Ilona is an emergency room doctor, born into an ancient Hun tribe which still exists hidden amongst us with its strict and fiercely enforced rules. She doesn’t know much about her Hun heritage besides legends, customs and rituals that she continues out of respect for her parents whose sudden death ten years before devastated her. She plays her tune on her birthday given to her by her grandmother. Elza – Ilona’s housekeeper - explains, the purpose of the tune is to let the elders know she had come to age. Her mother didn’t have a chance to explain her inherited powers, but after her 29th birthday when she is considered as an adult by Hun standards, she begins to remember the forgotten instructions concealed as rhymes her mother was teaching her since she was a small child. Ilona discovers she can heal with her bare hands; she can rearrange the human body to its healthy state. This ability is exciting as well as frightening. She is conflicted between having confidence in her intelligence and inherited abilities while having no confidence as a woman. Her insecurity created barriers which keep others out, and I also keep her caged in. She’s been in love with her unsuspecting best friend Bela, when a dashing stranger explodes into her life. The sudden magnetic feeling frightens her and discovering evil in him doesn’t help either. A sinister dark man appears, Ilona connects his presence with the series of mysterious deaths around her. Zoltan saves her life by jeopardizing his, which prompts Ilona to start fitting the puzzle pieces together and discovering the ancient tribal secrets that not only can change her future but the future existence of the Huns as well.
Now this has been published before correct?
Yes, I played with Ilona’s story for about a year and finished the first two books when I discovered self-publishing in late 2011. I got many positive reviews and feedbacks from readers which made me decide to rewrite the books and continue with the third book in the series. I sent the first book Birthright to the Best Indie books of 2012 award contest, to my delight, it was chosen as semifinalist. The editor at 5 Prince Publishing read my story recently and they offered to publish the trilogy.
What makes for a good hook in your stories? Where does your inspiration come from?I can talk about my only novel trilogy so far, although I have some ideas for my next one. The inspiration came from ancient Hungarian history. In my fantasy world, I blended the past and present into a fantasy tale with intriguing tribal secrets, magical heritage and the exciting and dangerous life in a secret society.
Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?In my novel, Ilona is my favorite. She grows as a person throughout the story from a naïve and insecure girl to a confident woman. She’s not afraid to make sacrifices and to accept her life calling.
Who would be your first choice to play Ilona from your book Birthright Bestowed?I can imagine, Natalie Portman playing Ilona. I think she could portray her quiet charm, vulnerability, loneliness, self-doubts and great inner strength well.
What do you hope readers take with them after reading one of your stories?
After reading my medical books, I hope the reader will start thinking about developing healthier diet and lifestyle to prevent illness and perhaps decide to use alternative methods with much less side effects when it’s possible. Also, I hope after reading my Ilona the Hun trilogy the reader will have a better understanding of their own struggles coming into adulthood, accepting responsibilities as well as heritage and live up to expectations without losing themselves. I hope they will take with them deep and honest feelings, human values as well as the feeling of freedom to use their imagination.Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
In my Ilona the Hun novels there are many messages. First of all, anything is possible if we have reasonable expectations and we are willing to put work into it. Understanding our own positive traits, flaws and limitations help us to create our own future.Are any of your characters based on real people or events?
I include some historical events in my novels. However, the real events are incorporated into a fantasy story. I can’t really say my characters are based on real people although some of my characters slightly resemble people I know, either in appearance or bits and pieces of their personality. In Ilona’s story, there are some personal experiences. I am ambidextrous and I can’t cook just like Ilona. Elza’s character resembles my favorite sister-in-law, and I worked little stories into the book about my cat Miss Mirci Catchmousky as well as my gentle giant dog, Gypsy. I wrote about some personal experiences as well, from my years working as an ER nurse.What else would you like readers to know about you or your work?
I worked in many areas of the medical field and found my calling in the Emergency Room setup. I always loved the dynamic and fast paced environment, the unpredictability and demand for acting and making decisions fast. In my personal life, I love and respect animals, and somehow they know it. Abused and runaway dogs and cats in the neighborhood always end up on my doorsteps and they always find love and care. Wild animals feel safe in my backyard as well, chipmunks, crows, groundhogs, bunnies, you name it, they live in my backyard. The orphaned baby foxes we raised - I put together a picture book about the experience - still visit sometimes.What books or authors have most influenced your life?
It wasn’t any particular author or book; it was my father who loved to read and introduced me to the wonderful worlds locked in books at a very early age. I have many favorites, I cannot choose. I love to read about our past, but not only the dry facts and events. I love to read from authors who can make the past more real and bring our ancestors alive and closer to us in their stories.How do your family and/or friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?
My family and friends are supportive and read my medical books, however very few of them like fantasy stories. I think most will read my Ilona the Hun novels only when by a miracle or rather with the help of fantasy book lovers becomes a best seller novel.
Please share with us your future projects and upcoming releases.
Currently I’m writing the third book “Destiny Altered” in Ilona the Hun series as well as “Grandma’s herbal remedies” which I will self-publish soon. The history of Hungary goes way back and there are lots of fascinating and heroic events to write about. My next project is going to be another historical based novel combined with fantasy.
How can readers find you?
BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/erika-m-szabo
Where can they go to buy your book?
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR STOPPING BY TODAY! HAPPY LAUNCH DAY TO YOU, AND GOOD LUCK!