Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic mythology and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of the historical romances, House of Dark Envy, Watchmaker’s Heart, and Lady of the Tarot, the Antique Magic paranormal series and Celtic Stewards Chronicles series and more. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.
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Kasper: Hi Juli, welcome to the Fantasy Sci-Fi Network’s interview couch. We’re going to use the alien mind probe today to see what makes you tick. Queue the ominous music….nah, just kidding. Let’s have some fun.
Juli: First off, thanks for having me here, Kasper! I enjoyed this interview.
Thanks for coming by to share your historical fantasy, Frigga’s Lost Army with us. We have an extract from the book at the end of the interview today. What other writing have you done?
So, yes, I have tons of other works out there: I have written the Antique Magic paranormal series, the Celtic Stewards Chronicles fantasy romance series, and various historical romances.
Very impressive. What makes your writing unique compared to others in the genre?
I write about mythological themes. I know, I know, some others do too, but I tend to find many other writers lean toward being disrespectful to the deities and myths they choose. Too many pick a name and decide to make him or her the villain of their story instead of truly learning the gods attributes and using their strengths, even if the humans have disputes with the gods. In my latest release, Frigga’s Lost Army, (as well as in the Celtic Stewards Chronicles), I tried to be faithful to those depictions. The good guys are the good guys, the baddies are the baddies.
I like that concept. It would make it more realistic for the readers who know the mythology too.
What made you choose this genre?
I’ve been writing fantasy all my life in one form or another.
Which one of your characters would you like to be?
Frigga. J I’d love to be able to knit and weave and so forth as well as she does! Alas, even though I’ve been knitting for several years, I’m still a novice. (The magical powers wouldn’t hurt, either. ;))
Cool. We popped the picture of Frigga at the start of the interview for our readers.
Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?
Yes. The battle in Frigga’s Lost Army, the one from which Ben is taken prisoner was an actual battle, in Tunisia, Africa, and yes, there were many POWs taken there (even though the Allies eventually won that engagement. It took nearly a year). Also, the prison camp to where he’s taken is an amalgam of several but mostly set in Naples, Italy because there was one there.
I think it’s great that your story of a mythological goddess is set in the not-too-distant past.
What song would you choose as the theme song of your book?
For period-specific music, there are a couple actually mentioned in the book, so those: Glenn Miller’s “American Patrol” and “I Don’t Want to Set the World on Fire” by Vera Lynn but also “Disposable Heroes” by Metallica and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”, and “The Trooper” by Iron Maiden. J Yes, I know you said one, but …who can choose just one?
Thanks. I enjoy it when an author suggests music for us to read by.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished up the third in my Celtic Stewards Chronicles series, entitled Druid Warrior Prince. It should be out in the next couple weeks. Beyond that, I’m working on another historical romance, and trying to finish the next Antique Magic novel.
What do you do when you have writers’ block?
Worry! *lol* I’m sort of in one of those down spells right now. Funnily, though, I’m not worried. I just released 100,000 words this year, and about to add another novel to that total, so I think I needed the break.
Well deserved too.
Describe your road to publishing your book:
The book developed from a shorter story that was published early on. I got the rights back to it and decided to expand on it. Boy, did it! It quadrupled in size, between adding new characters, double and triple-checking facts, obsessing over every little possible historical detail etc. J From there, it was the usual route of beta readings, edits, cover work, proof copies, etc that helped the expansion.
How did you go about developing your cover artwork?
Since it is a mixture of real history and fantasy I wanted to combine the two elements, keep some period stuff etc. So through a series of collaborative back and forth my cover artists and I finally hit on the “Valkyrie about to storm a camp” cover you see today. J I think we did a good job.
If you could only take three books with you through an interstellar portal, what would they be?
First impulse, because it would be all I’d have, I’d take a compendium of several novels. But my favorite novels would be The Elric Chronicles by Michael Moorcock, the Mabinogion, and probably something like To the Lighthouse or Jacob’s Room by Virginia Woolf. So that I’d have “The complete works of…” to get me by. (My favorite book of the Elric Chronicles, though, would have to be Sailors on the Seas of Fate.)
