Eilean Donan Castle by DRW Photography

Monday, September 28, 2015

MT MaGee Interview and Giveaway

I had the pleasure of interviewing this new Author. She is such a wonderful person. She has a full life, but a very supportive husband and family. (We nicknamed her hubbie Mr. Romance) Maybe she will tell you why if you visit her Facebook page.
Me: Tell us about yourself?

M.T.: I live in New England with my hubby aka Mr. Romance. I have two sons, Tyler my oldest lives in Virginia with his bride of three years, Jackie. My youngest son Charles just turned twenty, he lives at home on our small farm. He is severely disabled and aside from being a writer/farmer, I am also his full-time caregiver. So needless to say they don’t let me out much.

Me: Tell us about your new book?

M.T.: My book is entitled The Treasure of Gwenlais. It is an epic romantic medieval fantasy, the first book in a series. I use the Highlands of Scotland and the lush rolling fields of Ireland as the backdrop, paying respect to my Scottish and my husband’s Irish heritages. The heroine in the story, Princess Laurel of Gwenlais, is a strong and determined young woman, but not afraid to show vulnerability on occasion. She is the first female child born to the royal family of Gwenlais in ten generations. So a Marriage Alliance, with Prince Caleb, heir to the throne of Heathwin, is made. Prince Caleb, is the much respected leader of the Sentinels, a special group of knights, which patrol and guard both Kingdoms. He has a unique ability, which no other human has, to be able to communicate with a race of beings called Rabkins, because of an experience he had with one of them as a young boy. Many of his own people find this intimidating and frightening, because his Kingdom of Heathwin has been at war with the Rabkins, since his grandfather’s reign. He is finally able to make a truce with them, but that truce is shattered by influences from an outside source with their own agenda. Caleb and Laurel have always cared for each other, but find themselves needing and loving each other more intensely, because of a tragic event that affects both of their Kingdoms. This makes their love story a central part of the book. The two Kingdoms have had an uneasy alliance for many years, Gwenlais provides food for Heathwin, Heathwin provides protection. Old prejudices and misconceptions have existed between the two Kingdoms, so not everyone is pleased with this new marriage arrangement. So Caleb and Laurel face many obstacles to their new found love for each other from their own people, and from an unknown enemy determined to destroy both Kingdoms. This causes their world to be more dangerous than they have ever known. It is not all filled with despair however, as there is plenty of humor, action and adventure, and of course romance. I have always felt you cannot have an epic fantasy without an epic romance. I have also added new creatures and races of beings that are not in your typical fantasy.

Me: When you write, does your real life spill over into your book at any time?

M.T.: Absolutely! I really love strong heroines, not necessarily those that are warriors or fighters, but with strong character, who can continue on no matter what the adversity, as Laurel does. My husband and I have had to deal with quite a bit of adversity with our youngest son’s health issues. It has not been easy, at times maddening and ridiculously frustrating, but through it all we have done what needed to be done and became closer and even more in love. I wanted to express this through Laurel and Caleb’s love story. They do not always agree, sometimes very passionately disagree with each other, but in the end they always resolve their conflicts with their intense love for each other, and also with a healthy sense of humor. There is nothing sexier than a man who takes care of you emotionally, who is fiercely protective, can make you laugh, and make you feel loved and cherished. I make Caleb that man that comes directly from my husband Francis Magee. Richard Armitage, as his portrayal of Guy of Gisborne, was my physical description of Caleb. But my husband is the heart and soul of Caleb. You will all discover why I fell in love with him when you read my book.

Me: Do you think about a book of yours, being made into a movie, or not when writing?

M.T.: All the time!! LOL!! There are certain scenes that my husband and I will say, wouldn’t this look great in a movie? Here is one that blew my hubby away, it comes from the chapter entitled The Scimitar. On the cover of my book you’ll notice a large cat. It was inspired from the American Scimitar Cat, which lived the same time as the saber tooth and wooly mammoth. I call them Scimitar cats in the book or Hunters. They are used by the Kingdom of Heathwin for defense. The one in this chapter however is used in the assassination attempt of Laurel, while she is visiting Heathwin and her betrothal to Caleb is officially announced.

