Thursday, September 19, 2013

Elsie Rees Park Resists the Fleas

Elsie Rees Park resists the fleas
Shadows of Valor author Elsie Rees Park drops by the Blog Mansion for a little spa therapy in the manner of our forefathers.

Johnny: Ever had a flea bath before?

Elsie: No. My chickens did once.

J: Chickens? Weird.

E: Why are you doing this?

J: A couple of reasons. First, I’m tense. I just released my debut book BEATRYSEL. I’m tense.

E: And a flea bath eases muscles, huh?

J: Oh sure. Plus it's in honor of your new book Shadows of Valor. I thought I’d do a medieval theme.

E: Hence the fleas.

J: Yep! You admit that people in medieval times had a problem with fleas?

E: Well, yes, I guess, but not my fictional characters. That would ruin the romantic aspect of the story, don’t you think? My bad guys can have fleas , though.

J: Tell me about Shadows of Valor - What’s your elevator pitch:

E: A knight-spy for England’s king hunts down smugglers, making them to answer to the law. But he struggles to rein in his vengeance-driven desire to execute lethal justice before a fair trial. Only the influence of a childhood acquaintance may save his cynical soul.

J: I see it’s marketed as a good teen book. What makes it a good book for teens?

E: It’s an adult book that’s great for teens because it’s a clean romance and the issues dealt with in the story are understood by adults and teens alike. And the cover is AWESOME! Teens LOVE a good-looking cover.

Tim Curry from Legend
does not appear in Shadows of Valor

J: Where’d you get the idea for Shadows of Valor?

E: I’ve always loved medieval movies and stories, and a bunch of scenes that my mind conjured up kept coming to me over a period of time. I thought, “Hey, those would make a great story!” Even though writing a full-length novel had never crossed my mind before, on a whim, I jotted the ideas down and the first steps to writing SHADOWS OF VALOR were taken.

J: There are plenty of medieval-esque books out there, but yours strives for historical accuracy. I take it there are no hobbits, or elves and Tim Curry doesn’t make a cameo in red body paint and horns.

E: No, it’s not a fantasy (though I love a good fantasy), but I admit that although I strove to be accurate in my description of the time, clothing and manners, the dialogue is not Old English (using: thee, thy, thou, hast, -ost, etc). My first draft was written in 100% Old English, but my first critics didn’t like it, saying they tripped over the speech too much, so I took it out.

J: The flea bath will make you feel right at home.

E: Wait a minute, I thought only YOU were taking a flea bath, not me. I’m not tense.

J: Sure you are. This'll fix you right up.

E: Thanks, Johnny, I’m good.

J: My blog. Anyway, Shadows of Valor is a bit of a morality tale. How do your characters define what is right and what is wrong?

E: Well, most people (though not all) in medieval England had Christian beliefs, and those beliefs drove their daily lives.

J: Does Christianity appear in Shadows of Valor?

E: Yes. It was a part of people’s lives in the past and a huge part of me today, but I tried not to be overwhelming in the story so that those of other faiths may also enjoy my story.

J: Who besides me, and my debut BEATRYSEL – for sale now at Amazon, paperback and ebook, get them while they’re hot, – influenced your writing?

E: There are several books that helped influence my story (And forgive me, Author Teri Harman, for using parts of the article I wrote for you):

  • 1) IVANHOE by Sir Walter Scott: “Ivanhoe” is the first story that came to mind as a book that I love and helped inspire “Shadows of Valor.” It’s a story I love watching in any version. I adore Ivanhoe as the champion knight and love to “boo” the rogue knights when they kidnap and pillage. The story is full of intrigue, jousts, sword fights, robbers, deception, and daring rescues . . . everything anyone could ever want in an action-packed adventure film today. The dialogue is also written with old English speech, something I love reading, but which I didn’t use in “Shadows of Valor” because today’s reader has less tolerance for it. The only thing I didn’t like about “Ivanhoe” was who Ivanhoe ended up with in the end. I ALWAYS thought it should have been the sweet Rebecca instead of Rowena, despite the potential scandal over the match. Scandal be darned, I’d have done it that way.
  • 2) PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen: Though I love all of Jane Austen’s stories, I adore the bantering that takes place between Mr. Darcy and Elisabeth in “Pride and Prejudice,” especially knowing they’ll end up together in the end. It’s full of such wonderful scenes of them arguing certain points and coming to love-hate each other because of it. I had these scenes in mind when I wrote some of my “discussions” between my two main characters, Sir Calan and Elsbeth. Austen’s PG-rated stories harbor plenty of love, scandals and happy endings to satisfy my romantic streak.
    Not a masked Dude at all - It's a FLOWER!
  • 3) THE SCARLET PIMERNEL by Emmuska Orczy, is the perfect story of a hero harboring a dual identity and having to keep it secret even from the one he loves. A great inspiration for my hero in “Shadows of Valor.” LOVE IT!
  • 4) THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT by J.R.R Tolkien: These awesome high-fantasy adventures may not be considered “historical” per se, but as they take place in settings with clothing similar to medieval times (albeit with magic and fantastical characters and enemies) they are certainly favorites of mine. Such magical and wonderful worlds that Tolkien created, even adding his poems to the manuscripts. His use of poems inspired me to pen my own for “Shadows of Valor” and even compose the music for them. At least one of the songs in sheet music form will appear as an addendum in “Shadows of Valor,” and all the music can be found on my blog under the page entitled “S of V Piano Sheet Music.”
  • 5) SEEKING PERSEPHONE by Sarah M. Eden and BIG IN JAPAN by Jennifer Griffith were wonderful stories with main characters who didn’t have what society would deem perfect bodies or features, but whom I loved and respected for exactly that. When characters aren’t physically “perfect,” having some kind of visible flaw, it really brings out the inner struggles, but in the end, true love as well. I had already given my female character scars before I read both books, but I applauded the authors for writing about characters who were physically imperfect. Two great reads!
J: I always ask. How did you go from writer to author. What was your break through?

