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Character Interview: Tommy Dana from Leif and Jason Grundstrom-Whitney’s Young Adult Fiction Novel ‘The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People’

authorphotoWe’re thrilled to have here today Tommy Dana from Leif and Jason Grundstrom-Whitney’s new Young Adult Fiction Novel, The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People. Tommy Dana is a thirteen year old student living in Bangor, Maine.

It is a pleasure to have him with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so for this interview, Tommy Dana. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers?

Well, they did portray me as pretty much a wimp at first! Seriously though, I don’t have any qualms about the way I was portrayed as I build strength over time through the many adventures that I go through with and without my formerly fictional companion and erstwhile bodyguard Shannon O’Neil. This brings up a great question about strength though. In western culture we are so fixated on the external. We seem to give lavish praise to those who appear to be Adonis-like in stature without giving credit to people that are truly strong on multiple levels, like Gandhi or the Clan Mothers of the Native side of my heritage. So here you have a kid (little old me) who is physically weak (at first) but has this indomitable character and iron will that helps him to carry forth, using wit, intelligence, and mental fortitude to examine the issues within the various intertwining stories and help to creatively problem solve them to a vaguely satisfying resolution. I really think that history tells of what strength truly is. For instance, Abraham Lincoln was immensely physically strong by all accounts, but what is he known for? His greatly persuasive rhetoric, powerful speeches and strength of character led America through its darkest days. That is what he will always be known for.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality? If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

I feel these authors did a pretty good job at making my character fully HD. That’s high definition for the technologically impaired amongst you. Some of it was cringe worthy and downright embarrassing, as far as characterization goes, but overall, the authors (frustrating and mystical creatures that they are) did a commendable job showing my insecurities and positive attributes and periods of doubt and bravery and courage and also the gradual uncomfortable process of my evolution as a character.

Ebook - JPG format-.jpgWhat do you believe is your strongest trait?

I believe it must be the strength of my will and the power of my creative identity (the industriousness of my imagination). At times, sheer determination and resourceful imaginativeness were all that I had to fall back on. My creativity was able to flourish, once given license, so as to problem solve my way out of these very tight situations that allowed no margin of error.

Worse trait?

The timorousness (a loathsome characteristic of my personality!) that frequently drains my resolve of its firmness is my worst trait.

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I think it would have to be an up-and-coming star much in the vein of the outstanding performance that Keisha Castle-Hughes gave in the movie “Whale Rider”. Obviously it would have to be a male teenager though. This book, my world entire, is so modestly original and takes so many twists that it would be nice to have a fresh face, not jaundiced by the fame and fortune of the industry and the monotony of similar roles, portray the central role in its big screen rendition.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Maybe, it is quite possible. Can someone love a fictional person who turns out of to be a lot realer than expected? Can true affection breach the lines between reality and imagination? Can an inter-dimensional mutual adoration thrive? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then I would have say that I do perhaps have a love interest in the book. I can’t imagine seeing a sunset or a sunrise or the variety of the seasons and the change that goes with them, without an image of her enshrined in my heart, if that’s what you mean.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

I became very nervous and doubtful of my chances of success when I first realized the sheer enormity of the quest I had willingly tumbled into and what that world-hopping adventure would demand of me.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

If I could trade places with anyone, I would avoid the character of my nemesis Facinorous, the arch antagonist of the sprawling scene in which I was set, like the plague. He’s a bottomless abyss of devious intent and nefariousness. Who would want to be the filthy harvester of the innocent imaginations of humanity? It would be an absolute nightmare to be trapped in the mind of a nebulous ultra-powerful entity that lacks an authentic imagination. Plus, because of his rampant magniloquence, I can hardly ever understand what he’s saying.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away?

I feel that the ending is a little too short. I would even go so far as to say that it is remarkable in its abruptness. The authors seemed a little too preoccupied with setting up the sequel. They should have invested more time instead in making a satisfying conclusion. It is a flaw common to the genre. Perhaps they were spoofing that convention. Who knows? The book I am featured in is a satire, after all.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if they decided to write another book with you in it?

For the love of the heavenly landlords of the cosmos, go easy on me next time! Seriously, I have no idea what these two authors have in store for me with their feverish creativity. I will offer a tiny suggestion though. Could you give me a break once in a while?! I am picturing a pacing similar to Proust so maybe I can ease into the peculiarities of being me once in a while.

