Let's open with Marsha's bio:
Much of her life feeds the creative flow she uses to weave highly imaginative tales.
The magic of art and nature often spark life into her writing, as well as watercolor painting and drawing. After a move from Toledo to Tampa in 2008, she’s happily transformed into a Floridian, in love with the outdoors. Marsha is crazy about cycling. She lives with her husband on a large saltwater lagoon, where taking her kayak out for an hour or more is a real treat. She never has enough days spent at the beach, usually scribbling away at stories with toes wiggling in the sand. Every day at the beach is magical! She’s been a yoga enthusiast for over a decade and recently completed a year-long Kripalu-affiliated yoga teacher training program. The spiritual quest of her yoga studies helps her explore the mystical side of fantasy.
Welcome, Marsha, and “Congratulations” on your newest publication, Quintessence, the fifth and final installment of the Enchanted Bookstore Legends series.
Thank you for this opportunity. This is indeed a big event for me!
The most surprising character in my work was, to me, ten-year-old crippled child named Kessa whose mother sneaked her into hiding in the Imperial lair of the Alliance during Dark Realm attacks on their village. She made an appearance in Staurolite: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Four and commanded a far greater role than I’d planned. Her original intended task was to merely deliver a jewelry box filled with ancient magical trinkets to my heroine, Lyra McCauley. Kessa lit up while touching those items, and her own magic sparked my heart. I empowered the girl as a seer, the only one in the land for centuries. She even became a pivotal character to end the series in my latest release, Quintessence: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Five.
I write for those moments of surprise! Was there anything else in your work that flowed from the tips of your fingers without your having been aware that it was coming? If so, how did you react? Did it change the story you thought you were going to tell?
Reality always forms the framework of my stories. The more I look at this series, the more of myself I see. My heroine, Lyra, is very much connected to me. Even in the first chapter of the first book, the childhood memories brought to her mind by Cullen’s magical tea are actually all my own. How Lyra interacts with her Aunt Jean has been a way for me to work through my own issues with my mother’s failing health and passing. In some ways, how Lyra coped with loss was a way for me to deal with my own grief. The character’s emotions flowed more freely than usual.
I’m terribly sorry for your loss. Writing can serve so many purposes though, can’t it? It is not just a means of entertaining our readers, but sometimes also a means for us to ferret out truth, to gain wisdom and, perhaps, to impart some of that to our readers.
Given your connection to your work, this may or may not be a difficult question, but what "other world" (which could be a time, place, or fantasy place) created in any book you've written or read is the world you would most like to visit and why?
During the three and a half years I wrote about the world of Dragonspeir and its characters, I do feel like I’ve paid extended visits to that land while writing each of the five books. However, to truly experience it three-dimensionally would be tremendous. I’d love to interact personally with the many talking trees and animals. Hearing the tinkles of flower blossoms in the enchanted Meadow of Peace, or Kenzo the giant tiger owl’s hearty laughter, or the snort of the Unicorn Guardian while he sprays sparkling aura along his spiraled horn…these things I long to experience firsthand.
It sounds like a wonderful world. While we are on the subjects of “alternates,” I wonder, what work created by someone else do you most wish you had written yourself and why?
There are so many. Magical realism books like The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen and Practical Magic and The Green Witch by Alice Hoffman are delicately woven with the most sparkling magic. Other books that captivate me are Natasha Mostert’s Season of the Witch and Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus. In both of those, magic caused mental effects for both the giver and receiver. I enjoy the complexity of that theme and employ it myself in a very different way. In the Enchanted Bookstore Legends, my heroine, Lyra, must learn to mentally control her vast inherited powers as the new Scribe. That is something she struggles to master through the series.
I find it interesting how some people read and only read within a single genre. Others (like me) read a wide variety of different kinds of works. What do you consider to be the five best works you have ever read and why do you rank them among the best?
See answer above.
That’s to the point! So then, let me ask this: what do you do when you pick up a work that does not entertain you? Do you read to the bitter end? Or do you bow out early?
I usually read to the end, unless I become bored by sexual interactions overtaking the original plot.
I, too, usually read to the end. (I am always afraid that I might be missing out on something if I do not. . . .)
In light of your favorite reads, who is your favorite heroic character and in what way are you like him or her?
In the entire Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I admire my own heroine, Lyra, who faces a challenge she first believes she cannot meet—to save the Alliance portion of Dragonspeir from overthrow by the Dark Realm. This has been an ongoing conflict for hundreds of years, and Lyra’s ancestors—four strong female Scribes—have faced similar challenges. With her own immediate family members recently passed away, Lyra seeks to learn more about her predecessors and gains strength and determination from their examples. Yearning to feel connected to her family, she courageously accepts the challenges and dangers in order to continue their efforts. In doing so, she finds herself and much happiness that fills the voids from loss in her life.
So then, who is your favorite villain--and here’s the catch—in what way are you like him or her?
Eburscon, the evil alchemist, is my favorite villain. He’s the main antagonist of my Enchanted Bookstore Legends. I like him because he is incredibly intelligent. His arrogance and superiority are almost warranted. As a truly gifted alchemist, he holds the keys to all the power he desires…only Lyra’s compassion and strong will stand in his way.
You’ve definitely piqued my curiosity. I will have to add Enchanted Bookstore Legends to my “to-read” list.
I have just a couple of remaining questions. First, in an effort to be certain that you get to present information of interest to you, what one question have you always wished an interviewer would ask you that you have not been asked and what is your answer to that question? Then, out of sheer contrariness, I must ask: what one question do you most dread an interviewer asking you and what is your answer to that question?
I’ve not been asked how it felt to complete a five-part epic series. It was much more emotional than I expected. For months or years, I’d been eager to realize the culmination of the twisted, interwoven storylines. However, when I approached the final five chapters in my writing process, I had to force myself to go on. I well knew what the plot required; I just didn’t want to part with my characters in that incredible fantasy land.
The question I most dread is where do my highly imaginative fantasy plots come from. There is no work or effort involved. Since my parents encouraged my creativity at an early age, I simply think that way. I wish I had a more complex answer. Admitting that I normally think about portals to other worlds seems a bit abnormal…good thing I’m a writer!
Well put! Finally, what one lesson, theme, or principle did you most want others to take from your work?
In my Enchanted Bookstore Legends series, there is an obvious theme—compassion is the clear path toward happiness.
Thank you so much, Marsha, for taking time with me and for your willingness to spend some time in the “hot seat.” Best of luck to you and again, my sincerest “Congratulations!”
Thank you, Patricia, for such an interesting interview!
Enchanted Bookstore Legends Series Description
Genre: Epic Fantasy Romance
Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her.
When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.
Heritage Avenged: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Two
Lost Volumes: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Three
Staurolite: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Four
Quintessence: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Five
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Barbaric Dark Realm warfare threatens to overtake all Dragonspeir lands, including the Alliance. Lyra McCauley, the fifth Scribe of the Alliance, finds herself in a desperate competition to gather four missing keystones. Those amulets of the four natural elements guarantee victory for the side possessing them. The Dark Realm’s alchemist, Eburscon, beats her to finding the water gem, the Pearl of Pendola. Three more keystones remain: the fluorite containing earth energy, the moonstone of the sky, and the fiery, dangerous Emtori Ruby.
The powerful gems, stolen centuries ago, channel astral energies and can restore much-needed Alliance power—the last hope. The wizard, Cullen, who is Lyra’s beloved, relies on Alliance magic for his immortality and will perish if the land falls to the Dark Realm.
Lyra uses her rare magical energies of quintessence and the Staurolite, governor of the four natural elements, to guide her to the hidden keystones. However, greed and power drive opponents, who challenge her in close pursuit, planning to destroy the Alliance, or to claim the power of quintessence for themselves.
The Dark Realm captures the ten-year-old Alliance seer, Kessa. Her abilities can give them information about the locations of the keystones, complicating Lyra’s plans. Will her love, allegiance, and quintessence allow her to save Cullen, Kessa, and the Alliance before the Dark Realm claims all of Dragonspeir?
MORE on The First Through Fourth Volumes:
Lyra McCauley is a writer and loves fantasy novels, but until she opens a selection from bookstore owner Cullen Drake, she has no idea he’s a wizard character who lives a double life inside that volume…or the story’s magic will compel her from the edge of depression to adventure, danger, and love.
