Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Starflower by Anne Elisabeth Stengl!

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Guest Post/ 10's: top ten stories used as inspiration:
1. Phantastes by George MacDonald. I believe I can attribute the first germs of an idea that turned into Starflower to a scene near the end of this very strange book. In that scene, a crowd was gathered in a sacred grove to offer human sacrifices to a monstrous wolf. I found the scene so chilling, and soon after wrote my first notes for what turned into this novel.
2. The Hound of Heaven by Frances Thompson. This poem has been one of my favorites for many years. I reencountered it while in the middle of writing the rough draft of Starflower, and I was surprised to see how many of its themes matched those I was trying to communicate in my novel. So I did some revisions on the novel and more directly used elements of the "Hound of Heaven," even including an actual Hound.
3. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. After the novel came out, I had a reader write and ask me if I was at least partially influenced by this stunning retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth. I realized that, subconsciously at least, I probably was. It had been many years since I read Till We Have Faces, but it had left a profound impression on my imagination. I think many aspects of Starflower may have been shaped by Lewis's work.
4. Witches Abroad by Sir Terry Pratchett. Now this is an odd one! What could a funny novel by one of Britain's most talented parody-comedic writers possibly have to do with my dramatic fairy tale? But Witches Abroad, despite having a storyline completely dissimilar to Starflower's, deals with the importance of repeated themes and archetypes. The almost inevitability of fairy tales, and the importance of this inevitability. With typical Pratchettian deftness, this brilliant author weaves intense themes of universal importance into his laugh-out-loud adventure. I was very moved by this book, which I read while drafting Starflower, and I know it influenced my writing.
5. Iubdan, King of the Lepra and the Lepracaun. This classic Irish myth directly influenced the shaping of Starflower. The whole kingdom of Rudiobus is heavily based on the Lepracaun, and King Iubdan and Queen Bebo, both important characters in my novel, are directly taken from this legend. My hero Eanrin sprang from the character of Eshirt, Iubdan's bard.
6. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. The character of Wizard Howl--vain, talented, self-centered, but surprisingly courageous--has been an enormous influence on my development of Bard Eanrin, my beloved poet-cat! I adore Diana Wynne Jones's work as a whole, and this is my very favorite.
7. The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. Lewis will always be one of my favorite authors, so it's not surprising that he makes this list twice. But again, I think his influence was subconscious rather than conscious this time. Several readers, including my editors, have compared my character of Hri Sora to Lewis's Jadis, and I think it's a great comparison. Particularly Hri Sora's relationship to her kingdom, which she herself destroyed for reasons similar to--if not exactly like--Queen Jadis's destruction of Charn.
8. Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley. This is possibly more a stylistic influence than anything similar in the two stories. I adore Robin McKinley's retellings of fairy tales, and I particularly love her use of omniscient narrative in this gem of a novel. I have always wanted my own writing voice to be reminiscent of hers.
9. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare. No one has ever written Faeries and the Faerie World quite like Shakespeare does! He captures a sense of bizarre Otherness that I absolutely adore and find far more believable than most writers' attempts at tackling Faerie. Faeries should be Other. They should be hard for mere mortals to understand! I have memorized various speeches and monologues from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I often call them to mind while writing my own works.
10. Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came by Robert Browning. Another fabulous work of poetry, and another of which I have memorized large chunks. This one has had more influence on some of my other novels, but I know my love of this piece probably influenced aspects of Starflower as well.

 My Review: I really liked this book! It had all the aspects of a great fantasy novel. It also touched on some mythology that I really enjoyed! Among dragons, a sleeping maiden, 2 suitors, and faeries, there is a basic storyline of Christian fiction. I am also very happy that even though this is the 4th book in the series it is actually a sequel! I enjoyed that Starflower had a special language with her mom, and that she fulfilled her promise to her mom. There was also a love story plot!
Starflower is definitely a savior of her people. Will she save them in time? 
This definitely will go down in my all time favorite fantasy world stories! I can not wait to read the first 3 books, and the rest of the books to come!  

Author Anne Elisabeth Stengl

Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a passel of cats, and one long-suffering dog. When she's not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and studies piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of HEARTLESS, VEILED ROSE, MOONBLOOD, and STARFLOWER, with DRAGONWITCH due to release in 2013. HEARTLESS and VEILED ROSE have each been honored with a Christy Award.


When a cursed dragon-witch kidnaps the lovely Lady Gleamdren, Eanrin sets boldly forth on a rescue mission...and a race against his rival for Gleamdren's favor. Intent upon his quest, the last thing the immortal Faerie needs is to become mixed up with the troubles of an insignificant mortal.

But when he stumbles upon a maiden trapped in an enchanted sleep, he cannot leave her alone in the dangerous Wood Between. One waking kiss later, Eanrin suddenly finds his story entangled with that of young Starflower. A strange link exists between this mortal girl and the dragon-witch. Will Starflower prove the key to Lady Gleamdren's rescue? Or will the dark power from which she flees destroy both her and her rescuer?

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