Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Tour: Aerenden Series by Kristen Taber Interview & Giveaway

Book One: The Child Returns

Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.

After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.

Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.

But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom's fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.

Book Two: The Gildonae Alliance

Several months after Meaghan’s return to Ærenden, the kingdom’s war has taken a turn for the worse. The Mardróch army hunts the new King and Queen, destroying villages in its wake. And Meaghan and Nick, training for battle in their remote section of wilderness, are far from safe. Danger hides in shadows and behind innocent faces. Allies become foes. Each day is a fight to survive. But in the end, only one threat matters. And it’s a threat they never see coming.

Book Three: The Zeiihbu Master

Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.

While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen's young son, before Garon can use the boy's power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.

Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan's greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.

1. Where did you get the idea for the novel?

The Ærenden series has been brewing for a little over twenty years now. It started as a joke with a friend in High School that stemmed from an assignment in one of our classes. We created fictional backgrounds and pretended to be twins from a distant planet. She was a Queen and I was a Sorceress. A young man at our school, a janitor, would clue us in on our identities when the time came for us to go home.

After I moved from Maine to Florida, leaving my high school and friend behind, I forgot about our inside joke. It did not forget about me. I began dreaming about it around seven years ago, and it slowly morphed into what it is today: a young woman who learns she’s from another world soon after her parents are murdered by monsters. Her closest friend, a renter in her parents’ garage apartment, played the role my friend and I had slated for the janitor. Other components of the stories came together over the years until I finally settled on a story I really wanted to write and Ærenden was born.

2. Your title. Who came up with it? Did you ever change your title?

The title is mine, though it definitely didn’t start out where it ended. Initially, I had called the book Ærenden, but I changed it when one of my rejection letters stated the title would be too hard to sell, since no one would be able to type out the first letter. After that, I called it The Aurean Prophecy, in reference to a prophecy that weaves throughout the series, but soon rejected that because the prophecy isn’t mentioned until the second book. Finally, I settled on The Child Returns, since the book is about Meaghan’s return to Ærenden (she left at age two). This title also borrows from the prophecy, utilizing the word “child” from the first verse. Each subsequent book title borrows a word from their correlating verses in the prophecy—“gildonae” for the second book, “master” for the third, and the last two will remain a surprise for now.

3. Why did you pick this genre? What do you like about it?

I picked it for the same reason I love reading it and writing it: I get to create brand new things. I write Earth-based books, too, and enjoy them, but they aren’t as much fun as cobbling together new creatures that can either cuddle up to you and protect you or bite your head off while you sleep. Likewise, new foods and cultures, drinks and customs, all of it is my complete invention, so my creativity can go wild. It’s also fun doing the research to name my creations, and as odd as it sounds, I learn a lot that way. Latin, in particular is a great language to research while attempting to name horses with powers or foods that can kill. 

4. Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to ever happen to you?

On April 5, I sat on an author panel and held a signing at the University of Central Florida’s Book Festival in Orlando. Exciting doesn’t begin to cover my emotions for this event. It really is amazing to meet fans face-to-face, talk about my love of words and characters and enjoy the energy of people who cherish books as much as I do. I was thrilled, touched, amazed, and completely humbled by the invitation, to say the least.   

5. What book are you currently reading or what was the last book you read?

I know people have been buzzing about The Book Thief by Markus Zusak for a while, but I’m a little late to the game. I just finished reading it recently and I completely understand why people are raving. Zusak’s premise is unique and thought provoking. His ability to switch perspectives, a tactic usually frowned upon, was perfectly executed, and his poetic writing was breathtaking. The book is probably one of the best I’ve read in years, so much so that my Goodreads review still shows as pending. I’m just not sure how to put into words how much I loved it and how much it still touches me when I think about it. I’m looking forward to seeing how the movie stands up to the prose.

6. What is your writing process?

In a perfect world, I find a coffee shop and spend about twelve hours writing Saturday and eight Sunday (after yoga). Then I work during the week and write at night. I tend to follow my characters into the story, letting them dictate where it goes, but ensuring key plot points are met. Then, as I get close to the end of the book, I do a chapter-by-chapter outline for the last few chapters to ensure I close them out properly. After the first draft is done, I set it down for about a month or so, then come back to it and reread it before slicing and dicing. When I get it to the point where I’m happy with it, I send it to my editor for a quick once-over, then edit the book again and send it to my beta readers. I make changes based on the beta round, and then send it back to my editor for a deep dive edit round. Finally I do one last editing round using a text-to-speech program. I tend to catch errors and awkward sentences best this way. Once that round is through, writing is done. It generally takes a year from start to finish. 

