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Book Tour Q&A: Path of the Warrior by Melissa Stone

Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Path of the Warrior by Melissa Stone! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.

About the book

Ashrinn Chimekin is a Fugitive Recovery Agent tasked with helping the crew of the Shrike in their pursuit of the rogue Cult of Atraxia. When something goes horribly wrong during an infiltration attempt on the cult’s compound, Ashrinn and the crew find themselves on a strange, new world. Worse yet, the cultists made their way to this new world as well.

Told that the capture of the cultists will lead them back home, the simple task becomes much harder when Ashrinn and the crew discover the cultists have allied themselves with the Darkriders, people who will stop at nothing to gain total control over their world. And making matters worse, the cultists have gained mysterious, dangerous magic powers.

Ashrinn forges alliances with the Dragonlords, the force in opposition to the Darkriders, in hopes of stopping both the cultists and the Darkriders once and for all. As she fights, she finds herself getting closer to uncovering the mystery behind the black sword that appears when she’s in dire need - and if it will affect her desire to return home.

On to the interview...!

Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.

I suppose that depends on your definition of great. By any standard definition, my proofreading business is picking up speed. By my personal definition, I’ve finally gotten my MRI appointment. As of writing this, it’s in 6 days.

What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?

I’m reading a bunch of things right now for a Discord readathon. Right now, that’s Unsouled by Will Wight and I’m almost done with Miss Percy’s Travel Guide to Welsh Moors and Feral Dragons by Quenby Olson.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?

When I was in the third grade, I spent most of my recesses in the library. My school had these passes you had to use to check out gym equipment and other fun things and they were always gone before I could get to them. No one wanted the library passes, so I spent many a recess making my own books about unicorns. (I’d yet to discover the coolness of dragons.) It wasn’t until years later that I started seriously writing stories with the intent on being an author.

How do you spend your free time when you’re not reading or writing? Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can talk to us about?

I suffer from a wide number of hobbies, much to the amusement of my family. I enjoy sewing, cross stitch, making custom dolls, assorted resin crafts, and video games. I’ve also been known to enjoy the odd nap.

Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?

I enjoy how relaxed yet funny Quenby Olson is. Ryan Cahill’s books make me feel less insecure about my penchant for my (possibly unnecessary) descriptions. Mercedes Lackey was possibly my biggest influence, though I can’t dismiss the influence Pern had on me.

If you could collaborate with any one author, who would it be and why?

That’s a tough question to answer and one that’s likely to change depending on what type of mood I’m in. In all honesty, any kind of author collaboration would be sweet.

What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?

Most of the SFF I read these days is Indie, and I love how inventive it is. I’ve seen things from my fellow Indies that I didn’t know I needed.

As for what I want to see more of, the odds are that what I’d like already exists and I just haven’t found it yet. I’d like to see more stories that don’t use known fantasy races. Elves, dwarves, goblins, etc. I get bored of seeing them over and over again. When there’s a fresh take on them, that’s great and I’m here for it. Books with new, inventive races are my jam.

What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?

At some point, people are going to get sick of me talking about how much I love Dragon Mage by M.L Spencer. It was an audiobook that got me through the worst, hottest parts of last summer. I wasn’t far into it when I started suspecting that the MC was autistic. I don’t like to assume, so I asked. I literally cried when I got the confirmation that he is autistic. If my son had an obsession with knots instead of Pokemon, he’s a dead ringer for Aram. It was my first time seeing someone like my son represented in fantasy. I spent so much of that book (happy) crying. Even typing this out makes me a little misty.

What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?

I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. Still don’t, really. So I like reading books with strong friendships. Even if it’s not super important to the plot. Solid friendships will win me over 9 times out of 10.

How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?

I’m very much a pantser, but I do some level of planning. I plan out the setting, characters, rules, and the general direction I want the story to go.

Stars of Destiny was pantsed, but I had key story elements for the whole series planned out in advance and worked them into the frameowrk of each book.

The opposite end of the spectrum is Path of the Warrior, which a good friend of mine helped plot out.

Typically, I get an idea for a story and just… start writing. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t. More often than not, the idea is solid enough to get a basic draft done. Most would call it a first draft, but some of those earlier incarnations are more like an overly detailed outline than a proper draft.

Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?

In a technical sense, it is, as the OG version of this story was written in high school. In terms of publication, this marks book #10. (This number doesn’t include books that are ‘finished’, but were pulled from publication for one reason or another.) I’ve learned it’s very difficult to write in an echo chamber. It’s beneficial to have people around you to bounce ideas off and to tell you when things are bad.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

Dialogue. Hands down. I’ve received multiple comments that my dialogue feels organic and natural.

How much of yourself do you write into your stories?

A lot of my characters have red hair. That aside, you probably won’t see anyone in my books getting drunk (aside from that one instance, but Kinrou can be forgiven for that, I think). I wasn’t raised around alcohol, so I don’t really know how to handle it or write it. I don’t drink, so it feels foreign to me to include.

I also despise mushrooms with every fiber of my being and it amused me to make the consumption of mushrooms in a story I’m working on not only illegal but unethical.

What comes first to you when you’re writing, the world, the characters, or the storyline?

Some stories start with a character doing a thing. Some start with the story. I’m conducting a story experiment where the world came first in the process. I don’t have a consistent starting point.

They say to never judge a book by its cover, but a cover is still a marketing tool that helps sell books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?

This is the second cover I’ve had made for this book. My first one looked too much like another book. My cover was made first, but that book was already published. The pitfalls of using stock art, I suppose.

I wanted the cover to have Ashrinn (the MC) on it, but have her face obscured in some way. It was also important to have that specific sword on it as it’s important to the story. I chose a forest because she and her colleagues essentially wake up in one. The swirly blue thing behind her will make sense shortly into the book.

Funny story about this cover. Dom (from Dominish Books) was doing a video about judging book covers, so I sent it his way. He likened the pose to someone holding a golf club. Golf was my mother-in-law’s favourite sport. Rather than have the cover redone, I’ve let it stand as an homage to her memory, even if it wasn’t meant that way.

Can you give us an elevator pitch for your book?

A team of bounty hunters from a high-tech world winds up stranded on a low-tech world.

Describe your book in 3 adjectives.

Complex Imaginative Entertaining

How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?

This version is so much different from the draft I wrote in high school that I almost don’t recognize it. For context, the characters were in high school. Ashrinn (Airen was her original name) and company belonged to their school’s fencing team while the antagonists were the school’s much maligned magic club. The rivalry got to a point where Asharos (Hoshi back then) cast a spell on them that inadvertently sent both groups to the world of Keverynn. From there, the story has a lot of the same beats and plot points, but it’s still very different.

If you could choose one worldbuilding detail (a place, ability, or creature, for example) from your book to exist in the real world, what would it be and why?

Dragons. I adore my dragons so much.

In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?

I think someone who likes character-driven stories without the blood and guts kind of warfare that seems so commonplace in fantasy would enjoy this book.

Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?

“Maybe you’ll consider opening up to the others as well?”

“I didn’t see the point before this,” he admitted. “I was just an informant to you.”

“And now?”

“Now? I don’t know. I don’t know what you’d call this. Not friendship, but maybe acquaintances? Unlikely travelling companions?”

This exchange between Ashrinn and Kenian is my go-to when I’m asked for a quote. I love writing these kinds of character interactions. For some reason, this one in particular stands out to me the most.

Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?

I’m currently working on a few projects, but the most notable is Path of the Sorceress, the sequel to this book.

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?




Where to buy the book:

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