E: I think when my mom read my first manuscript, though there was a lot of corrections and suggestions and critiques, she said she could see this being published and gave her 100% support. That’s when I really thought I could do it.

J: Looks like it’s our turn.

E: YOUR turn. I’m still too overweight to expose myself like that.

J: What are you talking about? You look great! I envy you. I wish I could lose weight like you. How’d you do that?

Cardio - medieval Style

E: No gimmicks, pills or fad diets. Just jogging 45 minutes a day (or every other day) and eating something healthy from all the food groups (yes, even grains and healthy fats) without overeating. Stay away from processed sugars, salty snacks and sodas, too.

J: Too healthy for me. I’ll stick to smothered pizza rolls and cream. We’re next. Oh, how goes the house hunting?

E: YOU'RE next, and we’ve finally found a house we like that’s within our tight budget. Just working on the massive piles of paperwork for our loan. Fingers crossed. Uh, enjoy your bath.

Bulk fleas can be purchased

J: Nope. No bath. No interview. We'll do it together. When you get a new address send it to me. In the meantime, where can my peeps find you on the web? 
Twitter: @elsiepark1

Author Facebook 
Barnes and Noble
J: Okay, here it comes! The flea-bath. Get back here!

E: What were all those holes I saw in the ceiling of your booth before you closed the door?

J: Let’s just say should keep my mouth closed during the bath . . . or rather shower. Here they come. Aaaaa *gulp* oops. . . . 

E: Thanks SO MUCH for having me as a guest at your blog mansion, Johnny! It’s been . . . an experience. Ouch... ow.... they jump.

J: You bet they do.

SHADOWS OF VALOR overview: Taking place in 1300 A.D. England, The Shadow (aka Sir Calan), a knight-spy working under the direction of King Edward I, hunts down and arrests smugglers who defy the law and evade paying their taxes. The Shadow’s duty is fueled by vengeance from a childhood experience against smugglers. Dealing with society at its worst, The Shadow becomes cynical and struggles to rein in his desire to execute lethal justice before turning the perpetrators over to local authorities. He feels his soul turning black with hate in his continual fight against evil. A childhood acquaintance, Lady Elsbeth, enters his life years later, bringing light to his soul once again, but she has a story of her own, accompanied by physical and emotional scars. Calan feel he needs Elsbeth in his life, but in an effort to keep his identity and duty secret, he must deceive her. This creates distrust and uncertainty between them, as she accepts another man as her suitor. But Calan must ask the question: What’s worth fighting for more? His long-standing desire to avenge a childhood friend or the woman who may be his salvation? What entails is a glorious tale full of deceit, greed, inner struggles, betrayal, and most of all—love.

About Elsie Park: Growing up in a small mountain town outside of Yosemite National Park, California, U.S.A., Elsie enjoyed playing soccer, playing piano, reading, writing, art and spending time with family and friends. Years ago she spent 18 months in Italy teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing the castles and old Roman cities only added to her fascination for ancient and medieval culture. In college she studied zoology, botany and criminal justice. She’s worked as a wildland firefighter, security guard and a police officer, but she is currently a stay-at-home mom, spending time with her children and husband. She loves thinking up new ideas for interesting stories and musical compositions to go with them.


  1. WAY WAY WAAAY FUN, JOHNNY! Thanks for having me and for sharing your special book day (release of Beatrysel) with my blog tour day. *HUGS*

    1. Don't hug me! You're crawling with fleas! :-P
      (My pleasure)