Today for “Feature Friday” let us welcome the wonderful Stevie Rae Causey with her book Ring of Fire.
We will have info about the book and author. Plus we have a interview with Stevie and a great excerpt from the book.
Make sure to check everything out and go and show her some love and add her book to your TBR 😉
Happy Reading 🙂
What would you do if your mother died a traitor?
In a land where humans and magical creatures are at war, Kala grew up believing that Mystics were responsible for the death of her mother. After being rescued from her kidnapper by an Elf, she discovers that her mother was murdered by a human while working for the Alliance.
Her search for the truth leads her into the arms of her enemy. As her people prepare for war, her indecision threatens the lives of those she loves.
“I found this book refreshing and intriguing…The author’s voice is refreshingly unique” -L.K. Walker, author of Fire Trilogy.
Hello Stevie. Thank you for taking the time to stop in and chat with us, it is lovely to have you.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Time. There never seems to be enough of it. I suppose that can be said of the human condition in general, though.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
My dad was a writer as well as an English instructor. When I was around 9 or 10, I was sitting in on one of his classes, and they were talking about the history of profanity. The idea that certain words were “vulgar” became popular as a way for the upper class to separate themselves from the poor. They declared common terms used by the lower classes to be uneducated and offensive. Obviously, it worked. I tell my kids that the concept of profanity is classist, and that words can only be “bad” if you’re using them to make someone feel like they are less than you.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
So far most of my work is fantasy, so I kind of get to make up my own rules, a bit. With Ring of Fire, I wanted there to be a touch of classic folklore tied in to the story, and I researched as I went. The process has, thus far, been the same for my upcoming release, Anhedonia.
What does literary success look like to you?
Aside from the obvious (making a profit-even a small one) … Every time a young reader says that my work made a difference in their life I consider that a roaring success.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I read all my reviews. I think everyone should. Maybe that’s because I haven’t had an entirely awful one yet.
This was fun, again thank you so much for taking the time to chat.
My name is Kala. At the beginning of my story, I was just nearing the age of 16. It would have been a story beautiful in its simplicity had it not been intertwined with other, more complicated stories.
But that is the nature of all our fates: stories and lives weaving in and out of one-another. Touching briefly, or knotting together in an untangle-able chaos. We are both masters of our own fates and victims of others’.
I was born to a woman named Gwen, a descendant of royalty in the Old World. She and her brother John had been cast aside by their jealous aunt and guardian when the New Kingdom was established.
My mother was a wild young thing who preferred men’s clothing to long gowns and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty. She shared the same raven hair as I, though she wore it short and angled by her chin as opposed to the waist-length plaited braids my generation found fashionable. It was from her that I inherited my pale freckled skin and dark eyes as well. Both of which were an anomaly amongst her kin.
Her brother John, in contrast, had sandy blonde hair and hazel eyes. He lived the life of a farmer. Though he was still mostly a child himself, he provided for my mother. When the war was settled, John married and joined the king’s army. In times of trouble, he would leave his sister in charge of the homestead responsibilities, one of which was the trading of wares.
That was how she met my father. A tall merchant’s apprentice with sandy hair, brooding eyes and the tongue of a poet, he won my mother’s heart easily. It was not long after that they were married, and I came along.
My early childhood was typical. My parents were kindly, though they were often away on important trips. While they were away I spent time with my uncle and his family. My cousin Audri was two years my senior. She had honey-colored hair, icy blue eyes, and a sweet disposition; though after her mother abandoned them her spirit withered and she became more frigid.
I was 6 when my parents were killed. Uncle John had been summoned early in the afternoon on a scouting mission- a once rare occurrence had become more frequent since my aunt had run off. Audri, only 8 herself, wove intricate tales of her capture and subsequent rescue by her father. (Surely that was the reason for his increasingly frequent absences!)
It was all very romantic and fantastical in her imagination; a charade she maintained for years even after word had spread that her mother had left of her own free will to tour the Old World with a musician she had been courting behind my uncle’s back. She may have made light of it during the day, but in the evenings when she thought I was asleep, I would hear her crying softly into her pillow.
On the night my parents died I remember sitting by the hearth with Audri. Outside, the rain beat against the roof and the wind whistled harshly, making the house creak. The two of us were playing with a pair of rag dolls we had fashioned from two burlap dish cloths, sticks, and twine.
The game was a mock battle between a soldier of our kind and one of the Mystic priestesses (though we knew them only as witches). It was one we played often, as I imagine most children of our time did. The story of the War and Ludlum’s Laws were the first (and in many cases only) education many of us on the outer limits of the kingdom received. Formal education was reserved for children of more affluent families.
“Eat steel, you Mystic wench!” Audri declared. She had claimed seniority between the two of us. Her character was always the soldier and I was always some mystical creature in these make-believe stories.
“Never!” I replied, waving my rag doll in the air dramatically. “Whoosh!”
I thrust my hand from the chest of the doll mimicking what I imagined was a great act of magic. “Curses on you ahahahaha!” I cackled in my best crusty old witch voice.
I wrapped my hands around her doll and tossed it about for added effect. Just then the front door flew open and lightning crashed. In lumbered Uncle John, his uniform disheveled and soaked through from the rain. His hair was plastered to his face, which carried a pained expression. His eyes were red. I did not realize it at the time, but he had been crying.
He was winded, and when he exhaled his breath hung icy in the air, as if his body were trying to expel an evil it could not escape. He closed the door behind him with a heavy THUD.
