Monday, September 9, 2013

Interview with Lizbeth Klein and book giveaway

Narelle here. I'm delighted to welcome Aussie author Lizbeth Klein to our blog today. Lizbeth is giving away a print copy of her debut YA fantasy novel, Firelight of Heaven (Australian addresses only).

LIZBETH KLEIN lives in the Sutherland Shire in Sydney, Australia, with her husband. She has over nineteen years of experience in the classroom and six years as tutor of English for both primary and high school students. Four of her students have completed fiction manuscripts. 

She has published several stories for the Yellow Box, a reading kit for early readers in primary school. She has also had many on-line educational articles and lessons published, as well as poetry and stories in two anthologies. In 2010, her YA novel Firelight of Heaven was short-listed in the Caleb Unpublished Manuscript Competition. In 2012, it was accepted for publication by Wombat Books. Her second book in the YA series, Green Heart of the Forest, was awarded a finalist position in the 2011 Caleb competition and has also been accepted for publication by Wombat Books. In the 2012 Caleb competition, her novel Ice Breath of the Earth was also short-listed. She has judged several children's competitions in the Sutherland Shire.

Back cover blurb:

A hundred years ago, Morgran began his conquest of Bethloria. Most of the seven kingdoms have already fallen to his Black Empire.

While he searches for the last king to gain total control, two orphaned brothers and an Elf girl begin a quest to locate the seven lost crystals of the Morning Star. This jewel alone holds the key to Morgran's overthrow.

Their journey leads them through the perilous land of Gardenia, where their friendship is tested. But one dark secret threatens to tear them apart altogether ... 

Firelight of Heaven is the first volume in the Bethloria fantasy series.

Narelle: What inspired you to write Firelight of Heaven?

Lizbeth: Originally, Firelight of Heaven was a 3000 word short story called Faery Rock! When I wrote it, the story didn’t quite sound finished and I realised it was because it had the essence of a much larger adventure where incredible worlds and characters had yet to be created. That original short story has now ballooned into seven novels. I was inspired to write it because I wanted to find out what happened in the mythical world called Bethloria, where the story was set. Almost four of the books are now written.

Narelle: Does Firelight of Heaven have a stronger or more subtle Christian theme?

Lizbeth: There are threads of Christianity throughout Firelight of Heaven, but as with all the books they are woven into the story in subtle ways. Neither God nor Jesus are mentioned, but the Morning Star is the deity that is alluded to throughout the series. Jesus Himself declared that He was the Bright and Morning Star in Revelation 22:16. The Morning Star’s unseen presence is revealed in many infallible ways throughout this and my other books in the series. Some strong Christian themes in Firelight of Heaven are forgiveness, faith, courage, trust and the triumph of good over evil. I wrote the books with the unchurched audience in mind and wanted them for the general market as well as the Christian.

Narelle: Please share with us some of your research tips.

Lizbeth: I always seem to be researching something and most of the time the internet suffices. The last research included finding out how catacombs smelt. I have no way of finding this out other than going to a catacomb overseas which is a bit impractical, but there are sites on the internet where people describe their experiences. These are what I look for when minor research is required. Sometimes, research may involve library time. Once I needed to learn how swords or knives were made and I travelled to forges and spoke to blacksmiths about the process. I’ve also read books on this topic. I’m also building up my own resources, which means buying books on topics I know I’ll often revisit.

Narelle: How has your faith influenced your writing?

Lizbeth: Largely. The mere fact that I am a Christian influences everything that I write. For instance, I don’t ever write gratuitous sex or violence; there’s no need for either in good writing. I think the addition of sex is tacky. However, violence on a small scale does feature in my stories. I don’t see a problem with that. Subtle romance, too, will become more relevant in my later books. Foul language doesn’t feature in any of my stories either, nor do inappropriate themes. Although one of the prominent themes is magic in the Bethloria series, nothing explicit is written about it. The whole concept of magic is exposed as dangerous with deadly consequences for those who use it. 

Narelle: Please share your writing process with us. Do you plot or write ‘by the seat of your pants’? Do you write every day?

Lizbeth: When I first began the 7-novel project, I plotted out each one in an exercise book, chapter by chapter. After all, Sir Winston Churchill once said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” But I soon discovered that the characters have a life of their own and take over the story. You could say they hijack the plot and take the story where they want it to go. I just tagged along. At the end of Firelight of Heaven, changes needed to be made in the plot of book 2. However, I didn’t make them on paper. Instead, I began to visualise the scenes in my mind—how the characters spoke, how they faced danger, etc. Visualising what’s happening is just as important as plotting. I don’t write now until I see what’s happening first. Often by book’s end, I begin to get an inkling of what’s going to happen in the next book and how it’s going to open. Then I’m able to write the scene. I try and write most days, although work often encroaches on my time.

