Tagged: Fantasy Fiction

Donna Migliaccio – Author Interview April, 2020

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

When we launched Thrice Read Books’ review blog, our inaugural post was for Donna Migliaccio’s Fiskur (book 2 in the Gemeta Stone Series). Since so much has happened, and Donna has released three more books in the series, we snagged an opportunity to sit down with her to talk about the Gemeta Stone series in general, her most recent release, and what’s next for this epic fantasy author.

Jenn: Shall we talk books? Specifically, yours… It’s been a year or so since we last sat down and talked. I think Ragis was just coming out.

Donna: Ragis came out in September 2018. A lot has changed in the interim, with Fiery Seas going out of business and me having to learn the self-publishing biz.

Jenn: Tell us a little about yourself?

Donna: Sure. I’m a professional stage actress based out of the Washington, DC area and have published five books in my epic fantasy series, The Gemeta Stone.

I’ve also published a couple of short stories as well.

Jenn: How did I miss the short stories?

Donna: They didn’t get a wide distribution LOL.

Jenn: Aww.

Donna: One was a more literary work called Yaa & The Coffins, published in the now-defunct Thinkerbeat Journal; the other, Fire Bird, was published in Wild Musette a couple of years ago.

I don’t write short-form very often.

Jenn: I can imagine writing short form is challenging, especially when you write epic fantasy.

Donna: What’s funny is that when I write short stories, they tend to be under 3k words.

On the shorter side of “short.”

Jenn: You have my admiration! That’s amazing. 

Jenn: Have you always wanted to write or publish your writing?

Donna: Well, I’ve always written. Even when I was small, my brother and I used to write illustrated stories together. We’d open one of those black and white composition books and lay on the floor facing each other, each one drawing and writing on their own page. We were usually writing the same characters and roughly the same plot, just with our own twists. We’d spend hours doing that. Unfortunately all those “picture books” are gone now.

Jenn: Oh, no. What a loss.

Donna: When you’re an Army brat, you get used to it.

Jenn: Ahh the bliss of the PCS move.

Donna: My dad was ruthless about getting rid of stuff when we had to move.

Jenn: So how did you go from composition books to publishing Gemeta Stone?

Donna: I first wrote the Kristan Gemeta character as part of a high school composition assignment. We had to write the beginning of a novel, and I’d had a dream about a young man on a horse meeting with a young woman on a road beside a forest. So that’s what I wrote.

It was nothing more than a sketch, but I’d actually dreamed the name Kristan Gemeta.

I never did anything with it until years later, when I was out of college and living alone for the first time.

I’d already written and trunked another novel (a truly awful contemporary romance about a blind prince – fortunately it, too, no longer exists), but there was something interesting about the Kristan character that made me want to resurrect him.

Jenn: Who are the major influencers in your life and philosophy?

Donna: Family for certain. I come from a large family (six siblings!) and my mother and father are/were very dynamic people. Dad passed back in 2000; Mom just celebrated her 99th birthday.

Jenn: Happy Birthday, Mom!

Donna: All my siblings are “artsy” – we all sang or played an instrument or danced or drew or wrote growing up.

My parents encouraged that. We had to learn to amuse ourselves on long road trips.

So being imaginative was a survival skill.

Jenn: I think that’s awesome. So many kids now don’t have that support towards the arts.

Donna: Ain’t that the truth. Or if they do, it’s rarely arts for art’s sake. It’s more “how can I turn this into a side hustle and make some money?”

If you can’t find the joy in art first, it’s going to get real old real fast.

Jenn: It takes patience, perseverance, and a deep love for the craft to get good at any form of art. You’re absolutely right. If you can enjoy it, you won’t stick with it.

What advice would you give young artists – dancers, singers, writers, painters – from your perspective of having dedicated most of your life to the creative arts?

Donna: There’s a mindset with young people these days that they have to “win” at the creative game quickly. They might put in a couple of months’ work and get frustrated that they’re not experts at the end of that time. I wonder if that mindset comes out of playing video games – you put in thirty hours playing a game and you generally end up fairly proficient at it. But the creative process isn’t like that. It can take years to develop the skill set you need to write a book, or play an instrument, or act in a play.

Jenn: Very true. I think that falls into the “10,000 Hours” philosophy… that it takes roughly 10,000 hours to master any skill.

