Saturday, March 17, 2018

A Chat With Jessica Leake, Author of BEYOND A DARKENED SHORE

I'm proud to present Jessica Leake here on my blog! She's releasing her new novel, Beyond a Darkened Shore, on April 10. Check it out for a hefty dose of warrior princesses, Vikings, fae, and so much more.

Today, we'll learn a little about her inspiration behind A Darkened Shore, her favorite books, and more. To learn more about her novel or background, click here or visit Jessica's website.

Once upon a time, Jessica Leake was a psychotherapist, but even though she loved her clients, she couldn’t stop writing. She wrote and wrote until she got her first book published, and then she wrote some more. In between all that writing she had four beautiful and hilarious children with her husband (best friend and man she’s known since high school; also hilarious), moved back to her adopted hometown of Greenville, SC, built a chicken coop, and got a bunch of chickens that poop breakfast every morning. She also has two dogs to keep the chickens in line. (The dogs made her write that last bit.)

Arcana and The Order of the Eternal Sun are available now, and Beyond a Darkened Shore, her YA debut from HarperTeen will be released in April 10, 2018.
(taken from Leake's
How did you come up with the premise for Beyond a Darkened Shore?

I’ve always loved anything to do with Ireland, and I knew I wanted to do something with Celtic mythology, so as I was researching periods of time in Irish history, I learned that there was a time when Vikings were both raiding the coasts of Ireland all the time and had even taken over one of their major ports (Dublin). I was like: Celtic mythology AND Norse mythology/Vikings?? Sign me up!

As a former psychotherapist, do you think having a deep understanding of human psychology influences your writing?

It certainly helps to be able to think about how each character would react to a situation psychologically. We all strive to bring our characters to life, and imagining that character sitting across from me as a client instead of a fictional creation can help me figure out what he/she would most likely be feeling or experiencing after the hell I just put them through.

How did you decide on the names of the characters and lands in this novel? 

I think names are really important, so I tried to choose names that would both be authentic to the time period but also hopefully familiar for most of us. Though Irish names can be tricky! Ciara is actually pronounced keer-ah­, for example, although I think most of us would think it would be kee-ar-ah. Names from mythology and location names are true to history—I chose to use Éirinn for Ireland because it’s the Gaelic spelling and would have been what they called it at the time. Also, I just wanted to give it that fantasy-feel.

Who is your favorite character from Beyond a Darkened Shore?

You’re going to make me choose?? Ciara and Leif are like a package deal in my mind now, so I’ll cheat and say both. Despite being enemies and from completely different cultures, they have so many similarities (which neither of them liked to admit). Both are fiercely protective of family, undefeated in battle, and rather fond of vengeance.

What's one thing you always have near you when you're writing?

Either water or tea, and probably some sort of snack (I definitely shouldn’t have the snack around, but I swear it helps me think!).

What is one underrated book you would like to recommend to everyone?

I recently read Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin, and I couldn’t put it down. The writing is almost lyrical at times, and the characters are extremely compelling. I highly recommend it.

Release Date: April 10, 2018

The ancient land of Éirinn is mired in war. Ciara, Princess of Mide, has never known a time when Éirinn’s kingdoms were not battling for power, or Northmen were not plundering their shores.

The people of Mide have thankfully always been safe because of Ciara’s unearthly ability to control her enemies’ minds and actions. But lately, a mysterious crow has been appearing to Ciara, whispering warnings of an even darker threat. Although her clansmen dismiss her visions as pagan nonsense, Ciara fears this coming evil will destroy not just Éirinn, but the entire world.

Then the crow leads Ciara to Leif, a young Northman leader. Leif should be Ciara’s enemy, but when Ciara discovers that he, too, shares her prophetic visions, she knows he’s something more. Leif is mounting an impressive army, and with Ciara’s strength in battle the two might have a chance to save their world.

With evil rising around them, they’ll do what it takes to defend the land they love…even if it means making the greatest sacrifice of all. (taken from