Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Richard H. Stephens Interview - Keeper of the Jewel

Photo Content from Richard H. Stephens

Born in Simcoe, Ontario, Canada in 1965, Richard H. Stephens began writing in 1974; a bored child looking for something to while away the long, summertime days. His penchant for reading The Hardy Boys led to an inspiration one sweltering summer afternoon when he and his best friend thought, ‘We could write one of those.’ And so, Richard did.

As his reading horizons broadened, so did his writing. Star Wars inspired a 600-page novel about outer space that caught the attention of a special teacher who encouraged Richard to keep writing.

A trip to a local bookstore saw the proprietor introduce Richard to Terry Brooks and Stephen R. Donaldson. Richard’s writing life was forever changed.

At 17, Richard left high school to join the working world to support his first son. For the next twenty-two years he worked as a shipper at a local bakery. At the age of 36, Richard went back to high school to complete his education. After graduating with honours at the age of thirty-nine, he became a member of the local Police Service, and worked for 12 years in the provincial court system.

In early 2017, Richard retired from the Police Service to pursue his love of writing full-time. With the help and support of his wife Caroline and their five children, Richard has realized his boyhood dream.


Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
I’ve had many since first publishing in September of 2017. Typing, ‘The End.’ Receiving my book in the mail and holding it for the first time with my own hands. Reading reviews from people I’ve never met. Perhaps the most rewarding experience would be the day I met the young man with special needs who had entered a contest I was running to name a dragon in one of my books. The look of absolute wonder on his face knowing he had named a DRAGON and had his named mentioned in the acknowledgements of the book, ‘Dragon Sect,’ is something I’ll never forget.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Write clean. Edit. Move on.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book?
There are two. The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks, and Lord Foul’s Bane by Stephen R. Donaldson. They were my introduction to the fantasy genre. Though I’ve read many other wonderful authors since, no one will ever be able to capture the magic those two books instilled in my mind.

Greatest thing you learned in school.
I had the same home room teacher from grade 6 to 8. At that time (before fantasy came into my life) I was writing a 600-page science fiction novel inspired by seeing Star Wars, A New Hope, in 1977. This special education teacher asked to read my book. When he was done, he simply said, well done. Keep writing. Looking back, that book was terribly written, but Mr. Woodley never once criticized it or even offered suggestions. He simply appreciated the effort of a young boy and encouraged me to carry on.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I will always write in my Soul Forge Universe. It seems that for every book that I write, I get two more in my head. I am presently working on the ‘Highcliff Guardians’ series. It’s a story of the rise of an elf queen—one that is mentioned in passing in a subsequent series (The Legends of the Lurker) that takes place several hundred years later. Book 1, Keeper of the Jewel, and book 2, Dragon Sect are already in print. Book 3, Windwalker, is set to release early summer 2022, and if all goes well, book 4, When Legends Rise, will release at year’s end.

In your book; KEEPER OF THE JEWEL, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
The series, ‘Highcliff Guardians,’ is the story of the rise of a clandestine society of dragon riders known as Windwalkers—a sect of elves who devote their lives to protect a powerful source of magic. A magic so strong that, should it fall into the wrong hands, it would spell the end of South March and the lands beyond.

From the foundations of the Highcliff Guardians, the reader will embark upon a fantastical adventure and discover the rich history behind many of their favourite characters in the Soul Forge Universe—learning about the events that forged the ancestry of memorable characters such as Reecah Draakvriend the Hill Witch, Devius Misenthorpe the traitorous high wizard, Sadyra Ors the cheeky Songsbirthian Guard, Tamra Stoneheart the deadpan killer, and so many more.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
That they’ve been on an incredible adventure fraught with danger and treachery but filled with hope and courage.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
I try to make each of my main characters just a little eclectic or eccentric. I give them their own personality that I hope will leave an impression on those who read about their story.

What was your unforgettable moment while writing KEEPER OF THE JEWEL?
The cover image itself. While finishing up the ‘Banebridge Companion Novels’ I accidentally came upon the pre-made cover of ‘Keeper of the Jewel,’ complete with the title. As I include interior pictures in my books, I asked the designer if she would sell it to me as an interior image. She said no, so I moved on. ‘I already had the 3 covers for the Highcliff Guardians.’ Fast forward less than a week, and I had the premise for what turned out to be a 600-page novel that I wrote to incorporate the cover. Thus, the ‘Highcliff Guardians’ became a tetralogy.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would love for Sadyra Ors, the cheeky archer from the Soul Forge Saga to have known Reecah Draakvriend’s comical sidekick, Raver (a smart aleck raven), from the ‘Legends of the Lurker’ series. The two of them would have gotten into so much trouble.

Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around.
Other than lint, it would have to be my official government ID number that is written in ink upon an old Waterloo Regional Police business card. In all of my 57 years, I have never been issued a proper card. I was originally sent one that included a combination of my name, my mother’s name and my grandmother’s name. When I inquired about the error, I was told to just use the number as it was my official ID, and they would issue the proper card in due course. I don’t mean to sound facetious (well maybe I do) but I’m thinking 50 odd years isn’t quite what they meant by due course.

