GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ Interview: YA fantasy author Christina Davis + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Friday, December 4, 2020

Interview: YA fantasy author Christina Davis + giveaway

What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
Patrick Rothfuss, Marissa Meyer, Sarah J. Maas, Jennifer Robberson, Anne Bishop, Terry Goodkind, Lilith Saintcrow, Tamora Pierce, Cate Tiernan, Kristen Britain

What book do you think everyone should read?
The Sun Does Shine. I know, I just named 10 fantasy authors who are my absolute favorites, but The Sun Does Shine, a non-fiction book about one man’s wrongful imprisonment, will open your eyes to some of the injustices in the South, specifically against poor black men. I cried for this guy, his mom, and everything they went through just because he was poor and black. He had to fight for decades for the right to freedom.

How long have you been writing?
I started writing my first chapter book when I was 12, sooo let’s just say “many years.” I still have that first story in an old spiral-bound notebook. I never finished it, but I like to think it had potential. I believe it was heavily influenced by “Casper the Friendly Ghost,” “Jumanji,” and “The Mighty Ducks.” It was about an orphan who could see ghosts, liked to play hockey, and was going to live with her aunt in a haunted hotel following the deaths of her parents.

Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Some characters I will have in mind before I begin writing, and others will surprise me. Usually, I’ll have a vague idea of who I want them to be, but then I flesh them out more as I go, or do short writing exercises to learn more about them.

What do you think about the current publishing market?
It’s fantastic. As I said earlier, there were not enough books for me to read growing up. I yearned for more great fantasy stories, and there just weren’t any. Now, with self-publishing as an avenue for so many authors who have great stories to tell, the market is saturated -- and you might think that’s a bad thing, but it’s not. Because the other side to it is that technology provides savvy consumers with what we need to determine if we’re going to like a book. There are reviews, Goodreads, and blogs… Really, you can have a pretty good idea of whether or not you’re going to like a book before you start reading it. Except you cannot always rely on ranking in library apps. I recently learn the stars in Libby are based on checkouts, not whether readers actually like the book. Haha. I think we just unveiled a personal pet peeve.

Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I like to write in silence, because then I’m not distracted, but once I get going, it’s hard to stop me. Some background noise is OK -- I do write a lot in coffee shops -- but the exception is if the background noise is a video game, because that looped music messes with my creativity. My poor husband found this out the hard way.

Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
I tend to write one book at a time. For this trilogy, I hopped around a bit, because when I got to the second or third books, I realized I needed things to happen differently earlier on.

What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I have always loved reading and storytelling. I absolutely know being an author was the right choice for me. I just wish I had decided to embrace it so fully earlier, and that I hadn’t held myself back for so many years. I got trapped in this cycle of trying to achieve perfection, but I’ve finally realized that perfection is unattainable by definition, and that every moment is the moment to seize.

I almost died in childbirth last year. It was a really traumatic experience, and I legitimately thought I was going to die. At the time, I remember being overtaken by a bright white light in the operating room and thinking, “well, at least I got my baby here safely.” But then, guess what? I was still alive, and I started contemplating what I want to do before I die -- and then the pandemic hit. I have to tell you, if you’ve been thinking about doing something for a long time, make it happen now. Stop waiting, stop putting it off. If there is no tomorrow, make sure you don’t regret it!

What is your writing process? For instance, do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
It usually starts with a moment or two of inspiration, and I’ll jot down notes about a main character and who she is. I’ll write a few scenes that make for interesting back story and start to think about what kind of a plot I might explore. From there, I try to develop three main points for the story - where my character is in the beginning, where she is in the middle, and where she is in the end. Then, I write, re-write, self-edit, have an alpha reader, go through beta readers, have my husband do a consistency check, send the book off to an editor, make those changes, and then have Word read me my book aloud. Done. Easy. [Haha!]

