Spotlight: Natalie O'Neil Visits to Talk About Her New Release!

Today, we're doing something a little different. Fellow Solstice author Natalie O'Neil is stopping by to talk about her new book!

Hello, Natalie! It's great that you're visiting MLB.  :)



Thank you for having me on your blog, Marie. 




My pleasure, of course! So, let me ask a few questions since you're here...

All right.


Can you tell us a little about your latest book? When did it come out and where can we get it?


Guardian House, the 1st in the Curious Adventures series, follows a curious young woman forced to uncover her past in order to pave the way for adventures in her future. This urban fantasy mash-up follows Alice as she learns she's involved in much more drama than whether or not her crush likes her back. With the support of her bestie, Dorothy, and her clique of misfit orphans-with-excess-baggage, she ventures beyond her comfort zone to unlock the mysteries surrounding Guardian House, the legend of the Red Queen, and her connection to the world she doesn't remember. Peppered with magic and mystery,Guardian House is full of snark & sass, and will leave readers curious for more!

​It is available today in print and digital.


So, what inspired you to write your book? How did you get into writing urban fantasy?

As ​ a child, I loved hearing stories about Alice in Wonderland & Dorothy in Oz, but as I got older, wondered what they would be like in modern times, or if they were a little older. I also felt that since they had similar experiences, they could probably connect well. I know how difficult it is for teenage girls to fit in and find a true friend, and decided that Alice and Dorothy would be a perfect platonic match!

What an interesting concept!

So...what, do you feel, sets this book apart from other books in the genre? 

Guardian ​House uses 21st Century teenage issues such as fashion, flirting, and frivolity to attract young adult readers. But it is also grounded in the myths and legends that today's adults remember and love. This version of Alice and Dorothy combined with magic, fantasy and mystery entice readers of all ages to follow them on their adventures into adulthood, friendship, first loves, and the fears that have since been dormant in Guardian House.  

So...give us a teaser or two if you can.
Lionel has that look of panic we've all grown to know so well. His eyes bulge, lip quivers, beads of sweat form around his face at his hairline. Someone better say something soon to calm him down, or he's liable to be carried away by staff too.
    Unaware of Lionel’s code red signal, Crowley does what he can’t help. In this case, it was actually appropriate. Bravo, Crowley.
“What did Hattie mean when she said, 'The Queen lives'?”
“It’s just an urban legend, a myth, a scary story some people around here tell to scare us into behaving.” Dottie tries to respond on a level Crowley will understand and Lionel can hopefully handle. I guess that's how the staff handled Dottie in the beginning, when she first tried to rebel after arriving at Guardian House. I had heard parts of the story a few times, especially in the first few years that I was here, but I haven't heard anyone mention it in such a long time, I almost forgot about it.
    “Hattie says it’s not a myth, that it's real. The Queen is hungry and she's getting hungrier. Soon, she won't be able to stand it any longer, and she will come out of hiding to feed...on us!” Lionel points to himself when he says us.
    In the midst of all the chaos of Hattie being dragged away to solitary and Lionel's phobias physicalizing, Chester must have appeared. I didn’t hear him sneak up. He stands near our table, smiling slyly. He creeps me out. He has surprisingly white, straight teeth, and his lips nearly disappear in their recession, making the majority of his face a wide grin.
    “Chester, do you know why Hattie would bring up the old Queen legend?” I hope his spontaneous arrival means he might have some knowledge the rest of us don't. “Or has she just gone mad again?”
    “We're all mad, Alice, in some way.” Chester's smile begins to infuriate me. “See, there it is. You're mad.”
    He turns to leave, while the rest of us look at each other, confused. When I look back towards the direction Chester was in, I realize he's vanished, yet again. Typical.
    “Wait a second, I feel left out. Can someone tell me about this Queen legend?” They must not have tried to scare Tim when he first got here, considering his heart condition and all.
    “Oh no, please, don't. I cannot listen to this story again, it is just too frightening. I'll see you guys later.” Lionel is shaking as he rises. He speeds out of the cafeteria and retreats towards his room down the hall. I guess he's had enough excitement for one evening.
    “Well, I can tell you what I've heard, and if anyone else knows more, feel free to chime in. According to legend, a long long time ago, an ego-maniacal woman married into royalty. She was thought to dabble in the dark arts and magick. Not long after her wedding, her husband went away to fight for land and treasures. She stayed at their castle, testing various potions and spells. After some time, the woman received terrible news.  Her husband suffered a terrible injury and was likely not going to survive. Grief-stricken, his wife called upon all the wizards and sorcerers and scientists she knew and demanded they save him. One by one, each failed, and her husband drew nearer to his death. At a loss, with nowhere else to turn, the wife attempted to test the magick she learned. She cast spells and summoned the darkest of lords from her studies to cure him. The legend goes that during one of her experiments with magick, she punctured her husband’s vein, drank from it, and she, rather than he, transformed.”
    Dorothy pauses to take a sip of water and continues. “When the Queen realized her spells did not cure her love, and she spent a long time grieving, she then finally looked down to realize the red droplets surrounding her. Her tears had turned to blood. She immediately rose to look in the mirror, but she could no longer see her reflection. She stopped feeling sad and instead became angry. And with that anger, came her hunger. She looked around the room for something to eat, and began throwing chalices and chests and whatever she could get her hands on around. Through the commotion, she did not realize her servant enter the room. But as he came near, she could not help herself.”
    “What did she do?” Crowley is barely seated, nearly falling off the edge of the cafeteria bench.
    “Her arm sprang out of her cloak, broke through the page's chest, ripped out his heart, used her teeth to tear a hole in the aorta, and drank the page's blood, having drained the heart until it was nothing but an empty vessel. From that day forward, she lived in hiding, with some sorcerer followers, wreaking havoc on all the lands nearby. Her hunger intensifying, she had her minions continue practicing magick. She was on the hunt for food, and wanted to find easier ways to feed.”
    “Ok, but what does this have to do with Hattie saying that the Queen is alive?” Tim doesn’t seem as eager to get sucked into Dot’s story as Crowley did.
    “Well, some of the orderlies here at Guardian House have claimed that difficult patients are fed to the Queen as a sacrifice. When people randomly go missing, they are meeting their ends at the hands, or mouth, of the Red Queen, who is sometimes called the Queen of Hearts, for her affinity to drink people's blood directly from the freshest source.”
    Crowley's mouth is agape, and Tim looks as if he's seen a ghost. I’m in shock.  Why haven't I heard all those details. Have I forgotten them, or are they lost in that place in my brain that hides my clarity? Isn’t this what got me sent to Guardian House in the first place?



