Thursday, August 8, 2019

Golden Braids Blog Tour DAY 4: Interview With Meredith Leigh Burton

Hey'a, everyone! It's the second-to-last day of the Golden Braids blog tour, and today's book is Rebekah's Refuge, the latest book by Meredith Leigh Burton. This is a delightful western fantasy with an emphasis on family that I really enjoyed. You can read more about my thoughts on the book over at Light and Shadows; here, I have an interview with Meredith! But first — you know the drill — a little about the book and author.

About . . .

Rebekah’s Refuge!

Never allow a stranger to buy you anything. Never reveal what you truly are. Above all, never, ever allow your hair to be cut.

In a plague-ravaged world, people will stop at nothing to find a cure. Rebekah is a young norn who on the run for her life. Charles, a man desperate to heal his ailing wife, wants the life-giving magic contained in Rebekah's hair.

When Rebekah’s path crosses with Martha’s, a mother who has lost her daughter to the same man, secrets will be revealed. Buried fears will be resurrected, and the conflict between norns and humans may cause devastating havoc. Will Rebekah and Martha find a way to help both human and nornkind, or will Rebekah’s pursuer capture her? Will the plague be eradicated, or is a more sinister plan at work?

Things are not how they appear in this story of finding a place to belong. Rebekah’s Refuge is a tale of sacrifice, love and courage. You will meet many individuals, human and norn alike, who bear scars, scars that cannot be seen. A tenuous thread binds their destinies together, but threads, like hair, can easily be cut. Only those who listen can find the courage to fight. Rebekah’s Refuge is a tale of desperation and hope, a story of turmoil and healing.

Find it On: Amazon || Goodreads

Meredith Leigh Burton!

Meredith Leigh Burton is a voracious devourer of fairy tales. She is a motivational speaker, teacher and writer. She attended the Tennessee School for the Blind and Middle Tennessee State University, where she received a degree in English and theater. Meredith hopes to convey through her writing that people with differences can contribute much to the world. “Snow White” has always been her favorite fairy tale. Meredith has written another fairy tale based on “Snow White” entitled Hart Spring, which can be found in her anthology, Blind Beauty and Other Tales of Redemption. She resides in Lynchburg, Tennessee.

Find her online at:  Goodreads || Amazon

Interview With Meredith Leigh Burton

Welcome to the blog, Meredith! First of all, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, like your hobbies, how you got into writing, your favorite books (besides your own), or just anything else you’d like to share?
It is such an honor to visit your blog, Sarah! I am a voracious bookworm, love helping with church activities, love spending time with my young nieces, enjoy attending plays and concerts and love to sing. I have a huge sweettooth and enjoy baking, (but not as much as eating), anything with chocolate or caramel.  My favorite books include The Tales of Goldstone Wood series, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl, Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, Entwined, by Heather Dixon, and any book that retells fairy tales or explores different cultures with an emphasis on folklore.  For instance, one of my favorite authors, Erin Entrada Kelly, is releasing a debut fantasy novel this fall entitled Lolani of the Distant Sea, which contains many references to Filipino folklore.  I am very excited to read that one.

Oooh, a fellow Entwined fan! And Lolani of the Distant Sea sounds great too. So, what, in your opinion, is the best part of the writing process? The hardest part?
The most enjoyable part of the writing process for me is the way characters will surprise you.  I am more of a plotter now than a pantser, (which is not the way my writing began), but characters still
have a way of surprising you. I might begin by thinking one character is a villain, but then I realize they may not be. I also adore writing dialogue. If I can hear a character's conversation, the story
will flow smoothly.  I also love the revision process. My least favorite part of writing is the way in which I second-guess myself regarding world-building.  I admire authors who can develop such intricate worlds in such logical fashion.  I have to constantly review my plots to make sure that the points about the world make sense.

World-building can be tough, I agree. As readers may or may not know, you happen to be blind. Does that affect your writing process at all, as opposed to the writing process of a sighted author? If so, how?
That is an excellent question. No, my writing process is probably no different except in the equipment I use. I use a device called a Braille Sense to outline; a handheld machine with a Braille display I
can read and a Braille keyboard on which I can type ideas about characters or outlines plot points.  I type multiple drafts of a manuscript on a standard laptop computer that uses a speech program called JAWS. The screenreader reads what I have written, and I can then go back and listen for any mistakes and correct them. I do hire an editor to help me with visual aspects of a story.  It's amazing how simple details about vision can be so tricky. For instance, in a certain story, I had a chase scene in which soldiers were pursuing two sisters. I didn't realize how far-ranging a person's eyesight is, so
I had to adjust the scene fairly significantly in order to make it realistic.

