About the Author
She currently resides in New York’s Hudson Valley with her husband and two sons. Her days are spent torturing characters, drinking too much coffee, and daydreaming about the zombie apocalypse. Magic-Scars, the second book in The Crown of Stones trilogy was released earlier this year.
You can find me on my website http://www.clschneiderauthor.com/
About the Book
Ian Troy is one of the Shinree, a fallen people with an inherent addiction to magic. Scorned and reviled for the deadly side of their spells, the Shinree are bred as slaves. Their magic is suppressed by drugs and used only as it serves the purposes of the other races.
Descended from a long line of soldiers, Ian is conscripted into the Rellan army and made to fight in their longstanding conflict against the ruthless Langorian invaders. The downfall of Rella imminent, Ian goes against orders and turns to the Crown of Stones, an ancient Shinree relic of untold power. Ignorant of its true purpose, Ian uses the crown to end the war, and pays a terrible price.
A decade later, still tortured by the aftermath of that day, Ian lives as a bounty hunter in self-imposed exile. Having renounced his magical heritage, he curbs his obsession with a steady stream of wine and regret. He struggles to put it all behind him, until a fateful encounter with a pretty assassin brings Ian’s past crashing into the present. Targeted by a rogue Shinree, and a ruthless old enemy, Ian is forced to use magic again. His deadly addiction is rekindled and his life of isolation is brought to a swift end.
With the land he gave up everything to protect once more in jeopardy, and his people’s future at stake, Ian becomes embroiled in a violent race for control of the Crown of Stones. To save the realms and those he cares for, Ian must embrace the thing he fears most: his own power.
Magic-Price is the first installment in The Crown of Stones trilogy.
If I had to pick a favorite, I’d say it’s in trying to make the fantasy a reality to my readers. There’s so much to play with in writing fantasy. There’s no limit but what you can imagine, and some of us have some pretty crazy imaginations. But not all of that crazy can be translated into something believable, or even something that will captivate attention. The fun is in making them see it and feel it. Dragging a reader into my fantasy, giving them a world they can exist in for a little while, one that (hopefully) is engaging and real enough to keep calling them back. That’s my favorite part.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
The hardest thing about writing is time. There is never enough. When you have words in you that are dying to get out and you can’t, it’s like the torture of a never ending itch you can’t scratch. I have a running joke with fellow author (and fellow wannabe hermit) Marnie Cate, where we fantasize of having side by side treehouses in the middle of some vast forest where we could write without interruption.
Everyone says: you have to make the time. And I believe most of us do. But it’s not always that simple.
What can we expect from you in the future?
My next release will be Magic-Borne, the 3rd book in The Crown of Stones trilogy. This will end the story of Ian Troy and his fight for peace— within himself and in the world he lives in. I’m aiming to have it out in January. After that, I have a draft started for a story involving a half-dragon woman. I’m also in the early stages of co-writing a Viking-themed epic fantasy with another indie author. There’s an apocalyptic story I wrote many years ago that I’d love to rewrite and get out there. Down the road, I have plans to revisit Mirra’kelan (the world I created for The Crown of Stones). I’m bouncing around ideas for a prequel, or perhaps a novella centering on my current protagonist Ian, or (more likely) one that takes place years later through the eyes of someone new. I would love to do them all, but it will depend on what else I have going on.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Whenever I’m asked this question, I always answer with the advice I wish someone had given me a long time ago. First and foremost, write every day. Flex that literary muscle as often as you can. It makes a tremendous difference. Even if all you have time for is a paragraph, and you throw it out the next day, fine. Just write. You’re craft will improve.
Once you have something written, don’t keep it to yourself. Share it. I didn’t let anyone read my writing for many years. Once I did, it made a world of difference in my confidence and my ability. Be open to constructive criticism and find someone you can trust to give you honest feedback.
It’s never too early to build an online presence, but don’t focus on sales. The hard sell puts most people off. Be yourself. Connect with others like you. Many aspiring authors are in the same boat and it’s no fun sitting in it alone. Participate in author communities like #indiebooksbeseen and #awethors. There are some great groups on Goodreads, too. The support and flow of ideas can keep you going on the bad days, and you have someone to celebrate with on the good.
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Attending events where you can perform a reading or speak about your book. Find creative ways to meet potential readers. This is something that I thought was outside my comfort zone, but it’s so much fun.
