When did you know that you wanted to be an author?
First off, I want to take this opportunity to thank Krystle and Kookie Krysp Reads for taking the time to talk to me!
I can’t say there was a specific moment when I knew I wanted to be an author. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing little stories when I was younger. I actually got the idea for The Lost Heir when I was in college and began writing as something fun to do in my spare time (little that there was). I would write for a few months, then stop, pick it up again a year later, re-read it, write some more, put it away again for months. It went like that for years. (I’m terrible at finishing projects…if you couldn’t tell!) I never had a goal to become published, just to finish it for my mom since she’s the one who sparked my love of reading. Then, a few months after she passed away, I dusted off the manuscript, made myself sit down, and finish it in her memory. Once it was complete and I had edited it a few times, I figured I might as well start submitting it to publishers. And things went on from there! Now writing is my full-time job, and I love every minute of it!
Do you see yourself only writing in the Fantasy genre or are you interested in exploring others?
I’ve written a short story that is not fantasy, but so far that’s it. I read mostly fantasy, so writing fantasy is what comes naturally to me. I enjoy it because I have no boundaries other than the constraints I place on my own worlds and magic systems. I can let my imagination take me wherever it wants to go, which is totally awesome and wonderfully freeing.
That being said, there are elements of other genres in my writing, though it’s not done intentionally so to speak. Many people when they write reviews make a point of saying that my books include Romance, Adventure, Action, Paranormal, etc. And yes, those elements are included in some form or another, but I don’t ever categorize my work in any of those genres. Those things exist because my characters are ‘real’ characters and are acting as such. Romance happens. Action, adventure, and paranormal are part of the storylines and fantasy worlds I create. It goes along with how my characters react to one another as well as specific situations. Not having snippets of other genres in my writing would seem rather odd and quite unnatural.
Do the majority of your writing ideas come from you being inspired by real life events or purely from your imagination?
My inspiration comes from both real events and my imagination, and there isn’t really a heavy sway to one side or the other. I can’t tell you how many things just come to me. People always ask how I come up with certain things, and usually they end it with ‘And please don’t tell me you just thought of it!’ I hate to disappoint them, but that is how a great deal of my writing happens. It just comes to me. An idea comes out of nowhere, I start writing, and the characters/events take me through. I never outline, and I come up with a lot of my ideas on the spot as I write.
But I also get a lot of ideas from real situations, issues, and people. There are similarities between many of my characters’ personalities and those of people I know. And I frequently use real issues and events as inspiration. I got the idea for the short story I talked about earlier from a local trial. In my short story series, The Legacy of Ilvania, I touch on the topics of slavery in Redemption and abortion in Reclamation, which is due to be released in late August. Equality – and how people viewed as inferior – is a huge issue that I touch on in all of my writing. As you can imagine, I take female equality the most personally, and that is a recurring theme across every one of my series. I think including topics such as these makes the story more realistic and personal to my readers, even if it is fantasy.
I checked out your blog in preparation for this interview (A link to Andi’s blog will be provided at the end of this post), and I noticed a very interesting post about strong female characters in Fantasy. Could you share with us what character traits you feel every strong female character should have?
There are many things which go into creating strong female characters and not all have to do specifically with the traits of the characters themselves. The obvious thing is to have her be independent, outspoken, and opinionated. But that isn’t always the best way to go about it unless you want to alienate readers. In fact, none of my female characters have such a personality.I will use one of my favorite characters from The Lost Heir, Andillrian, as an example. She’s a warrior. But she’s not the typical warrior one thinks of when calling to mind female warriors, especially in Fantasy. She’s independent, but in a quiet, understated way. She will tell you what she thinks when asked and will respectfully argue her points if she believes it endangers Darrak’s life, but she never forces her opinion on others and is never rude or arrogant.
Because of the way I created the world of Dragonath, she didn’t have to hide or disguise herself as a man in order to join the Palace Guard, which is commonly seen in fantasy. She was accepted due to her abilities, hard work, and sheer determination to never settle for anything less than perfection. In battle, she wears leathers just like the men (no skimpy string bikini type ‘armour’) and otherwise wears suede trousers and a linen shirt, which is contrary to almost every image of female warriors that comes to mind. I didn’t create her body as a sexual object. She’s short – and extremely muscular due to her profession – but she doesn’t have the typical hourglass figure with huge breasts, tiny waste, wide hips, and plump ass. And what she does have, she doesn’t flaunt to get what she wants.
