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Sunday, July 11, 2021

Blogtour: Interview with Anela Deen, the author of In the Jaded Grove


ABOUT ANELA: A child of two cultures, this hapa haole Hawaiian girl is currently landlocked in the Midwest. After exploring the world for a chunk of years, Anela Deen hunkered down in Minnesota and now fills her days with family, fiction, and the occasional snowstorm. With a house full of lovable toddlers, a three-legged cat, and one handsome Dutchman, she prowls the keyboard late at night while the minions sleep. Coffee? Nah, she prefers tea with a generous spoonful of sarcasm.

Find Anela online: Website, TwitterInstagram

In The Jaded Grove by Anela Deen; Published: March 21, 2021 by Literary Wanderlust; Genre: Portal Fantasy; Pages: 330; CW: Violence, Trauma, Torture, Grief, Death of a loved one (in the past – not on the page); Diversity Tags: Author of color (biracial), POC rep (Filipino MC), Queer secondary characters

Book links: Goodreads, Amazon



Thank you for joining us, Anela, and welcome to Fantasy Book Critic! Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

Oh no, I’m terrible at self-introductions! Okay, three quirky facts about me, and then I’m pasting my bio :)

1. I love cutesy socks. In summer I’m usually sockless, but in the winter, I love adorable socks. Yes, I have a special pair for each holiday.
2. I detest butter on my bread. No butter! Just give me non-greased bread, maybe with some cheese thrown on there.
3. I can’t watch horror movies. Or horror TV shows. I just can’t. They freak me out—as in, I’m squinting at shadows at night like an overgrown toddler. It’s annoying because some shows like The Walking Dead are so good, but I know myself. It won’t go down well.

The bio!

A child of two cultures, this hapa haole Hawaiian girl is currently landlocked in the Midwest. After exploring the world for a chunk of years, Anela Deen hunkered down in Minnesota and now fills her days with family, fiction, and the occasional snowstorm. With a house full of lovable toddlers, a three-legged cat, and one handsome Dutchman, she prowls the keyboard late at night while the minions sleep. Coffee? Nah, she prefers tea with a generous spoonful of sarcasm.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

In the old days, pre-2020, I was working part-time for a non-profit organization that specialized in supportive housing for the homeless. I had to quit after the pandemic started to stay home with my 3 elementary school kiddos who were distance learning. It’s been an interesting time. Let’s just say stress is a word I’ve learned forwards and backwards.

Who are your favorite current writers?

Some of my current favorite novelists (just a few because the list is looong) are Nicola Yoon, N.K. Jemisin, Brigid Kemmerer, Courtney Milan, Lindsay Buroker, A.C. Spahn, Intisar Khanani, Holly Black

Serious writing takes not only a story to tell, but the craft of writing to tell it well—can you comment on your journey as a writer?

I’ve learned two big things: 1. Less is more—Less telling. Less dialogue tags. Less unnecessary conflict that could be solved with one conversation (actually, none is better, but I’m doing a theme here, so)


And 2. More is more—More twists. More banter. More leaning into the unexpected and the absurd—as long as you can make it make sense, go for it.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

Taped by my computer is a little note that says “What is the story really about?” Plot and world-building and magic systems are vital, but for me the most important element is the character arc. What is weighing on this person’s soul? How will this *insert world-ending situation* change them and help them overcome these internal struggles? This is always the centerpiece of my stories. Sprinkle in a bit of dry, self-deprecating humor, and a little romance, and you’ve got my writing style.


How would you describe the plot of In the Jaded Grove if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

The Darkest Part of the Forest meets A Curse So Dark and Lonely in this gripping portal fantasy—where an injured pixie knight from a magical realm falls into the path of a Filipino poet from Michigan.

Okay, so you have decided to write a book, where did you start? Research? A scene that came to you? A character that you dreamed up? Tell us what got the ball rolling?

This answer will sound like a dodge, but it’s different for each story. No, really! There are some that come with a big scene and the story forms around it, but others are just a “what if” thought that spins into an entire plot.

How did you come up with the title? And how does it tie with the plot of the book?

The grove is where the two worlds are connected, so it seemed fitting to use this as the title. I played around with various woodland/forest names to get something with the right mix of fantasy and dread, then tossed a preposition at the front. Presto!

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to In the Jaded Grove's protagonists and antagonists?

There are two POVs in the book – Jessa & Simith, the MCs.

Jessa is from the human world. She’s Filipina and grew up in rural Michigan. She’s also an award-winning poet—or she used to be. Since a terrible loss, she’s been unable to write anything and struggles with the sense that she’s lost herself entirely.

Simith is a pixie knight from the magical world. After his brother’s murder, he joined the fairy legion’s war against the troll army and earned a reputation as a ruthless fighter…except years of conflict have brought no peace, neither to his people, nor his own soul. He wants an end to war, but his attempt at truce leads him to the Jaded Grove, betrayal, and a world he never knew existed.

Antagonists? Well, that gets complicated ;)

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

There is magic in Simith’s world. All creatures carry with them a conduit through which they wield it. None can wield what’s called “raw magic” or magic used without a conduit. It’s deadly.

Each race carries their own type of conduit: Boggarts use the bones of their first kill. Pookas have a wooden carving. Pixies engrave a tattoo on their skin with special ink. Only the Fae, who carry magic in their blood, need no conduit.

Cover art is always an important factor in book sales. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of In the Jaded Grove?



I have to give complete credit to my amazing cover artist, Jenny Zemanek. She’s done almost all of my covers and my contribution is usually to just suggest a couple elements, followed by letting her do her thing. This one is her own illustration, from the trees to the flowers to the title jogging down from the top. Please check out her Instagram to see her gorgeous sketches and portfolio: JZemanek_Illustration

Have you written it with a particular audience in mind? Who'll enjoy it?

My books fall squarely in the Noblebright genre, whether it’s Fantasy or Sci-Fi, adult or YA. I am not a grimdark writer, even though I write about difficult traumas and my books have some descriptive violence. Endings aren’t always tied up in a pretty bow, but they do always end with hope.

What are you most excited for readers to discover in this book?

I’m excited for readers to meet these characters I’ve enjoyed tormenting. I want them to root for them while they struggle on the journey, watch how they begin to change and find their way toward the life they longed for but never believed they’d find.

Can you, please, offer us a taste of your book, via one completely out-of-context sentence.

“No monster lives but for the evil others have done before him.”

What's your publishing Schedule for 2021/2022?

I think I speak for all authors when I say that 2020 flipped our publishing schedules upside down, so I’ve definitely learned to be flexible. My current plans include the next book in the Kindred Realms series. It’ll be a standalone just like “In the Jaded Grove”.

I’m also publishing the sequel to “Beneath Cruel Fathoms”, a trilogy based on Norse ocean mythology, as well as finishing the final instalment of the urban fantasy Locksmith duology. Here’s hoping the world will settle down so there’s time to work!

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

No special message other than to take care of yourselves out there. We’ve been through a brutal season together. Be safe and be kind.

Much gratitude to Fantasy Book Critic for inviting me on the blog, and for the great interview questions. Mahalo nui loa!



1 comments:

Sadie said...

This looks like a really interesting book and I LOVE the cover. Thanks for the interesting interview. I always love seeing behind the author curtain a little bit.

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