Today I am interviewing Elle Katharine White, author of the new fantasy novel, Flamebringer, final book in the Heartstone series.
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DJ: Hi Elle! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?
Elle Katharine White: Hey there! Thanks so much for having me here. I’m Elle, I write sci-fi and fantasy books and love all things nerdy, especially things with dragons.
DJ: What is Flamebringer and then the Heartstone series about?
Elle: Flamebringer is the final book in the Heartstone trilogy, which started as a reimagining of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice in a fantasy world with dragons and dragon-riding monster hunters. I’d always wondered what life looked like for Elizabeth and Darcy after their happily ever after, and if they had to work as hard to keep their HEA as they did to find it in the first place. For the characters in Flamebringer, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Unfortunately for them, they have the added pressure of saving their kingdom from a monstrous invasion, which will make for some very interesting marriage therapy sessions later in life.
DJ: What were some of your influences for the Heartstone series?
Elle: The first book began with a mash-up of Pride & Prejudice and the movie How to Train Your Dragon, but in the second and third books I wanted to expand the world of Arle, giving it depth and history beyond its Regency counterpart. For that I turned to mythology. (I was and still am a huge myth nerd.) Many of the non-human characters were inspired by creatures I’d met in folklore.
DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers with sympathize with them?
Elle: Aliza Daired, née Bentaine, our stalwart protagonist, can’t stomach the sight of blood, dislikes violence, and can’t handle a sword to save her life. While I love a powerful female warrior character, something about the trend in fantasy of making all women MCs untouchable badasses troubles me. It sets a dangerous precedent where a woman’s worth is still determined by physical attributes (i.e. throwing a punch, using a sword, etc.), even if those attributes aren’t traditionally feminine.
Aliza was not raised to be a warrior, and she’s okay with that. She recognizes the value in the skills she does have, like herblore, the healing arts, and a quick wit, without looking down on others, especially fellow female characters, with different talents. She’ll always prefer cunning and resourcefulness over brute strength, and sometimes that’s just what’s needed.
DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?
Elle: Tobble Turn-of-the-Leaves, the mischievous hobgoblin, is my absolute favorite. We meet him in the very first scene of Heartstone, gleefully flinging mud at a very haughty and very irate dragonrider. He’s brave, fun, cheeky, stubborn, and a loyal friend to Aliza, and I loved writing him.
DJ: What is the world and setting of the Heartstone series like?
Elle: The humans of Arle share their island kingdom with the Oldkind, fantasy creatures ranging from harmless to monstrous. Among the Oldkind are three divisions: the Shani, creatures who are friendly to humans and live and work alongside them, the Tekari, creatures who are hostile to both humans and Shani and hunt them whenever they can, and the Idar, creatures who don’t care a whit about humans and only wish to be left alone.
Among the Shani are creatures like dragons and wyverns who have joined forces with the elite warrior class of humans to protect the kingdom from the Tekari. Members of House Daired, the oldest and most powerful family in Arle, are the only Riders permitted to bond with dragons. Alastair Daired, heir to House Daired, companion of the dragon Akarra, and **spoiler warning but not really** Aliza’s eventual husband, was originally based on the character of Mr. Darcy. Because honestly, who doesn’t want a dragon-riding Mr. Darcy?
DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two books of the Heartstone series? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?
Elle: Readers have told me that they love the worldbuilding and the dynamics between all the different creatures and the main human characters, which makes me happy because that has been my favorite part about writing the series.
DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Flamebringer?
Elle: Bringing things full circle. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are questions brought up in Heartstone that finally get answered in Flamebringer, and the answers might surprise some readers.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Elle: That time when **SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS** and he **SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS.**
DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Flamebringer that you can share with us?
Elle: “You have a reckless heart, my darling.” Gently Aunt Lissa touched my chin. Our gazes met, and she smiled. “You never learned to love by halves.”
DJ: Now that Flamebringer is released, what is next for you?
Elle: We’re off to space! Well, sorta. I’m working on an epic space opera reimagining of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, complete with singing spaceships. It’s gonna be quite the ride.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: Elle Katharine White
Author Newsletter: https://www.dragonridersofarle.com/connect
(Join the Dragonriders and get the first chapter of Flamebringer!)
Goodreads: Elle Katharine White
Pinterest: Heartstone Inspiration
World of Heartstone site: https://www.dragonridersofarle.com/
Author site: https://www.ellekatharinewhite.com/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Flamebringer and the Heartstone series that we haven’t talked about yet?
Elle: If beta-reader reactions are anything to go by, you may want to have tissues handy for the end of Flamebringer. Just saying.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Elle: Thank you so much for having me, it’s been a blast. Happy reading, everyone!
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions!
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***Flamebringer is published by Harper Voyager and is available TODAY!!!***
Buy the Book:
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About the Book:
Monsters, manners, and magic combine in this exciting final volume in the Heartstone Trilogy—an exhilarating blend of epic fantasy and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—in which a fearless healer and her dragon-riding husband must stop a reawakened evil from destroying their world.
It starts with the inconceivable: Wydrick, sworn enemy of the Daireds, is back from the dead, possessed by a ghast that grants him immortality and inhuman strength. From the isolated northern mountains, Aliza, Alastair, and Akarra chase him into the dangerous Old Wilds, realizing too late that he’s led them into a blizzard. Before he vanishes, Wydrick utters a warning: A terrible, ancient evil has awoken, hungry for blood, and is headed their way.
The danger is closer than they know. The Tekari—sworn enemies of humans—are openly roaming the kingdom and are headed towards the capital, Edonarle. Then unexpected news arrives: riding like a dark dragon on the winds from the south, an ambassador from the Silent King of Els, has left the shores of the distant desert kingdom for the first time in centuries.
Unknown enemy? Or unexpected ally? Plunged into a dangerous world of royal intrigue and ancient grudges, Aliza and Alastair soon realize it will take more than steel and dragonfire to save their kingdom. For the silence of Els hides a secret that could shake House Daired to its foundations, and the time has come to settle accounts.
Silence, it seems, is about to be broken.
About the Author:
Elle was born and raised in Buffalo, NY, where she learned valuable life skills like how to clear a snowy driveway in under twenty minutes (a lot easier than you think) and how to cheer for the perennial underdog (a lot harder than you think).
When she’s not writing she spends her time reading, drinking tea, having strong feelings about fictional characters, and doing her best to live with no regrets.
See news and upcoming releases at ellekatharinewhite.com, connect with her on Facebook at @ellewhite.author, or witness the hilarious spectacle that is a writer contending with a character limit on Twitter at @elle_k_writes.