It’s difficult taking care of a delusional father by yourself. Sixteen-year-old Shaleigh Mallet would rather explore and photograph dilapidated buildings than cater to her father’s dark episodes. But when she’s kidnapped by a creature who carries her atop a flying bicycle into another world, she realizes this wasn’t the escape she wanted.
In a kingdom known as the Garden, where minotaurs pull carriages and parties are held in hot air balloons, Madam Cloom and her faerie servant, Teagan, rule over the land with incredible but terrifying magic. Shaleigh must prove that she is the reincarnation of a long-dead ruler, not because she believes it, but because it’s her only chance to survive. With the help of a trespassing faerie, a stoatling, and a living statue, Shaleigh hopes to outwit everyone. She aims to break the bonds of servitude and finally make her way home. What she doesn’t realize, however, is that she’s playing right into the hands of a far worse enemy…
About The She-Wolf of Kanta:
“A pair of yellow eyes caught the moonlight and locked onto hers.”
Mercy has always dreamed of becoming a werewolf trapper like her father. In Kanta, one must learn how to survive one way or another. A dark-skinned, blue-eyed young beauty, Mercy understands that she brings out the beast in monsters and men. When a routine werewolf delivery turns into a vicious assault from a pair of human traffickers, Mercy’s life changes forever. Somehow she must endure in a dangerous city where women and werewolves are hunted.
Intro for The She-Wolf of Kanta:
The crickets were deafening as moonlight streamed down through the branches. Mercy’s pulse rang in her ears and her entire body was tense. Her left calf kept cramping up, but she ignored it. A moment’s delay when the beast showed its face could mean a gory death. She couldn’t fail tonight, not after months of practice. Behind her she knew Father was watching, and she wondered if he felt as nervous. The forest was deceptively peaceful, but Father said they were close, and that if she remembered her training, she could hear them, too.
She got into position in the middle of the clearing with her foot poised above the pedal switch. She tried to calm her mind and focus. The clamor of crickets surrounded them, but that was merely wrapping the noises beneath. She tried to listen closer. She heard an owl in a tree, her father’s raspy breaths, and the heavy, padding paws of the beast stalking her. Her mouth was dry and her body began to tremble. Father had said she would panic, that it was a normal reaction to facing one in the wild for the first time. That was the deciding moment, he had said. She needed to keep control of herself, but that was so much easier when she knew they weren’t near, when she knew it was safe.
Then she saw it. Through a thick patch of bushes, a pair of yellow eyes caught the moonlight and locked on to hers. Mercy froze. It was said when you looked into a werewolf’s eyes, you felt how easy it would be to become its prey. Facing one required both a strong mind and a strong body. It was as much a mind game as a physical one, and never had Mercy felt so small and insignificant. She had a very sensible and primal urge to run away. There was no way to prepare for that moment, Father had told her. That was the gamble of going trapping to begin with, whether or not you would be able to contain the urge to flee. She felt her legs shake but forced herself to stay rooted to the spot. If she ran, both she and her father could be torn apart.
When the werewolf lunged forward, the only thing Mercy could think of was how big it was.
How did you come up with the idea for She-Wolf of Kanta?
So people are usually surprised that research into the history of slavery led to the creation of Mercy’s story. In the novella, I focus on werewolves not only as monsters, but as metaphors for human trafficking. I thought of a city that depended on werewolves in order to survive, and the limping city of Kanta was born.
What did you love the best about the main character in She-Wolf of Kanta?
I love Mercy’s fearlessness. She has hurdle after hurdle thrown at her, and yet she refuses to give up. So many times in her story it would be easier just to stop fighting, but she doesn’t. She’s both inspiring and at times a little terrifying in her determination, and I love her for it.
Do you outline before writing or just go with it?
I try to outline at least the first few chapters before I hop in to start writing. That way if I struggle trying to get the storyline to start, I can fall back on the outline to remember my direction. Usually I already have in mind what beats I need to hit throughout the novel. I know where the characters need to go, but not always how to get them there. Toward the end of the book, I may go back to outline the ending as well, especially if it is a complex ending.