Immediately our play ceased. Audri ran to him. “Father! Father, look at the dolls we made today! Mine is a soldier. He is strong like you! Kala’s is a nasty witch! We tied them with string, Father, see? SEE?!” She bounced around excitedly.
John held out his hand, motioning for her to stop, “Hush Audri.”
She fell silent. It was not like him to speak to her in such a manner, nor to dismiss her narratives. He had always been a doting father who hung on her every word. He pushed past her and sat in his chair, gazing at the fire as if in a trance before lowering his head in his hands and sighing. An eerie silence hung in the air before I gathered up enough courage to speak.
“Uncle,” I started softly, “what’s the matter?” His eyes met my own, and for a moment I could almost hear his heart shatter.
“Kala-,” his voice broke. It was weak and raspy. It reminded me of my own that time I was scolded and sent to time-out for tattering Audri’s favorite dress. Sent to my room unjustly, I’d cried and screamed myself hoarse. Suddenly I was afraid of what he would say next.
“Kala…your mom…Oh, Gods Gwen!”
A wretched sound escaped him and I realized he had choked back a sob. Gwen? What had Mom done? Perhaps my parents’ trip had been extended? But that did not explain why he was so distraught.
“Are they delayed on the road, Uncle?” I ventured cautiously.
“Delayed,” he repeated. His eyes fell again to the fire. His focus was distant and his voice seemed far away. “Kala, your parents will not be coming home.”
He rose before I could ask for clarification and walked down the hall to his room, leaving a trail of muddy footprints and sorrow behind him as his tears mingled with rainwater and fell upon the wooden floor.
I stood there a moment as my little brain tried to process his words. “Your parents will not be coming home.”
Audri fidgeted nervously beside me, twisting her reclaimed doll in her fists. Those few years between us suddenly seemed amplified as I looked to her. She suddenly became very wise in my small, frightened eyes. I knew she had understood her father’s words.
“What does that mean?” I asked.
Her eyes darted down the hall at her father’s door and back to me, making a connection that my mind was too young to process. Her mouth opened but was void of sound. She closed it again. I felt myself grow angry. Why wasn’t anyone telling me what was going on?
“Audri!” I stomped and tugged at her dress with my free hand, somehow wrestling her doll from her in the process. I clenched a doll in each hand now. The pressure of my palms against the sticks and cloth felt somehow soothing.
“They are not coming home,” Audri echoed her father’s words, “Kala….your parents were killed. That’s why the King has been summoning Father. It had to be Mystics”
I shook my head. “No!” my voice squeaked. Audri stood where she was. I swung at her. “NO! You’re lying! You’re a LIAR!” She stared at me in shock. “You’re just saying that to be mean! You are jealous because you don’t have a mother!”
Audri slapped me hard across the face. Never before had she struck me.
“I HATE YOU!” I screeched as I chucked both of our ragdolls into the hearth. I listened briefly to the crackling sound the previously waning fire made as it came back to life, before darting down the hall to the room we shared and slamming the door behind me. The force of it jarred my arm and I clutched it as I sank to the floor, wailing.
When I had finally quieted and laid down on my bed it was long past dark. I heard the door creak as Audri crept in and laid down in her own bed across the room. We were both silent. When I was sure she was asleep I rolled over, and saw her clutching the ashy remains of a burlap cloth. I closed my eyes and waited to wake up from what I hoped was a nightmare.
We never spoke of what happened between us. Though we seemed to remain close, my cousin’s and my relationship was permanently marked by the events of that night.
There was no funeral for my parents.
After the death of his sister, my uncle changed. Though he maintained his work ethic, he went about his duties with a heavy heart and little enthusiasm, as if the weight of the world rested solely on his shoulders. He was silent for weeks and hardly ate. When he did start speaking again, it was in short bursts to give a direction or command.
The change, which impacted my then very-young-brain most dramatically, was that instead of the usual bedtime tales of his own childhood and the Old World, or what it was like to work so closely under the King in his court- Uncle John began to quiz us on the various Mystic races. Their history, their habits, and most importantly: their weaknesses.
He drilled us over and over, impressing on us that we needed to be able to recall the information at a moment’s notice. He would stand in our room, a coin resting in his hand and say, “You need to retrieve and recite their weakness before this coin hits the floor, girls. Do that, and you are safe. If the coin hits the floor, you are dead. It happens that quickly out there.”
While at first it was terrifying to think of, over time this became a game to Audri and me. A sort of competition between us to see who could recall the information most quickly. I was always more skilled in rote memorization than she was, though she seemed to take her father’s lessons much more seriously as time went on. Sometimes I would have to stall and let her win just to avoid a pouting fit on her part, but inside my head I recited the answer to each question.
“Imps,” he would say tossing the coin in the air.
“Related to faeries. Weakness: Speaking their native name” Just in time. The coin clattered on the floor.
Audri spoke out before I did, “Drowning.”
Mentally I corrected her. Drowning or poison.
We spoke out together, “Sunlight!”
“Faeries,” and the coin was in the air again
This time I beat Audri, “Silver.”
It was the same every night. The knowledge was so deeply embedded into our minds that I would often find myself whispering them back to no one in particular as I drifted off to sleep.
I live in the PNW where I enjoy raising kids and quail, hiking, and finding new and challenging adventures which include but are not limited to:
diving with sharks
climbing down bridges to ghost towns
I love readers. I love writers. Young readers and aspiring writers have a special place in my heart