I am happy to welcome Taryn Noelle Kloeden to my blog in honor of her debut novel, Hex Breaker, which is the first book in a series.
Taryn is a lover of nature and all things furry and feathered. As a graduate student in Anthrozoology with an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Biology, she is dedicating her life to understanding and protecting animals, both human and nonhuman. This zeal for the outdoors combined with a lifelong love affair with fantasy and horror stories led her to create a YA dark fantasy series, The Fenearen Chronicles. Taryn lives in Richmond, Virginia with her Prima donna cat, Stella, and personal piano player/boyfriend, Lorenzo.
And now, Taryn answers the Seven Questions:
1) Pitch your book in three sentences.
What would you do if your best friend was cursed to a terrible fate for all eternity—and it was your fault? In a world where humans can take wolf form, political smokescreens hide dark intentions, and a culture faces extinction, one young woman must learn to embrace a power she does not understand. She’ll brave hell to save her pack, but will it be enough?
2) What inspired you to first decide, “I’m going to write a novel”?
I grew up splitting my time between Narnia, Middle Earth, Hogwarts and Pyrdain. When in our reality, I often found myself playing outside, making up worlds of my own. I always knew I wanted to share these worlds with others, and writing a novel seemed like the best way to do that. But I really became serious about writing and publishing as a young adult when I joined a local writers’ group and saw that it was possible to write today, rather than someday.
3) What draws you to the fantasy genre as a writer and a reader?
The earliest books I remember staying up all night to read were fantasy stories. The stories that come to me and keep me writing are also almost always fantasy. There’s something so sumptuous about creating a whole new world, or re-imagning this one in a way that hasn’t been done. While I do enjoy other genres, nothing gives me the chills or thrills like fantasy does. I do also think it’s important to note that, in my opinion at least, world-building and wonder aren’t enough for a great fantasy. To me, those create a breathtaking background upon which writers can really explore the intricacies of relationships, characters, and plots.
4) What’s a favorite book of yours, and why?
There are so many, but I’ll touch on a longtime favorite. The Call of the Wild has been one of my favorite books since the first time I read it in third grade. It’s one of those books where I find something new to appreciate every time I re-read it. I love that it’s told from a dog’s perspective, and the visceral, immediate ways that London describes Buck’s experiences. It’s a heartbreaking tale and yet so freeing.
5) What was one of the challenges you faced in producing Hex Breaker, and how did you overcome it?
How much time do you have? But really, I have been working on this book on and off for a decade, so there have been so many different challenges. I think the main one, though, was determining the best way to tell this story. It’s truly an epic. While it does revolve around a central character and her quest, there are so many different characters and intersecting plots that I really struggled with how to create a coherent, exciting narrative. With the help of friends, hours of plotting and sketching, and of course the aid of an amazing editor (Tamara Shoemaker), I think I figured out how to do it, and do it well. It’s a multi-POV story, but not omniscient, so by choosing which characters had the most to gain/lose in a given scene and showing it from their perspective, I think we came up with something really compelling.
6) What other art forms inspire your writing, and how? (for example, music, film, dance, paintings, theater)
I love to listen to music, both while I write and especially while I imagine/plot. I have whole playlists devoted to projects or characters, and now can’t hear certain songs without being reminded of various characters. For example, “I Know the Reason” by Carbon Leaf (my favorite band) came on while writing my answer to this question, and I immediately pictured Kellan from Hex Breaker. On top of that, I’m blessed to have a musician for a boyfriend who has composed songs specifically about my characters to help me write—the Ballad of Channon Lyallt is definitely my favorite.
I also love to draw. I don’t do it particularly well, but I have books and books full of character and scene sketches. I find that it helps me focus and can break writer’s block. I also love to act, having been involved with community theater for about fifteen years. Acting stretches a lot of the same muscles as writing, and I think my acting training really helps me inhabit the characters I write.
7) What is next for you as a writer?
I’m graduating with my Master’s in May and will have a few months before I go on to my doctorate in the fall. I hope to spend the summer re-writing Twice Blessed, the sequel to Hex Breaker. I will also be working on the third installment in the Fenearen Chronicles. Once those books and my academic work are well underway, my next major project is actually a standalone science fiction novel. So, a lot! I’m just hoping it doesn’t take me another ten years to get it all out there.
Hex Breaker is out and available now. Get it exclusively on Amazon here.
Forced to decide between her happiness and her pack’s safety, Rayna Myana chooses to protect those she loves. But when shattered promises and dark magic collide, no one is safe…
For six hundred years, Fenear, a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her to strengthen the alliance, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion of treachery changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. Separated from her pack with Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and travel to a distant realm to break the hex. Only then can she save her best friend and her homeland.
Lines blur between heroism and recklessness, dreams and reality, even life and death, and Rayna risks losing herself along the way.
Learn more about Taryn and her projects: