Monday, April 21, 2014

Aerenden Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway

Aerenden Series (The Child Returns, The Gildonae Alliance and The Zeiihbu Master)
by Kristen Taber



Book One: The Child Returns

Seventeen-year-old Meaghan has no idea her perfect life has been a lie — until she witnesses her parents’ brutal murders at the hands of red-eyed creatures.

After nearly sharing their fate, she escapes with her best friend, Nick, who tells her the creatures are called Mardróch. They come from another world, and so does she. Now that the Mardróch have found her, she must return to her homeland of Ærenden or face death.

Left with little choice, she follows Nick into a strange world both similar to Earth and drastically different. Vines have the ability to attack. Monkeys freeze their victims with a glare. Men create bombs from thin air. Even Meaghan’s newly discovered empath power turns into a danger she cannot control.

But control becomes the least of her worries once the Mardróch begin targeting her. When Nick confesses he knows the reason they want her, she learns the truth behind the kingdom's fifteen-year civil war — a long-buried secret that could cost Meaghan her life.

Book Two: The Gildonae Alliance

Several months after Meaghan’s return to Ærenden, the kingdom’s war has taken a turn for the worse. The Mardróch army hunts the new King and Queen, destroying villages in its wake. And Meaghan and Nick, training for battle in their remote section of wilderness, are far from safe. Danger hides in shadows and behind innocent faces. Allies become foes. Each day is a fight to survive. But in the end, only one threat matters. And it’s a threat they never see coming.

Book Three: The Zeiihbu Master

Separated and on opposite sides of the kingdom, Nick and Meaghan face different pursuits which could change the balance of power in Ærenden forever.

While Nick trains the villagers to be soldiers, Meaghan and a small rescue party venture into Zeiihbu to find Faillen's young son, before Garon can use the boy's power to destroy those still fighting against his rule.

Everyone knows Meaghan could be on a suicide mission, but when Nick stumbles upon a secret concealed in one of the southern villages, he realizes that Garon might not be Meaghan's greatest foe. The enemy most likely to kill her is someone who has also promised to keep her safe.


  1. Plotter or panster?

Both. Although I do have a general outline and an overall arcing plot for all the books in the Ærenden series, when I sit down to write I generally only know the big things that need to happen. The characters lead me from there. It makes for a rollercoaster journey, to say the least, and probably wastes time in editing, but I learned my lesson after I wrote the first book. I had The Child Returns plotted out in its entirety, and then part-way through it took a turn I wasn’t expecting. At first, I tried to ignore the side stories that bubbled up while I wrote, but they refused to be silenced. After a while, I realized I had more characters than I had met when I initially started writing and a far more in-depth world than I had initially created. At book’s end, I also realized my initial outline would work best as five books instead of one, so I decided to listen to my muse instead of fighting her.

I guess it’s akin to meeting new people. They seem pretty straightforward and easy to pinpoint at first. But as you get to know them, you realize they’re more complex under the surface than they first appeared. Characters, like real people, can surprise you. And they can be pretty insistent about being themselves. It’s sometimes best to get out of their way.

2. What books have influenced your writing?

My primary influence is The Lord of The Rings Trilogy. JRR Tolkien is the master when it comes to world building. Although he tends to be a bit more descriptive than I like to be (I don’t see the point in taking pages to describe food), authors can learn a lot from his example. Our world, Earth, is not painted with broad strokes alone. Every country and city, every culture has its own separate influences, rituals and experiences. It’s important to know these when inventing a world, even if an author doesn’t use every detail directly in a book. Like in real life, these things influence the way we behave and react. They set up conflicts and catalyze love interests. They define who we are. And even if the worlds we create technically aren’t real, they need to be fully nuanced in order to seem real for readers. Middle-Earth was like that for me. I didn’t read Tolkien’s books; I lived within them. It was the first time I had truly understood the concept and the realization stuck with me. It’s the reason I can tell you what the textbooks in Guardian school taught Nick and what cookies the Zeiihbuans use to celebrate. And it’s the reason the world I’ve built feels real to me while I’m writing. It’s probably as real as my house when I’m in the thick of a chapter, and as real as Tolkien’s stories felt when I read them so long ago.

