Friday, June 1, 2018

Author M.J. Evans on her award winning book, The Stone of Mercy – Book 1 of the Centaur Chronicles

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? When people ask me when I started loving horses, I respond that I was born with Manure in my blood. Well…I was also born with ink in my blood! I have always loved to write but I didn’t have time to actually become a published author until my fifth child entered high school.

WAS THERE A TEACHER OR OTHER MENTOR WHO INFLUENCED YOUR WRITING - PLEASE ELABORATE: Other authors are my inspiration! I grew up devouring all the Marguerite Henry horse stories. I also love all the C.S. Lewis books and, of course, J.K. Rowling.

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? My ideas for stories always come when I am least expecting them. I never sit down and say: “I need to come up with a new story idea!” The idea for “The Centaur Chronicles,” of which “The Stone of Mercy” is the first book, came to me while I was reading the Bible. I read Ephesians 6:14: “Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” My brain became overwhelmed with the whole story!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LINE FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK AND WHY? As an author, I think of myself as an artist with words. Therefore, my favorite line would be any line where I get to beautifully describe a setting or emotions in a way that the reader can understand. Here is one example: “Lit by the silver moon, the rolling hills looked like ocean waves, and the gentle breeze rustling the grasses sounded like whispered secrets.” And one other example: “The shimmering signs of spring did nothing to quell the storm clouds of emotion that were building inside Carling.”

WHICH OF YOUR CHARACTERS FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING TITLE DO YOU BELIEVE ARE MOST LIKE YOU AND WHY? I don’t want to claim that I am the star, but, in this case, I really am! I am the most like Carling. I doubt myself but am willing to do what needs to be done. I’m also very obedient by nature and always strive to do my best. Carling’s response to the Wizard when he tells her that she is to become the queen is what I would say: “I’m sorry to question you, sir, but how is this to be as I am still but a child? I know not the ways of the world. I have barely left the confines of my own little village. And now I am alone in the world with no one to guide me.”

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? As they read the series and gather all four of the Stones of Light, I hope they will see the value in developing the four virtues of Mercy, Courage (to do what is right), Integrity and Wisdom.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? One critic called me “This generation’s C.S. Lewis.” I couldn’t have been more honored. He teaches valuable, spiritual lessons through his fantasies. I hope I can become as good as he was.

WHAT BOOK HAS HAD THE GREATEST IMPACT ON YOUR LIFE? Obviously, the Bible and The Book of Mormon are the greatest books ever written and the greatest person is Jesus Christ. They are my source of peace and strength in an otherwise confusing and challenging world.

HOW DID YOU FIND AN AGENT / GET PUBLISHED? I have never used an agent but I published “The Mist Trilogy-Behind the Mist, Mists of Darkness, and The Rising Mist,” and “North Mystic” through publishers. I did it the traditional way: submit query letters and whatever else they ask for and wait, wait, wait. It is very exciting to be selected for publication by a publisher. I learned so much from them. However, I have since started my own company to publish my books. I hired graphic artists and editors. Creating a book from start to finish is an even more exciting process.

IF A CLOSE FRIEND OR LOVED ONE WANTED TO WRITE A BOOK, WHAT GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE THEM? Writing takes about 10% talent and 90% perseverance. You have to spend hours and hours not only writing but studying the craft of writing.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? You need to figure out who your audience is and where to find them. My audience is 9 to 14 year-olds, especially those who love horses. So, I go to the Rocky Mountain Horse Expo and the Little Britches National Rodeo and other places where young readers and riders are to be found. I also do a lot of school presentations.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? My greatest accomplishment is the critical acclaim I have received from award programs such as Literary Classics. Of course, my friends and family love my books because they love me. But when professional critics love your work, you know you are on the right track!

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? At the moment, I’m focusing on finishing all four books of “The Centaur Chronicles.” After that, I have another book in my head that I want to finish…but that one may take me until I die!

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: I was a cheerleader for two years at Oregon State University!

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? If you want to be a better writer, read more!

WHAT OTHER BOOKS HAVE YOU PUBLISHED? “In the Heart of a Mustang,” (2016 Literary Classics Gold Medal winner.) “North Mystic,” “The Mist Trilogy: Behind the Mist, Mists of Darkness, The Rising Mist,” New: “The Stone of Courage-Book 2 of the Centaur Chronicles.”
All of my books have received national awards and may be purchased (and autographed) through my website: They are also available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or independent bookstores.

DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? I am currently revising “The Stone of Integrity-Book 3 of the Centaur Chronicles.” I hope to have it out in early 2018. It is possible that pre-release copies will be available before Christmas. I am very excited about Carling’s third quest. She travels to a hidden island populated by fairies who always wear masks! The Heilodius Herd of Centaurs are becoming more aggressive in their efforts to stop her from completing the Silver Breastplate.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval

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