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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wendy Laharnar - Blog Bonanza Visitor

To begin the Young Adult and Middle Grade Blog Bonanza I'm delighted to introduce Wendy Laharnar. Wendy is going to tell us 

I thought I was blunt in my responses, until the other day I met someone blunter. 
I handed the adult my card to show him the beautiful book cover and blurb for The Unhewn Stone. Expecting a positive comment and a smile, he gave me a frown, and this –
“What’s an unhewn stone?”
“Well, it’s a stone that hasn’t been hewn. It hasn’t been chiselled or shaped; it’s a rock in the raw.” I refrained from adding ‘Duh!’
‘Humph,” he sneered and handed back the card. “As if anyone would know what that means.”
So, I thought maybe I should explain why I chose The Unhewn Stone for the title of my YA, Historical Time Travel novel, set in Switzerland, 1307 AD. 
Actually, the idea that my title had something to do with shaping stone came to me after I finished writing the book, but I didn’t tell Mr Blunt that.
Stefan’s story opens on his eighteenth birthday, 23rd December, which happens to be the only day in the Celtic Tree Calendar that doesn’t have a tree attached to it. This day is known as the Secret of the Unhewn Stone; the day of endings and beginnings, a blank day, full of potential. 
Since Stefan is on the brink of manhood, when childhood ends and life as an adult begins, I thought the title would kill two birds with the one stone. 
  1. The Unhewn Stone names a particular date – Stefan’s birthday, 23rd December. The real significance of the date, for Stefan, becomes apparent in chapter one. 
  2. And since this date symbolizes potential, it relates to Stefan’s ‘new beginning’.
Later, when I’d finished Stefan’s story, I realized my hero is The Unhewn Stone. Stefan has not reached his full potential when the novel opens, but his experiences in the Middle Ages shape him. 
During Stefan’s adventure, he becomes a tourist like the ones he envies at his parents’ guesthouse, in our time. The trouble is, the alchemist’s orb he uses to take him into the 14th century, gives him heaps of trouble. Many times he wonders if he will ever return home alive.
He encounters peasants, noblemen, an evil knight, a shape-shifting sibyl, Wilhelm Tell, monks and other medieval characters. They all leave their mark on him, chiselling away at his pride and arrogance. When events force Stefan to confront his ignorance and fear, he finds the hero he is looking for. He also learns to look beyond himself and discovers the value of friendship, mercy, honour and humility. 
Quite accidentally, I came across this quote that sums up my novel and its title quite nicely, I think.
I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. 
Michelangelo Buonarroti 1475-1564
I’d like to think I took an unhewn stone and chiselled with care until I revealed the real Stefan Gessler. Hopefully, I have set him free to become the man he is meant to be.
Excerpt : 
As Stefan slipped from behind the heavy tapestry, a figure in black flung open the shutters. Fading daylight flooded the room. An uncomfortable sense of familiarity prickled his skin. If this was the sibyl, she had him cornered.
He dived back behind the wall hanging and slammed his hand on the limestone surface, rubbing the wall in search of the hidden mechanism. He thumped the stones, but couldn't reopen the secret passage. The tapestry moved about him as if struck with a broom. Pulling in his stomach, he flattened himself against the wall. The movement stopped. He drew a breath and waited.
The edge of the tapestry rolled back. A hand reached for his cloak. The nail on the middle finger grew longer. It curved into a talon.
"I need you Dear One. Come to me," the woman purred.
Stefan gazed at a lovely young face, the face of his unrequited love. "Ursula!" He spoke her name, enthralled even though a part of him knew the girl wasn't real. Unable to abandon his toxic desire, he followed her into the light and believed he mattered to her.
Her cold touch soothed his face. He breathed the scent from the cinnamon sticks she'd poked through the wilted, wildflower-circlet on her head, but a sudden whiff of the bat faeces she sought to disguise brought him to his senses.
"Urgh!" he said, scanning the room for a means of escape. "Keep away from me." 
Does this book sound good to you? Leave a comment and be in to win a Kindle copy of "The Unhewn Stone". Muse Bookstore -- The Unhewn Stone Page Amazon page -- The Unhewn Stone.


Wendy said...

Thank you, Sue, for inviting me. I'm honoured and delighted to be the first guest on your February Blog Bonanza. I hope I get to meet some of your MG and YA readers.

Sue Perkins said...

You're welcome Wendy. I've just been battling with the new Facebook Timeline to promote the Bonanza. Managed in the end. Have fun.

Rosalie Skinner said...

