Please welcome indie author Melissa McPhail

Author Bio:

Melissa McPhail is the author of the award-winning epic fantasy Cephrael’s Hand and The Dagger of Adendigaeth the newly released second book in her series, A Pattern of Shadow & Light.

In addition to her writing, Melissa is a classically trained pianist, violinist and composer, a Vinyasa yoga instructor, and an avid Fantasy reader.  A long-time student of philosophy, she is passionate about the Fantasy genre because of its inherent philosophical explorations. She seeks with her novels to explore the facets of good and evil, nobility, honor, courage, leadership and self-sacrifice in all their many shades. 

Book title: Cephrael’s Hand

Brief Synopsis: "All things are formed of patterns..." And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:

In Alorin...three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor's brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D'Lacourte's mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he'll have to find him...

In the kingdom of Dannym...the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord...

In the Nadori desert...tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them.


What do you do to relax when you are not writing?

Reading is my go-to activity for all things cathartic. Give me a fire, a cup of tea and a book and I could be happy anywhere. I take great joy as well in teaching and practicing yoga. The process imparts a state of mental calm and serenity that’s conducive to writing, and I try to practice every day. My daughters and I love to go hiking and skiing whenever the Oregon weather cooperates, and something about the dark, cold waters of the Pacific ever call to my creativity.  

What, or who, inspired you to become a writer?

I fell into writing fantasy and science fiction in high school and never looked back. Writing became an important outlet not only for feeding my creative spirit but also for channelling my teenage angst and innate romanticism into something constructive.

Current work

What or who inspired you to write your current novel?

For me it’s all about the characters—about their nobility and honor, their courage and sacrifice, their leadership, service and foresight. Their tale is about growing to love ourselves, embracing our faults as much as our strengths, finding strength in unexpected places, showing compassion when force feels more satisfying and doing what needs to be done even though it challenges the status quo. Their story is about rising above our own concept of our limitations and putting integrity first.

The world needs to meet the characters of Cephrael’s Hand, and I’ve accepted the duty of championing their story to this end.

Tell us three interesting facts about your book which are not covered in the synopsis.

1) Cephrael’s Hand will challenge your viewpoints about a number of things.

2) You may have a difficult time deciding who the villains are supposed to be.

3) Many of the characters are not what they seem on first glance.

What research did you need to do for this book?

Much of Cephrael’s Hand draws from my study of philosophy and comparative religion. I suppose we could say I’ve been researching it almost my entire life. With that said, it’s not a religious novel—it’s an epic fantasy with all of the trappings. But within this novel run deeper threads, concepts that demand study and inquiry.

Are any elements/characters of your book based on real life experiences or people you’ve met/known?

I draw from every part of my life in creating my work, but the characters of Cephrael’s Hand and the circumstances of their situations are entirely fictional.

Tell us a little about your current work-in-progress.

I’m currently working on the third book in my Pattern of Shadow & Light series.

Writing/publication process: Self-published

What do you need (or not need) around you whilst writing?

All I really need is my computer and some tea. Music is helpful, but not required.

What prompted you to self-publish your current book?

The length of my novel dictated my publishing choice. To fully introduce a world, a magic system and the number of viewpoint characters in an epic fantasy, I needed more room than a word count/page count dictated primarily by shelf space in Barnes & Noble. I didn’t want to compromise the story or throw out important character-building scenes because losing them would be the lesser of two evils. My novel is longer, but it contains no wasted space, no filler. Every scene is full of purposeful action.

What were the three biggest challenges you faced when writing your book?

1)  Developing a conflict real enough to engage the reader and get them invested in the story but broad enough to encompass three to five books.

2)  Designing a magic system based on actual properties of physics to keep it grounded in a reality the reader can identify with.

3)  Not making every character too perfect.

Every author seems to suffer with writer’s block at some point. How do you overcome it?

My most successful means of overcoming writer’s block is to put on a favorite piece of music and go for a drive.

What single piece of advice would you give to any aspiring writer?

Write. A Lot. Write, write, write. Read and write some more.


What genre does your book fall into?  

Epic Fantasy

How did you get interested in this specific genre?

Ever since my grandmother read the Chronicles of Narnia to me as a child I’ve been in love with fantasy.

You as a reader

Which three authors have inspired you the most, and why?

1) Ayn Rand – whether or not I entirely agree with the tenets of Objectivism, Rand’s ability to weave her philosophy into every aspect of her novels is inspiring.

2) C.S. Lewis – his seminal work engendered a love of fantasy that thrives to this day.

3) Oscar Wilde – brilliant, brilliant, brilliant—every word.

What was your favourite book as a child?

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper. It’s still a favorite.

What is the best book you’ve read in the last 12 months?

My third time through the unabridged Les Miserables.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend, and why did you think it was worthy of recommendation?

Hyperion, by Dan Simmons. Kind of goes without saying – Hugo award winning novel, unprecedented series. Outstanding work of literary science fiction.

Kindle (or other e-reader) or paperback, and why?  

All of the above. I am reading more on kindle now. I used to buy the paperbacks and if I loved the series I purchased the hardbacks. I still do that, only kindles are my new paperbacks.

Hollywood is calling

You’ve had the call from Hollywood and they want your opinion on who should play the leading roles in the film based upon your book. Who would you choose, and why?

This is just an impossible question. I would want all new actors who had never been in anything, the way they did Harry Potter. No one famous, no one anybody knows. Just great actors well cast.

The film of your book is now going to need a soundtrack. Which musician(s) would you want to write and play it?

Gore Verbinski of Pirates of the Caribbean fame.


Drink – Persian Earl Grey tea (imported from Iran) with crushed cardamom (which I crush myself)

Meal – Any Mediterranean food (Greek, Turkish, Lebanese, Moroccan, et al).

Holiday destination – The Caribbean

TV programme – Alias & Lost – All time favorites. Current obsession: Ancient Aliens on History Channel

Film – Star Wars Trilogy (the original 3) and The Matrix Trilogy

Method of travel – I’ll always choose to walk

Sport – Downhill Skiing

How can people connect with you?


Twitter: @melissagmcphail

Facebook: CephraelsHand

Where can readers find your book?

Barnes & Noble


Amazon US

Amazon UK


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