Monday, June 28, 2010

GRAFFITI WALL: Riley Carney, author of THE FIRE STONE

The GRAFFITI WALL has an inspiring young author for you today. At only seventeen, she's written a five-book middle grade series and two books in a three book young adult series. She's a daughter, sister, student, published author, and creator of a nonprofit organization with the sole purpose to promote literacy around the globe.

Phew! Are you feeling a little inadequate too?

 I'd like to introduce you to Riley Carney, author of THE FIRE STONE: Book One of the Reign of the Elements. This is Part II of my interview with Riley Carney. For part one, please click HERE. 

Your first book in The Fire Stone series was published in January of this year. Could you give a brief description of book one.

The Fire Stone is a high fantasy adventure story. It is fast-paced and exciting, but the characters are very real. The main character, Matt is fifteen years old, and he’s just an ordinary boy, but when three terrifying creatures attack him in the forest and he is rescued by a wizard, and then he kidnaps a baby alorath and is befriended by elves, Matt’s life changes dramatically. He joins a quest to find the Fire Stone, one of the Stones of the Elements which have been hidden for a hundred years and which an evil elf named Malik is seeking so that he can exploit their magical powers and gain control over the world. He and his friends are thrust into a string of dangerous adventures and they demonstrate courage and friendship as they try to find the Fire Stone before Malik does. Along the way, Matt discovers that he has some amazing abilities that can change his life and that of the world of Mundaria. 

We know you've already written all five books. Wow. Any sneak peeks?? 

Maybe the titles will give you a sneak peek into the progression of the series! The five books that make up The Reign of the Elements Series are: The Fire Stone, The Water Stone, The Wind Stone, The Immortality Scroll, The Final Alliance. 

Okay. So who is your main character most like?

My main character, Matt, has a lot of the same characteristics that I do. He is very curious, he’s intensely loyal, he tries to do the right thing, and he loves a challenge. He’s different from me in that his curiosity often gets him into a lot of trouble, and he has to find his way in the world without love or guidance from his parents, whereas I have very supportive, caring parents.

What’s your favorite 'evil pleasure' to snack on while you write? I know I sometimes forget to eat so I snack.

I never forget to eat! I don’t usually snack while I write, but I do have a couple of habits that help me in the writing process; my ipod so I can listen to Coldplay and something to play with to get my creative juices flowing like a hackysack, a small ball, or silly putty. 

What are you working on now?

I am currently working on an urban-fantasy trilogy for teens. I’ve already written the first two books, and I’m just beginning the third book. It’s definitely different from my first series, and I think it appeals to a slightly older audience. 

Sneaky, sneaky...please. ";-) You can tease us. It's all right.

I never tell secrets about my books, but I can tell you that my new trilogy has all the components of a good story: action, adventure, relevant characters, a bit of romance, magic, and danger!

Do you think being seventeen has helped you connect more easily with writing YA than if you were older?

I do think that my age has been an advantage in writing MG and YA books. I feel like I can capture an authenticity of emotion that comes with the close connection in age that I have with my characters. I don’t have to try very hard to find my inner child! 
How has being such a successful teen writer affected you as a teen still growing up?

Being a teen writer has impacted me enormously and so has my work with my nonprofit. Probably the most important effect on me has been that I now know that with some determination and hard work I can accomplish anything I set my mind to. Also, I have a much broader view of the world now.    

You are amazingly bright. I know you are homeschooled, studying through online courses. Are you still able to do the average teenage stuff? Skype, Facebook, texting, dances, or simply hanging out with friends?

A typical day for me is fairly busy. I usually do about six hours of school work, in addition to writing, working on my literacy nonprofit, and speaking engagements. I do have some free time, though, which I spend running or doing yoga, relaxing with my family or friends, going to movies, or reading. I’ve never been very interested in Facebook, video games, or going to the mall, so that hasn’t changed at all.

What is the most important advice you feel you've been given that you'd like to pass on to other young writers?