Great post Wendy... what a brilliant explanation for your title. It makes so much sense. Having read The Unhewn Stone, I can see how you shape Stefan through each adventure, encounter and crisis he survives.
He is a diamond in the rough before he travels back in time. When he returns he... well... no.. I am not going to spoil the story. It is worth reading and reading again. One of those terrific books you enjoy more than once.
Great blog Sue. Roll on February. I will be back to see what other gems you have on offer!

Rosemary Gemmell said...

I love the sound of Unhewn Stone, Wendy, great explanation of using a specific title.

lionmother said...

Wendy, I love the quote from Michaelangelo. It really fits your story and what you were able to do. I haven't read The Unhewn Stone, but I would love to win a copy.

Great beginning for the Bonanza.

Wendy said...

Hello Rosalie, Rosemary and Barbara. Thank you for reading my post and for your lovely comments. I agree Sue's idea for a YA February Blog Bonanza is great. I'll be back too.

Edith Parzefall said...

I love the symbolism of the title. Having read the book, I think you couldn't have given it a more fitting one. It can easily happen that too much gets chipped from the unhewn stone. And these little 'imperfections' make us unique.

The Unhewn Stone is a beautifully written, smart novel, full of suspense and subtle undercurrents--like for example the title. :-)

Michelle Pickett said...

I love your explanation of why you chose your title and the quote does sum it up nicely.

I loved the excerpt and your discussion of what your Stefan goes through on his journies.

Great interview!

Concilium, July 2012

Sharon said...

Magical and now on my TBR list. Nice to meet you.

Penny Estelle said...

Hi Wendy. Great story about...ahem.... Mr Blunt. Your book does sound incredible AND the cover is great!

Sue - really nice site and what a great idea you had with this Bonanza!

HM Prevost said...

Sounds like a great book. I love novels set in the middle ages.

HM Prévost
Desert Fire (YA thriller)

Mindy Hardwick said...

I loved your excerpt, Wendy! Thanks for sharing about the title. I think the background of a book's title is always interesting, and not something you see often.

angela robbins said...

Hmmmm... sounds like Mr. Blunt was Mr. Grumpy.

I love your description of how and why you chose your book's title. Sometimes I think choosing a title is equally, if not more, challenging than writing the entire book! But yours seems to fit your piece perfectly.

I'll be putting it on my TBR list.
Thank you Wendy for sharing with us and to Sue for providing the arena.

Angela Robbins
(soon to be published author of YA paranormal Beast of Burden with Muse)

Twitter: @Angela_Robbins_

Marva Dasef said...

I was wondering about the title, but I certainly knew what unhewn meant. I have a book out called "Quest for the Simurgh" and one reviewer started the review with "What the heck is a Simurgh?" I thought everybody knew that. Fortunately, early in the story, the magic teacher covers a number of magical critters, including the Simurgh.

Sign me up for a copy!

Alanna said...

Very interesting, Wendy. I'm already looking forward to reading the book later this year.
I'm often curious about how books got their titles, and I enjoy reading from authors who tell such (and other) "behind the scenes" stories.

Pat McDermott said...

Wendy, I think I've met Mr. Blunt. Several times. Heck, even if I didn't know what unhewn meant, I'd go look it up! But at least he inspired you to write a wonderful post. That quote by Michaelangelo is one of my favorites (I've often related it to raising my kids). As for your Unhewn Stone, I already have a copy and hope to finish it soon.

Wendy said...

Thank you very much, everyone! I'm so happy to see you here.

Edith, I love symbolism too. I look for signs of it everywhere. Could probably find it in telephone numbers. hehehe. It's the
Ahhhh-factor, I love.

Michelle, I'm glad you liked the explanation, and Michelangelo's quote. I chose that excerpt from inside the book because I think the opening doesn't show the true excitement in the adventure.

Sharon, Nice to meet you too. In this digital age with great devices like Kindle etc. our TBR list gets longer and longer. Mine sure has. It's lovely to know TUS is on yours.

Penny, Mr Blunt is a good character for a novel, eh? Thanks for 'sounds incredible'. My heart warms to that. :)

HM. Good to hear. Yes - not only set in the Middle Ages, it's executed..., you might say. hehehe Oh my poor Stefan.

Mindy, glad you enjoyed meeting my sibyl, such a lovely old bat, literally, hehehe.

Angela, I wouldn't have thought to mention the title's meaning if it hadn't been for Mr Blunt. It isn't easy deciding on a title. My original was Tell, the Truth. (since this is a novel about a boy attempting to prevent the legend of Wilhelm Tell from happening). So many critiquers stumbled over that comma until I subbed the chapters as TTT.

