Author Interview with Destiny Soria

14757755Iron Cast is the first novel by Destiny Soria. It’s going to be released this year on October 11th. It’s one of my favorite reads of 2016–a little fantasy, a little historical fiction, and a whole lot of talent. I highly recommend it if those things tickle your fancy. My review can be found here.  I received a copy from NetGalley and really enjoyed it, so I wanted to do an interview with the author. I’m very excited to introduce Destiny Soria here on [a cup of tea and an armful of books]!

*・゜So, Iron Cast. Your first book, congratulations! I imagine you’re very excited! It has a lot of really good reviews on goodreads (mine included). What’s it like having your book out there? And could you tell us briefly what it’s all about?

DS: Thank you! It feels pretty surreal actually. I keep expecting it to finally “hit” me, but it hasn’t yet. Maybe when I see the hardcover on the shelf and subsequently faint? And in a nutshell, this book is about magic, mobsters, and two best friends kicking ass in 1919 Boston.

*・゜What inspired you to write Iron Cast?28818313

DS: You know, I still haven’t come up with a good answer for that one? Honestly, this novel grew organically from a lot of different ideas about the magic system and the characters. I really just set out to write a story I would have wanted to read when I was a teen—which is to say a story about magic, mobsters, and two best friends kicking ass.

*・゜Why did you go with 1919 as the setting for your book?

DS: The year 1919 marked a big shift in American history. It was the year that Prohibition was ratified (although it wouldn’t go into effect for another year). This year is also considered the beginning of the first Red Scare, which was a time of intense fear in the wake of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia. Both of these movements play a role in Iron Cast. (Fun fact: 1919 was also the year of the Great Molasses Flood and the Boston Police Strike. These both took place after Iron Cast ends, but they are fascinating to learn about nonetheless.)

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*・゜I found the hemopathy aspect of your novel really interesting. Where did that idea come from?

DS: Here is the (rambling) thought process I went through one afternoon, just as I was settling in for a nap: Science is pretty cool. Think about all the cool stuff Science can do. In fact, some of the stuff Science can do is so unbelievable that before Science was a thing, people thought it was magic. Fields like chemistry are still kind of like modern magic, if you think about it. So if chemistry is the magic of Science, then why isn’t there a magic of art or literature or music? What if there was? What if musicians, poets, painters, thespians, and other types of artists had their own kind of magic, made possible by their natural talents and an element in their blood that was yet to be explained by Science?

The more I explored the idea, the more it made sense. A talented musician can evoke emotions with their instrument, and a talented writer can create imagery so vivid that you can practically see it. If there was something extra special about a person’s genetic makeup, then maybe the effects of their talent could be more literal. Maybe a musician could make you feel any emotion they wanted you to feel, and maybe a poet could create an illusion so potent that you’d believe it was real.

*・゜Did you find out any interesting new facts while you were researching for your novel?

DS: Tons! I’ve probably forgotten more than I remember, to be honest. I used to fall down a lot of rabbit holes while researching. I think my favorite was probably watching YouTube videos of people driving their restored Model T cars. Did you know that people used to break their thumbs a lot trying to crank the engine? Thank goodness for keys.

*・゜Going off of that, what’s your writing process like?

DS: I’m a pretty hardcore pantser. (If you’re not familiar with that term, it means writing by the seat of your pants, as opposed to a plotter who, well, plots.) So in general my process involves a lot of word sprints with my critique group and writing utter nonsense in the dead of night until a story starts to take shape. To quote James Michener, “I’m not a very good writer, but I’m an excellent rewriter.”

836030e40350993d2db819edc1f0e10d*・゜What were your favorite moments to write? Do you have a favorite character?

DS: I love Ada and Corinne, the two heroines, fiercely and equally. I think my favorite secondary character is probably Saint, an artist who also lives at the Cast Iron club. He’s a quieter character, but he surprised me in a lot of ways while I was writing him. As for favorite moments, I loved writing about the girls practicing their hemopathic talents together. The imagery and emotions I put into those scenes were really rewarding for me. A runner-up favorite—and I don’t want to give away too much—is a scene where Corinne punches somebody who deserves it right in the face. That part is still very satisfying to me in an evil puppetmaster kind of way…

*・゜Have you always been a writer? If so, what’s the first thing you remember writing? Or was Iron Cast your first project?

