Interview by Hines and Bigham’s Literary Tryst
You’ve created a very detailed map of locations, each with their own distinct characteristics, from landscape to creatures who roam them. (The actual map is wonderful. I even bookmarked it for reference.) What kind of thought process went into creating such a vast landscape?
I’m what is known as an organic writer. Many writers will sit down and write an outline, but an organic writer doesn’t work that way, they just write. I might have a vague idea of where I’m going, but for the most part I let the story evolve naturally, and the same applies to the world. My non-existent outlining is very similar to how Marsais attempts to chart the future.
There is an epigraph at the beginning of A Thread in the Tangle that says, “Every story has a beginning; the task is finding it.” This pretty much sums up my creative process. I do a lot of working backwards. An idea might pop into my head and then I will expound and create a story around it by simply asking ‘why’ is this the way it is?
In the case of Fyrsta, I began with an idea of a sanctuary that was slowly transformed into a battlefield. A place where its own Guardians, lesser gods, turned on each other and unleashed a devastating power that shattered the land. Civilization crumbled, and yet the gods continued to fight. Eventually, in an act of desperation, the Keeper of Fyrsta separated the gods, in a sense, caging them behind powerful wards. So the world was very much shaped and scarred by its history.
The Legends of Fyrsta series has many different creatures, including everything from humans to nymphs to Imps and many others, each having a unique demeanor and personality traits. Which creature is your favorite to write and why?
I love creating creatures and characters, so I pretty much throw myself into whatever I’m writing at the time. A Thread in the Tangle only scratched the surface of Fyrsta. The first book was a springboard for the rest of the series, and I’m eager to shove readers into its darker side.
As far as the creatures found in the first book, my favorite creature concept was probably nymphs. Nymphs are found throughout real world mythology. In Greek mythology, nymphs are depicted as sort of these young nubile maidens who were eternally innocent and carefree. They were usually bound to a place and if they mated with a god, they gave birth to immortal children.
At first glance, it might seem like a simple concept, but nymphs are pretty complex creatures. When I first started writing about Isiilde, I had never come across a fantasy novel that explored this type of creature, so I decided to put my own spin on things. However, eternally innocent creatures don’t generally make good heroes in fantasy novels. So it was a challenge to center the story around this type of airy, carefree creature who flits from one thing to another. Innocence can be annoying, but it’s also beautiful and something to be cherished. I wanted to paint that with words.
As of now only book one A Thread in the Tangle is available. Out of it, who is your favorite character? And can any of your own personality traits be found in him/her?
Each character has their own endearing quirks, but I’ll freely admit to having a rather large crush on Marsais. He defies the stereotypical male lead, yet there is still something incredibly sexy about him. One of my beta-readers called him a cross between Gandalf and Sherlock Holmes. I was very pleased.
As to the second part of your question: Each character is very much their own individual with their own personality. I never know what Marsais or Isiilde will do or say until I’ve written it. And despite my best attempts, I can’t make them do anything they don’t want to do. So writing them is very entertaining. This sort of unconscious creation is very much a part of the organic writing process.
Of course, there are parts of me in each character, especially Isiilde and her own experiences, but honestly, if I was thrown into Fyrsta with Oenghus, Isiilde, and Marsais, I’d probably identify most with Captain Mael.
King’s Folly will be book two in the Legends of Fyrsta series. Do you have an expected release date? And do you know how many books will be in this series once it’s completed?
I am hoping to release King’s Folly by the end of this summer. I have three (possibly four) books planned for this plot line, but there is a long term story arc involving Marsais’ scar that will likely take up nine to twelve books. Originally, I started writing Isiilde when she was older, somewhere in the middle of the story arc. It took me two and half books to realize that I really needed to go back and tell her story from the beginning.
Will there be any new interesting creatures that will make their debut in King’s Folly that we should be keeping an eye out for? (Without any spoilers of course.)
Definitely! Readers will be thrown head first into a hostile land. Some of the Voidspawn mentioned in A Thread in the Tangle will be introduced, like Reapers, Grawl, and Herdsmen. Expect Bloodmagi, barbarians, fiends, elementals, Forsaken, tainted, and more explanation of the Wise One’s and their runes. As I mentioned before, the first book only scratched the surface. Underneath is a land teeming with threat and horror.
What inspired you to write such an extensively detailed work of fantasy?
Initially, I began writing Legends of Fyrsta because I ran into a long string of disappointing fantasy books that totally obliterated my desire to read. I want a protagonist I can cheer for, not one who makes my skin crawl. So I began writing the kind of book I enjoyed reading.
It wasn’t until after I finished that I realized I was telling a very human story, one of survival, healing, and hope. Writing has always kept me sane in an otherwise insane world.
Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books?
I read The Lord of the Rings when I was twelve. It left a huge impression on me, especially Eowyn’s showdown with the Witch-king. Tad Williams and hisMemory, Sorrow, and Thorn series taught me to take my time telling a story and bring all the threads together at the end. And Laurie R. King rekindled my love of words with The Beekeeper’s Apprentice.
I love listening to specially chosen playlists when I write. Do you have any writing habits that help set the mood or get your mind where it needs to be?
Definitely, if I can find the right rhythm for the words I’m striving for in a song. Otherwise, I find it throws off my writing. For A Thread in the Tangle, I listened to Loreena McKennitt the entire time I was writing.
I love asking this. Do you have any words of encouragement for the future writers of the world?
Write, write, write. Read a mix of genres. Write, write, write. Finish what you start. Listen to criticism. And above all, write what you love because you love to write.
Random Question: What are your three favorite movies?
Lord of the Rings, BBC Pride and Prejudice, and Napoleon Dynamite.