Hello from the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand! *waves*
Thank you so swinging by my oft neglected blog. I'm thrilled to be a part of the blog tour for such an amazingly talented author. Let me tell you a little about this luscious book, before I share my rambling thoughts and share the interview Tammy so generously agreed to. Don't forget to check out all the links to the gorgeous giveaways too!
White Wolf and the Ash Princess
Eighteen year old Izzy's limited world begins to feel cramped after she completes her self-appointed book dare. After reading two-hundred and fifty books, a thought that had been once tucked away as tightly as the books on her library shelves becomes too irresistible to ignore..."Who am I?"
Memory loss prohibits Izzy from remembering her life before age seven when she was injured in a fire. Jonathan Gudwyne and his head housekeeper rescued her and took Izzy in as their own, but who did she belong to before they took her in?
Crippling panic keeps Izzy from wandering beyond the stables but Tubs, the Gudwyne's young stable boy, encourages Izzy to go beyond the property's rock wall to a world that promises possible answers, but also great danger. A scorched castle in the woods and a mysterious cellar filled with secrets sets Izzy on a path to the New World, where she will not only have to face her own terror but face the people responsible for her scars.
It is here, in the untamed wilds of the seventeenth century that she finds love and a home in the most unexpected of places.
And my thoughts:
Never before have I felt so utterly under-qualified to write a review. This book was way outside of my normal scope of reading material, and I confess to first person, historical not being my preference to read these days.
White Wolf is one of those books that leaves you confounded, intrigued and simultaneously uncertain of just what it is you are going to be reading. I had no idea going into this book that it would tear me into pieces with its delicacy, forthrightness in the depiction of the slave trade and the themes of forgiveness and redemption.
What started out as an intriguing question needing to be answered, turned into something so much more than I could have envisaged.
There were so many twists and turns, so much heartache and sorrow, that I cried myself to sleep because it was so beautifully elegant.
Ms. Lash's writing goes beyond anything I've ever read before, there was so much to love here, so many layers, and so much beauty to be found amongst the ashes.
If you want to read a more literary style book, filled with poignancy, and themes of forgiveness and redemption, I'd highly recommend this beautiful treasure to you.
Tammy agreed to let me interview her via Facebook chat, so I could tailor my answers to her responses, it's a lot more labour intensive for the poor author being interviewed, but because Tammy is so giving of her time, and a pleasure to work with, it made for an authentic (old school) style interview, so without any more delay....
Meet Tammy Lash, author of the astonishing novel White Wolf and the Ash Princess.
Sarah: I’m just going to get this question out of the way so I can at least try to be professional, why did you so mercilessly attack my heart and cause multiple FEELS?
Tammy: My poor New Zealand buddy, lol! I'm so sorry!!! Wait...I totally take that back. I'm not! Hehe! That's totally how I roll. If a scene makes me cry, I know I got it right. I'm a major crier, too. I cry for happy scenes, sad scenes, funny scenes, romantic scenes...I'm a mess when I write. So, when I get "all the feelz", I know the piece is saying what it needs, too.
Sarah: I’ll get over it….eventually *winks* I want to talk a little about White Wolf and ask a few questions about Izzy and Jonathan.
Izzy as a character is unconventional. She’s broken, imperfect and she can be confounding at times. I saw so much of my younger self in her. Why do you think so many readers identify with Izzy?
Tammy: I love that you identify with Izzy and I love that my other readers do, too. I adore that girl! She's frustrating, she's spoiled, she has a rambling temper...the girl has real weakness that many of us struggle with. I think that's what makes her relatable. What makes this girl a hero is that when she discovers these faults, she begins to the work needed to over come them. It's so easy to stay in that stagnate stage of negativity.
It takes hard work, and the Lord's help, to overcome negative behaviors. Izzy's journey towards growth and healing is so important in White Wolf. In the coming sequel, Letter's from the Dragon's Son, Jonathan is going to need her to show him how to battle his own demons.
Sarah: Which brings us to Jonathan….I must say, the man in question is probably one of the most complex and beguiling characters I’ve ever read in a novel. Can you tell your readers if you based Jonathan on any one in particular? Because if you did, we are all madly in love with him right now…
Tammy: Jonathan. This guy! I'm super deep in his head right now. I'm writing White Wolf's sequel, Letter from the Dragon's Son, and let me tell you--his story is exhausting! Lol! The man is complex. He's moody (he is slowly revealing his past to Izzy, so, yeah, I'll allow him to be a little grumpy) and in this part of the series, he is a broken man burdened by his past.
Jonathan has killer amazing qualities. He is extremely loyal, selfless and he is a man who keeps his promises. His love for Izzy is unwavering-- and this girl is a handful, just like I am. So, yeah, ladies and gents, you guessed it, Jonathan is a heavy dose of my husband and he has all the wonderful qualities my husband of 28 years has. The beautiful color of Jonathan Gudwyne is indeed inspired by my best friend and husband, Kris.
Sarah: Every single girl reading this is sighing contentedly at that answer, I think I speak for all your readers when I let out a girly squeal that Jonathan’s voice will lead us further into the White Wolf world….well maybe I shouldn't squeal on behalf of your male readers....*clears throat*...moving on..
White Wolf for me, was almost hard to define category wise, like the writing, it’s uniqueness it what makes it stand out from others. I’ve seen readers describe White Wolf as having elements of fantasy, as well as historical, and steam punk. Did you set out to create something a little different from stock standard historical or was it a happy accident?
