Friday, March 15, 2013

Return by Charity Santiago: Character Interview and Excerpt


Interview with ASHLYN LI heroine of Charity Santiago's Return.

 Hello Ashlyn.  It's great that you could stop by.  I'm excited to find out more about you.  So, let's start....

First, tell us about yourself.

I’m eighteen, and I’ve always been a wanderer. I guess that’s why I’m in this mess right now- I’ve been wandering for the last three years. I was gone for so long that my father thought I was dead, and chose a new heir to the kingdom of Toryn.


I had good reason for leaving…or at least I thought so at the time. When I was fifteen, I helped my adoptive sister and her rebel group defeat Lord Angelo and establish a democracy over the Free Lands of Kresmir.


After I helped save the world, my dad suddenly thought I’d grown up and was ready to accept leadership of his kingdom. Yeah, right! I can barely remember to put my socks on every morning. I am definitely not leadership material. So I took off, and I’ve been wandering ever since.


The problem is that my absence- and the new Lord of Toryn- caused a war. I’ve got to find a way to put things right.


WOW!  I imagine that's  difficult. So, in all your travels where is your favorite place, and why?


There are so many gorgeous places in Kresmir, but if I had to pick just one place, it would be Cosmea. They say you can find your soul in the red cliffs of Cosmea, but I’ve always preferred the Cosmean Caverns, which stretch on for miles beneath the city. People journey to Cosmea to commune with nature and study the lands. I’ve always thought that maybe, just maybe, Toryn was like Cosmea once…before my father began turning our kingdom into a tourist trap.

Tell us more about your family.


I’m not real close with my dad, but then, I haven’t seen him in three years, either. My mom died in the war with Lord Angelo when I was a kid, and my adopted sister, Restlyn, was Scorned by my father after she challenged his decisions. She can’t return to Toryn unless she is pardoned by the reigning lord. That didn’t stop me from joining up with her to fight Lord Angelo three years ago, though. We’ll always be sisters, no matter what my dad says.


What was the scariest moment of your life?


When my friends and I faced off against the general of Lord Angelo’s DEMON army, I honestly didn’t know if we would all get out alive. I had this kind of, I don’t know…like a moment of clarity when I realized that we weren’t invincible, and that we were just as much in danger of dying as anyone. I think I aged a hundred years in that moment.


As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?


I wanted to be a traveler, of course! I definitely never wanted to be Lady of Toryn. I wanted to travel the world and sleep in a different city each night. I wanted to be able to walk into a tavern, ask someone where they’re from and honestly reply, “Oh, I’ve been there,” no matter what their response was.


What are you passionate about these days?


Drake Lockhart. No, Vargo. Haha! I’m just kidding. It’s a time of war- and it’s definitely not the right moment to be thinking about my love life! My kingdom comes first.


When my father thought I was dead, he chose an heir to ascend the pagoda and become the new Lord of Toryn. Lord Devlyn started a war with the Free Lands Democracy almost immediately. Toryn has always been a peaceful country, but my people are at war right now because of me - because I wasn’t there to put things right. I’ll never forgive myself for staying away so long, but what I need to do now is take back leadership of Toryn and restore my kingdom to its former glory.


That sounds like a plan and I know it won't be an easy task but I'm betting you can do it.  :)  Thanks again for chatting.

Lady of Toryn trilogy
Book 1
Charity Santiago

Genre: YA fantasy
Number of pages: 263
Word Count:  74,459

Book Description:

For the last three years, eighteen-year-old Ashlyn Li has been running from her destiny. A free-spirited ninja, Ashlyn would rather loot an abandoned city or challenge a fiend to battle than assume leadership of Toryn, her father's kingdom. However, when a series of attacks reunites Ashlyn with the friends who helped her save the sun three years ago, she discovers that her kingdom is at war and her father has presumed her dead.

Suddenly Ashlyn is faced with not only fulfilling her birthright, but also making sense of her feelings towards two very different men- Drake Lockhart, the enigmatic vampire who captured her heart three years ago, and Vargo, the charismatic assassin who was once Ashlyn's sworn enemy.

Will Ashlyn ascend the pagoda and become Lady of Toryn?

