Interview with Gretchen Steen
At the end of this interview, we will be featuring an excerpt from LEGEND OF DRAGAMERE. Don't miss Gretchen's book trailers which will also be posted after the interview!
ATW: Welcome, Gretchen. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Gretchen: I was born in Wilmington, Delaware on the eve of Halloween in 1952. I grew up in southeastern Pennsylvania, in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Graduated high school in 1970 and went to work. College was never an option. Married in 1972, two children, Justin (1982) and Chelsea (1988). My writing began as therapy for a failing marriage which ended in 2002. I moved to Pensacola, Florida and continued to pursue the ‘dream that was in my head’ and put it down on paper, hence the fantasy. Adjusting, editing, rewriting and republishing have filled my days, and months for the last ten years. I’m still not finished.
ATW: When did you begin writing?
Gretchen: I started in high school with a Creative Writing class. My teacher, Mr. Delzingaro, told me I should pursue writing, but at that time, I laughed him off. I picked up again in early 2000, writing short stories and prose. My dragon fantasy began in 2001 and over the next seven years the trilogy became a reality. I self-published “Dragonchild”, “The Mystery of Dragon Hall” and “Dragon Blood” in paperback. In 2008, the same three stories were combined into “Dragon Spawn”, which I self-published again as hardcover. In 2009, “Dragon Spawn” was made an e-book with Smashwords and Amazon. After serious thought, it was broken down into two volumes, edited again and pretty much rewritten. The first part turned into “Legend of Dragamere” (which was actually “The Mystery of Dragon Hall” redone) and the second, “Blood of Dragamere”, still a work-in-progress, combines as a prequel/sequel the first and third original books. Hopefully this book will be available soon.
ATW: Can you tell us about Legend of Dragamere?
Gretchen: It’s a contemporary story of a young woman who discovers she was born with ‘dragonblood’. Her search leads her to the knowledge of a millennium curse. To break the curse, she must travel back in time…one thousand years. The storyline runs in parallel times, both past and present. The characters she meets, the things she uncovers, solve many of her lifelong questions as to ‘who she is’. She and her companion, also born with ‘dragonblood’ return from the past to witness the horrifying finale and lead-in to the second book, where both previous events and future happenings are tied together.
ATW: How did you get the idea for the book?
Gretchen: I’ve always loved dragons, and after reading Stephen King’s “The Eyes of the Dragon” (1987), I said to myself ‘why not, see if I can write a dragon story’…and the trilogy was born. Most of the story came to me like a running video, both awake and asleep. I’d close my eyes and ‘see the scenes’. They would repeat over and over until I was satisfied with the ‘details’ and then I’d write it. Dragons play an important role as both champion and antagonist along with their human counterparts.
ATW: As a writer, what inspires you?
Gretchen: Books I’ve read, current events, deep-seated thoughts of ‘what could be’. I don’t sit down and plan my writing, it just happens.
ATW: Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
Gretchen: I have so many it’s hard to choose. All my characters have a special place and meaning for me, both protagonist and antagonist.
ATW: I understand you’ve been a part of several anthologies. Can you tell us about these?
Gretchen: Yes. I participated in Sharon Van Orman’s Halloween Contest and volunteered to compile the entries in an anthology. I also did the cover art. This tome is “All Hallows’ Eve”, available for free on Smashwords (e-book for various e-reader apps) and Amazon ($.99 Kindle e-book).
ATW: What projects are you currently working on?
Gretchen: I must finish “Blood of Dragamere” edits/rewrites and I have an apocalyptic tale I’ve started, “What Is to Come?” It started with the ever-present news reports, and concerns conspiracy theory (fiction, but is it really?) I’ve been so involved in other project the past few months I’ve let my own work sit on the back burner. With those completed, now I have time to concentrate on these two stories.
ATW: Which do you find the most challenging: novels or short stories? How?
Gretchen: Well, really neither one. Some stories can be told in a short and sweet version; others need more development, with numerous plots and characters which necessitate the longer version. I’ve done both.
ATW: What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Gretchen: Never give up. If you have a story to tell, tell it. Don’t be discouraged by critics, take their advice and look into their suggestions. Edit, rewrite and chop where needed. I went the self-publishing route for monetary reasons, but the promotion is all on the author. E-books are great, but some readers still prefer the ‘dead tree’ version. Don’t be afraid of doing it yourself, with all the social media available, just keep plugging. I use Lulu.com for my print copies; it’s an interesting process, takes a bit of time to learn what’s necessary and required, but their ‘setup-wizard’ is excellent and the finished product looks professional.
ATW: Thank you, Gretchen, for visiting with us. For anyone out there who is interested in learning more about Gretchen's work or would like to purchase one of her books, please visit the following links:
Website: “The DragonLady” Gretchen Steen Fantasy Author
Blog The DragonLady’s Fantasies
Facebook: Gretchen Steen
All Hallows’ Eve on Amazon (The cover art is Gretchen's work as well as a few short stories)
All Hallows’ Eve on Smashwords
Angels Cried on Kindle (Cover art and short story by Gretchen)
Angels Cried (paperback) This was done with Stephen L. Wilson, and the proceeds from this and the e-book are being contributed to the Sandy Hook Relief Fund.
