In my youth, my father filled my bookshelves with Tolkien, Lewis, L’Engle, Alexander, and Eddings. As I entered adulthood, he bought me Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books as they released.
My dad’s health declined. I began writing my own fantasy novel, transforming my useless anxiety into imaginative scribbling.
During this time, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a disease similar to my father’s. They endured identical treatments, even taking part in a study for the same drug.
Jordan passed away before completing the series which was finished by Brandon Sanderson. My husband gave me those last three books because my father was gone too.
The sole connection between my dad and Jordan may appear tragic, but out of despair came Tranquility.
How did you come up with the title?
Tranquility is the name of a book within my novel. I wanted the title of that book to clearly represent peace, which was the intended purpose of the rules in that book.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
When I buy a fantasy book, I’m looking for a good story to curl up with and enjoy. I wrote a book I would want to read. Great books stick with me, and make me want to discuss them with other readers. A fictional story becomes the reader’s once the book is in their hands, and any message received is personal. I hope my book provides what good fiction should be: enjoyment; a story that remains in hearts and minds; and a reason for thoughtful discussion. That’s a tall order, I know.
How much of the book is realistic?
My hope is that the emotions, characters, and general circumstances connect to the real world enough for readers to identify with them. Some of the setting and characters were inspired by the Adirondacks, one of my favorite places. The messengers in the last chapter were inspired by a pair of Southern Ground Hornbills, who still reside at the Philadelphia Zoo. However, this is an absolute work of fiction.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
There are pieces of me, people I know, and experiences I have sprinkled throughout the story. Close family and friends tease me about certain characters, who remind them of me. The best fun is when people project themselves on characters, who are not at all inspired by them.
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
My website is the best place to connect with me. I do not have a blog.
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I have the first few chapters of a stand alone WIP written and sitting on the back burner. The sequel to Tranquility is taking precedence.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why? I think Taelmai is high on my list of favorite characters. She struggles with hypochondria, but her nurturing personality drives her to care deeply for others, allowing an underlying bravery to well up. She’s a complicated, anxious, loving person, and I wonder about her reliability. She feels very human to me as I care for, worry about, and doubt her.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
Fantasy is my favorite genre. I do like to dabble. My short story Kat, The Jailer, and Jack is a retelling of an Indian folk tale The Tiger, The Brahmin, and the Jackal. This was fun to write because it was backwards for me. I took this old story filled with personification and reworked it into a modern all human cast of characters.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
Seat of my pants, definitely! Reading an interview with Madeleine L’Engle was a huge inspiration to me. Until I read it, I knew I had a basic idea for a story, but I didn’t know where it would go or how it would end. I thought I needed to have this outline to be a REAL writer. Then I read “The Wand in the Word: Conversations with Writers of Fantasy” by Leonard S. Marcus. He asked L’Engle, “Did you know from the start how the story would end?” she responded, “No. I’ve never done that! It is more fun not to know. If you know exactly what is going to happen, it doesn’t work. But if you start to write the story and listen to it, see where it wants to go … well, I think that’s how God creates.”
Reading this from one of my most-admired authors freed me from self-imposed constraints. I began to write, and the story unfolded.
What is your best marketing tip?
I value personal, grass roots effort as a strong starting place. I have a small teen/young adult tribe who have agreed to help me promote my book. They will be involved in everything from sharing and creating social media posts to live-streaming my author events and overseeing craft tables to talking to group leaders at their schools. Their peers are my readers. There is no better way to reach a population than to have some enthusiastic members encouraging their peers to enjoy what they have enjoyed. Also, talk to people and listen well. I discovered three friends, who have connections to newspaper/magazine publications. All three of them have helped me secure feature articles about my book. Talking to my town’s librarian and comic book store owner have secured me two author events. When I was on vacation in the Adirondacks, I talked to bookstore owners and loon conservationists about my book and its being inspired by their part of the world and the creatures residing there. I’ve made some great connections. Get yourself out there!
