 years he’s already lived.

The most interesting thing about Dante is that despite the fact that he could live in the High Realm, he loves living in the Earthen Realm. The capacity that the human race has to evolve and be more than expected of them at times fascinates him. He sees many of the lower deities and demi-deities as petty and isn’t interested in what basically boils down to politics in the High Realm. He’s the only child of the Mother Goddess, and other deities want to use him to get into that “inner circle” so-to-speak. That’s not his thing. Dante could be living the high life there, but he spends his time pursuing interests in researchand learning, particularly learning about the historical origins of various cultures, trying to understand their evolution, how they developed. Theo wasn’t kidding when he described Dante as “both student and professor of everything”. Dante holds degrees in just about everything you can imagine and has also spent time teaching at universities across the globe.

As a dragon, Theo is a born warrior, a protector of innocents, and a destroyer of dark souls, but he has a very gentle side too. You see some of that with his chosen hobbies revealed in the first book, but when not bonded to a ward, he loves to read and take in as much of the world and anything new that has come about as he can. Dragons don’t always have free time to see what has changed in the world outside of where their duties take them. (Hence Jai’s behavior limited to much of what is the norm in fae culture.)

What also makes Theo interesting is the very close friendships he has with both Dante and Claaron. Despite the Dracopraesi being a large brotherhood, they aren’t particularly fond of forming overly close relationships with dragons outside their houses. (TheDracopraesi are divided into six houses with sixty-six dragons in each house.) They are all “brothers”, but those in each house have unique relationships.

Theo not only considers a dragon outside House of Pendragon one of his closest friends, calling up Claaron from House of Graywyne when he needs advice, but he’s so close to Dante they share an apartment. The Dracopraesi as a general rule don’t become friends with outsiders, not that close of friends, son of the Mother Goddess or not. Yet, Theo sees Dante as his absolute dearest friend.

For me, what makes it hardest to choose one over the other is that relationship between Dante and Theo. They have what I consider the most epic “bromance” ever. Lol. You almost hate to see either one of them lose because you fear what that might do to their friendship in the long term.

Q: Corrin was actually one of my favorites (which I will tell why in my full review closer to release date), was he fun to write?

A: Oh, heck yeah! I LOVE CORRIN! If it weren’t for a million things, I’d be totally TeamCorrin, but he’s Corrin, and Corrin and I have a love/hate relationship at times when it comes to him in the romantic arena. Honestly, what made him the most fun was getting into his head and writing his POV. Seeing how he thinks, understanding why he does the things he does makes him so much better as a character for a writer and a reader. He does have one of my favorite character development arcs ever in anything I’ve read. When I finished my final draft and was ready to send out for queries and read the MS one last time, I couldn’t believe how amazing he turned out.

Truthfully, I think if this trilogy got picked up for film, an actor would be thrilled to play Corrin because of what an incredible arc he has a character. (And I totally would love Colton Haynes to be Corrin. He’s always been my ideal Corrin.) 

Q: Who is your favorite character in the book?

A: OMG. Don’t ask me a hard question or anything… I LOVE all my dragons and absolutely LOVE Cait, but I think I’d have to say either Dante or Corrin because they developed much further than I originally conceived their characters to be. As a writer,that plays a huge part in favoring characters, at least to me. I know who I love as the romantic hero and such, but then I also know which characters turned into what I always wanted them to be and which ones ended up being exponentially more than I could have dreamed I’d write them to be when I first came up with the idea. In Fire of Stars and Dragons, those characters were mostly Dante and Corrin.

Thank you SO much Melissa for the interviews. 


  1. Thanks for doing this interview, Crystal! I'm thrilled to have you on my beta team now and glad you're loving the trilogy so far. :)

  2. This book sounds so, so good!!! I really can't wait to read it!!! The interview was so great! I loved the part about Bella being such a horrible role model for young girls! It's so true. I much prefer a strong female heroine, as opposed to one that relies on others to save her, and boys to validate her.

    1. Thanks, Meredith! If you prefer a strong female heroine, you'll have a blast reading Cait. Crystal can tell you how much fun she is, as all my beta readers have said, but I truly enjoyed writing her. My oldest daughter absolutely loves her and swears Cait is one of the best female main characters she's read in a romance, which is saying a lot from my ultra picky teenager!

  3. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS sounds amazing - the fact that Melissa created her own language? GENIUS. And I love when character names have an actual meaning behind them. Also: I totally agree on being certifiably insane when it comes to beautiful world-building. Can't wait! Awesome interview, Crystal!

    1. Genius or maybe crazy, Hafsah, but thanks! Characters always seem better if I know their names aren't completely random but are chosen for a good reason. I think it adds to their personality in deeper ways, at least for me. :-)

  4. FIRE OF STARS AND DRAGONS sounds fabulous. The fact that Melissa created her own language? GENIUS. And I love when character names have actual reasons behind them. Also? I totally agree with being certifiably insane when it comes to world-building. Can't wait!

    Great interview, Crystal :)

  5. I need to read this. Give me dragons any day! Especially when there are cute boys involved!!

    1. Ooh, thanks Samantha! You should check out the eye candy on my Pinterest boards and the blog post I have on my website detailing why my dragons are the next book boyfriends. ;-)

  6. This sounds so good! I'd love to read it eventually! :)

    I really like how Melissa incorporates aspects of her life into the book but not enough that it sticks out. And there's so much passion even in her answers for the interview. (Also, to create a new language??? Heck yes!)

    And lastly, I've found that I feel the same way about my favorite characters in my stories. I usually know as soon as I write them, but I definitely think it's also about the characters that you enjoy writing and that surprise even you.

    Great interview! :)

    1. Thank you, Jessica! I hope you enjoy it when it comes out in March. Crystal plans to do a full review then and will certainly let everyone know if the release date changes!

      It's definitely fun to sneak pieces of my life into my writing then see if the beta readers who know me recognize any of it. Some do. Some don't. And it's cool to reveal those aspects later to people. I do LOVE this book, this series, these characters, and everything about all of it. I'm crazy about it! Thankfully, so is my publisher, so you can expect lots of passion and excitement in months approaching its release!

      And YES, a new language! Penfaeryn is all my own and will develop further through the trilogy and over the course of the additional books I intend to spin off from it.

      Haha. I'm glad I'm not the only one who can't fully decide until the book is done which character is ultimately their favorite. It's great when they surprise you (even when you wrote them) and grow into so much more! :-)


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