Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesday's Writer: The Legend of Turtle Pond by Mila A. Ballentine - An Interview by Eva Lenoir


WELCOME MILA A. BALLENTINE to Wednesday’s Writer Interview! I’m very happy to have you here with us! Please have a seat, enjoy a drink and let’s talk about your novel: The Legend of Turtle Pond. 

First and foremost, inquiring minds want to know: Who is Mila? The author….the person?
I’m a mystery writer who writes about the things that grasp the core of my imagination. My writing style is an extension of my personality. I try to write the story as if I’ve lived it. Like most of my characters, I’m complex, but I enjoy the freedom that writing provides.
I’m most interested in showing how we handle difficult situations and exploring our vulnerabilities. If you ask a man, “What are your strengths?” He will recite a stanza. Ask him about his weaknesses and he’ll narrate a haiku.
Let me begin by informing my readers that this novel is a paranormal with a twist of mystery.  Set in the 19th Century when families sought the comfort of starting a new life in the land of opportunity, we are catapulted into a world of love, hard-work, greed and magic.  How did your idea for this novel come about?
 I walked the slate steps in Central Park that led to the boardwalk outside Belvedere Castle.  Turtle Pond sat in front of the castle covered in moss. I walked up to the railing and looked over the edge. Turtles swarmed the perimeter beneath the railing. I fell in love with the pond and its inhabitants. The pond inspired me to write, The Legend of Turtle Pond: The Initiation of Tabitha Obrien.

As I read this novel, I was immediately taken by the main character, Tabitha Obrien.  Her accepting yet strong force of character was evident but her immeasurable heartache was what reeled me in from the beginning.  Is her character based on any one woman in particular?
The character wasn’t based on one person in particular. However, a certain feature, her hair for example and what it did in a particular moment was inspired by a friend. Otherwise, Tabitha was a perfect storm created by my imagination. Her strengths were gathered from two women I have admired throughout my lifetime, my mother and best friend, Evelyn. Her weaknesses were merely, what ifs, their maniacal doppelgangers.
Set in the New World, this novel explains the hardships of having to start life anew.  Is this time frame something you are passionate about or did you have to do a great deal of research to insure the details were consistent with reality?
A lot of research was involved. I read books about ships, lifestyles in the late 1800s and 1900s. I’ve always been fascinated by period films from that era. So, the clothing was the most enjoyable part.

I used to work as a costume assistant for a theater department at a community college. We often went to the storage room to look for costumes for the actors. There were costumes from every age in there. It was inspiring and in my mind, I took elaborate trips through time adorned in fancy garments while holding a parasol.
Throughout the novel, we are given little bits of information, here and there.  It is captivating and riveting.  To be honest, I read this novel in four hours because I just had to know what was coming next.  How long did it take you to write it and was it difficult at any point in time to keep the suspense going?
I wrote The Legend of Turtle Pond in three months. It was an emotional process but I enjoyed the journey. I became emotionally invested in the characters’ lives. After a while, they became a part of my reality.
I enjoy a good mystery that keeps me on the edge of my seat. So, creating an environment filled with suspense wasn’t too hard. I tried to keep the reader intrigued and never gave away too much information.
The relationship between Tabitha and Marc is heart-warming, their love…although not openly passionate, is real and palpable.  However, it is the love for her children that takes the forefront.  As a mother, I have to admit that there were scenes that made my heart ache…I won’t reveal which ones in order to keep the spoilers to a minimum… Was it equally difficult for you to write those scenes?
Writing The Legend of Turtle Pond: The Initiation of Tabitha Obrien was one of the most intriguing and emotional writing experiences I’ve had thus far. I tried to bring honest emotions to the story. I kept telling myself, ‘if they can’t feel the character’s anguish why should they care?’ I put myself in the character’s shoes. I cried, laughed with them and in essence their reality became my own.
In the turning point of the story, Tabitha Obrien has a complete change in personality, we are introduced to quite an interesting secondary character and we are given an “OHHHH” moment when we discover the true identity of one of the other characters…At any point did you have a “Mwhahahaha” moment thinking about the reader’s reaction to your plot twist?

Absolutely, it was the most enjoyable part of the entire experience. Everyone likes a literary twist that keeps them interested. Mwhahahaha.
So, at this point I believe our readers deserve a little taste of this magical world.  Would you care to give us a snippet? The Legend of Turtle Pond: The Initiation of Tabitha Obrien (The Life and Trials of Astonia Series)

Chapter One

“Passengers lined up to board the Lavinia, a broad four-masted pinewood ship with a draped goddess attached to the prow. Her hair flowed against the pine as her eyes faced the heavens and her body clung to the ship. Travel chests punctuated some of the heads in the crowd, while others carried their possessions in leather travel cases. The passengers looked out at the vast deep as they walked the narrow gangway to board the ship and entered the lower level, disappearing into the hull.