Thank you for this interview, Tommy Dana. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Thank you for the opportunity. Yes, you will most definitely be seeing more of me in the future. The authors are hell-bent on prolonging my suffering and misery. I am to be the main character in three upcoming sequels. Pray for my deliverance!


Leif Grundstrom-Whitney is the proud co-author of the epical satire The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People; the wicked and witty character known as Facinorous contained therein is a product of his multifarious mind. He has been published in several obscure poetry journals (hold your applause). To say that he is an edacious reader would be an understatement worthy of Hemingway. If he had a spirit animal, it would probably be a raven who knows how to play a Hammond B-3 organ.

Jason Grundstrom-Whitney has been a Social Worker and Substance Abuse Counselor in the State of Maine for many years. In this time, he has introduced meditation (tai-chi, qigong, yoga, and meditation) groups to teens when told he would fail. This was one of the most successful and long lasting groups. He developed a Civil Rights/Peer Helper course that won state and national awards (for High School) and has worked as a civil rights activist. He has also worked as a long term care social worker and now works as a Hospice Medical Social Worker. Jason is a poet, writer, and musician playing bass, harmonica and various wind instruments. Lover of all styles of music he has played classical, jazz, rock, funk, country, blues, and rap. He is very excited to play bass with his brother’s band and his son’s. He is very proud to have co-authored The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People with his son Leif.

Book description:

The Hidden Chalice of the Cloud People is a young adult fantasy comedy novel written by a father and son writing duo for an intelligent general audience. It is the first book in an upcoming tetralogy. It is a darkly humorous, fast-paced, action-packed celebratory unification of the world’s rich cultural lore through the lens of an inventive fantasy concept that stands both as an occasionally subversive satire that satirizes the YA genre and an anachronistic experiment on the fusion of storyline narratives (differing stylistically and compositionally).

When Tommy Dana is abducted into a fantastical realm called Lethia, where the worthy stories of humanity are granted a physical reality, the social media-averse thirteen year old must plunge through a multi-varied meta-fictional adventure in order to save his, and the entire human world’s, imagination from falling into the thieving clutches of the witty supernatural villain Facinorous.

Character Interview: Nova the VioletLight from Brandon Ellis’s Fantasy, The PureLights of Ohm Totem

We’re thrilled to have you here today, Nova. She’s one of Brandon Ellis’s main characters in his new Fantasy, “The PureLights of Ohm Totem.”  No one truly knows her age, but she’s a well established healer and high counsel of the Sihu Tribe on the Island of Ohm Totem and have been there for a long, long time.

It is a pleasure to have her with us today at Beyond the Books!

Thank you so much for this interview, Nova. Now that the book has been written, do you feel you were fairly portrayed or would you like to set anything straight with your readers? 

The only thing I’d like to set straight for the readers is to clear their minds and proceed from their hearts. It’s the only way to freedom—a way to your inner knowing. It’ll also keep you alive when the dangerous Dims Tribes of Ohm Totem come after.

Do you feel the author did a good job colorizing your personality?  If not, how would you like to have been portrayed differently?

kdp4copyOne of the most difficult tasks in life is observing what’s really taking place in front of you without bringing in your inner judge. In this case, the author observed well, doing his best to emulate who I am from what he saw in his mind. Of course, he wasn’t perfect. He did get some things right, such as when I’m in hot pursuit of an opponent as I defend the PureLights, I tend to get a little too focused on the chase, just as the writer portrayed.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I lead my tribe. I make sure they are safe in the throes of danger. If one of my tribemates gets hurt, I get hurt. If they suffer, I suffer. If Crepus Dim attacks, I’m the first in the fray. I remind the Dims that you don’t mess with a VioletLight (a PureLight Sage), because we can change your life in a matter of seconds.

Worse trait?

I see a soul in every single Being. I see potential there too. I think I can help everyone, even the Dims. I have more faith in spirit animals than I probably should. Though, we are not a lost cause!

If you could choose someone in the television or movie industry to play your part if your book was made into a movie, who would that be (and you can’t say yourself!)?