Narelle: What do you hope your readers will take away after reading Firelight of Heaven?

Lizbeth: I’d like my readers to remember the story the way we remember a beautiful film. I want readers to pick up the book and read it again and again, and find new gems glinting within the pages.

Narelle: Please tell us about your upcoming releases.

Lizbeth: Book 2, Green Heart of the Forest, will be released early in 2014. It continues where Firelight of Heaven left off. More of the mystery surrounding the two protagonists will be revealed, but slowly like a dripping tap. Much will be left veiled to add to the suspense and intrigue. The element of danger will be raised as evil increases, but overriding it all is God’s sovereignty and care as the Morning Star. In this way, there’s a subtle but powerful Christian influence throughout the book. A varied cast of new and interesting characters is also introduced, and the themes of courage, resilience, loyalty and truth are explored.

Lizbeth, thanks for visiting with us today. By commenting on today’s post, Australian  readers can enter the drawing to win a print copy of Firelight of Heaven. The drawing will take place on Thursday, September 19 and the winner announced on Sunday, 22 September. Please leave an email address [ ] at [ ] dot [ ] where you can be reached. 

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

To learn more about Lizbeth Klein and her books, please visit her website.

NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin's Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line in a 6-book contract. Her first book, Falling for the Farmer, will be a February 2014 release.

Narelle is a co-founder with Jenny Blake of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA).

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins


  1. Lizbeth, this sounds so good. Mystery, fantasy, strong Christian themes. I wish you the best of luck with this series and I'll look forward to adding this to my TBR.

    1. Thanks Suzie. You are very encouraging and I know you'll enjoy reading it almost as much as I enjoyed writing it.

  2. Hi Narelle and Lizbeth,
    I was lucky enough to have a sneak read of the first two books in the series, when I was one of the readers for the CALEB unpublished manuscripts. I loved them! Bethloria is a strongly described place which you can't help being drawn into and those two orphaned brothers are great. I really like the cover. I hope they go really well.

    1. Hi Paula,
      I'm so glad you were one of the first people to write me a comment. You're so uplifting to a newbie like me. I'm almost finished book 4 now, but I've been so busy that I haven't asked anyone if they'd like to publish book 3 yet. Yes, I'm really happy with the cover. The map inside is outstanding, too, as is the trailer. Rochelle did a great job.

  3. Lizbeth, thanks for visiting with us. It was great to learn more about Firelight of Heaven :)

    Suzie, thanks for stopping by :)

    1. I really appreciated sharing with everyone about my debut novel, Firelight of Heaven. Thanks Narelle.

  4. So exciting to hear of new fantasy by Aussie writers - especially one willing to grapple with faith themes for a wider audience! I hope the books go well Lizbeth and if I don't win a copy here, will be looking for them in stores. They sound like just the sort of thing my teenager (and myself) would love.
    Thanks Narelle for introducing us to Lizbeth and her books.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Penny. I found that it's not too difficult incorporating faith themes into a fantasy novel, although I thought they would be. And I believe readers are much more inclined to purchase fantasy books with some form of deity operating in the plot. I've read some worldly fantasy books (or rather attempted to) and guess what? They include deities too! So why can't a Christian subtly weave Christ into her work? Your teenager will love the story because it's very much a boysy type book, on purpose.

    2. Yes, you are right about the appearance of 'faith' in many fantasy works.
      My teen is actually a girl, but your comment on the boy-ish appeal of your books make me even keener to grab a copy as my 11year old is a boy and also keen on fantasy style narratives!

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    4. There's a great supporting character called Belle Shadow-Chaser whom I really like because she's learnt to become tough in a perilous world. She will really appeal to your daughter, too. She's an Elf warrior who accompanies the boys on their quest and can handle herself well in a battle, which they sometimes find themselves in.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing Lizbeth's books and journey with us, Narelle. These sound like books our eldest grandson will love - already loves the Narnia books as well as Lord of the rings type stories.

  6. Hi Mary,
    Loved hearing from you and may see you and Ray again at the Caleb Conference. Maybe. Yes, my books are packed with adventures and geared for teenagers as well as adults. Lots of fantastical creatures and characters, some that become allies and some villains. I love the plots God has given me for this series.

  7. Sound great. Thanks Narelle for bringing this book to our attention. Loved the interview.

  8. I am so later replying just found this or read it. I LOVED the Narnia series and recently read a few by Eric Reinhold they were fantasy but with the same sort of idea as the Narnia series and loved them.
    Would love to go in the drawer for your book.

  9. Hi Jenny,
    Thanks so much for writing. You are definitely in the comp for a freebie and Narelle will be drawing it out--soon. This series is a quest with a strange, unexpected twist at the very end of book 7. I've only written 4 to date, but I know what's up ahead. I think readers will be surprised and Christian readers especially will understand the imminence of what will befall the fantasy world.