Meet the Apocalypsies #4: Laurisa White Reyes

Today I’m joined by debut author and member of The Apocalypsies, Laurisa White Reyes.  Laurisa is the author of The Rock of Ivanore, book one in the new middle grade fantasy series The Celestine Chronicles, due out in May 2012. Laurisa lives in Southern California with her husband and five children. Publishing her first novel is a life-long dream come true.  Here’s the blurb for The Rock of Ivanore:

The annual Great Quest is about to be announced in Quendel, a task that will determine the future of Marcus and the other boys from the village who are coming of age. The wizard Zyll commands them to find the Rock of Ivanore, but he doesn’t tell them what the Rock is exactly or where it can be found. Marcus must reach deep within himself to develop new powers of magic and find the strength to survive the wild lands and fierce enemies he encounters as he searches for the illusive Rock. If he succeeds, he will live a life of honor; if he fails, he will live a life of menial labor in shame. With more twists and turns than a labyrinth, and a story in which nothing is at it seems, this tale of deception and discovery keeps readers in suspense until the end.

Now, it’s over to Laurisa to tell you about magic, impossible feats, and how The Rock of Ivanore came to be.  Thanks Laurisa for your wonderful post.

“Magic is believing in yourself. If you can do that, you can make anything happen.” – JohannWolfgang Von Goethe

I love magic. I am not ashamed to admit that I am a big fan of Harry Potter, Bartimaeus, and Eragon. As a kid, I devoured The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien and The Narnia Series by C.S. Lewis. I watched the Disney fairytales a hundred times over because for Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid magic always saved the day.

Magic’s Long History

Magic has been around for as long as human kind has existed. Ancient civilizations such as the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians used rites and rituals to gain the favor of their Gods who in turn used their magical powers to intervene in human affairs.

During the late middle ages, people were often fascinated by magic, but they feared it, too. Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was accused of being a witch and burned at the stake. In 1692-1693 in Salem, Massachussetts, 200 people were accused of practicing magic, or what they called witchcraft. Twenty were executed.

Magic eventually became a form of entertainment. In the early twentieth century, Harry Houdini captured the world’s attention with his death-defying escapes and feats of magic. Today magic is as popular as ever with live stage shows, movies and television, and books attracting audiences all over the world.

Why We Love Magic

Why this ongoing fascination with magic? Could it be that deep down in the human psyche we long for the ability to change the world around us, to manipulate things to our liking? We want to defeat evil, to beat the odds, to overcome seemingly impossible challenges. Magic enables us to reach beyond the mundane and even negative aspects of our lives and to visualize what could be.

When Harry Potter, an otherwise average boy, destroys the ultimate evil villain Voldemort, we can imagine destroying whatever bad things are in our lives. When Eragon flies on his dragon across the mountains of Alagaesia, we are, in a sense, flying with him, achieving the impossible.

Magic is, of course, not real. As much as we love it, none of us will cast spells or tame dragons. But magic does allow us to dream and to discover ways to achieve the impossible that are within our means.

Reaching Beyond the Possible

On October 31, 2003 thirteen-year-old Bethany Hamilton was attacked by a 15 foot shark while surfing off the coast of Kauai in Hawaii. Bethany lost her left arm and, many believed, her future as a professional surfer. But Bethany did what seemed impossible: she taught herself to surf again with one arm and returned to the world of competitive surfing. Her story was made famous in a book and the recent film Soul Surfer.

Bethany’s courage and determination are not unusual. These are the very traits that have motivated individuals throughout history to achieve the impossible.

At the turn of the twentieth century, flying was nothing but a dream, something magical that had only been explored in fiction novels. Man could not fly. Everyone who had tried had failed. But Orville and Wilbur Wright dreamed big. They reached beyond human limitations and did the impossible. They flew.

How The Rock of Ivanore Came To Be

For me, writing and publishing my first novel was an act of achieving the impossible. Six years ago, my son and I often read stories together at bedtime. One night, he asked me to make up a story instead. I told him a story about Marcus, an enchanter’s apprentice who was a failure at magic. Every time he tried to cast a spell, it backfired. Each night, I’d ask my son what he wanted to hear about, be it dragons, or magic, or sword fighting, and I’d weave those elements into the story. Over the course of time, Marcus learned how to master his abilities to do what he never thought he could do before.

I have always wanted to be an author, but although I spent many years writing for newspapers and magazines, I thought I could never publish a book. Like Marcus, I was afraid that if I tried, I would fail. But telling those stories to my son gave me courage. I spent a year writing the first draft of The Rock of Ivanore. I received dozens of rejections and there were times I almost gave up.  But instead, I kept telling myself, “If someone else has done it, I can do it, too.” Eventually, Tanglewood Press offered me a contract and my dream of being a published author became real.

Aim High. Dream Big.