I’m a spirit animal, that of the snow leopard race. So, any human playing me would have to be a voice-over, unless they can shape shift into a snow leopard, which I highly doubt. Well, unless they go through the portal to my land. In all truth, I’d choose a powerful woman. One that is wise and strong. I choose Meryl Streep.

Do you have a love interest in the book? 

Yes. My love is my tribe, along with my spirit animal friends from other tribes, including the Dims, even though they consider me enemy number one in their minds. Just like The Great Spirit, I accept saint and sinner, in the hopes that one day I can help them in their life’s journey. That’s my love interest. However, if there’s a Brad Pitt spirit animal lurking around, then I may fancy myself a date with him.

At what point of the book did you start getting nervous about the way it was going to turn out?

When we lost a special friend, not from death, but from capture. She is the most powerful of allies, someone who could change the world that I live in to what it used to be—a loving, peaceful culture. If she only knew how powerful she really was.

If you could trade places with one of the other characters in the book, which character would you really not want to be and why?

Maldwyn. Because I would love to get into the mind of Crepus Dim, a komodo dragon and that’s Maldwyn’s job. Crepus has change my world into a dying one. He uses fear against us in order to rule it, in order to change weather patterns, in order to kill every last ally that I have. He’s my adversary, but Maldwyn is an ally. He’s close to Crepus, not by choice, but by necessity—to get information. In a way and in your Earthly view, Maldwyn would be considered an undercover agent.

How do you feel about the ending of the book without giving too much away? 

It’s a page turner and very exciting.

What words of wisdom would you give your author if s/he decided to write another book with you in it?

Brandon is already in the process of finishing his second book and I’m in it. Some words of advice? Great question. I’d tell him to stay in there and stick with it. You are raising a family, carrying a couple of jobs, and writing on the side. It’s going to pay off. You’ll see. What you give, you get back. Hard work, dedication, and love for what you do is the backbone of a healthy existence. Keep in mind, this book will one day be a best seller, where all the world will know of us—the PureLight race, the VioletLight Masters, and of the dreaded Dims. We are all spirit animals longing to live free in the minds of your people. And, to your people, I have one question: Which spirit animal are you? If you don’t know, then close your eyes, take several deep breaths, then ask, “What’s my spirit animal?” It will be the first animal that pops into your mind. When you see it, know it’s here to help you, to show you the correct path. With that, know that the spirit animal is a big part of who you are. In fact, it is you. Then, look up the traits of your spirit animal either through the world wide web or in a library book. Read, learn, and become fascinated.

Thank you for this interview, Nova. Will we be seeing more of you in the future?

Of course. I’m a fixture in Brandon’s PureLights Series. Count on seeing me in several more books coming soon to an Amazon store near you.


brandonwaterfallprofileBrandon Ellis grew up on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon in a little town known as Gladstone, where he graduated high school and moved on to college and has two great loves in his life – writing and sports.

After being declared an All State Baseball and All League Basketball player, he obtained his Therapeutic Massage License and became one of the most successful Sports Massage Therapists and teachers in the City of Portland. He’s now creating imaginative worlds of inspiration and art through his books.



Twitter: @thepurelights


Purchase the book on Amazon.

An Interview with Teen Fantasy Author Kamilla Reid

At age 29 Kamilla Reid became the youngest person to hold the position of Artistic Director for a professional theatre company in Edmonton. During this time at Celebrations Theatre she honed her artistic skills by writing and directing five shows per year. Over this ten year incumbency the position evolved and Kamilla developed her own independent theatrical production company to which the dinner theatre contracted out. This worked quite well with her new schedule due to the birth of her daughter.

After forty produced plays, Kamilla felt she’d creatively done all she could within the live theatre format and, during a period of massive change whereby she found herself in the role of single mother, she began scrawling and plunking on the keyboard and finally, drawing out the long held images of DréAmm and its freckled young inhabitant Root Karbunkulus.

Currently Kamilla is working on book two of the “Questory” series. You can visit her website at or her blog at

Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kamilla. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published? Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?

I am a first time published author of “The Questory of Root Karbunkulus”, a teen fantasy series of six books. And I must add that the thrill in saying that never ceases J

What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?

“The Questory of Root Karbunkulus” is my first book.

For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?

