Hex Breaker: An Interview with Taryn Noelle Kloeden


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Forced to decide between her happiness and her pack’s safety, Rayna Myana chooses to protect those she loves. But when shattered promises and dark magic collide, no one is safe…

For six hundred years, Fenear, a land where humans can take wolf form, has warred with Maenor, its neighboring kingdom ruled by a ruthless dynasty. The possibility of peace emerges when the Maenoren Overlord, Rhael, enters negotiations with Fenearen leaders Bayne and Silver, but their niece, Rayna, is skeptical. Yet, when Rhael proposes to her to strengthen the alliance, she agrees for the sake of her country, despite her family’s objections and a blossoming romance with her best friend. Suspicion of treachery changes Rayna’s decision, but before she can annul the agreement, powerful forces subdue her with a sinister hex. Separated from her pack with Fenear and everyone she loves in danger, Rayna must escape and travel to a distant realm to break the hex. Only then can she save her best friend and her homeland.

Lines blur between heroism and recklessness, dreams and reality, even life and death, and Rayna risks losing herself along the way.

1. Thank you, Taryn, for allowing me to interview me today!!! I am so excited to read your first novel in final form. It was awesome when I read it in draft form so I can only imagine how spectacular it must be now. Tell us a little but about it.

Thank you for having me! I can’t wait for you to read Hex Breaker either, as it has really evolved since those early stages. As you might remember, this novel is the first in the Fenearen Chronicles trilogy. Hex Breaker is a YA fantasy about a young woman with the ability to transform into a wolf who finds herself at the center of peace negotiations between her nation and their long-time rival. When she discovers all is not as it seems, she must undertake an epic quest to save those she loves. At its core, I’d say it’s a story about love, family, and the lengths we go to save those closest to us.

2. How did you get the idea for the book? Have you always loved writing or is this a new thing for you?

The earliest kernels of this story come from games I used to play as a child. I loved to play outside and since my siblings and other neighborhood kids were older and had “grown out” of such things, I had to come up with ways to entertain myself. So, I created characters and stories. A few characters in this book including Rayna, Channon, and Gar got their start out there in the woods. I started writing these stories down when I was in middle and high school, eventually leading to the first draft of this novel. I kept writing throughout college, but mostly short stories and creative nonfiction. But when I graduated and eventually joined a writing club, I decided to become more serious about this novel. A few years later, here we are!

3. If your book was made into a movie, what actors would be in it?

Haha, yes, one day perhaps Hollywood will come a-knocking and I’m sure the casting director will be happy to know I have this Pinterest board filled with ideas. Certain characters I’ve always sort of envisioned as specific actors. For example, I have always seen Seperun as Idris Elba and Kellan as Ben Barnes. Other characters though, including Rayna and Bayne, I have a very specific mental image for, and I’ve never quite found an actor that matches. Maybe that means the actors destined to play them just haven’t been discovered yet 😉

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4. Have you always loved animals?

Yes, absolutely. I drove my parents bonkers I’m sure with all my requests for various pets and my tendency to find strays and wildlife in need of rescuing. I was obsessed with Animal Planet growing up and the first job I ever remember wanting to be was a veterinarian (ended up as an anthrozoologist, so pretty close). I was lucky to live in a rural area with lots of wildlife and have many pets (mostly cats) over the years, and for me that love for nonhumans never faded and has become an integral part of my writing and my career.

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5. You recently graduated. What did you study and what is your 9 to 5?

Yes I recently graduated with my M.S. in Anthrozoology, which is essentially the study of human-animal interaction. I specifically am interested in understanding and helping to address instances of human-wildlife conflict. This built upon my undergraduate study in psychology and biology. I will be starting a PhD program in the fall, this time under the label of environmental science but plan to continue my anthrozoological research. One day I hope to be a professor but have held several animal related jobs over the past few years. I’ve worked at wildlife rehab centers and an animal shelter, and now I have a really fun job as a dog swim instructor!

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6. If you could wake up as any animal, what would it be and why?

That’s a tough question. My first instinct would be to say some kind of bird, because birds are absolutely fantastic animals with better eye sight than us and the ability to fly of course, but I also have studied birds enough to know how strenuous their lives can be. I’m not sure I’m hardcore enough to hack it as a bird! My second instinct is to say a wolf or a fox, but they also lead very intense lives, and as someone who only eats plant-based food, I don’t think I’d transition into killing to eat well either. So if we’re being honest, I think I’d do best as some kind of large herbivore, if I had to make the change permanent. If, however, I could shift back and forth like a Fenearen, I think I would have my other form be a wolf or fox 🙂

7. What else are you working on right now? Will there be more Fenearen Chronicles coming soon? And will those also be submitted through “The Tamara Effect”?

Right now I just finished up my Master’s thesis (yay!) so am decompressing for a couple of weeks. After that, I’m going to be working on Twice Blessed, the second in the Fenearen Chronicles trilogy. I hope to publish that sometime next year, and indeed, if she’ll have me, I hope to work with the fabulous editor Tamara Shoemaker once more! The Tamara Effect turned my first book into something far more amazing than I could’ve hoped, and I can only imagine the wonders it will do for my second. Besides this series, I am working on some short fiction and a science fiction project, but those probably won’t see the light of day for quite a while as I focus on finishing this trilogy and starting my PhD.

