Interview with Melissa McPhail, Author of Cephrael’s Hand

Booknosh is pleased to be part of Cephrael’s Hand Cover Reveal and  Rafflecopter giveaway

Below is an interview with Melissa McPahail.
1. How important do you think cover art is to selling your books?

I think cover art is essential to book sales. A well-crafted cover will tell the reader in which genre the book is classified, represent in some way the story’s theme, and give an overall impression of the world. Fantasy book covers are vital to presenting a sense and feeling of the world. In many cases, the cover is the only visual representation a reader gets.

And of course, we all know that a book cover done well will catch a potential reader’s attention. It’s your best and sometimes only chance to make that memorable first impression.

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What to Read, What Not to Read: Julia Quinn


Dialogue, Dialogue, Dialogue: Quinn’s ability to write witty banter is truly amazing. Whether she’s having her characters invent and argue over imaginary words or laughing at debutantes who think that “inclement” weather means weather “in Clement” she’s just fun, and entertaining. When the dialogue works, it truly sparkles, with back-and-forth quickness that carries you along.

The Un-pretty Heroine: While none of Quinn’s heroines are described as being ugly, Quinn’s best protagonists are pretty, or comely-enough, without being the belle of the ball. They’re women you’d have a good time hanging out with, who feel real and interesting and not overly-dramatic.

Connected Worlds: Quinn’s great at creating characters that are memorable, and that float from book to book. Lady Whistledown’s writings hold many of the Bridgertons books together (and were kind of a brilliant invention), but there are also details like the Smythe-Smith musicals (which start as a joke and later become their own spin-off series) and, of course, Lady Danbury. When you read a Quinn book, you know that you’re stepping firmly into her universe, and that we’ll be revisiting many familiar landmarks.

Good, Lighthearted Fun: With Quinn, you rarely have any dangerous kidnappings (meaning even when there are kidnappings, or highway robberies, nothing ever feels truly dangerous in a someone-might-die way), or terrible villains. Instead, you have people who might be nice or not nice, and might or might not mean well, but basically, you have semi-villains alongside your heros and heroines. There are quick, light, escapist reads and you don’t really have to worry that something terrible is lurking around the corner.

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May Author Spotlight: TK Thorne

We sat down with TK Thorne, author of Noah’s Wife, to get her take on books, her writing process, and more!

booknosh: You’re a retired police Captain who has since written screenplays, an award winning novel, short stories, and we hear you have a nonfiction book in the works.  So, were you a policewoman who always dreamed of writing? Was this something you started after retirement? Or have the stories always been simmering beneath, since you were that ten-year-old girl writing about magical foxes?

TKT: A writer is, at heart, a storyteller. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t making up stories–from plot lines for the “lives” of my stuffed animals and plastic horses to elaborate enactments with the neighborhood kids. When I visited my grandmother, she read to me for hours, and I decided early on that I wanted to have adventures like the people in those stories. At an age I’m too embarrassed to admit, I cried when I realized I could never fly over the deadly desert to visit Oz! Then I started reading science fiction and wanted to be an astronaut and meet aliens, but I never thought about being a police officer–that was an accident (and a longer story). I loved it, however, because I never knew what would happen next. I didn’t get to meet an alien, but I did meet some strange people. That experience enriched my writing by exposing me to so much. My first novel came from fictionalizing true stories that I experienced or heard about in street patrol. I called it You Gotta Be Crazy, but an agent had me change the title to Partners. It wasn’t published, and I know it needs work. Maybe someday I’ll get back to it.

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March Author Spotlight: Patti Shenberger

We interviewed Patti Shenberger on how she became a romance writer, who she wishes were her literary parents, and a host of other things for our March Author Spotlight.

booknosh: How/when did you know you wanted to be a writer? Were you a romance reader who wanted to write? Or a writer who happened to like romance?

PS: I think I knew since the first time I could hold a pencil and print words that I wanted to write.  I remember in kindergarten, every Monday the teacher would give us construction paper and we would write and draw what we did on the weekend.  That was my favorite thing to do.  On the other hand, I’m also a reader who loves romance and a writer who loves to write romance. If it has a happy ever after, count me in. 

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February Author Spotlight: David Gates

We were thrilled to have the chance to interview author/critic/amateur musician/professor David Gates, whose debut novel Jernigan was a Pulitzer finalist, and whose short story collection Wonders of the Invisible World was also one of our favorites.

booknosh:  You’ve been a writer, an editor, a musician, a teacher and a critic — which of those roles is the most natural? the hardest work? or does it all go hand in hand?