DS: I wrote my very first novel when I was seven or eight. It was entitled Horses of All Kinds and included illustrations and a staple binding. After that, there was no going back. I’ve been writing ever since.

*・゜Was there any part of writing Iron Cast that you really struggled with? How did you get past it?

DS: This is a little embarrassing, but I’m not so great at writing romance. There isn’t a LOT in Iron Cast, but there’s enough that I was nervous about getting it right. My very helpful (and awesome and amazing) agent sent me a novel with plenty of romance to inspire me while writing the “swooniness” (her most excellent term). Then my critique group picked through a couple of scenes with their expert eyes and gave me lots of swoony advice.

*・゜Do you have a little writing nook you like to write in?

DS: I have a full time job, and I wrote the first draft of Iron Cast during National Novel Writing Month, so I spent that November writing anywhere and everywhere I could: in bed, on the floor, at the library, in coffee shops, on the kitchen counter, in my car, on my lunch break. Nowadays I tend to write in my bedroom or on my couch, always with my cat randomly sneak attacking my keyboard.

*・゜What did you do when you needed to take a break from writing?

DS: Well, the aforementioned cat is always up for snuggling. I also enjoy hula hooping (badly) in my living room, watching too much Netflix, and of course reading reading reading.

*・゜As impossible as it may be, what’s your favorite book? Is it a world you’d want to live in, or would that be a different choice?

DS: My favorite book changes with the tides, but I’d have to say my current favorite is Uprooted by Naomi Novik. It’s an impossibly lovely novel, rooted (see what I did there?) in Polish fairy tales and folklore. I read it twice in the course of a few months, and I’d probably read it again if my To Read shelf wasn’t growing so fantastically out of control. I do think I’d like to live in the world, but only if I could be a witch like Agnieszka.

*・゜Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?aaec06fe4d0988c370c7df4f26ecb775

DS: Make friends with people who don’t mind you texting them creepy research-related questions in the middle of the night, because you are going to do that, and sometimes you are going to sound like a serial killer. Like the time I asked my pharmacist friend if there was an artery in the calves you could cut to make someone bleed out slowly. In retrospect, I probably should have phrased the question better, but she handled it like a champ. A champ who did not call the cops.

*・゜Lastly, do you have any plans for the future? Any new projects?

DS: I am writing away on my next project, but I can’t really talk about it yet! Hopefully I’ll have news to share in the not-so-distant future.

*・゜Thank you so much for taking the time to do an interview with me on [a cup of tea and an armful of books]! If readers are interested in contacting you, where can they do so?

DS: Thank you so much for having me! I love being contacted, especially if you want to talk about cats, dinosaurs, hula hooping, or red pandas. Or books too, I guess. My various social media handles and links to Iron Cast are below:

Email: destinysoriawrites@gmail.com

Website: destinysoria.com

Twitter & Instagram: @thedestinysoria

Facebook: facebook.com/dlsoria

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28169297-iron-cast

Preorder here 

*・゜A huge thanks again to Destiny Soria for taking some time out of her busy schedule to do an interview here! I had a wonderful time and am really looking forward to what’s next for this author. I hope everyone has a chance to check out her book!  

 

Author Interview with David Kudler

20104Today I’m pleased to introduce David Kudler, the author of the historical (and sometimes classed as fantasy) novel RisukoRisuko is the story of a young girl who is on a path to discover who she is in a war-torn Japan. It’s the first novel in a projected four part series called Seasons of the Sword.

*・゜First off, I’d like to say congratulations! You’re celebrating a month since your young adult novel Risuko has been released. How does that feel? 

DK: It’s a wonderful feeling. I’ve been working on Risuko on and off for over a decade; it’s really amazing to hold the book in your hand. At the same time, it’s a little overwhelming. You get to the release date and it feels like you’ve run a marathon–but then you cross the finish line and realize that it’s time to run another marathon, because you need to keep promoting the book, not to mention writing the next one!

*・゜I know you’ve written extensively about where your inspiration came from for Risuko, but in case readers are unaware, could you tell us again what made you decide to write a novel like Risuko?25700544

DK: There were a couple of different sources of inspiration.

Some years ago, I was leafing through an old issue of New Moon, a magazine of my daughters’, and came across an article titled “Killer Accessories.” Very briefly, it told the story of a Japanese noblewoman, a war widow by the name of Mochizuki Chiyome, who had trained a group of women called kunoichi during the period in Japanese history known as Sengoku Jidai–the Civil War era that lasted from 1467 to 1603 (by the Western calendar).