7. At a book signing, do you just sign your name or do you write a note? How do you come up with stuff to say? 

First, I ask the reader if they want it inscribed or not. Some people are collectors and a book generally is more valuable without an inscription (unless the inscription has value in itself—like to someone famous or to someone who influenced the story, for instance) so I let them choose. If they want an inscription, I tend to stick with something basic, like “thanks for reading!” though I get bored with writing the same thing, so I change it up a bit. I always date the signature, though, inscribed or not.

8. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

I can’t stand the expression “you’ve got”. I know it’s popular. I know everyone uses it, including huge advertising firms. I know it’s mainstream. But it’s redundant and hearing it is as bad as listening to fingernails on a chalkboard. And seeing it on signs? I cringe. Yet I still catch myself using it every now and again. Such a hypocrite. I know.

9. How do you react to a bad review?

I’ll admit, bad reviews sting, but there’s often value in them. After the initial disappointment is over, I carefully read the review to see if there’s something in it I can apply right away (fix typos, etc.), then I send it to a few close friends and my editor to see if we can utilize the advice for future books. Sometimes we can and I appreciate that, but sometimes reviews are just honest opinions of a book, where the book didn’t appeal to the reader for reasons I can’t control. As much as I’d love to write a book that’s a universal favorite, it’s not possible. Even with my beta readers—people who I know are solid fans of my work and genre—I get opposing views all the time (I hated that scene/that’s the best scene ever) and it’s my responsibility to figure out which of those views most accurately represents my core audience.  It’s the same with reviews, and I take the responsibility seriously. If a person takes the time to write a review for any reason, there’s value in what they have to say. Time, after all, is the ultimate gift.

10. How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?

I actually haven’t yet. I bought a really nice bottle of wine when I decided to publish and set it aside. The publishing process took a year and by the time I’d sold my first book, I was pregnant so the wine stayed in the cellar. It’s been so crazy since then—learning how to be a mom, changing jobs, and releasing two more books—that I completely forgot about the wine. Until now. I really need to correct that oversight!

Standing on the field, this close to the action, the reality of the situation struck her. Not fifteen feet away, she watched a young woman about her age fall from a knife wound to the neck. The middle-aged man who had murdered her raised crazed eyes in Meaghan’s direction before taking an electric orb from Artair. The burn mark the orb left behind seared through clothing and flesh, leaving an unmistakable stench she would always associate with death. The man toppled over his victim. 

Behind the piled bodies, another person fell. This man, his wrists free of ribbons, became a symbol of victory for her allies. But he looked no different to Meaghan. She did not see an enemy. She only saw the lifeless form of a human being, the soulless eyes of someone’s father or son. And in that man’s vacant stare, she understood the truth Nick had been trying to tell her. To survive the battle, she would have to take a life. She had trouble killing the fake Mardróch in her field test and he had been a grotesque creature with no hint of humanity left within him. How could she kill someone who looked like he could be her neighbor? How could she stare into the eyes of someone with a recognizable soul and dim that light? 

The thought drew bile up the back of her throat. She could not kill. And if that was her answer, she would not survive.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Kristen spent her childhood at the feet of an Irish storytelling grandfather, learning to blend fact with fiction and imagination with reality. She lived within the realm of the tales that captivated her, breathing life into characters and crafting stories even before she could read. Those stories have since turned into over a hundred poems, several short tales, and five manuscripts in both the Young Adult and Adult genres. Currently, Kristen is completing the five-part Ærenden series from her home office in the suburbs of Washington D.C.



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Buy Links for Book 1



Buy Links for Book 2



Kristen will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour as Grand Prize and an audiobook will be issued to 10 runnerup commenters.
The more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. I enjoyed the interview, thank you.


  2. What a fascinating interview and I really love the concept of this story.

  3. This book sounds good! I cannot wait to read it!

    1. Thanks, Kimberly! I can't wait to hear what you think :).

  4. You've got (see what I did there?) to tell me how to do reviews, I'm so clueless on the computer that it isn't even funny. Silliness aside, this was awesome to read, another great interview. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Thanks :). It means a lot to me that you're following the tour :)