Building Character with Rhaya and Zelene from Heirs of War

Welcome to my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet a character from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought is host to Rhaya and Zelene from the new adult book, Heirs of War. Hello ladies, it’s so good of you to join us on Strands of Thought. Tell us a little about yourselves and what your life is like.

Rhaya: Hello! I’m Rhaya. I’m nineteen, I’m a bit of an empath. Okay, that’s modest. I’m seriously an empath. It gets kinda weird, but it can be cool too. I would normally tell you all about how I’m a college student, and I work in a bookstore, and all the other usual stuff. But, um, I guess that really doesn’t apply anymore since I’m not even sure there are universities or bookstores in Estridia.

Zelene: And I’m Zelene. I’m seventeen. I don’t have any magical power—

Rhaya: Unless you count getting your ass kicked. Hey, don’t glare at me. That’s what you said before.

Zelene:  Right. Anyway. I’m an orphan, and my exboyfriend just risked his life to save mine from some magical assassins sent to…well, yeah, to kick my ass. They did.

Rhaya: I think they were sent to kill us, actually. But they did kick your ass. Oh, and you aren’t an orphan anymore, remember?

Zelene: Oh, you mean that dude that said he’s my father and explained how he and my now-dead Mom decided to ship us all off into the great unknown almost eighteen years ago? Like I said, I’m an orphan.

Kai: What conflict are you up against?

Rhaya: Well, we’ve sort of been taken from the world we knew—one without magic or anything—and told we’re supposed to inherit some kind of power to help save the worlds. I’m still trying to figure out from what. I mean, the worlds are at war right now, but as an outsider, I have to say it seems like they just need to be saved from themselves. Like “Hey, man. Put that battle axe down. Don’t throw that fireball. Let’s talk.” So I guess our biggest problem is figuring out what this war is, what this power we supposedly have is, and how we fit into it all.

Zelene: Please! What conflict aren’t we up against? The Duillaine—that’s the elders with the power now.

Rhaya: My mother and our two aunts, I guess.

Zelene: Is Sylvanna our aunt?

Rhaya: I don’t know. I’m still trying to figure out who is related to who and how. I thought your brother was cute until I realized he’s my cousin.

Zelene: Wow, I could have gone forever without knowing that. Anyway, the Duillaine are so backwards and it’s like they aren’t doing anything to rescue Ariana.

Rhaya: That’s her twin.

Zelene: Yeah, the one the bad guys captured. Now she’s in some dungeon being tortured and the Duillaine haven’t done shit about it. They have freaking armies! But it’s all ‘Oh, pish-posh, that’s a delicate matter for us to deal with. Now let’s prepare for your party.’ It’s so messed up.

Kai: What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered trying to resolve your conflict?

Rhaya: Well, Zelene is having trouble with the whole magic thing.

Zelene: Way to throw me under the bus there, cuz. Fine, I can’t do magic. Rhaya’s been able to shoot fireworks from her fingertips since we stepped through the door, but hey. I’m not worried. Of course not. Why worry when there’s this whole magical war looming over our heads?

Rhaya: I wonder if I could shoot lightning from my fingertips…

Zelene: I wasn’t trying to give you any ideas.

Rhaya: You’re really cranky today. I think I should answer. Okay, well I think one of the biggest challenges we have is trying to figure out this new world. I mean, we’re supposed to be on Anscombe’s side of this war, but we don’t know much about either side or why they went to war to begin with. There’s this new culture and new history for us to explore and get to know before we can figure out how we fit in. Some of the customs are a bit…antiquated, I guess.

Zelene: They have servants, Rhaya. Or have you already forgotten about the Tainted?

Rhaya: Every culture needs room to evolve. I think we just need to give them the chance and maybe help them along the way.

Kai: Tell us about your best friend.

Rhaya: Well, I wasn’t really close to anyone back on Dhara. I mean, I had friends in my classes, but no one I would consider a best friend. The whole empath thing got in the way of that. I did hang out with Isauria before everything happened though, so I guess I would consider her my best friend. She and I are both huge scifi geeks and avid readers. She’s kind of socially awkward too, so that worked out pretty well.

Zelene: …I guess that would be Kyle, even if he is an ass. He did save my life and before we dated and broke up, he was my best friend. We both grew up in the foster care system and sort of took care of each other. He’s arrogant and stubborn and can be so incredibly frustrating, but he has the biggest heart of anyone I know. He would take a bullet for you, without question. He kinda did take the magical bullet for me already, and that’s after six months of being at each other’s throats. He always surprises me. And he always knows how to make me laugh.

Readers, here is more information about Rhaya and Zelene’s story Heirs of War:

Seventeen-year-old Zelene doesn't believe in magic or prophecies. When she's told she is part of the prophecy foretelling five powerful girls bringing peace to the war-torn worlds, she scoffs. The idea of other dimensions layered on top of the world she lives in is almost as ludicrous as the idea that she might be able to save them. After she is attacked by magic-wielding assassins, she finds she can't argue with reality.

As their enemies strike, the girls are taken back to their world and discover the ties binding them together. Rhaya has always had an uncanny knack for reading people, but can’t seem to unravel the mystery tying her to Isauria, the new friend she bonded with instantly. For years, Isauria has been dreaming of Terrena, a girl living her life on the run in a magical world ripped apart by the tragedies of war, completely unaware that she is psychically linked to the world she was born in.

Zelene views them all with a distrustful eye, familial bonds or no, and can think of a place or two she’d like to shove the crown she supposedly inherited. When she learns that her long-lost twin Ariana has been captured by the rebels, Zelene’s attitude changes. She doesn’t know how she is supposed to go against an army of magic-wielding rebels when her own ability to manipulate the elements is still locked within her. But can she trust the elders to rescue Ariana when it seems their medieval politics are what brought about the war in the first place? With all that is at stake, the answer becomes clear to Zelene.

Screw the worlds. She’s getting her sister back.

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Thanks for visiting with us on Strands of Thought to talk about your story. Readers, here the skinny on Rhaya and Zelene’s author:

Mara Valderran has been coming up with stories pretty almost since she could talk, often commandeering her brother's G.I. Joes to play out her fictional tales alongside her Barbies. Once she hit adolescence and realized playing with dolls wasn't cool anymore, she started putting her ideas to paper. And she hasn’t stopped since.

Mara is more than just a madwoman with a writing box. She lives in the south with her husband and demanding cat. She hopes to one day meet Daniel Jackson from SG1, or at least the actor who played him. When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, playing video games, or spending time at her favorite local coffee shop.

Website and Blog: (where there are giveaways!!!!!! So, it's worth the click)
If you have a character from a children’s, tween or young adult book that you’d like to see interviewed on Building Character, please contact kaistrand at yahoo dot com.


  1. Hi Kai,

    This is a very interesting way to tell your readers about a book. Here's wishing Mara and the girls all the luck in the world(s).

    1. I know, I love character interviews. It makes a story more fun to read if you go into it knowing the character ahead of time and if you've already read the book, the interview is like revisiting an old friend. Thanks for visiting, Barbara.

  2. Thanks, Barbara! Character interviews are definitely always a blast! =)


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