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Premier Fantasy author Belinda Mellor

I’d like to welcome world traveler and fellow author Belinda Mellor. Her debut novel, Silvana The Greening was released in December of 2013.

Aubrey: Tell us something about yourself and your travels, Belinda.

 Belinda: I was born in England, lived for many years in Ireland and now live with my family on a lifestyle block near Nelson in New Zealand; a place we came to on holiday some years back and forgot to leave. I studied theology at uni and applied spirituality a few years later, and have been known to teach from time to time. These days I do a fair bit of freelance editing, when I’m not goat milking or egg collecting.

Aubrey: Sounds like you keep pretty busy at home. How did you get interested in writing? Or have you always considered yourself an author?

Belinda: At the age of five I won a school award for ‘free expression’ and have not stopped writing since.  In 1998, I was a winner of an inaugural Ian St. James Literary award, 3rd overall, and one of the twelve finalists whose short stories were published in an anthology ‘At the Stroke of Twelve’ by Collins (as they then were). It was quite a big deal, with celebrity judges and presenters and fairly substantial prizes.

Since then I have had numerous pieces published in magazines and newspapers and a play for children performed by a theatre-in-education company.

AubreySilvana-The Greening is your first published novel. Before you go, tell us a little about your story.

Belinda: It is a gentle fantasy spanning 30 years. It tells the story of Fabiom, a young nobleman, and Casandrina, a tree spirit – a Silvana.

Since the four-year-old boy had hidden, terrified, beneath her tree, Casandrina hoped Fabiom would dare to love her when he came of age. But risking his life, or his sanity, to win a Silvana’s hand is only the start of Fabiom’s problems. A bitter mother, economic espionage, feuds with other holders, and the unwanted attention of a powerful woman will test their relationship.

Besides true love, Silvana is a story of growth, silk-making, archery, poetry, and the beauty of nature.

Aubrey: Is your novel part of a series?  Can you tell me a little about the world you’ve created?

Belinda: Silvana started life as a single novel – spanning fifty-odd years – a fantasy biography of Fabiom, the Lord Holder of Deepvale in the land of Morene who risks everything for the love of a Tree Lady, Casandrina, the Silvana of the title. But, over time, the story grew and grew so that, in the end, it became two novels and Fabiom and Casandrina’s son, Lesandor, became the main character in the second. I called the two parts The Greening and The Turning after the two main festivals of Morene’s year, marking the start of spring and autumn. I am currently editing the second book and – all being well – it will be out by the end of this year. That was supposed to be it, until a couple of months ago when I suddenly knew what happened next! So now I am writing Book 3, tentatively called Restoration, which will be another generation on.

Aubrey: What inspired you to write your current novel?

Belinda: As for inspiration, I’d have to say a mixture of love of nature – especially trees, romanticism, and a fondness for classical history and mythology. The society Silvana is based on borrows heavily from Ancient Greece, which I think complements the dryad-like nature of the non-human characters.

Aubrey: What do you think readers will enjoy most about your novel?

Belinda: The feedback I’ve had since The Greening was released has been interesting, to say the least. A number of people have told me that they don’t normally read fantasy but really enjoyed reading the book and want to know when part 2 will be out. So that’s great! As for what I’d like them to get – well, Fabiom falls in love with the wildwood and is happy to be lost there, and that’s what I want readers to feel: in love with the story and the characters, and happy to be lost in their world.

Once heard, the song of a Silvana can never be forgotten.

front-cover

Buy Links: 

Print copies: http://shop.copypress.co.nz/shopn/spi/copyp_12214

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Silvana-The-Greening-Belinda-Mellor-ebook/dp/B00HE5J4Z6

Excerpt:

“I have made a decision,” Fabiom said, half reluctant to reveal his intention yet wanting, needing, to share his thoughts with someone. He was well aware that if he did not take this opportunity there might never be another.

Nalio stayed silent, waiting for him to continue.

“It’s fifteen days to my seventeenth birth anniversary.” He looked at Nalio meaningfully and indeed there was little need for him to say more.

Nalio almost laughed. “Sleep in the woods? You are joking? You’re not joking, are you? Fabiom – you can’t. How can you even think of trying to win a Silvana now?”

“Now? It’s not as if there’s any other chance. It’s fifteen days from today or not at all.”

“My advice? Choose not at all.”

“I can’t. Truly, Nalio, I can’t. I tried –”

“What do you mean, you tried?”

“I came here to the woods to say farewell, to accept I had to live in the world of men and take up the responsibilities my father left me. Instead I found another piece of amber, and the words would not come.

“That night, I tried to imagine my life if I didn’t at least make the attempt, and I couldn’t – I couldn’t imagine anything.”

“You risk much. Only son of a high house. Heir to a grand holding and a deal of responsibility.”

“I know all that,” Fabiom replied rather shortly, challenging Nalio to tell him something he did not already know.

Nalio did not oblige. “May I ask why? I mean, I know we all daydream about doing such a thing; I certainly did, even after I met Eifa. I doubt there’s a boy who hasn’t. But fantasising about wedding a Silvana and actually presenting yourself in the woods on your seventeenth birth eve are two very different things. And that difference is what makes most of us forego the imagined delights of being in the arms of a Tree Lady – for the sake of our continued sanity, or our life, for that matter. 

Keep in touch with Belinda Mellor:

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Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BelindaAnnMellor

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/belindamellor9/silvana/

Website/Blog: http://silvanathegreening.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bmellor1

 

 

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café

In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A modern classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.

These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated. And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe. 

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The Present

By Johanna Lindsey

Published: 1998    Publisher:  Avon Romance    POV: Third person

Setting: England 1825 and a generation earlier

 Johanna Lindsey fans will love this book. In fact, her dedication reads: to the many fans who love the Malorys as much as I do. This present is for you.

