An Interview with Joanna C Harker

The Author Joanna C Harker

Welcome to an Interview with…  Joanna C. Harker

Author of   A Dragon’s Path to Ascension (part of the Dragons Reborn series)
A brief synopsis.
The story is about Tharia – a young Toivoan Dragon (a dragon-human hybrid), who tries to lead a peaceful and quiet life by pretending to be a druid. Unfortunately for her, this doesn’t last long and her past (and destiny) quickly catch up with her. Toivoan Dragons can obtain great power, but it comes at a high price and Tharia is reluctant to kill for something she isn’t even sure she wants. However once her own life is at stake, she is forced to rethink her earlier choices. 
What made you decide to write this book?

The story originated from a small scene I’ve written for a friend to demonstrate what happens when two Toivoans meet. That small scene eventually grew and evolved into the current story. It was a fun thing to do, as it jumps ahead of the rest of the series, giving a glimpse of what the world will look like in times to come.
And as it is a standalone piece, it was a nice change from the novel I’m currently writing.
Where did the title come from?

I think I’m cursed or something when it comes to titles… The first story had a title change – “A Mother Scorned” was later renamed to “A Dragon Scorned” for clarity. It was a bit similar with this one. The WIP was actually called “An Honest Bet”, as that was the focus of the scene mentioned earlier. But in the end the bet turned out to be only a small (though significant) part of the storyline. So the final title – “A Dragon’s Path to Ascension” – better represents the journey Tharia has to make.
Do you always write in this genre?

At the moment yes, though I do write non fiction and have a half-written romance in the drawer… I do have plans for a sci-fi series, but it will have to wait for now.
What was your inspiration to write and when did you start?

I wrote stories since I was very young. There wasn’t a specific inspiration, I guess just a lot of reading can in turn get the creative juices flowing. And once an idea comes to me it sits there nagging at the back of my head, and won’t stop until it’s been written down. The characters force me to write about them… 🙂
What was your destination to publishing? ie are you self published.

I’m self published – currently on Amazon, but will be doing print version likely early next year. I design my own covers, but leave the editing to a professional – Brandon, my editor, makes sure the text is not only proofread but also checks for any small inconsistencies
Share with the readers one little known fact about yourself.

As a teenager I was interviewed as part of a short documentary about Hackers for a big TV station in Poland (my home country). Suffice to say after that experience I’m extremely suspicious of documentaries given how this one was made…
Do you have a website to share?

Yes. 🙂 I tend to post extra details about the world and book updates on the series website: http://uuttatoivoa.comI can also be found on Facebook here

Any links to the book/books
Please feel free to share an excerpt.

“Please forgive me, I’ll try to make this quick,” Tharia whispered, raising the sickle in her right hand. Her other hand was wrapped around a bunch of branches hanging down from the old weeping willow in front of her. For a brief moment she listened for a response—and to anyone else, the faint hum of the leaves and the deep, crackling sounds coming from the tree’s trunk would have just been the usual sounds of the forest. But to Tharia, it was the mental nod from the tree for her to go ahead. The sickle sliced through the plant with ease.

She tied the branch pieces with a small string and strapped it to her back. Ready to move on, Tharia picked up her over-sized and already overflowing shoulder bag from the ground. She only had a few more herbs to forage before she had everything she needed.

She left the giant tree behind and ventured back into a denser part of the forest. Rays of midday sunlight fell through the foliage high above, making it easy for her to look for the right plants to harvest. After an hour, only cloud berries remained on her list.

Tharia stood up, stretched her back, and turned her pale face towards the sun. She closed her emerald-green eyes and enjoyed the soothing warmth for a minute while listening to the gentle rustle of leaves and bird songs. The day was so pleasant—she hadn’t felt this happy and relaxed for a long while. Her thoughts wandered back to the place she was born and to the days she had spent basking in the sun for hours while pretending to work in the orchard.

She snapped back to reality at that memory. It was quite unusual for her to think back to those times. She shrugged and took out an apple from the pocket of her large, hooded cloak. It must have been the sunny day and the smell of spring that got to her. She took a bite and started walking toward her current home.