Angels Cried on Smashwords
Legend of Dragamere on Kindle or in paperback on Lulu.com
Legend of Dragamere on Smashwords
Fright Four-Sixteen on Smashwords (Halloween anthology from 2011, done by Adam Sifre) Cover art and a story contributed by Gretchen
“Legend of Dragamere”
“Blood of Dragamere”
Other work by Gretchen:
Youtube Trailer for “Caught” by Richard Wentworth
Youtube Trailer for “Rose of the Alchemist” by Lian L Frost:
Please enjoy this excerpt from “Legend of Dragamere,”compliments of the author:
Chapter I – “Memories”
Lakecrest, New Jersey
Tears stung Chelsey’s face as she awakened from her restless sleep. The deafening sound of shattering glass filled her senses. Clinging white-knuckled to the cool sheeting, she drew it around her trembling, naked frame and leaned forward. Her body was on fire; covered in beads of perspiration. Wiping her damp hair out of her eyes, she blinked and focused on the shadow-filled room with trepidation. “It wasn’t part of the story,” she whispered, remembering the frightening images:
An old sage stood helplessly near his precious crystal; his opulent robes were age-worn, and his body was grotesque. He moved closer, as gray, choking dust swarmed around his feet; swirling through the one ray of sunlight in the room. He concentrated on his cherished orb as it brightened. His weary, bloodshot eyes strained to focus on the sphere and he placed his twisted hands upon it.
Traveling back over the story from a book she’d found, she envisioned the colorful yet tragic characters; but this time, the vision was unfamiliar. “It was Moorlange—his wicked face grew vicious, but I couldn’t hear his words. What did he do to them?” Chelsey, battling her supposition in a futile attempt to piece together the mysterious puzzle, remembered the only audible moments of the vision. The seed shall perish—are you not the last of your kind, Dragonchild? There are no more! It will succumb with you. Use your powers to save yourselves. I fear you will not succeed. Drawing her knees to her chest, and wrapping her arms around her legs, the chill of her thoughts prickled down her spine.
“I haven’t slept right in months. The dream—that book—have plagued me; night after night, it’s always the same thing, over and over again,” Chelsey murmured, listening to her heart pound in her head. Battling with her thoughts, she couldn’t erase the story from her mind. It besieged her. Now, even her days were affected. Her skin grew pallid, dark shadows showed beneath her eyes. She jumped at every loud noise. Yet Chelsey remained strong.
“This can’t continue. I won’t allow it!” Chelsey whispered, lying back against the pillows, her wide eyes staring at the ceiling.
Sunday, July 15
“Have you ever read something that overwhelmed you so much you couldn’t get it out of your mind?” Chelsey blurted out into the Sunday morning silence.
Sitting across the table, engrossed in the disturbing headlines, Neva was startled by the sudden outburst, the newspaper crinkling in her hands. “Huh? Umm—no, you’re the one with your nose buried in those books all the time—not me,” she replied from behind the newspaper.
Chelsey tapped her fingers on the table as the seconds turned into minutes. The pace of her tapping increased; Neva finally gave in, closed the paper, set it down, and stared across the table. “Okay, okay, what’s going on, this isn’t like you at all,” she said, easing back into the chair, making it creak.
Chelsey smiled, “I read a book that I thought was just a fantasy.” Leaning forward, her eyes growing wider, she continued, “But as it turned out, it wasn’t.” Chelsey paused, disappointed by her roommate’s blank look. She watched as Neva filled her coffee mug, and inhaled the steam from the fresh brew. She stirred in a copious amount of sugar, all the while the spoon rattling the sides of the cup, acting as if she had all the time in the world. Chelsey cleared her throat and continued undaunted, “It was the story of two people, each one born of the dragon.” Neva finally looked up—good! I have her attention again. Pausing for a moment, Chelsey pulled up the sleeve of her chenille robe, “Do you remember when I got this?” she asked in a more anxious tone, pointing to the dragon tattooed on her left arm.
“Yes, I remember,” shifting in her seat, a look of uncertainty cloaked Neva’s face.
“I didn’t know at the time, Neva, but after reading that book, it all made sense!” Neva’s furrowed brow was her only answer. “It made me remember things that happened to me many times as a child. Physicians would come to the orphanage and examine me regularly. They were always fascinated with my eyes, and even though my vision was excellent, they implied how strange they were. I never figured out what they discovered,” Chelsey added in frustration.
Neva looked closely into Chelsey’s dark brown eyes, shaking her head in disbelief.
Reaching into her robe, Chelsey pulled out a small envelope and laid it on the table.
“What is this?” Neva inquired, and picking it up, her expression changed from cynical to disturbed seeing the unusual postage.
Chelsey reached out and grabbed her friend’s hand, “Before you read it, I must tell you what I discovered. The castle at the end of the story, Dragamere, is not a fantasy. It does exist! The woman in the story had a dragon on her arm just like mine.” At that moment, an indiscernible trace of burnt … something … floated through the air, as if the mysterious dragons had breathed upon their conversation. Shaking off the weird scent, she continued, “I researched the ancient legends and one man’s name kept appearing in reference to them. That man is Malcolm Kinsley, and he lives in London. I have been in contact with him about it, asked him what he knew and this was his reply. I know you think I’m crazy, but I know what I need to do.”
“Do? What do you mean ‘do’? Do what?” Neva replied, apprehension growing in her voice, trying to shake off the chill creeping up her spine. She shivered, as the scent of charred something returned.
Neva cautiously removed the stiff gray parchment from the envelope and immediately noticed the peculiar embossed image—a dragon, encircling a pentacle. Her breathing quickened and her hands shook. She looked up, and Chelsey nodded for her to continue, and asked, “Are you sure I should read this, Chels?”
“Yes!” Chelsey replied in an abrupt tone, as she stood up and started to pace back and forth.