Two weeks ago I had the incredible honor of introducing all of you die-hard readers to a seriously wonderful debut author by the name of Michelle Horst. This is the woman who has begun the next huge YA series! Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows introduces a locale that everyone is falling in love with, and readers across the globe want to travel there right now!
Vaalbara is a world that is ‘out there,’ awaiting a very normal young woman who is bored beyond belief by her own life. She has questions, issues, and a type of self-esteem that makes her turn red in the face. The only person she feels remotely comfortable with is her imaginary friend, Sid. What is being hidden from our heroine – Aislinn – is monumental, but when a new student comes to school named Ryan, Aislinn’s world is soon turned upside down by this handsome, charming boy who talks like he’s from the 17th Century.
Precious Gems Publishing introduced Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows into the world, and fans are going crazy! In fact, THIS is the next YA that should be on the ‘big screen!’ Aislinn (soon to be, Alchera) is beloved by all female readers for her self-doubt covered up by her tremendously funny sarcasm. Ryan (soon to be Raighne) is a hero for any woman’s heart. He is a true warrior and protector and guards Alchera with his life. Unfortunately, there are ‘bad guys’ as well, who want to destroy Alchera before she takes on her destiny and succeeds. Add in a young man who is a real ‘bad boy,’ who Alchera finds herself falling for, and you have the plot of a seriously amazing novel that, thankfully, is only the first in the series!
There are so many authors delving into the YA world. And for a writer like me – who reads and reviews over fifty books a month – it was so unbelievably refreshing to come across a debut novelist who presents an entirely NEW and fresh story to the masses. But as I went more in-depth with this author, I also found a completely stunning individual with passion, drive and determination. Michelle Horst is someone who will soon add mentor, friend, icon, and other ‘titles’ to her resume, as the world finds out more and more about her and Vaalbara. And, today, you are about to be presented with the woman, herself.
Michelle Horst is the amazing mind behind this new series, and I am overjoyed to be one of the very first people on this planet who can say to all the entertainment magazines that, I knew her when! Without further adieu, here is the YA author blasting her way up the charts!
I would like to begin with your background in writing. Did you always wish to write? Or, was this one of those instances where Althea’s story just came to mind and you had to write it down?
I used to dabble in poetry (not stuff I’d share with people anytime soon, LOL). But when I stopped working I had to do something to express myself. I tried various things from scrap booking to cleaning the house at three in the morning. Needless to say none of it filled the void.
2012 and Twilight previewed in the same year and both stories left a lingering hole in my soul that no book could fill, so I decided to try my hand at writing my very own. I began writing Vaalbara for myself. I wanted to write a story that I would want to read – with the romance and passion levels soaring, and focusing on a girl who had the right, fun attitude. I wanted to show that someone could go through hell and still come back from it.
I didn’t intend for Alchera to come alive the way she did. Six months later, when I opened the file for Vaalbara, I realized I was almost finished, and I guess that’s when it hit me that I was hooked.
Being a writer, and a debut one at that, this is a very solitary and lonely career to embark upon. Can you tell readers how you kept going even when writing became more than a bit of an obsession?
Since I opened my laptop at the beginning of 2010 we have not spent a day apart. Obsession is an understatement, if you want to capture in one word what writing has become to me. If you had to take it away from me I would simply wither away. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is write, and it’s the last thing I do before going to bed. I won’t deny that I’ve had my moments where I thought I was writing into the wind – where I knew my stories would never reach another’s eyes – but luckily I had a dear friend to encourage me. One email from her and every blank page turned into an adventure waiting to be discovered.
Raighne is one of the most handsome and interesting male heroes to come along in a good, long time. Is he based on anyone in particular?
Yes, he is based on Ian Somerhalder. Ian is someone I respect very much. I drool when I see him on television and I want to salute him for his heart and strength. He is one of the most endearing humans on the planet, who spends every free minute trying to save ‘Mother Nature’ and every helpless animal. He has raised the ISF Foundation from nothing, and won my heart in doing so. I figured a man who cares so much for another, and looks so good, belongs on the pages of my book where he can take care of Alchera, who is a precious being to me.
