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Character Interview: Amy Benson from Ray East & Sam D’s ‘Voluspa’

We’re thrilled to have here today Amy Benson from Ray East and Sam D’s new YA fantasy romance, Voluspa: A Magical World. Amy is a 15-year-old empath from New York.

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

Thank you so for this interview, Amy. 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?

I think my character has been portrayed fairly well. However there is this small thing that I’d like to clarify. In the book I am portrayed as someone with an aversion to shopping. In truth I love shopping and hanging out in the mall.

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

I think the author did a good job of capturing all the nuances of my character. My insecurities, moments of self-doubt, my needs to find affection and all my other traits have been accurately presented.

What do you believe is your strongest trait?

I would say my perseverance. Life has always thrown me a few hard curves but I never give up. My friends tell me that I am just plain stubborn.

Worse trait?

I am very emotional. I think and feel very strongly.

Do you have a love interest in the book?

Yes. His name is Drake Mc Grizzle and he is the most amazing boyfriend a girl could ever wish for.

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

I didn’t really get nervous about the outcome of the book because I had faith in my authors.  To be honest, I have to admit that there is one part in the book, where I start feeling an attraction of sorts for a very disagreeable boy. That had me worried. Besides I was so engrossed in Drake, I found it hard to genuinely understand my attraction for another boy.

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?

I would hate to be Lord Vali. He has no redeeming quality and is just plain evil.He is cruel, greedy, ambitious, blood thirsty and completely merciless. In short, he is despicable. But I also think he is pitiable. His evilness stems from the turns and twists his life has taken – to some extent he is a product of difficult circumstances as well as possessing a natural proclivity towards violence.

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

I think the ending of the book is pretty great. If you have connected with the young lovers i.e. me and Drake then the ending is going to fill you with anticipation. You’ll be eager to know what happens next.

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

I would just ask the author to keep in mind all the things that have changed about me in the past several months. I am no longer the same person that I was when I first arrived in Voluspa. My trials and triumphs have caused me t change. I am so much stronger as a person; more confident. Also finding Drake, falling in love with him has changed me. Now I am at peace with the person I am.

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

Absolutely! The adventure is nowhere near done. I want my happily ever after with Drake.

Ray East and Sam D has moved to Voluspa and live in the Forest of Skotos with their 5 year old daughter and a pet Typhon.  They visit Earth with the help of an Empath from time to time. Ray East did her masters in Phsychology from Univeristy of Sussex and has worked as a counselor for adolescents. Sam D used to teach at a SPJC before he moved to Voluspa.

Their latest book is Voluspa: A Magical World.

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Centuries ago, war between aliens and humans almost destroyed the world. To prevent such a war from happening again, a mighty ruler then formed a secret society of nine powerful humans and aliens called the Bramhas. These Bramhas each wrote a book imparting ancient wisdom and knowledge. The possession of these books could bring about untold power and success. The nine books were hidden but the desire to possess those books, still cause men to fight wars and turn against each other. One such war was fought in the realm of Voluspa decades back; the consequences of that war still resonate in this magical land. Two young lovers get caught in this tussle and it changes their destinies forever.

Amy’s humdrum life takes a complete 180’ turn with the death of her stepfather. She goes to live with her grandmother – her only living relative, though she hasn’t seen her in the last five years. Among her mother’s childhood memorabilia, she finds a book ‘Legends of Voluspa’ that captures her imagination. She becomes so engrossed in the book that she starts dreaming  about the places in the book till one night she finds herself inexplicably transported to the new world – Voluspa, as described in the book. Here she meets Drake, who unknown to her is a shape shifter.  Chemistry cackles between the two from the very first and as they discover that they share a lot in common, a tenuous bond forms between the two. ‘I’ll keep you safe’ vows Drake and he remains true to his word as he befriends her and saves her from various troubles that befall her over the next couple of months.

In Voluspa, Amy discovers a new way of life. It’s a magical world inhabited by primarily four clans – Empaths, Morphus, Mendens and the Pulchrous. The Empaths have the power of mind, the Morphus are the shape shifters, Mendens are the healers while the Pulchrous possess physical perfection and strength. With the help of an old family friend, Amy takes her rightful place in the Empath clan. This marks a new chapter in Amy’s life. She realizes her own powers and subsequently starts going to a school to enhance the same. With Drake by her side, she makes some wonderful friends. However, her life is not all smooth sailing; trouble comes when she learns the truth about her biological parents. She realizes that her very existence is against Voluspan law which forbids the union between individuals belonging to two different clans. History threatens to repeat itself as she realizes that her predicament was not that different from what her mother had faced, decades back. She is totally in love with Drake, who belongs to the Morphus clan.

The enchanting world of Voluspa is far from Utopic; it has barely recovered from a devastating war fought twenty years back when the peace of the land is once again threatened by Gangrels, the evil army of aliens.  The two young lovers soon realize that besides contending with forbidden love, they have to deal with other impediments. Ancient enmities, a past war, a much coveted book, all conspire against the two lovers. Gangrels reappear in Voluspa and Drake falls in the clutches of one such evil being who would stop at nothing to realize his fiendish ambitions. Amy and her friends cross realms, face enemies, deal with challenges, solve riddles and brave possible destruction, as they set off on an adventure to rescue Drake.  The ‘Force of Sutra’ clashes with the ‘Elemental Force’ of the Gangrels as Amy and her friends are faced with an indomitable enemy. They use strategic warfare, pit adversaries among themselves and use every last drop of strength, skill and courage as they take on warriors far more ruthless and skilled than themselves.

As Amy embarks upon a quest to save Drake, her love for him is tested at every turn but she never wavers from her objective. Braving imminent death she manages to reach Drake – only to find a changed person. Gone is the man she is in love with, instead a dangerous stranger stood in his place. This Drake was teetering at the edge between becoming completely evil and retaining his own soul. He almost harms Amy but stops himself at the very last minute. His love for Amy proves to be stronger than the evil entity threatening to overpower him.  However when chips are down, Drake comes through. He sets aside his personal well-being in order to save Amy, one last time. Drake is perhaps lost forever but hope dies last – Amy is determined to get back Drake, no matter what the cost.



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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