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Carole McDonnell Interview

Welcome to Ink & Magick. I'm your friendly neighborhood witch. What kind of spell can I get for you (or your character) today?

Thank you so much. Glad to be here. Just the spell of your friendship, and being on your blog is spell enough.

Then I have this for you.

So tell us about your fantasy novella, The Charcoal Bride, which is the first in The Hanrisor Chronicles trilogy.

An oath is not easily broken, and an oath made to the god of vengeance is even more difficult to break. Thus Hanrisor – and Soghan, Skall’s place of birth—are two of many nations in the Malku universe who endured war.

Although the fae and human rarely war, there have been times when war rose up between them, and the vow made by Prince Arvid was the cause of a family curse that affected his family for generations. King Skall rose to power because of such a war, and his story echoes throughout the legends and myths of Hanrisor and other nations of Malku. This novella tells of Prince Arvid, Skall’s father, and his ill-fated marriage to Sellah, his Charcoal Bride.


It was the custom of great chiefs in the extreme northern climes to offer their serving girls to visiting warriors from beyond their borders. The serving girls, who were often captured from raids in distant regions, would be called to their chief’s table while the honored guest sat at meat. Whether the household contained a mere eight or an abundant eighty, it was bound to offer all non-married women before the visitor. And for as long as he stayed, the woman was deemed that warrior’s “charcoal bride” or “native wife.” The custom was of long-standing in the scattered settlements, and at first was used as a means of procuring information or creating alliances. But over the centuries, it had become part of the land’s etiquette.

Abuse of this privilege – choosing several women at once, or habitually choosing different wives upon subsequent visits-- was considered base, lascivious, and greedy. This unspoken rule was generally followed, although some barbarians in the western climes often behaved as if the servant women were a collection of varied dishes which should all be sampled.

As for the chosen girl, if her suitor was honorable and well-pleased with her, she was treated with some honor – her daily tasks reduced, and other minor benefits. If she became pregnant, the child would be reared with her until its tenth birthday. Then, if the warrior wished, he would accept paternity for the child, then carry it away to his own land. There the child would learn the mores, requirements, and habits of its father’s country.

Wow, your excerpt hooked me right away! What inspired you to write such an intriguing story?

I've always loved anthropology, especially marriage customs and rituals. I also love warrior societies. Most of my stories are about warrior societal codes. As for this story, I was thinking of something I read about an exposition to the North Pole where the explorers were offered Inuit or Eskimo women as part of a friendship ritual when they met a certain tribe. So, it all came together.

That's so interesting. Your character names are unique. How do you come up with them?

I try to think of a word that fits the character and is somewhat unusual but not too "made-up" sounding. Skall is Nordic and means "to mount" or "to scale." The fae princes are given names that water, earth, or air faes might be named: Torrent, Hark, and Flight. Sometimes I just use a regular name and drop or change a letter. Skall's sister's name is Enise. My middle name is Denise. So, yeah, I dropped the d.

Nice approach! Which one of your characters surprised you?

Prince Arvid. I was really surprised at the turn he took. I guess it's always good when your story surprises you, but I had to allow it.

Listening to where your characters want to go is difficult at times. Who is your favorite or least favorite character and why?

Prince Torrent. There's a sweetness to him. Faes have lived almost 1000 years, so they're pretty chill. He's kind, handsome, powerful, but eerily calm and understanding of humans.

It sounds like he has it all! If you could time-travel, would you travel to the future or the past? Where would you like to go, and why would you choose that time period?

I would travel back in time to a warrior society in some multi-cultural multi-racial society.

You might like to check out the Roman Empire then. What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?

I would so appreciate it if they would review it on Amazon, Goodreads, etc. Or if they could tweet it, blog about it, tell their friends about it, and read other books in that series. The usual stuff.

Share the love! What can we expect from you next?

I'm currently working on six WIPs (works in progress), so it depends on which I finish. There are two more stories in the Hanrisor series after Charcoal Bride. I want to upload both of them at the same time sometime in the near future. I have two other series, the Brothers Worth series, which is romance and each book is about one of three brothers. I've almost finished Black Girls Have Always Loved Cowboys and Town for Timothy and am trying to figure out what the third brother is about. And the third series is a futuristic dystopian group of stories about the Nephilim. I'm also working on a stand-alone novel called Who Gave Sleep and Who Has Taken It Away? That is about an America that gets devastated because of fracking, explosions, tsunami. So we will see which pops up first.

Wow, six all at once! I see you have story podcast links. Is that where you read short stories you've written?

I'm not great at reading my stories, but I do have a lot of stories online or on the Radish Fiction app. For the most part, I put up my short stories for free. And one novel is free online. My longer novels such as The Constant Tower and Wind Follower are from established traditional publishers, so they're not free. So, because I like giving my short stories away free to the reading public, I submit them to podcasts. My stories tend to be very spiritual or religious and often go to religious podcasters as well as secular specific podcasters. So folks can go to the links to listen to them.

Well, I hope you continue chugging along and are never short of ideas.

Thank you so much for having me on your blog.

Carole McDonnell has spent most of her years surrounded by things literary. Her writings appear in various anthologies including So Long Been Dreaming: Post-colonialism in science fiction, edited by Nalo Hopkinson and published by Arsenal Pulp Press; Fantastic Visions III anthology published by Fantasist Enterprises; Jigsaw Nation published by Spyre publications; Griots: A Sword and Soul anthology, edited by Milton Davis and Charles Saunders; Life Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: writings by mature women of color; Fantastic Stories of the Imagination edited by Warren Lapine and published by Wilder Publications. Her reviews appear in print and at various online sites.

Her novels Wind Follower and The Constant Tower were published by Wildside Books. Her other works include My Life as an Onion, The Charcoal Bride, Black Girls Have Always Loved Cowboys, Who Gave Sleep And Who Has Taken It Away?, A Town For Timothy, and The Daughters of Men. Her Bible studies include: A Fool’s Journey Through Proverbs, Blogging the Psalms, Scapegoats and Sacred Cows of Bible Study, and Seeds of Bible Study: How NOT to Study the Bible. Her collection of short stories, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction, is available on kindle.

She lives with her husband, son, and pets in New York's Hudson Valley. When not writing, she teaches English as a Second Language to refugees and migrants or can be found dancing English Country Dances

You can connect with Carole McDonnell on her author website, her blog, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter (@scifiwritir and @CaroleMcDonnell), and YouTube.

You can purchase The Charcoal Bride on Amazon.

You can listen to her story podcasts at

You can find written stories at

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    D. Lieber has a wanderlust that would make a butterfly envious. When she isn’t planning her next physical adventure, she’s recklessly jumping from one fictional world to another. Her love of reading led her to earn a Bachelor’s in English from Wright State University.

    Beyond her skeptic and slightly pessimistic mind, Lieber wants to believe. She has been many places—from Canada to England, France to Italy, Germany to Russia—believing that a better world comes from putting a face on “other.” She is a romantic idealist at heart, always fighting to keep her feet on the ground and her head in the clouds.

    Lieber lives in Wisconsin with her husband (John) and cats (Yin and Nox).

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