Donna: My advice to writers would be to READ. Read all the time. Read widely and analytically. I’m constantly stunned by the number of young people I’ve encountered who’ve decided they want to write a book – but they don’t read. They watch a lot of movies and TV, but they don’t read. And writing a novel is a completely different skill set.

Jenn: I’ve run into that quite a bit, myself.

Jenn: What other books or authors have influenced your writing, and specifically, the Gemeta Stone series?

Donna: T.H. White’s The Once and Future King had a huge impact on me. I believe I first read it because I was a fan of Disney’s The Sword in the Stone. But they’re nothing alike (in fact, I can’t bear the cartoon now – it seems coarse and thudding). The Once and Future King is a retelling of the Arthurian legend, but there’s such grace and whimsy and melancholy all mingled together. I was entranced by the idea of this good-hearted child who must learn to be a king.

Jenn: Having read Gemeta Stone, I can definitely see the influence there.

Jenn: If you had to explain this series in one sentence, what would you say?

Donna: Oh dear.

With the aid of a magical talisman, a gentle young king struggles to free his country from the grip of a powerful magician.

Or something like that.


I always struggle trying to reduce a six-book series to a single sentence.

Jenn: I can empathize with the struggle…

Jenn: For our readers that are unfamiliar with the series, can you give us a quick book-by-book elevator pitch? (I promise I am not trying to break our featured author.)


Book 1 – Kinglet

Robbed of his throne, his crown, and even his name, gentle and introspective Kristan Gemeta must learn to lead before he can recover his family’s ancient talisman and take a stand against the Wichelord Daazna.

Book 2 – Fiskur

With the assistance of a band of rebels, a shipful of brigands, and the legendary Kentavron, Kristan defeats Daazna and his minions – but at a terrible price.

Book 3 – Stoneking

Kristan struggles to unite four disparate kingdoms and understand the true nature of the Gemeta Stone while battling the fear that he is losing his sanity along with those he loves.

Book 4 – Ragis

Kristan Gemeta teeters on the brink of madness while forced into a dangerous winter journey that will end in a confrontation he dreads.

Prequel – Princeling

The child Kristan Gemeta tries to find a place in his father’s battle-hardened court, while the youth Daazna faces his own struggles as he learns ancient Wiche skills.

GAH – why is that kind of thing so HARD??

Pin for Donna Miggliacio Interview April 2020
Jenn sits down with epic fantasy author, Donna Migliaccio

Jenn: Because you told the story with many hundreds of words, and your brain is trying to take the whole thing into account?

Donna: Maybe.


Jenn: In our last interview, we mentioned this series is appropriate for readers 16 and over, because of some sexual content and graphic violence. Now that the prequel is out, would you consider these standalone novels, or would you recommend that readers start in a particular place?

Donna: I feel that Princeling could be read at any point in the series, but where I think it’s most valuable is between Ragis and the yet-to-be-published final book in the series.

It answers a lot of questions set up in the first four books and gives some clues about what might happen in the final book.

Jenn: It does.

So Kinglet would be the recommended starting point?

Donna: I think that’s most useful – Kinglet, Fiskur, Stoneking, Ragis, Princeling, and then the last book.

Once I finish that LOL.

Jenn: What are some of the major ideas that you integrate into this book or your life in general?

Donna: That kindness is an essential component of life.

Even if showing kindness is viewed as a weakness rather than strength.

Kindness is at the core of Kristan’s existence, and trying to find a balance between that strong moral compass and the demands of his rule is a constant source of tension.

Particularly when he’s pitted against an adversary who is completely without compassion.

Jenn: And Daazna is definitely that.

Donna: Daazna is definitely a Big Bad, but one of the things I wanted to tackle in Princeling was how he got that way.

Jenn: Because people don’t just wake up one day and decide to be that level of evil.

Donna: What was surprising as I wrote the book was discovering that he and Kristan faced many of the same obstacles:  loss of a parent, not being accepted in their society, etc.

Jenn: You mentioned that elusive last book… what’s next for Kristan and his intrepid writer?

Donna: I do have a single line description of the final book LOL.

Jenn: Hehe… Let’s hear it!

(and hopefully, it doesn’t give anything away!)

Donna: After twenty years of peace, Kristan must face his old enemy in a new form.