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
I have mixed feelings about social media. Tending to it takes a lot of time away from my writing and the personal engagement I prefer. However, it is a convenient way to reach a lot of people.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I enjoy losing myself in the story as it develops. This feels very similar to why I love to read.
Do you read for pleasure or research or both?
I usually read for pleasure, but now that I am a writer, I find myself reading differently, noticing technical writing choices. I try hard to put that away, and just enjoy, but sometimes I am struck by a point of view or how dialogue is handled and I become thoughtful about the craft instead of the story.
Where is your favorite writing space?
I dream of writing in a cafe, using WiFi, and sipping a cafe mocha. However, I am a homeschooling mom, who is thankful for the times that my kids are learning independently, taking a class, volunteering, at practice, or playing outside so that I can write by daylight. For me, it’s more about a favorite time to write. That would be by daylight, but out of necessity, most of my writing happens in the wee hours. As for where this happens, I mix it up between my kitchen table, dining room table, and sometimes, when the sun is still up, the desk in my bedroom. That makes me feel fancy!
CHRISTA CONKLIN is the author of several articles, and two short stories: Moontail and Kat, the Jailer, and Jack. Tranquility is her debut novel for which she received the 2016 Cascade Award for Unpublished Speculative Fiction. She teaches piano and woodwinds at a music school in her small New Jersey town. Her family hikes mountains, paddles lakes, strolls city streets, and picks their own everything at local farms and from their own gardens. She and her meteorologist husband home school their children and don’t train their Miniature Goldendoodle. Visit her at christaconklin.com.
Tranquility by Christa Conklin “Tranquility is a refreshing take on the fantasy genre. Filled with magic, prophecies, and plenty of mythical beings, Conklin weaves an intriguing, imaginative tale that grabs you and doesn’t let you go until the last page. With a rich cast of characters, vivid world building, and a story you’ll be talking about long after you finish reading, Tranquility leaves readers both satisfied and yearning for the next adventure in the series.” —Kathryn Lee Martin, author, the Snow Spark Saga Elk Lake Publishing, Inc. March 20, 2019
Blurb: She must prove there’s more to life than peace and more to death than dying. The One People find guidance to peace and unity in the pages of TRANQUILITY. Drethene views the methods prescribed in the book as hurtful attempts to escape their diverse ancestry. Such pain is personal, as her parents aim to conceal how different she looks from the rest of their people. Even her job keeps Drethene quiet and secluded. While working in the Academy library, she secretly reads histories used only to teach future leaders to loathe the past. Drethene is inspired by these books filled with cultural variety. When she discovers another world as part of her people’s heritage, a well established enemy is revealed, and she rises to meet the truth and save both worlds. Now Drethene must convince the One People that their lives are not as tranquil as they seem. They are being hunted and must reunite with a sisterworld that has been erased from their past. If they choose to remain in the comfort of their rewritten history and false sense of peace. they will be dragged into a maelstrom they have forgotten to fear.
Though I have written children’s novels in the past, most of the writing I do now is non-fiction with a focus on self-esteem and personal empowerment – understanding the origin of self-defeating beliefs and breaking down self-imposed barriers.
2) How did you come up with the title?
The title Extreme Esteem came from the name of a self-esteem and personal empowerment workshop I had been conducting at the time. My editor, Carl and I came up with the name and after a Google search (with no hits), registered it as the official name for my workshop series. Over the years, the title has become popular and you’ll now see it everywhere. I think I can confidently say that Carl and I were the originators of the term.
3) Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In my book Extreme Esteem – the Four Factors, I want my readers to understand the origins of dysfunctional thinking and disempowering belief systems, how those systems are reinforced, how they can be broken down and ultimately, replaced with more positive, heart-centred ways of thinking and being.
4) How much of the book is realistic?
Much of the book is realistic. Most of the lessons start with real-life experiences. Some are from my history, but many have been shared with me by workshop participants and clients over the years. I am also an intuitive hypnotherapist and life coach, so I’ve heard many fascinating tales. I should mention, I have always asked permission before sharing an anecdote in my writing.
5) Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Characters are almost always based on people I’ve known or are an amalgam of various people I have met (or heard about) over the years. Sometimes, a character in a story is actually me reacting the way I would to a particular setting or situation.
6) Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
7)Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
I am working on a sequel to Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors simply called Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors 2. (Pretty creative, eh?) And I’m working on a time-travel novel titled The Fence Post Philosopher combining down-home philosophy (and self-esteem building) with a science fiction premise.
8) Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
The favourite character that I created was from a young adult novel I wrote years ago called Power Glide. The character’s name is Verity Lambert. After the death of his father in a vehicle accident, Verity and his mother struggle to make ends meet. Following a brush with the law, Verity is sent to stay with his gentle, long-suffering grandmother and curmudgeonly grandfather for the summer. The two immediately dislike each other, and after a few days on the farm, Verity decides to run away. I won’t give the story away, but it’s a tale of a son who lost his father and a father who lost his son.
9) Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I enjoy writing stories that contain a life-lesson and speak to the heart — stories about loss and redemption, forgiveness, the healing journey and achievement despite enormous odds and obstacles. I love people stories – people are fascinating.
10) Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
It’s weird, I have an idea and will plant a mental “seed” in the fertile soil of my mind. Then I forget about it until I start getting those intuitive nudges that tell me the idea, the seed has germinated, and then I begin to capture everything that comes to mind in a notebook I always carry with me. I try to capture every idea no matter how crazy or absurd because who knows where it might lead or what it might produce.
11) What is your best marketing tip?
As far as a marketing tip, get out there and be seen – be noticed. I used to do a tremendous amount of speaking on the topic of self-esteem and personal empowerment for businesses, schools, colleges and universities and ultimately became known to many as The Self-Esteem Guy. Of course, I would always have my books for sale at every event. For me, it was important to become known for something significant. I once encountered a lady while leaving a restaurant with my family. She recognized me, so approached me and made a life-affirming comment, “You have no idea the difference you’re making in the world and how many lives you’ve touched.”
12) Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
Social media well executed can be tremendously powerful. Poorly executed, it can be a hindrance and even discredit your work. Have a plan and follow it, allowing room for flexibility, innovation and of course, creativity.
OPTIONAL QUESTIONS What do you enjoy most about writing? I love words and the endless combination of ways you can put them together to inform, delight, encourage and inspire. I think I realized the power of words years ago when I wrote a story about my grandfather – the first story I sold. I read it to my writers’ group, and a couple of members were crying at the end. Even though they had never met my grandfather, they were moved by his simple, down-home wisdom and saddened by his passing. I feel that writing is my gift, my purpose. When I’m writing, I feel powerful, competent and capable. I feel good.
What age did you start writing stories/poems? My mother loved to read and shared that love with me. I started dictating stories to her (which she hand wrote in a notebook for me – she had beautiful handwriting) before I could write. I think I must have been four or five years old at the time. I would dictate them; then she would read them back to me so I could make the necessary edits and corrections.
What is your favourite writing space? I love spending time in my home office surrounded by all my books and childhood chotskies – old toys, old farm signs, plenty of Elvis paraphernalia and old mantle clocks. I collect and repair old clocks, so they’re all over the house, much to the chagrin of my poor wife.
If you could meet one favourite author, who would it be and why? My favourite author is Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone. I love the way he put thoughts and ideas together in ways (at the time) no-one had considered. Incredibly wise and intelligent, I can read Serling’s stories and words over and over again. I have had the good fortune of getting to know Rod’s daughter, Anne Serling who is an excellent writer.
Murray Fuhrer is a professional freelance writer and marketing consultant. Murray spent over 30 years in the broadcast industry, crafting award-winning advertising campaigns for a variety of businesses, large and small. He is a syndicated columnist and author of the popular self-help book Extreme Esteem – The Four Factors.
Murray has written over a million words of advertising copy and sold more than 1000 works to publications across the country. Over the past few years, his focus has broadened to include online advertising, social media marketing, graphic design and video production.