Saturday, May 5, 2012

Ardyth DeBruyn Comes a Calling

Good morning Ardyth and thanks for visiting with me @ Penny’s Tales.  

  1. Tell us about Ardyth DeBruyn.
I’m a native Oregonian.  I’ve loved adventure and other cultures all my life, mostly through reading books.  I decided in college to have a real adventure and went on the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage trail in Europe.  I walked from Paris to Santiago, about 2,000 kilometers, and it took me two months.  I thought after that I’d like to be an Anthropologist, since other cultures are so fascinating, and so I went to El Paso for a year after that to work with immigrants, learn Spanish, and explore more American cultures, with an idea of eventually going to South America.  However, around all the work and studying, I wrote two children’s novels and realized the sort of adventures I really wanted to go on, were the ones in my own imagination.

  1. Tell us about your latest story.
My most recent book is “A School for Villains.” Thirteen-year-old Danny is astounded when his father decides to send him to Dark Lord Academy to learn to be a villain. Pa claims it will make him stand out and fulfill his own lost childhood dreams. Being evil doesn’t appeal to Danny, but he’s always been a good and obedient son, so he goes.

Dark Lord Academy’s not just unappealing, it’s downright terrible. His advisor dyes Danny’s blond hair black and changes his name to the unpronounceable Zxygrth. He can’t get the hang of maniacal laughter, his second-in-command servant is a puke-colored monkey, and the cafeteria lady enjoys serving stewed cockroaches or fried bat wings. A run in with a hero results in hate mail and he gets caught up in a rivalry with the school bully. 
The only way for Danny to stay alive is to find his inner villain.

  1. How did you come up with the idea for your latest story?
I’m a huge fan of Harry Potter, but when you like something, you also like to make fun of it, like the Very Potter Musical.  Satire always brings me a lot of joy.  My first novel contains several satirical elements, including the inept wizard mentor failing stop a demon from advancing after trying a Gandalf-style move to no effect. It was natural after all the uproar over Harry Potter and if it was “evil” to wonder what an actual school for villains would be like.  My imagination took it from there.  The project wasn’t intended to be a serious endeavor, styled after the first Harry Potter book in form and flow and chalk full of purposeful mimicry, and was given to my brother in a binder as a Christmas present. But my writing group liked it so much I started actually working hard at it, to turn it into a real book and I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on it.  I enjoyed it enough I intend to do a sequel sometime.

  1. How long have you been writing?
I started in High School.  While I’ve been a storyteller all my life, until that time, most of my stories were either told to siblings, drawn, or acted out.  Writing was slow business, and my thoughts and imagination got bored trying to put things down in words.  However, a typing class I took in eighth grade got my typing speed up to 60 words a minute, which helped.  Unfortunately, I only typed school papers on the family computer, and still wrote my fiction by hand, so it didn’t go anywhere.  When I bought my first computer, going off to college, and tried typing instead of longhand for my fiction, that’s when my writing really took off.

  1. Are all your stories for MG or YA?
Currently, yes.  I started an adult fantasy novel once or twice, but I’ve yet to make it through one to a finished state.  I still mostly read children’s literature, my personal dream is to win a Newberry, and stories with children generally are what I’m interested in.  I have enjoyed reading a few adult novels about children, but I’ve noticed a trend that has made some of these novels reclassified into YA, even if I consider them adult like “Huckleberry Finn,” “Ender’s Game,” or “Life of Pi.”  If I wrote an adult novel, it would probably feature a child like this.

  1. What was your favorite, all time, kids/teen movie?
What a terrible choice!  There’s so many wonderful movies out there, and some of the older ones I’m still in love with… but I have to go with my current recent favorite: “How to Train Your Dragon.”

  1. Do you have a special go-to person you send your stories to, just to see what they think?
Yes.  My youngest brother.  I would tell my younger brothers and sisters my stories while they were growing up, and most of my first written books were adapted from ones I told my brother.  When he was diagnosed with cancer at age 11, I was determined to start writing my stories as never before in case he never got to read them, and I finished my first book that year.  My brother recovered, and has read my novels for years now, my first and best critic, even if he’s grown up in the meantime.