So….we’re talking a major passage of time between the end of RAGIS and the beginning of the new book.

Jenn: Oh, my!

Donna: Which means I not only have to pick up all the various plot threads from the earlier books, but also introduce a boatload of new characters.

Jenn: Fantasy casts can get… enormous. Am I right?

Donna: They can indeed.

Jenn: So how can readers follow you and find out when the exciting conclusion is available? (Also, follow for the Daily Fox, and other great Donna excitement!)

Donna: I have a newsletter:  Fantasy, Fancies & the Occasional Fox. It comes out about every other month and includes my writing and theatre news, plus stories about my local fox population, birding, gardening, recipes, and other things that interest me. (It also has a Hidden Treasures link that will take you to a secret page on my website where I’ll occasionally post short stories and other writing.)

Or, readers can visit my website at donnamigliaccio.com

You can sign up for the newsletter on the website.

I can be followed on Twitter (@donnamig) and Instagram (mrsmig1).

Jenn: Sounds good.

It has been a pleasure, once again, to sit down and “talk” with you, Donna. Thank you so much for your time, and for giving us such fantastic stories as Kristan’s.

Buy the Gemeta Stone Books: (available as both Kindle and Paperback)

We’ve interviewed Donna before. You can find that post here.

The Renaissance Club

**Note: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that when you click one of the links in this post and make a purchase, Thrice Read Books receives a small commission from the seller. We do not charge authors for our reviews and this does not cost you anything additional and does not impact the author’s royalties – it does allow us to continue bringing you ad-free content, and we thank you in advance for your support.**

Jenn reviews Rachel Dacus' time travel romance, The Renaissance Club - Contemporary Romance, Time Travel, Renaissance Italy
Jenn reviews Rachel Dacus’ time travel romance, The Renaissance Club

About the Book

The Renaissance Club; Rachel Dacus
Adult; Fantasy Romance; 374 pages

Time Fold Books December 20, 2018

May Gold, an adjunct college teacher earning little more than a Starbucks barista, often dreams in her tiny, moldy office about the subject of her master’s thesis, 17th-century sculptor Gianlorenzo Bernini. In her fantasies, she’s in his arms, the wildly adored partner of the man who invented the Baroque. In reality, May has just landed in Rome with her teaching colleagues and her suffocating boyfriend, Darren, who is paying her way. She feels like a precocious failure and longs for a passionate, creative life of beauty and poetry. When tour leader George St. James lends May his beautiful gold pen to take her notes, she finds herself in the year 1624, under the gilded dome of St. Peter’s, staring into Bernini’s eyes. But can she break free of her present-day life, the dead-end job, the stuffy boyfriend, and the boss who wants to thwart her rise in the Art Department? Only if she can give up everything and figure out the secret to falling through the folds of time, might she seize her unexpected chance for happiness and live in a magical future with her soul mate from another time.

A CAPTIVATING STORY illuminating love’s power over time. Perfect for fans of and Susanna Kearsley and Diana Gabaldon, for those who love Italy, art, and history.

About the Author

Rachel Dacus is a poet, essayist, and novelist who writes about love and history. In her novel, THE RENAISSANCE CLUB, a young art historian gets to meet her hero from the past, the fiery 17th century Italian sculptor Bernini. She then must choose whether she can give up everything — even the time in which she lives — to be with her soulmate. The book was praised as “enchanting, rich, and romantic”.

Dacus is at work on both a sequel and a prequel. She shows off her versatility as a writer in her four poetry collections, most recently ARABESQUE. 

She lives in Northern California with her husband and a tiny, mighty Silky Terrier. She’s a member of the Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association and Authors18. To learn more about her news and upcoming projects, sign up for her quarterly newsletter at http://racheldacus.net. A poem in every newsletter!

Jenn’s Review

A stellar story and subtle romance! Rachel Dacus’ story weaves the past and the present together in a seamless blend of prose and poetry, with subtle undertones reminiscent of a fine Italian culinary dish in The Renaissance Club.

This was not my first time-travel romance, but Ms. Dacus is easily on par with my literary heroine, Diana Gabaldon. While the heroine travels back and forth through time, she tries to keep her present-day, dead-on-arrival, relationship with Darren together; but each trip through the portal of Time, each liason with her artistic hero, Bernini, she finds herself comparing past and present in more ways than one.

