August 11, 2015

Interview: Montgomery Mahaffey, Author of Ella Bandita and the Wanderer Series

Montgomery Mahaffey is a fantasy writer who has told her stories all over the country. Alaskan winters shaped Mahaffey as a writer, and her work is built off of the myriad of personal and collective experiences formed underneath that mystical landscape. Born in the south to a family of storytellers, Mahaffey has developed her own voice that is suffused with the temperament of the wanderer instinct. Set in a world where magic is at once subtle and pervasive, her novels bring to life symbols and stories of the old fairy tales told with wry humor and passion. In 2005 she was granted the Individual Artist Project Award from the Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage, Alaska. Ella Bandita and the Wanderer is her first novel.

*What would you be doing right now if you were not an author? 
I would be an outdoors kayaking guide. 

*5 years ago: what were you doing?
 I was in massage school.

*Do you have a certain writing ritual?
Early morning coffee, vomit the raw pages out of the first draft (and trust me, it reads that way in the first draft) until that's done, the 2nd draft takes 3x as long, but the ritual of writing raw in the morning and rewriting in the later parts of the day holds until I'm finished. 

*What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I get frustrated - and for the record, I disagree with this criticism - when I hear that my characters don't have depth. I think this is because my characters are archetypes, but that doesn't mean they aren't complex. Perhaps I'm not doing enough to convey those facets and contradictions that convey depth and complexity to a reader.   

*Ever fangirled over another author? Who was it?
 No, I can't say that I have gone to that extreme. The closest I came was having crushes on John Irving and Jeannette Winterson. But I haven't gone to conventions over it.

*Is there an author you'd like to meet?
 Jeannette Winterson, John Irving, Tom Robbins.

*Biggest writing pet peeve?
I can be a repeating rifle when it comes to some words. In fact, I'll ask my editor to keep an eye out for that because it really bothers me when I see the same word over and over again in a passage.

* Do you read other's reviews of your books?
 I do. With mixed feelings and results. I'm always surprised and often fascinated by how others receive and perceive my work.

Fav Color: toss up between red and purple.
Fictional: Character you'd like to spend the day with? Sissy Hankshaw from "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues"
Fav food: Chocolate and mangoes to name 2 out of many.
Fav song and/or singer: John Lee Hooker - again out of many
Guilty pleasure: Reading celebrity gossip.

Seven years of silent treatment brings the young woman to the edge of despair. Her father, the illustrious Patron, has refused to speak to her since she was thirteen, and everyone in the village follows his rule. One day, the girl realizes her twentieth birthday has passed, and she is now the age when she would enter society as a Woman – if only she wasn't an outcast. Knowing her life will never get better, the girl decides to end the aching silence within her in the depths of a violent river. Just before plunging into the icy water, a voice behind her utters, “There is a better way.” The Sorcerer of the Caverns stands at the bank, holding a promise. He has the power to end her ostracism, but as the girl knows, a change of destiny this drastic must claim a fair price. 

From the fireside, the Bard weaves tales for the village children. His favorite villainess is Ella Bandita, the predatory seductress notorious for manipulating the weaknesses of licentious men and stealing their hearts. The Bard's grandson grows up with the stories of Ella Bandita's conquests: the Gambling Man, the Rogue, the Charmer. As he approaches manhood, he must find his own destiny away from his grandfather and the village, away from the tales of the infamous Thief of Hearts. With nothing but charm and the words of his grandfather to see him on his way to a new land, will the Wanderer remember his grandfather's warning? "Always remember. Follow your heart." 

The Wanderer should have known better. Growing up with the Bard's fireside stories about the predatory seductress Ella Bandita has done nothing to prepare him for meeting her. When he crosses paths with a mysterious vagabond girl in the woods, his loneliness pulls him toward her. But the strange woman spurns his friendship. It should be easy enough to leave her behind. But the Wanderer can't pull himself away, captive to his stubborn will and the haunting dreams that linger when he wakes up every morning. Drawn in by the legendary allure of Ella Bandita, the Wanderer is caught up in a game of cat and mouse fraught with desire that is only fueled by his neighbor's disdain. Soon, the words of his grandfather's warning becomes a fading echo in his ear...always remember, follow your heart. Will the Wanderer resist in time to hear those words, or will he lose the one thing that matters to him most?

Look our for Part 4 coming September 1!

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