Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fantasy Authors of Tomorrow: Hannah Williams!

Many of you faithful readers will recognize Hannah as one of the regular commentors on this blog. She always brings insight and cheerfulness, not to mention her love of books and gift of art! Many of the fan art pieces to be found on the various Goldstone Wood web pages were done by Hannah . . . and they are all, without exception, beautiful.
What you might not have known is that Hannah is also a talented storyteller! She signed up for my mentoring program a few months ago and impressed me with a vivacious writing voice, full of lively expression, wit, and charm. But a dark thread weaves through it all, adding a dimension of seriousness that makes the story all the more interesting.
I've invited Hannah to come share a little bit about herself and her current manuscript with all of you. First, her author bio:

Hannah Williams is a sixteen year-old homeschooler living in the lush valleys of Oregon. She doesn’t mind the rain because it gives her an excuse to stay inside and write. She lives on a house on a knoll with her parents, big brother, her Grammie, and three dogs, five cats, six chickens, two guinea pigs, and one goat. Her passions are writing and illustrating epic stories of good and evil. She is a geek of all things Tolkien and Stengl. She hopes to one day publish her books, and she hopes her stories will bring glory to God.
And now I know you're eager to hear what her story is about! So here is it's short summary:

He alone could save the world . . . but only if he is saved first.
Long ago, the elven king hid away his most precious book, the Moonscript, for it held the secrets of the unreachable Higher World. Evil has long sought htis knowledge . . . and now the heir to the Moonscript has vanished . . . .
Such stories should have nothing to do with Tellie.
Young Tellie is a simple orphan girl with one desire in her heart--to find a family. But on her journey, she discovers a mysterious treasure and is suddenly pulled into the outside world. Her dreams of family and home are forced aside as Tellie is plunged into an adventure she may not survive. If she is to escape, she must resceu a fellow prisoner, the only person left alive who can keep the Moonscript a secret.
But which will be harder--rescuing him from the dungeons . . . or from himself?
Hannah is here today with an interview, so you can get to know her and her writing a little better. Enjoy . . . and be sure to check below for a chance to win a fun giveaway!
Hi, Hannah! First of all, why don't you tell us a little about yourself. Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you like tea or coffee? Cats or dogs? Indoors or outdoors? Sports or crafts? Anything you want to tell us!

Hannah: Hi, Anne Elisabeth! Thank you SO much for featuring me on your blog. It is such a privilege!
I really love staying home with my family, but when I do go out and about, I like to think of myself as a friendly, sociable person. As for tea or coffee, I’d have to say…hot chocolate! I know, I know, that wasn’t an option. Tea is preferable over coffee, if you must know. I have both cats and dogs, and I don’t know which are better. I love the beauty of outdoors, but I tend to be lazy and stay indoors.  I’ve never been particularly fond of either sports or crafts, but besides writing, I LOVE to draw! I live in Oregon with my Dad, Mom, Grammie, and Big Brother. 

When did you first decide you wanted to be a novelist?
Hannah: I’ve always loved coming up with stories, but when I was around nine I came up with an “epic” story. My older cousin encouraged me to write it, and so I did. When I was finished, it was a hundred pages. Excited, I read it to my long-suffering brother, and two cousins. And of course, they complimented it very sweetly. Though I now know that the story must have been difficult to listen to (at least without laughing) their encouragement convinced me that I could be a writer. I haven’t stopped writing books since. J

What was the first story you can remember writing down? Did you finish it?
Hannah: Oh dear. One Christmas when I was four I got a huge stuffed tiger.  I adored it and decided to write stories about it. I dubbed him Shere Kahn. Realize that I was not a fan of the evil tiger in Disney’s Jungle Book. I simply saw it as the only name that could belong to a tiger. I must admit, I don’t remember what the plot of the story was. I think it was a love story between Shere Khan and a beautiful tigress. I think the villain was a black lynx. (Yeah, I know, big competition for a tiger.) It was a few pages long, illustrated, and bound in colored paper. It went on to become a trilogy about his son, Bagerea, and his granddaughter Ruby. (Finally, some originality!)

