My tour has just ended and now I’m happy to be participating in Allison Reker’s tour for her novel, Journey to Aviad. 😀 Today I’m going to be sharing interviews with Elowyn and Morganne, characters from the book, but first a little about the author:
Allison D. Reid was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. Her love for medieval fantasy was sparked by the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis, which fed both her imagination and her spiritual development. When at the age of thirteen her family moved to Germany, her passion for medieval history and legend only increased, and she found herself captivated by the ancient towns and castles of Europe. Allison returned to the United States to study art and writing at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. She earned her B.A. under the tutelage of the well-renowned and prolific writer Andrew Salkey, a student of her other great inspiration, and the father of fantasy, J. R. R. Tolkien. After graduating from Hampshire College, Allison moved to Connecticut. There she got the opportunity to attend seminary and further explore her faith before returning to her home state of Ohio. Allison now lives in the Miami Valley area with her husband and children. She continues to work on her first published series while taking care of her family, editing for other independent writers, and managing a home business.
Connect with the Author
Threatening clouds and fierce storms besiege the city of Tyroc. More frequent and powerful than ordinary storms, young Elowyn, a weaver’s daughter living in the outskirts of the city, senses something disturbing and unnatural about them. She soon realizes that the storms are but a warning sign of much more frightening things yet to come.
Terrifying wolf-like creatures emerge from the depths of the wilderness at the bidding of a dark master. His name found only among the crumbling pages of ancient texts, the re-appearance of Alazoth and his Hounds is a dark omen for the people of Tyroc and beyond. Only legends remain of the heroes and prophets whose blood was shed ages ago to banish him into the abyss, which should have remained his prison for all time. How he has been released is a mystery, but all the old stories agree that death and destruction are sure to follow.
With the Hounds inching closer each day, the city of Tyroc caught up in religious and political turmoil, and her home life no less turbulent, Elowyn has nothing left to rely on but her meager courage and a budding faith in Aviad, the Creator. She and her sister, Morganne, set out on a remarkable journey that challenges everything they have ever known about themselves, the world, and the path that Aviad has laid out for them.
Buy the Book
Journey to Aviad Character Interviews
You have a very adventurous spirit, Elowyn. Can you tell us a little more about what inspires your love for the forest?
There is a stillness, and a beauty out there that whispers something indescribable to my soul. I am not sure that there are words to explain it. The world of men is loud and smelly, and the days quickly fill with mind-numbing labors. But out in the forest, I am free, and I can hear Aviad’s voice more clearly with nothing else to distract my mind.
The moment you met Einar for the first time it wasn’t under the best circumstances. Can you tell us a bit more about your feelings towards him and why you were so eager to trust him? Was it due to curiosity or another reason?
Trusting Einar so readily was foolish, I might as well admit it. That situation could have ended very badly. But to be fair, I was young and rattled by what had almost just happened to me. I will never forget the feeling of that Hound’s teeth upon my neck, its foul breath suffocating me. Had Einar not come along, or come even a moment later, I would have been dead. He risked his life to save mine, and that meant something to me. It still does.
Growing up in Tyroc as the daughter of talented weaver, did you ever feel resentment? Did you ever want to experience the outside world?
I never developed a love for the craft. I saw what my mother’s obsession with her weaving did to her, and to all of us. There were times when Mother sent me into Tyroc for supplies, and I caught glimpses of the elderly weavers with their bent backs and twisted, knobby fingers. I wanted no part of that life. And yet, the fact that my mother never even tried to teach me her trade made me feel invisible, and I did resent that.
The only outside world in my imagination was the wooded one beyond our cottage. Until the Hounds came and defiled it, that was my true home, and I never had any thought of leaving it.
Many events lead you and your sisters to begin your journey into the world. Do you know the tipping point that made you think it was time to leave?
When Morganne told me that she was leaving, I had no other reason to stay. Mother despised me, Einar was gone, and my beautiful woodlands had been taken over by the Hounds. Aside from that, I knew Morganne was not truly prepared to make such a journey alone. She knew nothing of survival in the wild or of the dangers that awaited her. The only real choice was for us to stay together, as we had always been, and brave whatever hardships might come.
Traveling the road as a child in dangerous times is frightening. Throughout your entire journey, what was your biggest fear that still haunts you today?
I still have a recurring nightmare that I’m being pursued by trolls. Watching them tear a man apart and destroy an entire settlement has left an inner wound that refuses to heal, even after all this time. I have not met a troll since, but part of me fears that if I did, I would just stand paralyzed, unable to run. I think perhaps I should stop talking about this now, or I won’t be able to sleep tonight.
Morganne, you find yourself standing in your mother’s shadow throughout this novel. Can you tell us your feelings toward her and what it was like growing up with such a stern woman?
Some memories fade slowly, until they are only wisps of smoke that dissipate into nothing when you try to catch hold of them. Others stay with you, like the details of a nightmare. A smell, a sound, a flash of light can catch you off guard and take you back to that place you wish you could forget. There are nights when I close my eyes and I can see the tiny cottage my mother, my younger sisters, and I once lived in. So many years have passed that it is probably long gone now. But in my mind it continues to stand, just as it was when I was a girl.
Always at the center of my memory is the image of my mother working at the loom. Her light brown hair swept up, away from her face, her fingers working with forceful precision. The curve of her back shut us out as she embraced a world of her own design, carefully constructed of hand-spun threads. Anyone who pulled her away from it was met with a ferocity that betrayed the seething anger consuming her soul. And so my sisters and I spent our days treading carefully around her, trying not to break the dreadful silence.
Elowyn found her escape in the surrounding woodlands, but there was no escape for me. I was the eldest, not only responsible for helping my mother work her trade, but also for my younger siblings who needed care and nurturing. I spent many long nights in silent sorrow and grief over my lot. Then came that fateful night when I finally stood before my mother in solemn defiance, and in the pain of that experience, I ceased to be a child. Everything changed after that. Instead of fighting her less, out of fear, I fought against her all the more, and she did not fight back. I knew that whatever the cost, I did not want to become like her. Deep within me I had already found a strength that went beyond the physical—something she could never take from me with any amount of threat or abuse. That strength stayed with me, fueling my resolve to leave as soon as I had the means.
You have a talent that captures many influential people’s eyes throughout Journey to Aviad. Do you ever feel self-conscious about it? Or do you feel proud that your gifts have been noticed?
I don’t really think about it much at all. I grew up in the cloth trade, surrounded by other gifted and influential weavers and seamstresses. Without their tutelage, I never would have mastered my craft so well. I do demand a high standard of quality from myself, which does sometimes draw attention, but in all honesty, my work is just that—work. What I do ensures that I can take care of myself and my sisters without relying on charity. At times I find the meticulous labors of my needle to be soothing, but my real passion lies elsewhere.
Throughout Journey to Aviad your mother is like a slave driver, making you work your fingers to the bone. If you could have chosen your path from the beginning, what would it have been without your mother’s impute?
I don’t know that my calling would have been different, though no doubt it would have been less burdensome. At the least, I might now have a few more joyous occasions to soften the memories of my childhood. But if I could have done anything…anything at all…I would have chosen a path not available to me as a young girl—the path of a scholar.
Gareth taught me so much in the few years we had together. I could have gone on for so many more; reading books, studying history, astronomy, philosophy, and most of all, the spiritual tomes that peeked out at me from distant shelves in the Temple library. My mother called them fairy tales, but they were very real to me. On those days I appeared before the Temple gates broken with sorrow, nursing an aching back and needle-worn fingers, the tomes restored my spirits like nothing else. I never left as the same girl I had been when I arrived.
We were able to see Tyroc through Elowyn’s eyes throughout the book. Can you tell us a little bit about how you saw it?
It is difficult for me in retrospect, to see Tyroc as it truly was rather than what my mother made it for us. She did not openly show her cruelty when we were in the city—she was instead focused on haggling with the vendors and trying to get the best price she could for her own goods. She understood her customers well, knowing just what to say, and just how to behave, to get what she wanted from them.
In my early youth I was expected to shadow her in silence, learn from her example, and do nothing more than what I was told. But while she was making deals, I was carefully watching some of the best seamstresses in Tyroc at their work. A few of them dared to let me try various techniques on scraps of cloth. I found some cautious friends there, who were amazed at my natural gifts. But I always felt as though I was lurking on the outskirts of a community that I would never fully belong to.
Tyroc for me was a place both beautiful and ugly, protective and dangerous, full of opportunity and unbearable constraints. We were required to follow its darker mandates, such as the one that compelled us to watch Elias’ execution. Yet my mother never permitted us to join its seasonal celebrations. Since leaving Tyroc, I have come to realize that it held treasures I took for granted at the time. Yet had I stayed, my life would not have been my own. For all my days, I would have felt trapped there in a finely woven prison of my mother’s making.
The journey you and Elowyn take starts a new adventure for you and your sisters. What finally drove you to leave Tyroc and your mother behind?
My mind and spirit had already left that place, long before my feet took those first liberating steps out the door. When the lady Isana secured my passage with her generosity, it was an answer to prayer that I did not take lightly. The road since has been full of both wonders and trials, and I haven’t regretted taking it for even a moment.