The Qwillery | category: Mia Marshal


The Qwillery

A blog about books and other things speculative

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series

Please welcome Mia Marshall to The Qwillery. Lost Causes, the 4th novel in the Elements series, was published on September 22, 2015.

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series

TQWelcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Mia:  Thanks! It’s great to be here. As for writing, I’m pretty sure I was telling stories as soon as I learned to read. I suspect they were terrible, though at the time I thought I was a genius. It was so easy then. No need for critiques or editing or even plot! I often killed people in those early stories, and there were a lot of orphans. Perhaps I haven’t changed all that much over the last few decades (though now there is editing and hopefully a plot).

TQAre you a plotter, pantser or hybrid? What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Mia:  Pantser for life, though I occasionally delude myself that this time, for real, I’ll plot. Then I get distracted by a new shiny idea somewhere around chapter two and all my outline can do is whimper in pain. I like discovering the story and the characters as I go, and it’s amazing how it all comes together in the end. I’ve come to trust that my subconscious has a plan—it just rarely bothers to share it with me before the third act. I always know what the ending will be, in terms of setting up the characters and overall arc for the next book, but that’s about it.

TQDescribe Lost Causes in 140 characters or less.

Mia:  A group of elementals & shifters band together to save the day—except when they mess it all up. A mix of mystery, magic, snark, & friendship.

TQTell us something about Lost Causes that is not found in the book description.

Mia:  This book contains my favorite ending of all the books I’ve written. And I can’t say what it is without spoilers, but trust me. It’s a good ending. I might be a little biased, though.

TQIn the Elements series so far who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?

Mia:  Simon has always been the easiest to write. He’s a cat shifter—a house cat shifter. I’ve lived with cats my whole life and have spent too much time imagining what they’re thinking. Now I get to transcribe it.

The hardest one was Vivian, though that was way back in book 1. Most of my characters appear to me in a pretty advanced state, but she wasn’t so accommodating. Prior to being the nerdy, quiet computer genius she is now, she spent some time as an L.A. club kid and a hippie-esque earth goddess. Trust me, she’s much better as a nerdy hacker. Four books later, it’s hard to believe I ever saw her as anyone else.

TQWhich question about the Elements series do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!

Mia:  No one’s ever asked why I chose the elemental/shifter combo. It was never really a question for me, so maybe it’s just been equally obvious to everyone else! Despite being categorized as urban fantasy, this series is set in the natural world and relies on an earth-based mythology, and these were the only magical races that felt believable as ones that could be born from the earth’s original creation magic. Vampires, demons, the fae, etc. always felt too "other", whereas I could imagine shifters & elementals always being part of this world.

TQWhat's next?

Mia:  I’m about to start editing an adventure fantasy set in a very alternate version of this world. There’s lots of action and romance and a dog called Rabbit, which are three things that probably won’t change in edits. That won’t come out till late 2016 at the earliest. Afterwards, I’ll write the fifth and final Elements book, which will come out sometime next year.

TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Mia:  Thank you for having me!

The Elements Series
Mia Marshall's Elements series is all about magic and mayhem among the supernatural races of Lake Tahoe. Aidan Brook is the heroine, but the series also focuses on a group of friends that doubles as her makeshift family. These series is named after elementals, which were born from the very first magic and are a union between humans and the forces that created the planet. In addition to water, fire, and earth, there’s stone, desert, and ice (but no air). There are also shifters and a whole lot more going on in this world! If you haven't already gotten into the Element series, start with the first book, Broken Elements--currently free on Kindle.

Lost Causes
Elements 4
Match Books, September 22, 2015
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 354 pages

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
Aidan Brook has spent months living with the horror of what happened when she lost control of her magic. Now she’s searching for a way to manage her immense power, but she only hits one dead end after another.

On the run from a council intent on her death, Aidan, the bear shifter Mac, and the rest of her friends find themselves on a desperate chase across deserts and oceans in search of answers. Along the way, they encounter a living myth and a dual magic with secrets of his own—and they learn that the cure may be more deadly than the disease.

To save her own life, Aidan will need to confront the most dangerous foe she’s ever faced…herself.


