Today’s special author guest is Mandy Schimelpfenig and we’re chatting about her new historical novel, The Rise of Riverstone.
During her virtual book tour, Mandy will be raffling off a Book Lovers Gift Box (USA only). The Gift Box Contents include: a signed copy of The Rise of Riverstone, sticker, bookmark, signed bookplate, and a postcard map of Praed. Click here to enter for a chance to win.
Mandy received her B.S. in Zoology from Washington State University and an A.S. in Veterinary Technology from St. Petersburg College. Clearly her life goals were not geared toward a career as an author. She is a Certified Veterinary Technician specializing in small animals.
When she’s not saving lives, she’s weaving tales of strong women using their intelligence to pursue incandescent happy endings. The Rise of Riverstone is the debut novel in her Daughters of Riverstone Series.
She lives on the Washington Coast with her husband and their four children. Besides leaning uncomfortably over a computer screen, Mandy enjoys camping and hiking with her family, reading, and wearing out her dogs on the beach.
Welcome, Mandy. Please tell us about your current release.
The Rise of Riverstone is a 16th century historical novel that takes place in the fantasy setting of Praed, a country of rolling fields whose economy and culture is centered around horses. It’s told from the POV of Laria, the daughter of a knight. She lives an idyllic life at Riverstone, an estate on the banks of a mighty river. When she wakes up one morning to find her country has been invaded and the king murdered, she’s forced from her home. Worst of all, Laria, her little sister, and her mother are made to serve the evil regime responsible. Throughout her life in the castle, she’s abused and scorned. To protect herself, she pretends to be deaf and mute, and she uses her disguise to discover hidden plots. When Risteard, a knight she’s sworn to hate, approaches her with an unexpected proposition, Laria must decide between a life in the shadows or the possibility of becoming the hero she never believed she could be.
Laria’s story is one of tragedy, heartbreak, intrigue, murder, and ultimate triumph.
What inspired you to write this book?
Boredom. I had a lonely job cleaning a horse barn and I’d entertain myself by making up stories. Laria’s story came from subjects I love, horses and history, and grew into an elaborate world with characters I regard as friends.
Excerpt from The Rise of Riverstone:
The gray stone facade of Riverstone disappeared behind a swell of prairie, the grass turning from gold to lush green in the morning sun. The land of Praed rose and fell like waves, the grasses a mix of fresh grazing fields and miles of grain crops. In the spring, wildflowers bloomed in splashes of purple, blue, yellow, and white. The fertile lands supported horse breeding families and farmers. But the closer one traveled to the Rhyvor and the White Mountain, the rockier the terrain became. Riverstone overlooked one of the widest points of the river, its banks studded with crooked trees, large boulders, and hidden gullies. When my father’s ancestors built the estate, they spent generations making the land habitable for horses. The animals that resulted from their breeding program developed the hardest hooves in Praed.
I leaned forward slightly as we crested an outcropping ending in a waterfall that fed the swimming hole where I would ruin dresses when no one was watching. Ula would sit on the banks and playfully yell that my antics scared away the fish. I would splash water in her direction, and she would throw worms at me. I led Amore to the water to drink, lying across her back with my arms crossed behind my head, my eyes closed contentedly while I enjoyed the warmth of the morning. I nearly fell off when Amore shook from nose to tail. I laughed and righted myself, wrapping my arms around her neck.
“Feels good to me, too, but we’d better head home before we’re missed.” When we turned back, I worried the sun was a little too high and I’d been gone too long, but moments like these were worth the risk of a whipping.
And how could it possibly be wrong to do that which my family had been born to do: to ride? They might as well punish me for breathing, for both were involuntary and required for survival.
What exciting story are you working on next?
The Rise of Riverstone is book 1 in the Daughters of Riverstone series. I’m currently in the editing stages of book 2, The Pride of Riverstone. This sequel is set 5 years after the first and is from the perspective of Laria’s sister.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve certainly written many stories in my time starting at an early age, but I didn’t consider myself an author until I had a paperback copy of a book in my hands. That was over a decade ago, and since then I’ve come to understand that if you’re writing, you’re a writer, whether you’re published or not.
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
One day, I’d love to be a full-time writer, but unfortunately it doesn’t pay the bills. Yet. By day, I’m a Certified Veterinary Technician. I work 10-11 hours a day, so by the time I get home, I’m too exhausted to write. I also have four kids. When do I write? In the moments in between, usually Saturday and Sunday. This means it takes a long time to finish writing and editing. I have to make it a priority on my days off. The only exception would be if we’re spending time as a family.
Aside from actually writing and editing, I’m working on social media, researching for an upcoming YouTube series, reading, and planning escapes.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I listen to murder and paranormal podcasts while I write. If I’m working on an intense scene, I’ll play mood music or sounds, like medieval castle library sounds.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian. Got pretty close.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
It’s never too late to be an author and find out it’s what you want to do for the rest of your life. I’m almost 40 and have at least 6 more books planned.