So what can magic do for you? It might propel you to climb Mount Everest or discover the cure to cancer or invent something that’s never existed before. It might motivate you to master a musical instrument, to paint a masterpiece, or win the next big football game. Or it might help you become the next New York Times bestselling author. Remember, magic is really nothing more than reaching beyond the possible to achieve the impossible. And in that case, there is at least a little magic in all of us.


My website  –

My blog –

Joan of Arc –

Bethany Hamilton –

Harry Houdini –

Meet the Apocalypsies #3: Leah Bobet

Today I’m joined by debut author and member of the Apocalypsies, Leah Bobet.  Leah is the author of Above, an amazing new Young Adult urban fantasy novel.  Leah drinks tea, wears feathers in her hair, and plants gardens in back alleys. She lives in Toronto, Ontario.   Here’s the blurb for Above:

Matthew has loved Ariel from the moment he found her in the tunnels, her bee’s wings falling away. They live in Safe, an underground refuge for those fleeing the city Above–like Whisper, who speaks to ghosts, and Jack Flash, who can shoot lightning from his fingers.

But one terrifying night, an old enemy invades Safe with an army of shadows, and only Matthew, Ariel, and a few friends escape Above. As Matthew unravels the mystery of Safe’s history and the shadows’ attack, he realizes he must find a way to remake his home–not just for himself, but for Ariel, who needs him more than ever before.

Now it’s over to Leah to tell us about her writing and Above.  Thanks Leah for your wonderful post.

My writerbrain’s a bit like a game of Katamari Damacy; I read and putter and roll the little ball around, picking up things, and eventually it gets big enough that I become a star have something to write. Here are a few of the things it picked up:

The first was a detail, actually, from an essay I was reading for a third-year philosophy course: where the author described having to stand in his underwear in an examination room under bright lights because his doctors were using the diagnosis of his disability to teach student doctors. I can actually viscerally remember leaning back on my (crappy student) couch when I read it: all this emotion, shame and display and anger, bleeds right through the page. It hit me right between the eyes, and I knew I had to use it for something, somewhere.

The second thing was, well, picking a fight. I used to watch the Ron Perlman Beauty and the Beast TV show back when I was a kid, and I used to watch Futurama, and I have this pickily annoying practical streak that used to do things like correct people when they had song lyrics wrong. So part of my head, for a long time, has been going but it wouldn’t be like that! You get this whole Secret Society of Mutants Living Underground thing, suspicious and insular and ready to set you on fire and hiding in life-and-death ways, but nobody ever talks about how they got that way or the long-term emotional consequences of being locked up down there with the same five people all the time. They live underground in sewers or the like, but they’re always these suspiciously comfortable, all-the-amenities, Hollywood kinds of sewers, not what you’d actually get if a half-dozen people with various mental and physical issues went down into the actual sewer and tried to rough out something to live in. In real life, it’d probably be cold. You’d spend all your time figuring out how to get enough water, power, and canned food to just survive. So, says I, picking a fight with a whole bunch of books and movies, all happy with how smart I was. I’ll show them what it’s really like.

The third thing? A question I’ve been picking at for years, and still haven’t found a great answer to: When someone you care about is in trouble, when do you work like hell to save them, to try to pull them out of the hole they’re falling into – and when do you realize they’re just going to pull you in after them, and let go, and walk away?

I still have no idea about that: Where the line is between being right and safe, and wrong and cruel, or the other way around, lies. But I had enough to say about it, trying to find that line, that a whole book came out: about a boy who grew up underground and a girl who can turn into a bee.

ABOVE (Arthur A. Levine Books, April 2012)

Meet the Apocalypsies #2 – Marissa Burt

I’m excited to host debut author Marissa Burt on the blog today.  Marissa is part of the debut authors group who all have books being released in 2012 called The Apocalypsies.  When I first heard about Marissa’s book, Storybound, I got really excited because it sounds like my perfect book, especially since my favourite children’s book is Inkheart. Here is Marissa to tell you all about her book, Storybound.


In the land of Story, children go to school to learn to be characters: a perfect Hero, a trusty Sidekick, even the most dastardly Villain.  They take classes on Outdoor Experiential Questing and Backstory, while adults search for full-time character work in stories written just for them.

In our world, twelve-year-old Una Fairchild has always felt invisible.  But that all changes when she stumbles upon a mysterious book buried deep in the basement of her school library, opens the cover, and suddenly finds herself transported to the magical land of Story.

But Story is not a perfect fairy tale.  Una’s new friend Peter warns her about the grave danger she could face if anyone discovers her true identity.  The devious Tale Keeper watches her every move.  And there are whispers of a deadly secret that seems to revolve around Una herself…

With the timeless appeal of books like A Wrinkle in Time and the breathtaking action of Inkheart, Storybound has all the makings of a new classic.  Brimming with fantastical creatures, magical adventure, and heart-stopping twists, Storybound will leave readers wishing they too could jump through the pages into this enchanting fairy-tale world.  Released 3 April 2012

STORY INSPIRATION: You know the feeling where you come to the end of a great book and are sad to say farewell to your character friends?  Well, I hate those kinds of goodbyes.  Besides, I always imagined the characters carrying on without me, going about their business even when nosy readers aren’t spying on them.  And I wondered what would happen if a girl from our world stumbled into theirs.  So I wrote that story.