Broken Elements
Elements 1
Match Books, February 26, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 338 pages

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
Magic, murder, and mayhem on the shores of Lake Tahoe.

For Aidan Brook, manipulating the power of water is as easy as breathing—until the awful night her magic fails, with deadly consequences.

Though Aidan tries to outrun her past, the grisly murder of an old friend draws her back to the scene of her crimes. In Lake Tahoe, she only finds more trouble. An estranged best friend, a dangerously attractive landlord, and a couple of FBI agents are determined to complicate her life…and for the first time in years, she doesn’t mind a few complications.

As the killer grows increasingly fixated on Aidan, her past and present begin to collide. To defeat the killer, she must learn to control her power—before her broken magic fails her for the final time.

BROKEN ELEMENTS is the first book in the award-winning Elements urban fantasy series.

Shifting Selves
Elements 2
Match Books, April 15, 2013
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 351 pages

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
Aidan Brook’s world was shattered when she uncovered long-buried secrets about her past. Secrets that could cost her sanity—or even her life.

Now, she craves peace and quiet, but that’s not an option when local children start vanishing. Soon, Aidan is drawn deep into the shifter world…a place where elementals like herself are decidedly unwelcome. To track the missing children, these longtime enemies must work together without too many claw marks or too much fur flying. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter, and Aidan’s life is anything but peaceful.

As Aidan and her friends zero in on the kidnapper, they discover Aidan isn’t the only one with secrets—or the only one who will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden…

SHIFTING SELVES won the RT Award for best indie urban fantasy!

Turning Tides
Elements 3
Match Books, May 6, 2014
Trade Paperback and Kindle eBook, 344 pages

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
Aidan Brook committed one too many magical crimes. Now, the water council insists she answer for them. Before they can deliver a verdict that will change her life, one of theirs is gruesomely murdered—and Aidan’s best friend is accused of the crime.

Before the body cools, Aidan is racing against the clock to prove Sera’s innocence. To make matters worse, her favorite bear shifter is struggling with the dangerous bond they now share. Aidan will do whatever it takes to save her friends…but the cost may be higher than she can pay.

A little murder, a little magic, and family and friends to help her through it all. On the outside, it looks like a typical Aidan Brook day, but she’s about to discover, when the tides start to turn, even a water elemental can’t control what happens next.

Note: The alternative Illustrated covers are still available.

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series

About Mia 

Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements series
Mia Marshall is the award-winning author of the Elements urban fantasy series. Before she started writing about imaginary worlds, she worked as a high school teacher, script supervisor, story editor, legal secretary, and day care worker. She has lived all along the US west coast and throughout the UK, where she collected an unnecessary number of degrees in literature, education, and film.
These days, she lives somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas, where she is surrounded by a small but deadly feline army.

Website  ~  Twitter @thismiamarshall

Facebook  ~  Goodreads

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014

To those who celebrate Happy Easter and to those who don't Happy 20th April! I hope that whatever you are up to you have a good book to hand. I have been lucky to have read a couple of goodies this past week. So what have I read?

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014
I started the week returning to a series I love - The Newsflesh trilogy by Mira Grant. I didn't re-read one of the books but found a novella from the series that I hadn't read - How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea. The novella features Mahir who appears in the series but not prominently until the final book in the series. This story takes place after the final book Blackout and with Mahir taking a trip to Australia to see the rabbit proof fence and the unique way that Australians have dealt with the zombie apocalypse. I love this series and it was one of the few where I liked the secondary characters as well as the main ones, including Mahir. I did think however, that once you finish a series it should stay that way.  I liked the story but the impact is gone as in my mind the series has finished. I think I will avoid reading the other two novellas I haven't read yet.