The romance between May and Bernini sizzles, and the love scenes are subtle, but pack a punch and the author moves deftly through the full range of human emotions with style and sensitivity. All the while, Dacus is describing art and Italy with a deftness that leaves even the least-experienced art historian with a clear mental image of what the characters are seeing and studying.

Her characters step in and out of time seamlessly, and it would seem that all of our intrepid travelers on this particular three-week academic tour find themselves somehow changed by the magic of Italy; its pull an irresistible dare to be something more, fly higher, try something new, inspired by the innovation in artistic styles that Rome, Venice, Florence, and Assisi seethe with. And who wouldn’t find themselves forever altered by meeting Masters of their time such as Michelangelo, Bernini and Borromini?

Even those who aren’t romance fans will find something in the pages of this book to pique their imagination. Aspiring authors, poets, painters and sculptors especially, should read at least the first three chapters, and pay special heed Bernini’s advice.

You won’t find steamy sex scenes in this book, but in this reviewer’s opinion, they would have most likely detracted from the overall impact of Rachel’s work. Readers will be left with a new appreciation of art, history, love and time itself. A must for every romance reader’s book list, especially fans of time-travel romance.

Jenn reviews Rachel Dacus' time travel romance, The Renaissance Club - Contemporary Romance, Time Travel, Renaissance Italy
Jenn reviews Rachel Dacus’ time travel romance, The Renaissance Club

Buy the Book

This book is available in Kindle and paperback here.

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Also by Rachel Dacus:

The Invisibles

Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio – Book Review & Promo

Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio Released November 7, 2017


The Gemeta Stone Book 2

Fiery Seas Publishing, LLC

With his family’s talisman in his possession, Kristan Gemeta is ready to face the Wichelord Daazna – but he has no inkling of the scope of Daazna’s power, nor the depths of his hatred. 

With the recovery of his family’s protective talisman, Kristan Gemeta has found hope, courage – and perhaps even the first stirrings of love.  With the aid of Heather Demitt, her band of rebels, a shipload of Northern brigands and the legendary Kentavron, he readies himself to face the Wichelord Daazna.  But neither he nor his comrades realize the strength of Daazna’s power and hatred.  The Wichelord’s first blow comes from a direction Kristan least expects, with horrific, lasting consequences.

**Book Review by Jenn Bradshaw**

 I will be the first to admit that fantasy is not my #1 favorite genre, but every so often, the opportunity arises and I take the plunge to dive into a fantasy story. Fiskur by Donna Migliaccio is one of these books. Granted, it is book 2 in a series, so I came into the story a little late (I have book one, and will add its review and a link in this blog post when I finish reading it). Fiery Seas just released this book, and I will say that it is amazing.

Ms. Migliaccio weaves a breathtaking story that is impossible to rush through. (I often read books of this length within a day, this took me a week to get through) As she spins the story, her concise setting, action and character descriptions allow a vivid image to form in the reader’s mind, and then get out of the way of the narrative.

This is not a book for young teens or those affected by gore and violence. While the author keeps her descriptions concise, and potentially disturbing scenes are not plentiful, some scenes are graphic in nature. Executions, torture and rape among them.

Her characters are well developed and pull the reader into the story. It’s easy to love the protagonist, even when he’s not terribly lovable; hate the antagonist, he is evil and twisted even as his own story unfolds; and cheer on those oppressed by tyrannical overlords.

The elements of this story weave together a variety of legends, myths, recognizable cultures and languages right alongside Ms. Migliaccio’s invented elements – seamlessly. 

In short, I absolutely enjoyed reading this book. It is a bit longer (in PDF form, it was well over 500 pages), hence the “epic” tag for this book. It is not, however, a difficult read, despite the various elements of languages other than English. I highly recommend this book to fantasy readers. (Yes, I’ve encouraged Hubby to read it as well!)

You can buy the book at these locations (not affiliate links):

Amazon  ~  Barnes & Noble  ~  Kobo  ~  iBooks

Also by Donna Migliaccio

Princeling (Prequel, Gemeta Stone)

Kinglet (Book 1, Gemeta Stone)

Stoneking (Book 3, Gemeta Stone)

Ragis (Book 4, Gemeta Stone)