Etania’s Worth, a YA/NA Christian fantasy, is one of my favorite books EVER. The author M. H. Elrich’s worldbuilding is phenomenal and her characters are extremely relatable. Moreover, her book teaches readers about God’s grace and the beauty that unfolds when we surrender to Him and his calling for our lives. Our top priority should be our relationship with the Father, and Etania’s story reminds us of that. AND GUESS WHAT? The sequel, Etania’s Calling, released last week! *squealing and happy dancing*
In honor of the book release, I had the privilege of interviewing the award-winning author M. H. Elrich. Her short stories have won Best in Show, first place, and second place in local contests. Elrich is currently a middle school English teacher in the sunny state of California with aspirations to become a full-time writer one day. In her free time, she enjoys watching TV (mostly anime and cooking shows), reading, and going on nature walks. To learn more about this talented author, read the full interview below!
Q) Is there a fun fact about yourself that you would like to share with readers?
A) I enjoy puns, am fluent in sarcasm, but always want to make people I love smile.
Q) How long have you been writing?
A) I have been writing professionally since 2018, but my passion for writing began before that. I was involved in the school newspaper and wrote stories when I was little, a literary magazine in highschool and college, and formed a writer’s group with a friend in 2011. This tells you that I’ve always loved writing and been writing something.
Q) Why do you write?
A) I honestly feel it’s a calling. I know many authors claim the same thing, so it may sound like a cop-out. But I remember distinctly, when I was in fourth grade and my church was going through 40 days of purpose, God calling me to write stories. I didn’t know that journey would be filled with so many up’s and down’s, but I’ve persevered because of God.
Q) What are your top three favorite books and why?
A) This is certainly a struggle! My current top favorite books are the Bible (of course!), Beauty by Robin McKinley, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and Fierce Heart by Tara Grayce. I know that is four, but it was really hard to just pick three. My favorite genre to read is fairytale retellings and fantasy romance. I also like a few classics (namely, Shakespeare and Austen).
Q) Describe yourself in three words.
A) Practical, Caring, Hardworking
Q) What song would be your life’s theme song?
A) “I’m Letting Go” by Francesca Battistelli. I feel like I’m always letting go of something.
Q) Who is someone that inspires you?
A) C.E. Stone. She just has such a wonderful heart for others and is very empathetic. She is so sweet!
Q) What inspired the Daughters of Tamnarae series?
A) The series actually started as a portal fantasy with Lavanna, Etania’s daughter. Many iterations later, Etania’s Worth came to be. I was inspired by the books I was reading (The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings) and the settings where I would vacation with my parents (Lake Tahoe and Lake Lopez in California).
Q) What can people expect from Etania in book 2 Etania’s Calling?
A) Etania is going to struggle A LOT in this story. Some things you thought were resolved in Etania’s Worth really aren’t, and some new characters cause her a lot of grief in this book. She definitely has to learn to trust God in this book.
Q) If Etania was to describe book 2 in her own words, what would she say?
A) She would probably say, “I’m just glad that is over.” This book is definitely more action-packed than my previous one, so if you thought Etania’s Worth moved quickly, be prepared to strap in for this one!
Q) What was your favorite scene to write in Etania’s Calling?
A) So there is this one scene where Etania and Keyel are tricked and it was oh so fun to write. I think most of the readers will be yelling at Etania and Keyel when this happens because I was, and I wrote it! *gives evil laugh, then clears throat* Yeah, it was fun.
Q) Does Etania and Keyel’s relationship continue in book 2 (or does this question lead to spoilers)?
A) The answer to this question is one that could give spoilers, so I’m going to hold back a bit and tell you what I can. Etania and Keyel’s relationship continues in the next book, but is disrupted by a third player. Whether or not it remains intact is something I cannot tell you, but what I can say is that I’m not a fan of love triangles, so that love triangle doesn’t last beyond this book. So for all of those who don’t like love triangles, I promise this one is worth reading.
Q) Can you tell readers about any of your current writing projects?
A) I’ve been working primarily on short stories, one of which should be published in March. I also plan to write Etania’s Destiny (the last book in Etania’s arc) next summer. That doesn’t necessarily mean it will be published next year, but I plan to write it. I also have part of Promisekeeper, the sequel to Toothbreaker, to work on as well. So I have a lot of writing projects on my mind, but time has been a problem lately.
Q) What goals do you have for your writing?
A) I would really like to win an award for one of my books and make enough money from my writing to support my family. I’ve been praying on how to make that happen, so I’m sure you’ll see some new things from me this year!
Q) Can you tell us how your faith intersects with your writing?
A) For me, my faith is very apparent in my writing. I usually pray before writing and have felt the Spirit leading me as I type. I also think that the faith elements are very apparent in my books and my short stories. In my books, my faith is presented through Melchizedek and Deo, my names for God. In my short stories, it is more symbolic in good versus evil and Christian themes.
Q) Will you tell us a little about your own faith journey?
A) I became a Christian when I was young, accepting Jesus as my savior as a young girl and being baptized when I was in fourth grade. So there has never been a time in my life where I was without faith. There have been plenty of instances where I struggle with my faith, though. I have often struggled with accepting God’s calling on my life (Etania, anyone?) and being patient with His timing. I also have been through a lot (my parents lost our childhood home, my husband lost his job and we were living on charity for a few months, and had to move in with my parents after we were married). During that time, I felt like God was refining me, like it says in Job. He constantly reminds me that I need him and need to rely more on Him than myself. These are some lessons he is currently teaching me, and I’m sure there is more to learn!
Q) Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
A) My favorite Bible verse is Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” I remember stumbling upon this Bible verse when I was looking for my Senior quote/verse (I went to a Christian highschool). I didn’t want to do what everyone else did, and I saw this one and knew it explained how much faith means to me and how much I have to rely on God.
Q) What advice would you offer aspiring authors?
A) Never give up. It can be hard to be an author. However, if you really believe it is something God has called you to do, then keep at it, even when it is hard. God will help you get through every obstacle. Find some cheerleaders. Sometimes, you feel like you are shouting into the void and no one is listening. But then, that one person will come up to you and tell you that they love your writing. For me, that is my writing group. If I didn’t have their encouragement, I wouldn’t be able to keep going. Especially the encouragement of C.E. Stone. She is the reason I’ve been able to finish two books. So find your cheerleaders to keep you going.
Haven’t read Etania’s Worth yet? You can order it here! It is also available on Audible in audio format. You can also request it at your local library. Remember to leave a review after finishing it – reviews are everything to authors! Etania’s Calling can be ordered here!
I can’t wait for you to read these amazing novels!