Hello, Sydney! Thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. So thrilled to be here to talk about my debut novella, Curse of the Blacknoc Witch.
If you haven’t already guessed it from the title, it’s fantasy with a sprinkle of romance and supernatural elements. I’m super excited for the reader to take this journey alongside Layla Marlowe and Samuel Fawcett, who are the two main characters of the story.
Samuel and Layla are two teens who become trapped by a vicious curse that sends them into a forest realm each night. A dark witch has all the monsters under a spell to do her evil bidding. Samuel is one of these monsters and must hunt and eat each kid. What’s special about Samuel is that he was given a chance to go against his beastly impulses. Instead, he chooses to protect the kids from the other monsters. What I love about Samuel is that despite his ugly past and what he did to get transformed into a monster, he finds a way to forge on through an impossible curse.
Layla is the kind of girl you would want to run side by side with when chased by monsters. Her strong will to survive burns like fire. For these reasons, she’s my favorite! One trait I admire about her is her stubbornness to not accept her dire circumstance. Much like Samuel, she’s a fighter. That’s why they make such a great team!
My favorite part about writing this story was not only seeing the interaction between Layla and Samuel but getting the chance to write a full story from what started as a simple seed. To think this story was originally a short story. I was really focused on the redemption part, something I wanted to show through Samuel’s pov especially. Speaking from a place I was at in my life, there are times when we really feel like a beast, much like Samuel. So much so that we let other people or ourselves condemn us to an indefinite hell. Here’s to Samuel and Layla for saying NOPE to that, and finding their own means of escape out of their bindings.
Thanks for reading! Curse of the Blacknoc Witch releases April 22nd. You can actually pre-order it now. I will be sending out prizes to a handful of entrants who pre-order so be sure to keep those receipts for your chance to win! You can follow my website or any social media links for future updates on that!
1. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I do try. I don’t know if I ever succeed but I try. By doing that I just try to avoid clichés in general. When I’m reading books I don’t like to be able to predict the plot. I love to be surprised, especially when the author tosses a plot twist. I love those moments! I think readers like that too so I try to incorporate that.
2. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Don’t wait. Don’t wait on anything or anybody. I regret how much time I wasted waiting on the days for procrastination to end. One of the reasons why I say don’t wait is because you just don’t realize how much time goes by until it’s gone. One day you have one great story idea. You write the first ten chapters and then the doubt begins to settle. Next thing you know, months fly by, and the story you were so excited about turns eight years old. Don’t wait for the validation to come through and say you’re a great writer. Don’t wait because you’re fearful of criticism or rejection letters from editors. Just do it. Just write and make your own path. Learn how to snort the criticism. No one is going to make you a writer for you. You must do this on your own.
Then again, if I actually had told my younger self this I probably would have rolled my eyes at my older self, haha. There are just some things you learn at your own pace and there’s nothing wrong with that. 🙂
3. As a writer, what would you choose as a your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Probably the typical house cat. I’m as moody as they are and love my sleep, haha.
4. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Off the top of my head…I’d say four. That number is always growing because I can never seem to peel myself away from each new story idea that pops into my head.
5. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Probably for me is I tend to overthink. When writing in the male POV I often find myself pausing a lot, asking myself “is that what a male dude would think/say?” But like my female characters, I go back to the drawing board and focus on their character map, trying to understand their goal/motive. Once you can get that figured out their voice begins to talk to you.
6. How do you select the names of your characters?
Depends. Sometimes I just go by the way they sound. If I’m doing a sci-fi sometimes I just google futuristic names. But often I like to look at the meaning of the name. If the meaning is fitting to my character’s personality or symbolic in a way, I usually chose that without a second guess.
7. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
You mean like easter eggs? Oh, yes, I do! I like to hide little names sometimes. Secrets only for my family to find. 🙂
8. Do you believe in writer’s block?
Well, to me, it’s a real thing. Maybe I’m not disciplined enough but I often find there are days when I just can’t write. There’s this weight that will just appear and it doesn’t always go away unless I’m doing something other than writing. If I don’t get it under control it can last weeks. Today, I try not to let it go that far. To get out of the funk one thing I’ve been doing is reminding myself why I wanted to write to begin with. Then I remind myself the time it takes to finish a book, do self-edits, hire an editor, apply those edits (so much edits!), then submit to a publisher and wait for that response, which can be months! So really, I don’t want to waste so much time on writer’s block.
9. What is your current writing project about?
My YA novel is about two siblings who must compete in an ancient challenge in order to become the next protector of their city. They have to use their powers to capture magical creatures and fight off the ailiarants from sabotaging their quest. I’m thinking YA fantasy readers will probably enjoy this type of story.
10. What is your dream, other than being a writer?
Probably fiction editor or book cover designer. 🙂
These were great questions! Thanks so much for having me. I enjoyed this.
Samuel dreamed of being a lot of things, but a monster trapped in a forest realm never
entered his mind. The Blacknoc Curse wasn’t supposed to be true, only a children’s story meant to persuade them away from evil. Yet, here he was tasked with hunting cursed kids. There’s nothing left for Samuel except the horror surrounding him.
Layla, a young girl tormented by the same curse, is dropped into the terrifying forest every night, running from the monsters intent on taking her life. She meets Samuel and vows to save all the children, especially Samuel, from their torment.
Working together can they defeat the Blacknoc Curse?
The thick tree canopy shields me from the bright stars. Lucky for me, I see well at night. All monsters do.
Two swift monsters dash between trees like rabid wolves. I am the second one, just behind the monster pursuing the boy. I put an end to the monster’s hunt when I corner the ugly beast at the dense brush. Also enclosed in our cluster is the boy, who whimpers as he tries to slip through the branches only to snag his shirt sleeve on the sharp twigs. Before the beast can run after him, I stand in the way of its prey. I’m used to taking the same stance over and over, so it comes easy for me. Being a monster myself, there are some advantages I can always rely on. The primal instinct to keep fighting is one of them.
The beast charges me. I charge back. Our furry chests slam together on impact. Our claws dig slivers of skin off each other. I lose my grip on Ugly. I yank a vine off a tree and wrap it around Ugly’s bulging neck. Seven feet of muscle thrashes against the restraint. The beast flashes his long canines as he claws and roars. I roar back, tugging on the vine once more. Ugly tosses a horned elbow into my stomach. I jam my horned head into his neck.
The vine snaps, and Ugly bolts.
I catch the monster’s hind legs, my claws digging into his underfur of barbs.
Tori V. Rainn was born and raised in Texas. In her late teens, she became a writer in 2011 when she took a writer’s course at Writer’s Village University. If she’s not working on novellas or novels, she can easily be distracted with coming up with her next big short story adventure. Several of her short stories have been featured in online magazines–links of stories can be found on her author page. When she’s not writing, she enjoys knife collecting and running. Tea and chocolate are her addictions. Video games, books, music, and movies are her outlet.