Today I’m turning my blog over to Mara Valderran, a fellow fantasy writer and blogger over at There and Draft Again. Her New Adult fantasy, Heirs of War, is coming out October 13th. I was fortunate to be able to read this novel early, and my favorite part of the plot is the awesome Cyneward characters. It’s their duty to protect the five teenage heroines of the series, and I lurve them. (My favorite is Raemann, in case you were wondering.) First, a bit about the novel.
Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn’t believe in magic or prophecies. When she’s told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can’t argue with reality.
As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.
Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a place or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.
Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.
Exciting, right?! So, without further ado, here’s Mara. :)
Mara: Today I am sitting down with the four warriors responsible for watching over the young heroines of Heirs of War. I’d like to introduce the Cynewards. Varrick, the lovably gruff Cyneward to the twins, Ariana and Zelene. Liam the quiet, yet verbose, and terrifying, yet Teddy bear, of a Cyneward to the seer Isauria. Raemann, the always-laughing and carefree Cyneward to the empath Rhaya. And Kenward, the stoic Cyneward, whose middle name should be Zen, to the healer Terrena. Welcome to your interview, guys.
Raemann: Thank you, Mara. And on behalf of all of us, thank you for creating us. I think you did a great job on me in particular. (winks)
Mara: I’m sure you do. For those who haven’t read the book yet, why don’t one of you describe what a Cyneward is to the audience? Liam?
Liam: Cynewards are the strongest and best of the Athucrean race. We are skilled warriors, trained from a young age to devote ourselves to protecting the Duillaine.
Mara: And how do you know which Duillaine specifically you are meant to protect?
Liam: Whenever a Duillaine gives birth, the four Cynewards of the next generation are present. Once the new Duillaine is born, it becomes evident which warrior is meant to protect her. The bonding ritual is performed, using the blood of the warrior and the newborn Duillaine to seal the connection and awaken the many gifts the Great Mother has bestowed on us so that we might protect the child.
Mara: Your roles are a bit different than the Cynewards before you. What changed?
Raemann: The Prophecy changed everything for us and the Duillaine. When the twins were born, it was apparent that Anscombe was no longer safe for them. They were sent away, and we were sent along with them. We were charged with the task of raising them as our own.
Mara: So you became fathers overnight. Something tells me your training didn’t prepare you for that.
Raemann: No, no it didn’t. Cynewards are taught to be distant and to cut ourselves off from emotions. We are meant to protect the Duillaine until their last breaths, not help them with their boy problems.
Mara: Did you have much of that? Boy problems to deal with?
Raemann: Rhaya went on a few dates here and there, but once her empathic ability developed, she could see through most boys’ intentions. She was always different, so I didn’t have to worry about that much.
Liam: Isauria was much the same. I don’t think she has ever even kissed a boy, to be honest.
Kenward: Terrena only had eyes for Garrett, which was complicated from the start.
Mara: How did you manage to fit Garrett into your lives when you were on the run, Kenward?
Kenward: Not easily, but Terrena insisted. It was lucky that Garrett didn’t ask many questions. His own father was an outlaw, so he was no stranger to keeping secrets and living life on the run.
Mara: Varrick, you were awfully quiet about the twins with that last question. Am I to assume the girls kept you on your toes?
Varrick: Yes and no. Ariana is too trusting and too much of a flirt, so she’s always been a bit boy crazy. But nothing serious.
Mara: Not like Zelene.
Varrick: Kyle’s a good kid. I think he and Zelene will be okay. He’s kept an eye out for her, which helped me out quite a bit.
Mara: How did you balance having two wards when a Cyneward usually has one?
Varrick: I didn’t. I never quite managed it. It would have been easier if I could keep them together, but Sylvanna insisted they all be kept apart. So I did a lot of traveling between the towns they lived in. Ariana’s adoptive parents were treiors, which meant they understood potential threats and tried to keep them at bay. If Ariana wasn’t so damn rebellious and sneaking out all the time, things probably would have been easier. And Zelene…Zelene’s situation with the foster-care system and some of the families she got placed with made things harder.
Mara: She was abused.
Mara: When your wards feel fear, it triggers something in you. Did you experience this often with Zelene because of her abusive living situation?
Varrick: At first, yes. But after a while, Zelene stopped being afraid. She’s never been one to play victim, so she’d just get angry. Which meant I wouldn’t find out about stuff until after the fact.
Raemann: Congratulations to you on not snapping necks while we were on Dhara, my friend. The amount of restraint it must have taken…
Mara: I agree. Tell me about what it was like living your lives outside of your usual roles as Cynewards?
Liam: (chuckles) Raemann took full advantage of the freedoms Dhara offered us.
Raemann: Like you didn’t, Mr. History Professor.
Liam: I’m fascinated by history. Sue me. You must have owned every business known to man.
Raemann: I invested the startup capital the treiors provided us wisely. I ran a restaurant, opened a skating rink, managed a gas station, and owned my own bookstore.
Varrick: And went on plenty of dates.
Mara: Speaking of…I have one final question, coming from two ladies who have already read the book. Varrick, both Kathi and Jenny would like to know what you are doing for dinner?
Varrick: Eating. Alone. Like I always do and will.
Mara: I can hear the disappointed sighs of women everywhere.
Mara Valderran has been coming up with stories almost since she could talk, often commandeering her brother’s G.I. Joes to play out her fictional tales alongside her Barbies. Once she hit adolescence and realized playing with dolls wasn’t cool anymore, she started putting her ideas to paper. And she hasn’t stopped since.
Mara has worn many different artistic hats throughout her life. She has dabbled in screenwriting, plucked guitars and basses, toyed with singing, retired from acting, and drawn some pretty mean stick figures in her time. However, writing books seems to fit her best as she finds nothing more fulfilling than creating worlds and characters she can lose herself in.
Mara is more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She lives in the south with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or spending time at her favorite local coffee shop.