The article described how, under the pretense of running a school for shrine maidens, Lady Chiyome built a small army of “dangerous flowers.” It showed an assortment of the kunoichi‘s specialized weapons–fans with knife blades, fake fingernails with poisoned tips, reinforced parasols that could be used as shields–and finally said that Lady Chiyome’s army had faded into obscurity after the death of their patron, Takeda Shingen.

Well,I thought, there’s a story that has to be written! And I started to do research, and I started to think about how to bring this story–and the amazing, awful period during which it took place–to life.

The other main spark was my youngest daughter, who liked to leap before looking.

One day when she was about four, I was watching her in a playground. She was playing with her friend Lucas, some wild, two-person game of tag.

Lucas’s mom and I were chatting, when suddenly she said, “Where are the kids?”

We heard a call from above us. They were way up a small pine tree on the edge of the playground. Waving.

Now, I have what the late Sir Terry Pratchett called “a great respect for depths.” When my heart had dislodged itself from my throat, I asked Julia and Lucas to come down as carefully as they could.

Which, thankfully, they did.

A few weeks later, I wrote the first draft of what is now the first chapter of the book. the girl up in the pine tree didn’t have a name, and I didn’t know where the story was going. That would take a long, long time. But I knew she was going to be a kunoichi.

*・゜When did the name for your protagonist come to you? Is there any special reasoning behind your choice?

dd4d3485b31193bf2596403aae14f3ee DK: Well, she’s got two different names, each of which came to me a different way.

She’s got the nickname, Risuko, which means “squirrel girl.” That’s how most people in the book know her. That came to me as I was writing the very first chapter–here I had a girl way up in a tree, and I was trying to think what to call her, and I realized the “squirrel” made sense!

Then there’s her given name: Murasaki. Lady Murasaki was a great Japanese author who lived about three hundred years before the events in Risuko. She wrote what has been called the first novel, a long, long love story called The Tales of Genji.

Now, Risuko herself is the narrator of the novel, and I was trying to think of an appropriate name–I kept trying to come up with a variation on Scheherazade, but there’s nothing Japanese sounding about that. And then I remembered medieval Japan’s greatest storyteller, and I knew what Risuko’s given name had to be.

*・゜You wrote in one of your recent blog posts about writing historical fiction as fantasy and the challenges that come with that. Did you have any moments where you doubted your choice to place your novel in a historical setting like this? After all, many authors have gone the route of being inspired by a culture and its history but have created completely fictional, historical moments. 

DK: It’s funny; at a reader’s recommendation, I’ve just read a wonderful trilogy by Robin LaFevers called His Fair Assassin that shares some themes with my Seasons of the Sword series: it features teen girl assassins who are trained in a convent in hope of ending a protracted war, and the books are set about  a hundred years before Risuko–though it’s in Brittany, rather than Japan.

They other big difference: they’re historical fantasy. There’s a supernatural element that’s central to the books that allows the author to do some really fun things.

As I was working on Risuko, though I considered making the books fantasy, I decided to keep them purely historical.

The reason is that the period in which Risuko lives is pretty fantastical. There were epic battles, betrayals and reversals that would make George R.R. Martin’s head spin, there was a class of honor and dishonor (which is truly good; which is truly evil?). And of course there were kunoichi–teen girl assassins–for real!

So I cheated a bit. Japan was (and is) a deeply spiritual place. Most Japanese are now and were back then both Buddhists–believing that the whole world exists in the Buddha mind, which is itself the world–and also Shintō, believing in a huge multiplicity of local gods and spirits. If you’ve seen any of Hayao Miyazaki’s films (like Totoro or Spirited Away), you have a sense of just how teaming with fantastical creatures the Shintō tradition holds the world to be.

And so Risuko and the people around her believe in magic, believe that the spirits are acting constantly around them–seen and unseen. Because of that, I can have a kitsune, a trickster fox spirit, appear in Risuko. Even the cynical Lady Chiyome believes in it (a little, at least), and so whether you look at is as an actual supernatural presence  or as their explanation for inexplicable goings on is up to you!

But I wanted the readers to be able to truly put themselves in Risuko’s shoes. I wanted them to feel that the world of the books was real to them, for all of the things going on that are quite different from life today.