(And boy, wouldn’t that be cool, to go through an interstellar portal! J)
It’s funny you should ask me that, as I packed a few of those when we had to evacuate Florida Bay just this week for Hurricane Irma. We were lucky with only minimal damage. All the books are OK 🙂
Favourite food: lasagna
Silliest saying: “That boy ain’t right”
Best holiday spot: The mountains.
Favourite song at the moment: What’s so Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love and Understanding, as performed by Shovels & Rope
With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser? I’m a plantser. A combination of both. I usually start with a vague idea of what the end will be, and fill in the blanks as I go along.
Star Wars or Lord of the Rings: Yes, please.
Haha. Too hard to choose, hey?
Best superpower: I’d love teleportation!
Number one thing to do on your bucket list: I’d love to go to Italy—Pompeii, preferably, but Naples, Rome, etc, would be great.
Thanks for having me, Kasper. This was fun. If your readers would like to check out Frigga’s Lost Army it’s available at: https://www.amazon.com/Friggas-Lost-Army-Juli-Revezzo-ebook/dp/B07418BHLT
And Createspace: https://www.createspace.com/7126370
Awesome. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today, Juli. It’s been an exciting time, getting to know you.
Readers: we have Juli’s links and an extract from Frigga’s Lost Army at the end here, so be sure to check them out. Happy reading, cheers, Kasper
Interviewed by Kasper Beaumont, author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series. www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com
YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/julidrevezzo
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/Juli-D.-Revezzo/e/B008AHVTLO
An extract from Frigga’s Lost Army
The blond soldier slipped inside the fence, and as he did so, Benjamin could better discern the fiend’s words: Fascist rhetoric, but—
His attention caught a strange lilt to the speech; it seemed split along two frequencies. Underneath the propagandistic poison sounded the alluring, bewitching voice of a poet, making promises Benjamin couldn’t believe.
“Be calm, son; be still. Observe. It will not be long.”
The soldier smiled, and Benjamin gulped in confused fear.
“Your fear is logical,” the soldier continued, “but don’t let it cloud your vision or you’ll miss your chance, understand?”
Benjamin gasped, and the words barely squeaked past his lips, “No, sir.”
The soldier stepped back and Benjamin’s vision blurred, only to regain focus in an instant. He saw himself for a moment, dark blond hair dirty and matted under his war helmet, his thin jaw clenched. Rage tinged his face and eyes. He wondered if his mother would call him baby-cheeked anymore. Though he was the platoon cook, he’d had far less to eat lately than in years past.
Now, the landscape changed and Benjamin stood before the towering soldier, no fence between them, the cloudless African skyline replaced by the vision of a finely crafted hall. The man, too, seemed different: he no longer sported the uniform of those faithful to the enemy, but the fine clothing, and jewels of a king out of Medieval legend.
Celtic legend, if he wasn’t mistaken.
A table spread long before him laden with gleaming gold goblets, and Benjamin for a moment saw his own face in them, as he suspected, dirtied from the grit and sweat of the fight, marked with smoke and dust, blue eyes tired with little lines of exhaustion easily seen in the reflection. He was nineteen but wondered what it felt like to be ancient. Ninety years, surely, had passed since he’d so proudly entered the recruitment office. Ages ago, instead of only one year.
Then the scent of the food turned his attention away from the gleaming mirror image. Plates filled the space laden with steaks so succulent he wished he could take some to his friends.
The king pulled his attention away from the feast, though he spoke in a gentle voice,
“I can put it no more plainly, son. Keys break if stressed too much. They can even be deadly in the hands of an angry woman. Keep watch for her; you will see what I mean.”
Keys. He could think of no woman in Celtic mythology who used them as a symbol, but then, he’d long ago forgotten his mythology. Of whom did the king speak?
The king seemed to await his answer, so Benjamin nodded—or thought he did. “An angry woman. What do you mean? How—”
The king smiled, cut him off, “We despise what’s happening in Midgard—as her people call your world—and We are seeing to the matter. Don’t give up. You will know soon. You will be home, soon.”
Benjamin closed his eyes; when he opened them, the camp returned, and the sea green eyed soldier disengaged his attention. Another took his place, dividing their platoon up, some here, some there with Sergeant Meyers, snapping out the itinerary of meager fare (mostly watery rice and bread). Benjamin found himself in a separate group from the sergeant.
“This shit won’t do.” Doctor Keenan tossed the bread down. “I’d swear it’s more mold than bread.”
