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Interview with author Raina Nightingale


Today, I want to introduce our guest author, Raina Nightingale. Raina, can you tell us what genre(s) you primarily write? Pretty much everything I write, with the exception of a very short story or two, is fantasy set in an original/secondary world. Within that, there's a lot of variety! The Return of the Dragonriders trilogy (starts with DragonBirth) is a slice-of-life/cozy X epic fantasy that I sometimes describe as MG-ish. It's not quite what I think of as MG, but it's definitely appropriate to older MG audiences. That's kind of one end of things. The Epoch of the Promise novels are more adult fantasy, and range from epic with a lot of magic to having very few active magical elements at all. They're all stories about scandalous redemption, but they vary from grimdark-adjacent (Dawn Unseen) to pretty cozy X dealing-with-trauma (Wings of Healing). The Dragon-Mage series (starts with Heart of Fire) is psychological epic fantasy, and Kingdom of Light is very spiritual fantasy. I think it kind of belongs in the same genre as Phantastes and Lilith by George MacDonald, and I don't really know what the genre would be called.


Wow, that's a nice range! You've listed a few different books and series there. Are they primarily novels or novellas?


Everything! Epoch of the Promise: Dawn Unseen is a 270k chonker, DragonBirth is an about 85k novel or something like that, Kindred of the Sea is a bit over 100k, and Gryphon's Escape is 10k! And then I have very short stories on my blog. Everything is right! Haha! And chonker seems an apt descriptor of any book over 200k words. So, you've mentioned a lot of books. When did you start writing?


I learned how to read very suddenly when I was about eight years old. I started writing my stories at about the same time.


Wow! I wish I'd started at that young. How many books have you written to date?


I don't know! It depends on how you define a book, because I've written a lot of stories out in notebooks, even given them covers. I may not remember all of them myself!


Fair enough. How many have you published?


If I count just the full-length novels, not the novellas... I think it's 12.


Very impressive. Can you recall what first inspired you to write?


I don't think there was a "first inspiration." I think in stories, explore and understand what I believe in stories, try to understand others in stories...


Do you consider your work to be Noblebright?


Certainly.


Why?


I'd say a few consistent themes mean my novels will always be noblebright. One theme comes from the belief that that no one, no matter how they've been broken or how far they've fallen, is beyond redemption. The other is the idea that no matter how dark things get, there's still light, still truth, still life and love. That, if only we will trust ourselves to it, the strength will always be given to follow what we know is right, and that even if there's no "winning," the true victory is to be true to the light we have. No matter the seeming cost.


Of course, that doesn't mean all my books are nearly that dark! That's just the focus in the darkest ones, and why even those I sometimes describe as grimdark-adjacent, are fundamentally as noblebright as it's possible to be! Mostly, it's only the Epoch of the Promise novels that get really dark.

But those beliefs are present in all of them, even if they're never tested to the hilt - or they're expressed in a very different way, that's a lot less dark!


You've already mentioned some, but what were the most prominent influences (literature, art, entertainment, etc.) in your writing?


Ooh! A hard one. Probably George MacDonald and Anne MacCaffrey's Harper Hall trilogy and Dragonriders of Pern.


How do you incorporate those influences into your work without be derivative?


Because my world and my characters come alive and choose their own direction!


Hehe, I'll be a little more serious. THOUGH with the Dragonriders of Pern at least, that truly is how it happened. I wrote a lot of stuff that was very nearly Pern fanfic, but I just kind of played with ideas, and I wasn't trying to be faithful to Pern. I was just trying to write something that was like Pern: especially, the dragons of Pern as I saw them, or as I wanted them to be.


Even now, you can see the Pernese inspiration behind the dragons of Areaer. But it gradually grew from that seed - or that fertilizer, that first watering - into something that's very much mine and Areaeran not Pernese, with my life, and my explorations, and my themes behind it. Dragons that remind you of Pern, but are very much their own thing, who think the way I imagine dragons might think, with a social structure that was certainly never inspired by Pern.


As for George MacDonald, it's more that some of my novels touch the "genre" of some of his. That mythical element and spiritual journey you meet in the Princess and Curdie books, or Phantastes, is present to a greater or lesser degree in some of my novels. Greater in Kingdom of Light, present in Return of the Dragonriders - not really there at all in Epoch of the Promise. THOUGH Epoch of the Promise might share some things with some of his more religious set-in-this-world fiction. But I only found those very recently...


Interesting! You've already touched on this a bit, but what are some of the major themes that readers will find in your work?


Well, you'll find the themes I mentioned above that will always make my work noblebright.


You'll also find the theme that the real villain isn't other cultures or peoples, but fear, and the real victory must be won within our protagonist's souls, not against the outside world.


You'll find deep relationships that aren't romantic - sibling bonds, friendships, etc - in leading place in ALMOST all my books (I have A Bond Unvowed (To-Be-Published) and another WIP with a romance as the leading relationship).


And you'll find things like fire and storms as purifying and strengthening powers of good!


What book of yours should we be reading today?


Umm... DragonBirth is my debut Areaer novel. And I just recently got a new cover for it and put in lots of beautiful illustrations! So maybe DragonBirth?


Using just five words, give us a taste of what we can expect in that book.


Dragons and love in hardship.


And where can we find DragonBirth?


Pretty much any retailer you want!

Here's a link that should take you to your preferred store: https://books2read.com/return1


What is the best way for us to follow you and your work?


My website and blog is https://enthralledbylove.com, but if you don't want to be e-mailed with a new review every week and maybe some other things, then you can just sign up to my substack at https://rainanightingale.substack.com/embed, and then you'll just get one e-mail a month (most of the time) with a wrap-up and quick updates.


Thank you for joining us today, Raina! Any parting thoughts?


I think the most important thing we all need is hope, not in the sense of a wish, but a deep-rooted confidence in the fundamental strength and victory of good, and I think that stories are a very important part of reinforcing what we believe, and giving it shape and color. That's why I think stories about people who struggle to do the right thing, who learn to love, are so important.


I think we need stories where things more or less go well, to give us a tangible vision of that victory of goodness over all and in all. I think we need stories of people victoriously staying true to the light and triumphing over the darkest of situations to give us a vision of what that means, so that we can believe that we, too, can stay true to the light we have, no matter the trial, the consequences, or the suffering.

Both together are important to shaping that vision that, fundamentally and in all things, no matter what it looks like, good will triumph.

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