There was little room to move around, but once the other passengers saw Tabitha’s eyes, they moved to the outer edges of the cabin. Her blood-red eyes released their fears from the safety of ignorance, leaving them vulnerable to her powerful gaze. They stared at the Obrien’s, held their families close and whispered amongst themselves. Tabitha was used to people staring at her; she had experienced it since she was a child.

I’m supposing from the book cover, that this is a series: The Life and Trials of Astonia.  Can you tell us a little bit about what the entire series is about as a whole?
The Life and Trials of Astonia is a historical paranormal series set in a time and place unlike our own, enthused with old world charms and peculiar characters that are bound to tickle your imagination. The series will delve deeper into Tabitha’s character and continues to shed light on the persona of Astonia. The second book in this series will tentatively be released by the end of this year and it will pick up right where the first book left off. I want to know what happens from that point onward and so will the readers.
Besides the Legend of Turtle Pond, what other novels do you have available to us and are they all based on the same genres?
I write paranormal and other types of mysteries. There’s even a western inspired mystery in the pile. 
Link to Books:
Barnes & Noble:

As most authors, I’m guessing you have some Works In Progress stashed somewhere in your computer…Care to tease us a little and give us some tantalizing information?
I am currently working on book two in The Life and Trials of Astonia series. If all goes well, it will be released during the Winter of 2016, so keep your eyes peeled.
The title, and blurb information will be posted on this blog when the time comes.
Okay, last question before we get to my favorite part of the interview… What do you find is the most difficult part about being a published author?
The hardest part is the editing process, but what’s equally daunting is not knowing if the story will be well received.

Here is my favorite part of the Interview!  In an effort to “analyze” you, please choose one answer for each pair and yes, you may elaborate if you would like.  Good luck!
-Old World or New World?
I appreciate the old world atmosphere. I would love to live in the late 1800s or in the 1950s. I think the fashion was simplistic yet elegant. Still, I couldn’t imagine not having technology at my disposal.
-Taking Chances or Playing it Safe?
I take chances when I write or travel to places that I’ve never been before and I have no problem going alone. The only time I play it safe is when I’m at the beach.
-Karma or Coincidence?
Life is arguably filled with both. Everything happens for a reason but if you exude negative energy don’t expect anyone to throw you a parade.
-Forgiveness or Revenge?
Both, Life would be dull without them in a story. In the real world, forgiveness is necessary for human development, but forgetting the lesson leads to repetition and repetition is hellish.
-Overprotective or Lenient (Mother)?
I’m overprotective in general when it comes to children. They are precious even when they start growing feathers and talk back.
-Truth or Dare?  
Both, a person who tells the truth is both respected and feared. Liars are like cancers they eat away at your patience. When I start a new project, I dare to do the unexpected. I write about the things that terrify me or about the things that draw out the deepest emotions that we often try to tuck deep inside us.
-Vanilla or Spice? 
Spice makes everything taste better whether it’s in food or added to other areas of our lives. Like books, there are many spices to choose from; pick one, but try them all.

Thank you so much, Mila, for stopping by! I hope you have great success with The Legend of Turtle Pond and I cannot wait to continue the adventures! 
Thank you for interviewing and featuring me on your blog. Your questions allowed me to delve into my thought process while learning more about myself. It is my hope that your audience enjoyed getting to know me. Hopefully, they will explore The Legend of Turtle Pond or any other book that I have written.

Twitter handle: @MilaABallentine.

Wishing you all a great Wednesday!

Writers go write, readers go read!


Eva J
About The Interviewer/Author
 Eva LeNoir grew up traveling with her parents to various countries in the world. Reading was her constant companion during her travels and her ability to adapt to different cultures fed her mind with endless possibilities. The characters swimming in her head are always from various horizons with a multitude of dreams and aspirations. However, all of these voices always have one thing in common: The women are strong and independent. A true believer in the female cause, Eva's wish is to portray the women in her books as the leaders. She sees them walking hand in hand with their partners and not be the sheepish followers of the male gender. But most of all, Eva LeNoir wants to offer her readers a moment of pleasure as they dive into the world of her mind's creation.
To learn more about Eva, visit:

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