of Goldstone Wood has piqued the interest and engaged thousands of fans around
the world. I had a chance to ask Anne Elisaebeth Stengl about her vast series
and the latest installment. I especially enjoy world building and losing myself
in an author’s immense world, Tales of Goldstone certainly delivers on that!
Anne thanks for being here with us. How did you come up with the idea for the
Tales of Goldstone Wood series?
You know, I honestly don’t remember. I have been working on ideas for this
series since I was a kid, penning out short stories and notes in various spiral
notebooks. Some of those original short stories have matured and turned into
the novels (Starflower and Dragonwitch, for example). Some of the
characters and poems and legends have carried over as well. But I’ve been
writing Goldstone Wood for so long (and intend to keep on writing it for so
much longer!), that pinpointing an original inspiration would be impossible.
a moment and tell us about the main characters in Shadow Hand?
Anne Elisabeth: Shadow
Hand features Prince Foxbrush, who has recently been named heir to the
throne of Southlands … an honor he always rather thought he deserved over his
cousin, Lionheart, but never really expected to get. And he’s discovering (as
my characters often discover along the way), that getting his dream-come-true
is really not all it’s cracked up to be. But he’s betrothed to the girl he’s
loved since childhood, the beautiful Lady Daylily, who opens the book by running
away on the morning of their wedding, determined never to be seen again. She is
a deeply repressed young woman with a mind teetering on the verge of madness.
In her bid to escape, she lands herself in far more danger than ever. Worst of
all, she becomesmore dangerous than ever.
In three sentences what is Shadow Hand about?
Elisabeth: When Lady Daylily runs away on the morning of their wedding, Prince
Foxbrush sets out to find her, plunging into the dangerous Wood Between, where
Faeries live and mortals die. In his mad pursuit, Foxbrush finds himself
stepping into legends out of his own country’s past, and he himself standing in
the legendary hero’s role, which means Lady Daylily herself has become his
enemy. He must fulfill the strange, dark bidding of an ancient poem if he is to
have any hope of saving both Daylily and his kingdom.
How many books are planned for this series?
I don’t have a set number in mind. This is a series about a world, not about a
specific cast of characters. And it is a large, varied world with so many
possibilities, I could keep on writing in it for years to come. I currently
have 15 full-length novels in mind, not to mention numerous shorter works (such
as my recently released novella, Goddess Tithe) and several spin-off
series ideas. Each book is written to be as stand-alone as possible, but the
series itself is far too complex to package up in a set number of volumes … at
least at the current time. I could easily see this turning into my own small
version of Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, which has 40-some novels,
plus multiple shorter works and companion stories!
You really could lose yourself in this series. One thing that seems to happen
too often, is we as readers get attached to our characters or their world and
then lose them in a just a few books. That’s always hard to say goodbye, when
there really is more to the world we’ve been reading about. Do you outline, or
do you write as you go and let the characters take control of the story?
There’s no outline for the entire series. But there are individual series
threads that cover multiple volumes within the series, and these are all
carefully outlined ahead of time. I also take the time to carefully outline
each novel before I write it, checking the storylines and timelines against the
other novels to make certain things are lining up properly.
You mentioned 15 books planned, and potentially many more to come. Are you
working on the next book? And if so can you give us a hint at the next book?
I’m actually a couple books down the road already from Shadow Hand. Book
7, Golden Daughter, is scheduled to release in November. Here is the
write-up for that story:
BEYOND THE REALM OF DREAMS
IS A WORLD SHE NEVER IMAGINED
Masayi Sairu was raised to be dainty,
delicate, demure . . . and deadly. She is one of the emperor’s Golden
Daughters, as much a legend as she is a commodity. One day, Sairu will be
contracted in marriage to a patron, whom she will secretly guard for the rest
of her life.
But when she learns that a sacred Dream
Walker of the temple seeks the protection of a Golden Daughter, Sairu forgoes
marriage in favor of this role. Her skills are stretched to the limit, for assassins
hunt in the shadows, and phantoms haunt in dreams. With only a mysterious
Faerie cat and a handsome slave—possessed of his own strange abilities—to help
her, can Sairu shield her new mistress from evils she can neither see nor
For the Dragon is building an army of
fire. And soon the heavens will burn.
COMING AUTUMN 2014
details about that book can be found at:
It should be
available for pre-order soon!
written a new short work titled Draven’s Light, which should release
next spring, and I’m in the process of putting together book 8, which doesn’t
have an official title yet, but which should release next autumn.
so many books releasing and so many in the works, are you a full time writer?