Tharia reached out mentally to Dru, her dragonling, and giggled as leaves brushed against its scales, causing her to vicariously feel a sensation akin to a tickle. The small lizard was following her, flying high up in the tree tops. She withdrew her presence from the creature, letting its animal side take over. An occasional mental nudge was enough to keep Dru out of sight in case she stumbled across a villager wondering around the forest. Hidden amongst the foliage, the dragonling could easily pass for a large bird.

After half an hour, Tharia reached the spot where the cloud berry bushes grew. She had purposefully made this the last item on her list as they happened to thrive not far from her house. The shrubs were heavy with fruit and easy to pick. The sticky red and orange juice trickled between her fingers and down the skin of her hands. Despite the easy pickings, Tharia somehow managed to snag her sleeve on the thorns while reaching deeper into the bush. The tear quickly grew, exposing her white scaled arm underneath. She swore under her breath.

Tharia couldn’t risk anyone seeing her scaly flesh. For the last two years, the locals knew her as an odd hermit living in the forest—a druid they would reluctantly come to when desperate enough. The few lies she couldn’t avoid had made her tongue bleed. No, she definitely did not want to be recognized as the young Toivoan dragon she actually was. That would bring unwanted attention.

As far as Tharia was concerned, she was happy with this peaceful life. Mostly self-sufficient and living off the forest, she only occasionally needed to venture into the village to barter for the few items she couldn’t procure herself. She hid Dru constantly and never left the house with more than her face and hands exposed. She even wore an expensive wig crafted from the finest human hair to cover her bald head. An uncomfortable accessory despite its hefty price tag.

Tharia packed up what she had managed to gather and rushed to her small hut tucked away in a forest clearing about an hour from the nearby village. She pulled her cloak over her arm in case she met someone on the way, and she sent Dru ahead to wait in its usual spot overlooking the house. The dragonling always waited until nightfall before coming inside. It kept an eye out for strangers from the tree tops. Even though visitors were rare, Tharia preferred to stay cautious.

Once inside, she dropped her bag on the simple wooden table, right next to a small pot that had violets growing in it. That was the one childhood reminder she allowed herself to keep. The fragrance brought memories of her mother and of the good times with her sisters before she was sent away to train and study with other Verdure children when she was nine. But that was all in the past, and something she so far had managed to successfully leave behind. The one thing that she refused to forget was the promise she made with her siblings: to never hurt each other.

* * *

Tharia stirred the soup before giving it a quick taste. She sensed Dru’s hunger rising, matching her own feelings. She calmed her dragonling, filling the lizard’s body with her mind’s presence. She would let it hunt for some rodents once the sun went down.

She reached up to grab some herbs from the jungle of items hanging above the hearth. Careful not to knock down the string with thin slices of dry meat, she pinched a few bay leaves and some powdered pepper. It would not be long before both of them had their supper, she thought, adding the extra ingredients to her soup and covering the pot with a lid.

She sat at the table and placed a small box on the wooden surface. From it she took out a needle and thread. Relaxed, she pulled up the sleeve of the sweater she had put on after coming home, and she gently began mending the tear in the shirt underneath. Patience was her best weapon. After a few decades, with practice, her power and skills would raise enough that she wouldn’t have to hide any more. Just like aunt Floresta, whom her mother often spoke about when Tharia had mentioned her lack of interest in Ascending.

“After a certain point you become too strong,” she used to say. ”The young ones won’t challenge you and dealing with hunters stops being a problem. The Council even lets you communicate with your family again.”

Tharia’s mom had shown her some of the letters. Floresta had also pretended to be a druid and it was over fifty years before she decided to come out. After that, she took the town nearby, as well as a hefty plot of woodlands, under her wing. If Tharia could just stay hidden, time wasn’t an issue for her kind.

She finished mending her shirt but couldn’t quiet her mind, so she figured some house work might help. Tharia got up from the chair, walked over to the cupboard, opened it, and took out a simple, ceramic plate. She was about to carry it to the table when, startled, she dropped it. The pottery hit the floor and shattered into pieces, but she didn’t care. With two quick moves she pulled up the loose sleeves half covering her hands. She had to make sure she wasn’t imagining things in the dim light.

But her worst fears were confirmed—faint emerald-colored runes appeared on the skin of her hands one at a time. They pulsed in a slow rhythm, appearing and disappearing in different places. This meant only one thing—another Toivoan was near.

Many thanks Joanna for sharing the book with us and taking time out from your schedule. I wish you much success with it. David

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