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
This is an excellent question. I’d love to say I’m original, but I am heavily influenced by what books I read and what I watch on TV. I’ll write a scene and then laugh because it’s so familiar. Art inspires art, if you will. I’m not one of those people who’s looking at tropes and saying, I need to hit 1, 2, and 3 in this book, but I’ve read and watched enough media that it’s just natural to lean into some tropes -- even the ones I am not a huge fan of myself sometimes, oddly enough!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex? 
One thing about guys that I’m frequently surprised about is that they are always thinking about sex. I guess it’s kind of programmed into them at an evolutionary level. That said, I write in close-third, so I don’t write from the perspective of the opposite sex very often. When I do, I find it helps to do writing exercises to flesh out my supporting cast -- it’s extremely helpful when trying to imagine how they will react in a situation and pinpointing what drives them.

How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Far too long! Haha. Just kidding. I do not know how people are pumping out two books a week right now (hyperbole), and with social media, it can be far too easy to judge myself against others. This trilogy took me 12 years to write (I was working full time, and wasn’t able to write for a couple years because of tendonitis), so I guess I’m averaging 4 years per book, but I still need to work out the kinks in Book 2 and 3, so let’s round up to 5 years.

Born At Dawn (Da'Valia Trilogy Book 1) 

by Christina Davis
November 15, 2020
301 pages
Genre: YA Fantasy Adventure
When a heist goes terribly wrong and the binding spell holding 17-year-old Neva’s powers at bay is shattered, the half-human thief knows she’s in trouble.

Neva has always hidden her Da’Valian heritage while working risky jobs to make a name for herself and serving at her family’s tavern, but she won’t be able to hide much longer. She can either risk the safety of those she cares about or seek out her mother’s people to gain control over her emerging powers.

The Da’Valia are beautiful, brutal creatures created by the god of war, and the austere Da’Valian soldier Astiand reluctantly agrees to take Neva to his clan under his protection. She makes unexpected friends, including the handsome fighter Emiliand, and a new enemy in the clan’s ruthless leader.

Spying on her guardian, the sly heroine quickly discovers just how deep she has stumbled into a dangerous, developing clan feud.

Will she be able to embrace who she is in time to keep her loved ones safe?

⚠ This book is about a race of warriors and contains violent scenes, which may not be suitable for all audiences.

Here's what early readers of BORN AT DAWN had to say...

• "It's so good!!! I'm slightly obsessed ♥ ...I need more Astiand and Neva moments" ★★★★★

• "I always wanted to read more and struggled to put the book down" ★★★★★

• "I adored the book. It's unique, and the characters are incredible." ★★★★★

• "The pacing of the plot was one of the things that impressed me when reading this book: from the high-tension beginning, to the way world-building details were strung seamlessly ... every chapter left me eager to read more without making me feel as if I was being constantly strung along by cliffhangers." ★★★★

Neva froze when the sound of footsteps approached the door, disturbing the steady hum of the howling wind. The tower quarters had been cold and empty when she climbed through the frosted window, and Flynn had assured her the duke would be engaged in festivities downstairs well into the night.

She held her breath, remaining crouched over the warded chest in the dark as she waited for the servant to continue past. The whisper of a lock pick and wrench scraping against the keyhole reached her, and her stomach dropped. After a moment, the door inched open, then closed with a barely perceivable click.

Neva silently backed against the study’s stone wall. If the intruder lit a candle, she would be found out, so she murmured an incantation under her breath to call her favorite glamour to life. The telltale sting of invisibility washed over her as a man in black britches and a matching tunic strode into the study.

The invisibility glamour was worth the gold she had paid, and the pain of having it stitched into her skin inch by inch, but it bit like poison ivy. She resisted scratching as the sensation faded.

A woven rug muffled the man’s footfalls, and he squinted as he inspected his surroundings by moonlight, hesitating briefly when he passed the space where she stood, before continuing into the room. Her nose wrinkled. He smelled of spoiled milk.

Neva’s enhanced sight allowed her to see the intense concentration on his clean-shaven face. His short blond hair was almost as light as her own, his hazel eyes were probing, and his nose was bent.

Neva stayed quiet as he moved around the desk and to the back of the room. There, he knelt in front of the warded chest.

Her teeth clenched and her hand inched toward the dagger strapped to her ankle.

A job like this rarely came along, and she was counting on it to make a name for herself. Not to mention that Flynn Abernathy, the most feared crime lord in Glacier Pass, had commissioned her.

Anyone else after the same item was going against the Thieves’ Code.

