The amazing Monica Lee Kennedy joins me today to talk about her series The Parting Breath in which the land itself is sentient. Check out what inspired the story and its characters here in the interview and don’t miss out on your chance to win a copy of the series opener, The Land’s Whisper! Giveaway details will be at the end of this post.
Interview with Author Monica Lee Kennedy
I find that a story was often inspired by a question. Was there a question that inspired you to write The Parting Breath series?
It wasn’t a question that drew me to write this story, but more of a sense of dissatisfaction. I was displeased by all the novels laden with sex and unappealing heroes. I wanted to create something that could be fun for both adults and young adults, but without scandalizing.
That’s a great motivator, and I think you definitely succeeded. Do you have a favorite character from the series? Were there things about your favorite character which couldn’t be included in the books?
That is a tough question. I love so many of the characters. I think in the end though that Arman is my favorite. He is the guide, the mentor. He loves so tremendously, while remaining such a stoic and stable character. Arman is not perfect, but he is the perfect friend—especially to the person in a tight spot.
The main things I could not include in the series were stories from his long-held friendship with Arista. It just didn’t seem to work with driving the plot forward. Perhaps someday I will write about one of their adventures in a separate novel.
Arman was awesome! I loved him, too. I love the idea of learning more about his friendship with Arista. Might even make a great series of short stories maybe?? Is there a scene or moment in your novels that really sticks with you? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The scene that sticks with me is a recurring one in the series. The characters come to the river and speak, letting out all their burdens. And because of the power of the water in Massada, they find healing. I think the reason why this resonates with me so much is that I find it truthful of so many wounds of the heart. When I bury my grief and pain, I end up losing myself. But when I grieve and speak about the difficulties I am facing, I find healing and freedom.
Yes! I’ve only read the first book in the series, but I found those images really powerful, and as a Christian, they definitely spoke to things from faith as well. Speaking of all the burdens characters carry, where did your ideas for your antagonist come from?
I have three major antagonists—Fingers (the memory-stealer), Jerome (the kidnapper and murderer), and Chaul (the demon). The ideas behind them stem from things that legitimately terrify me. Losing mental capacities, abduction, evil spirits, possession… these make for some nightmarish scenarios.
Makes a lot of sense! I found Fingers especially creepy– which he needed to be in the story. You created such a vivid world. One of the things I really enjoyed about The Land’s Whisper was the imaginative setting. Can you share a little about how you created the setting and incorporated it into the story?
Thanks! I got the inspiration—of a land that had traits and was alive—one night during a bout of insomnia. I had never heard of anything like it before, and the idea just seemed to grow and morph the longer I pondered it. I created a laughable map that looked like a toddler’s sketch and separately listed out the various traits of each land area so I could keep them straight. In the end, Robert Altbauer, a professional map maker drew up Massada for me.
It’s funny how sometimes the best ideas happen in the middle of the night. 🙂 It’s definitely a unique concept. I’ve never read anything like your books before. What do you most hope that readers take away from your stories?
Firstly, I want to encourage and foster a love of books because I think reading is fabulous. And secondly, I hope that readers can walk away inspired by goodness. That they can see heroic action and courage in the imperfect characters of Massada and find it all to be refreshing and moving. I remember the best books I read growing up were those that I witnessed virtue and true goodness. They made me want to live more fully and love more generously. I’d be so pleased if I could be the kind of author that inspired.
Really worthy goals. I agree with you– I think reading good books really can inspire us to live better and strive toward those heroic ideals. We need that, I think, now more than ever. Is there one question about your series you are often asked by readers?
“How did you ever have the time to write three books?”
It is true, I don’t have loads of free time. I am a stay at home mother of two small children and rarely get time to myself, but I have made a point to write daily. This usually means naptimes, but sometimes I get breaks in the evenings if my husband is on a business trip. I don’t always want to write, but even if I sit down for just twenty minutes, I find I am happier. So I keep doing it. I’ve discovered that having my own personal goals has helped me to be far more joyful and fulfilled.
Wow! Yes! Two little ones is a lot to manage. That’s awesome. I’m so glad you kept writing. Thanks so much for taking the time to share more about your books with me today.
Monica Lee Kennedy grew up in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as the middle child of three. She studied at Franciscan University in Ohio, where she met her husband. Since then, they have traveled across the United States and Europe, toting children on hips and scooters.
As a youngster, Kennedy dreamed of becoming an author, but it wasn’t until many years later (and much encouragement from her spouse) that she began to write in earnest. While pregnant with her first child, she daydreamed about a world where the land could speak, and Massada, the world of the Parting Breath series, surfaced.
Kennedy loves travel, wine, chocolate, siblings, and beach vacations. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading and playing board games. She greatly values her Catholic faith.
Kennedy currently resides in Germany with her husband and two children.
About the Parting Breath Series
The land itself is alive. It sees, it thinks, it speaks.
For the few who can communicate with it, a phenomenal power is granted. They see as the land does, acquire abilities and skills effortlessly, and perceive unimaginable secrets. Yet this connection also consumes them—once they feel it, they would do anything to keep it.
Darse returns to his home world with his surrogate son, Brenol, to discover that the boy possesses this special union with the land. The two travel through the strange world on a mission to save a young girl in peril. But will Brenol’s newfound power destroy them all instead?
Beached corpses reek upon lapping shores. The once powerful lands—while still alive—are silent, as if asleep. Temperatures dip, and the world becomes steadily colder. The black fever spreads mysteriously, claiming lives in every corner of the land. There is great need in Massada.
Brenol, grown now to full manhood, returns to the land to discover it is faltering. Fate nips at his heels, and he must race to beat a poison uncovered far too late. Sorely tried in his oath of protection, Brenol realizes he must choose honor over his own pursuit of love if Massada is to be saved.
The once green world is turning to ice, while a book of startling prophesy raises terrifying questions about what the future might hold. A princess is beset with nightmares she knows reveal truth. A malicious demon runs rampant, killing without abandon. Where can hope be found?
Brenol and Arman throw themselves into a daring hunt to destroy the murderous spirit, and Colette seeks assistance out in the desert of ice, but the future of Massada remains bleak as death and deceit thrive. All things good and true stand in peril—even love.
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