Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Wistful YA~Girls Can't Be Knights

Wistful YA is my reoccurring spotlight, giving young adult literature center stage.

My next featured young adult tale comes with a ton of excitement from me. When I was first approached to highlight this story, I was struck by the idea of a 'Spirit Knight' sweeping in and helping a troubled teen see the world in a different light. Read the book's blurb below to see what I mean: 

by Lee French

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publisher: Myrddin Publishing
Released: June 12, 2015
Pages: 228

Sixteen-year-old Claire wants her father back. His death left her only memories and an empty locket. After six difficult years in foster care, her vocabulary no longer includes “hope” and “trust.”

Everything changes when Justin rides his magical horse into her path and takes her under his wing. Like the rest of the elite men who serve as Spirit Knights, he hunts restless ghosts that devour the living.

When an evil spirit threatens Claire’s life, she’ll need Justin’s help to survive. And how could she bear the Knights’ mark on her soul? Everybody knows Girls Can’t Be Knights.

’Girls Can’t Be Knights’ is a story of camaraderie and friendship,” French said. “It’s a story about finding your place in the world with people who understand you, but it’s also about finding inner strength and being whoever you want – even a girl who’s a knight.”

Not that I have you intrigued, let's meet the author. Hi, Lee! It's great to have you here. 

Let's begin with what would you say is the inner theme of this story and why was it important for you to explore?
There are two primary themes. One is about how important family is and how that word doesn't necessarily mean 'people you're related to'. This is a theme I often delve into, because the dynamics of relationships between people without romantic love bonding them are interesting and complex. In this case, the primary relationship is teacher/apprentice and also father/daughter at the same time. The positive relationship between Claire and Justin is both mirrored and echoed by others in the story, and their respective fathers play a minor but important role.

The second major theme is about being who you are no matter who tells you not to. The very title describes one of Claire's biggest problems, that of being something she's not "supposed" to be. Her struggles pit her against norms and expectations that she has to have the strength to resist. As a woman, I've dealt with this a time or two myself, and as a parent, I've caught myself saying it a few times. 

I love spreading the idea that a family can be more than just blood related. What makes “GIRLS Can’t Be KNIGHTS” different from others within its genre?
A lot of ghost hunting stories are interested in exploring religion, romance, or history. Or just being action-packed smashing romps. While there's a smidget of each in this story, the ghosts are more of a metaphor for memories, nostalgia, our darker impulses, and changing social mores. That said, it's really not about the ghosts, it's about the living, and these people have complicated lives.

Being a veteran author, what writing skill-set of yours do you think has grown/changed the most? Do you believe this is typical of most authors?
The mechanics of my writing has grown immensely. I cringe now when I read my first novel (not my first published book, but rather the first novel length story I completed). 

Oh gosh, I think most of us have the same reaction to our first full-length work.

There's only a few things wrong with the story, but the writing is rife with very amateurish mistakes to the degree that I'd have to rewrite the entire thing to use it. I'm hardly perfect now, of course. However, my editor says she likes to work on my manuscripts because they're so much cleaner than some of the other stuff she works on.

How do you see the success of so many Indie authors changing the face of book selling and creating?
The wrecking ball is still swinging and the dust hasn't even begun settling yet. I suspect that we're going to see more battles between the giants, and I think the professional associations that authors belong to will wind up playing a greater role in title visibility than they currently do. My experience so far is that one author standing alone, regardless of publishing method, fails. Groups of writers are probably going to rise up as the force that propels titles into visibility.

What do you feel is a new writer’s greatest challenge in today’s publishing world?
Writing. The rest of it, while necessary, can be highly distracting and draining. Every writer needs to find the right balance of time spent writing and time spent doing everything else, on top of living a life. My motto is: Write words. Lots of words.

Perfect motto! Thank you for being here to share yourself and this story with the Alleyway. All the best to you always...

~About the Author~

Lee French
Author, Gamer, Squirrel Aficionado

Lee French lives in Olympia, WA, and is the author of several books, most notably the Maze Beset Trilogy, The Greatest Sin series (co-authored with Erik Kort), and assorted tales in her fantasy setting, Ilauris. She is an avid gamer and active member of the Myth-Weavers online RPG community, where she is known for her fondness for Angry Ninja Squirrels of Doom. In addition to spending much time there, she also trains year-round for the one-week of glorious madness that is RAGBRAI, has a nice flower garden with one dragon and absolutely no lawn gnomes, and tries in vain every year to grow vegetables that don’t get devoured by neighborhood wildlife.

She is an active member of the Northwest Independent Writer’s Association and the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association, and serves as the co-ML for the Olympia region of NaNoWriMo.

What are your thoughts on the mixture of modern-day knights and ghosts in YA?

 photo Sheri2.png


  1. Congrats to Lee. I like this cover. That is a great motto too. ;)

  2. Congratulations to Lee! I love that motto too. I agree that the dust hasn't settled yet in the publishing world. Good luck!

    1. Thanks for dropping by to support Lee. #swipeshandatdust

  3. I love the idea of exploring the mentor/protege relationship in YA, instead of another predictable romance. I'm intrigued!

    1. Great observation, Laurel! That definitely caught my interest, too.

  4. Such a great concept and title. It sounds fabulous!

  5. Excellent premise for a book! Great cover, too!

  6. What a great title and a neat premise. Sounds like a very good book. :)

  7. Fascinating concept and a great cover. Good luck with the book, Lee!

  8. I like the themes - especially the second one. It's important to be what you want to, and not listen to those who tell you that you can't.

  9. Ooo, neat story. Congrats to Lee!

  10. Love the cover and the premise. This sounds like a great read!

  11. I'd cringe at my first novel as well, and it was published!

  12. Love the premise that girls CAN be knights and what a great cover!

  13. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

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