Presenting to you the very talented Lena Goldfinch! Also is a book review of her latest book, Songstone, and a prize giveaway. Join us in our conversation below.
1. Hey Lena! Glad to have you with us today. So tell, what made you fall in love with fantasy and choose it as your genre? And how did the idea to merge it with Christian themes come to you?
I think fantasy chose me. 😉 Seriously, I love reading fantasy, especially the Scottish time-travel romances by Lynn Kurland, among others, but I didn’t set out originally to write fantasy. I just grew and changed as a writer over the years and fantasy themes just started calling my name.
I started out writing inspirational/Christian historical romance (none of those efforts have been published however), where weaving in faith-based plot threads was a conscious choice. With my young adult fantasy novels, any faith threads aren’t so much a conscious weaving-in as simply an expression of who I am. My own faith colors whatever I write and how I see the world. Those themes are invisible to me most of the time, to be honest, until after the fact. I look back and see those threads in there and it’s kind of neat. They’re there for any reader who’s in touch with faith-based themes to connect with, and yet I don’t think you have to be aware of them to enjoy the story. (I hope! :))
2. What would you say is the theme for Songstone, and what inspired you to write it?
A theme of adoption and identity runs through this story. I actually had to set this book aside many times because it was so emotionally draining to write. As an adoptive mom, I used a fantasy setting to “safely” explore some of the more painful issues of adoption, but at times it was just too much for me. I did keep coming back to it though, because I felt a driving need to finish it. (When I did finish Songstone it felt like a huge accomplishment!)
The spiritual story of our own adoption by God runs through the Bible. In the world, an adopted child struggles with identity and some very real, painful issues, perhaps even neglect and/or abandonment. There may be feelings of not fully belonging to either world (to either family or either mother), but there can also be a feeling of connection to both. Our spiritual journeys can be very like that, can’t they?
Also, I explore some things in an allegorical sense. For example, there’s an evil sorcerer / medicine man in Songstone whose name is Matiko. To me, he’s the embodiment of reactive attachment disorder (or RAD), where a person has a difficult time forming healthy bonds of attachment, particularly with parents, but also with anyone. Matiko is also, loosely, the effect of painful or shameful things in our past (and present) and the hold those things can have over us, whether it’s things done to us at the hand of another person or simply some tough circumstances of life (“In this world you will have trouble…” John 16:33). I can see where someone might think Matiko is a devil figure, but that really wasn’t my intention. He’s insidious and terrible, yes, but there’s something more subtle than “absolute evil” in him, and the resolution reflects that (without giving too much away!).
3. Who are the writers that influenced/mentored you to become the writer that you are today?
I think everything I’ve ever read has influenced my writing. I was an avid reader as a kid, and remain so to this day. My favorite thing growing up was going to the town library with my mom and loading up a paper grocery sack with books. (Almost better than candy. ;))
I loved reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon. And lots of romances when I was a teen, and romantic suspense and historical romance later. That’s pretty evident as you read my work. My stories should come with a warning label: “Very Romantic!” LOL There’s also often a mystery to solve or an intrigue afoot or a quest of some sort going on. That’s probably the Nancy Drew, Trixie Beldon, and the romantic suspense coming out?
I’m also hugely indebted to my critique partners over the years, including authors Jessica Andersen (romantic suspense), Marley Gibson (YA), and Jennifer Cervantes (YA and middle grade). Their support, encouragement, and awesome critiques helped me come up as a writer. They helped me through a lot of rough patches, sent cyber hugs and Reese’s PB cups, as needed, and cheered me on with any success, whether a publication or finishing a tough scene. I value their friendship to this day. I also value my relationships in the writers’ organizations I belong to, primarily the New England chapters of RWA and SCBWI. Amazing writers.
Thanks for having me, Miranda!
Very welcome Lena! Thank you for stopping by.
… Book Review …
About the Book
Kita can meld song into stone. In a world with no written word, storytelling—the ability to meld (or magically impress) songs into stone is greatly honored. The village honors her master as their medicine man, but Kita knows he’s secretly a sorcerer who practices black magic using her drops of her blood. She fears he’ll use her beautiful gift for a killing spell, so she conceals it from him. Each day his magic tightens around her neck like a rope. His spells blind the villagers, so they can’t see him for what he really is.
Not that anyone would want to help her. She was found in the forest as a baby and would have died if a village girl hadn’t brought her home. But the villagers saw her unusual coloring and decided she belonged to the mysterious tribe who lives in the forests of the volcano, a people feared for their mystical powers. So they feared her too. Now seventeen, she can barely admit her deepest longing: to know who she really is and where she belongs.
Then Pono, a young journey man, arrives from the other side of the island. He’s come to fulfill a pact between their villages: to escort a storyteller back to his village—a storyteller who will be chosen at the great assembly. Finally, in Pono, Kita sees her one slim chance at freedom and she would risk her life to take it.
A dark, twisted tale of sorcery, tummy–tingling romance and adventure, inspired by the folklore of New Zealand’s Māori people.
4 out 5 (stars)
This is the story of a girl, Kita, who had much to deal with in life but encountered a turnaround when she met someone special.
The story begins with her present state of predicament, and through a series of events, goes on a journey that inspires a life-changing experience.
Though this story is fantasy, it is Christian-themed and cenfers around Kita dealing with anger and fears of her past. It is interesting how Lena shows the anger nature that can blind a person and fog their memory of the past. This was Kita’s experience. There is so much truth in this, even though I can’t conect with Kita or understand some of her anger.
Pono is an admirable character. It is remarkable how he conquered his “weakness” despite how vulnerable he felt. His decision to step out beyond what his community expected of him to become who he believed he was meant to be was what I found most admirable. His ability to draw strength from within to accomplish what needed to be done couldn’t be ignored. I applauded him very much for that! I just wish I had a little more than a peek into his emotions.
Kaikanu was a character that annoyed and disappointed me. I could not and still don’t understand his anger and attitude towards Kita. As far as I’m concerned, he was responsible for everything that went wrong in Kita’s life. One would think that he would be sorry for the mistake of his past that cost him his sister, or that after finding her, he would seek to make amends, apologize and make up for lost time in the past. His behavior surprised me and I found it inexcusible. I give credit to Lena as a superb crafter who created him in a manner that provoked the right emotions.
Tika was sweet. I wish she was mentioned more. She had such a positive effect on Kita.
Overall, it’s an enjoyable read. Lena’s a wonderful crafter and knows how to work the flow of a story so a reader stays engaged.
*Though I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. Many thanks to the author for a free copy in exchange for an honest opinon.
Lena lives in a scenic small town in Massachussets with her husband, two kids and a very spoiled Black Lab. She writes fiction for young adults, mostly light fantasy with a healthy dose of “sigh-worthy” romance. You can visit her online at http://www.lenagoldfinch.blogspot.com