Welcome to our stop of Audra Middleton's Watcher book tour, hosted by Reading Addiction Blog Tours. I was able to read this REALLY good book, so I'm going to tell you what I thought of it, as well as share a giveaway that the author was nice enough to offer up. But first, I got the chance to ask said amazing author a few questions, so let's turn it over to her!
The Interview1. For those who don't know much about Watcher, how would you describe it?
Watcher is a love story set in a world where magic is possible. I think of it as a fairy tale for grown ups, except my heroine doesn’t sit back and wait to be rescued, like traditional fairy tale women. As for what it’s about, I think my log line sums it up best: An orphan girl seeks the oblivion of the forest while darkness lures the Chosen Son of prophecy, yet they find each other, and their budding love could destroy the very world Goran, the tormented prophet, is trying to save.
2. What was your favorite scene to write in Watcher? Your least favorite?
I loved writing the scene where Watcher and Benaiah meet. She comes across him bathing in a pond. It was actually the first scene I wrote, even though it doesn’t happen until about halfway through the book. My least favorite scenes to write were the battle scenes. I’m not a warrior, so I felt a little out of my element. I finally got some good advice from a fellow writer, who told me to put myself in the soldiers’ shoes and write it like I was there. Pretty much the same way I wrote the other scenes. Once I clued in to that, they were no more difficult to write than the rest of the book.
3. How did you come up with the names for your characters?
I spent way too much time researching names for my book: their meanings, historical & literary associations, cultures of origin. I used web resources, other works of literature, and my ginormous dictionary. I also tried to make sure there was a combination of normal names and unusual ones. Nowadays I just do the Usual Suspect trick, borrowing names from whatever’s posted on my bulletin board or cluttering my desk.
4. Is there anything new that you're working on that you can tell us about?
I recently completed a quirky little paranormal thriller about a small town art teacher who gets recruited by the FBI’s ‘freak squad’ to help solve a bizarre conspiracy, and now I am working on a sequel to Watcher as well as a stand-alone romantic comedy.
5. Did you ever want to be anything other than an author? If so, what? What made you decide to be an author?
I went to college thinking I would go into journalism, graduated college thinking I would go into publishing, and then went back to school to get my teaching degree. Through all of that I enjoyed writing as a hobby. I didn’t write much after college, until a few years ago. Some friends of mine found out I liked to write, and they encouraged me to start up again. Now I can’t shut it off.
6. What authors do you look up to?
I think Beverly Cleary is still my favorite, because her characters are so well-crafted. When I first read Ramona the Brave, I swore that woman had reached in and stolen my eight-year-old soul. I want to write characters like that, steal people’s souls. I also admire Capote, Tolkien, and Stephen King.
7. If you could be anyone for an entire day, who would it be?
Benjamin Franklin: a true genius who was also witty, and the only founding father to become an abolitionist. I’d have use of a brain that could solve major problems without sacrificing humor or morality.
8. What is your favorite book that you've read so far this year? Favorite book of all time? How about movie?
I enjoyed reading The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan to my boys recently, and I just started a book called Forever Man, by January Bain, that looks to be pretty good. My favorite book of all time is probably Ramona the Brave. My favorite movie is Simon Birch; it’s funny, sweet, and meaningful.
9. If you had a code name, what would it be? Why?
Squarepeg: not cool, but smart enough to know it doesn’t matter.
This or That
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate.
Series or Stand-Alone? I’ll go with Stand-Alone, but I do love a series if it’s well done.
Morning or Night? Night. I’d skip mornings if I could.
Coffee or Hot Chocolate? Coffee.
PC or Mac? PC.
Star Wars or Star Trek? I’m going with Star Trek, since Roddenberry gave me more overall hours of entertainment.
Thanks for having me!
The scene where Watcher and Ben meet was my favorite to read too! It just seemed to have the clearest "picture" if that makes any sense, and both of their reactions were awesome and seemed so like them that I knew it was only going to get better from there.
I actually enjoyed the battle scenes a lot too. I really think you did a great job on them, and even though it was slightly gruesome, I loved Benaiah's witty remark to the beefy swordsman.
I'm pretty sure that during elementary school I read every single book Beverly Clearly had ever written by then. She probably started me on my mass author stalking where I would have an entire shelf in one of my bookcases dedicated just to her.
Yes! Another Star Trek fan! I don't think that anyone could even come close to making a case of Star Wars having more running time than Star Trek. There's absolutely no contest there.
My ReviewI really, really, really liked this book. It's a perfect example of the epic fantasy genre (or as one of my friends (you know who you are) keeps telling me its called, high fantasy), but it still has a little bit of that contemporary feel to it. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely adore authors like Tolkien, but is it too much to ask for just a little dry humor? Maybe even some sarcasm?
Oh, and yes, I did just compare this book to Lord of the Rings. The one and only, multimillion dollar grossing, seemingly never ending trilogy that is an icon for all things fantasy. But where Lord of the Rings is your adventurous, quest-riddled journey, I'd consider Watcher to be more of a true story at heart with pieces of that woven in there.
And what a story it was. The novel starts off when our two main protagonists, Watcher and Benaiah, are just kids, goes with each of their separate journeys until they unexpectedly meet each other (which is undoubtedly the best scene in the book), and then continues with them together for the rest of the novel to play out in every epic proportion imaginable.