*・゜Can you describe a typical day in your writing process? 

DK: I’ve found that I write best early in the morning and late at night. I guess being a bit sleepy keeps my internal editor from kicking in. The schedule is convenient, because I’m also a book editor and, for the time I was writing Risuko, a stay-at-home dad. So I can take care of my other duties while I’m wide awake!

I finished the first draft of Risuko writing in bed every night, just before going to sleep. I’ve always read at bed time, so it felt natural to write then instead.

And one of the most interesting things that happened was that I’d find myself mulling over any questions or problems–What’s going to happen next? or Why did he say thator How do I get Risuko back up the tree?–as I was falling asleep. And inevitably the answer would come to me as I was sleeping. I’d get up, get the kids (and my wife, a teacher) off to school, and then write (and rewrite) based on that night’s inspiration.

*・゜What were your favorite moments to write? 

25DK: Well, I have to say, there were a number of times when the two oldest characters, Lady Chiyome and Kee Sun (the Korean cook) said things to Risuko that she didn’t expect. She’s a pretty serious young woman, and here are these two snarky old people blowing her world up over and over again. Not sure what that says about me as a parent, but I enjoyed those scenes!

*・゜And who was your favorite character?

DK: Now, you’re going to think, based on what I just said, that my favorite charater was Chiyome or Kee Sun. And I do love them. I love Risuko too; she’s an incredibly brave soul–and not just because she’s willing to climb so high. I love Masugu, the Takeda warrior, who tries so hard always to do the right thing.

But my favorite character is Mieko.

She is the absolute epitome of the traditional Japanese feminine ideal in all of its restrictive beauty: quiet, decorous, polite, and kind. She’s also the most lethal killer in a book full of soldiers and bandits. I’ve had fun exploring her back-story in some stories that I’m sharing with my newsletter subscribers. She’s a really fascinating lady.

*・゜A lot of the books you’ve mentioned on your blog (such as The Song of the Lioness) are books that I loved reading while growing up. If you could live in any fictional world, what would you choose?

DK: Well, not Risuko’s Japan, that’s for sure! All of the things that make it an exciting place to write about–the social turmoil, the hundred-year-long war–made it awful as a time to live I imagine. Tortall in the Alanna books isn’t a whole lot better.

Likewise, I don’t think I’d want to live in Harry Potter’s magical world, though I’d sure love to visit.

So if I had to choose a fictional world…I’d choose the Shire. I’m awfully tall for a hobbit, but it seems like a pretty nice place to live. And if I wanted adventure…Well, there’s plenty of that–outside, over there.

*・゜Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

DK: Write. Write, write, and then write some more. Share everything you can, whether it’s on a blog, on a website like Wattpad, or in a writing group, but get feedback on what you’ve written. And then rewrite–not trying to match the feedback but definitely learning from it. No text ever written couldn’t use an edit.

Also, read. Read books. Read good books. Read trashy books. Read new books. Read old ones. Read lots of different genres. When you start writing, you’ll realize that every one of those writers has struggled with the same problems you have; figure out how they dealt with them.

And don’t let bad reviews/comments get you down. If you can learn something from them, great. If not…Well, opinions are like backsides. Everyone’s got one.

*・゜Thank you for taking the time to do an interview with me! Where can readers contact you? 

DK: I’d love it if they’d email me at david@risuko.net. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram (@risukokunoichi), on Tumbler (risuko-chan.tumbler.com), and on Livejournal (risuko).

Thank you for having me!

*****

I had a wonderful time interviewing David Kudler. He was a great interviewee! Risuko was available on June 15th, 2016. Check it out if you like Japanese history, a little bit of fantasy (or not!), and young adult literature!

Author Interview with E. Latimer

*・゜ I was very glad to get into contact with E. Latimer, the author of Frost, for an interview! Frost is the first in a (likely) series that I wish was finished so I could binge-read them immediately and be a zombie from lack of sleep. But without further ado, let’s get to the interview!

3422739Hello, E. Latimer! I’m very glad to have you here at [a cup full of tea and an armful of books]! (Or at least as “here” as you can be on the internet…*ahem*). I absolutely loved your book! For those who haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, Frost is a young adult novel about a girl who suddenly has a touch of ice. She’s afraid of touching anyone for fear of harming them. It turns out that Norse Giants are very interested in her powers. When she’s suddenly told she’s part of their conflict, she has to decide who is telling the truth: the Queen who believes in the end of days prophecy or the side who has a burning grudge. Of course, first she has to decide if she believes in this world of magic, ice, and fire.