I once knew a girl," he said, his voice a perfect monotone, "who was like a dying rainbow. Her colors were incomparable, her countenance a whirlwind of brilliance."
Ashlyn resisted the urge to pull away from his touch. If this was another story about his dear long lost Loritta or the perpetually bratty Trace, she really wasn't in the mood to hear it.
Three years ago, she would have immediately yanked away and jumped up, jabbering something about Drake's selfishness and his inability to let things go or think about anyone but himself.
Today, Ashlyn sighed inwardly and resigned herself to a drab sob-fest about one of two women she hated for the pure fact that they were both incredible and mature and…well, not her.
Drake went on, oblivious to Ashlyn's inner turmoil, "As much as she shone, however, she faded into nothingness, at times so quickly that I was unsure whether she had existed at all."
He paused, their breathing and the rain on the roof the only sounds in the room as he gently extracted a splinter from between her fingers. "Years passed, and she became a memory to me. It was a long while before I realized how difficult it must have been for her, attempting to find a balance- somewhere from oblivion to her own unmatched radiance."
His hand covered hers, emerald light gleaming from between their interlinked fingers as her flesh knitted beneath his touch.
"I never thought I would see her again," Drake continued. His lips were close to her ear, stirring the damp strands of her hair with his breath. "But she came to me one night, three years later, out of the rain, as much a walking contradiction as she'd ever been."
Ashlyn's throat tightened.
He was talking about her, sweet Drago, he was saying all that stuff about her. She'd spent a month with Drake before, in close proximity, and he'd never said this much during those entire four weeks, much less in a single conversation.
And what he was saying now…? If she hadn't already been pretty much collapsed into his arms, it would have happened, and probably with a bunch of drama and swoony fluttering, too.
"What seems impossible," Drake said, his fingers brushing across her palm with obvious reluctance as he let go of her hand, "becomes possible in the smallest, most trivial moments. The girl that I remember has become a woman I cannot forget. Her strength has united a kingdom once thought lost. Her passion has awakened the hearts of heroes unsure of their purpose."
"Her stupidity caused the war in the first place," Ashlyn said uncomfortably, folding her arms across her chest. Instead of utter elation at his words, she felt like a child receiving a precious gift that was completely undeserved, and as much as she wanted to let him console her, there was no way to deny the truth of the situation.
When she met Drake's gaze, his blood-red eyes were solemn, and he raised a hand to cup her face, brushing his thumb across her cheek to remove the last traces of her tears. "You can run from your destiny, Ashlyn, but it will find you regardless," he said.
"I was alone for three years," she told him. I am not leaning into his hand. I AM NOT leaning into his hand. "I'm not the same person anymore. Toryn isn't my destiny anymore. I'll just screw it up, like I have everything else."
"I was alone for almost twenty years," he replied. "You dragged me out of the coffin nonetheless."
"That's different." Don't do this to me, Drake. Don't make me fall for you all over again.
His eyebrows quirked, obviously in disagreement.
Ashlyn frowned, trying hard to focus. "I only asked you to start thinking of yourself as a man,                            Drake, instead of a monster. That's hardly the same thing."
"I'm asking you to think of yourself as a leader," he said. "You've spent so long running from responsibility that you think yourself incapable of fulfilling your birthright."
"We haven't seen each other in three years. You don't know what I'm capable of- I don't even know what I'm capable of."
He grabbed her hand, abruptly, and brought it up to his chest. Through the cloth of his shirt, his skin was warm to the touch, and Ashlyn let him press her hand against the solidness of his shoulder, confused as to what he was doing.
"This," he said, his voice low, "is where I was struck by Devlyn's sword."
After a moment, he slid her hand lower, until it was resting directly above his heart. Ashlyn paused, entranced by the lack of a pulse beneath her fingers, the scent of him filling her senses and enveloping her like the rain against the roof.
"This," Drake said. "This is where I would have been struck, if you had not deflected the blow."
She met his gaze, breathing so hard that she felt light-headed. His eyes bored into hers, piercing her straight to her soul.
"I know what you are capable of, Ashlyn," he said. "I know better than anyone." 


In February 2011, Charity Santiago's 7-month-old son was admitted to the hospital with severe respiratory issues. While Charity stayed at his bedside, she kept them both entertained by downloading several books on her new Kindle and reading them out loud. It was during this time that Charity learned about Kindle's self-publishing program, and realized that she had an opportunity to share her writings with the world.
Charity is a native of southeastern Arizona, and a writer since childhood. She wrote her first manuscript, Guinea Pig Code, at age nine. When she’s not writing books, Charity spends her time reading on her Kindle, wrangling children, watching Sylvester Stallone movies and pursuing a degree in Education. 
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1 comment:

Charity said...

Hi Laurie! I just wanted to stop by and say thank you for hosting this interview- and for suggesting the character interview, that was a brilliant idea! Have a wonderful week!