Saturday, 16 March 2013

Q & A with Verdell Walker

Title:  The Coven: Fire and Ice

  The Coven, Book 1

  Verdell Walker

  YA Paranormal Romance

Page Count:

Cover Artist:
  Gabriela Miyares

Available From: 

Apple iBookstore  
Barnes & Noble 

Book Description:  After her clique's bullying causes a classmate's suicide, Kat Grey trades the vicious world of the California "in crowd" for the chance to become a better person in Massachusetts. But when she steps in to protect a classmate from being bullied, Kat sparks a war with Hannah, Milton Academy's resident Queen Bee.

Kat's courage and compassion attract the attention of Blaze Ward, Hannah's ex-boyfriend. As they fall in love, Kat discovers that Blaze is more than the boy next door. He's a warlock. He is also the leader of an in-crowd like no other - the Brotherhood, five young warlocks charged with defending witches and humanity from a demonic adversary named Seth.

Kat challenges Blaze to become a better man and leader while he helps her find redemption as she makes it her mission to stop bullying at Milton. But when Hannah teams up with Seth to destroy her, Kat becomes a hostage in the age-old war between the Brotherhood and their greatest enemy. Saving Kat will require more than Blaze's strength and skill; it will
mean breaking one of his kind's most sacred laws. Blaze will have to make a choice: his honor or Kat's life.
My Review
4 of 5 stars

This book has a lot going on. You have the beginnings of your typical romance - girl and boy meet, girl and boy fall in love - but The Coven has so much more thrown in to the tangle, including witches and warlocks with some pretty amazing powers, a jealous ex-girlfriend, an evil minion intent on destroying humankind and controlling the world, and some wickedly awesome action-packed fight scenes.

Kat moves to a new school for a fresh start and makes some new friends, and a few enemies. She falls hard for Blaze (but hey, who wouldn't?), and they have to fight against the odds to stay together. Kat is an amazing character. She is strong, independent, and does not follow the crowd. Though this was not always the case and it is not always the easiest thing for her, she is determined to make herself a better person. Blaze is used to girls throwing themselves at him, so when Kat doesn't, he definitely takes notice. Blaze is a nice guy, though he finds out he is not perfect. I have gotta say, he has got some amazingly awesome friends. I love those guys! I am very much anticipating learning more about them in future books, especially Q and Cody; they are my favorites.

The Coven also takes on some very tough social issues, such as bullying and suicide. There are more issues incorporated into the story, but these are the two foremost. As I said, there is a lot going on, but the author was able to weave it all together into an engaging tale that was really fun to read.

View all my reviews

About the Author: Verdell Walker is the author of THE COVEN series. Born and raised in the South, writing has been her escape from reality for many years.

Verdell is an avid sports fan and absolutely devoted to the Green Bay Packers. A gifted cook and baker, few things make her happier than making a meal for her family and friends. Except maybe writing about her favorite boys.   

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 Q & A with Verdell Walker 

Q.  Tell us a little bit about your main characters. 
A.  Maximilian "Blaze" Ward, Jr. is the leader of the Brotherhood and son of The First, who is the anointed head of all witches and warlocks in the world. Blaze chafes in his role as his father's successor and wishes he could be his own man. But at the same time he takes his position as a Brother very seriously. He’s strong, courageous, and intelligent. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his flaws – he can be extremely stubborn and slow to forgive others as is shown numerous times in the novel.

Katherine “Kat” Grey is Blaze’s human girlfriend. Deeply affected by the suicide of a girl she once bullied, Kat turns her life around and vows to become a better person. She takes a stand against bullying and is not afraid to fight for what she believes in. She catches Blaze’s eye when she stands up to a bully in order to protect a friend, and also because she quite frankly doesn’t fall all over him like other girls do. While she doesn’t have powers, Kat is Blaze’s match in every sense. Kat loves Blaze, but she is also completely independent of him. That was a trait I was keen to show, and something I think is missing in a lot of female leads in YA literature. 

You can learn more about the other members of the Brotherhood

Q.  What was your favorite scene to write?
A.  Note to your readers: If you haven’t read Fire and Ice yet, then skip this part! I have two favorites, really. The first was when Blaze and Kat are in the cave after they’d been attacked by Dark Ones. I really wanted to play up Blaze’s vulnerability; he’s such a strong, brave character and it was fun for me to show him opening up to someone. The second was Kat’s homecoming speech. Her words were the main point I wanted to make about bullying. And it was certainly a demonstration of Kat’s strength and character. She’s standing up for what she believes in and burying the bad person she used to be once and for all.

Q.  How would you describe your writing style?
A.  I don’t think I have one, to be honest. I don’t even think I write in only one style. I try to pick a style appropriate to the story. The story should be the primary motivator for everything – each one requires something different. On a simple level, I strive for unadorned, realistic dialogue for my characters. I’m a big believer in the dictum of “show, don’t tell” and thoroughly agree with Hemingway’s belief that less is more.

Q.  Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A.  This novel was definitely a vehicle for me to comment on the destructive nature of bullying and its far-reaching consequences. We all need to be cognizant of the power our words and actions have on others. My primary goal as a writer is for readers to be engrossed in my characters and their stories. Beyond this, I also use writing as a soap box to address the issues that I care about. Beyond magic and witchcraft, this series is going to touch on issues that concern me. In Fire and Ice, bullying is a central theme while there is also an underlying social commentary on class. That commentary will be a much bigger focus in the second book, which I’m writing now. Drug use, racial discrimination, poverty on Indian reservations, veterans’ issues, and sex trafficking are all going to factor heavily into the plots of the subsequent books. Those are things I care about, and I want to bring them to my readers’ attention at the same time I’m entertaining them. 

Q.  What do you see as influences on your writing?
A.  My personal experiences and interests are definitely big influences for me. My experiences with being bullied provided a lot of fodder for Fire and Ice. I get inspired by things that I read in the paper and online as well. I think that reading the newspaper every single day is one of the best things that a writer can do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read something in the paper that later influenced my writing.

Of course, you can’t be a good writer if you aren’t a reader too, in my opinion. I’ve been influenced by a lot of writers across genres, all of whom have taught me different things that I’ve used in my own work. Some of the most important for me are Jhumpa Lahiri, JR Ward, Karen Cushman, Orhan Pamuk, John Ajvide Lindqvist, and Naguib Mahfouz.

Q.  Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
A.  In five years I hope to be celebrating the release of the last book of The Coven series and completing my MBA. Hopefully by that point I will have the met the man I’ll spend the rest of my life with too! 

Q.  What do you do to unwind and relax?
A.  After reading, belly dancing is definitely my relaxation mode of choice. I’ve been training in belly dance for about 5 years now. It’s a feminine and sensual dance, but requires a lot of control, coordination, and strength. My teacher’s been dancing for 40 years and she still takes lessons!

Q.  What book are you reading now?
A.  I’m reading “A Discovery of Witches” by Deborah Harkness, ironically enough. I’ve wanted to read it for a while since I’ve heard nothing but good things about the book. 

Check out each stop on The Coven tour schedule! 



  1. Hi Sheri! Thanks for taking the time to review Fire and Ice. Much appreciated, and I enjoyed the interview!

    1. Thanks Verdell, it was my pleasure! I'd love to be in the loop for when the next book comes out :)