She’s humble, compassionate, and extremely loyal. But there’s a ruthless edge to her which sets her apart from everyone else, and which I think really encompasses her true strength. She’s not about to let herself be walked on or taken advantage of by anyone, male or female, and will stand up for what she believes is right. That, to me, is a wonderful example of what makes a strong female character in any genre, not just Fantasy.
There are also elements of Romance in your books, could you tell us a little bit about what type of romance we can expect to read in the Vaelinel Trilogy?
The Vaelinel Trilogy is a Young Adult series. In the first book, Silevethiel, there is a romance that buds between the two main characters: Irewen and Laegon. Despite their older ages (though Laegon is still rather young for an elf) their romance is rather indicative of a teenager’s first crush. Both of them have led sheltered lives – and aside from their parents and Laegon’s Guardian – they are both loners and rather introverted. Neither one of them have ever experienced romantic feelings towards anyone. They are both confused and unsure about what they are feeling. Yet, they ‘fall in love’ rather quickly, partly due to the friendship they both desperately needed. Even though they become quite certain of their feelings towards the end of the book, their love remains fragile and undefined. Each of them is still discovering who they are. Irewen in particular is evolving, throwing away her old life and stepping into a role she never expected to need to embrace. Until they each understand who they are as individuals, their romance can’t advance from teenage crush to adult love.
We already touched on strong female characters, but what are some must have traits in a leading man?
I’ve actually never thought about this before, so it’s a great question! I honestly didn’t know how to answer this, so I thought about my three leading men across the different series, and I noticed a few similarities. The first and most obvious is that none of them are the typical ‘macho man’ and none expect women to swoon over them. They aren’t arrogant or conceited. They are respectful, considerate, and compassionate towards others, particularly women and anyone else who would normally be deemed inferior.
All of them are gifted fighters, some start that way and some progress through the book/series, but all of them are extremely humble about their abilities. They never brag or gloat. They realize they aren’t invincible. They know they will always need the help of others, no matter the strength of their talents. They are leaders because they work well with their fellows and combine everyone’s strengths, not because they try to accomplish everything themselves.
What has been the most exciting part of the entire writing/publishing process so far?
The most exciting part of the whole writing/publishing process is seeing the finished book. Holding the very first print copy in my hand still puts a huge grin on my face. Feeling the weight of it in my hands, smelling the pages, hearing the creak of the spine when I open it for the first time, and knowing it’s my book I’m holding and not someone else’s is the best feeling in the world. I’m smiling just thinking about it!
Can you tell us something about any upcoming writing projects?
I’ve actually got a couple projects going on right now! I’m finishing Reclamation which is the second short story in The Legacy of Ilvania series. It continues Jae’s journey of finding his place in the world but the main focus is on the restoration of the Mé’Draak and Ilvania as a whole. If everything goes well, it should be published in eBook in August.
I am also getting ready to publish Awakening, the second book in The Dragonath Chronicles, which I hope will be released in the fall (most likely November). It’s a bit darker than The Lost Heir and there are a number of surprises, both good and bad. The theme of awakening is carried throughout the book in several different ways from the return of an ancient king to the arrival of a beast many thought never existed. New relationships are formed between old and new characters, and some ties thought unbreakable are broken.
Without giving spoilers, of course, what can you share with us about Silevethiel that the synopsis does not cover?
While Silevethiel is the title, as well as the image on the cover, she is not the main character, and my readers don’t physically meet her until they are a good way through the book. This, though some people think it quite strange, was done intentionally. Even though Silevethiel isn’t the main character and the story isn’t specifically about her, she is one of the most – if not the most – important characters. She becomes extremely important to Irewen right from the beginning of the book. She is revered by the Elves as well as the Guardians and is a central figure to their culture and way of life and will become essential to the survival of the world as a whole. Yet, despite all of that, Silevethiel remains quite mysterious. We don’t know much about her other than what she chooses to reveal.
I like to end interviews with a short word association game, just for fun! I will start the sentence, and you finish it however you like!
(A) Without a doubt, my favorite dessert…is my mom’s recipe for red velvet cake.
(B) I never leave home without…my pen or pencil, usually both!
(C) I can always count on my best friend to…be there for me when I need to talk and put a smile on my face in even the most dismal of times.
(D) The first book I fell in love with was…Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester.
(E) The world would be a better place if…everyone read books (and not just when made to in school)! Duh!