  1. Can you give us a hint of what your next story is about?
My next novel is a YA historical fiction book entitled “Paladin Honor.” It’s based on some legendary French figures, the young woman Aude, and the famous hero Roland. When Aude’s fiancé dies in the Frankish invasion of Saxony, her father accepts a marriage deal proposed by a conniving uncle. But in order to avenge her fiancé, Aude takes her future into her own hands. Dressed as a boy, she runs away to Charlemagne's court in hopes of becoming a squire. However, amid the intrigues of court, Aude's goal becomes lost in complicated friendships, the pressures of the battlefield, and her family's political struggles.  Her struggle to find her own sense of honor and her place in the world is the focus of the book.  I created the story from a mix of history and traditional French epic poems about Roland.  It’s in its final edit and I hope to pitch it to editors sometime soon.

  1. With all the promoting that is just as important as writing the story, do you have a schedule you try to stick with when trying to get a story finished?
I’m afraid my marketing approach is what I call the “flailing around” approach, so I’m not the best person on advice on that front.  Marketing makes me feel ADD.  I get excited about a new tool, use it a while, then get distracted and forget to try it again for weeks while I’m doing something else.  My goal this year is to learn how to organize the marketing thing.  I’ve been reading a lot of helpful blogs and e-books on how to do it, and my current read is “Getting things Done” by David Allen which is helping me at least get a solid list going. I’m hoping a master plan for world domination will emerge from this… we shall see.

  1. Have you ever thought of just hanging it up because of rejections or a too demanding schedule?
Of course. I think everyone has doubts that plague them.  I got a negative review once from Publishers Weekly that was scathing and downright cruel, calling my novel “lamentable.”  However, I picked myself back up and carried on, and my lamentable novel is doing quite well.  I think determination in the face of defeat is something a fantasy author can’t just write about, but needs to live.  I like to use my imagination in this regard.  I pretend I’m one of my characters and the world of agents and publishers are full of evil wizards and demons out to get me, trying to stop me from my goal. I must preserve as the chosen author, win allies and friends among the good ones who will help me, and save the world… erm, get my novels published.

  1. What is your favorite thing to do when not writing?
Walking.  As you can guess from my talking about the Camino de Santiago, I have done a lot of walking.  The thing I’ve found about walking, is the more I do it, the more I enjoy doing it.  Now that I live in Hood River, Oregon, I can walk some of the most beautiful trails along the Columbia River Gorge and its waterfalls as often as I wish.  My second favorite thing to do is collect small fuzzy miniature animal figures that are dressed like people and called Sylvanians or Calico Critters (depending on where you buy them).  I enjoy making houses and furniture for them.

  1. And, of course, the most important question, where can we find you and your books?
My blog is at  My first novel “Chosen Sister” is with Wild Child publishing and can be bought straight from the publisher ( ) or from most major e-book sellers (Fictionwise: Amazon: B&N: ).  My second novel “A School for Villains” is an indie novel and available from Amazon ( ), Barnes and Noble ( ), and Smashwords ( ).
 It’s on sale on Smashwords for 1.99 for the month of May, so take a look.

And finally, I’ll give a free copy of “A School for Villains” to one name drawn randomly from everyone who leaves a comment!  Thanks so much for having me, Penny!


  1. You had quite an experience with all the traveling. Sounds like such a great adventure. The book looks interesting. I think we have more fun when imagining a world of our own. It makes it less ordinary than the day-to-day routine. Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Thanks for visiting Hai-Yen. I have put your name in for the drawing, but I need an email address.

  2. I've already got my copy of ASFV (notice how I even know to call it by its acronym) and have read it a couple of times. I was lucky enough to crit it in an earlier draft. I love Ardyth's brother's drawings inside the book. That's fairly rare in ebooks that I know about.

    I recommend both of Ardyth's books. I'm also looking forward to reading Paladin's Honor. I see to recall a discussion about naming the destriers (knight's war horses) over on CC. I can hardly wait to see how that came out. Wasn't that discussion about Paladin, Ardyth?

    Ardyth will be visiting my blog later this month.

    Oh, and don't include me in the draw since I already have a copy.

    1. Hi Marva and thanks for stopping by. You sound like a huge fan! Her book really does sound great!

      I'm throwing you name in for the basket!

  3. Oops!

  4. Very nice interview. The book sounds good.


    1. Thanks for stopping by! I am throwing your name in for the summer basket. The drawing will be on May 31!