The Twelve(ish) Days of Authors – Day 5, Chris Fenge

21 Dec

Next up on this author-celebration is yet another Burst Author, Chris Fenge! Her novel, The Salamander Stone, was released in April of 2012. I highly recommend The Salamander Stone for the more mature YA audience and adult readers. C J Fenge Author Photo

Tell us about The Salamander Stone and who you think would like it.

Well firstly, there are no salamanders in it. It’s about an ordinary girl trapped in a situation that’s anything but ordinary.  She’s hunted in this world and the next; she’s manipulated and exploited. There’s no one she can trust – especially not those who love her most. But her biggest battle is with herself. Who is Amber? And can she make the right choices in time to save herself as well as others. The story is designed as a fast-paced thriller, and, despite the gender of the lead character, it has been enjoyed as much by boys as girls. It is also much more than just a thriller. As one reviewer put it “Is it a paranormal story, a romance, an adventure? The answer is a resounding yes! This book has it all!” And it can be read on all of these levels too, so any (older) teenager, or adult, could enjoy it. But it can also be read as a novel of ideas for those who want deeper issues to explore. 


Without spoiling too much, the main character Amber and several other characters are the next phase in evolution – something of a spiritual or emotional change than a physical one. Would you care to elaborate on this idea?

I’ve always been fascinated by evolution, ever since being taught by a nun who reckoned human beings would eventually evolve into giant, sedentary  eggs ( i.e. our heads will develop and our arms and legs will shrink from disuse). I don’t favour this ‘humpty dumpty’ theory myself, and I told the nun so. Nor do I subscribe to a wholly physical evolution. For me, evolution of human beings will be moral, or spiritual. And that’s what Amber is, the next stage in human, moral, evolution. 

 The Salamander Stone - cover

You have an odd love-triangle going on over the course of the novel. What was your inspiration for the character of Meshak?

Meshak is based on a real person. He was an 18 year old boy I taught years ago in Africa, and even then I knew he was the most evil, yet the most charismatic of people. An interesting combination of qualities – too good for an author to ignore, though obviously I’ve changed some details and exaggerated others to produce the fictional Meshak. And as for the real Meshak? The last I heard he was in a Nairobi jail on a charge of murder.


I for one was curious about the Vril – I liked learning about the Second World War, but I never paid much attention to the Occult Side of the Nazi regime. Care to make a comment on what Those Wacky Nazis were up to?

It’s creepy stuff. Vril as a concept was invented by an English author, Bulwer-Lytton, in 1871. But people believed his work was fact and that Vril was a real force or energy. The Nazis adopted the idea and rumour has it that Hitler diverted huge resources, meant for nuclear research, to the study of Vril. Lucky for us that he did. Imagine what would have happened if it hadn’t been for Vril? Hitler’s scientists might have created the nuclear bomb before America!  If you want to find out more, and it’s a fascinating story, log on to my website: and follow links to Miscellany and Vril. You could also click on: 


In the spirit of sharing, tell us about a book by another author you adore.

I love Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, particularly the philosophy behind it (which I hope the film manages to bring out). For non contemporary, then Tolkien or Conan Doyle can’t be bettered for the clarity and economy of their prose. (I always recommend these to my students to improve their English!)


Every author has the most loathsome part of the craft – what do you hate the most?  

Oh it has to be marketing. No question. I actually hate talking about myself. But I’m learning. Slowly!


Have you gotten all your holiday shopping done?

I just laughed at this one! Shopping? What’s shopping? For me it ranks only a little higher than cleaning or cooking. And believe me, that’s not very high!


Do you have anything else in the works that we should know about?

There’s a short story, Colours, which will be published next month in an anthology by The Writer’s Vineyard (associated with Champagne Books). The brief was to ‘write a story with romance in it’. I’ve never written a romance, but I had a go. And when I tell you my romantic heroine is 86 years old, maybe you’ll be intrigued and want to have a look? Go on, you know you want to! Download the anthology. It’s free. Just google ‘Shared Whispers’ (but not till January).


What’s the best movie you’ve seen so far this year, or are you anticipating seeing anything over the holiday season?

Oooh. Lots. I’m really looking forward to The Hobbit. I don’t rate the book as highly as Lord of the Rings, but Peter Jackson made such a good job of the Rings trilogy, I can’t wait for this one. And another ‘must see’ is Life of Pi – one of my all time favourite books. I hope the film doesn’t ruin it!


What are your favorite toppings on a pizza?

Cheese, cheese and more cheese.


If you could win a vacation to anywhere in the world (ours or fictional) where would you go, who would you take, and what would you do?

I would go back to Africa, to the Victoria Falls. I know it’s silly to go back as you can’t recapture the past, but the Victoria Falls will never disappoint. It’s breathtaking. And I’d take my husband, Gerry. I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather be with. What would we do? Stare, dumbfounded, at Mosi-oa-Tunya (the ‘smoke that thunders’) and let it creep back into the soul.


Have you ever been surprised during your writing?

What a great question! I’ve often heard authors say their characters ‘take on a life of their own’ and I thought it was a figure of speech until I wrote The Salamander Stone. I started hearing my characters voices in my head, and what they said often surprised (and sometimes disappointed) me. And I thought I wrote this book. How spooky is that!

You can find both print and ebook copies of the Salamander Stone at Champagne Books, as well as Amazon and other retailers.

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