Danielle Belwater is here today to talk about her new novel with Evernight Teen, Of Fire and Roses!
Welcome, Danielle! Tell us more about Of Fire & Roses—take us beyond the official “book blurb”.
That would be giving it away, wouldn’t it! Of Fire & Roses follows Nate, a 17-year-old with a chip on his shoulder the size of Texas. After his mother’s tragic death, his father moves him to the isolated town of Pike Lake. Angry and alone, love was the last thing Nate expected to find as he tried to lose himself deep in the forest.
But does Nate love Cora enough to die for her?
You’ll just have to read it to find out!
Fair enough! Excellent idea 🙂
Give us more info about your main characters—who are they?
Nate is very much what you see is what you get. If he’s angry, he’ll hit something, if he’s sad, he buries his head in the sand. He is a guy, after all! He idolizes Cora, puts her on a pedestal and would put his life on the line for her.
Cora is quite the opposite. She has led a sheltered life, leaving school young to look after her ill mother. Friendships and relationships don’t come easily to Cora and prefers to wander alone in the forest or sit on the bank of the lake with a book.
She sounds like my kind of girl!
What scene in your book was the most fun to write, and why?
One of my favourite scenes (and there are a few!) is where Nate catches his first glimpse of the red haired nymph, Cora. Poor Nate thought he was hallucinating.
This scene was one of my first experiences of letting the characters show me what they wanted to do instead of following a carefully constructed plot. It helped me realise that while structure and careful plotting is important, sometimes characters won’t take no for an answer.
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
Since I could hold a pencil I have written in some form. My parents still have the first book I ever wrote. I was 5 and it was only 10 words, and not necessarily in order, but it was where it all began.
I have started lots of writing projects over the years, this is the first one I’ve actually finished! What makes this one special? It was more a case of divine intervention, karma, right place right time, that sort of thing. I happened to meet a young lady here in the rural town that I live who had herself been recently published. She introduced me to a lot of amazing people, that supported and helped me keep going when giving up seemed like a pretty desirable option. Plus, they are scary. I don’t want to think about what they would do to me if I had chucked it in.
LOL–we wouldn’t want that!
What do you like best about being a writer?
To breathe life into characters where there once was nothing is truly extraordinary. I believe my characters are real people hidden in music, images and my imagination, pounding on the inside of my head incessantly until they have their story told. It’s not worth the headache leaving them in there!
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Trying to find a balance between family and writing. Writing is who I am, not what I do, so it is very easy to disappear down the rabbit hole. The next thing you know children are screaming to be fed, husbands are being neglected and it would be easier to bulldoze the house than clean it.
I have to consciously take time out from sitting behind my laptop, no matter how loud the knocking inside my head gets. My characters need to understand (and I need to remember) that I have a family and they come first.
Is bulldozing the house an option? Kidding…kind of…
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I have started working on Book 2 of the Erlanis Chronicles which takes place six months after the end of Of Fire & Roses. It continues Nate’s path in dealing with his mother’s death and his obsession like passion for Cora. We also get to see things through Cora’s eyes, her fear of losing the man she loves while coming to terms with her heritage. There is also a healthy dose of dark magic in there as well.
The other project I am really excited about is a book based in Japanese mythology. It is the story of Michio Hunter, who, after a traumatic event travels to Japan to stay with relatives and hopefully find himself again. He meets Reika, the ghost of a Japanese girl who is trapped between worlds. Michio must go to the Underworld and pass the trials to be able to rescue Reika’s soul. Michio finds himself falling for Reika but how do you love a ghost?
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
Juliet Marillier is one author I have admired for many years. Her Daughter of the Forest series of books were gifted to me before I left for Europe about 8 years ago and they kept me warm on many a cold English winter night. Her stories are full of such beautiful imagery and you are so drawn in, you would swear that the place and characters were as real as you and I. You want to cry when Juliet’s characters cry, you want to visit her stunning locations. You become totally immersed in her world and I often struggle to leave the book behind once I’ve finished reading so tend to go back and read them time and time again.
A new-to-me author! I’ll have to check her out…
What are you currently reading?
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey. After the loss of their child, a couple move to Alaska in the 1920s. They build a snow child out of the Winter snow. The next day the snow child has disappeared, but they begin seeing a small, waif like girl in the forest. Hauntingly written, I was surprised at how strong my reaction was at the first scene where the Snow Child first appears. I’ve been quite drawn in to this story and am looking forward to finding out where she leads Jack and Mabel.
I’m also reading Futures and Frosting by Tara Sivec. One of the funniest books I’ve read in a long time. A light, well written tale of passion lost and found, and chocolate. Lots of chocolate. What’s not to like?
Sounds perfect 🙂
Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.
Was it a girl or an angel? Surely, normal girls didn’t glow like that? I lay on the hard ground, transfixed and completely unable to move. Watching me from a short distance away was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen in my life.