“That’s what I thought too,” another said.
Doctor Keenan gestured across the tent to him. “Ben, my friend, we must get you back in the mess hall.”
“If they’ll let us,” Tommy said.
There was more to worry about, though, he knew. Would he even end up with them when they finally landed? Or would he get shipped off to Berlin?
Though some guards allowed the battalions to switch among themselves, friends staying with friends, in most all things they were given little choice. One particular soldier Benjamin grew to loathe. The statuesque blond monster, with his jaw that jutted as if someone had shaved it off using a ruler for precision squaring, glared at them even as his superiors ordered them around, took great pleasure in making their tiny tents inside the pens as uncomfortable as possible. Danesi, someone called the lout. He hoped they wouldn’t suffer him long.
No such luck. Danesi grumbled and continued his verbal abuse even as he mustered Benjamin and his friends out for quick removal to the airfields and planes that deposited them in their new home: a prison camp in Naples, Italy.
Barracks spread out across the compound not unlike those back at Fort Benning in Georgia. The only difference? Barbed wire, undoubtedly combined with electrical wire, surrounded this one. Guard towers stood at the four corners, and a locked gate guarded, once again, by armed Fascist soldiers, and dogs with vicious attitudes and teeth stood between the prisoners and freedom.
The guards and fat camp official, Colonel Trovato, assigned Benjamin and twenty others to Barracks #15. There, he found the passing nights unkind. He and his barracks mates settled into a routine of daily work that left them so exhausted they could barely do much at night but lay in their uncomfortable bunks, doze or talk. He was even soon a favorite among all the men. The skilled chef among men who were, generally, diner food fans. He counted several more lining up on the barrack doorstep at each meal, eager for his fare, more than the twenty crammed into his tiny bunkhouse.
But a night’s camaraderie only lasted so long; and on shutting his eyes, Benjamin found himself unwillingly remembering the day’s work, the day’s horrors. Each day, he exerted himself as one of a crew whose skills and stamina were of the least concern to their captors in favor of work to be done. Time spent in insane assignments cleaning up the camp, no matter how tidy the grounds, or chores like weeding the area surrounding the camp, and the road leading to its entrance. Sometimes they mended sidewalks, sometimes roofs; sometimes, they simply marched from one end of town to the other, especially when the elements proved unkind.
In each of these settings, Benjamin kept his eyes and ears open, and returned to camp each night with news to share with his fellow captives. Though he saw many women throughout the town, none was the one described to him by the strangely regal military official in Tunis, as far as he knew. If the man were even real, and had indeed spoken such words of hope. As time passed, Benjamin began to doubt it.
New Year’s Eve was a somber affair. The snow still beat down on them, and though the guards toasted the holiday, Benjamin and his friends stay holed up in their barracks, complaining and brooding. New Year’s Day wasn’t much better. The
guards called them out into formation, and though the flurries stopped, the cold wind stung his cheeks and made his nose run. All Benjamin could think of was his warm kitchen back home, the leftover eggnog. He wouldn’t speak of it aloud. His friends already had enough reason for their own foul moods.
Snow piled up everywhere.
Gabriel growled at it as they and the others ran a second circuit around the yard, cursing the day and the daily forced exercise.
“My thoughts, exactly,” Benjamin said.
“How are you doing?”
“Horrible. How about you?”
“I feel like my lungs are gonna burst.” Gabriel paused by the fence for a moment, studying the tangled wire. “You know, when I was a kid, I used to love digging tunnels out of snow.” He nodded to a pile not far away.
“What kid didn’t?”
“Yeah? I built one, once. Extended all the way across my mom’s and two neighbors’ yards.”
Gabriel shook his head. “Nope, well, not until spring.” He met Benjamin’s gaze and an idea flashed in Ben’s mind.
“Are you thinking—” He couldn’t bring himself to say it aloud, not with guards lingering. But he knew it: his friend was thinking of escaping. How, though? They could leave their barracks, sure enough, but to get past the fence and the guards, without permission, alive? Impossible. “Wait a minute, Gabriel.”
Gabriel shrugged, stepping away from the fence. “It’s just a thought.”
He fell back to catch up with his other friends, still in the midst of their run.
Benjamin cursed and followed him.
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