Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Morning Star by Desiree Finkbeiner--Interview and Review

We love to chat with authors about the writing process. Today we interview Desiree Finkbeiner, author of Morning Star.

Mary Ann: Thanks for joining us on All Things Writing today, Desiree! I really enjoyed your book, Morning Star.

First of all, I think you've created a really unique group of characters in this story. I've got a bit of a crush on Kalen (shhh….don't tell my husband!). When you set about creating characters, where do you begin? Do you think of them physically first or do you start with their actions?

Desiree: Thank you. The first thing that comes to mind is personality and then their features and quirks develop around them. No matter what a character looks like, if they are not genuine in their desires and motives then it doesn’t matter what they look like. People will not love or hate them if they don’t have solid character.

Where did the idea for the Ethos series come from?

I was laying in bed recovering from a surgery, bored out of my mind… so I started daydreaming. Dragonflies and mushrooms popped into my mind, and a world where faeries are more than little people floating around on wings. The first character to take shape in my mind was Kalen, then his opposition, Ellette. Once the basic plot was formed, I started writing and never looked back.

I love the graphics in this book! Did you do them yourself or hire an artist? How did you decide on the look/style of the art?

I did the art and also designed the cover. I have an art degree and have been selling and licensing my art for over 20 years. Deciding on a style was hard because I have so many versatile styles. In the end, I decided to go for a graphic novel/comic book style, with my own spin. The drawings were rendered in ink and then scanned into Photoshop, where I added grayscale shadowing. I’ve revisited a few of them and started to make highly detailed digital paintings in full color. One example is that of the mermaid. I’ve included some images to show my process from line drawing to fully colorized image. I have about 8 hours in this single piece and over 100 hours in the art for the novel.

 One of my favorite things about you as a writer is that you send an awesome promo package which includes your book trailer. I struggle with creating trailers. How long did it take you to create this one? What program would you suggest to those who are interested in creating our own book trailers?

I have two trailers for the book. One is fully animated from my own artwork. Animation is VERY time consuming! This trailer took several weeks to complete. I collaborated with Irish orchestral composer, Graham Plowman, who did the music on both of my trailers. He also did the video production on the animated trailer. He added the after effects and pieced it together, I did the animations frame by frame.

The other, more character based trailer, featured narrative from Kalen, the hero. I used a voice over artist from this is an excellent place to find affordable voice over talent for only $5! Though the book is written in the first person, from Brianna’s perspective, the second trailer is from Kalen’s perspective. I used some clip art from which is FREE so long as you notify the photo owner how and where you’re using their images, and agree to follow their creative commons licensing guidelines. For this trailer, I animated and edited many of the stock photos to fit my own story. For the animated gifs, I used Photoshop CS2. It was put together in Windows Movie Maker (free program) and the music and voice over was put together with Audacity (also free). There are tutorials on youtube for these programs to help with quick start use- believe me, watching a 15 minute tutorial will save you HOURS of learning curve. They are very easy to use and you can put together a decent trailer in just a few hours.

Check out the trailers:
Action Adventure Fantasy Book Trailer #1:
Paranormal Romance Fantasy Book Trailer #2:

How did you hook up with Hydra Publications?

I spent several days on Google searching for ‘open submissions’ for ‘fantasy novels’. After submitting to about 50 publishing houses, I got offers from 3 different publishers but decided to go with Hydra Publications.

Agent or no agent? What's your take on having one?

No agent. I prefer to have more control and better royalties. But if I had a ton of books out and couldn’t keep up with the PR, then I’d hire an agent to help with the work load. Until that day, I prefer to do it all myself. I don’t think I make enough money with my writing at this time to warrant the use of an agent.

Review of Morning Star

Ah, the angst of the young! Most YA novels seem to have a healthy dose of angst and broken hearts in them no matter what the genre is. I think that's because heartbreak and frustration is something we all relate to. Hey, everyone has been there! Morning Star by Desiree Finkbeiner is a science fiction young adult novel with lots of action, romance, and some really cool purple dragonflies.

Here is the synopsis from the book cover:

When a mysterious stranger interrupts Brianna's mundane routine, her eyes are opened to the dark underbelly of reality... immortal rogues, ancient conspiracies, prophetic revelations, savage tribes, mammoth dragonflies... She's thrust into a race for her life when Kalen, a warrior from Ethos, discovers that she is harboring a secret... a secret that he'd give his life to protect. There's just one little problem... they are tempted by a forbidden romance, which threatens to compromise a divinely appointed mission. They are faced with a choice... love eternal, or the end of the world...

To be honest and despite my affection for teen love, the beginning of this novel was a bit slow for me. I think I'm starting to show my age because I felt a little frustrated with Brianna's constant "does he love me/does he love me not" syndrome in the first few chapters of the book. They got in the way of the plot and learning the importance of the magic mushroom. (Get your head out of the gutter! It's not that kind of mushroom. Not really…) However, once the author got past that and introduced the bad guy, the story really got rolling!

Kalen is an interesting hero who has made a vow on his home planet of Ethos not to get involved with anyone romantically. Heck, the fate of the world pretty much hangs on him being stoic and not giving in to his feelings for Briana. I liked him overall. I wanted to hang out with him and touch his super cool hair.

As these two struggle with their feelings for each other, they also have to focus on the meaning of a prophecy and how it will affect them. This was what kept me reading this book! I loved how the author unfolded the story and was intrigued by the world of Ethos.

Another thing about this book that makes it unique is the illustrations. They give Morning Star sort of a graphic novel feel and are extremely well done. Definitely one of the more memorable things about this tale!

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I did see lots of grammar errors, but those are things a good editor should have caught. I was also reading the Kindle edition and for whatever reason, I tend to catch more mistakes in those version than in the paperback editions. Regardless, I think this is an excellent story idea and the sequel should have fans of this book series excited!

Want more? Then check out the buy links and author info!

Publisher: Hydra Publications (March 28, 2012)
Author website:
Author facebook fanpage:

1 comment:

  1. I envy your drawing talent, Desiree! As well as the trailers. Nice job.