Pandragon Dan

Pandragon Dan

Author/Reviewer/Blogger

Author Interview and Giveaway: Michelle Horst

Hey guys. Today I'm very excited for two reasons.

 

Firstly, it's St Patricks Day! So to start off - Happy St Patrick's Day everyone!

 

 
 
Now, onto the most important part of today. I'm excited to welcome back to my blog, Michelle Horst!
 
A couple of years ago, I reviewed Michelle's novel Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows. Whilst I had some reservations of the content and wondered if it was too overly dark for some readers, I was drawn to her excellent storytelling and characters. Having got to know her outside of writing, I can honestly say that she is one of the most honest and funniest people I know! She's a fantastic author that has gathered a strong, dedicated following of readers.
 
I'll be reviewing her novel Wake Me Up in a couple of months time - but today she's agreed to join my blog for an interview - and I'm glad that she's agreed to do so! So let's welcome Michelle to my blog and get to know her a little more!
 
 

 

 

 

Michelle, thank you so much for joining me on my blog! It's a pleasure to have you here today! Why don't you tell the readers what first inspired you to get into writing?
 

I’ve always loved reading. I started scribbling some poetry down as a child, and I guess the bug bite back then already. In my late twenties I started playing with the idea of writing an actual novel, but I only got the chance to sit down and write my first book in my middle thirties. My true inspiration? I guess you could say never letting go of that dream inside of you.

 

 

That is a really good attitude to have! So, who are your favourite authors?

 

Gosh, there are so many! Belle Aurora, Cora Carmack, Lisa De Jong, Penelope Douglas, and Veronica Roth – I could go on forever.

 

 

If I had the space on my blog I'd let you! XD  Which, in your opinion is more important – story or characters?

 

The storyline. You can have the best character in the world but if your plot falls flat it’s gonna suck. You have to keep your reader interested.

 

 

Speaking of story, what do you look for in a good story?

 

I’m a sucker for romance and friendship. There’s so much violence and bitchiness in the world, I really don’t need to read about it over and over. I don’t mind it, but don’t let it rule every page. I like suspense just like every other reader, but some authors forget about good ole’ romance and friendship and skip right on to sex, blood and gore.

 

 

Yup. I have to agree with you there. What’s the best advice you can give to authors?

 

A good book is all about pacing a story just right. Don’t repeat the same word over and over; you’ll irritate your reader. Use a thesaurus – magical little book filled with wordlist.  

 

 

So, what are you working on at the moment?

 

I’ll be working on a Novelette that will be released in an anthology with two amazing other authors.

 

 

Mmmmmm, interesting. I look forward to reading that! Do you have any favourite characters in the story?

 

No, every character in Wake Me Up holds a specific place in my heart.

 

 

If your book was turned into a film/TV series, who would you get to play the characters?

 

Would love for Mike Vogel to play Aiden, and Emma Watson to play Emma. They’d be my dream team. As for the mother, gosh, that’s another cup of tea all together.

 

 

Do you have any other hobbies other than writing?

 

I have a bird sanctuary. I house more than 600 birds, from Australian finches to some Amazon beauties. I have Koi, Sugar Gliders and 4 dogs than keeps me busy, as well.

 

 

Oh wow! That's cool! So I take it that if they ever remake The Birds, they'll be calling you up then? lol! Anyway, these next ones are just for fun. Are you a summer or winter person?

 

I’m a spring and fall person. I don’t like it too hot and not too cold.

 

 

Night owl or morning person?

 

Both. I go to bed at between 1 and 2 a.m. and I’m up at 5 a.m.

 

 

Yikes! I don't think I could do that! Fair play to you! Favourite food/drink?

 

Anything unhealthy.  I love Sprite zero and coffee. Don’t like dinner.

 

 

Yeah, unhealthy is awesome! Now, the important question. Who would win in a fight between a zombie ninja dragon and a cyborg unicorn with advanced weaponry?

 

Mmm… Cyborg Unicorn. I think the zombie ninja dragon’s gonna wipe-out due to being a bit on the slow side. (That’s if he’s like all the other zombies I’ve seen in movies, and he’s a slow poke). Plus, I’m a girl. I like girlie stuff. You put a unicorn there and I’m bound to choose the unicorn, even if it comes with armour.