*・゜Where did your inspiration for Frost come from? 

EL: I basically asked readers on Wattpad “What do you want to see next?” and someone said “a winter themed fantasy”. I’d just moved to Grande Prairie, Alberta, so it seemed perfect. And I’d always loved the idea of jotun.

*・゜I loved the inclusion of mythology in your book! What made you decide to focus on Norse mythology? 

EL: I’ve always loved mythology of all kinds, and frost jotun occurred to me as soon as “winter” and “fantasy” popped into my brain.

*・゜Who is your favorite character in Frost25834374

EL: I loved writing Loki, who never takes anything seriously. But I also enjoyed writing the evil queen, since she’s a bit insane. Those are my favorite types of characters. People who are a little bit nutty, since you never know what to expect from them next.

*・゜You have several stories up on Wattpad, including Frost and some companion novels. Why did you make the decision to first publish your stories on Wattpad? 

EL: I started on Wattpad three years ago. It was actually there that Frost first came to being, and I would never have published with Patchwork Press if it wasn’t for Wattpad.

*・゜As a follow-up question, did you worry about how publishing on Wattpad could affect publishing elsewhere? 

EL: It occurred to me of course, but mostly what’s come from Wattpad is some really great opportunities. And I continue to query literary agents with manuscripts that aren’t up on Wattpad, so I feel like I can do both.

*・゜Do you think you’ll continue to publish on Wattpad?

EL: Absolutely.

*・゜What is your writing process like? Do you have a favorite part?

EL: I like to have written, as many writers will admit. But I do enjoy everything as I’m doing it, even big picture edits, as much as I sometimes dread them, can be satisfying in the end.

*・゜Do you have a favorite place to write? 

EL: In my study/library. I have trouble concentrating in most other places.

*・゜What was the most difficult thing to deal with on the road to publishing Frost

EL: The revisions. I wrote Frost about four years ago, so I was not at ALL satisfied with the writing when I first started revising. It took a very long time to get it polished enough to publish.

*・゜If it’s possible to narrow it down, what is your favorite young adult novel?

EL: Wow, that’s a hard one. I’d have to say right now my favorite series is Throne of Glass.

*・゜If you could jump into the pages of a fictional world and live there, what would it be, and why?

EL: Harry Potter. I’ve always wanted magic.

*・゜I know you’re a part of the team at WordNerds. Can you tell us more about that and how often you can be found there?

EL: I can be found once a week over on the youtube channel and most Sundays during our live chat!

https://www.youtube.com/user/YAWordNerds

We talk about YA books and writing and we’re happy to answer questions and take suggestions!

*・゜What’s your favorite social media platform and where can we find you? 

EL: I’m actually a big fan of twitter and can often be found rambling to myself over here:

https://twitter.com/ELatimerWrites

*・゜Do you have any plans for the future? I hope you’re continuing the story started in Frost!

EL: Right now I’m working on what feels like a dozen different projects. And yes, one of them is the second Frost book.

*・゜And lastly, do you have any tips for aspiring writers, be they Wattpad authors or otherwise?

EL: Write because you love to write. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s not realistic, or it won’t make you money, or you’re not good enough. None of that matters when you really love what you’re doing.

*・゜A huge thank you to E. Latimer for being such a great interviewee! I’m excited to see what happens in the next book, but in the meantime, I’ll be able to read her Wattpad stories! I urge you to check out Frost if you’re interested in a winter fantasy.

Author Interview with Lan Chan

51o5cvHlkSL._UX250_*・゜I’m very excited that I was able to do another author interview! This time it’s with Lan Chan, the author of Poison, a new young adult dystopian novel that I read a short time ago. So without further ado, a huge thank you to Lan Chan for agreeing to an interview for [a cup of tea and an armful of books]!

*・゜Your debut novel, Poison, has been garnering reviews full of praise from early readers. People (including me!) are loving how you’ve written something new for the young adult dystopian genre. Can you tell us a little about your book?

