MA: I have an intriguing guest today, so please extend a warm American welcome and Merry Christmas to Tahlia Newland. Tahlia is the author of the Young Adult fantasy novel Lethal Inheritance, the first in the Diamond Peak series.
She lives in an Australian rainforest south of Sydney and is a refugee from the Performing and Visual Arts. For 20 years, she created and performed in Visual Theatre shows and she makes Venetian style masks, which you can discover here: http://tahliasmasks.wordpress.com.
Now that she growing grey, she’s given all that up to become a writer. That is, when she’s not being an extremely casual high school teacher.
She has written scripts for theatre in education, a book of short stories for children and a few other short stories (one a semi finalist in the Aussiecon 4 Make Ready fantasy/scfi competition 2010), but her love in writing is novels.
Welcome, Tahlia! So you live in an Australian rainforest? I’m fascinated (and jealous). Tell us what you did before writing.
TN: I trained as a teacher after leaving high school, taught briefly then gave that up to become a professional dancer actor, mime and mask performer. During the 20 years that I lived off these talents, I also made masks and studied how our mind works. Specifically how what we think and how we deal with what rises in our mind affects what we feel, what we perceive, how we behave and what we experience.
MA: You’ve always been around the arts, so I suppose it was a natural decision to write novels?
TN: It wasn’t so much a decision, more something that just happened. I had wanted to write novels when I was younger, but I got into other creative areas and never had an idea that screamed to be written like Lethal Inheritance did. When the idea first came, it percolated for a while, then scenes began appearing in my mind and I just had to write them down.
MA: Tell us all about the story.
TN: Lethal Inheritance is a Young Adult Fantasy novel, the first in a four part series called Diamond Peak.
It’s a combination quest, love story and surrealistic journey into the mind, with sexy characters, flashes of humour, terrifying battles and a mix of fantasy and reality. It’s set in our world in the present day.
If last night was real then Ariel should be dead, but her mother has disappeared, there are bruise marks on her neck and that hideous beast in the photo looks frighteningly familiar.
When demons kidnap her mother, Ariel is catapulted into a mysterious realm in a hidden layer of reality. Stuck on a rescue mission she doesn’t want, she must negotiate an intriguing and unpredictable world where demons who feed on fear are hunting her, and they’re aiming to kill.
She needs help fast, but can she trust the quirky old guide who says he can teach her how to fine tune her mind into a powerful weapon? And what should she do about Nick, whose power is more than he or she can handle?
Ariel’s journey challenges her perception, tests her awareness and takes her deep into her heart and mind to confront, and ultimately transcend, her fear and anger.
MA: Nice tease! I take it Ariel, your heroine, was a carefully-crafted character?
TN: She just developed as I wrote the first two drafts. It wasn’t a conscious thing, rather she emerged from my creative mind as if she already existed.
MA: Well, that’s interesting. What makes Ariel strong as a protagonist?
TN: Strengths –she’s intelligent, willing to learn, cautious, has a sense of responsibility for her family, self reliant, determined. Weaknesses – At the start of the book, she is emotional, untrained, doesn’t believe in her own abilities, doesn’t know anything about the hidden realm, is sometimes over cautiour and naive.
MA: You mentioned a beast in a photo, I assume that’s the antagonist?
TN: Yes. Bitah the demon. He feeds on human’s fear and anger and tries to kill Ariel to prevent her from finding his master and rescuing her mother. There are various other demons and entities working for him as well, but he’s the main one she has to defeat in this book.
MA: So, I take it you haven’t been a real-world demon hunter…but do you have any real-life experiences that somehow influenced the plot?
TN: Not specifically, but my understanding of the workings of the mind form the basis for the methods the Warriors use to kill demons.
MA: What’s next in the Diamond Peak series?
TN: There are three sequels to this novel. I’ve written them to second draft stage and will work on them again once I get a publishing contract. I’m also working on another novel, that has a greater degree of romance and leans a bit more towards adults , but still deals with the mind and a combination of modern and older style realities. It’s called Captive. The main characters will remain the same and some characters who are relatively minor in this book will feature more predominantly.
MA: I have to ask, can you describe the demon for my readers?
TN: A black, flowing form, human in size and shape, dropped onto the path without a sound. Its slimy skin, hanging in folds like the fabric of a long hooded cloak, rippled from the impact. White flames, flicking like snake tongues, blazed from two slits in its hideous face, casting an eerie glow as the head swung from side to side, as if searching for its prey. Another slash of flaming white formed a thin-lipped mouth curled into a sneer. Long loose arms dangled at the creature’s sides and its clawed hands repeatedly flexed and unflexed. A putrid smell, reminiscent of rotting potatoes, emanated from the beast. Ariel’s nose wrinkled and her stomach felt queasy.
MA: Well, there you have it! Thanks, Tahlia. Folks, please visit Tahlia Newland’s website for more beastly information: http://tahlianewland.com.