What are some of your favorite books? Have they influenced your own writing?

Hannah: The Lord of the Rings launched me forth in my love of fantasy. Tolkien’s work still inspires me today. Since then, favorite books have come in and dropped out of my favor. More recently, I discovered your Tales of Goldstone Wood. I adored these books instantly because you wrote stories exactly how I wanted them to be written. (Happy endings are a must for me!) My current three favorites (excluding the Lord of the Rings) are:

1.      The Tales of Goldstone Wood by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
2.      The Lost Conspiracy by Frances Hardenge
3.      The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley.

The last two books have cultures I don’t explore a lot in my stories, but they totally inspired me! I cannot recommend them enough.

What is a one-sentence summary of the manuscript you are currently writing?
Hannah: A simple orphan girl must save an elven prince from a darkness that desires to destroy the sinless world he is descended from.

What is the most important lesson you've learned during these last few months of mentoring
Hannah: The very first month held the biggest changes in my story. While the plot was basically the same as it is now, my main character was not Tellie at all, but a boring young man named Mirn. I pretty much had him just to be our window for looking at the story. I took little interest in Mirn. My mentor, Anne, saw this with eagle-eyed clarity right away. She encouraged me to try Moonscript with a different main character, a character who I could know and love. She wanted me to write a character I could understand so that I would write with conviction. My new character, Tellie, abounded with life, and suddenly I was just as interested in her story as with Errances’. This led me to better understand Errance and the rest of my characters in my books.

What tricks do you try when you face writer's block?
Hannah: I haven’t faced serious writer’s block a whole lot yet, but just a few weeks ago I slammed into a writer’s wall. My wonderful mentor, Anne Elisabeth Stengl, wrote me a very encouraging e-mail that lifted my spirits, and I started seeking ways to jump this writer’s wall. Luckily, I have an older brother who I consider to be the funniest person in the world.  I asked him to help me, and he glibly launched forth on his version of my story. After sorting through random things like navy seals and Kohl gift cards, I discovered that there were a few things he said that inspired me. My new idea leapt over the wall, and now it is an important theme in the story.

Who is your favorite character in your current manuscript and why?
Hannah: I adore my elf prince, Errance. He’s SO complicated. He was raised by a wise and loving father in a beautiful land for his first twenty years. Then—Spoiler—he is captured by demons and imprisoned for seventy years. Thus he is conflicted. He still is a noble man, dauntless and heroic, hating evil and refusing to aid it under extreme penalty. Yet after seventy years of VERY negative influence, Errance has darkened. He’ll say things or do things you don’t expect of an elf prince. He distrusts almost everybody and hates touch. He is often depressed and pessimistic. I really dove into trying to understand Errance. For the most part, I’m like Tellie: unaware of everything he’s gone through. But I really feel like I’ve captured his struggles well. He was almost more comfortable being in prison—at least there he knew who he was and what the intentions of everyone around him were. Now—back out in the outside world—he is afraid, but determined not to let anyone know it. As the book progresses we see how characters and events slowly draw him out of his self-made imprisonment. It’s so wonderful to watch him relax, lighten up, become attached, and learn to love again. He has a surprising sense of humor! J

And this doesn’t quite have to do with the question, but I really wanted to make it clear that there is no romance with Tellie and Errance (except for Tellie’s initial crush). Actually, Tellie tries to become a matchmaker for “big brother” Errance and hopes to pair him up with a special young lady.

Would you share an excerpt from your current work-in-progress?

Hannah: Oh my goodness, I’d love to!

Excerpt from


“Aren’t you looking forward to seeing home again?” Tellie asked.
Errance shrugged. His silence shocked Tellie, who was expecting an instant confirmation. “Aren’t you?” she repeated.
“I don’t know,” he murmured. “I can barely remember it. If I return—I’m not sure I’ll…fit in.”
The girl went still and her eyes widened. That was her problem, not his. He was the prince; he didn’t have to worry about fitting in. But he did. The seventy years had mauled him into a completely different person. She staggered past the idea and said, “Well, this is your chance at a new life.” She tried to make her voice perky and confident, but she felt like the tone simply hit him and dropped dead.
Folding his arms, Errance pressed his lips together tightly. His bitter laugh choked in his throat. “Life. What’s that?” he spat.
The last of the day’s sunlight slipped behind the cloud cover, and the forest fell under shadow. A light rain began to fall, and the remnant of Tellie’s good mood fell with it. “Please, Errance,” she pleaded. “Don’t say things like that.”
He huffed a breath, but with the little light she had, she thought she saw him wince, almost as if he was sorry for upsetting her. “All right. It’s just…I’m finding living difficult.”
“Most people think death is worse,” she snapped back.
A scowl flashed over his face. “So I’m accustomed to death.”
The shower turned into a downpour and Tellie’s clothes and hair started to stick to her skin. She shook her head and hoped the water in her eyes came from the rain. “But Errance, isn’t life, no matter how hard—worth it?”
His gaze dropped. “I…” He took a deep breath. “I don’t know.”
She hunkered into herself, wrapping her arms in tight. She found it difficult to speak. “Errance,” she moaned. “You’ve completely lost your sense of self-worth.”
“Tell me something I don’t know,” he said bitterly.
His sharp tone scraped against Tellie’s heart, but at that moment she suddenly thought of a clever reply. “All right then,” she said. “You’re ugly.”
She laughed. She couldn’t help it. His startled, almost-hurt, expression could have amused anyone, even someone at a funeral. “Well, at least you still have your vanity!” she gasped between her giggles.
But the prince seemed to find nothing amusing or clever about her joke, and he turned his head away to fix his gaze on some random tree. His cold expression drowned Tellie’s humor, and in that instant, Tellie suddenly realized she was getting wet. “Uh,” she gasped. “Let’s get out of the rain.” Forgetting herself, she went to grab his arm.
Instantly, Errance jerked his arm out of her grasp.
Tellie planted a fist on her hip and shook a finger at him. “Errance, come on, you don’t have to act that way with me. I’m only fourteen!”
            “Really? I thought you were all grown-up?”
She stared at him. Was he teasing her? He was still looking away from her, but she almost thought she could see a twinkle in his eye, though it might have been rain-water. It was too dark for her to tell. Could it be possible that he had been amused by her jest? That he had actually made his only little witticism in return? “Yes, well, I’m sort of grown-up,” she hedged. “Can we please get out of the rain?”


Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Hannah! I know we are all eager to see this story play out . . . and hopefully find it on bookstore shelves in another few years!

In the meanwhile, you readers may continue enjoying little bits nad pieces of Hannah's writing via her brand new blog: The Writer's Window. Go take a look and follow her blog! Right after you've entered your name in the giveaway below . . . .

And now for the giveaway. Hannah has made a GORGEOUS bookmark to offer to one lucky winner! Take a look at this artristry:
If you would like to win this lovely Moonscript bookmark, be sure to enter your name in the raffle below! And take a moment to thank Hannah for her time today." rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway


Clara said...

Hannah! This is so exciting...Moonscript sounds wonderful, and I dearly hope to read more than that tantalizing exerpt in the future!

Bookishqueen said...

Another story that is awesome. Can't wait to see them in print. We need more fantasy authors like this!

Bookishqueen said...

It seems like you guys are getting a lot of good help from Stengl mentoring. I wish I could afford to try it.

Molly said...

Yikes, I can't believe excerpts are so short. Hee hee I'm just kidding.
That was wonderful, Hannah! I'm already following your blog. :-)
(we're going home today, so I'll be able to send you the next few chapters, don't worry!)

Rebecca said...

What an intriguing premise! And I must say that I love the title. Oh and the name Errance. Complicated, conflicted characters are some of my favorites. I look forward to getting to know your characters and joining them on their journey in the future! Thanks for sharing this excerpt as well as offering such an amazing, one-of-a-kind giveaway. :)

J. L. Mbewe said...

What a lovely opportunity to have Ms. Stengl as your mentor! I love the title of your book and the premise makes me want to learn more. Wish you the best!

And lovely blog by the way, I love your analogy of the window. I wrote a poem a loooong time ago about windows and resonated with me.

Your art work is great. The little details are awesome (I tend to be lazy now when it comes to details in my own art. ha!)(unless I'm doing a mural for someone). But my question is: What mediums are you using?


Christa said...

Hannah, I got really excited when I saw that you were featured today! The artwork is lovely (as always), I enjoyed the excerpt, and I just want to let you know that when Moonscript is published I will buy it. ;)

Hannah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

Clara: I hope you'll read it someday too!

Bookishqueen: Thank you so much!

Molly: Yes, it was a short excerpt. It was even shorter originally, before Anne told me I could write more.

Rebecca: Thank you, Rebecca. I was stumped on the title for this story for a while. And I hope that you'll get to read about Errance!

Jennette: I'm SOOOO thankful to have Anne as my mentor. She is helping me in ways I can't count! I'm glad you enjoyed my artwork. I tend to use a strange array of mediums. Mostly I use watered-down acrylic, but I also use colored pencils.

Jasmine A. said...

The bookmark is absolutely beautiful!
Hannah. Which came first, a desire to write or your art?

Rae said...

Wow, that is amazing, Hannah! I love to hear about other homeschooled high-schoolers writing novels. Gives me a good bit of encouragement. :) Your excerpt is so tantalizing-- a heart-felt fantasy written with a fun sense of humor. I desperately want to read the whole story, so please keep at it! Thanks for sharing with us! :)

Hannah said...

Christa: Thank you so much, that's very sweet! :)

Jasmine: I'm honestly not quite sure. I've been drawing as far back as I can remember, but I know that I used to pick up a book and come up with stories long before I could read or write.

Rachel: Thank you for the encouragement! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I can't wait to share it all with everyone!

Thank you everyone for all these kind comments! I woke up this morning with an 102 degree temperature, so Anne's description of me as vivacious made me smile (in a sleepy, fuzzy sort of way.) This has all been very encouraging!

sagerhard said...

Hannah! I am so proud of you. This is so great. :) Can't wait to hear more about it soon! I hope you feel better, being sick is no fun at all. Love you!

Camryn Lockhart said...

I loved the excerpt! It makes me want to read the whole book. I really liked Errance, but I loved the part where Tellie tells him he is ugly. Haha! That made me laugh. :)
I love Hannah's style of writing. It reminds me of the books I read when I was little and I read any book I could get my hands on. Very intriguing story too! I can't wait til it gets published.
Keep writing, Hannah! Good job!

In Christ,

Lauren said...

What an awesome story!!! I really want to read the whole thing now :)

Do you have any tips for developing a distinguished culture/world for your story? I find that's the hardest part for me!

As somebody else already said, "Go homeschoolers!!!" I'm finishing up college now, but I love hearing about other homeschool grads.

Hannah said...

Thank you, Shannon!!! :D

Little Brown Sparrow: It's wonderful to hear from you again, Camryn! I'm happy you liked it so much! I rather enjoyed Tellie's impertinence myself, because although I didn't mention this, Errance is a VERY handsome man.
I really hope to get the first draft of Moonscript finished this year.

Once again, Anne, thank you SO much for featuring me on your blog and for providing your mentoring services and friendship!

Hannah said...

Lauren: Thank you!

As for developing distinctive cultures in a story, I'm no expert. But I find that reading stories by people who are experts (the worlds in the favorite books I named are amazing) can be very insightful. I also try to develop a flavor for my different people through drawing. But perhaps what helps me the most is music. I will usually assign a certain style of music to my different cultures.