LC: In essence Poison is the tale of one girl’s struggle not just against the totalitarian government in her world but also the expectations of everyone around her. Rory Gray has grown up with labels, be they Wind Dancer, Wanderer or rebel. Rory was the Wind Dancer, an aerialist in the Seeder’s circus and for this she was treated as special by the Seeders and earned her the hatred of her region. After her mother’s murder Rory became an object of suspicion and a secret rebel, working to undo the poison the Seeders have wrought upon the world. When someone in her region is caught stealing seeds, Rory goes on a ‘walkabout’ to the Citadel to plead for mercy. But it’s been a long time since Rory set foot in the Citadel and nothing is as she remembered it to be. The Seeders are crueler than Rory could have imaged but they’re also weaker than she dared hope them to be. To take them on, Rory becomes the Wind Dancer once more but this time she’s not alone. Rory must put aside her tendency to be suspicious of everyone and learn to trust that there are others who would be willing to give their lives to rid the world of the Seeders control.

*・゜What is the inspiration behind your novel?

26143713LC: I am above all else a huge plant geek. All the plant science in Poison is factual to a certain extent. I’ve simply extracted the truth and amplified it until it made for an interesting premise. I thought it might be interesting to imagine a world where an organization got so out of hand that they’re in control of the very seeds people are allowed to grow. Like you I’ve read many young adult dystopian novels because they’re my favorite genre but I noticed that a lot of the time the MC is the underdog of the world. I wanted to try and craft a story where my heroine has one foot in all the layers of society and tried to explore how that would shape her character. Rory isn’t inherently nice like a lot of heroines in dystopian novels tend to be. It’s impossible for me to imagine a nice girl surviving the many trials Rory has to go through. Nor does she makes friends easily and not everyone loves her. She’s angry and flawed and driven but she also cares deeply for her friends and would do anything to keep them safe.

*・゜I read a lot of young adult dystopic / post-apocalyptic novels. Yours is unique in the fact that the most important thing in Rory’s world seems to be the control of seeds. Why did you decide to focus on this?

LC: I’m a subscriber to a lot of organic gardening newsletters and some of the articles in there about genetically modified foods and plants would curl your toes. I wanted to try and write a story that took something plausible and pretty realistic and turn that into an entertaining read. Seeds are something we all tend to take for granted in this day and age but when you think about it, they’re pretty much the source of all life on earth. In an end of days situation the most important thing besides shelter and protection is food. If one organization was in control of the food than they would have complete control of everything.

*・゜Who is your favorite character in your novel?

LC: I am one of those writers who is guilty of always writing too many characters. You should have seen the first draft of Poison. It was overflowing with random characters. I love a story with a huge ensemble cast and while I adore all my characters (even Harlan!) I’d have to say Gage is the one I am most proud of. I think to me he showed the most growth and his friendship had the biggest impact on Rory out of everyone besides Aiden.

*・゜Can you describe your writing process for us? What is your favorite part?

LC: I wrote the first ever draft of Poison during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and now I can’t seem to write outside of the months the challenge is on! Thankfully they have three sessions a year otherwise I would never get anything done. I am a huge binge procrastinator so I can often churn out a first draft in under two months but then I will lose focus and jump to another project. Eventually I’ll go back to my original manuscript and then with a lot of pressure from my writing partners I will start editing. It’s a wonder I managed to publish at all!

*・゜How often did writer’s block strike and what did you do to overcome it?

LC: I don’t really get writer’s block. I get distracted instead. I’ve got a bit of an obsessive compulsive personality and when an idea comes into my head I just can’t focus on anything else and that often makes it impossible for me to write anything at all until I at least sit down and outline the new idea until I get to a point where it’s a complete story or I realise it’s a huge dud and won’t work at all.

*・゜You posted quite a bit about the process of publishing Poison on your blog. What was the most difficult thing you encountered during the publishing process?

LC: It’s funny but at every stage of the writing process I thought what I was doing at the time was the most difficult thing. Having published my first novel I think I an unequivocally say that promotion and marketing is by far the most difficult/time consuming/costly! But it’s all worth it when someone who enjoys the book leaves a review or sends me an email asking for an interview 🙂

*・゜Besides writing and gardening, what other hobbies and passions do you have?

LC: I’m pretty boring in real life. Does reading and binge TV watching count as hobbies? Sometimes I dabble with flower arranging and candle making as well. All skills that will not be useful for the impending zombie apocalypse.

*・゜What is your favorite plant?

LC: I can’t answer this! There are just too many! Okay, if I really had to I would probably say roses. I find their mix of beautiful flowers with sharp thorns really interesting. They’re also a very tough plant and very easy to look after despite their appearance. In a way they’re pretty much the perfect heroine for any novel!