If I found myself in the land of Story, I’d like to think I’d be cast as a Lady, but I have my own sneaking suspicions that villainy might be quite interesting.  I would hope to be placed in the Fantasy District.  Fairy tales, magical creatures, heroic quests: yes, please!  Besides, most of the Fantasy students get to live in Birchwood Hall, a whimsical woodland tree-house.  How fun it would be to sit by an outdoor fireplace with Peter and Una – sipping cocoa, eating blackbird tarts, and plotting out how to save Story!

What about you?  If you could be written into a story, which one would you choose?


BIO: Marissa Burt writes middle-grade fantasy and is represented by Laura Langlie of the Laura Langlie Literary Agency.  She was forever getting notes sent home from teachers for reading novels during class.  She now lives in the Seattle area with her husband and three sons.  You can visit Marissa online at

Meet the Apocalypsies #1 – Leanna Renee Hieber

Today I’m pleased to welcome Leanna Renee Hieber, one of the first of the Apocalypsies to release her debut book into the world.  Leanna’s book, Darker Still, the first book in the Magic Most Foul series was released on 11/11/11 in the US (1st February 2012 in NZ).  Here’s the blurb:

The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Pride and Prejudice, with a dash of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde… New York City, 1880.Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart’s latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing… Lord Denbury’s soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.

It sounds intriguing and I’m really looking forward to reading it.  I’ll hand over to Leanna to tell us all about Darker Still and her inspirations.

I’m so excited to be here today! While I’ve written several novels, I’m here to talk about my YA debut, DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul. I’ve always wanted to write a haunted painting story: Ever since I was little and I saw Sesame Street’s DON’T EAT THE PICTURES where the Sesame Street gang get locked in the Metropolitan Museum of Art overnight. Ever since I read THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY. Ever since I went to art museums wondering if the painter and the sitters infused part of their own life’s energy into the art. At last, I’ve written my haunted painting story. DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul begins the Magic Most Foul saga set in 1880 New York City. It tells the tale of a hot British Lord whose soul is trapped in a painting and the brave girl who must set him free.

I’m so excited to be shelved in teen fiction. But for my adult readership who know me from my Strangely Beautiful series about ghostbusters and Greek Mythology in Victorian England, don’t be deterred. DARKER STILL has the same flavors found in my Strangely Beautiful saga, it’s still the 1880s, it’s still romantic and spooky, (the Magic Most Foul series is far more spooky, actually) it’s definitely still Gothic. Similar attractions, different shelf. I want to be a “gateway drug to 19th century literature” for teens and for all readers. I want to build a bridge between today’s fiction and the books and style that defined me as a reader and a writer. When I was about 10 years old I fell in love with Edgar Allan Poe and haven’t ever looked back. Poe was my own “gateway drug” and my love of his work led me to appreciate Stoker, Shelley, and all the spooky 19th century classics. Especially Dorian Gray. (If you haven’t read The Picture of Dorian Gray, you should. It’s short, creepy, sensual and amazing.)
I hope you’ll be so kind as to check out DARKER STILL: A Novel of Magic Most Foul, it landed on the Indie Next List as a recommended buy in the Kids/YA section by the American Association of Booksellers, and Seventeen said: “You’ll love it if you love murder mysteries with a supernatural twist… the story is so different from other fantasy novels that have been coming out recently. This chilling tale will draw you in and keep you guessing until the very last page!” – I hope you’ll have fun getting to know Natalie and Jonathon and will join them on their next harrowing adventures this November when the sequel releases! Cheers!
Leanna Renee Hieber

Award winning, bestselling Gothic Victorian Fantasy

Meet the Apocalypsies

Last year there were the Elevensies, a group of debut Middle Grade and Young Adult authors, which included the wonderful Beth Revis (Across the Universe), and Veronica Roth (Divergent).  In 2012 we have the Apocalypsies, a group of debut authors whose first books are being released this year.  For me, there’s nothing better than discovering a new author who you can look forward to reading for years to come.  I’ve been excitedly reading about all the amazing books that the Apocalypsies are releasing this year and I can’t wait to fill my head with them.  I’ve already read my first Apocalypsy book, Cinder by Marissa Meyer, and you can read my review here.


In the coming weeks I’ll be featuring guest posts by some of these great new authors, including Marissa Burt (Storybound), Leanna Renee Hieber (Darker Still), Lynne Kelly (Chained) and Elizabeth Norris (Unravelled).  They’ll tell us all about their books and when we can expect to get our hands on them.  The great thing about social networking is that you can find them on Facebook, Twitter and their own website so you can ask them all about their books and their writing.

To find out more about the Apocalypsies authors and their books, check out their blog –