Young Adult fiction is the biggest market at the moment. Are you a YA fan? Have you read YA’s in the past, or was this a completely new venture for you?
YA! I love it, and will most likely never grow out of it. I love the innocence that comes along with it and the ‘what could have been’ scenarios. It’s nice to dream every now and then. It isn’t the only genre I love, though. My passions cover quite a big range – from Thrillers to Action to – dare I say it? – just plain, old Romance. Oh, and I’m a sucker for a good Drama.
Let’s discuss Sid! Sid is a great “imaginary friend” to have. Do you, personally, have Sid as a friend? (No need to feel funny about your answer, seeing as that an Archangel with a lot of time on his hands seems to be mine. LOL)
Sid…the light of my life! I used to have a great sense of humor, but as I climbed the business ladder, it became kind of ‘squished’ into a box. As I started writing, I felt Alchera had more to say than just her normal sarcastic wit, and the only way I could get it across was by creating Sid. You could say Sid is that sense of humor we all have locked up somewhere that life has tried to take from us. Sid’s my hero who I speak to when I bump my toe or burn the dinner. Sid’s the one I poke in the ribs when Ian Somerhalder comes on TV. And I only share him with my closest friend who has an Archangel helping her. (Oops! Well, the secret is out now!)
Vaalbara is now becoming a series. Was it going to be a series when you first began to write?
No. I just wanted to write that ultimate story for myself, and look where that got me…now I can’t put my own book down! I’m not quite ready to let the characters go yet.
Did you base any of your characters on Greek or Roman history? Such as…the sisters could be ‘The Sirens,’ etc.?
No. I only stared at gorgeous actors and got my inspiration from them to create some of the characters. Eighty percent of the book is based on people I have met in my life, or things I have experienced.
This book takes a good long look at life and war, and the fact that if things keep going as is, this world may just come to an end and everyone will wish like heck they got to Vaalbara more quickly. What moral and/or morals, if any, would you like the reader to take away from this read?
I’d like the reader to take three things away from Vaalbara:
1) Treat nature with care and respect; we only have one Earth and she deserves better from us.
2) Hope is the heartbeat of the soul. You need hope to dream, and what are we without our dreams?
3) You need someone to trust, even if he’s just an imaginary friend. Life can be a lonely place full of shadows that you have to take on single-handedly, but it sure can be fun with Sid around.
Now…big screen glory. If you had the choice, who would star as Alchera and Raighne, seeing as that they could very well be the next ‘Bella & Edward?’
Raighne: Only one man can fill his shoes in my eyes and that’s, Ian Somerhalder…so a million times, Ian!
Alchera: This is hard. Vanessa Hudgens or Kristen Kreuk?
And the next book will be…?
Vaalbara: The Land of Shadows (although this still could change. 😉
And last but not least, I always end with these special questions because readers love them. (You can call it an Ode to James Lipton)
What is your favorite word? Crap! I know, I should cut down on it.
What is your least favorite word? It’s actually three words: Oh my God! I cringe every time I hear it.
What turns you on? HUH? Seriously! I’m writing a book on the side. It’s another Y/A Fantasy. Wait for it and then read between the lines to learn the answer to this question. (LOL)
What turns you off? People who don’t appreciate what they have, and what life has to offer.
What sound or noise do you love? The silence of the night.
What sound or noise do you hate? Anything that’s recurring: A water tap dripping, someone tapping their fingers, a door banging, etc. Repetition drives me insane!
What profession, other than your own would, you like to attempt? Anything that will bring me closer to nature.
What profession would you not like to attempt? Anything Corporate.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? I would give anything to hear Him say the words: You lived your life well, I’m proud of you.
Well, readers, I don’t think Michelle Horst will have any trouble hearing Him say that! Vaalbara: Visions and Shadows offers an amazing look at the world and the people in it. There is drama, romance, action, adventure, and an in-depth look into fear, and finding the ability to step out of the shadows to be victorious!
If you have not read this incredible novel, you are missing out on one of the best YA books to hit the market in decades!
Until Next Time, Everybody!
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