*・゜If you could live in any fictional world, what would you chose, and why?

LC: Definitely Harry Potter’s world! I would give anything to be sent a letter from Hogwarts and to so spells using my very own wand.

*・゜What sort of projects do you have planned for the future? I hope one of them is the sequel to Poison!

LC: Thanks to my aforementioned lack of focus I have all kinds of projects on the go at the moment! Poison‘s sequel which I have titled Ransom is with my beta readers at the moment and should be out in the next six months. In the meantime, I am working on a series that involves my other great literary love which is super heroes. It’s an urban fantasy with a kick-ass snarky heroine and has been really fun to write because she’s so different to Rory’s seriousness.

Also in the works is a steampunk fantasy involving dragons, another New Adult urban fantasy with werewolves, an adult urban fantasy with angels and I am dabbling with the idea of writing contemporary romance using a pen name! If only real life and work didn’t get in the way I could actually get to work on some of these ideas!

*・゜What’s your favorite social media platform and where can we find you?

LC: I’m everywhere! Probably not a good idea for someone with a tendency to obsess over social media. The best place to find me is probably on my blog The Write Obsession because it is often the first place I go to with writing updates and also to share my thoughts. I tend to forget that I have other accounts for things. Also on the blog you can sign up for my newsletter which is where I will be posting info about all of my upcoming works as well as the occasional freebie for followers who sign up because I love them! You can find me at these places:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/winddancerseries

Twitter: @WriteObsession

Instagram: https://instagram.com/booksandblooms/?ref=badge

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14201459.Lan_Chan

And of course you can email me at lc.novel@gmail.com

*・゜Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

LC: Never give up! We’re living in a era of excitement for writers and readers and no matter what anyone says there’s no telling what will be popular. Write what you love and eventually someone who enjoys the same thing will find it!

*・゜A huge thank you to Lan Chan for being such a lovely interviewee! Check out Poison and keep an eye out for her upcoming projects. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s published next!

Author Interview with Damian Wampler

Damian Wampler

*・゜Hello, Damian! First of all, thank you for doing this interview. You recently published both Sevara, the graphic novel, and Sevara: Dawn of Hope. For those who haven’t read it, can you explain what it’s about?

DW: Thanks for this incredible opportunity to talk to you and your fans, I really appreciate it. I’ve got both a novel and a graphic novel out, and while they are very different, they’re both about a very strong woman named Sevara who always stands up for what she believes in, even when that gets her into trouble. The novel, Dawn of Hope, is about Sevara’s childhood and how she transforms into a hero. She’s an orphan girl in a cruel dystopian future, so far in the future that there’s no memory of our world. Instead of being forced to marry and become a servant wife, she goes out into the world alone with nothing. The society treats women awfully, and she’s persecuted and eventually drafted into war. But there are shape shifting immortals who watch over earth, and when Sevara tries to save an innocent man from an execution, she gets their attention. The graphic novel is a little different. In the graphic novel, Sevara has become a shape shifter who has lived thousands and thousands of years. She’s just awoken from a great sleep, only to find that while she slept, the memories of her mortal life (the events in the novel) have seeped out of her mind and infected all of humanity. She has to fight to put the world back to the way it was.

25829774*・゜How did you come up with the idea for Sevara? What inspired you?

DW: I came up with the idea for the graphic novel first. I was in a religion class, and we were talking about how so many lines from holy books like the Bible had been changed by people who wanted to actually do evil. I thought about what would happen if Jesus woke up from a long sleep and saw how his words and teachings had been twisted. The idea for the novel came much much later, after the graphic novel was almost done.

*・゜It sounds like you’ve lived a large portion of your life abroad. How has that shaped how you created the world of Sevara?

DW: I moved overseas to become a Peace Corps volunteer in 1999, and from then on I’ve been outside of the US for about ten of the last fifteen years. I did research as a Fulbright scholar, and now I work for the U.S. State Department. Those years living overseas had a huge influence on the work, particularly the novel. The novel, Dawn of Hope, is full of real life events and situations. Some people find it a little brutal, but that’s the truth about human nature, and I don’t feel I should hide it. The politics and power struggles and corruption all come from things I’ve seen.