Fire-engine red hair flowed across her shoulders and drizzled down her back like honey. The cherry-coloured fabric of her dress dripped from her body and flapped languidly in the breeze. The girl was on fire. She reminded me of a piece of music, graceful and beautiful. I had to talk to her, ask her name at the very least. Engage brain.
“Umm, Aggh.” Smooth. Real smooth, Nate. I brought my hand up to my forehead, giving it a “thwack,” burying my face in my hands. By the time I’d managed to regain control of myself and plucked up enough courage to try again, she had vanished. Where had she gone? She couldn’t have gone far. Surely, I could run faster than a girl in a long, red dress. Couldn’t I? The image was etched into my retinas. I sniffed the air like a bloodhound. I had to find her.
Nothing. Not a single trace. She had disappeared, as if she were a ghost. After who knows how long searching in every direction, my frustration took over. Trees crowded and suffocated me, mocking me with their long, spindly arms. I bent over and hugged my legs. A solitary ray of sunlight cracked through some tree branches above and crept over my shoulder. It was getting late but I didn’t want to leave. What if she was lost out there? If I left, she might never come back. So I sat on a fallen log and waited.
My watch read six o’clock. Dad might be getting worried. A wild flash of anger at my dad’s lack of enthusiasm since Mum died boiled to the surface, throwing my already unsteady equilibrium well and truly off balance. Before I could stop it, my fist connected with the tree trunk. Hot, searing pain flared in my knuckles, subsiding to a dull ache. Drops of fresh, bright-red blood dripped down my fingers, soaking into the brown earth. The pain felt good and my anger at Dad, as well as the frustration at not finding “Flame-Girl,”dissipated.
Thanks so much, Danielle! Want to know more? Keep reading!
Danielle Belwater adores the concept of true love and thoroughly believes everyone has their Prince Charming or Snow White out there somewhere, even if they have to fight demons, ghosts, and wizards to find it.
Danielle has been having a love affair with words since she was young and in primary school, writing some rather imaginative tales. This love has followed her into adulthood.
She lives in rural South Australia with her husband, young daughters and way too many animals to mention. She spends most of her time dreaming up characters, stories, ghostly tales, and watching Firefly re-runs. She also cooks the odd meal for her family to avoid them looking like skeletons at official author functions!
Danielle is passionate about reading and her interests include pretty much anything with words from rolling four volume epics to the daily newspaper.
CONTACTS & SOCIAL MEDIA
Of Fire and Roses
Nathaniel West’s mother is dead, his father a lost cause. Anger has become a way of life, until he meets and falls in love with Cora Ewell. Only Cora has a secret, one that could kill them both.
An age old dark magic resurfaces and it becomes a race against time for Cora and Nate to find the long buried secrets to saving everyone they love and each other.
After a near fatal accident leaves Nate in limbo, he must find a way to get through to Cora before time runs out and she is forced into life eternal with the evil wizard, Elias Stafford.
I came to stand on the branch that I would jump from. Holding on to the branch above me, I edged my way out to the dangled rope. With one hand, I grabbed the rope and pulled it toward me. I inched back a few steps to give myself a decent amount of swing room. The rope was fraying, coarse, and rough in my hands. I could hear loud shouts and whoops of encouragement from below, but I blocked them out, shut my eyes…then jumped.
Free…Swinging out in the air, I forgot everything in that brief moment of peace. Letting go of the thick rope for that split second of suspension, I felt like I was flying. Then, I was no longer flying. I was slamming—slamming into the cold, glassy lake. The impact shattered every cell in my body as the pain of hitting a sheet of solid water turned me to jelly. Then I was under. I opened my eyes. Murky darkness surrounded me.
I don’t know how far I was submerged but I could see rays of sunlight piercing through the surface into the depths. I waited for the moment my feet would hit the bottom so I could push off and resurface. Feeling the sludgy sand between my toes, I closed my eyes again and prepared to launch myself skyward. I don’t know why, but my feet were stuck. Something cold and slimy had wrapped itself around my left leg, tendrils crawling like ants around my calf. All the air in my chest escaped in a single cloud of air bubbles making a frenzied dash for the surface.
Kicking and flapping about, I tried to dislodge whatever had caught my foot. I needed air but every time I opened my mouth it filled with the ceaseless rush of muddy water.
Don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic! I crunched myself into a ball and stretched my arm down in a vain attempt to remove whatever it was that had the vice grip on my ankle. I wrapped my hand around the offending root that held me. Terror stopped my heart and froze my blood, and my eyes shot open. Clamped around my leg was a grizzly, white-knuckled hand extending out of the lake floor. I struggled and fought to pry the digits loose. It was no use, my ankle was locked fast, and I had nothing left.
Given the go-ahead, the murky liquid hungrily searched for any way to penetrate and take over my body. A thousand knives pierced through me as I battled for every last scrap of oxygen. My arms and legs spasmed once, then twice, then stopped fighting and went deathly still. An ethereal calmness took over. I knew right then I was dying. I thought of Cora, imagining her warmth and fire, and I found peace. I pictured her arms wrapped around me, holding me tight forever and never letting go.