I am most proud of my latest novel High Maga, the companion to Eolyn. High Maga is a darker novel than Eolyn, more entrenched in the brutal realities of war. The collective journey of the characters tests the limits of love and endurance. The story features some truly nefarious villains, and magic is used in terrible and destructive ways. This was a difficult but very rewarding novel to write. I am looking forward to seeing how readers respond to its characters and their stories.
What books did you love growing up?
The list is almost endless, but with respect to fantasy probably the most important were Grimm’s Fairy Tales andThe Once and Future King by T.H. White. In high school I read a lot of historical fiction and historical romance, as well as science fiction and some fantasy. Many of those titles I no longer remember, but I suspect they still influence me today as a writer.
Who is your favorite author?
There have been so many, it would be impossible to list them all here. J.R.R. Tolkien has inspired me just as he has inspired every author of fantasy. I am also very fond of the work of the Nicaraguan author Gioconda Belli, particularly The Country Beneath my Skin¸ her memoir of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua.
Among historical fiction authors, my favorites include including Halide’s Gift by Frances Kazan and The Queen’s Vowby C.W. Gortner. I also love reading history, particularly women’s history. Some books that have stuck with me from this genre are Elizabeth: The Struggle for the Throne by David Starky, Murder of a Medici Princess by Caroline P. Murphy, and The Tigress of Forli by Elizabeth Lev.
In the genre of fantasy, I have very much enjoyed the novel series A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin (although I have not yet read the fifth book). I also really like Patricia McKillip, especially her novel Winter Rose. My list of favorite novels would not be complete without mentioning T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, from which I drew much inspiration when writing my first novel, Eolyn.
What book genre of books do you adore?
My favorite genres are historical fiction and history. Although I do not pick (or refuse) books by their genre, these are the two I keep coming back to.
What book should everybody read at least once?
The Country Beneath My Skin by Gioconda Belli.
Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?
There is no genre I avoid consciously, but if I pick up a book and am not captured as a reader by the first chapter or two, I put it back down. Life is too short to spend time reading books I don’t like.
Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?
I grew up in a bi-cultural family. My mother is from Germany. My father was born in the U.S., but also has German relatives. So, we spent a lot of time between Germany and my home town of Overland Park, Kansas, when I was growing up. It was during our summers in Germany that I developed a fascination for castles and medieval landscapes; and that, I’m sure, is where Eolyn was born.
Having grown accustomed to traveling, I made a career of it. As an ecologist, I’ve worked mostly in the tropical forests of Central and South America. That is how I met my husband, who is Costa Rican. At the moment, we live between his home town of Heredia, Costa Rica and where my family currently resides, in Kansas City, Missouri.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere. Everything. Any moment, person, or place can inspire a story. That’s why it’s important to live in the real world if you want to write about an imaginary one.
What is hardest – getting published, writing or marketing?
This is kind of an unfair question for someone who has managed to write and publish and get to the marketing stage. Because I’ve been successful at writing and publishing, I would say of course that marketing is the hardest, because this is the challenge I’m currently dealing with.
But writing is very hard work – especially in the opening stages when you are trying to find your voice, figure out your story, and nail down the basic elements of the craft. And finding a publisher through the traditional route, which is what I chose to do, is no piece of cake. Truth be told, it is all hard, but also very rewarding. As long as you approach the business of writing with a lot of patience, persistence, and a clear sense of where it all fits in the larger context of your life, you can be happy as a writer.
What marketing works for you?
It’s difficult for me to identify exactly what works marketing-wise. Sometimes peaks in sales are connected to something specific I’ve done in the marketing arena; most often they are not. My basic strategy might be described as ‘steady pressure’ (or ‘slow and easy wins the race’) on the sales front. I have certain things that I do on a regular basis, like my blog for Eolyn and Heroines of Fantasy. I also have a consistent presence on Facebook and recently started using Twitter and Pinterest. In addition to that, I try to take advantage of any interesting opportunities that come my way.
In addition to on-line activities, I’ve found it’s really important to meet potential readers in person. So I try to visit at least some conferences every year. I’ve attended World Fantasy, Lunacon, and the Campbell Conference. Every May, I attend ConQuesT in Kansas City. I also take advantage of book festivals and signing opportunities whenever they come my way.
The most important rule of marketing: Do only what you enjoy doing. If the next marketing task on your list is going to be a pain-in-the-you-know-what, then by all means drop it and try something else. If you are excited about what you are doing marketing-wise, you will sell books. If you are put out and stressed about marketing, readers will pick up on that vibe and look elsewhere for their next novel.
Lands Ravaged. Dreams destroyed. Demons set loose upon the earth.
War strikes at the heart of women’s magic in Moisehén. Eolyn’s fledgling community of magas is destroyed; its members killed, captured or scattered.
Devastated yet undaunted, Eolyn seeks to escape the occupied province and deliver to King Akmael a weapon that might secure their victory. But even a High Maga cannot survive this enemy alone. Aided by the enigmatic Mage Corey, Eolyn battles the darkest forces of the Underworld, only to discover she is a mere path to the magic that most ignites their hunger.
What can stop this tide of terror and vengeance? The answer lies in Eolyn’s forgotten love, and in its power to engender seeds of renewed hope.
HIGH MAGA is the companion novel to EOLYN, also available from Hadley Rille Books.
Genre – Epic Fantasy
Rating – PG-13
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