Monday, October 13, 2014

Aranya by Marc Secchia Giveaway & Interview

Title: Aranya
Series: Shapshifter Dragons #1
Author: Marc Secchia
Publication Date: June 12, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Chained to a rock and tossed off a cliff by her boyfriend, Aranya is executed for high treason against the Sylakian Empire. Falling a league into the deadly Cloudlands is not a fate she ever envisaged. But what if she did not die? What if she could spread her wings and fly?

Long ago, Dragons ruled the Island-World above the Cloudlands. But their Human slaves cast off the chains of Dragonish tyranny. Humans spread across the Islands in their flying Dragonships, colonising, building and warring. Now, the all-conquering Sylakians have defeated the last bastion of freedom–the Island-Kingdom of Immadia.

Evil has a new enemy. Aranya, Princess of Immadia. Dragon Shapeshifter.

Buy Links

Author Bio
Marc is a South African-born author who lives and works in Ethiopia with his wife and 4 children, 2 dogs, a rabbit, and a variable number of marabou storks that roost on the acacia trees out back. On a good night there are also hyenas patrolling the back fence.

When he's not writing about Africa Marc can be found travelling to remote locations. He thinks there's nothing better than standing on a mountaintop wondering what lies over the next horizon.

Social Media Links
Website  | Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads

Giveaway: There is a giveaway for this tour. A $25 Amazon/B&N Giftcard or a Book Depository shopping spree of the same value.

One winner. Open Internationally. Ends 10/24. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where are you from?
I am from Cape Town, South Africa, and currently living and working in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Tell us your latest news?
Over the last few months I’ve been delighted with the success of two of my novels, Aranya and The Pygmy Dragon, both currently fantasy bestsellers. I’ve been able to connect with many new readers, which is always fun.

When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always loved writing and started in junior school with epic poems (of all things!) and drawing fantasy maps. I love to escape to other worlds and to create and weave prose that will transport readers to those places.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I completed a haiku series on the life of a salmon, age nine, I thought that was significant. But I first published seriously in 2013 and that was when I considered myself fully a writer.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published book, #1 in the Shioni of Sheba series, was inspired by a trip to the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia – an amazing, jagged volcanic wilderness. I thought, ‘Here be dragons’ and that triggered the story.

Do you have a specific writing style?
I adjust my style to suit my audience, which spans Middle Grades, YA and adult fantasy, but my preferred style is probably best seen in Aranya – rich, detailed world-building combined with heart-stopping action.

How did you come up with the title?
I needed an unusual and beautiful name for my heroine, something exotic but easy for readers to connect with. Aranya is an Indian name which I saw on a bottle of fragranced essential oil (yes, a little weird, I know, but inspiration doesn’t always choose where and when to strike) and immediately thought of this story, which I was conceptualising at the time.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Aranya is coming-of-age tale in which our heroine is graced with great powers. She could have chosen many paths, but she chooses to confront the evil in her world with courage and determination, and a good friend alongside her. I’d like readers to grasp that their choices matter more than they might think.

How much of the book is realistic?
I did a fair amount of research into hydrogen-powered dirigibles, dragon flight and flight dynamics, which I included in the appendix of Aranya. I am not a fan of fantasy writing in which the wave of a magic wand solves all problems, so my books need to be realistic. The science of an island-world above the toxic Cloudlands needed to be workable, and the technology that allowed flight between islands, etc. My Shapeshifters do not instantly learn how to fly and operate as dragons, nor do they come into all their powers at once.

I also like my characters to face hardship, make sacrifices, and have rich and rewarding relationships. Thus we have Aranya’s strong relationship with her father, and her choice to return to the dangerous Tower of Sylakia to rescue her friend, Zuziana – who she first clashes with, but later befriends. But Aranya’s choices have real consequences, such as almost killing her friend, or trying to save her native Island from the conquering Sylakian Empire. In the sequel to Aranya (the working title is Western Isles), her choices will lead to terrible consequences for those she loves.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are common themes which underlie much of my writing – strong female characters, the importance of choices, choosing one’s destiny, and the overcoming of difference or obstacles. I like to deal with a complex cultural milieu in my writing, which is strongly influenced by my sometimes surreal experience of growing up in apartheid South Africa. Aranya is a pure flight of the imagination, but a discerning reader will see these themes cropping up in different ways.

What books have most influenced your life most?
For hard science fiction, Isaac Asimov’s Robots series has to take it, within a great story is a timeless dealing with the human condition and an examination of moral and ethical choices through the eyes of his robots. The Bible is always my moral and spiritual compass. And in terms of pure writing, Anne McCaffrey’s world of Pern has always inspired me with the courage of her characters, sometimes in the face of great odds.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Definitely Anne McCaffrey – an amazing writer who built memorable worlds populated with warm, living characters, both dragon and human.

What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo, which mines many of the classic themes of good/evil, and the light/darkness of the spirit. Some parts struck me as too dark for younger children, but I enjoyed this fable, which is so rich at many levels.

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I read a lot of Indie authors at the moment. There are two new authors I read and really enjoyed recently, Anna Herlihy’s The Watch – an excellent dystopian novel inside a cover I disliked, and Eliza Wyatt’s Painted – this novel has a unique take on magic, combined with a courageous choice of heroine, a woman with Moebius Syndrome.

What are your current projects?
I am currently working on 3 projects – the sequels of Aranya and The Pygmy Dragon, and on the 5th book in my Shioni of Sheba series, The Fiuri Realms. After that I’d love to return to IsleSongand write the sequel to The Girl who Sang with Whales.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I work with a group of Indie authors on Goodreads who have offered excellent support and beta reading. Thanks!

What would you like my readers to know?

That the good in a person is what counts in the end, above and beyond all else.

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