3. Name three things on your desk right now.

My Lego calendar (yes, made out of Lego bricks; I’m proud to be that kind of geek), a picture of my daughter’s first visit with the Easter Bunny, and a large stack of signed, numbered Ærenden bookmarks. If anyone wants some, please email me and I’ll be happy to send one (or twenty). Somehow I wound up with a thousand, so please help me clear off my desk!

4. Heels or flats?

Depends on what I’m doing. I love heels, particularly funky styles like those John Fluevog designs. But lately, I’ve been babe-in-arms 75% of the day, so I prefer flats for stability reasons (mostly boots). I’m sure my calves will hate me when I finally get the chance to switch back to my 3.5” platforms, but I look forward to that painful day!

5. Favorite kind of character to write about?

Imperfect characters, ones who not only have flaws, but have checkered backgrounds and a sense of humor about life. Although I love creating all types of characters—after all, we have all types in our own world—the ones I love writing the most are the ones I would choose as my friends in real life. Cal, for instance, is probably one of my favorite characters in the Ærenden series. He’s a good guy, which is important for the characters I love. I could never like a person who has a cruel nature or does selfish things. But he’s also made a lot of mistakes. He’s taken some risky, and sometimes foolish, chances. He’s a little rough around the edges, yet he’s hung out with and influenced kings and queens. He’s a philosopher, though he would never consider himself that way, and a bit of a drunk. If anything, Cal seems like a contradiction, but at the root of it, he’s “what you see is what you get”, which can be refreshing these days. Plus, his stories are bound to be entertaining. I’m always surprised by what comes out of his mouth.

6. Name one thing that no one else knows about you.
Oooh…that’s a tough question! I’m a fairly open book, so I think there’s always at least one person on this planet who knows even my worst moments. But I guess there’s one thing I can share...

Everyone knows I’m afraid of heights (deathly terrified), but when it comes to the opposite, I’m completely in love. Tunnels, caves, dark underground places—you name it, I’ll be there. In high school, when I found out we had fall-out shelters boarded up around the school, I convinced my principal to let me into them. In college, I heard rumors about tunnels that used to connect the original buildings. After confirming the stories were true, I found out a friend had access to them and talked him into letting me tag along. I’ve been in caves in Ireland and Pennsylvania, and in the catacombs of Paris. The Mary King’s Close tour in Edinburgh and the Seattle Underground tour are two of my favorite experiences. Rome’s ancient catacombs are on my bucket list, and if I could convince the US National Park Service to let me spend the night in the basements of Alcatraz, I’d be in heaven (and probably have a few ghost tales written by morning).

I don’t know what it is about those dark spaces that fascinate me so much. Maybe it’s the stories that swirl in my head when I’m there or the spooky aura. Or maybe I just like to be as far away from high places as I can get, but I can’t turn down an offer to go exploring. And neither can my characters, which is why they always seem to find a cave or two along their journeys!

7. Burgers or sushi?

Sushi, hands down. I love sashimi (the raw fish without rice) and the more unusual, the better (yup, I’m one of those people who loves uni). I’m always on the hunt for an excellent sushi chef who can slice the best fish that has the freshest flavor. Yum. Now you’ve made me hungry!

8. What's next for you?

Writing books 4 and 5 in the Ærenden series. I’m also considering writing a cookbook with recipes mentioned in the Ærenden series (at a fan’s request) and I’ll probably put together a collection of short stories from Ærenden’s history. There are a few I have in mind involving the first Spellmaster and I’d like to explore origin tales for some of my current characters’ powers. Then who knows what else I’ll find. As I delve, I’m sure I’ll uncover some interesting stories the Ærenden people have been trying to keep hidden.