Believe in yourself. Don’t undervalue what you’re doing. If you write, you’re a writer.
Make time to read-across all genres. Get a feel for how a story goes together, how other authors handle plot, scene structure, etc. It’s okay to emulate others at first. If you keep writing, your own style will emerge.
How can we contact you or find out more about your books?
To find out more about my work please visit my website C. L. Schneider, Fantasy Author where you can read excerpts, deleted scenes, and reviews. You can even get a close up look at the map that details the world of Mirra’kelan.
Most days you can find me on Twitter https://twitter.com/cl_schneider but you can also connect with me on FB https://www.facebook.com/CLS.Author Google+ https://www.google.com/+CLSchneider and Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/goodreadscomCLSchneider .
Where do you draw your inspiration from for your writing?
Occasionally, my inspiration comes from some random picture, idea, or object that stirs me, but a good deal of it comes from the characters themselves. A wealth of ideas can be sparked in the process of creating a character. Getting to know their strength and their flaws, their capabilities, tells me what their limits are. The story comes from how best to stretch those limits and how far I can push my character past them.
How much research goes into writing your books and what sources do you use?
The bulk of the research I’ve done for The Crown of Stones books would be in the creation of my magic system. When a Shinree casts magic, they do so by sensing the aura or energy of a stone, channeling it (drawing it into their bodies), bending it to their will, and casting it back out. Each stone can be used for certain types of workings. Every spell that is cast within the story world relates in some way to how those same stones are used in real life new age or crystal healing. I didn’t apply most of what I learned directly, though. I used it as a foundation and then twisted it to fit my needs. For instance, if my research showed that topaz helps to clear the mind, a Shinree soldier might use it for creating confusion in his enemy, whereas a Shinree healer might use the same stone for calming a patient’s mind after trauma. If a stone might be used for astral projection, a Shinree oracle might employ it for inducing visions.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I generally don’t start with an outline. Many times my stories begin with nothing more than a character or a very basic idea. Once I get writing, I create a loose outline. I call it my skeleton. As the character develops, the story develops around him. Once I know my characters abilities and reactions inside and out, I can better plot and plan. At that point I put the meat on the bones and craft a more detailed outline. I don’t always stick to it, though. I use it more as a guide and keep an open mind for any tweaking my characters and I might do along the way.
What is your favorite quote?
My favorite quote is by Natalie Goldberg.
“Write what you disturbs you, what you fear, what you have not been willing to speak about. Be willing to be split open.”
Someone told me recently that I write fearless. That was the biggest compliment to me, because that’s exactly what I try to do. My ultimate goal is to make my readers feel, the good as acutely as the bad. If I can strike a chord then I’ve done my job. I believe the only way that can be accomplished is if you set the fear aside. Not fear as in the typical writer’s doubt that we all face. I mean not being afraid of telling the story as it needs to be told, not being afraid to ‘go there’—wherever ‘there’ might be. And I’m not referring necessarily to violence or sex. We all have emotional limits or boundaries, things we’re not comfortable thinking or writing about. Pushing past them, getting to that place where we’re just a little bit uncomfortable. I think that’s where the good stuff is.
If you could have any magical/supernatural power, what would it be and why?
If I could have any power, it would be the ability to travel through time. Though I would love to be able to interact once I was there, it wouldn’t be necessary. Simply observing the different cultures would be amazing. There was a time, when I was young, when I thought about archeology as a career. I was fascinated with the past, particularly ancient societies. I read a lot of historical fiction during that time, but there was so much more I wanted to know. To be able to go back, to soak up the sights, the sounds, and smells, to see not only the events that changed history, but to experience a life so foreign from what we have today, without all the conveniences and demands. And don’t get me started on going forward, being able to see the evolution of things to come. I would love that.
Sneak Peek inside the book
There was always a next. The Langorians were a swarm…an inexhaustible, savage, mindless swarm. And we had no choice but to become like them to survive. To become animals, going at each other, mechanically pushing against the tide, battering whatever stood in our way with whatever we had; clubs, axes, swords, knives—our bruised, bleeding bare hands. Fighting for days, months, years, striving to hold out against an enemy that knew nothing of mercy, an enemy stronger, and far more brutal than us, we’d become something less than we were.
