Interview with YA author Tonja Condray Klein
Today we have Tonja Condray Klein with us talking about Breaking the Shackles, the first of the Rebirth of Eirinth series, which she classifies as Fiction Literature of Epic Fantasy and Action/Adventure.
How did you choose the title?
Series Title was inspired by the song “Rebirthing” by Skillet. BREAKING THE SHACKLES came from how the characters developed with the action and then my own life dealing with Relapsing Multiple Sclerosis and trying to not let the disease shackle me.
Did you design the cover?
Yes, but I commissioned the artwork from a talented artist over the past seven years and then designed it myself as well as the designs for tee-shirts I’ve worn for promotion for years.
How would you describe the book to someone in a text message?
Alternate dimension Fantasy with Anime-style fighting!
Who is your main character and what problem does he/she face?
The main characters are Jaedin and Ryuu Saito, and Seimitsu and Shiri Forester. As with most Fantasy there are several support characters. I use alternating POV’s to give the story an Anime visual feel with characters that readers will relate to, empathize with, fear for, and rejoice about. They face demons trying to take over Eirinth and begin to fulfill their destiny to protect others.
What might draw someone to your character?
Like with Anime, the different characters will pull various readers into the realm. Seimitsu and Shiri are sisters and will draw the teens as they equate their situations with theirs. Young Adults have Kaiyan and Shin Yamamoto, Zale Murakami, and Siena Stasheff to see their calling being interfered with by their leaders. Adults will see Ryuu Saito, Jun and Thalia Morgan, and even Gram Belva as contemporaries that try to help the fighters with their gifts to protect others.
What prompted you to write this book?
I wanted to write a Fantasy with Japanese Anime flavor since I’m an eclectic Fantasy and Anime fan that wanted to reach those two groups with a fictional story that had spiritual truth and real concepts that more than one generation needs to embrace in this time of chaos and lack of purpose.
What did you bring to the book from your own life?
Many of the characters have character aspects from members of my family, friends, and even colleagues. We are told in writing circles to NOT insert your own self, but since C.S. Lewis and Edgar Rice Burroughs did it in their beloved novels and actually used their own names, I figure Thalia being based on me should not be an issue.
What makes your book stand out from other books like it?
The alternate dimension world is usual for Fantasy, the fighting with elemental or energy power is normal for Anime, and Christian backgrounds have been used in countless genres of literature for decades, but…all of them together with Biblical gifts interspersed with the actual fighting against demons that are physical as well as spiritual? This creation is visionary!
What is one thing you learned from writing this book?
That the beliefs that come through the characters bring me to tears since they live in my heart and make me want their voices to reach at least one reader to find Tenrai Daystar in Eirinth and then Jesus Christ on Earth the way I know Him as Savior and Lord.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always written songs and stories, but I tried to be more “economically sound” by going into Computer Science with a minor in Teaching. I had to quit college due to sickness, but that led me to the company that had me get a Webpage Design Certificate I still use now instead.
I recorded my songs I wrote 30 years ago, published my first Fantasy novel, and still used my abilities with editing images and creating webpages for this project. I decided after I left school that I didn’t want to spend my life searching for a single line of wrong code. Now, I want to search for the right word in a sentence to make it reach out to someone who needs it.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Since I was a child. When I began going to Ohayo Con Anime Convention in 2004 I saw many teens, young adults, and adults my age or older that loved what I did, but they didn’t share in my Christian perspective when it came to so many things. Eirinth was born in 2008 as I finally went back to Church. The characters began coming to my heart, and I saw what they could become if I let God lead me down this path. Book 2 is named TREADING THE PATH for that reason.
Did anything unusual or funny happen on your journey to becoming an author?
My record producer Ron Short worked with me on the songs I used in my book and decided to write the story he felt called to write named THE NEED WORD. He mentioned me in his book, but I went by T.K. Morgan as an author then, and he didn’t get to change it before his book came out. My song “Dancin’ on the Wind” was recently on his show again, and he said I helped to encourage him in writing his book and used my real name. I still have my tkmorgan21 email, so maybe I should just change it to TonjaCondrayKlein to keep things straight from now on! *LOLOL*
What books have influenced you most?
The Holy Bible, Narnia series by C.S. Lewis, Wizard in Rhyme series by Christopher Stasheff, Ilyon Chronicles series by Jaye L. Knight, and all the books by Irene Hannon.
What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why?
Countless times since it’s a Living Book…The Bible.
What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know?
I’m allergic to honey
I’m addicted to Pure Leaf sweet tea
I wish I could write a novel based on Eric Champion’s album “Vertical Reality”.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
I did Power Point presentation panels at Ohayo Con Anime Convention for several subjects related to sub-genres that are very worldly. My “Creating For Anime” panel in 2012 where I used my novel as part of the points and sang my original song used in the book LIVE in front of people that may have seen me do the other panels before. That took more courage because my book and songs are now my passion and could have been ridiculed.
Do you have life philosophy? Favorite verse?
“Won’t Give Up, Won’t Give Out, and Won’t Give In!” and Isaiah 54:17
What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?
Learn as much as you can from English and Composition courses as well as reading as many books in the genre that you feel drawn to write. If you want to write something that has meaning, make sure it says something you feel that others need to read to find a purpose that he or she can embrace too.
You can connect with Tonja on her webpage
You can read a sample of her book here