Far-Knowing by Melinda Brasher: Interview and Review

At some point in our lives, all of us have to work with someone we don’t like or even trust. In Melinda Brasher’s Far-Knowing, however, it gets a little more complicated when the task is to save a kingdom from a powerful enemy no one has ever seen before.

When a powerful mage known as Mistress casts a a far-knowing spell to find a man known as the Chaos Mage, it goes wrong and she nearly dies. Too weak to defeat him herself, Mistress sends out her two pupils to stop him. Just one problem: her pupils can barely tolerate being in the same room.

Ista, the daughter of a baker, resents her classmate, Protectoressa Kallinesha Rhaelenor of Gaidella and Illiandri, for her snobby and cold attitude, and Kalli is jealous of Ista, who has more power than she does, as well as the affection of Mistress. They have to learn to work together and quickly before the Chaos Mage can kill the king and take over the kingdom of Andalinn. And when plans go awry and the truth gets more complicated, the only people they can really trust are each other. Far-Knowing was both well-written and entertaining. I loved how different Ista and Kalli are, and yet neither one is better than the other. Usually when books switch points of views between two main characters I favor one character over the other, at least a little, but I liked them both equally. The only thing I didn’t like about the story was the first page or so. The book couldn’t really keep my attention until Kalli found Mistress on the floor. But after that it was hard to put down. This is definitely a book I’d recommend to anyone who likes fantasy and adventure books.

Melinda Brasher spends her time writing fiction, traveling, and teaching English as a second language in places like Poland, Mexico, the Czech Republic, and Arizona. Her talents include navigating by old-fashioned map, combining up to three languages in a single incomprehensible sentence, and dealing cards really, really fast. Her short fiction and travel writing appear in Ellipsis Literature and Art, The Expeditioner, Enchanted Conversation, International Living, and other magazines.

How did you get an interest in writing?

I’ve pretty much always written. My parents read to me a lot when I was little, which sparked my love for books and the worlds they create. I love reading books, looking at them, talking about them. It only makes sense that I would start writing them. I remember being annoyed by my classmates in second or third grade when we put together collections of stories we’d written, because so many of the tales had gaping plot holes or unrealistic character actions. I didn’t know the terms back then, but I knew that writing was a serious business.

What’s your favorite part about writing a book?

I love it when my characters come to life and do things I didn’t plan for them to do. I love the power to create whatever world I wish, and whatever situation the reader in me wants to watch unfold. I love tinkering with words, sometimes spending inordinate amounts of time on a single sentence. I love when my critique group argues about what they think my characters are going to do in the next chapter. I even like having to sleep with a notebook by my bed to write the ideas that hit me as I’m about to drift off.

What’s your least favorite?

I hate writing book blurbs and query letters.

What’s your typical writing day?

I tend to do most of my actual writing in the evenings or late at night, though I vary my routine a lot. Midnight to 2AM is my sweet spot. If I don’t have to go to work, I spend the middle of the day marketing, blogging, doing research, etc.

Are any of your characters in Far-Knowing inspired by real people you know?

All writing has bits and pieces of people and things in the writer’s life, but no, none of my characters are based significantly on real people.

What was your favorite scene to write?

I really liked writing the scene at the Baron’s castle where they first meet the Chaos Mage.

Are you thinking of making a sequel?

I’m not working on a sequel at the moment. Far-Knowing is a stand-alone novel, something I quite enjoy as a reader, and which is more and more rare in the YA fantasy world. However, the future might hold more adventure for some of the characters–in the form of companion books. I’m also going to be publishing a few short stories which take place before the events of Far-Knowing. Right now I’m revising Agrilon’s Arrow, another YA fantasy. I’m also working on a science fiction project.

So you’ve traveled to a lot of different places to teach English. What’s the scariest/most exciting thing that’s happened to you in another country?

The scariest thing happened while hiking alone in Europe, in winter, in a place I thought would have lots of hikers. Not so. I saw only one man, and he turned around and followed me. It was two or three miles back to the nearest town, and no one would have missed me for a couple of days. He kept following me, even when I ducked off the path to maneuver him in front of me. He just circled around behind me again. Luckily the snow crunching under his feet let me know how close he was getting. At an unmarked fork in the path, I went the wrong way and had to backtrack. He was waiting for me there, pretending to tie his shoe. I looked him right in the eye and said “good day” in the local language, because I’ve heard that people are less likely to attack you if they’ve spoken to you. He didn’t respond, like hikers in the area usually do. So I kept walking, visualizing all the self defense I knew. Finally, approaching an empty-looking building near town, I saw a woman with a big scary dog. I’d never been so happy to see a scary dog. My pursuer hid in the shadow of the abandoned building and I escaped into civilization. I still don’t know what he intended. Had he possibly been trying to look out for this poor solo girl he found on the trail? Or had he never quite mustered the courage to do whatever it was that would have made me into a big cautionary tale? All I know is that I spent the next several days high on the joy of being alive.

Other than that, I’ve had very few scary experiences. I spent six months backpacking around Central America and never even got pick pocketed. Mostly travel is wonderful and strange and full of nice people and interesting conversations on buses.

What’s your favorite thing to say in a sentence using three languages?

Well, I don’t usually try to use three languages in one sentence. It just happens naturally as the languages jumble in my head. It usually goes something like this (usually with a grammar error or two):

Hledam nádraží, aber ich bin perdida.

Translation: I’m looking for the train station (Czech), but I’m (German)lost (Spanish)

It gets lots of amusing looks, if not a lot of comprehension.

Is there anything else you want to say?

If you want to learn more about me or my writing, visit my blog at www.melindabrasher.com.

If you read Far-Knowing, please leave a review on Amazon or elsewhere, telling me how you liked it.

Buy it here: Far-Knowing on Amazon

Or you can find it in your local bookstore through here: <a href=”http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781494394035?aff=KaraSkinner”>http://www.indiebound.org/book/</a&gt;

Thanks, Melinda! Make sure to check out the rest of her blog tour here. http://www.melindabrasher.com/2013/12/mini-blog-tour-far-knowing.html

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2 thoughts on “Far-Knowing by Melinda Brasher: Interview and Review

  1. Thanks, Kara! Most people do have a preference–however slight–for either Kalli or Ista. I’m like you, though. I enjoyed writing both POVs equally.

    • karaskinner says:

      Hi, Melinda!
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m not surprised that people do have a preference, because their personalities are different. But I thought both characters were equally complex and likable :-).

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