Thanks so much! This was really fun, and I feel I learned stuff about animals in the process! So excited to read your book!

Here’s where you can find out more about Taryn and her books!

Amazon short link: goo.gl/6M9tjo

Website: www.tnkloeden.com

Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest handle: @tnkloeden

Facebook: www.facebook.com/tnkloeden

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16521805.Taryn_Noelle_Kloeden

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A Garden Trip Down Nostalgia Lane


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They say the sense of smell is the strongest of the five senses in terms of bringing back memories. I know that’s true for me. I have a very good sense of smell. It comes from my dad. He’s the same way. We’re the first one to smell something burning or to notice someone’s new perfume or wrinkle our noses at an area  poultry plant.

For me, sometimes it’s hard to remember where I’ve smelled something before. But not always. For certain aromas, there’s a direct memory connection.

And that’s what it is for garden-grown white grapes and vine-ripened tomatoes.

Whenever I smell or taste them, it brings me back to my grandpa Quagliato’s garden in Union, New Jersey. Now, he had a garden in Newark, too, I’m sure. But that’s a bit harder for me to remember, because they moved out of Newark when I was little. But when I touch the vines of a tomato plant and smell its aroma, I am brought back to his 3×15 tomato garden.

He took such great care of his tomatoes. He was out there all the time. Doing what, I couldn’t say. He wasn’t much of a talk, and I wasn’t into gardening then, so I never paid attention. That’s probably why I’m such a bad gardener to this day! I remember the taste of a freshly picked sliced tomato, sprinkled with a touch of salt. I can remember the little yum-yum noise my grandma would make as she ate the first slice. I can sometimes remember my grandpa smiling as he brought in his tomatoes. And if you knew my grandpa, that was a big thing.

And the grapes. My grandpa had a grape vine on the fence. White grapes. I don’t know which kind but they were good. I’m pretty sure they had seeds. Like most real foods straight from the garden, those grapes tasted nothing like the grapes in the stores. In fact, I’ve never eaten any grapes from a vine that tasted like grapes in the stores, leaving me to wonder…where do those grapes come from???

But, I digress, the smell and the taste of those white grapes take me back to my grandparents house in NJ. I can picture the little tendrils and leaves on the vines and sneaking some grapes when no one was looking. I can almost hear the birds on the fences and the planes flying to nearby airport, and the tinkling of the ice cream truck.

My grandparents passed away years ago, but when I grow tomatoes and touch that vine or buy those grapes from the farmers market, I like to think a little bit of them lived on in me.

I love you, Grandma and Grandpa Quagliato

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Grandma Quagliato with me at the piano

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Grandpa Quagliato at their house in Union.

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Me, Grandpa, my cousin Caitlin, my brother Christopher, and my father (rockin’ a ‘stache) at my grandparents house in Union, New Jersey. You can see the grapevine behind us on the fence. Beyond that is a patch of garden where his tomatoes grew every year.

Throwback Thursday: A Photo and a Recipe


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This was taken many a moon ago on one of Julio and my first dates. 🙂 We made a picnic and went up to Shenandoah National Park. We drove up Skyline Drive and hiked down to Dark Hollow Falls, which is amazing, if you’ve never been.

Julio brought a special concoction that I thought would be disgusting, but actually turned out to be delicious! This has been a recurring theme for me…that’s why I know I always need to try something before saying I can’t eat it! 🙂 It is easy to make and fun to eat.

Tostadas de Ensalada de Atún (tuna salad tostadas)

Two cans of tuna in water (drained)

1 can Veg-all (or mixed veggies) – drained

1 can corn – drained

2-4 tbsp pickled jalapeño pepper juice

1/2 cup or so of mayonnaise (Makormick’s with lime is the best!)

Pickled jalapeños, to taste

Valentina (or any picante sauce), to taste

Tostadas (flat, fried corn tortillas) (you can also eat it with saltine crackers)

Mix tuna, veggies, mayo, pepper juice together in a bowl. Laying a tostada flat on your plate, or on the palm of your hand, spoon on the salad and top with Valentina and jalapeños. Enjoy!

Pre-Blizzard Panic


Six inches, twelve inches, eighteen inches, twenty inches! The amount of snow we’re supposed to get rises with each conversation I have with people. There is snow in the air mixed with a pre-storm panic. What if we lose electricity? We have to stock up on cans of food and water and bread and batteries…

Even my drive home felt panicky. People were rushing around. Places looked emptier than normal. There was a strange aura of anxiety surrounding my car. I’m not worried about snow but I could even feel it reaching me. There have even been more crises in the last few days. Is it a full moon and a blizzard?

Something odd is afoot. A panic. Even my dog is acting a bit crazy.

But, then again…perhaps it is just an everyday snowstorm in the Shenandoah Valley.

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