So, I'm sure readers are curious about your next writing project. Can you tell us what you've got cooking up now or is that a secret?


​I'd love finish up the sequel to Guardian House. And after that, who knows where the Curious Adventure series may go?​


Sounds great! 
Thanks so much for stopping by to tell us about this book, Natalie!
My pleasure!

Readers, you'll just have to pick up a copy of this fascinating YA urban fantasy book!  ;)

Here is the blurb.


Curious. That’s the one word Alice uses to describe herself in her Group Therapy sessions. She thinks it has a nicer ring to it than the crazy her parents called her before they abandoned her at Guardian House with other unwanted misfits. Thanks to a childhood incident, Alice can’t remember if she actually visited the fantasy land that appears in pieces of her memory. But she knows her instincts are trying to tell her something is up at Guardian House, and she is too curious to avoid it.  

After years of struggling to find her own kind of normal, Alice has found a sense of sanity with some of the patients, especially her best-friend-she’s-basically-family Dorothy, and her hunky crush Tim.  Alice’s goal, aside from finding the courage to let Tim know how she feels, is to be discharged and leave Guardian House. That is, until mad Hattie reminds them of the legend of the evil Red Queen. Aided by quirky Therapy friends, secrets of the mysterious Dr. Wize, and a little magic, Alice must fight to save her friend’s lives – even if it means betraying the only thing she has grown to rely on.

Universal Amazon Link:

Sounds like an interesting read!


About the Author:

Natalie O’Neil is proud to announce the publication of her first novel, Guardian House, an urban fantasy mash-up of her favorite childhood mischief-makers. Enticed by the bizarre, Natalie’s unconventional predilections have been know to lead her down more than one path not frequently taken, and she’s always up for the adventure. 

Natalie is fascinated by the Victorian Era, Steampunk, and alternate realities, allowing her to often romanticize about a time and place that never actually existed, except for in her mind. This magical, whimsical, and sometimes frightening imaginary world inspires both her writing and her real life. 

A graduate of Rutgers University, Natalie taught high school English & Creative Writing for many years before becoming an innovator in educational technology. As a Technology Coordinator, Google Certified Teacher and Trainer, Raspberry Pi Certified Teacher, and Adjunct Professor, Natalie is passionate about sharing the benefits of technology and the arts with educators around the world. 

When she isn’t traveling, Natalie can be found at home in New Jersey with her husband, often spoiling her American Eskimo pup, refinishing shabby chic home furnishings, or finding creative ways to entertain and educate. 


Author Links: 




Natalie's Book:
Readers, don't forget to pick up a copy of Natalie's awesome new release!

Great New Review for ALM!

I just found this wonderful five star review for A Little Magick, book two of the Magick Series as well as a children's fantasy! Yay! :)

5.0 out of 5 stars Like mother, like daughter..., August 3, 2015
  Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Little Magick (Magick Series Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
When nine-year-old Rosie discovers she’s a witch, she learns that along with supernatural powers comes accountability. In the first novella, Magick & Moonlight, her mama, Jessie, learns the same lesson. Although geared toward young children, adults will also enjoy this sweet story. I recommend reading Magick & Moonlight for yourself and then reading A Little Magick with your little girl!

That was great! Thanks for your kind words, Linda! :)

Fun Reviews for the Magick Series!

I just stumbled across these wonderful, new reviews for the Magick Series! Yay! :)

Magick & Moonlight (genre: romantic fantasy)

4.0 out of 5 stars A short romantic magical story!, July 25, 2015
  This review is from: Magick & Moonlight (Kindle Edition)
"Magick & Moonlight" by Marie Lavender is a great short story about a Wiccan named Jessie who gets caught in the forest skyclad (naked)by the sexy ex- cop, Ethan, while performing a ritual. He immediately thinks there is something alluring but dangerous about what she's doing so he insists that she put out the fire and takes her home. To hide her secret she puts a spell on him, but will it ruin what could be between them? Only time will tell.
I enjoyed this sweet,magical, romantic read. It's my first from this author but plan on reading more.

A Little Magick (genre: children's fantasy)

4.0 out of 5 stars Great continuation to a great new series!, July 28, 2015
  Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: A Little Magick (Magick Series Book 2) (Kindle Edition)
"A Little Magick" by Marie Lavender is about Rosie and her trip to Uncle Adam's house over the summer. What starts off as a playdate with a new friend, Tina, soon turns into Rosie getting bullied by a neighbor kid. As she thinks about how mean he is things start to happen and not all for the good. Will she be able to get it under control before someone gets hurt, or is it too late for that?
I really enjoyed reading this book from little Rosie's perspective; although I was not quite sure how young she was in this story I know she was pretty young. I liked the splash of romance between Uncle Adam and Selena, and also the moral lesson with bullying.

Thank you for your kind words, Tia! :)

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