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Author Susie M. Hanley talkes about the new urban fantasy world she created in her debut novel MUSE:
When I finally decided I was ready to begin writing my own urban fantasy series I knew I wanted to write something new, something no one had ever written before. However, I also knew that it needed to be something people had some knowledge of. It was important to me that it also be somewhat light. There are plenty of dark stories out there, in every genre, and I wanted mine to be just as entertaining and intense, but with a ray of hope intertwined. With those goals in mind I created the urban fantasy world of Muses and Guardians.
The idea of a Muse has always been a fascinating one to me. This idea that there could be an unseen force that influences us and our creative endeavors. Even more interesting is the idea that a person, in our lives, could be a source of inspiration. What an honor to have someone call you their Muse. So I thought: why not make a world where Muses actually exist and walk among normal people helping and inspiring them? From there I built the world of Muses, human beings with superior talent in an artistic form of some kind. These individuals are born to normal, Muse or Guardian parents, and while they exhibit their talent at a young age, they don't complete the full transition into a Muse until age 25.
During that transition, their particular talent increases considerably and they gain new abilities. The Muses themselves are vessels that are influenced by, can harness, and direct "universal energy". In some ways they are prompted to fulfill the will of this higher power, in other ways they choose how to direct and control it. Because of this dramatic relationship, Muses are often getting into trouble or finding themselves receiving unwanted attention. This is the reason they require the protection and guidance of a Guardian.
These unique human beings are born only to Muse or Guardian parents and start exhibiting superhero-type powers at a young age. Around age 6 or 7 they begin attending special training camps at Guardian schools to help them understand control their abilities. At age 12 they begin attending a Guardian school full time. There they hone their skills and gain the required expertise to protect and guide Muses. When Guardians reach adulthood, they are given a choice about what they wish to do for the next few years of their life before they begin guarding a Muse. They can either choose to continue their education at a Guardian college or traditional human college, pursue a career within the Guardian Authority, such as teaching or other administrative jobs, or they can choose to assimilate back into the regular world until they reach age 25 and are assigned to a Muse. Not all Guardians choose to guard a Muse. Some keep their careers withing the Guardian Authority, others choose to pursue a mundane career in the human world. Those who choose a life outside the Authority and guarding Muses are ostracized from the Guardian community.
Muses can have abilities in any creative area, including; all aspects of art, music, design, writing, and even things like athletics, speech, and many more. Guardians, similarly, have powers to help and protect Muses. Their abilities include things like healing, strength, speed, invisibility, even flight. Depending on the area of creativity a Muse has talents in, they will be matched with a Guardian who has powers to compliment those abilities. For example, a design or puzzle Muse will be matched with a Guardian who has mental abilities to help them focus their talent. An athletic Muse would be matched with a Guardian with who had healing or strength abilities.
Because Muses are vessels for the universe's energy, they need to have their chi or inner energy kept in balance. To facilitate this, Guardians have the ability to restore lost energy to Muses and keep it in balance for them. This sharing of energy is so important to a Muses ability to help and inspire others that when a Muse finds a Guardian they share energy and a bond forms between them. When this happens they can no longer live without one another.
There is certainly much more to learn about this unique world of Muses, Guardians and the characters that reside within it. To learn more, please visit my website at http://www.susiemhanley.com/
An interview with author Susie M. Hanley.
1.) When did you decide you wanted to be a writer?
I've always loved to read and started writing short stories in elementary school, but it wasn't until I was in college that I realized I wanted to be a writer. I'd had 5 majors in 4 years and kept finding myself coming back to writing. When I was 25 I finally gave in to my desires and began writing the book that would become Muse.
2.) Why did you choose to write the genre you did?
Urban fantasy is fantasy elements set in our world. Some call it paranormal, or magical realism. It is very versatile genre, you can have vampires, werewolves, witches, fae, Muses and everything in between By having these elements set in our world it makes the characters in this genre easy to relate to while still transporting readers to another world.
3.) Who was your favorite character to write, and why?
Andre, one of the Guardians in my book, was easily my favorite to write. I based certain aspects of his personality on one of my long time friends and every time I write a scene with him in it, I just imagine my friend doing the same things and it makes me smile. Andre, is also the funniest character, so that probably makes him more fun too.
4.) How do you come up with your ideas?
When writing the first book, ideas kind of came to me as I wrote. I planned scenes ahead of time and found ways to make them unique for the Muse/Guardian world. I also have a few friends and family members that I bounce ideas off of when I get stuck.
5.) What would you like people to take away from your book?
That is a tough question. I guess all any author can hope is that people take something away from their book, that they connect with the story on some level. I guess I hope that MUSE inspires some people to see the world in a brighter light. That maybe we are all here to help one another.
6.) What is your writing process like?
I do my first and second level outlining on paper. Then I spend a day or so constructing the first few scenes in my mind and by the time I sit down at the computer I don't even need my notes because I know exactly what I am going to write. This process continues until I have finished the whole book. Most nights I will lay awake in bed and plan out the scenes I am going to write the next day. I actually see the characters, the setting, and the actions in my mind. If I don't like the way the scene flowed or think it wasn't intense enough, I can just start it over and add in or take out what I think it needs to be better. The editing phase of the process is much more complicated and takes a lot longer than the actual writing, but is no less important. Fine tuning the experience that the reader will have is just as important as coming up with story, building the characters, and all the other elements that make up the story.
7.) Is there anything else you would like to add?
I guess, just that I hope people really enjoy the story and tell their friends about it. It has been an amazing adventure and there are many more books to come in the series. I hope readers will join me for the rest of this awesome ride because there is no story without the readers. Thanks!
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Thanks Susie! Alright everyone it's time for the giveaway! Enter below for your chance to win a paperback copy of Muse! The giveaway will last until midnight next Monday night and the winnders will be drawn from Rafflecopter on the 23rd! She would also like me to mention that ebook copies of Muse will be offered for FREE on the 17th and 18th at Amazon.com!!! Here's the link that will lead you there, but remember this is only for the 17th and 18th, so don't miss your chance to get this book for free!!! :)