Outside the YA realm, I have a contemporary romance series I may release. I’m nearly done with the first book and I’m three drafts into the second book, so it’s getting close. We shall see, though.

9. Favorite songs to write by?

At present, I write to whatever’s playing on the radio at my favorite coffee shop, though I loathe the days someone decides rap is a good idea. In the past, I’ve preferred the Led Zeppelin Complete Studio Recordings set for writing sessions. I’ve been listening to Zeppelin since I was a kid, so I know their entire catalogue by heart. As a result, I’m able to simultaneously listen and tune them out at the same time, making them perfect background music. I find that great bass, in particular, keeps my creativity flowing at optimum levels.

10. What advice would you give aspiring YA and New Adult authors?

Read and write. As basic as that sounds, that’s the best way to hone your craft. By reading, you learn from other authors (even if you don’t realize you’re learning). You’re able to study different styles and see what else is out there for creativity and plots. You can see what you like to read and don’t (translation: you learn what works for you as a writer and what doesn’t). And by writing—by practicing—you simply get better each time you try. What’s more, you get comfortable with writing, which is imperative for finding your own voice. A new writer tends to be stiff and mimics other writers, while one who has experience is comfortable being themselves. Confidence in writing translates to a seamless experience for the reader, and it’s a must for success.

Excerpt Three:
Standing on the field, this close to the action, the reality of the situation struck her. Not fifteen feet away, she watched a young woman about her age fall from a knife wound to the neck. The middle-aged man who had murdered her raised crazed eyes in Meaghan’s direction before taking an electric orb from Artair. The burn mark the orb left behind seared through clothing and flesh, leaving an unmistakable stench she would always associate with death. The man toppled over his victim.

Behind the piled bodies, another person fell. This man, his wrists free of ribbons, became a symbol of victory for her allies. But he looked no different to Meaghan. She did not see an enemy. She only saw the lifeless form of a human being, the soulless eyes of someone’s father or son. And in that man’s vacant stare, she understood the truth Nick had been trying to tell her. To survive the battle, she would have to take a life. She had trouble killing the fake Mardróch in her field test and he had been a grotesque creature with no hint of humanity left within him. How could she kill someone who looked like he could be her neighbor? How could she stare into the eyes of someone with a recognizable soul and dim that light?

The thought drew bile up the back of her throat. She could not kill. And if that was her answer, she would not survive.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Kristen spent her childhood at the feet of an Irish storytelling grandfather, learning to blend fact with fiction and imagination with reality. She lived within the realm of the tales that captivated her, breathing life into characters and crafting stories even before she could read. Those stories have since turned into over a hundred poems, several short tales, and five manuscripts in both the Young Adult and Adult genres. Currently, Kristen is completing the five-part Ærenden series from her home office in the suburbs of Washington D.C.



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Buy Links for Book 1



Buy Links for Book 2



Kristen will be awarding a $25 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour as Grand Prize and an audiobook will be issued to 10 runnerup commenters. Follow the tour for more chances to win!

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  1. Thanks so much for having me today :). I enjoyed your questions a lot. I'll be hanging around in case anyone has any questions!

  2. Kristen, you give some really great interviews. I've never met a person who is as enamored of the low places as you appear to be. I thought that was a quirk partifcular to me and only me~ everyone of my acquaintance thinks I'm cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs! But ixnay on the sushi for me: this girl is a corn country carnivore all the way! Thanks for sharing all the personal anecdotes today.

    ilookfamous at yahoo dot com

    1. Thank you for reading! We'll have to go spelunking some time (and bring some Cocoa Puffs to snack on) :). And don't get me wrong, I love a good steak or a juicy burger with the best of them, I just also enjoy fresh sushi and sake. I'm an equal opportunity foodie!

  3. The books sound great.



Thanks for commenting!