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014I then set my sights on reading a book I got from NetGalley  - Morningside Fall by Jay Posey. I read and reviewed book 1 of the series Three last summer which was Posey's debut novel. I thought Three was pretty good, especially as a debut but I didn't enjoy Morningside Fall. Posey made a risky decision to turn an 8 year old boy, Wren into the story's hero and main character and it was a risk that didn't pan out in my view. Wren fluctuated between clinging to his mother, as you would expect a child of that age to act like and talking/acting like a very articulate adult. I have yet to find an 8 year old that uses inner dialogue that they are 'appalled by their own weakness'. Young children don't think that way, act that way or speak that way. It really diminished the power of the story but having such a young character as the focal point and main protagonist. The story also dragged as it was almost all inner and verbal dialogue. There was a lot of action but it was almost all conveyed verbally rather than Posey describing events. This makes for a tedious read. Posey has a great post apocalyptic world and interesting characters in the Weir who sound part zombie/part robot but so many of the other characters are really one dimensional and stereotypical. I really struggled to finish this book and spent as much time looking at the fantastic front cover as I did wishing it would end already.

I rounded out the week reading an ARC I received from Qwill - Turning Tides by Mia Marshall. I read and reviewed the first two books of series last August Broken Elements and Shifting Elements and was super excited to have a crack at reading the next book. I will be writing a full review of this book so look out for this in May.

Melanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014That is it for me for now as I am off to read something that isn't fantasy or science fiction! I am going to read my new recipe book - Leon which is actually the name of a coffee shop type bistro which does delicious food.  I am looking for something that will counter balance all the chocolate I plan on eating this weekend. If I don't slip into a sugar coma I will look forward to clearing off more books from my TBR. Until next week Happy Reading.

Review: Broken Elements and Shifting Elements by Mia Marshall

Broken Elements
Author: Mia Marshall
Series:  Elements 1
Publisher:  Match Books, February 26, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 332 pages
Price:  $11.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780988976115 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

“It’s happening again, Aidan. We didn’t stop it, after all.”

As an elemental, Aidan Brook holds the power of water at her fingertips. A descendant of the earth’s oldest magic, she can cause tides to ebb and flow, put out house fires without calling 911, and give anyone who’s annoying her an impromptu shower.

But even her magic has its limits. After it fails her one terrible night, she hides from the world and everyone she once loved, trying to escape the memories that haunt her. Ten years later, her exile is brought to an abrupt end when her former best friend appears on her front porch. An elemental killer is once again murdering her friends, and she must return to the scene of her own crimes.

Lake Tahoe proves more than she bargained for. Between a sadistic killer, some clever FBI agents, an annoyingly attractive landlord, and way too many new roommates, she has a pretty full plate. Add in a past she’s desperate to escape and her own dangerously uncontrollable powers, and Aidan Brook is having a very, very bad month.

Shifting Elements
Author: Mia Marshall
Series:  Elements 2
Publisher:  Match Books, April 16, 2013
Format: Trade Paperback and eBook, 342 pages
Price:  $11.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780988976146 (print)
Review copy:  Provided by the Publisher via NetGalley

Review: Broken Elements and Shifting Elements by Mia Marshall
You can’t fight your nature.

The cover for Shifting SelvesAidan Brook’s world was shattered when the actions of a brutal murderer revealed long-buried secrets about her past–secrets even she didn’t know. A powerful elemental, Aidan discovered she possesses the wrong kind of magic. It’s a secret that could cost her sanity—or even her life.

What she needs is some peace and quiet. What she gets is a phone call from a division of the FBI so secret it doesn’t even have a name, asking for her help with a series of shifter disappearances.

Before Aidan can settle into a new routine of pancakes and evenings by the fire, the case develops claws. She quickly finds herself caught between uptight bears, deadly mountain lions, overprotective parents, and unhappy federal agents. Throw in a stalled romance with an enigmatic shifter and the slow dissolution of her chosen family, and it’s hard to say which will drive her mad first: her magic, or her chaotic life.

Melanie's Thoughts:

I thought I would review both of these books together as I read them one right after another. Broken Elements begins with an introduction to the main characters - Aidan and Sera although the story is told from Aidan's perspective. Both Aidan and Sera are elementals with the ability to control water and fire, respectively. Aidan has been a virtual recluse for the last decade and Sera has hunt her down in order to tell her one of their best friends has been murdered.  Aidan reluctantly agrees to return to Lake Tahoe with Sera to find the serial murderer who is has started killing again after a decade hiatus. As the story progresses we find out why Aidan has been in hiding and why the murderer has started killing again.