It was interesting to really watch the characters grow up instead of having to make due with only a few flashbacks to childhood at best. Little Ben stole my heart from the very first time I met him, and I was about ready to take out Imala or anybody else who tried to corrupt the inherent goodness that lived within him. Having to see him go through battle at first almost killed me, and I deeply regretted what he had to deal with in order to grow up, along with the incidents that led to his aunt having to raise him alone (even though Marta would find a way to make me smile pretty much every time she opened her mouth).
Watcher intrigued me from the very beginning, but I never really connected with her until she started spending time with Ben and her past was revealed (in pretty much the coolest way possible, I might add). Her selective naivety and very understandable questions on many overlooked topics (such as the necessity of clothing) were always much appreciated.
And then there's Kitty. Kitty's just so awesome that he deserves his own paragraph. Honestly, how many friendly bears do you know named Kitty? Yes, a bear named Kitty. How awesome is that?! He is extremely protective of Watcher and is the best friend she could have ever asked for, even though his concerned licking has disturbed quite a few. Kitty is the literal epitome of being a big teddy bear, and I absolutely loved him for it.
I can't wait for book two!
Rating: 5 stars
"“She blocks her thoughts,” he whispered, surprised.
“Yes. I’ve no idea what goes on in that fool head of hers.”
Ben became flushed with anger. It was rare to find someone he could not read. To have constant knowledge of others’ thoughts was maddening, tedious, and altogether lonely. He had been living in near seclusion on the farm for almost three years, escaping the thoughts of men, resting from the war. He would have appreciated the company of someone he could not read.
“Why have you kept her from me?” he asked, angrily.
“You assume I have some sort of influence on that creature. I tried to find a proper home for her in the village throughout her childhood. Every time I tried, she hid in the woods for days. I finally decided God put this kernel in my teeth for a reason. She comes and goes as she pleases, but she has never left Willowbrook Wood until now,” Goran explained.
Benaiah let go of Goran’s arm. Watcher was now several paces ahead, determined to show them she was not crippled by her embarrassing fall.
“I did not give you permission to wear my cloak,” he taunted her, knowing from the flashes of pink he saw as she fell, she had nothing on under.
Watcher glared back at him and walked toward the edge of the woods again. She walked face first into the first tree she came to, dropping the cloak as she became bark, then trunk wood, then bark again on the other side. Watcher called softly to her pet, hoping he did not get hungry and wander off. Having smelled the man in the water, it made him uneasy when she left toward the clearing. He was not far off when she called.
“Thank you, Kitty. Off you go, I’ll be all right for a while,” she whispered, as she grabbed her pack, slipped on her own cloak, and returned to the clearing.
Ben once again stopped in his tracks.
“How did she do that?” he asked.
Goran shrugged. “Her gift.”
“What sort of creature walks through trees?” Goran shook his head. “I am afraid you are about to find out.”
He thought for a moment about warning Benaiah not to become distracted, not to lose focus of his duties soon to come, but he had grown weary of being the messenger of such foreboding. She would most likely be gone within the week, after all."
About the BookWar threatens to destroy the world of Anthelion unless the holy man, Goran, can solve his prophecy riddle. For every clue he finds, another obstacle surfaces. An orphan girl, Watcher, becomes his responsibility. As if parenthood itself isn’t daunting enough, she keeps a bear for a pet and transforms into her forest surroundings to avoid socialization. Hope momentarily emerges when Goran finds Benaiah, the Chosen Son of the prophecy. Only he soon discovers Benaiah is a social pariah on the verge of embracing darkness.
When Benaiah and Watcher unexpectedly meet, the two outsiders find in each other a sense of belonging they’ve never known. Now their emerging love promises to bring about the very war Goran is struggling to prevent.
About the Author
Audra went to college thinking she would go into journalism, but opted to go into publishing instead, and even took an internship at Yale University Press. Audra married right after college and was unable to find a publishing job where they were living in Seattle. Audra took an office job. After helping put her husband through law school, Audra went back to school and got her teaching degree. Audra enjoyed teaching, but once her oldest was born, she chose to stay home. At the encouragement of friends Audra started writing again, the result being her first novel, Watcher, releasing January 2013.
Audra and her husband with their three boys, now live in a small town in eastern Washington. They have a black Lab named Benji who eats shoes, gophers and packages left on her front porch (thanks Fed-Ex). When Audra is not chauffeuring and refereeing her children, she writes, dabbles in on-line shopping and plays Texas Hold ‘Em with her friends.
The Giveawaya Rafflecopter giveaway
January 20 - Meet and Greet at Reading Addiction Blog Tours
January 21 - Review & Interview at Marked By Books
January 22 - Interview at Mom with a Kindle
January 23 - Interview at A Dream Within a Dream
January 24 - Review at My Reading Addiction
January 25 - Interview at Wintry Words
January 26 - Interview at Love in a Book
January 27 - Review & Interview at My Cozie Corner
January 28 - Interview at Lovely Reads
January 29 - Promo at Intriguing Reads
January 30 - Review & Interview at Stressed Rach
January 31 - Review at Emily's Bookshelf
February 1 - Interview at Brooke Blogs
February 2 - Review at Say it with Books
A copy of the novel was provided for us in exchange for an honest review.