Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Julianna Hinckley Talks Taminah, Amazons, Chocolate and Tree Octopuses

Today we welcome Julianna Hinckley to the Grove. Julianna and I met several years ago at the Surrey International Writer's Conference --SIWC (one of the best conferences.. A MUST). She is here today to talk about her debut novel Taminah and tell us a little more about herself.

Synopsis: Twenty-two hundred years ago, on the edge of the great Asian steppes, an adventure begins...

The land of Alania desperately needs a new high lord, but gets more than it bargained for when twins are born to its widowed high lady. One is Taminah, and her birthmark and encounters with the legendary Simurgh presage great things, but the nobles and elders expect her brother to lead them.

When they realize Taminah is the dominant twin, they send her to a remote holding to be trained as a lady and kept out of her brother's way until she's old enough to wed. But Alania's rulers have underestimated Taminah's determination to forge her own path ... and none could foresee how a summer among the nomads and Amazons of the steppes will trigger the events that push her towards her destiny. 

Storyteller’s Grove: Tell us about yourself and what brought you to writing?
Julianna Hinckley: I was one of those bookish little girls who could always be found reading under the sheets with a flashlight at night. But didn’t actually try my hand at any fiction writing, other than the usual college papers, until I was in my late thirties. I was a technical writer for fifteen years, and had moved away from it by that time. I think I just basically missed writing. Then I got the idea for this book… and the rest is history.

SG:  Share with our readers a little about your book.
JH: I became fascinated by a people known to the Greeks as the Sarmatians (because their scale armor made them look a lot like lizards). They controlled the area north and east of the Black Sea between the time of the Scythians and that of the Huns. They were also what we today would describe as Nordic-looking – tall, handsome, and light skinned, with all colors of hair and eyes.

These peoples show up all over our history books, but almost no one in the Americas has even heard of them. The first Roman cavalry? Sarmatians. The first horse soldiers in Great Britain (with numerous traditions that match many of the Arthurian tales, including embedding swords in a set of stones) – Sarmatians. The first peoples to use the heavy lance (ala the knights of the Middle Ages) – the Alans – last of the great Sarmatian tribes. The list goes on….
And then there are the Amazons. The Greek legends of the Amazons came from the women warriors
of the Sarmatians. These women used the same weapons as the men, including the bow and a rope with which to catch and unhorse enemies (is this sounding familiar?). Yes, indeed, archeologists have found the graves of several dozen women warriors, as well as queens and priestesses, dated to that era.
"Taminah” is set in the third century BC in Alania – a relatively young country whose earlier inhabitants were conquered by the Alans. Historically, Alania did not exist until the early first century AD. I am taking creative license with my dates because I want to deal with the Greeks rather than the Romans.
Taminah arrives on the scene – tomboyish, warrior-hearted, and stronger-willed than her twin – the heir to the Alani high lordship. What to do? Toss her out in the boonies where she’ll stay out of trouble until she’s old enough to marry off in exchange for land or an alliance. But she, and fate, have other plans….
This first of a series tells the story of Taminah through her coming of age and being set on the path to her destiny. I’ll be releasing a short story that provides some of the background of Taminah’s Amazon instructor this summer, and a novella detailing more of Taminah’s childhood adventures this autumn. I hope to have the second novel out in 2016.

SG:  What made you choose to self-publish your book? Primarily because Taminah is cross-genre.
JH: New York has issues trying to place true cross-genre books unless an author is already established in one genre (in which case they usually just put it in that same genre area). Taminah is an historical fantasy romance and adventure. It’s also borderline-YA, but not…

SG: So now on to the personal bits.  Those important facts about you that fans, current and future are dying to know.  
 FIRST….What do you love to drink? 
JH: Where’s the rum? Dark n’ stormies are my favorite – dark rum (the darker the better – Cruzan Black Strap and Kraken are my favorites) on top of a nearly full glass of good, strong, ginger beer
such as Bundaberg, Goslings, or Fentimans. Add a twist of key lime (regular lime in a pinch) and you’re good to go!

SG: What do you love to eat while writing? 
JH: I enjoy a really nice, dark chocolate – 70% -78% cocoa, please – preferably served with a nice dark n’ stormy drink, or some good, cardamom-heavy Turkish coffee. J

SG:Do you believe in Bigfoot? 
JH: I live in the Pacific Northwest. Of COURSE I believe in Bigfoot. Also tree octopuses – they really don’t get enough press. :-)

SG: If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring? 
JH: A knife, an iPad chock full of books and music, and a solar array to recharge said iPad. One could argue I’d be better off with, say, the knife, a lot of rope or an axe, and a big paper book with lots of stories in it, such as the Bible, but hey – one has to have one’s favorite stories and tunes.

SG: If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children? 
JH: First and foremost, always try to be kind. Also, it all works out the way it’s supposed to – even if it takes a couple of decades for you to figure it out.

SG: If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you, and why? 
JH: Jodie Foster – we look a little bit alike (or so I’m told) and have similarly timbred voices. Plus she’s just an awesome actress!

About Julianna: Julianna was born and raised in the deep Southern US - Huntsville, Alabama, to be exact. She grew up in the shadow of the rocket tests for the Gemini, Apollo, and space shuttle engines, and has had a fondness for all things space-related ever since.Growing up, she developed interest in horses, history, and the various cultures and religious beliefs - past and present - of the
world's peoples. Travel has only cemented the latter interests, so she was instantly smitten when introduced to the Sarmatians, and the early cultural melting pot represented by the Black Sea and surrounds during the sixth through first century BCE.
She developed the basic story line for her Daughters of the Steppes series several years ago, and began working on Taminah at that time. Finishing Taminah in early 2015, she's written one short story and one novella associated with the series, and is a third of the way through drafting Book 2 - Arshan.
Julianna resides in South Seattle in a little house overlooking Lake Washington with her husband, brother, and beloved 100 lb black lab. In her limited spare time, she enjoys reading, book collecting, international travel, and the occasional bit of gardening.

Purchase Taminah on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Taminah-Daughter-Steppes-Daughters-Book-ebook/dp/B00VT1BAEY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430363318&sr=8-1&keywords=Taminah

Author Website:  http://www.juliannahinckley.com
Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/Julianna-Hinckley/e/B00WKWZAY2/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1430363963&sr=8-1
Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorjuliannahinckley
GoodReads Author page:   https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13850155.Julianna_Hinckley

The trade paperback of Taminah will be available on Amazon in June 2015.

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