Yes, when I’m not also a marketer, designer, blogger, networker, etc. But I
would consider myself a fulltime novelist, even if that doesn’t always mean
How long does it usually take you to write a single book in the series?
Anywhere from two to six months, I think. At least for the rough draft. I try
to draft as quickly as possible and allow myself time for polish and revision.
I have written full-length novels in two months before (and Goddess Tithe
was drafted in under two weeks!). I believe the longest I’ve taken over a novel
is six months, though. I rather expect book eight will take me longer since
it’s the most complicated plot I’ve tackled yet.
What’s your view on e-books and the new publishing revolution? Any e-book only
plans in your future?
I am a big fan of e-books! I still read primarily paperback, but that’s more
force of habit than anything. I got my first e-reader last year and am slowly
building up a nice little e-book library. And I absolutely intend for all my
books to be available in paperback and e-book! Goddess Tithe was
primarily an e-book experiment, but my fans wanted a paperback version too, and
it sells pretty well in both.
But yes, e-books
are awesome. What a wonderful way to get work out to so many more readers! My
international audience would never be what it is today without the blessing of
Something must have inspired you or intrigued you to become a writer. What was
your favorite book as a teen or child?
As a child, my favorite book was Felix Salten’s Bambi … which is not to
be confused with the Disney movie! A dark, beautifully written tale, and not
really as appropriate for children as I remembered (this I discovered upon a
recent re-reading). But I was fascinated with that book as a child, and I read
it more times than I can recall!
As a teen, Robin
McKinley’s Beauty was definitely high up on the list. I didn’t discover
Megan Whalen Turner’s Queen’s Thief series until my late teens, but I’m going slip
that onto the list too.
What were some of the challenges for you writing your book?
Beginnings are always tough for me, and Shadow Hand was particularly
difficult to begin. It picks up where both Book 3 and Book 5 of my
series leave off, but those two books are set in completely different periods
of history, separated by approximately 1500 years. So finding the right place
to start—a place that will work at least decently well for new readers
as well as for established fans of the series—was definitely a challenge. I
think I’d written more than half the book before the right beginning finally
came to me.
But I shouldn’t
complain. Beginnings are almost always the hardest part of drafting for me.
Once I get into the meat of the story, everything tends to smooth out, at least
from the creative point-of-view.
Brock: What do you want readers to take away from Shadow Hand?
This book, like all of my books, is a story of undeserved grace. My characters
are flawed people—their internal struggles are as great, sometimes greater,
than the external struggles they face. They never discover innate brilliance or
magical powers that suddenly enable them to conquer all odds. What they
discover is grace. What they discover is the triumph of brokenness. And this is
what I hope my readers will take away: We don’t need to be epic heroes. God
chooses the humble things of this world to shame the proud.
Wow I love how you put that. It’s clear that your stories bring forth your
Christian beliefs. In what ways does your faith impact how you approach
I never go into any of my stories with a set message or moral in mind. I never
intend to write allegorical themes. But I treat my work as the truest form of
worship in my life. As a form of worship, the storytelling keeps me open to
God’s leading, keeps drawing me back to my knees in prayer. It never ceases to
amaze me how God will speak to me through the stories I create, and then speak
beyond me to the readers for whom I write.
Now for a few fun tidbits. Favorite place to vacation and why?
I do love to go back up to Minocqua, Wisconsin (in the summertime), to see my
family. They live in a beautiful log house on a lake, so I get family time and
resort-vacation time all rolled into one!
But the number
one place I want to vacation is Sri Lanka, my husband’s home country.
Really looking forward to going back there with him one day!
Do you have a particular drink or food you consume when you write?
Ceylon Tea. Strong, black Ceylon tea with a little cream and a little sugar,
proper British fashion. This is the beverage of choice, and has been for many
years now. (I don’t go in for those fruity or green teas, no, sir! It’s good
black Ceylon tea from the mountain plantations of Sri Lanka for this cookie!)
As for food, I
tend to go on “food kicks” during which I only want one snack food for
weeks, get sick of it for years, and move on to the next one. Currently, I like
pickles (which, no, don’t go well with the tea). A few months ago it was
samosas. A few months before that it was fresh avocado on crackers. A few
months before that it was peanut-butter-and-honey sandwiches. You get the idea.
But the tea is a constant!
thanks so much, you certainly made me chuckle as well as provided great insight
into the world of your writing and stories. I know I’m looking forward to your