Please join me in welcoming author Heather L.L. Fitzgerald to the blog today to take us through the tiny island that served as inspiration for her new fantasy novel, The Secret of Stardust!
THE SECRET OF STARDUST by Heather L.L. Fitzgerald
SERIES: The Tethered World Chronicles #4
GENRE: Fantasy (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Mountain Brook Ink
RELEASE DATE: November 15, 2023
Prince Alexander may be heir to the Nephilim throne but he’d rather blend into the crowd than stand out in the royal court. When the king of Calamus dies, an alarming edict reveals a future for Alex that he refuses to accept. As the funeral dust settles, Alex and his ragtag group of friends flee to the hinterlands, gambling on unknown dangers over palace politics. For better or worse, Alex is determined to do things his way, for once.
Left behind and in the dark about Alex’s plans, his sister Ellynn prepares to receive an entourage from a distant Nephilim kingdom. She welcomes the distraction from her grandfather’s death and her brother’s disappearance. But their arrival awakens old hostilities and new suspicions. Soon, Ellynn’s compulsion to eavesdrop lands her in a web of threats and betrayal she might be too entangled to escape.
As Alex is pursued by monsters from without and within, Ellynn treads the line between secrecy and safety. Every revelation determines someone’s destiny. Kingdoms clash as Alex and Ellynn confront long-buried terrors in this latest adventure from the Tethered World.
Other Books in This Series
Welcome to Cape Clear Island, Ireland
by Heather L.L. Fitzgerald, author of The Secret of Stardust
Come with me and explore a tiny island that helped to inspire my latest book! Welcome to Cape Clear Island, Ireland—Inis Chleire in Irish and as referred to in my latest release, The Secret of Stardust.
They say to “write what you know”, and I’ve probably taken that concept to an extreme in my series, The Tethered World Chronicles. Well, at least in as far as naming characters and choosing settings, anyway. Since my book is populated with Nephilim, Bigfoot, Gnomes, and more…that clarification might be helpful! But, I love to use the names of friends and family—and even fans—in my stories! (As long as they understand that the character who might end up with their name, or maybe a creative version of it—aka: Veronica/Revonika—is not some sort of passive-aggressive statement about them as a person.
The other familiar-to-me component in my stories has been the setting. Although this portal fantasy mainly takes place in pockets of a hollow-ish earth, the “topside” setting has always been where I grew up—the Pacific Northwest. My first three books were a bit of a love note to the Portland/Vancouver area, the Columbia River Gorge, and the Oregon Coast. But after my birthday trip to Ireland in 2019, I was compelled to include the Emerald Isle in my next novel, as well.
Although we traversed the Republic of Ireland proper and also enjoyed an excursion into Belfast in Northern Ireland to hunt down C.S. Lewis’s childhood home (harder to find than you’d think, but I found it!), our favorite part of the trip was a three day stay off the southwest coast on Cape Clear Island. Charmed by the online photos of this stone cowshed-turned-farmhouse-turned-AirB&B, I expected to love this speck of land before we ever arrived.
Catching a ferry from Baltimore—and hoping our rental car wouldn’t get towed while we were gone—my husband Billy and I let the salty spray calm our nerves after a very skin-of-our-teeth arrival on the last ferry out. We took in the smattering of islands off the southern tip of Ireland. Some sported a few homes, some a small settlement of people, and some were nothing more than a hump of land for sea lions to bask on and watch us motor past.
Cape Clear Island is the southernmost inhabited land in Ireland, and we had rented the southernmost house—which is quite literally its address! We were greeted by the home’s owner, a distinguished bewhiskered gentleman in a tweed cap. And his name (first and last) was literally ONE consonant different than one of the characters in my trilogy, which meant our meeting felt particularly providential.
We immediately hit it off and chatted it up as he drove us to (of course) the southernmost part of the island. He told us how he had bought and restored the old stone farmhouse that dated back to the Irish Potato Famine. Although he and his wife lived in a house near the ferry, he had been excited to buy this piece of history, renovating it for an Air B&B. He took great pains to keep the rustic integrity of the home while giving it the comforts of modern life.
As we pulled into the gravel drive, we were greeted by three of the most adorable ponies I’d ever seen. Though full-grown, they were the size of Shetland ponies, but with sleek hair and wild manes. Kerry Bog ponies are native to Ireland and the owner had brought them to the farmhouse to help keep the property trimmed as well as adding to the Irish authenticity.
Walking through the red, Dutch-style front door, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. The well appointed inside spoke to both the writer and the decorator inside me. From the loft (requiring a ladder) and its skylights, to the recessed windows (the walls were two feet thick stone) which framed a view worthy of, well, being framed, to the peat burning fireplace and the locally made furniture…I could have moved in permanently, then and there.
After a tour of the inside, we stepped into the backyard. What greeted me there was so perfect, so enchanting, so utterly profound, I COULDN’T put it in my book because it would have seemed like I made it up, or as if I was using a gimmick in an effort to connect with readers. But, you guys! It was real!
A giant stone table—aka “Aslan’s How”, aka THE stoned table from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe—sat there like a beacon that had stepped out of my dreams and materialized to welcome the bibliophile in me. In truth, it was a granite slab that had been dug up at some point on the property. The owner, who truly loved his land and its history, wanted to use it in the landscaping. I tried to act like a mature adult and only mildly flipped out in front of him, but I can tell you that that is where I sat every morning to drink my coffee, bundled in a blanket and feeling like I could cry from happiness.
That house and its charming land, the tiny island with its standing stones, castle ruins, and ruins of a church that predated Saint Patrick’s journey’s to Ireland…the bay with its one store, smaller than the grocery section in a gas station, the two (count them!) restaurants, the yurts, the hostel, the Napoleon-era lighthouse…the views, the views, the views…
I had no choice! This island was such a special place, it had to play a part in my next novel. And, indeed, it does.
I hope you will check out The Secret of Stardust and see how Inis Chleire was woven into the adventure involving Topsiders, Nephilim, Gnomes and more. The good news is, despite being book four, this story is a standalone tale, set twenty years later from the close of the last novel, The Genesis Tree.
So, if you’ve visited before or if you’re brand new to the Tethered World—I’d love it if you’d allow me to show you around and explore The Secret of Stardust!
Hi, I’m Heather! Truth seeker, Narnia dreamer, coffee consumer.
Though some may call me peculiar, there are four someones who call me Mom, five (and counting) who call me Mimi, and one special someone who calls me his wife. I currently reside in the great state of Texas, but I grew up in Vancouver, Washington—home base for The Tethered World Chronicles. From homeschooling, to autism, to Bigfoot…its been a fun challenge to weave the unique things in my world into novels that will brighten yours!
You can mostly find me on Instagram these days, wearing tinfoil hats and talking about things that intrigue me most…giants, Nephilim, megaliths, and more!
I also have a Facebook group that you can join here.
And I have a website that is currently getting revamped—but feel free to stop by anyway!
Heather L.L. Fitzgerald is offering a copy of one of the books in The Tethered World Chronicles series (winner’s choice) to one of my readers! (US only for print. Ebook if international winner. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read The Secret of Stardust by Heather L.L. Fitzgerald?