And we were still losing.
I grabbed the Queen’s arm and steered her out of the fray. “We can’t take much more of this.” Needing to be heard, I drew her closer. “We should pull back.”
“Pull back?” Queen Aylagar Arcana yanked herself free. She gave me a wild, defiant look. Full of passion and reckless resolve, it made her exotic features come alive. “My order stands. We press on, Troy. As always.”
I shook my head. “Our numbers are dwindling too fast. We can’t win this.”
“We can and we will.” Aylagar raised a hand. She touched my face and the sound of metal clashing and men screaming seemed to fade away. Brushing back the blood-splattered white strands that had come loose from my braid, she ran a finger down the strong line of my jaw. “Trust me, Love. The Langorians will not have Rella.”
“How can you still believe that?”
“Because I must. Because I have faith.”
“Ayla…” I stopped myself. Then I started again. “I saw the messenger arrive from Kabri. I know he carried orders from the King. You can’t keep ignoring them.”
“I can. And I will.” She dropped her hand and backed up. “My husband is a fool. I don’t care how many messengers he dispatches from his throne, he is not out here. The blood of these men bathes my skin, not his. This is my war, Troy. Mine!” she cried. “We fight. We die. We go on until we prevail—by my command. I will not surrender. That is the way of it. That is the only way.”
My throat went dry at the fire in her. The way she stood, outlined by the backdrop of chaos, flanked by the crackling flames that consumed our camp, with sweat beading on her dark skin and battle-lust glazing her stare, I wanted to pull her into my arms. I wanted to go back to this morning, on the furs of her tent, when Aylagar’s flawless, ebony skin was on me. Where status and race didn’t matter and death felt far away. Mostly, I wanted to believe her, as I had so many times, that every battle brought us closer to victory. That persistence was our greatest strength and it would carry us through.
But this was it. King Draken of Langor was throwing everything he had at us, making one final push to wipe us all out. To once and for all, lay claim to the land his forefathers had sought, and failed, to conquer. Surrendering was unacceptable; she was right in that. Yet, Aylagar had lost her way. Somewhere along the line, the outcome had stopped mattering to her as much as the fight, and my affection, my awe of her, had blinded me for far too long.
“Give me the order,” I demanded. “Let me shift the odds.”
Her dismissal was quick. “No.”
“We can’t keep going like this, sword for sword, day after day, until there’s none of us left. Let me cast hell down on these black-hearted bastards.”
“I have given you my answer. And it is no different than the last hundred times.”
I moved closer. “You know what I can do. My magic can give us an advantage the Langorians can’t match. We can stop this fucking, never-ending war, Ayla. We can stop it together, with steel and magic. If you’ll just—”
“You are Shinree,” she hissed. “Your kind are meant to do as they are told. Yet, after six years in the ranks you still push for something that I will never bend to.”
“Then you’re as big a fool as the King.”
Her hand that, only a moment ago, had caressed me, struck my face. “My husband forced your service in this army upon us both. And from day one, when you stood in my tent, a young man, eager to please, drooling with the urge to cast, I made it plain that this conflict would not be solved with magic. It’s dishonorable. I don’t trust it. I forbid it. Now, you are my best soldier. I have given you free reign in my bed, but not out here. Not in battle. Ever. Is that clear?”
Staring at her, my heart went cold. “I don’t think I can do this anymore. Fighting as half a man. Ashamed of what I am because you say it’s wrong. I’m not just a soldier.” I held up the sword in my hand. I called to the stones embedded in the leather-wrapped handle and they began to glow. Their vibrations pressed in through my skin, down into my veins, and the uncertainty washed away. “I’m a Shinree soldier.”
“Put that magic away,” she scolded. “Do you want to kill us all?”
“I can control it.”
“Can you?” Her eyes were harsh. “Can you promise that when your spell steals the strength it needs to be born, that it won’t steal from one of my men? That it won’t steal from me? Your magic is a disease, Ian. Your need for it, your addiction, clouds your judgment. It threatens us all and undermines my orders.”
“Your orders,” I roared, “contradict my duty to keep Rella safe. I’ve tried to pretend they didn’t. I’ve tried to be what you wanted. But I can’t. I’m Shinree, Ayla. I am magic. And if you don’t untie my hands, we will all die here today.”