Tammy: I started out writing the novel as a purely historical story, but it didn't feel right. Izzy felt robotic and far away. I love the seventeenth century, but using the "language" of the past made connecting with characters difficult for me. I thought if I felt this way, surely many of my modern day readers would, too. I wanted to tell a painful story in a fun and entertaining way and adding splashes of modern with the old was a way for me to give a unique voice to Izzy, Jonathan and the characters of White Wolf.
Think of the movie, The Greatest Showman. It was old mixed with new. I cried through the entire movie and have watched it twice so far because THAT was my vision for White Wolf. I even saw moments of Izzy and Jonathan in it that geeked me out!
Sarah: It always makes me happy to hear when authors try something new. It can be a risk, but within the world you created, the mixture of old and new worked beautifully.
One of the things I loved was your use of a rich culture not typically seen, it was skilfully interwoven into the story, and came as a complete surprise to me. Not to spoil for readers who haven’t yet met Izzy and Jonathan, but could you explain why you chose to feature the cultures you did?
Tammy: My family and I love to visit Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We try to go up there at least twice a year. We love the area so much, we are currently trying to relocate to Manistique area, which is 45 minutes to Izzy's final destination in Munising.
The Ojibwe people featured in White Wolf and the Ash Princess are located in Michigan's U.P. and in Canada. I had a difficult time finding definitive answers on whether or not Native Americans were a part of the slave trade and taken out of America. Reports have been conflicting. There were stories, however, that did say they were indeed involved in slavery (along with African Americans in America) but it was noted they were "difficult to keep" because they could escape and disappear back into the wilderness. There are documents/pictures of Natives and African Americans together in Native villages. It is speculated that these were escaped slaves who were taken in by the Native Americans. Many saw the Natives as savages and many desired the land to be free of them. It would not be impossible to have these people involved in some way in the slave trade. The trading and selling of human labor was extremely profitable and it made many men rich. While White Wolf has many historical accuracies, it is a fictional work. I had to take creative liberties in areas that were unclear.
To mirror how I felt about the abuse in my childhood, I chose to write about this painful time in our history. Writing about the Ojibwe and the other tribes of the Council of Three Fires (the Potowatomi and the Ottawa) was an amazing experience. I found out so much about Native American culture. To honor them, I wrote a Native legend of my own, The Legend of White Wolf and the Ash Princess in the book. (The legend and it's song can be seen on YouTube.) Researching the culture not only educated me on the culture, it also helped me step out of my comfort zone. I met an amazing and talented Canadian-Ojibwe artist on Instagram. She has been instrumental in helping to me understand her culture. She helped me to see that the Ojibwe weren't just a people of our historical past, but they are a living, thriving people of our present.
Sarah: That’s an amazing way to research such a delicate topic. I can see why White Wolf is one of those books that makes a difference to those who read it. Slavery isn’t something that sits easy in history, it’s something that can make us uncomfortable, and I appreciated the way you presented the facts in such a fluid and forthright manner.
I want to ask you about the themes of forgiveness running throughout. I’ve seen so many reviews commenting on how much this book affected them. The theme of forgiveness was interlaced within the story structure. What advice would have give aspiring authors about writing Christian themes into their stories?
Tammy: Awww! Thank you! The Lord gets all the credit and all the glory for helping me teach forgiveness through Izzy. Forgiveness can be a difficult thing! Especially when it's an extreme injustice like slavery...or like in my case, sexual abuse. It took me 30+ years to come to terms with my abuse and to forgive my abuser. I had only the span of a book to explain my story and teach the lesson to my readers.
The Lord desires that we all practice forgiveness. He says in His word we are to forgive seventy times seven. That's a lot of forgiving...and a lot of practice. There is an even deeper point that I wanted to teach and that was forgiving the unforgivable. We honestly can do that if we ask the Lord for His help. I would like to encourage writers to write about the topics on their heart. We have been told to "write what we know". Writers, write what ya know. Write what lessons the Lord has taught you and help another through their struggle. Write fearless. There's no greater calling than to share your experiences to help others.
Sarah: Thank you so much for answering my questions and giving us more insight into how White Wolf and the Ash Princess came to fruition. I’m eagerly anticipating Letter from the Dragon's Son.
Tammy: Thank you so much for your questions and for having me on your blog! White Wolf and the Ash Princess has been such a blessing. I have met so many amazing people and you, Sarah, are one of those amazing people.
Letter's from the Dragon's Son is going to be another story we'll learn a lesson through. Jonathan's story is a little darker, a little grittier, a little grimmer. Sin is like that. It's messy stuff, but the Lord is there ready to forgive, ready to restore, and ready to rebuild. I can't wait to someday soon share his story with you. Hugs, friends!
Isn't Tammy the sweetest? *whispers* she called me amazing. *chuckles*
Here's a little more about how you can contact the lovely Tammy and don't forget to check out that smashing giveaway!
Tammy lives in Lower Michigan with her husband and her three children. Izzy's home in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (Munising) is where she and her family enjoy exploring. Tammy enjoys hiking, kayaking, beach wandering, "hunting" for birch bark and hopes to someday find a porcupine quill. White Wolf and the Ash Princess is her first novel. She is published in Keys for Kids and has been in children's ministry for over twenty years.
Connect with Tammy:
White Wolf on Amazon:
First Prize: One autographed paperback copy of White Wolf and the Ash Princess.
Second Prize: One Birch necklace inspired by the book and handmade by Tammy
Third Prize: One Birch Bookmark inspired by the book and handmade by Tammy.
To enter: follow the directions on the rafflecopter giveaway.
Rules: Only open to USA entrants. But don’t despair if you are international like me. Tammy has graciously offered to giveaway one ebook copy to an international entrant!
Giveaway ends Midnight Eastern Time zone, February 8th, the last day of the tour.