I will admit, I have not read many of Ms. Lindsey’s books. However, my sister and I have a tradition of buying a Christmas book each year in December. This story is a result of that tradition. This year, we pulled it out and read it again. That should tell you something about the quality of the story.

The Malorys, a title family and members of the ton, gather at Haverston, the ancestral estate, each year for Christmas. They are quite a crew. Handsome rakes now tamed by spirited women with beautiful children following in the footsteps of their parents. Except for the oldest brother of the family.

Jason fell in love with Molly thirty years earlier. Molly fell in love with Jason. Great, right? No. Jason is titled and Molly is a servant. She refuses to cross the social line and let him risk scandal. So he marries within his rank and is miserable. So the two continue their affair until the wife finds out. Ah, now the can be together. Nope.

The wife, also extremely unhappy, threatens scandal if she does NOT get a divorce. Jason happily signs the papers and assumes he will now sweep Molly off her feet. But Molly won’t budge. She insists the ton will never accept her so the marriage will not work. They continue their secret affair and even have a child who is accepted by the social realm.

Fast forward to the present. The son is grown, now knows about his parentage, yet Molly remains obstinate. As the family gathers for the holidays, a mysterious present appears on the mantle. It stirs curiosity. The family, bickering and experiencing underlying tensions, are distracted by the mystery. It turns out to be a journal written by the grandparents, second Marquis of Haverston and his wife.

Within the pages are the ruminations and confessions of Christopher Malory and his gypsy wife, Anastasia. The fact that the Marquis’ wife was not of proper birth remained a secret until the discovery of this journal. The love story that unfolds is unique, well told and very romantic. Their lives also run eerily parallel to Jason and Molly.

Johanna Lindsey writes a Christmas story of love, betrayal and family. As Anastasia says in her note to future generations, “To our children and their children and so forth… we leave this written record to you, to be read at your leisure, and with your own imagination lending it life… And I give you fair warning: If you have been led to believe that we are individuals that could do no wrong, then read no further. We are human after all, with all the faults, passions, and mistakes that humans are known for. Judge us not, but perhaps learn from our mistakes.”

                 While the story itself was outstanding, there were elements I did not care for. The dialogue occasionally threw me off with the improper grammar I did not expect from the upper crust. I am not used to the frequent use the word ain’t used. Some of the dialogue also seemed a little out of place.  But these minor issues did not slow down my reading.

I have not read any of the previous books containing the Malory family. It did not hinder my understanding of the plot and the tale stood alone without previous background knowledge. Ms. Lindsey provided the reader with any information necessary to the plot.

The Present is a perfect read for the holidays. I loved the romance, strong but stubborn men and feisty, intelligent women. I loved the family dynamics and might pick up another book with these likeable characters. But the star of the novel is the couple from the journal. Anastasia, daring and desperate, is a perfect match for the obstinate yet passionate Christopher. I recommend this for all historical romance fans that believe the magic of Christmas.

I give The Present three and half mugs.

3.5 coffee mugs

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café


In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.
These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated.  And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.

Christmas Jars
By Jason F. Wright

Published: 2005     Publisher: Worzalla Publishing     POV: Third person
Setting: Present day in Anywhere, USA

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the lilting words sung by Bing Crosby, “Oh, I have plenty to be thankful for.” With the upcoming holidays, I find myself counting my blessings. Since this is a major theme that runs through Christmas Jars, I thought it would be appropriate for my next book review.

No matter how bad life gets, there is always someone who has it a little bit worse. Take Louise, for instance. She is a hard-working, old maid housekeeper. Her Christmas Eve tradition is dinner at Chuck’s Chicken and Biscuits. One year, she comes down with the flu and must postpone her annual holiday meal until New Year’s Eve. That evening, she finds an baby abandoned. A note from a desperate mother explains the abuse in the house and her hopes for a better life for her child. Louise never looks back. She takes on a child she cannot afford and her life explodes with happiness.

After her death, daughter Hope continues the holiday tradition and endures an emotional Christmas Eve meal at Chuck’s Chicken and Biscuits. When she returns home, she finds her apartment ransacked and anything of value stolen. As the police go through the crime scene, Hope finds a paper bag. Inside, is a jar with silver change and some bills  and the words ‘Christmas Jar’ painted on the outside.

As an up-and-coming journalist, the mystery and the motive appeal to her. She is determined to find out where the jar came from and why it was given to her. As she investigates, she finds newspaper archives  with several letters from others who have received Christmas jars. Each story had a common thread: sadness, frustration, loneliness or despair chased away by the giving of jar. In some cases, it provided financial assistance, for others it offered hope.

The story follows Hope as she searches out and spends a day with the recipient of each jar. The encounters provide not only a great newspaper article but renew her faith in people and their desire to help one another.

Christmas Jars is a heartwarming holiday tale that will remind you to count your own blessings. The reader will not find an actual romance between the pages. Yet, the idea of strangers reaching out to help others is a story of love in its own right. The novel is well written and avoids the sappiness of a Lifetime movie. If you are feeling cynical as this jolly season approaches, I highly recommend this book. It is a short and easy read and good for the soul.

The author tells us in his acknowledgements: “It is indeed thrilling that the spirit of Christmas Jars is now bigger than this book… with countless stories and no limits to the good it can do. Each of you is to be thanked for fueling this simple miracle. I hope that when you give your jar away, or if you’ve received this book with a jar meant for you, you will visit www.christmasjars.com and tell me about it. The world would love to hear your anonymous story.” Go ahead, grab the box of Kleenex and visit the site. Then hug your family and find a way to continue this altruistic tradition.

I give this wonderful, uplifting novel 4 mugs.

4 mugs