It has always been an interest of mine to consider the nuances involved in my encounters with others, those that are nourishing and even those that are more distasteful for some reason. In recent years, my interest has broadened to include encounters with animals, nature, books, movies and now, online conversations with people who I treasure yet may never meet.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


 Julia Hughes is not only an author of 5 thrilling novels that have become personal treasures; she is more so a treasured friend and mentor.  Her newest novel, a YA fantasy that is for all young-at-heart readers, is featured here and is available for download. After a last round of editing and proofing, The Griffin Cryer is formatted and ready to hit the paperback stands. Release is due sometime in March and to celebrate, Julia and Talon Publishing are giving away two signed copies!  In a free and easy-to-enter competition, you can submit as many entries as you wish! To sign submit your entries, click here.

Thank you, Julia, for gracing Treasured Encounters with this, a  most delightful interview!

Frankie Shaunessy's friends are out of this world!

It's an easy mistake to make - instead of whistling and calling for her dog, fifteen year old Frankie accidentally summons a griffin and his rider from another world. The Rider is tall, blond and extremely rude. On the other hand, Balkind is the sweetest, most lovable griffin Frankie's ever met, and Frankie is determined to help The Rider and his griffin find a way back to their own world.
Dealing with parallel universes, disgruntled warriors, and hungry griffins is the simple part of Frankie's life. At school, Frankie learns friends can become enemies, teachers aren't always right, and the boy of your dreams can be all too human.
This adventure for the young at heart is published by Talon Publishing and available to download in the US, here. And in the U.K., here.

THE GRIFFIN CRYER is Julia’s 5th novel.  Four previous novels, each one a treasure, include 3 thrilling Celtic Cousins’ Adventures: A RIPPLE IN TIME, A RAUCOUS TIME and AN EXPLOSIVE TIME; and THE BRIDLE PATH is a delightful romantic drama/comedy. 

 Writing a novel is not as easy a task as some might think! What is it that compels you to pour a ton of glue on your chair, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard), lock the door and shut off the phone?

(Had to stop and think about this one!) I think everyone indulges in daydreams from time to time – what would our world be like if, say for example, Lee Harvey Oswald had never been born? I take these fantasies one step further and, honestly Dody, it’s annoying to other people because I can easily lose myself in an entire movie running inside my scatterbrain mind. There are more questions than answers; so many ‘what ifs’ and ‘whys’. I guess you could say I’ve invented my own solutions to mysteries that niggle. Writing down these stories seemed a natural progression.

 Since I am an avid fan, having read each of the aforementioned novels, I’ve come to appreciate your great ability to weave into your stories not only the day-to-day minutiae of living but also historical facts, geographical landmarks and mystical possibilities. Are you a student of history; an ardent observer of people and life?

I wish! Who wouldn’t love to live their lives in study? I’m so envious of youngsters nowadays who have so many opportunities to access learning. The internet has widened things up to us oldies as well but, in another life, I would be a historian. For me, history speaks. It’s all around us, sometimes mysterious, sometimes quite plainly saying, “This is how your great grandmother lived, worked and played.” Our ancestors’ ‘magic’ is our science and, in the years to come, for certain many mysteries will be explained by science to our children.

 What genres are you most likely to read? Or perhaps, a more succinct question is, ‘What do you look for in a book; what interests you to continue a read?’

I’m an eclectic reader. Growing up, books were expensive and hard to come by, even second-hand. Your younger readers will laugh, but libraries were strict about lending books. We could borrow five non-fiction, and only two fiction, or stories. Honest! I’m sure the UK has never really gotten over war time rationing! So after picking out the two story-books, we quickly became adept at choosing non-fiction books that weren’t as dry as dust. The Edwardian adventurers were always my favourite non-fictional reads: slap a pair of extra long johns on and off they’d go to conquer Everest or the North Pole!
Eleanor, wife to King Henry II also holds a fascination for me. Her name derives from the Provencal for "other Aenor," (Aenor being Eleanor's mother). I’ve shamelessly used the prefix “Ella” to christen the world of the Rider “Ella-Earth”, or “other Earth.” Books that I love best entertain, enlighten, and leave me with the feeling that I’ve encountered a new experience, and made new friends.  

 THE GRIFFIN CRYER is being launched as a YA fantasy novel and yet I, as an adult, find the story to be delightful, deeply moving and intelligently insightful. What makes this novel one that can appeal to both audiences?

It’s hard being a teenager; it’s also pretty wonderful too as whole new worlds open up to you. I know a lot of awesome young people, and I feel for them; there is so much to learn about relationships and being responsible for your own decisions in those few short years. I can’t hope to get inside their minds, but I hope that the story manages to convey empathy for the problems they face. Hopefully too, those who are young at heart – like you Dody – and those who are able to empathize with young adults will also enjoy THE GRIFFIN CRYER.

 Who is Frankie? From where in your mind did she spring? Is she the young Julia?

Frankie (Francesca) Shaunessy is a little bit of a tomboy. She’s a conundrum, like most teenagers. She’s uncertain about where she fits in and, deep down, she loves her mum, her step-dad and her brother. She wants to be better than she is – she’s worried she isn’t measuring up. She’s also aware there’s a lot of sympathy for her and her brother, Michael, who has been comatose for almost three years. She doesn’t want sympathy; she just wants her brother back. This makes her prickly, and adds to her feelings of alienation. I wanted to make Frankie an ‘outsider’; the Rider of course is also an ‘outsider’ so when they meet, they have this in common. I wish the young Julia possessed half the adventurous spirit of Frankie.

 In writing the exciting segments in which The Rider and his griffin ‘cross through the membrane from Ella-Earth to Earth’ and back, did you conduct research, base the process on scientific data?