Book one, Broken Elements starts out with a gentle introduction to the two elementals - Aidan and Sera, the history of elementals, their society and the personal history of the pair. We are also introduced to their motley crew of friends including Simon the shape shifting cat (domestic that is), Mac the shape shifting bear and Vivian the earth elemental. The friends work together to solve the murders and in the process try not to become the serial killer's next victim. As part of the investigation Aidan discovers the identity of her father. Her mother led her to believe she was only a half breed elemental with one full blood parent (her mother) and a human father. Her mother sheltered her from almost everyone until she went to university and met Sera. Not only does she discover that she's not what she thinks she is but also the identity of her real father.

Book two starts almost immediately afterwards. This time Aidan and Sera have been asked to investigate the disappearance of two teenage shape shifters. There isn't a lot of trust between shape shifters and elementals and it takes all of their 'charm' to convince the shape shifter community that they are capable of finding their children. It isn't an easy job as being smart alecs comes a bit easier than acting competent but it does lead to some amusing scenes. One such scene comes about when Aidan discovers that there are shape shifting otters.  Both Aidan and I share a love of otters.  Who doesn't?  They are adorable. In fact I hazard to guess that some of the funniest lines I have ever read come from Aiden's first encounter with a shape shifting otter -
I wanted to treat her with the respect she was due rather than squealing about the super cute otter, but that was hard to do when I saw her face. She was in a word, adorable. Small ear, enormous, melting brown eyes, round cheeks, and a tiny button nose. I wanted to take her home and feed her and love her and pet her and call her George. Instead, I had to parlay like a reasonable adult. Life really wasn't fair.

I enjoyed these first two books of the series and looking forward to the next installment. Aidan and Sera are amusing but Marshall needs to be careful her characters don't run away with her. While the wise cracks are funny there can be too many or at times that are not convincing. Overall, Marshall has combined likeable characters and mysteries that get more complex as the series progresses. Marshall is taking a break from the Elements series to start another fantasy series but I hope she returns soon as I was just getting into what has started as an engaging series.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013

I was back to work this week so back to the big commute with a lot to read. I am most disgruntled as my Kindle decided not to work before I went on holiday and despite my best efforts I failed to revive it. It was less than a year old but as it was a replacement the warranty was only for a measly 9 weeks or something equally ridiculous.  This was my 2nd replacement so needless to say  I am not amused it has broken so quickly.  This is where proprietary systems let us down. I am almost totally locked into having a Kindle now as I have several hundred books bought from Amazon and therefore, not compatible on other e-readers. I have been reading books on my iPad but its quite heavy and if its a crowded tube and I have to stand then reading on it is impossible. So it's the big debate whether I buy another Kindle and be annoyed with myself or by a Nook and convert all my books. Decisions, decisions.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013
Anyway I am sure you are bored of reading my big whiny tale so onto what I have read. I finished the last two books of the Eddie LaCrosse series by Alex Bledsoe - Dark Jenny and Wake of the Bloody Angel.  They were both great and I will be reviewing the whole series so keep your eye out for it.

I also finished Queen of the World by Ben Hennessy. I can't say I enjoyed it. I thought it was a tad dull and while the concept of mute heroine was a good one I don't think it worked. Or at least perhaps Hennessy needs to write Sarine a bit differently so that she is a bit more brave and less reliant on her companions.

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013Two of my sisters recommended a book to me which I immediately downloaded -The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley. It has started out to pretty engaging and hope it have it finished next week.

I have been SUPER naughty and ordered a bunch of books from NetGalley including The Big Reap by Chris.F Holm, God's War by Kameron Hurley, Three by Jay Posey and finally Shifting Selves by Mia Marshall. Now all I need to do is read these and I will be all set!

Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013

This is my last full week in my current job and I am super nervous about leaving after 9 years.  I am looking forward to my TBR to settle my nerves. Well, that's it for me so until next week Happy Reading!
Interview with Mia Marshall, author of the Elements seriesMelanie's Week Review - April 20, 2014Review: Broken Elements and Shifting Elements by Mia Marshall Melanie's Week in Review - June 16, 2013

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