Interview: Debbie Mumford on “The Solitary Sorceress”

The Solitary Sorceress” by Debbie Mumford

It’s been ten years since the Firestone turned Kaitlyn into a sorceress to be reckoned with. Since that fateful day, she’s been in seclusion, mastering herself as well as the artifact. But now her mentor and friend, Aelfric, has died and King Lorien has called her to court to take her place as the King’s Magician. Is she ready? Can she maintain control of the Firestone while surrounded by courtiers?

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King Lorien had hailed her a hero, but the common folk had the right of it—they named her the Solitary Sorceress.

For that was the price the Firestone had demanded of Kaitlyn, that headstrong fourteen-year-old witchling. She had dared to summon the powerful talisman from its resting place and it had come to her in its quiescent state, a simple gold ring. But when she had claimed its power to defeat Darius, when she had placed the ring upon her finger, it had bonded with her flesh, sending tendrils into her very bones, wrapping her hand and wrist in a golden sheath that had extended to her forearm before the battle ended.

The Firestone made her invincible.

It also made her untouchable. Literally.

For once she was bonded to the talisman, no other human could lay so much as a finger on her, nor she on them.

—from “The Solitary Sorceress” by Debbie Mumford

The Interview

Kaitlyn, the protagonist in “The Solitary Sorceress,” controls the Firestone, a magical talisman she used to defeat an evil wizard and end a war. With this talisman she is invincible…but she can never touch another human being again. How did you come up with the idea for the Firestone, and what did you enjoy about using it in this story?

It’s interesting, the way story ideas appear and then blossom. The Firestone came about because I wanted to play with the idea of an untrained sorcerer’s apprentice discovering the existence of an ancient magical talisman and then deciding to call it forth… without fully understanding the object’s purpose or power and with no consideration of the cost of magic. Kaitlyn is a young teen in the first story, and acts impulsively, as teens so often do, even in our modern world.

I was pleased with Kaitlyn’s first tale, “Witchling,” but wasn’t really finished with the idea. What if the young sorceress was a little older? What if the war wasn’t against a wizard, but dragons? So I started over and wrote “Sorcha’s Heart,” which became the prequel to a series of epic fantasy novels that I call “Sorcha’s Children.”

It’s great fun to see where ideas take me. Kaitlyn’s ‘Firestone’ morphed into Sorcha’s ‘Heart of Fire.’ Both are powerful magical talismans that neither young sorceress was prepared to deal with, but they possessed totally different powers and demanded completely different costs. Fun stuff!

“The Solitary Sorceress” is one of three short stories you’ve written about Kaitlyn and the world she lives in. Do you plan to write more?

I’ve really enjoyed checking back in with Kaitlyn over the years. She and the Firestone were created in “Witchling.” Later, I was curious to see what had become of her as she dealt with the price of the magic she’d used so impulsively, so I wrote “The Solitary Sorceress.” Later still I wondered what kind of tasks she’d be called upon to perform in her new role, and “To Protect a Princess” was born. Each story amplifies Kaitlyn’s relationship with the Firestone and when I have time, I’ll probably write more stories. I’m still curious about what Kaitlyn and the Firestone are becoming!

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

There are some fascinating legends from the Appalachians, and one line of my family hails from that region so I feel a connection. I don’t have a specific story in mind, but one of these days a character will tap me on the shoulder and demand to have their story told. I can’t wait to meet him or her.

You recently completed a Kickstarter campaign for your Kristi Lundrigan Mysteries, which are quilt-themed cozies with cats! Tell us about this fun series!

I love to read cozy mysteries and have thought about writing one for a long time, but I’m a fantasy writer with the occasional science fiction tale in my list. What did I know about writing mysteries? Not to mention the fact that the entire genre intimidated me. Finally, I took a class on writing mysteries which included a section on cozies, and decided I might as well give it a try. And boy, am I glad I did! Kristi’s first novel, “Delectable Mountain Quilting” is outselling all of my other books combined. Color me amazed.

As to the quilt theme, one of the assignments in that mystery class asked me to identify skills and interests that I might use to ground my character. Quilting was a natural for me. I taught quilting for many years, designed quilt patterns, and even had one of my quilts hung in the Colorado Lt. Governor’s office.

As for cats, well, what’s a cozy mystery without a cat?

Why did you decide to create a Kickstarter campaign, and how did you feel when you realized there were enough pledges to exceed the goal you’d set?

I’ve been curious about Kickstarter for a couple of years. Watching other campaigns and taking the occasional workshop on best practices. The first campaign I attempted failed to fund. I created it during a class and the teachers were very hands on, demanding to have editorial control and insisting that we follow their template to the letter. Of the twelve or so students in that group, only two or three had successful campaigns.

While mine failed, I learned a lot, and the next class I signed up for emphasized best practices rather than forcing its students into a mold. My first campaign under their guidance not only funded, but made it past the 150% mark! Kristi’s campaign also funded well above its goal, and I was delighted.

When I started this process, I felt a little squicky about it. I mean, in some respects, it felt like I was begging. But my current mentors encourage their students to look at Kickstarter as simply another market; another place readers can find your work. I’m a lot more comfortable with that concept and I’ve discovered it’s true. Kickstarter provides a lot of data on campaigns, which has allowed me to see that a sizable percentage of my backers in each campaign have been new to me, and in this business discoverability is everything!

What are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing??

I currently have several works in process. Novels, serials, short stories. You name it, and I’m writing it *lol*

I’m working on my second Kristi Lundrigan mystery right now. This one takes place during the Garnet County Fair and features a Pickle Dish quilt as well as a contest for the county’s best dill pickles. The working title is “In a Pickle.” Appropriate, don’t you think?

My alter-ego Deb Logan is also working on a few projects. Deb writes middle grade and young adult fantasy and science fiction. As Deb I’m venturing into Amazon’s new serial site, KDP Vella, which is due to launch in the very new future. Deb has two serials that will eventually be published in novel format: “Confessions of a Teenage Tree Sprite” for the young adult set, and “Prentiss Twins: White Buffalo” for middle grade readers. I’m really excited to see how KDP Vella functions once Amazon gets it off the ground!

About Debbie

Debbie Mumford specializes in speculative fiction—fantasy, paranormal romance, and science fiction. Author of the popular Sorcha’s Children series, Debbie loves the unknown, whether it’s the lure of space or earthbound mythology. Her work has been published in multiple volumes of Fiction River, as well as in Heart’s Kiss Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, and other popular markets. She writes about dragon-shifters, time-traveling lovers, and ghostly detectives for adults as Debbie Mumford, and science fiction and fantasy tales for children and young adults as Deb Logan.

Find Debbie

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

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