An interview with Kelly Byrd, author of middle grade fantasy Great Big Ocean Sky
Book Two of the Far from Home Trilogy
Catch up with Mary Jingo as she trains with her friends in the Great Big Ocean Sky-side city of Festdelm. She may have survived the danger in Luminos, the City of Lights, but new challenges await as she, Teeny, Van Clare, Corb, Mikeala, and WindRunner continue their fight to save the Everything. When a new Shadowlander comes to LeeChee, will Mary be able to trust him—even if he is one of her closest friends?
Join Mary Jingo and her motley crew as they travel to the far ends of the world on their quest to save the Everything.
As more of LeeChee falls under Thrall, Mary must choose wisely. Whom will she trust? What bonds will endure? And… how did a Yorkshire Terrier end up as a part of this crazy experience?
The answers, dear reader, await inside as we set sail on the Great Big Ocean Sky.
Excerpt from Great Big Ocean Sky
WindRunner shot into the air, following the great ‘Dragon through the sky. Peregrina’s wake was strong and fast, and WindRunner put himself in the center of her air stream. Mary looked around, sensing for the other Thoughtdragons that had attacked the Garnet Revenge, but did not feel them.
It doesn’t mean they aren’t nearby, WindRunner said.
Do not become overconfident with this power, Mary Jingo. The Thoughtdragons are dangerous. Older even than my Kin. While I face the same temptation as you—I am drawn to her great power—remember that Peregrina wanted to be found. Otherwise, we would not have been able to follow her.
That couldn’t be possible, Mary puzzled to herself. She had known where Peregrina was. Mary had made this decision to follow Peregrina, hadn’t she? A stab of doubt hit Mary in the chest. Had they walked into a trap?
Peace, Warrior, WindRunner said soothingly. Peregrina wanted us to follow her. I don’t think she will harm you. I think she wishes to speak with you. Or, that is what Mikeala said to me before we left the boat.
You had a private Mindspan with Mikeala?
Yes. She told me I should take you if you wished to go.
Private Mindspans are rude when they are about someone else. The Father says so.
WindRunner laughed in her mind.
Suddenly, Peregrina stopped in midair and whipped around. WindRunner dove to keep from running straight into her serpentine length, ending their conversation. Peregrina beat her wings softly to stay stationary, and WindRunner flew around until he was face to face with the great Thoughtdragon.
Mary’s stomach sank. The last time she had been face to face in the air with someone like this, it had been the evil Mellie. She had won that battle, but only barely. She was not certain she could win a battle like that again. Peregrina was even more terrifying than Mellie. Her head was twice the size of WindRunner. The Thoughtdragon only needed to barely open her mouth to swallow them both whole.
WindRunner sent courage through their bond, but Mary felt his unease. He was being strong for her, just like she wanted to be strong for him. Peregrina spoke then to them both, her voice rich, gravelly, and musical, like a bass note dropped beneath a perfect melody.
“Well, you followed me out here, Shadowlander. What is it that you want?” She slithered her great head to the side as she said this, and Mary felt and smelled the Thoughtdragon’s untamed power. It blotted out her fear.
“I need your scales. Three of them. We need them in LeeChee. The Everything is shrinking, and I am fighting with the Resistors. We are trying to save it,” Mary said, breathing deeply. She spoke clearly and with confidence. “Please help us, great Peregrina.”
The ‘dragon shook her head and laughed.
“Save it? Save the Everything with my scales? Child, in your tiny mind, I might as well be the Everything. You cannot save the Everything with the Everything. And that world, that island, has been pitiful and beyond saving for many annuals now. Your Keeper is the size of a child. Don’t you see? It is lost. Go home to your dark, dark world and leave us in peace. Your People are causing the problem anyway.”
“My People?” Mary responded, trying to hide the hurt in her voice.
“Yes—you Shadowlanders. The Everything is created in the Shadowlands. It cycles up and up to places like LeeChee to be kept safe. Over time, it drifts back down to the Shadowlands and the cycle continues, with the ebb and flow of time. Do they not teach you anything in school down there?” Peregrina paused and turned her livid golden eyes to WindRunner.
“And you, the Lumon’s son. Bound by oath to protect a girl from the Shadowlands. Why have you done this?”
“She can save us,” WindRunner blasted back.
“Can she?” Peregrina replied with a grin on her giant mouth. “How? It is the greed of her People that has caused the blight in your lands. They don’t go outside anymore. They are trapped in their own heads, in their own tribes. They don’t listen to each other. They hardly interact with anyone who doesn’t think exactly how they do. How does one child heal rifts and tears that are hundreds of years old? This is why the Everything shrinks. Do you not know, WindRunner, son of Spearwing? Or are you all much too blind to see it?”
“Mellie is to blame for the Void. Mellie has been warping the Everything to her own purposes,” Mary said, yelling across the distance.