Hope this helps!

Molly said...

Miss Anne Elisabeth: Would you please inform Miss Jill that I received my book today? I am THRILLED over it and have already been gorging in it...
as for you, did I tell you that when I was reading STARFLOWER, I read it while I was waiting at a piano thing, and they had to call my name about three times because I didn't hear them; I was so into my book.

Becky said...

Hannah, I'm smiling ear to ear! Of course, I'll buy your book when it's published, maybe 10 or 12! :o)

Anne Elisabeth, thank you for sharing your talents and your blog with all of these talented people. I love the interviews and excerpts!

Becky said...

Oh! And we're really looking forward to Dragonwitch and Shadow Hand!

JoJo said...

You go, Hannah!!!!

Meredith said...

That's fantastic, Ms. Hannah! Isn't it wonderful to receive input and invaluable advice about writing? I loved the excerpt from Moonscript and am very intrigued.

I love Robin McKinley's The Hero and the Crown and her fairy tale retellings. The only book of hers I haven't enjoyed is Spendle's End, (a retelling of Sleeping Beauty), but I think I just got bogged down in the many parenthetical asides about the kingdom. Definitely need to try it again. Her heroines are always so gutsy.

By the way, you were right. I am absolutely loving Starflower! I'm ready for Chapter 18 of Part 1, and it's getting better and better with every page. Rhi Sora is the most pitiful villainess I've ever encountered in a story. I alternate between wanting to see her vanquished and wanting to see someone extend a kindness to her. And, those Black Dogs! When I found out who they were, I got goosebumps and felt so sad. Eanrin is such a joy to get to know more about, so arrogant yet tenderhearted, (although he probably wouldn't want me to call attention to that). What can I say about Imraldera? She's phenomenal and, next to Rose Red, my favorite female character thus far in the entire series. Lady Gleamdren? Wow! I won't say much here, but my word! What a totally self-absorbed and unfeeling little wench! If you want a true villainess, seems to me she's it. I get so tickled when I think how the Faerie Folk adore her so. Or, at least, she'd like to think they do. Hilareous! (I might get into serious trouble if she reads this!) LOL! I would like to hasten to say I haven't finished the book, so if she somehow redeems herself in my eyes, I'll immediately express an apology.

Anyway, I'll stop ranting and just say I loved your feature. I'll be praying for your writing and artistic endeavors. You have true God-given gifts. Keep up the outstanding work. God bless you.

Unknown said...

Hannah, your artwork is stunning, as always. And I loved the excerpt! Tellie and Errance sound like such interesting characters, and I just want to say that I love how the focus is on friendship between them rather than romantic love. That is so rare in books for young adults nowadays, and I admire you for it. Keep writing, you rock! :D


Hannah said...

Thank you, JoJo!

Meredith: It is wonderful to receive advice on writing, especially from someone who is really trying to help you!

I also love Robin McKinnly's books. Well, most of them anyway. I myself didn't care for the Hero and the Crown, but despite the confusion of Spindle's End, I liked that one. Pegasus was excellent too, but it has a horrible cliffhanger ending. Good thing that the sequel is coming out next year! Besides The Blue Sword my other favorite by this author is Chalice.

I'm so glad you're loving Starflower! It's terrific!

Beka: Thank you so much! It was nice to break away from the typical love story and get a chance to write about the love friends can have. Tellie's a loyal, perky young girl, and her character is so suited to helping Errance recover from his past. :)

Twisted Pixie Reviews said...

Not only does this book sound amazing but the art alone makes me want to read and own this book. Thanks for the giveaway!
While I can't think of a question to ask, I do want to say to keep up the amazing writing and drawing, Hannah because we need more beautiful talented artists and writers like you. :)

Imblest said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hannah said...

That's so sweet! Thank you, Krystal. : )