His gift to Lyra, the Book of Dragonspeir, was actually her copy, misplaced years ago. Lost in her pain following divorce and death, she fails to recognize him as her childhood playmate from the fantasyland. Friendship builds anew. Attraction sparks. But Lyra doubts whether a wizard is capable of love. She’s torn—should she protect her fragile heart or risk new love?
Opening the book’s cover, she confronts a quest: save Dragonspeir from destruction by the Black Dragon before he utilizes power of August’s red moon to expand his strength and overthrow the opposing Imperial Dragon. Lyra accepts the challenge, fearing Cullen will perish if evil wins. Along with magical animal guides, Cullen helps her through many perils, but ultimately Lyra must use her own power…and time is running out.
When Lyra opens her lost childhood book, she remembers her destiny as the next Scribe and must save Dragonspeir's Alliance from overthrow by the Dark Realm.
Lyra McCauley receives an alarming letter from the coroner who evaluated her deceased aunt, originally thought to have died of cancer. The news causes Lyra to take leave from her job and travel from sunny Tampa to the frozen island community in northern Michigan. Questioning whether Dragonspeir magic was responsible for her aunt’s death, she resolves to learn the truth and accepts the Imperial Dragon’s appointment into the Alliance sorcery training.
Additionally, becoming proficient in magic craft is the only way she can bridge the gap between her mortal human world and her lover’s. Cullen, a 220-year-old wizard, is dependent upon his Dragonspeir magic for immortality. He is her only family now; she cannot lose him.
Evil forces block her and try to steal her inherited scribal aura. Riding a stealth dragon, a cloaked rider pursues Lyra. Both the Alliance and Dark Realm alchemists lay tricks and traps. Her aura equals that of the first and most powerful Scribe, but will Lyra’s novice training allow her to discover the truth…and find a life with Cullen? Or will the Dark Realm keep them apart?
When Lyra McCauley learns residents of Dragonspeir’s Alliance are suffering with a deadly plague, she doesn’t heed the warnings of her fiancé, wizard Cullen Drake, to remain safe in her human world. After all, she’s the present Scribe—one of five strong women in her ancestry who possessed unique magic, each destined to protect the Alliance against the evil Black Dragon of the Dark Realm. With Cullen dependent upon Alliance power to maintain his immortality, the stakes are doubled for Lyra.
She leaves her college teaching and puts herself at risk for the community afflicted by black magic. To find a cure, she and Cullen travel into the vile, lawless underworld of Terza to strike a bargain with an expert. Their efforts further enrage the Black Dragon, vowing to decimate the Alliance and avenge the murder of his heir.
Lyra must secure the three lost volumes of the Book of Dragonspeir. Written by the three earliest Scribes, each book contains energy. Possession of the entire set will enable overthrow of the Dark Realm. Following clues into dangerous lands, Lyra and Cullen seek those volumes. His assistants, Kenzo the tiger owl and Noba the pseudodragon, prove invaluable aids. Only if they succeed, will the Alliance be safe and Lyra reach closer to the immortality she needs to live a life with Cullen.
Lyra McCauley, current Scribe of the Alliance, is the only one who can decode magic hidden in the recently retrieved ancient texts written by her ancestors, the first four Scribes. Information in those writings can help Lyra locate the four missing keystones, which will restore power to the Alliance and allow overthrow of the Dark Realm. With peace restored, she and her beloved, Cullen, could finally marry.
Time is short with the Black Dragon’s Dark Realm increasing attacks to avenge the death of his heir. Many innocent lives are lost. Alliance residents are forced into hiding. Magicals and blue dragons follow leadership of the Imperial Dragon and the other three Guardians into battle to defend the Alliance.
While Lyra unlocks the ancient magic, she opens herself up to scribal powers from her ancestors. She alone can fight the deadliest of the Dark Realm’s forces—the cimafa stealth dragons—but at a cost. The energy flux threatens her health and ability to learn where to find the missing keystones. Can Lyra overcome this shrewd tactic of the Black Dragon to decimate the Alliance?