Interview with the Author of The City of Brass S.A. Chakraborty

City of Brass

 

 

 

Step into The City of Brass…

 

 

 

Step into The City of Brass, the spellbinding debut from S. A. Chakraborty—an imaginative alchemy of The Golem and the Jinni, The Grace of Kings, and Uprooted, in which the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom rests in the hands of a clever and defiant young con artist with miraculous healing gifts.

Nahri has never believed in magic. Certainly, she has power; on the streets of eighteenth-century Cairo, she’s a con woman of unsurpassed talent. But she knows better than anyone that the trades she uses to get by—palm readings, zars, healings—are all tricks, sleights of hand, learned skills; a means to the delightful end of swindling Ottoman nobles and a reliable way to survive.

But when Nahri accidentally summons an equally sly, darkly mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, she’s forced to question all she believes. For the warrior tells her an extraordinary tale: across hot, windswept sands teeming with creatures of fire, and rivers where the mythical marid sleep; past ruins of once-magnificent human metropolises, and mountains where the circling birds of prey are not what they seem, lies Daevabad, the legendary city of brass—a city to which Nahri is irrevocably bound.

In Daevabad, within gilded brass walls laced with enchantments, behind the six gates of the six djinn tribes, old resentments are simmering. And when Nahri decides to enter this world, she learns that true power is fierce and brutal. That magic cannot shield her from the dangerous web of court politics. That even the cleverest of schemes can have deadly consequences.

After all, there is a reason they say to be careful what you wish for . . .

 

 

 

 

Interview Microphone Cord Wire Word Radio Podcast Discussion

 

 

 

 

 

*Where are you originally from?

I’m from New Jersey originally (and proudly!) and have lived in New York City for about a decade.

I was briefly in Camden, NJ once, and have been in New York once. Greetings from Ohio!




New Jersey NJ Letters Abbreviation Red 3d State Map Long Shadow

New York




*What influences early in life led you to become a writer?

I originally wanted to be a historian, but I’ve always been a bookworm and read widely since I was a child. I dabbled in fan-fiction a bit as a teenager, but The City of Brass was my first real effort at writing!

That’s amazing. Your writing is impeccable. I’m still reading this and definitely will be reviewing it. 




Wow amazong




*How did you develop a love for history?

I’ve loved history since I was pretty young; I was a fan of those big Eyewitness books on the ancient Egyptians and Babylonians and also used to just straight-up read encyclopedias. I narrowed in on the late antique/early medieval Islamic world while in high school, and that’s been my interest ever since.

I love what you’ve created with the City of Brass. Your knowledge and love for history bleeds through the pages pretty easily. I’ve never been exposed to that part of history so it feels like an adventure!  




History Letterpress




*Why did you choose to write in 18th century Cairo?

I pulled a lot of the details for the magical world from earlier history, particularly the Abbasid’s, but I wanted to start in 18th century Cairo for a few reasons.

1) I wanted to explore the history of medicine and there were a lot of developments at this time.

2) A lot of the book has to do with occupation and setting it at the start of Western colonialism in Egypt seemed appropriate, and

3) I knew a Napoleon reference in the first chapter would help orient some readers unfamiliar with the history!

Nice. Very interesting! 




Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan. Cairo. Egipt




*What are the core elements of epic fantasy?

I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer that, but in my opinion, only that it be epic. I’m not much of a stickler for the rules. I’ve read palace intrigues set in cosmopolitan cities and journey tales across oceans, and I think they all work under the definition.

Good enough for me–and your book is EPIC. 




Epic concept.




*Tell us some things you enjoyed researching the City of Brass. 

Scandals in the Abbasid court! Between jealous poets, scheming wazirs, and powerful queen mothers, it’s all a delight to read.

Scandals seem to be everywhere I’m not surprised. 




*When is the next book of the trilogy due?

Fairly soon. Fingers crossed, we’ll have it out next year!

 

Awesome. I just added it to my Goodreads.





 

Connect with S.A. Chakraborty

 

 

Shan Chakraborty, fr 1739

 

 

 

S. A. Chakraborty is a speculative fiction writer from New York City. Her debut, THE CITY OF BRASS, is the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy set in the 18th century Middle East and will be published in November 2017 by Harper Voyager. When not buried in books about Mughal portraiture and Omani history, S. A. enjoys hiking, knitting, and cooking unnecessarily complicated meals for her family. You can find her online at www.sachakraborty.com or on Twitter (@SChakrabs) where she likes to ramble about history, politics, and Islamic art.

 

 

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Website | TwitterAmazon | Goodreads

 

 

 

THANKS!

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Building a Career in Fantasy with Author Michelle Madow

IT’S TELEVISION TUESDAY FOLKS!

 

 

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Building a Career in Fantasy with Author Michelle Madow

 

 

 

 

 

What did you take away from this discussion? Tell me in the comments!!

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

MTW Blog Cover Image by Eva

Audiobook Blog Tour: Timeless by Michelle Madow & Interview with Narrator Andrea Emmes

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About the Audiobook

Author: Michelle Madow

Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Length: 12 hours 57 minutes (Box set)

Publisher: Dreamscape Publishing⎮2017

Genre: Clean Romance

Series: The Transcend Time Saga, Books 1-2

Release date: Aug. 25, 2017

Synopsis: Lizzie Davenport has been reincarnated from 1815, England… but she doesn’t realize it until she meets her soul mate from the past and he triggers her memories to gradually return.
The series began with Remembrance, was followed by the short story Vengeance, and concluded with Timeless. The series has sold a significant number of copies, and has received much praise from reviewers. Read all three parts together in this special box

 

Audible

 

 

 

INTERVIEW WITH NARRATOR ANDREA EMMES

 

 

How did you decide how each character should sound in this title?