Laurel looked over and saw that there were several children standing in the path in front of her, crying and holding on to each other, as their parents tried to reassure them that everything would be alright, pleading with them not to move or run. Laurel stepped backwards a bit more which caused the Scimitar to move slowly forward its body twitching with anticipation as it could now be fully seen by all. 

"Laurel! Laurel I am begging you, please stop moving," Caleb called out to her, his voice choked with emotion, as he guessed what she was about to do.

"Laurel, please," Imagin whispered, her eyes filled with tears.

Laurel looked over at her and then at Caleb, her own eyes wide and fearful but determined. She looked over at the screaming children, still clinging to each other, crying out to their parents, their arms outstretched, the parents now as hysterical as their children. Laurel then looked over again at Caleb with sad eyes and shook her head, as she continued to back away slowly, the Scimitar cat inching forward towards her.

"No, please dearest," Caleb said, in a choked voice.

With tears running down her face, Laurel gave him a sad smile, then suddenly and without warning, she turned and ran into the forest in front of her, as the Scimitar sprang forward. 

"No!" Caleb shouted, as he and Aiden ran forward as well.

Gawain stepped directly in the path of the Scimitar, but to no avail, as the large cat simply tossed him aside with its massive paw, cutting into Gawain’s side. Gawain was only able to graze the Scimitar with his sword.

Aaron ran to the horses to retrieve he and Aiden’s crossbows, as Caleb and Aiden continued their pursuit of Laurel and the Scimitar.

Aaron, grabbing Aiden’s crossbow, and then leaping upon his own horse galloped in pursuit of the two brothers. Laurel was able to gain only a small lead from Gawain’s efforts, as she continued to run forward frantically, her blood running cold as she heard the Scimitar’s growls as it pursued her. She did not turn to see it catch up to her, afraid it would stop her from running. She could also hear the frantic cries of Caleb and Aiden, yelling at her to not stop. Aaron caught up to them, yelling he had the crossbows. Aiden stopped just long enough to grab his bow and continued running. Aaron continued on horseback firing a shot at the Scimitar, finding his mark, the large cat screaming in anger, but not stopping its pursuit. To Caleb’s horror he saw the Scimitar leap forward and knock Laurel to the ground, as it landed on her back, grabbing the back of her cape. Laurel could feel the tips of the Scimitar's claws beginning to pierce through her clothing into her shoulders. Then it let out a scream and released its grasp. Laurel did not think, only reacted as she tore the clasp from her cape and stood up and continued to run forward. Her mind only thinking of escaping, having no idea where she was going, not feeling the pain of the cuts and bruises the animal had inflicted upon her. The Scimitar screamed in pain and rage as Aiden and Aaron’s arrows found their mark once again, hitting the enormous cat in the side. The Scimitar then noticed its quarry escaping and continued its frenzied pursuit, slowed noticeably by its injuries. Laurel continued running as fast as she could through the forest, noticing the trees thinning out in front of her. As she continued to run, she began to feel breathless and exhausted but she could not stop running every nerve in her body screaming at her not to stop. As Laurel reached what appeared to be a break in the trees, she cried out, as she frantically grabbed a low branch that prevented her from falling off the cliff into the deep heavily flowing river below. Her chest was heaving as she tried to catch her breath, her eyes wide with terror as she looked at the black swirling waters below her. Suddenly she heard the deafening roar of the Scimitar and desperate cries from Caleb as the predator continued its tireless pursuit of her. Laurel moaned in fear and exhaustion, as she realized what she had to do. She would not let the ferocious animal tear her apart. She looked up quickly and saw Caleb running desperately to reach her, but almost upon her was the vicious Scimitar. 

Forgive me my Prince, she thought to herself, as tears streamed from her eyes. 

She turned and closing her eyes, jumped off the high steep rock face, into the terrifying nothingness, feeling her body fall downward. She heard another roar and then felt the icy shock of the water as she fell into the river, feeling it engulf and consume her. The Scimitar nearly had her in its grasp as Laurel jumped forward, it blindly following her. Caleb cried out in terror and anguish as he saw his beloved and the Scimitar both leap off the cliff into the river below. Caleb ran forward watching her fall beneath the dark swirling water, the Scimitar hitting the water only seconds behind. It surfaced instantly as Aiden and Aaron unleashed their arrows into the beast. Caleb then went to jump forward as he screamed out Laurel’s name, only to be grabbed by Aiden.

"You cannot help her if you are injured yourself!" he shouted, trying to reason with him. "The trail to the bottom is right here! Hurry! This way!" Aiden directed Caleb to follow him. 

They ran down the steep path as quickly as they could, not even noticing that Gawain had taken one of the horses and rode down another path to the river’s edge, as he knew were the forest would lead them. Even though it had only taken moments to reach the bottom of the trail, to Caleb it seemed an agonizing eternity. He tore off his coat and boots as he frantically scanned the river for any signs of Laurel. Suddenly his prayers were answered as she surfaced and raising up her arms and gasping for breath, only to sink below the water’s surface once again. Caleb ran forward and dove into the water, as he sank below the inky blackness. Aiden, Aaron and Gawain, stood breathless for a moment waiting for Caleb to reappear. Caleb then burst out of the water’s surface with Laurel in his arms. Aiden and Aaron ran forward to assist him. Grabbing on to Caleb to help him get back to shore.

"She is not breathing!" Caleb said frantically, as he put Laurel on the ground and turned her over.

He hit her back firmly with the flat of his hand several times, his efforts rewarded, with Laurel suddenly coughing and gasping for air, as she spit out water. Turning her back over quickly as she looked at him with a wide eyed frantic expression, still trying to catch her breath. Caleb held her tightly in his arms pushing her hair out of her face, as Aiden and the two Sentinels kneeled down next to them, sighing loudly in relief.

"Breath my love, just breathe. I have you...I have you. It is over, just breathe," Caleb said breathlessly, as she held her close, his lips against her forehead. 

Laurel coughed a few more times before exhaling deeply, as she was finally able to catch her breath. Caleb looked into her face, to see if she was aware. She smiled at him weakly, raising her hand to touch his cheek, before losing consciousness. Caleb held her to him, for a moment burying his face into the side of her face and neck, his shoulders shaking from silent sobs of relief.

After reading this scene my hubby was looking up dramatic music to play in the background and read it again. "Damn baby, this is a movie," was his reply, which of course made me all spazzy and giddy. I try to keep the action going as much as possible, but the romance as well. This is a scene from the chapter The Banishment, which occurs several days after the Scimitar scene. 

He smiled at her patiently. "It is alright dearest, I wish to kiss your neck, and your gown’s collar, prevents me from doing so. I will not take liberties that would make you uncomfortable. I know you are not ready to give yourself to me at this time, and I do not expect it. I will be very, very patient," Caleb said, between kisses to her neck and face. "Just relax and let me show you how much I adore you, then I will read to you later. We will both sleep at our leisure, and I will have a wonderful breakfast brought for you in the morning. Does this meet with her Highness approval?" Caleb asked her, between soft kisses.

Laurel sighed with peace and contentment, as his affectionate attentions, were both soothing and pleasurable. She felt herself becoming more relaxed with each gentle kiss to her face and neck, as she placed her hands in his hair, gently gliding her fingers through it.

"Yes it does Sire," she whispered, with half closed lids. 

Caleb smiled at her lovingly, and slowly drew closer to her, as he moved beside her, laying down next to her, covering them both. He turned her gently on her side, so that they faced each other, continuing to kiss her lightly and holding her gently, so as not to hurt her still bruised back and shoulders.
"I am going to kiss you now, very passionately, do not be startled, as I will only kiss you. Just move with me, like the dance at the festival," Caleb spoke to her in a soft whisper, smiling gently, before closing his eyes and taking her mouth possessively with his own. 

He kissed her as he had told her with passion but not aggression. He moved slowly at first, to allow her time to move in rhythm with him. When they were both moving together as if dancing, he increased his passionate attentions, kissing her deeply, and gently exploring her mouth with his own, holding the side of her face tenderly in his hand. He then moved his hand gently and slowly down the side of her body, resting it lightly on her hip. When he heard her moan softly, and felt her body tremble at his love, he began to slow his pace once again taking a nibble of her bottom lip, until he quietly stopped. He then held her close, but not too tightly, as to cause her discomfort. He opened his eyes and smiled at her lovingly, as he watched her trembling expression.

"I feel as if my breath were taken from me," Laurel spoke in a breathless whisper, her eyes bright and shining.

"That is what love feels like my darling, or so I have been told. For I have never loved anyone until now," he answered, in a soft deep whisper.