What made you decide to want to be a writer?
I was an avid reader as a kid. Once I got done with classwork, books were my reward, and I devoured so many of them. My passion for writing went in and out over the years, and then I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2010. It gave me such a confidence boost to finish the first draft of an original novel that I decided to try writing short stories. Now I’m writing novels on a regular basis.
You have a new book coming out next year titled, Stolen. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Stolen is my debut novel that is coming January 22nd from The Parliament House. It’s about Shaleigh, a young, black urban explorer who prefers to investigate and photograph abandoned buildings instead of dealing with her delusional father. It tackles some pretty heavy topics of mental illness and what it’s like to be the child taking care of a parent. Then Shaleigh gets kidnapped by a creature that clearly isn’t human.
Taken away from her friends and family, Shaleigh finds herself in a land filled with dangerous creatures and untrustworthy people. She must navigate the tricky political world of the Garden and prove that she is the reincarnation of the previous Master of the Garden. Along the way she befriends a talking statue named Mawr, a stoatling named Colin, and a trespassing faerie. She plans to outwit the dangerous Madam Cloom to make her escape back home.
Stolen is book one of a three-part series, which I’m happy to say will all be released from The Parliament House. The cover is just fabulous and I can’t wait to introduce readers to this unique and fantastic world!
Who is your favorite character in Stolen and why?
That is a tough question because I love all of them so much! But if I had to choose, I think it would be Talek, the trespassing faerie. He’s quite the character and shows up just in the nick of time to help out. He works closely with Shaleigh to assist her on her journey. He’s sexy, determined, and charismatic – what’s not to like?
What other future books are you working on next?
I’m actually working on the sequel to Stolen, titled Broken. This will be a continuation of the Stolen Series and will be coming soon from The Parliament House – as soon as I finish them of course!
I’ve also recently finished another YA Horror novel titled The Seeking, about a young teen who must hide with her siblings once a year to keep from being captured by her hometown. I’m hoping to be shopping this book around soon, so expect to see more about this one!
What hobbies do you have besides writing?
Outside of writing, I love watching movies. Anything with fantasy, or even better dark fantasy, grabs my attention immediately. Horror movies that border the fantasy line like Pan’s Labyrinth for example are absolutely fantastic to me. I guess I grew up in the 80s and got exposed to some fantastic dark fantasy children’s films so I was a little spoiled!
I’m also an active member of the Atlanta cosplay community! I cosplay both anime and comic book characters – usually the villains. You can usually find me at the big conventions around Atlanta, including DragonCon, MomoCon, and AWA. I’ve also organized and presented fan panels at conventions, put together a Cosplay Music Video, and been a photographer for our cosplay troupe, Black Knight Productions Cosplay.
If you could be one other person for a day, past, present, or fictional, who would it be?
I would actually love to be Jessica Rabbit from Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Not only would I get to be sexy and sleuthing around the streets of Toon Town on a regular basis, but I also would get to be a jazzy lounge singer. That honestly sounds too cool!
What’s your favorite color?
I would just say green, but it’s a very specific green. It’s the color of the first leaves in spring, that light yellow-green color that signifies that winter is finally ending. I love it.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up. Being an author today is an uphill battle the whole way. Keep reading, keep writing, and keep learning about the industry. There are so many ways to get your works out there! Find what works best for you and figure out how to make your dreams come true.
Marlena Frank has always been fascinated with monsters, and now gets to write about them. She has been writing spooky and fantastic stories since 2010 and has had her short stories published in a number of anthologies, from Heroic Fantasy Quarterly to The Sirens Call.
Her YA Dark Fantasy novella, The She-Wolf of Kanta, was released in April 2018 from Radiant Crown Publishing. Her debut novel, Stolen, book one of a three-part YA Fantasy series, is coming out January 2019 from The Parliament House. When she isn’t thinking up strange tales, she loves watching movies and she’s an active member in the Atlanta cosplay community.
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