I love learning the writing and world-building processes of other fantasy authors.
Enter Ms. Reich and her debut novel, Reborn. Pretty sweet cover, wouldn't you agree? I was ready to read as soon as I saw the wicked cool phoenix!
Another great thing about Reborn is it also incorporated mythological creatures I humbly admit even I had not heard of before. (Karshipta and woodwoses? Yes, please!)
All that said, I hope you enjoy this interview I held with Ms. Reich. She's pretty awesome. Not gonna lie. ;)
How did you come up with the story?
Back in 2001-2002, I roleplayed on an online Harry Potter roleplaying game and created a character named Clarissa Black who had the ability to foresee the future. Like Yssa, she was a stillborn child brought back by a god’s touch.
That beginning stuck with me, so when I was considering writing a novel in 2006, I came back to that idea. Yssa and her story have diverged a lot from Clarissa’s path, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I love mythological creatures, yet hadn’t heard of karshiptas and woodwoses. Would you mind explaining what kind of creatures these are for other readers who haven’t heard of them before?
Karshiptas come from Persian mythology. They are talking falcon-like birds that spread religion throughout the land. My karshiptas aren’t nearly as noble, but they do relay messages.
Woodwoses are the wild men of the forest and were depicted as mythical beings in medieval literature and artwork. They can be similar to satyrs or fawn, although a bit more humanoid than a mixture of human/animal. The woodwoses of Waldbaum Forest are not native to Amora. They used to live beyond the Great Mountains in Norvadia. They were forced south, away from their homeland, and settled in Amora and gave the name Waldbaum to the forest. They enjoy celebrating and converse with nature.
Your main character, Yssa, is a prophetess who has frequent visions. Are you more like Fate, (plotting Yssa’s journey), or do you prefer the visions spark inside you like they do with Yssa and learn where they take you both?
I am Fate.
I’m such a plotter with my stories. I can’t help it. My brain just works that way.
When the idea of Yssa’s life began to form, I received images of future scenes from book one to book three. That said, quite a few of Yssa’s visions in Reborn came after the first draft and even rewrite draft were written. As I learned more about the world, I was able to add some more prophecies, especially to show how out of control she is with them. Thankfully, she does gain some control over minor visions, but that doesn’t stop what Apenth wants to show her, and he’s quite demanding. Of course, we wouldn’t expect much less from a god!
Between the cool mythological creatures and gods arguing over Yssa, how much research did Reborn require?
Not much research, per se. In college, I majored in Classics (Ancient Greeks and Romans) with a minor in the Ancient Near East. I took classes on comparative mythology, which included a lot of Norse mythology as well as other places.
You could say that time was my research because I pulled heavily from my studies. But when I had the idea to write Reborn until it was published, I didn’t do much research beyond searching for some unique mythological creatures (I think that took just a couple days) and researching time/distances for travel (boats, birds, horses, and people), which took an hour here and there.
What was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
Oh, this is a hard question because so many chapters/scenes are my favorite. I think my favorite chapter would have to be Chapter 34, the day Yssa tries to make peace with the enemy. This chapter is my favorite because it’s an action-packed scene, but it is also the first time Yssa experiences real horror beyond what she’s foreseen. This is a growing up chapter, and it cements who Yssa will become.
If you could meet any character in fiction, who would you be?
I’d love to meet any character from Harry Potter, except Umbridge. I hate Umbridge. But wouldn’t it be cool to live in Harry’s magical world?
Any advice for other writers, or those aspiring to write?
Read a lot. Write a lot. Learn the basic rules of grammar. Connect with other writers because writing is lonely and writers are a part of an amazing and generous community.
Any books or authors inspire Reborn, or your overall writing style?
Well, without JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, I don’t know if I would’ve come up with the premise for Yssa. Greek and Roman mythology in particular inspired Reborn too.
What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope they’ll be inspired to change their own fate.
Anything else you’d like to plug?
Reborn is my debut novel, but I have published some shorter series: Nightmare (horror), Gravity (space fantasy), and The Foxwick Chronicles (fantasy). Later this year I plan to release an extended version of the short story once titled Magna’s Plea. Now retitled Repledged, this prequel story features Princess Magna as she challenges Fate. Repledged takes place 800 years before Reborn.
To save a kingdom, a prophetess must challenge Fate.
On the day of Yssa’s death and rebirth, the god Apenth chose her as the Phoenix Prophetess.
Sea serpents and gods endanger the young prophetess’s journey and sour the omens. Yssa is cursed instead of blessed, and her duties at the Temple of Apenth prove it. She spends her days reading dusty scrolls, which does nothing to help her forget Tym, the boy back home. But the annoying yet gorgeous ferryman’s son Liam proves to be a distraction she can’t predict, even though he rarely leaves her alone for two sand grains.
Her boring temple life screeches to a halt when visions of her parents’ murders consume her. Yssa races across an ocean to stop the future. If she can’t change Fate, she’ll refuse to be the Phoenix Prophetess any longer. Fate, however, has other plans for her and the kingdom.
Yssa must either accept her destiny or fight to change Fate.
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A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the horror collection Nightmare, a space fantasy novella collection titled Gravity, and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles and The Fate Challenges. Reborn is her debut novel. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms. For more information, please visit her website.
Author. Actor. Rascal.