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Adam Interviews...M.H. Woodscourt!


The logo for this blog - Adam Gaffen Interviews - a hand holding a pen, superimposed on an old-fashioned typewriter

Happy June!

Today's my wife's birthday - so if you want to, drop into FB and wish her a happy birthday. Even better, if you're looking for a nutrition or parenting coach - she's certified ten ways to Sunday for both - then book a call with her! Anyway, birthday link HERE


In any case, that's a bonus for you. You're really here for the interviews, and boy do I have a good one for you! I have M.H. Woodscourt with me today, and let me tell you what's so special about her before she does:

She's part of the Fantasy Box Set Storybundle that I'm putting together!

I gathered a bunch of authors, and we've all put in a BOX SET - MULTIPLE NOVELS AND NOVELLAS - for a bundle you can get, starting July 31!

You can check out the current bundle at www.storybundle.com - the rules are the same for every bundle. You can get ALL of the books in the bundle for $20 (or more, if you're so inclined). That's going to be such AMAZING value for you! But if that's a stretch - and let's face it, sometimes you need to prioritize. (I know, I know, gas over books? Heresy!) That's okay; for $5, you get four books. In this case, you'll get four collections, so you're already winning.

Over the next weeks, I'll be featuring authors who are part of the bundle, so you can be as excited about this as I am!


Now, on to MH! Let's hear right from her (and she's got an excerpt at the end for you):




The cover of The Storyteller True by MC Woodscourt, a person standing on a rock facing an arch in a desert

Writing is in my blood. Such names as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Emily Dickinson, and Ralph Waldo Emerson reach through my ancestral roots to spur my imagination and strike a match, igniting stories and worlds and magic!

I’ve been a storyteller all my life. I took up a pen around age 10 and jotted down short stories of a little girl named Carmen – an incarnation of myself. (You can totally cringe. I do!) I also dreamed of writing a story about a young man named Jason. At that time, he was my imaginary friend.

My father is a Marine, and after he left active service, he developed a nomadic strain in his blood that kept us moving from place and place. 20+ moves before my adulthood have lent me experiences I’d never replace.

At age 13, I watched Fellowship of the Ring in theaters seven times, and nine times on VHS – in the first month of its home video release! My soul sang as I entered Middle-Earth for the first time and found out what fantasy could really mean!

My imagination exploded, giving birth to a wide inner Universe now thriving with myriad worlds and cultures, languages and magic systems, plots and backstories.

My imaginary friend, a funny young man with a penchant for lying, eventually found his home in the Paradise series in 2007-2009.

Since then, I’ve found my niche in High Fantasy and Science-Fantasy, writing for those whose hearts sing the same notes of magic that I hear every day.


Preorder for my upcoming book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CW1MY83B


The cover of The Shattered Arch by MH Woodscourt, a person facing a medieval fortress in wintry mountains

Star Trek or Star Wars?

I grew up on the originals of each, and love both Captain Kirk and Luke Skywalker, but I lean more toward Star Wars. I like a strong dose of the fantastical (such the Jedi and the Force) with my science. 


A book you’re looking forward to release (by someone else)?

That’s so tough! But I’ve narrowed it down to two: I’m most excited for JA Andrews’ Mistlight and Heather Frost’s fifth Fate of Eyrinthia release.


Coffee, tea, or cacao?

I know this is an oddity in the author-sphere, but I dislike coffee and tea. On the other hand, I drink hot cocoa at any time of year, especially with flavored creamer! Chocolate is my greatest weakness.

 

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I have a daily word-count goal Monday through Friday. I take weekends off. Sometimes that word-count takes me hours to complete, other times it takes about 45 minutes. It depends on my brain’s focus. Once I meet that word-count goal, I turn to administrative tasks like my newsletter or creating social media graphics, checking my ads to make sure they’re running well, or editing whatever novel I’m about to publish, since I’m always writing a book or two ahead of what’s coming out next.


When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I completed my first novel when I was 17 years old. I’d tried finishing books before then, but didn’t quite manage it until my last year of high school. That was back in the mid-00s. That experience was the best feeling! To be honest, it still is. Reaching ‘the end’ has never gotten old.


The cover of The Marked Prince by MH Woodscourt, two people, a woman and a person with a sword, facing a fairy-tale city while standing in woods

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I read a TON, of course, since I firmly believe every writer should in order to improve their craft. I also love going into the mountains to hike and camp. Nothing beats nature for recharging and inspiration. (But during the winter, I’m essentially a hermit who watches b&w movies and devours fantasy books.)


Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?

I definitely favor certain classic tropes like The Quest, Dragons, Medieval Settings, and Elemental Magic. I avoid a lot of romance tropes like Miscommunication or Only One Bed.


Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I do write under a pseudonym! Since my full legal name is already being used by a self-help author, I decided to resurrect the origins of my modern surname. Legend claims that my ancestors were part of Robin Hood’s Merry-Men and held ‘court in the woods.’ Thus, Woodscourt. Isn’t it perfect for a fantasy author? I forewent my first name in favor of initials, since Woodscourt is a lot to fit onto a book cover as it is. And so, I became M. H. Woodscourt.