Marva, it's funny how words we've picked up, we assume everyone else has. I have an old man with 'cyanosed lips' -the complaints I had about 'cyanosed'. I used this word a lot in nursing and I didn't want to use 'blue' lips. Perhaps the word is a corruption of cyanosis but I can coin a word. Oh well, I wouldn't have questioned "Simurgh" because I trust the author to reveal the meaning soon enough. (I haven't heard of it)

Alanna, I'm happy you are interested in the behind-the scenes-information. It will seem even better when you are inside the scenes with Stefan on his medieval adventure. I'm delighted to hear you plan to read TUS.

Pat, I hadn't thought of applying that quote to raising my kids but then my kids were adults before I found the quote. So I try to apply it to my writing. I think the Celtic Tree Calendar is fascinating in itself, especially if you are Irish.

Sue Perkins said...

I'm delighted for Wendy to have such a great response. Thank you everyone for visiting and hope many more visit during the next few weeks.

Karen Cote said...

Loved this post! What a fabulous way to describe how your title evolved. You already know I'm a fan. Of course, hearing about your journey just adds that extra charm to a fabulous artist I already care deeply about.

Chubby Bubby Blue says hello. He LOVES the title of your book.

We love you!

Wonderful blog Sue! Looks fantastic.

Wendy said...

Karen, 'mutual I'm sure' :) have you seen 'Born Yesterday'? I love that line. My week to have Chubby Bubby Blue, if he'd like to sprout wings and fly over to my place. Thanks for stopping by.

Carole said...

I thoroughly enjoyed Wendy Laharnar’s book The Unhewn Stone. I understood how she compared Stefan to a rock in need of chiselling and shaping and thought her explanation very clear.
As for Mr Blunt doesn’t he understand that a lot of titles don’t give up their secrets until the reader becomes involved in the story? How many books would never be read if people judged a book solely on its title? Well done, Wendy, I enjoyed reading your article on the Relevance of a title.

Laurel Lamperd said...

I've read The Unhewn Stone and thought it a marvellous adventure story for young adults.
Leaving his safe comfortable 21st century world,Stefan seeks to prove himself in the rough tumble medieval William Tell world of Switzerland where to know how to use a sword was more important to survive than to pass a Year Twelve exam.I think it is fairly obvious to the reader that Stefan is the unhewn stone of the title. Your passing acquaintance is a bit of a Philistine. But think. Due to his comments, you have written a great blog. And given a reason why all writers should give thought to the titles of their books. Congratulations on The Unhewn Stone, Wendy. A great book.

Wendy said...

Carole and Laurel, my dear friends, so good to see you. I know how hard it is to make it past 'smenita'. Thank you for persevering.

Carole, so true. We don't have to know the meaning, just be captured by it.

Laurel,lol. A philisitine. rofl. He'd love that. lol.

Now I'm about to try to weave my way past 'smenita', if I can.

btw 'Smenita' will become a sentinel or a fortification in my next fantasy. :)

4 tries--went out--came back and bingo 'shmeli' what a happy word.

Jacquie Rogers said...

Wendy, you know I always bring something. Today, I think you need a good stiff shot of dark chocolate, so here's some gooey-chewy brownies. They'll make all your worries go away. Don't worry, I brought plenty for everyone.

The book was wonderful--such a great read! I think The Unhewn Stone is a terrific title and especially appropriate to the story and Stefan on multiple levels. You're such a talented writer--maybe Mr. Grumpy, er, Mr. Blunt wasn't bright enough to see the possibilities of a chunk of rock. LOL. But really, he gave you such a terrific blog topic, so at least we can thank him for that.

Enjoy your brownies. If necessary, I can bring a little something with more punch. :)

Susan Royal said...

I love time travel, and yours looks very exciting. I especially like the title you've given to it. The Unhewn Stone says so much and in so many different ways, but most of all, it draws me and makes me want to find out the story behind it.

Wendy said...

Jacquie, thanks for the gooey- chewy brownies.That has a lovely ring to it. I'm so glad you liked Stefan's story. Thanks for your comment, high praise coming from you :)

Susan, lovely to see you here, another Muse sister. I should mention, so as not to mislead true time traveller fans -- My time travel goes backwards via a wormhole so The Unhewn Stone is Historical rather than Sci Fi. My hero wears a jester costume, not heavy metal.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Wendy. I enjoyed learning more about your book and the title. Now I know what an unhewn stone is.

Wendy said...

Susanne, that's great to hear. lol. Now you know more than Mr Blunt. Thank you for joining in.

Wendy said...

Dear Sue,
I've really enjoyed my vist to your lovely blog. Thank you for the opportunity to chat with so many friends about The Unhewn Stone. I'll be back to say Hi to you and your Guests during the February Blog Bonanza. I wish you much success with your books and your blog.