 

 

Fair enough. Ok, now this is the pretty cool stuff! You’re a superhero – what powers would you prefer out of each list and why?

 

 Superstrength or superspeed?

 

Wowza – uhm… speed, I’m and impatient person.

 

 

Ok, flight or teleportation?

 

Teleportation – again, faster method of transport.

 

 

Gale-force breath or freeze breath?

 

(I hope both of these come with breath mints.) I’ll go with freeze. I might kill someone with gale-force. Safety first!

 

 

I'm sure we can chuck a few in for you! XD Heat vision or telekinesis?

 

Damn, telekinesis. For the safety of mankind. Can’t go burning up the planet, now can we?

 

 

No we can't! Invincibility or accelerated healing factor?

 

Invincibility, of course. You won’t need the healing factor if you’re all invincible. I like this one!

 

 

Thanks for the interview, Dan! This was so much fun. I’d like to add that I’m giving away 3 copies of Wake Me Up to three of your lucky readers.

 

 

 

No worries, Michelle. It was a pleasure! And yeah, as you heard guys, she's giving away 3 copies of her critically acclaimed novel Wake Me Up, and all you have to do to get one is to leave a comment below!

 

You can follow Michelle at the following links:

 

Website

FaceBook

Twitter

GoodReads

 

 

Thanks for coming Michelle! Hope you enjoyed it! And thanks for reading, guys. Have a great day!

 

Happy Reading everyone ;)

 

 

 

--------------------------

PANDRAGON

 

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Day Five of the Trapped on Draconica Blog Tour - The Story of Trapped on Draconica

Ok, so yesterday I got a little bit confused and accidentally swapped the posts around for today and yesterday. Silly me! Oh well, onwards and upwards! I'll put it down to the worry I have about my dentist appointment today - I'm having a tooth removed later on.

 

So, without any excuses this time, today we visit Michelle Horst, the author of Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows. For the days leading up to this blog tour, she has been dropping hints about who will be coming to visit her - and today she reveals who it is. It is... (dramatic pause) ME! But then, you guys probably already knew that!

 

Today's blog is something a little bit different - it's a little talk about the story of Trapped on Draconica and how I came to write it. So for those not sure what Trapped on Draconica is all about, this should explain it a little better!

 

 

THE STORY OF TRAPPED ON DRACONICA

 

 

 

Pandragon

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UPCOMING BLOG TOURS:

 

  - 5th December - Interview with Sasha Summers

Pandragon Reviews - Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows

I actually got this review request not just through an email, but via a Youtube video as well advertising the book. I thought the video was pretty basic, but actually really well put together and it did pique my interest. And the story sounded interesting as well, so I knew that I had to give this one a read.

 

Describing herself as “a fantastic new voice in YA Fiction”, Michelle Horst’s Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows is more mature YA Fiction novel and certainly one of the most intriguing reads I’ve had in a long time. It’s a story of hope amidst the coming of complete annihilation and the battle to save those who have been chosen to carry on the human race.

 

 

About The Author (Info provided by the author)

 

I hail from the sunny South Africa and although I am on the other side of this big rock we like to call Earth, I like to think that I’ve managed to write a book that will touch the heart of others. Vaalbara was originally meant to be for my own pleasure only. I wrote this YA Fantasy for myself, but one day I woke up and found that it was in demand by others.

 

Books have always left me wanting more, so I decided to try my hand at writing my very own. I wanted to write a story that I would want to read - with the romance and passion levels soaring, and focusing on a girl who had the right, fun attitude.  I wanted to show that someone could go through hell and still come back from it.

 

I didn’t intend for Alchera to come alive the way she did.  Six months later, when I opened the file for Vaalbara, I realized I was almost finished, and I guess that’s when it hit me that I was hooked. I suppose this is how most journeys start out.

 

I am also currently busy with four other books which should be finish within the next twelve months. Two of these are short stories and are a new way of writing for me, but I do enjoy it.

 

I’ll bow out with my quote from Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows; Hope is the heartbeat of your soul – as long as you have hope your possibilities are endless.