DG: Probably editing comes the most naturally to me. I usually seem to know what to do with a piece of text, especially one that’s not my own–though of course I can be wrong. I haven’t done a lot of criticism lately, but teaching draws on what I know from both being a critic and a editor. Writing is the hardest work, and it gets harder as I learn more and set the bar higher for myself; it’s also what I probably do best. Music might be the most pure fun, but I’m a limited, not-professional-quality musician; I’m most successful when I play and sing within those limits.

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January Author Spotlight: Micah Persell

We had the chance to interview Micah Persell, author of Of Eternal Life and Of the Knowledge of Good and Evil recently, and asked her about everything from her favorite romances, to what casting the movie for her books might have looked like, as well as what her upcoming projects are.

booknosh: Of Eternal Life was your first published novel… but is it your first published work? Or have you written other stories, novellas, etc?

MP: Of Eternal Life is my first everything: my first finished novel, my first published work.  Unless you count my Master’s thesis.  My novels are right beside my thesis on the bookshelf in our home.  That puppy was much harder and took much longer to write than any of my novels.  A non-fiction writer I am not!

booknosh: If you had to pick out your literary parents, who would they be? How would you describe yourself in the context of author/creative directors parenthood? Jane Austen meets Stephanie Laurens? Ayn Rand meets Virginia Henley?

MP: Okay, I got really excited at the idea of Jane Austen and Stephanie Laurens being my literary parents, so I want to go with them.  Like Austen, I think it’s important for the hero and heroine to be friends as well as lovers, and like Laurens, I think they should also burn up the sheets something fierce!

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December Author Spotlight: Kevin David Anderson

Kevin David Anderson

Kevin David Anderson, author of Night of the Living Trekkies, was kind enough to sit down for an interview with us.  Check out his blog and website for more information!

booknosh: You clearly know the Star Trek universe extremely well. How much of this came from research, and how much from being a Trekkie yourself?

KDA: The first draft came fairly easily using what Star Trek knowledge I already had, but later rewrites, which needed more detail, involved a little research. The chapter names, which were all taken from the names of Star Trek episodes, for example, involved some looking up. I didn’t have many episode names already in my head except for my favorites. It took some digging but not much.

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November Author Spotlight: Lisa Kleypas

Lisa Kleypas

One of my favorite historical romance authors.


1.     Really well developed and individuated characters – Kleypas’s heroines range from being fiercely independent and strong-willed to quiet and demure; they are authors, actresses, American heiresses and members of the British aristocracy.  Her men range from being Bow Street Runners to well-informed, socially progressive earls, to Russian princes, former thieves, and gypsies.  They are each unique and memorable and almost always go through a believable character arc of growth and development.

2.     Wonderful settings and details that help us become well grounded in the era.  In Kleypas’s novels, you know that you’re in the Regency era not only because there are balls and waltzes, but also because there are details about a developing railroad, mass manufacturing soap, wars and propositions that are being debated, as well as a lush landscape that is in the backdrop.

3.     Well-written, sensual love scenes that progress. I read somewhere that not all lovemaking scenes should be interchangeable within a particular novel, and that’s definitely true for Kleypas.  There is a rising crescendo to her lovemaking scenes (for most of her novels), so that it feels like not only a physical experience, but part of the characters’ emotional development, which makes the scenes far more interesting and compelling.



1.     Kleypas will sometimes focus a little more on the dramatic aspects of a particular story – particularly because some of her heroines are escaping an arrange marriage or something in their past, there are quite often villains.  And with villains comes things like attempted rape, attempted kidnapping, even murder – and that’s not for everyone.

2.     Some of my least favorite Kleypas novels (almost all amongst her earlier works) have details that are a little too much for me.  Ultimately, I read romance because I want escapist fiction.  When I’m told that one character was almost raped when he was a child sent on a prison boat, or another was a man-whore who made his fortune bribing former lovers and robbing graces, that’s a little too much realism for me… at least within the Regency era.

3.   She’s not really a humorous author… though she occasionally writes a very memorably light-hearted scene, when she tries for outright humor, it’s sometimes cringe-worthy (but this happens very rarely)

4.     The titles have nothing to do with the stories!!! This is a tiny, tiny little nitpicky point, but just as Kleypas always has memorable characters, her titles almost always feel just slapped on.  I can easily tell you the differences between Merripen and Westcliff, Sir Ross and Christopher Phelan – I can remember which one was brooding, which was a widower, which had a dog and which was described as being striking, but not quite handsome.  BUT – if you tell me just the title of any one of her novels, even odds I’ll have no clue, because half the time, there is no relationship between the words (like Autumn or Spring), and what actually happens in the book!!!  This can make trying to recommend one of her works to a friend particularly frustrating!