That would be tricky. What sources did you draw on for inspiration as you wrote Rebekah's Refuge, other than, of course, the original Rapunzel fairy tale?
I drew on 2 Corinthians 5:17, "If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation," since the story explores the theme of renewal.  I drew on news reports about the disease of racism that is infecting our country.  Even though much progress has been made, there is much that still needs to be done.  I also drew on my own family's experience with illness.  We have been having a difficult year with my
grandmother's sickness, and I understand the pain and distress involved in caring for someone who is very ill.  This fact helped me to develop the villain's backstory.  Well, he may or not be a villain.
Readers will have to judge that for themselves. I also researched different types of faerie lore.  Norns were inspired by dryads and naiads, spirits of the trees and water.  While I wanted my norn characters to have human aspects, (they are meant to reflect humanity even if they are otherworldly), I wanted to portray a reclusive race who are often misunderstood even if they have much to offer.

I can confirm that you did a great job with that. Speaking of the norns, Rebekah's Refuge features a very unique magic system involving music and magical hair. How did you come up with this magic system?
The magical system was inspired by the original tale of Rapunzel, a fairy tale that I love but that often frustrates me. When Rapunzel is in the tower, she often sings, and her singing is so lovely that it causes the birds to cease their music to listen to her. The singing also draws the prince toward the tower. While I have always enjoyed Rapunzel's story, I felt that she was cruelly used, both by the witch and the prince. He was drawn to her music, yes, but he only visits her at night and makes her weave the rope that he will then use to free her. He is a prince. Why can he not report what he has found, capture the witch and find a way to release her sooner? If you read the original tale, (not the sanitized version), you will be disturbed by his actions and their end result.

I wanted the hair and Rapunzel's voice to stand for inner strength, a strength which she can rely upon with or without a man's help. This world's Creator is the one who empowers, thus he gives the norns
something they can use both to help humanity and themselves.

That's beautiful. Now, time for a fun question! If you could spend an afternoon with any of the characters in Rebekah's Refuge, who would you pick and what would you do?
I would love to hang out with Rebekah, the norn who is my main protagonist's namesake.  She's creative, kind and lonely, and she loves interacting with others.  Unfortunately, she is often misunderstood, but she is protective of those she loves and is very strong.  Rebekah is the "witch" stand-in in my tale because I have never considered the witch in Rapunzel to be a villainness.

I did notice that. That's an interesting perspective. Finally, any hints on what book you'll be working on next? Do you think there will be more books set in the world of Rebekah's Refuge someday?
Absolutely! I am working on a novella entitled Regret and Revelry, a Twelve Dancing Princesses retelling. The story is about a fae kingdom of the Unseelie Court and a dysfunctional family within that court. When some lower-cast mortal sisters become entangled in a deceptive brother's schemes, the sisters must find a way to escape. However, the true villain is not the one you might think.  The story is inspired by The Twelve Dancing Princesses tale as well as 2 Samuel Chapter 13.

Yes, I hope to write more books in Rebekah's world.  In fact, The Princess and the Invisible Apple Tree, a Snow White retelling I released last year, is set in that world in an earlier time period. That story does not deal with norns, however, and addresses more nonmagical events.  Even if I write books in the same worlds, I prefer for all my works to act primarily as stand-alones.  I deeply abhor
cliffhanger endings or books that rely too much on previous ones in a series.

Regret and Revelry sounds amazing! And I didn't those two books were in the same world. That's super cool. Thanks for answering my questions!

And thank you, readers, for stopping by the blog and supporting the tour. Don't forget to check out the rest of the tour posts!
Have a lovely day!
-Sarah (Leilani Sunblade)

Blog Tour Stops: August 8

Knitted By God's Plan - Five Reasons to Read
Light and Shadows - Five Reasons to Read


The Language of Writing


Dreams and Dragons - Meredith

Character Spotlights

Reality Reflected - Rebekah
The Labyrinth - Martha
Dragonpen Press - Frederick
Or find the full list of stops here.

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