If you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?

Best date you've ever had?
When I crammed in 50 minutes of my busy lifestyle to meet the person who is my wife today.

Most memorable birthday?
I don’t put much stock into birthdays, but if I have to pick one, it would be my 16th. I went straight to the driver’s office and picked up my beginner’s driver’s license.

Where can readers find you?
I am on Amazon for print, audio, and ebook. My ebooks themselves can be found on every major platform: Google, Kobo, Nook, Apple, etc. I also mail signed copies around the world. You can view all of my work HERE.

  • “It’s time to bestow your sword with a magic befitting a future queen. A queen who will walk the winds of fate on the back of dragonkind.” —Eolande, Crystal Cavern Caretaker
  • “Choose your path wisely, Your Majesty, and you’ll forever have dragonkind by your side.” —Hyperion, the dragon
  • Only those who can summon the breath of the wind may pass beyond this wall. —Runic text inscribed on a wall in Castle Grim to hide the Staff of Reckoning.
  • “I am honoured to have you by my side as we travel this uncertain path to evermore.” —Khae Wys, queen of the elves.
  • “Until the Grim Duke wrests the crown from my dying fingers, the wizard must heed my call.” —Khae Wys, queen of the elves.
  • “From unhappy endings, new beginnings are forged, Master Aelfwynne. Show me the way and I’ll make you proud.” —Scale Wood, apprentice to the goblin high wizard, Aelfwynne
  • “The only way my weapons go anywhere other than with me by the queen’s side will be in your dying body as I drag your kicking and screaming corpse up yonder stairwell to drop you at your master’s feet.” —Captain Kall, Queen Khae’s personal bodyguard.
  • Jyllana’s stare hardened. “Nothing will touch her as long as I draw breath.”
  • Aelfwynne held her stare as if ascertaining the conviction behind her words. He nodded. “See to it that you don’t stop breathing.” —Jyllana Ordalf, a Home Guard, and Aelfwynne, the goblin high wizard of South March.
  • “If you wish to survive what’s coming, you’d best be prepared to meet your death.” —The Dragon Witch Wraith
  • Trust me when I say that if they intend you or my dragons harm, they’ll come to know a vengeance the world has never seen. —Ouderling Wys
Your journey to publication
I began my writing journey when I was 9-years-old. Sitting around bored one hot and lazy summer vacation day, I looked at a copy of a Hardy Boys book I was reading and thought to myself, “I could write one of those.” And so, I did, substituting Joe and Frank Hardy with myself and my best friend. When Star Wars came out in 1977, I was hooked on sci-fi and began a lengthy novel about me and my friends flying around in spaceships and saving the galaxy! In the early 1980’s I was introduced to Terry Brooks and Stephen R. Donaldson and my love of fantasy was born. And then , late at night, one cold November day, I was in my bedroom listening to the local rock station, ‘Q107’ and the song, ‘Run to the Hills,’ by Iron Maiden came one. For some strange reason, it inspired a fantasy story in my head-a trilogy, in fact. For the next 35 years, (2 careers and 5 children later) I always knew how the story would end, I just had to get there.

In 2017, I thought I had landed an agent during an author conference in Nashville, but after a lot of frustration with how poorly the agent was at communicating with me, I decided it was time to go the independent route if I ever wanted to realize my boyhood dream of publishing a book. I went through a couple of low-priced editors (you truly do get what you pay for) before I found an amazing editor in Glasgow, Scotland. She took my first, full-length book and whipped it into shape.

On August 20th, 2018, almost 36 years after hearing ‘Run to the Hills,’ Soul Forge was introduced to the world and I have never looked back. Currently, there are 13 books in the Soul Forge Universe in publication, with another 20-25 in the works. I just need to learn how to write faster.

Something evil lurks beneath the palace.

A phantasm from a darker past makes its presence known to Khae Wys, Queen of the Elves.

Braving the perils of a haunted tower, the queen seeks the counsel of the mysterious Fae, for only they can predict what is to come. A future that doesn't bode well for her only living child.

In a desperate attempt to save the heir to the Willow Throne, Princess Ouderling is exiled to the only place capable of protecting her. Highcliff, the home of the coveted Crystal Cavern and the dragons that watch over it.

The Duke of Grim, however, has other plans for the princess.

You can purchase Keeper of the Jewel at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you RICHARD H. STEPHENS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. I do. I think it's been pretty much confirmed by governments worldwide at this point.

  2. Kind of, of course there's an infinite unexplored space in the universe.

  3. I think there is life in other planets

  4. I don't disbelieve. Not quite the same thing though.

  5. I think it would be really cool, but I don't believer there are other beings out there.

  6. Yes, things and places on earth seem to confirm it.

  7. Yes, I believe it’s possible there’s life on other planets.

  8. "Do you believe in extraterrestrials or life on other planets?" There are no "aliens" that wil l ever enter our solar system. There may be life on other planets (there probably is), whether intelligent or not, advanced or not, but we'll never know and we'll never be in communication with them. Because they're, like, far, far away....

  9. I believe it’s possible there’s life out there on other planets.