I wanted to “research” but, while much better and brighter minds than mine agree that there’s a strong possibility that other universes do exist, they haven’t quite pinned down and dissected the theory. There isn’t just one theory either, there are many. It is something that’s fascinated me since reading “The Magician’s Nephew” (C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles), and it was a question of mulling theories over in my mind until I felt comfortable with the universe that contains “Ella-Earth”. I visualized ley-lines thrumming with magnetic energy to keep our two worlds separate, yet conjoined.  Next I imagined monoliths, or standing stones, ‘earthing’ this power. I then introduced a third element which could control both monoliths and ley-lines, and so make travel between the two worlds possible.

 When you scripted the dialogues that are especially sensitive and deeply moving, did you ‘step into the minds’ of each character? For example, between Frankie and The Rider; between Frankie and her mum.

Spot on! I don’t know how else to write dialogue, apart from getting inside a character’s mind, and then putting words into their mouths.

 If a stray griffin should come my way and offer me a flight, what would The Rider instruct me to do in order to fly aerodynamically?

If I had one wish to make, I’d wish for a griffin to offer you a ride. The large veins which emerge from a griffin’s shoulders in order to inflate their wings and circulate blood are especially sensitive. Place your hands there, firmly but gently. Now use your body weight to indicate direction and pace, much as you would if riding a horse. Bending forwards or leaning back indicates diving or soaring upwards to your griffin. Griffins are intelligent creatures, and have the equivalent vocabulary of, say, a working sheep dog, so you can also give verbal commands which will be understood. “Good griffin” and “dinner” are what most griffins want to hear.

 Chapter 20 is one that is profoundly moving and special to me though some readers may find it ‘strange.’ What message can you offer readers to clarify its meaning?

Thanks Dody, both for the kind words, and the question! It is a strange, extraordinary chapter. I sincerely hope readers will be willing to allow their imaginations to take flight and go on this journey with Frankie.  I wanted to explore the idea that we have the ability to enter another’s world, either physically or mentally, and to help them escape to a better world.

 There are so many wonderful quirky characters and dialogues throughout the story. Is it safe to say that your own personal nature is one that is quirky?

I like to think that I’m down to earth. Others think I’m a scatterbrain. I do have a terrible curiosity. I always felt so sorry for poor Pandora; I too would have opened that box!

 For the ending, was it difficult to settle on Frankie’s decision? Will there be a sequel?

Incredibly difficult. Frankie’s very loyal, and she was torn. I think she listened to her heart for her final decision, and stuck with the person who needed her most. Stephen King compares writing to an archeological dig. You discover bones, and then have the task of working out what goes where and how the creature looked and moved. In other words, the writer breathes life into dust. He goes on to observe that sometimes you strike lucky and find a complete fossil, which needs little or no assembly. I struck lucky with THE GRIFFIN CRYER. Frankie and The Rider’s story formed complete and almost wrote itself. The biggest difficulty was in knowing when to stop and I’m longing to explore more of The Rider’s world. I hope readers will feel the same way and, if so, there will definitely be a sequel. I’m just hoping for the same excellent beta readers to help mould the next episode of Frankie and The Riders’ adventures. Without the input of one beta reader in particular, this story probably would still be just an idea, and I’m eternally grateful for your generosity.

Thank you, Julia, for being so candid and informative with your answers. I am so looking forward to a sequel of THE GRIFFIN CRYER. Consider me an available fan!

Julia's website treats her visitors to a variety of fascinating posts. To visit 'A Ripple in Time,' click here. There are excerpts from each of her novels, including THE GRIFFIN CRYER. In addition to her reviews of other indie authors' novels, Julia's site showcases incredible modern day fairy tale short stories written by Randall Peterson. Julia also offers recommendations of reviewers and book cover designers that are credible.

Connect with Julia on Facebook.
Connect with Julia on Twitter.


  1. Thank you Dody, for inviting me onto your site. I thoroughly enjoyed our 'interview', you posed some interesting questions, hopefully my answers are of the same quality!

    Once again, a massive thank you for all your support, you're a real friend to an entire band of indie authors, and through you I've met some lovely people.

    1. My pleasure, Julia. Giving and receiving...receiving and giving: both make the world go round, offering nourishment to those who choose to participate. Consider me to be deeply grateful.

  2. Terrific interview, Dody! And the book sounds fascinating, Julia! People reading the interview will no doubt see that this novel isn't only YA -- it has broad appeal, and adults looking for adventure (and nostalgia for their teen years, wondering what it would have been like to come across such an amazing creature and its rider when they were that young) will lose themselves in it for many hours of enjoyment. Congrats to both author and interviewer. :-}

    1. Nikki, Nikki, Nikki! I so enjoy your comments; almost as much as your scifi/horror short stories :-} You reading my mind? Nostalgia..wondering what it would have been like to come across such an amazing creater and rider when that young! I did lose myself in this book; became Frankie for a while.

  3. Great interview - thank you! The Griffin Cryer sounds intriguing and the must-read for this Christmas, with universal appeal. Roll on 12.12.12!

    1. Oh Jenny! Just you wait and see your fantastical role in Frankie's story! Think I laughed in glee, out loud!

    2. I have become a literary character! Thank you Julia. Watch out, Dody: you might be in the sequel!

  4. Thank you Nikki, Dody is a really intuitive interviewer:) and thank you too Jenny:) I think Miss Worstall is the real star of the play within the story:)


    1. Well, I certainly had to step in and play the piano at the last minute, didn't I? An all too familiar occurrence in a music teacher's life...

  5. Frankie sends her apologies ...

    Over Christmas - I want you all to get your thinking caps on - we've got griffins to name if there is to be a sequel!

  6. What a great review! I just wanted to let you know that I have given you an award on my blog. See here:
    I wish you a very happy festive season!