The cover of The Blood Fountain by MH Woodscourt, with a person looking at a towering fountain, mountains and a dragon in the background, and the field they are standing in is all red

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I’ve written 26 novels (with 14 published). The 27th novel in the plotting stages. My favorite tends to be whatever I’m working on at the moment.


What do you think makes a good story?

The heart of a good story is its memorable and fully-realized characters. I’ve read many books with great plots that fell flat because the characters weren’t interesting–but I’ve never read a book with great characters yet no plot that I ended up hating.


As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I’ve wanted to be an author since I was ten years old (give or take). Even before that, I told stories at every opportunity. It’s always been my dream!


Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I write what I crave as a reader, so I don’t aim for originality so much as timeless content. I hope to appeal to like-minded readers.


What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m good friends with Robert Zangari, Laura A. Barton, Mandi Oyster, Amena Jamali, Brigitte Cromey, and a slew of other indie fantasy authors. To one degree or another, we discuss marketing tips, critique each other's books, or bounce ideas off one another. I absolutely love networking with fellow authors! These people always inspire me to write my best, and to never give up on my dream.


The cover of The Crow King by MH Woodscourt, showing a silhouette on a shield with blood on the shield

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?

Within each series, the books stand together, never independently. Going a step further, while each series stands well enough on its own, they’re all connected within my Mithrinn Universe. I’m leading toward an explosive climax that will tie each story together in a huge, huge way. It’s very complex, but so much fun!


What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

That first developmental edit was worth thrice its weight in gold. It showed me my greatest weaknesses and strengths, and taught me how to accept constructive criticism. I grew sooo much from that experience!


What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

Again, so tough to narrow down, but I have to say my overall favorite is Lorna Freeman’s Covenants. The series was never finished, unfortunately, but I adore the writing, world-building, and especially the main character, Rabbit. I will always cherish that first book and its published sequels for inspiring me in my own writing.


The cover of The Winter King by MH Woodscourt, showing a blue shield with the silhouette of a unicorn on it against a wintry background

Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I’m independently published, and happily so. I spent fifteen years querying in the trad trenches, and after reading recent statistics, I’m even more glad I switched tracks back in 2020. I have so much more room to breathe on the indie side, I’m my own boss, and I own everything outright. In an age where publishing houses don’t offer much real marketing or big advances, where they focus most of their time on celeb biographies, and they claim reading is all but dead, I’d rather not have them as my representative. I’ll fly or fall under my own power.


What do you have coming next?

My next release is When Darkness Hunts the Dawn, a high fantasy for adults, and the first book in my upcoming Dragons of Rokahn series. It launches on September 16th, 2024. It’s a story about a twin brother and sister navigating a world full of darkness and war, while they wrestle with their grief and trauma. It’s also a story of hope and courage. My alpha reader called it a thriller fantasy. I call it an obnoxious beastie. XD It’s dragon-centric and stuffed with interkingdom politics. The series harks back to classic fantasy elements while being accessible to modern readers. Dragons of Rokahn may appeal especially to fans of Sword of Truth, The Belgariad, and Earthsea.



The cover of When Darkness Hunts the Dawn by MH Woodscourt, showing a stylized dragon on a coin with flames behind it, superimposed on what looks like blue dragon scales

 

 



Excerpt from The Shattered Arch (Mark of Valliath Book 1):

 

Wind pricked Jetekesh’s skin as he stepped onto the balcony of his private suite. A bright waxing moon colored the stars and poured silvery hues over Kavacos. Silence pervaded the streets beyond the palace walls but for a dog’s cries somewhere in the shadows. Torches blazed upon the battlements, and the faint shapes of guards lent a deceptive kind of refuge against the chill night. The fragrance of dewy grass drifted from below, crisp and sweet, mingling with the perfume of hyacinths and daffodils.

Jetekesh clutched his sleeping robe close and stared out into the darkness, urging his mind to quiet enough to sleep.

The festivities had ended over an hour ago. The guests had been shown to comfortable quarters. Servants had doubtless begun cleaning up the throne room. Lord Father had bidden Jetekesh a peaceful rest, even as uncertainty dimmed the light in the king’s blue eyes.

The prince breathed in the solitude, glad of it, relieved to give in to his fears where no one could see how weak he felt. How drained the day had made him.

He slammed his hands against the balcony railing. His palms stung, but he didn’t care. He welcomed the pain. Welcomed the physical manifestation of his turmoil.

Jetekesh slumped against the railing and stared at his right palm, painted orange in the distant torchlight. “Jinji, I need help. If we’re to survive whatever’s out there, I can’t do it without help. I’m not strong enough yet. I still rely too much on other people.”

He still ached for Mother, as horrible as she’d been, as stifling and treacherous as her choices were. He missed her. And he hated himself for that.

Light streaked across the night sky like a comet.

Jetekesh wrenched his gaze heavenward to watch the bright object—and backed away as he realized it shot toward him, aiming true like an archer’s arrow. Jetekesh threw his hands over his face and stumbled backward until he struck the stone wall. Against his will, he peeked between his fingers.

