Adventure. Love. Destiny.
Single mom Eden Saunders has learned that tragedy is simply a part of life. Her mother died during childbirth, and her husband was killed just three years after they married. On a journey to discover where she comes from, Eden inherits the key to unlocking new worlds from her deceased mother—including the world that should have been her home. The only thing stopping her from exploring them is the fear of leaving her daughter behind. Caught up in the circle of legacy, Eden discovers the mother-daughter bond that even death cannot break.
I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of The Door Keeper by Steen Jones from Royal James Publishing and read the book within two days! It’s a very unique Fantasy book that is all about navigating your destiny, the unbreakable bond between mothers and daughters, family, love, grief, loss, and courage in the face of adversity and the unknown. Not to mention a cast of characters that you will certainly root for the entirety of the book. I have not read many (or any?!) Fantasy books with a single mom as the protagonist and it was genuinely refreshing to read about. The story pulls you in from the beginning, and once you get to the meaning behind the title of the book, the story becomes even more enjoyable, fun, and incredibly intriguing. And the traveling between worlds is always a big ‘ole plus in my book! 😉 Steen is an enchanting, creative, and compelling writer and I will definitely check out the next book in this series. And I am delighted to say that I conducted an interview with Steen below that dives into her life and more about this debut novel! Check it out!
Hi, Steen! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Hi, Rachel! Well, I’m a southern girl who has lived in Georgia my entire life, yet for some reason sometimes ask questions with a British accent. I’ve been married for over 15 years to my amazing husband and a mom to two incredible kids. I completely love Jesus, but sometimes get frustrated with the institution of religion. Within the last three years, I’ve become an avid dog lover, adding 2 pups to our family. I love to read, watch movies, paint, and sit in the sunshine any chance I get.
How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
In the winter, you’ll find me cuddled on the couch with the dogs and my husband drinking wine and binge watching shows on Netflix. That’s about it for winter, I tend to go into hibernation. But in the summer, I’ll be outside at the pool soaking up the sun and relaxing by our pool. I love to garden, growing vegetables, and colorful flowers. I’ve recently taken to cooking and baking, sometimes getting lost in the kitchen for hours. (Too bad I don’t have a house elf to clean up after me, though.)
Where did you get the idea for this novel?
That’s actually an interesting story! About 7 or 8 years ago, I noticed a door on the edge of a field close to where I lived at the time. It was a freestanding door that lead seemingly nowhere, but of course, with my imagination, I immediately decided it went to Narnia. Every time I drove by it, I’d add a little something to the story in my mind, then would forget about it again. Finally, I jotted some notes in my phone and over the next few years, the story developed into a different version than what it is today. Finally, almost exactly 2 years ago, bored one day, I wrote an outline. After that, I simply couldn’t stop. FYI, the door is no longer where it originally was, because it now is in my backyard! (Great story for another time.)
Tell us about the cover for The Door Keeper and how it came about.
The book cover was very important to me. As an artist, the visual picture is almost as critical for me as the words of the story itself. I wanted the cover to feel a bit vintage, something that reminded the reader of older, more simpler time. For me, this story is like a grown up version of The Chronicles of Narnia, so I wanted to cover to reflect that. I have a friend, (the most talented Meg Brim,) who created the logo for my business many years ago, and I knew if anyone could capture my vision for the book, she could. And boy did she. I am so incredibly happy with the cover and the beautiful introduction it gives my readers to this story.
Give us insight into your protagonist, Eden. What makes her unique?
I think what makes Eden unique is the tension she wrestles with. I’m not sure I have read a fantasy book yet where the protagonist is a mother and feels torn between what lies ahead and what lies behind. She has so many responsibilities in this world, it makes it difficult for her to pursue her destiny in others. She can’t just jump in feet first, she has to hesitate, question, and attempt to balance the increasing complexities of her existence. I think this tension is unique in the fantasy book world, but not in the real world of working mothers. I feel this tension resonates with many of us moms that want to make our mark on the world.
Was there a real-life inspiration behind your characters?
Um…heck yes. They say write what you know, and I definitely did that. I think that is why I’m so nervous about this book coming out. Yes, it’s a fantasy book about magical places, but the characters and relationships are all very personal. Almost every character started based on people in my life, but I will say most morphed into their own beings. The people who know me and my family personally will recognize everyone immediately. What can I say? The people around me are fascinating and interesting characters.
What drew you to the Fantasy genre?