Perseverance and belief in your own abilities. So many kids and teenagers, myself included, have doubted their abilities to accomplish their dreams and they give up completely. If you persevere, edit a lot(!), and believe in your writing, then you really can make your dreams become reality. 

You do a lot of public speaking and visiting kids in the classroom. What's that like for you?

I am an inherently shy person, so when I first began my nonprofit and had to speak at an assembly at my high school, I was terrified. Now, speaking at schools has become one of my favorite things. I talk to the kids about my books, about Breaking the Chain, about pursuing their dreams and not letting fear of failure prevent that, and about taking ownership over their own education. It’s an incredible experience to be able to show kids that they really can make a difference in their own lives or in someone else’s life. I also love speaking to the kids one-on-one after my speech. They are amazing. Frequently, they will ask what they can do to help with my nonprofit, and I get many letters telling me how they realized that they can achieve their dreams because I worked hard to achieve mine. It’s very rewarding. 

Alleywalkers, for more information on Riley's amazing nonprofit organization Breaking the Chains check out Part I of my interview with her.

I visited your blog the other day and viewed photos of you with a group of students. What's the number one question they ask you?

If I had to guess, I’d say that the two questions I get asked the most are: What was your inspiration for The Fire Stone? and Are you going to make The Fire Stone into a movie?

How about your family? I know they are supportive. Can you sum up the greatest of their supports?

My family is incredibly supportive. My parents have done everything they can to help me accomplish my dreams, and I can’t even begin to describe what extraordinary role models they, and my older brother, have been for me. 

'K, I've got to ask. Do you joust with your big bro?

Yes, we literally used to joust with plastic swords and light sabers. Nick had a significant advantage on me with his longer arms, though since he’s a foot taller than I am! Other than the occasional Star Wars battle, Nick and I have always gotten along well. He was always great about letting his little sister tag along with him, and despite the four year age gap, we’ve always been partners in crime.

Riley, thank you for sharing this time with us and leaving your amazing mark on the GRAFFITI WALL. 

For more of Riley Carney, please check out her blogwebsite, and Twitter, and lend your support to her non-profit organization Breaking the Chains.


  1. Great interview. Thanks Sheri and Riley!

  2. Thanks for the great interview. Riley, your story is so inspiring. I love high fantasy & can't wait to read your books.

  3. Wow! I'm amazed. I work with teens every day and I'd have to say, Riley is one of a kind!

    My daughter is a budding author, so when she thinks about giving up, I'll remind her of Riley!

    Thanks, guys!

  4. Sweet interview!!! She sounds awesome.

  5. Wow this was truly an awesome interview! I love learning about teenagers writing a book, but this is outstanding! 5 books and another series in the works! I applaud all the hard work!!

    I didn't realize I wanted to be a writer until I was 23 so I was very late to the game it seems!

    Great interview you two! Headed over to the blog now!

  6. Thanks for all the supportive comments! And thanks for having me, Sheri! I really enjoyed talking with you!

  7. you're right, Sheri, I do feel inadequate - but not enough to quit :) Great interview, very inspiring!

  8. Wow-such an inspirational young lady! Thanks Riley for sharing your insights with us! I wish you ever success. Fabulous interview Sheri!

  9. WOWEE Riley, you are someone to be admired! GO you and now your books are on my radar!

  10. Riley, you are so welcome. It was a pleasure and an inspiration getting to know you. Thanks, everyone, for the visits!!

  11. Those books sound amazing! This was such an inspirational interview--good luck, Riley!

  12. awww SO COOL! what an inspiring story and an incredible person.

    thanks so much to you both for sharing!!

  13. I'm so impressed. Riley do you have any flaws??? You sound more grown up than I do. Your book sounds amazing too. Going to check out your Breaking the Chains thingie now. And I'm glad I discovered this Graffiti Wall blog - I'll be back for more.

  14. Great interview! I love the title of the book! Sweet! =)

  15. Riley - You're an inspiration! I love especially the work you're doing with the kids, making yourself available to be a role model for them. Go you!! :)


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