Neva could ambush the man. She didn’t have the full power of a majila, a female Da’Valia, but she could do more than merely see in the dark.

Da’Valia were fast, strong, brutal creatures. Eliminating this man from the realm of the living likely wouldn’t cause them to hesitate, yet Neva did. Some said thieves were without honor, but she knew otherwise. Her father raised her to follow the Code.

“You don’t want to do that,” she said, dropping her glamour and stepping away from the wall.

The man spun around as if startled but was nimble as he stepped away from the hidden prize and tossed an illuminator from his pocket.

The ball of magic exploded in a burst of yellow light before hovering near the ceiling in the center of the study. The temperature dropped to near-freezing, and Neva’s breath traveled away from her in a fog.

Illuminators temporarily revealed that which lay beneath both spells and darkness. Neva didn’t know if the man had stolen this one, or paid for it with someone else’s silver or blood.

Then, the taste of copper settled on her tongue. He had paid with blood.

He frowned and stood protectively in front of the chest as he looked her over. Neva was dressed differently than when she delivered firewood about the city during daylight hours. She had replaced her heavy fur jacket and traditional skirts with a costume of another kind. The black of her boots matched her fitted bodysuit, and a charcoal wrap covered her light blonde hair.

“Good evening, dove,” he drawled, recovering smoothly. “Just who might you be?”

She noted with some relief this man’s accent was foreign.

“Maybe that’s what I should ask you,” Neva replied. Anyone who had purchased an illuminator with blood was a serious threat.

“Allow me to introduce myself.” He lowered into a slight bow, keeping his eyes on her all the while. “My name is Thatcher Sullivan. You may have heard of me.”

“You’re not supposed to be here,” Neva said, her voice bitter and flat. His gallantry didn’t fool her. He had made no indication he intended to stand down, and this job belonged to her.

“Ah.” He nodded. “An astute observation, but, alas, here I am.”

“You’re breaking the Code.”

A sneer flickered over his face. “I’ve been sent here by people who operate outside your Code.”

A thought sparked in Neva’s mind. His name was Sullivan, and his accent indicated he was from the west. Oh, she knew who he was all right. The Chameleon. Although she had never heard of him working this far north, he was notorious for taking contracts without local approval across Cirandrel.

It didn’t matter who hired him. Someone went through the wrong channels. The thieving community could forgive that. But if Flynn discovered Thatcher was working in Glacier Pass, the crime lord would have the thief’s head.

“I’ll make you an offer,” Neva said slowly. She wanted to keep the situation from escalating, if possible. “But only this once, so listen well. If you leave now, I won’t tell Flynn. If you make me fight for this, you will regret it.”

“So sorry, dove. I’ve promised some important people a certain item by the end of the night.”

“Now, listen here —”

Neva made it two steps closer to the man before he flung another spell in her direction. This one knocked her off her feet, slamming her into the wall and then the hard floor. Against a human, the spell would have rendered its victim unconscious. Against a half-Da’Valia, it failed.

But Thatcher wasn’t waiting to see if the magic worked. He was counting on it. By the time she regained her footing, he had used the lock pick and wrench from his pocket to open the chest.

He didn’t notice her because he was so intent, but Neva was shaking with anger. She didn’t think. She rushed him. Silent, fluid, nearly a blur.

She slammed into him, and he flew into the opposite wall with a hard thud. Thatcher’s body was still, his right arm at an awkward angle. The illuminator blinked out, sending the room back to darkness.

The noise from their scuffle made Neva cringe. She prayed the Guard hadn’t heard. Perhaps she should have dealt with Thatcher another way, but there wasn’t time to second-guess herself now.

About the Author

Christina Davis was raised in the Santa Cruz Mountains, and she spent much of her childhood in and out of hospitals, embracing reading as an escape. After being home-schooled through high school, she graduated summa cum laude from San Jose State University and attended NYU's Summer Publishing Institute before embarking on a decade-long career in journalism. She enjoys chocolate, cosplay, coffee, and board games, but not necessarily in that order. She now lives in beautiful Monterey County with her husband and daughter.

$20 Amazon 
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  1. I love the except. I want to know what happens. Do they become a team? Thanks.