 

Michelle Horst

 

For more information go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8Jke_cD1bI   - Trailer for Vaalbara

http://www.amazon.com/Vaalbara-Visions-and-Shadows-ebook/dp/B005QV57G0

www.preciousgemspublishing.com

Twitter: Alchera4ever

Facebook: Michelle Horst

http://michellehorstauthor.wordpress.com

 

 

Cover

 

The cover is beautiful to look at. A perfect, picturesque land that is somewhat soothing to look at. However, this beautiful cover somewhat hides the darker nature of the book. Also, the waterfalls are a recurring theme within the book so it’s nice that it demonstrates that.

 

 

Overview

 

Whilst I don’t try and give away too much in my reviews, in terms of important plot points and that stuff, in order to do a rounded review, I will be mentioning some plot points. So before I start, just beware that this review does contain some spoilers.

 

Aislinn is a young teenage girl that is kind of an outcast in her society – what with no real parents to speak of and with a rather disturbing talent of being able to see into the future. She thinks that her luck is in when she meets a handsome new boy at school called Ryan – who seems attracted to her for reasons she can’t understand. Turns out that this boy is actually from the land of Vaalbara and his real name is Raighne and he’s here to take Aislinn back home. Turns out that Aislinn’s real name is Alchera and she is a Princess of the land. She is told that the end of the world is approaching and it’s her duty to rescue the ten Chosen, who are the ones to carry on the human race after the end. She has ten days to rescue them before Earth is destroyed – so no pressure then!

 

The book is told from the POV perspective of Alchera and she is a strong heroine – starting off as kinda vulnerable and insecure of herself then gaining strength as the book carries on. Often she has conversations with an invisible friend called Sid, which are actually some of the funniest scenes in the book. So she is definitely a good heroine for this novel – especially considering some of the challenges she is about to face. Seeing as this book does have a very religious context to it, she could be considered a kind of Jobe/Jesus character.

 

Now, I have to be honest, I am in two minds of how I felt about the actual story of this book. Most Young Adult books I’ve read tended to be upbeat and with a positive feel to them for the most part. This book, I have to be honest, I found to be a little depressing and dark. I’m not saying that YA books can’t be dark – after all, The Hunger Games has some pretty dark themes to it and even Harry Potter could be pretty dark sometimes. But I can’t help but thinking that maybe Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows is probably a little TOO dark in places. After all, it’s dealing with the end of the world and the death of an entire race – that is not a small subject.

 

I think my biggest problem with it is that I couldn’t identify with any of the characters from Vaalbara itself. They seemed to be completely ambivalent and uncaring to the destruction of the human race – with the exception of the Chosen. Even some of the heroes I found to be cold and uncaring, so I really couldn’t support them. Also, I didn’t like the fact that Alchera (despite showing some feelings against this initially) made NO attempt to try and stop this from happening and just went along with it. She didn’t have to have succeeded – but for me the story would have been better if she at least made an attempt to save her people, so that her humanity wasn’t entirely gone. There was also a quite nasty torture scene in the middle of the book that I thought was maybe a little too unnecessary and graphic.

 

Now, I know the above may sound like I’m being overly negative – but I have to admit I am actually also impressed with it. I like it that Michelle Horst doesn’t conform to a lot of YA conventions and does something different. And in fairness to the book, there are some extremely dramatic moments in the book and we do feel Alchera’s suffering as she progresses – but we do also have some humour to balance it out. There is somewhat of a happy ending as well – I just wasn’t sure I was satisfied with the way the story went about before it got to that moment as it seemed to glance over the fact that many people had died.

 

 

PROS (it’s not the end of the world):

    Unique Young Adult novel that does do something different to most novels of its genre.

    Strong heroine.

    Very dramatic and also humorous.

    Has a positive message at its heart.

 

CONS (apocalypse now):

    Maybe too dark for some readers.

    The general plot is extremely harsh and not something that I think will appeal to everyone.

 

 

Summary

I appear to have conflicting emotions about this one. One part of me thinks that it’s a very dramatic and powerful novel that goes against a lot of YA conventions – the other thinks that it’s too dark and depressing and this may potentially put some readers off. However, I am going to meet this half-way because I don’t think this is a bad novel in any way and it actually does have a positive message at its heart. If you are prepared to have an open mind and don’t mind the dark content, then check this one out and be prepared to lose yourself in the drama of the piece.

 

 

FINAL SCORE: 4/5

 

 

Regards

Pandragon

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