*・゜The Sevara graphic novel came out before the novel, Sevara: Dawn of Hope . Did you always plan on publishing both, or was there some point where you realized that you wanted to write a prequel to accompany the graphic novel?

DW: I never planned to write a novel, not at all. The graphic novel was in production, and my artists were doing a great job. But I had about a year with nothing really to do. Once the artists have the scripts, they start drawing the comic book and I just have to wait. But I started thinking that if Sevara wakes up from a long sleep and finds that the memories of her moral life have escaped, I should really know what those memories are. I had some idea because there are flashbacks to Sevara’s mortal life in the graphic novel, but I decided to really flesh it out and start from her days in an orphanage. I started just taking extended notes at first, but after a few weeks I realized that I could write a novel well before my art team finished the art, so I just went at full speed and wrote the novel.

25924007*・゜Out of the two mediums, which do you prefer and why?

DW: Both mediums are so completely different. To write a graphic novel, you have to do a lot more planning. If you make a mistake in the script and the artists have already drawn the page, you really can’t fix it. A graphic novel is also more expensive and time consuming to produce. But there’s something magical about seeing the art team bring a comic book script to life, I love working in a team and seeing the lines and then the color come together. Writing a novel requires a lot of long hours sitting alone at the computer. I can’t say which I prefer more, both experiences were rewarding and I hope to continue doing both.

[Interviewer note: I included the link to The Art of Sevara found on ISSUU and the Sevara website]

*・゜What was the most difficult thing you’ve had to deal with while publishing your novels?

DW: For the graphic novel, challenges involved finding an art team and finding funds. Artists are busy people, so you have to catch them when they have a gap in their schedule. You also have to save up the funds to produce a graphic novel. For the young adult novel, I think the hardest thing was working alone and devoting the time to writing. I don’t have an agent or a publisher or an editor, so I had to get the cover and text and layout all formatted by myself. The text is 100,000 words long, and it would be nice to have people who can help find all the grammatical errors.

*・゜What’s your plan for Sevara? Do you hope to continue her story?

DW: Oh yes! Sevara is thousands of years old. There are lots of stories to tell, and lots more in my brain that’s bouncing around. Both the novel and the graphic novel have a long way to go. This is just the beginning. For the novel, Dawn of Hope, I see the series continuing for many more novels. I just need to find time to write it. I really want to continue the graphic novel, but that will depend on budget. If I can afford to write more, I will call up Andre again and we’ll get to work.

26222439*・゜Are there moments you had written for Sevara that were ultimately cut out? Will they reappear in the next books?

DW: I did a lot of editing to the novel, but there’s only one scene that I cut from the novel. It’s a cut battle scene that I completely wrote and edited but then had to cut out. You can read it if you go to Amazon and check out the Sevara: Dawn of Hope Official Guidebook. This guide shows readers where I got the inspiration from for everything in the novel. It also has that cut battle scene at the end.

*・゜What do you hope that your readers ultimately take away from the story of Sevara?

DW: Sevara is a person who is not influenced by the world around her. She listens to her heart and tries to do what’s right, no matter what the odds or consequences. The immortals agree to help her because she is truly timeless. She’s my hero, and I wish I could be like her. I hope readers are inspired by her. In history, there are so many times where one person has been able to change the world. Sevara shows you that this is possible.

*・゜Besides writing, what are your hobbies and passions?

DW: I love photography, that is my first passion. I have two of my photographs in the Brooklyn Museum, you can see them here and you can see all my photographs on my website. You can see that there’s a strong message of social justice, even in my photography, where I’ve captured homeless, orphans, and refugees.

*・゜What’s your favorite social media platform and where can readers find you?

DW: I’m active on Facebook and Twitter, and I just started Instagram, which I love. My handle for all these is sevarawillrise, but I have a personal Facebook page too, you’re welcome to find me there. And I absolutely adore Goodreads, so I’m most active there.

*・゜What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

DW: Make time. Time won’t appear. You have to clear out your schedule, prioritize, and make time to write. Never stop writing and learning. Just write. You have to write in order to be able to submit your work to others for review, to submit to competitions, and to hone the craft. Writing is a long journey, and they payoff is at the end. It seems like you’ll never reach the end and find success, but don’t give up. It takes years and years to get a manuscript ready from start to finish, but that’s just the path of a writer.

*・゜I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Damian Wampler for agreeing to do an interview for [a cup of tea and an armful of books]. I look forward to reading what he comes out with next!