The light had grown from a distant starlike orb into a sphere larger than Jetekesh. It burned like a white flame of blinding brilliance. As the light touched down on the balcony before him, Jetekesh tensed but couldn’t look away. His heart raced. His breath rasped. Awe coiled over his body.

The flame shrank. The radiance dimmed. A figure appeared amid the light; tall, human in its form, with long hair of a strange white-blue color. As the glow reduced further, a face materialized, angular and fae-like, possibly male, with eyes of liquid silver.

“You are Prince Jetekesh, are you not?” The voice rang out, silken, clear.

Jetekesh lowered his trembling hands and nodded. “I am.”

The glow fell away enough to view the ethereal man in whole. He stood tall and willowy, perhaps twenty years old in appearance, clad in delicate armor of silvery white bearing the heraldry of two dragons in wheeling flight. The stranger inclined his head and pressed a hand over his breastplate. A thin scar ran down his right cheek and jaw.

“I am Kethalas, sentinel of the Jade Arch. I require your help, Your Highness.”

Jetekesh gaped. Blood rushed in his ears, growing louder, louder. His bedchamber door burst open. Palace guards streamed into the room, swords and bows lifted. Jetekesh spun to face them. Among the helmed faces, he caught sight of his protector, Sir Lafe.

“Kesh!” Lord Father’s voice cried out from the corridor beyond the open door.

Jetekesh held his hands out. “Wait! Stay back. He’s not an enemy.”

Nine long months ago, he’d heard the name Kethalas as he’d walked a road within Shinac. Jetekesh glanced over his shoulder and stared at the being standing on his balcony, sword sheathed, hands empty, eyes bright with concern.

“Let me through,” Lord Father commanded.

The guards parted into two columns. The king walked between them, his blade glinting in the flame emanating from a torch a servant carried beside him. He still wore his banquet finery. His eyes burned in the torchlight, but his step faltered as he spotted Kethalas.

“Father,” said Jetekesh, stepping toward him, “he’s from Shinac. I believe he’s an ally.”

Kethalas stooped to one knee and bowed his head. “King Jetekesh the Fourth of Amantier, I am Kethalas, come from the realm of Shinac on a desperate quest. Knowing of your son’s willingness to aid Prince Sharo’s cause when Jetekesh visited our fae shores, and knowing him as a friend of Jinji Taleweaver, I seek his help once again in a matter most pressing.”

Jetekesh’s mind spiraled. Him too? What can I possibly do?

“What urgency compels you so?” asked Lord Father as he slid his sword into its sheath.

Kethalas stood. His eyes flicked to the guards gawking through the archway to the balcony. “I will tell you, Your Majesty, but not in such a crowd. I dare not.”

Lord Father motioned, and the guards retreated in single file. Sir Lafe and the servant remained but stepped into the dark bedchamber, leaving the king, prince, and Shinacian visitor alone on the balcony. Lord Father strode to the railing, his stare never straying from Kethalas’s face. The stranger returned his gaze steadily, a faint, strained smile hovering on his lips.

“We’re alone now.” Lord Father rested a hand on the stone balustrade. “Please explain your meaning.”

Kethalas drew a long breath and dropped his gaze to the flagstones. “As I told your son, I am the sentinel of the Jade Arch. My vow was to protect it from any who may attempt to venture into your world from ours. Most creatures who try to cross over are of the darkest and most vile nature. Magic is not meant to enter Nakania.”

Lord Father’s eyebrows shot up. “Yet here you stand.”

Kethalas nodded and looked up, his mouth a grim line. “Unfortunately, I failed to fulfill my vow. A fortnight ago, a dark and powerful entity attacked me where I kept watch. We battled for several days before it wounded me and broke through the Arch. I followed—but alas, between our joint magics passing through simultaneously, the Jade Arch shattered as we crossed the barrier. I am stranded in your world.”

Prince Jetekesh stepped across the balcony, palms slick with sweat. “What happened to the creature you fought?”

Kethalas’s silver eyes fastened on him. “To my everlasting shame, I cannot find it. I lost consciousness when I entered Nakania, and when I regained my wits I lay within the desert wastes among the debris of the Jade Arch, utterly alone.”

“Could the entity have perished in the crossing?” Lord Father asked.

Kethalas shook his head. “Alas, no. Six days ago, I discovered its magical imprint upon the western shores of your country, not far from the Arch. It had seemingly fled into the waters and”—lines appeared across his face as his brows knitted together—“I fear it unleashed the demon Erisyrdrel.” He bowed his head. “I despise what my ineptitude has done to Nakania, yet without the Jade Arch, I cannot hope to rectify my mistake by calling upon my brethren for assistance. All I could think to do was find you and ask for whatever help you might provide.”

“What can I possibly do for you?” Jetekesh asked. His insides twisted.

“Help me to find Erisyrdrel and the dark force that unchained it. You know this world; I do not. And you are trustworthy. The Sigil of Truth rests upon you.”

 

 


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