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A word with the creators of Argren Blue, A Spirit Song Story

1) Starting with the basics. What is your Author name; use your Pen name if you have one.

Ross Hightower

2) What is your genre and what drew you to it?

I’ve read widely most of my life, but in recent years, I’ve gravitated more and more to fantasy. My college roommate introduced me to the Lord of the Rings. It’s the magic, the sense of wonder, stark boundaries between good and evil (although that’s not always the case), the hero’s journey and the struggle against impossible odds. Those are the things that keep drawing back. I was lying in bed one night, six years ago, and started wondering how fantasy writers come up with unique and interesting magic systems. So, I set about trying to come up with one. I do that sort of thing often at night, rather than think about work. When I woke up the next morning, the only thing I remember was the idea that, when the magically adept were young, they cause pain in the people around them. For some reason I can’t explain, I found myself in a coffee shop that snowy morning writing a story to answer that question. I hadn’t written fiction since the ninth grade. All I had was two characters and that idea and I wrote for three hours. That story ended being a pivotal chapter in my first novel Spirit Sight.

3) Which character of yours is your favorite and why?

I love them all, even the bad ones, but my favorite is one of the characters in that first story. Minna was supposed to be an angry, defensive young woman, like Nona Gray in Lawrence’s Book of the Ancestors or Vin in Sanderson’s Mystborn. But she refused to be jaded by her tough childhood. She’s the quintessential fantasy heroine; humble, even uncertain at times, moral, steadfast, and when called upon, she never fails to rise to the occasion. I love her like a daughter and it’s no surprise. There’s a good deal of my youngest daughter in her.

4) How did you come up with your cover design?

Coming up with cover designs is fraught for me. I didn’t really understand the process my publisher uses to create covers for my first book, so I wasn’t clear enough when I tried to convey my vision of the Spirit Sight cover. I wasn’t totally sold on the result, but I went with it at the urging of my publisher. When we recently reissued the book as a two-volume set, I got to redo the cover and I’m much happier with it. For the Argren Blue over, my co-author, Deb, found a great stock photo and the artist at Black Rose Writing worked his magic. I really like the result.

5) Have you ever taken a course on writing or advertising? If so, which one(s) and how would you rate them? When I realized how much I loved writing, I determined to make myself better. I read a lot of books and I was lucky enough to find the All Writers Workplace & Workshop online, which happens to be located near me. I took a course and the owner, Kathie Giorgio, offered to take me on as a coach. I was leery because I’d read a lot of cautionary tales about writing coaches, but it has been a very rewarding and constructive relationship.

6) Did you ever feel like giving up? If so, how did you overcome that? Frequently. Kathie and my partner, Deb, had to talk me off the ledge multiple times. Writing has been an intense commitment for me. It requires a lot of time and mental space. When you’re writing that first novel, and you’re sure it’s awful and will never go anywhere, it’s easy to be discouraged. Especially, when you receive negative feedback. Even if it’s constructive. But I just put my head down and told myself I could get better. You have to love the writing process to get through those moments. I’m so happy I didn’t quit, and I would encourage anyone starting out to keep going when you feel discouraged.

7) What is your favorite part about being a writer? I love the writing. I love the world and the characters I’ve created. It may sound strange, but I love finding out what happens to them and watching them develop.

8) What is your favorite book and why? Spirit Sight was my first, so at some level it will always be my favorite. However, Argren Blue is a fun, fast paced story with lots of action and heartfelt moments. I was becoming more sure footed in my writing. I’m very excited about it. Still…on the other hand, Spirit Light, the sequel to Spirit Sight, is shaping up to be a great book. How can you pick a favorite?

9) How many books do you try to read each year? I haven’t had much time to read, mainly because I have a pretty intense day job. However, I’m retiring soon, and I have a stack of to be reads a mile high.

10) In your opinion, can a book series be too long? As a reader, if the series feels too long you can always stop reading. So, no, if I love a series, I want it to keep going.

11) If you could take one item out of any book that you have ever read, what would it be or why? The one ring?

12) What is your best book memory? So many to choose from, but the one that popped to the top of my memories when I read this question was My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George. It must have hit me at the right time, because it had a big effect on me.

13) What is the name of your book/series? Tell me a little bit about them. Spirit Sight is the first book of the Spirit Song trilogy. The main character is Minna Hunter, who, as the title says, has spirit sight which allows her to see and commune with spirits. Unfortunately, as I mentioned above, this causes pain in others, so she’s ostracized as a witch. Fortunately, her village is so remote, she escapes the notice of the inquisition and is able to grow until she’s on the verge of mastering her gifts. I love stories with heart and emotion and my books reflect that. There’s also plenty of action, a very unique magic system with a lot of personality, and surprising revelations. All that and a bag of chips. Argren Blue is set ten years before Spirit Sight. It tells the story of how the peaceful people at the center of the story start fighting back and sets the stage for the events of Spirit Light, the sequel to Spirit Sight.

14) Do you have a website? If so, what is it?

15) Where can we find and follow you? (Name your social media platforms.)

Facebook - RTHightower

LinkedIn - ross-hightower-b6453172/

Instagram – rosshightower

Twitter - @AuthorHightower

16) If there anything important that you would want my readers to know about you?

A question guaranteed to make an introvert’s mind go blank.

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