I love fantasy because of the grand, epic story lines. I adore all things magic and the escape that fantasy provides. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting lost in another world and my imagination being stimulated. There are no rules in fantasy unless you want there to be. My entire life, I’ve daydreamed, and this gave me an opportunity to actually call it work.
What did you enjoy most about writing The Door Keeper?
I loved the research aspect of writing this book. My imagination would take me somewhere, then I would have to allow my brain to catch up so I could do it justice with words. Some of my most favorite days were days I spent Googling things and researching. I also loved the moments when I solved a plot problem or that moment that a new world was born. Those sparks of inspirations that immediately clicked into place with the story.
What was your favorite part of the story to write and why?
I think my favorite part was writing Eden’s first entrance into her home world. I’d been waiting and looking forward to writing it for months. I love all things sunny and hot, so of course, her homeland encompassed those things. I remember the day I wrote it was freezing and there was snow on the ground. I woke up so excited because I knew that day was the day, and there was nothing more I wanted to do that day than pretend to be warm and toasty in Caelum.
Is there a certain type of scene that is harder to write than others?
I would say that for me, the hardest scenes to write are the set ups. The times I need to catch the reader up without being able to use dialogue. I like writing actions and conversations, but sometimes you just have to get some info to the reader without those things. Those are the most difficult for me, and I’m still trying to figure out how to do them well.
Did you have a favorite world in The Door Keeper and are you planning on revealing more worlds in the sequels?
Of course I’m planning new worlds for the sequels! I’m extremely excited for 2 new worlds in the sequel specifically. Terra Arborum will always hold a special place in my heart for being the first world I created, but Caelum is my favorite. If I’m being honest, if I were actually from a different world, I think it would be Caelum. Maybe that’s why I created it for Eden.
What research went into writing this book? Did you travel for any research?
I wish I could say that I did. Positano is the one place on this Earth I want to be more than anywhere. I had already planned my dream vacation there before I started the book, so I already knew it relatively well. Of course, I spent days and days researching restaurants, villas, and blogs of travels there so I could do it justice. Villa Le Sirene is an actual place you can rent to stay. I reached out to the owners, letting them know I was using their place in my book. One day, I will hand deliver them a copy.
Did you plan to write The Door Keeper as a trilogy from the beginning?
Yes, I did. I knew there was a ton of story to tell. Honestly, I see it being sets of trilogies. The first revolving around Eden and her family. Because of the different worlds I’ve created and the time table established, I can see there being other trilogies featuring other Door Keepers, perhaps in other times or based in different worlds. We will see how this one goes.
Is there a message in this book that you hope readers will grasp?
Great question. I hope that people read The Door Keeper and walk away with a reminder that fear can twist you and your decisions if you let it. Fear is manipulative, and it can rob you of adventure, love, and your destiny. I have a necklace I love that says, “fear keeps life small.” For me, that is a huge take away from the book.
Is there anything you can tell us about the next book or something to look forward to?
Besides new worlds, and interesting new characters, you will finally see why Eden’s mother put her on the path she did, and the fulfillment of Eden and her family’s destiny. There will be a lot more action and adventure in the sequel, now that the characters and worlds have been established. I seriously can’t wait!
Everyone give a round of applause to Steen because those were some awesome answers that give us some more insight into her brain, life, and the world(s!) of The Door Keeper. Make sure you pre-order and read it when it comes out on February 20th! Thanks again to Royal James Publishing and Steen Jones!
Click here to pre-order your copy on Amazon today!
Click here to pre-order your copy on Smashwords!
Also, don’t forget to check it out on Goodreads. Paperback available February 20, 2017.
Release date: February 20, 2017.
About the Author:
Steen was born and raised in Woodstock, Georgia. While she has only recently discovered her passion for writing, she has always been an artist and a storyteller. A couple of years ago, a story idea gripped her and wouldn’t let go until she wrote it all down. The Door Keeper is her debut novel and she can’t wait to pursue all of the other stories that have built up in her over the last three and a half decades.
When she isn’t writing, reading, painting, or baking, Steen enjoys spending time Netflixing with her husband and playing in the pool with her two children at their North Georgia home. To read more about Steen, you can visit her on her website.
We are going to have two giveaways in celebration of the release of, The Door Keeper by Steen Jones. One hosted by Royal James Publishing and one by the author Steen Jones.
The first giveaway, hosted by Royal James Publishing, will run from now until the release of the novel.
The second giveaway will start on the release date, more details about this giveaway to be released soon.