I knew from the start that I wanted to go out on my own first. After years in live theatre where budgets dictated everything and I just couldn’t treadmill out another 6-person musical, I wanted complete freedom to explore this new field on my own. I wanted to write my book and have fun creating the book cover and I wanted to make an awesome website and book trailer. I wanted to do it all for the fun of it but also to learn the business of books. It was very worth it to me. Since then however, I have expanded to the place where I want and need a traditional publisher to take the book into wider distribution. It has become too much for me to wear so many hats, not to mention the Single Mum Crown. And to my surprise, despite the clear success of my efforts I have choked down my share of rejections.

How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?

I hope this doesn’t sound too arrogant but I was really shocked that they would let something so awesome slip through their fingers. So then I told myself that they clearly weren’t ready for success J

How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I’m the kind of person who likes to celebrate every mark along the way, which is great because it’s funny how when it actually happens, it just feels so…logical. I mean amazing for sure but…see, I remember visualizing getting my first book, the smell of the pages, the smoothness of the cover, the color, the feel…and it was just so delicious. But when I actually got the books, they were weeks late and I was in a rush to get them to a reading. So, sometimes the process wrecks it a bit. However, having said that, not a day goes by when I don’t thank the gods at how lucky I am to be living my dream, sharing my stories with the world, knowing my words are making readers laugh and cry and smile and cheer. I love getting emails from kids who have read my book and can’t wait to find out what happens next. It is pure joy!

What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Having spent so many years in live theatre where entire companies live off government grants and marketing is the first thing to get cut, I just really wanted to do it right. I think self-promotion is absolutely necessary. Right out of the gate I was building an amazing website and book trailer. The trailer won awards and took off on the internet, which was great for creating some buzz. But it was also the most important part of my book tour. I played it on big screens before every reading and it was a huge hit with the kids. You can view it on youtube at

Or at the book’s website,

which is also truly incredible and creates a big impression on my teen readers. I had trendy dogtags made up and used them as prizes for Q and A’s along with props and my signature red ‘Valador’ cloak as a costume. I did a huge book launch, too that really got the word out at the beginning. You can also view it here:

The book tour was by far the most rewarding and successful as it helped me to sell 1000 books in 8 weeks. Since then it has been a steady sell. I also submitted my book for reviews and used them in promotions. The internet was probably my biggest challenge as, after the website and trailer, I just had no idea where to even begin. But I think the internet is a huge, HUGE asset to promoting and so I have been learning as I go along.

If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?

Sometimes I wish I’d have just gone straight to the agent/publisher route. There were times I was doing too much and getting burnt out. But the good thing is that I had managed a fair amount of success on my own, which was a great thing to bring to the tables of agents and traditional publishers. My book is currently being considered by four major literary agents, many of which were attracted to me via my internet presence.

Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?

I have grown leaps and bounds. My writing voice is so much stronger and more confident. It is amazing what confidence can do. I feel like I have come back to the pure joy of writing, sans the doubt that used to pick at me.

Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?

In all honesty, I think I could have relaxed more. It seems that every time I got stressed and pushed too hard, everything would fall apart. I have learned that a relaxed mind is a creative mind and not just for writing my novel but for anything I apply myself to. It seems to keep thing flowing smoother. So, yeah, I have learned to let go and stop forcing things and to trust in myself and the universe more.

What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?

By far the biggest and the best has been my rekindled confidence in myself as a writer. It has given me back the joy that brought me there in the first place.

If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?

Performing…probably musical theatre. But this is so much better. Actually it’s great now because when I do my readings I enter in the dark, with my red cloak and only a lantern for light and the music is all eery and dramatic. And then I get to read and interact with the kids, which I LOOOOOOVVVEE. So, I guess I can do both J

How do you see yourself in ten years?

Writing. Traveling. Living on the coast. Having backyard bar-b-q’s and bonfires with great friends and family. Not much different than it is now. I have always made a balanced life my top priority. Writing is a wonderful part of my life, just as important as my family, my friends, my dogs, my home, my health.

Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

We all have different paths to our dreams…it’s like the way a ship is navigated with many detours and changes as the sea demands but always the compass remains steadfast. However way you decide to go doesn’t matter. Just never, ever lose sight of your inner compass. Never give up. You’ll get there sooner than you think. But more importantly, as cliché as it sounds, enjoy the journey. Get there balanced so that you have no ‘tunnel vision’ regrets. Get there with great memories and friends and family to share it with.

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