"But Caleb, you were married once, and ....well I have been told you had lovers," Laurel mentioned, feeling a bit apprehensive for bringing it to the fore.

Caleb smiled at her guileless inquisitiveness. She did have the right as his betrothed to know of his past relationships. He was well aware of her complete innocence of any knowledge of this kind, as she had been well guarded and suitors, with the exception of Deaglan, kept away from her by her controlling father.

"Yes, my sweet. I was married as you know briefly, and yes I did have lovers. But there really was no more than three women in my life, and no I was not in love with them. Morene was an obligation I found myself forced into. The others... I was young and foolish, and they were simply a distraction. They moved on quickly when they knew I had no real interest, and I dare say, they were far happier in doing so. They both found men who would appreciate and love them. You are the only woman I have given my heart to. I am very grateful that you have given me yours, and it is the most precious thing that I have," Caleb said to her, honestly and lovingly. 

He kissed her lips tenderly once more, and then held her close to him again.

Laurel smiled to herself, at peace and content with the knowledge that she was indeed Caleb’s only love.

This actually is one of my personal favorite romantic scenes in the book, as it gives a glimpse of Caleb’s more tender side and Laurel’s experience of love for the first time. Everyone remembers the first time they really fell in love and I felt readers could relate to this.

Me: When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

M.T.: I gave quite a bit of thought, even to the names of the horses. I felt since I was using Irish, Scottish, and Celtic names for the characters, it was important to understand what they meant and how I could use them in relation to the characters personalities.

Me: What made you want to write and also what made you want to write the genre you are writing?

M.T.: I was shy and awkward as a child, and would sometimes stutter when I was nervous or afraid. When I was eleven years old I was asked to write an essay on what do you do when you are sad. In the essay I wrote how I liked writing stories about characters that face big problems, but get past them in how they act and treated others. My teacher entered it in a contest and I won. It was displayed in our town’s Library all that year. That and reading the love story between Aragorn and Arwen from Tolkien, made me know, this is what I really wanted to do. Forty one years later, I have finally realized my dream. I write fantasy because I love to make the unreal believable and bring others on that journey with me. 

Me: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

M.T.: It would be two writers actually. The first Jane Austen. She is the epitome of all that is beautiful in the English language. It is my love and respect for her work that inspired me to not use modern English in my book. There is not one couldn’t, wouldn’t or shouldn’t in the entire story. The second would be Tolkien. I love history and old languages, and loved how Tolkien used this in all of his works. I have the characters of Heathwin speak old Irish from time to time and worked very hard to make sure I got the translation and usage correct. I also use real names of towns and villages of Scotland and Ireland throughout the book, using what they were known for in history, in the story. 

Me: Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

M.T.: Yes, I travel quite extensively on the web. LOL!! My life does not really allow the luxury of that. So I do lots of research, which I find very rewarding. Even though my story takes place in a mystical world called Rienfield, I use as much real history and background of Scotland and Ireland as I can. Doing all this research has taught me quite a bit. 

Me: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

M.T.: Time. With our farm and taking care of my son, time was something that often escaped me. I would find myself sometimes writing until 4am to get a chapter finished or started. I very often write on my laptop in bed. My hubby was sweet enough to buy a sleeping mask so my light didn’t disturb him.

Me: When you start writing your book, do your H/H ever talk to you?

M.T.: All the time! LOL! To some it might sound a bit strange, but I would start to write a scene and it would be as if one of them would say, "hey I would not do that," then I would start over again. A writer once told me the characters take on a life of their own, now I know what she meant.

Me: Do you ever experience writer’s block?

M.T.: Only once in a while. I don’t write in chronological order, so if a scene just hits me I write it out. Then I either go ahead or back and work it in to the story. That way it always keeps my thoughts fresh.

Me: Do you have any tips for our readers that might dream of writing?

M.T.: Don’t give up. Keep writing, it doesn’t always happen when you want it to. I had to wait quite a while, but I feel with all that I have experienced in life, it has made me a better writer and made a better story. And stay true to yourself, no matter what the trend may be. If it doesn’t feel right to express yourself in a certain way, that will show. Write with who you are and how you feel and people will see that and appreciate more the journey you take them on.

Links to M.T. MaGee
The Rienfield Chronicles

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