“Fool! Mellie was once like your precious Mikeala. As tall as a mountain and charged with keeping the Everything and the flow of the Cycles safe. She could no more turn the Everything into the Void than I can. It is against her nature. But to regain her former strength and form, she may have been tempted to help someone corrupt the Everything. The Void is powerful, even if it is unnatural. She may be helping the flow of the Void, but no, no. She did not create it.”
“Her scars,” Mary said to herself and WindRunner, thinking of the marks that marred the woman’s face. “Her scars are from the Void.”
“Yes,” Peregrina said. Her hearing must be excellent to perceive Mary over such a distance. “Yes. She has paid dearly in service to the Void.”
“You must help us,” Mary cried desperately. “Mikeala said you brought me out here to talk to me. Help me. I know you can.”
The giant Thoughtdragon swirled her body in the air in front of Mary. Small flames burst from her mouth when she laughed. Mary could feel their heat as they crackled in the air.
“Why would I help you? As I said, the greed of your people is what is causing LeeChee to die. It will grow dark and cold and fade, and me and my kind will visit it no more. And your land will suffer, Mary Jingo. As we have all suffered.”
“Please—you cannot let this happen.”
“How dare you!” Peregrina boomed. Her jaws opened wide. “How dare you accuse me of letting anything happen. It breaks my very being to know that LeeChee will fall into darkness and the Void, but I cannot intervene. Your People, you Shadowlanders, with your pride and your lack of imagination, your desperation for profit. You will kill LeeChee. I allowed you to follow me here because I wanted to see your face before I send you back to that darkened world of the Shadowlands. You don’t belong in LeeChee, Mary Jingo. You will only make things worse.”
Peregrina dove towards Mary and WindRunner, spinning her long body in the air and flapping her wings hard. WindRunner, always ready for attack, spun out of the way, as Mary gripped the handholds. She cast for Peregrina’s power, but found herself blocked from it.
WindRunner. She has shielded me. I cannot channel or control.
Sensing Mary’s fear, WindRunner burst through the air, the giant ‘dragon following swiftly behind. Peregrina was bigger, which WindRunner used to his advantage, banking and turning quickly through the air, making it hard for the Thoughtdragon to follow. Mary found herself dizzy and out of sorts, casting about for ideas. WindRunner blasted a mighty caw at the Thoughtdragon and watched as a jet of light shot from his beak and hit Peregrina squarely between the eyes. She roared angrily, then continued her wild pursuit.
Interview with Kelly Byrd
-What inspired you to become a writer?
Words chose me, and they have never, ever, ever left me alone. For as long as I can remember, characters and their stories have crept around the halls of my mind and hardly given me a moment’s rest. While I’ve pursued different career ideas over my life, I’ve always had the dream of writing books. And, look kids, here we are!
-If you could visit your book’s world for a day, what one thing would you do?
I would be infinitely curious to discover if I was sensitive to the Everything and whether or not I would have the ability to Channel and Control. I would like to visit the Towers of Luminos to work with the other Oracles in Training and see what their day-to-day lives are like. It would be so fun!
-It’s two in the morning. What does your protagonist reveal in confidence? (Don’t worry, we won’t tell.)
Mary Jingo would tell everyone that she’s not nearly as meek and mild as she comes across. She’d be the first to say that she’s obsessed with magic and learning how to Channel and Control on her own. I think Mary would also reveal that she’s not so sure about Bonnie Judde and what his intentions are.
-Which of your characters would you go out for drinks with?
My first choice would be Corb and Teeny, although the drinks would have to be starberry juice. The dynamic duo would be a hoot and a half, full of jokes, arguments, and funny stories. I’d love to see what they think about being some of the youngest, most accomplished Oracles in Training in LeeChee.
-You’re in a tavern, and a dwarf challenges you to a duel. What do you do?
I would square my shoulders, look at the dwarf, and ask them what they want with me. And then, if we can’t settle it with a good cup of mead, I guess I’d be forced to fight. I can’t fight, so I’d probably do a song and dance to distract the dwarf, and then make a quick exit while I yelled, “RUN AWAY!”
-Is there a genre you could never write? Which and why?
I hate to answer this because we never say never. The things you vow not to do are usually the things that end up cropping up later. I don’t think I would ever write historical fiction because it doesn’t interest me. But, under the right circumstances, anything can happen. Maybe someday you’ll get my comprehensive take on romance during the Spanish Revolution—but I doubt it.
About Kelly Byrd
Stories have crept around the halls of Kelly Byrd’s mind since she was a little girl. Not even the combined will of her two loyal pups, her devoted husband, and all her house plants could keep her from putting this story into the world. You’ll find this happy crew in Nashville. Tennessee.
Kelly Byrd will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway