How does a typical book get written in your world - what do you start with?
I usually start the process by writing a very rough draft of theplot. This usually winds up being about a page long, but it grows and evolves as I write. Then, I create a list of characters and locations, which includes their names, attributes, and other pertinent information. Since I loosely based the land of Faerie on 15th century Western Europe, I also did some research about topics such as sword fighting, clothing, and architecture for The Prophets’ Guild.
How would you compare the protagonists of your books with yourself?
While I wasn’t locked up in a castle for twenty-five years like Alazne was, I have my own discontentment and emotional wounds that I’ve had to heal from. Despite some changes in circumstances throughout my life, I didn’t make big strides in recovering and finding true joy until recently. For that reason, I haven’t let Alazne experience full healing yet because though her circumstances are dramatically different, her heart hasn’t changed enough to allow for true contentment.
How would you typically choose the names of your characters?
Since The Alazne Series takes place in a fantasy world, I imagined the fey having names that were unique but stillEuropean sounding. I wound up deciding to use a lot of Basque names because they sound romantic and exotic without being completely inaccessible. The fey royals also have two surnames each, which was inspired by the Spanish naming custom in which both parents’ surnames are used. For example, Alazne’s name is Alazne Katarin Lorea Viteri since her mother and father come from the Lorea and Viteri families.
I also like my protagonists’ names to have meaning, so I take great care when naming them. Alazne means “miracle,” which is appropriate since a woman having the hands of fire was completely unprecedented. As far as my male characters, Nikola’s and Garaile’s names both have meanings that are related to victory, and I created that parallel on purpose since they are brothers.
I named each of the gods according to the elements they have dominion over. For example, Haizea means “wind” and Euria means “rain.” Though Irati is the Earth God, his name means “fern field” because he also has power over plant life. I derived Hesta’s name from Hestia, who was the Greek goddess of hearth.
What's that one Classic work that you wish had been written by you?
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell. The way she wove a moving love story into a social novel about mill owners versus their employees is truly inspiring. I love the strength of her protagonist, Margaret Hale. She overcomes great upheavals like moving from an idyllic village to an industrial town and losing both of her parents without losing her spirit.
How would you deal with reviews?
I would consider true constructive criticism and incorporate it into my future writing if I feel compelled to do so, but I would ignore unnecessarily harsh comments or reviewers who call my take on particular things “wrong” because it doesn’t align with other fantasy authors. After all, different fictional universes have different rules and terminology even if they do have similarities.
What's your favourite writing location?
I like writing at coffee shops now and then, but my favorite place to write is probably my church, Watermark, since it’s nice and quiet some evenings. I’ve spent some time writing on the porch, which overlooks the baptism pool. It has rocking chairs, fire pits, and tables. It’s very serene and peaceful when there isn’t an event going on.
What awesome books and projects are you working in at the moment?
After The Prophets’ Guild comes out this month, I’ll start editingThe Valley of Eternity, which is the third book in The Alazne Series. I also have ideas for a fourth book in the series and a vampire novel. Vampire/horror books were my first literary love, so I’m excited to dive into that genre again and create some undead heroes and villains. As a Christian, I find the idea of vampires intriguing because if someone chooses eternal life on earth as a vampire, they’re more or less rejecting eternal life in Heaven. I would love to explore that in a novel.