A lot depends on the character. Who they are? What they are about? I have about 20 “go to” character voices that I’ve use. Kind of a character rolodex if you will that I cast from. For instance, if I have an antagonist that’s a young male, then I’ll cast him as “Blake”; lower, slightly scratchy voice. The Main Character is usually always my voice but again, that might change depending on the book. Perfect example is this series. For Lizzie, the main character in the Transcend Time Saga Series, I didn’t use my natural voice, but a softer, slightly higher pitched voice because of her nature and qualities and then used my natural voice for Chelsea because if just felt right. Especially in Vengeance, the novella that is after Remembrance and before Timeless. Also, if the author gives me notes in the character sheet like, “Sara should sound like Reese Witherspoon” then I’ll work on that. I won’t do a mimic/impersonation of Reese, but I’ll try to capture her qualities, accents, speaking pace and incorporate that into the character voice.

 

 

 

 

Voice

 

 

 

 

 

What types of things are harmful to your voice?

Yelling and whispering are really bad for your voice as is speaking too low and gravelly. It’s important when your doing anything with your voice that you understand how to maintain it and hydrate it. Learning how to breath correctly and choose voices that you can sustain over a long period of time.

 

 

 

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Have there been any characters that you really connected with?

Absolutely. There have been many characters that I just clicked with for different reasons. Lizzie in “Transcend Time Saga”, Ivy in “Love Nouveau”, Farris in the “Geek Girl Mystery Series”, Jo from “Little Women”, and more. Though I might not identify with everything they are going through, there are many things from each character that I can pull from my own experience and dive deep into who they are.

 

 

 

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If you had the power to time travel, would you use it? If yes, when and where would you go?

I’d be so nervous of messing anything up and creating a Time Paradox or whatever Doc. Brown said in Back to the future, that I’d worry I’d change the future. If I had to choose though, I’d probably like to go to Regency Era England during the Jane Austen times. Not because I like how women were treated back then, which was horrendous, but I’d love to dress up in those beautiful dresses and dance in one of their fancy balls!

 

 

 

Regency Lady

 

 

 

Who is your “dream author” that you would like to record for?

I actually don’t have a particular author in mind. But my dream author would be someone who is a strong storyteller who has emotionally rich characters and an engaging story. I’d love to latch on to a series that is as powerful as Harry Potter, Twilight, Mortal Instruments, Dresden Files, etc. It’s so fun to keep growing with your favorite characters.

 

 

Bonus question: Any funny anecdotes from inside the recording studio?

Um…I tend to burp a lot in the booth! I’m taking in so much air as I narrate that sometimes a really amazing burb just comes out…at the wrong time. Like during an emotional scene and just as I’m getting to the good bits, BUUUURRRRRPPPPP! LOL, then I have to start that section over!

 

 

 

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Thanks Andrea!

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

MTW Blog Cover Image by Eva

 

Interview with Narrator Andrea Emmes

 

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When did you know you wanted to be an audiobook narrator?

Well, I kind of fell into audiobooks in 2014 and haven’t looked back since. I’ve been a professional performer (actor/singer/dancer/VO) for over 20 years but in 2006 I got hurt in a stunt show and had to retire due to a disabling pain disorder called Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy aka CRPS. I’ve always been an avid reader and during my recovery I read about 8-12 books a week. I went back to college and got a degree in Game Art and Design and was a game designer for Disney Interactive for a couple of years After the layoffs, I had to figure out what I should do next as I can no longer dance, etc. anymore and my husband suggested I look into audiobooks. He’s brilliant and I researched it, set up my equipment, studied with coaches and have enjoyed every minute of it!!

 

 

 

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How do you manage to avoid burn-out? What do you do to maintain your enthusiasm for narrating?

That is a great question, but narration can be tedious. Especially because you have to learn a ton of tech and engineering besides just speaking into the mic. It’s important to take lots of small breaks. Especially because it’s not good to be sitting or standing for too long. Because of my disability, I have to narrate sitting down, so it’s important for me to stretch or lay down every once in a while. Also, it can be hard to maintain your enthusiasm because, yes, I have a wicked cool job that I LOVE, but sometimes it’s hard to get into the emotions of the book. But I remind myself that I’m so blessed to do what I do; to have authors and publishers who believe and trust in me to bring their book to life and I don’t take that honor lightly. If I’m struggling or just not feeling it, I’ll step away, play some video games or watch TV or go for a walk and then come back fresh and get back to work!! As long as I hit my deadline, my daily schedule is flexible.

 

 

 

Rest

 

 

 

What about this title compelled you to audition as narrator?

Well first, I LOVE Michelle Madow’s work. That was a definite first draw for me as I’ve been a fan of hers for a while and have read some of her books already. What I love about the Transcend Time Saga Series is not just some fun characters and the love story, but I was intrigued by the time travel aspect of it and I’m a huge Jane Austen and Regency Era fan so to be able to be a part of that world and bring those scenarios and characters to life was really fun and fulfilling. I also love anything that has a mystical, supernatural or paranormal slant to it and I loved how Michelle merged the normalcy of teenage issues – boys, relationships, school – and beautifully worked in this fun mythos of time travel and reincarnation.

 

 

 

TranscendTimeSaga

 

 

 

How closely do you prefer to work with authors?

Before I being recording the book, I like to work very close with the authors if they are available. After I read the book, I’ll send any questions I might have to the author if I need clarification and then I’ll also ask them to provide me with a character sheet that describes all of the characters that are most important to them so I can get an idea of what they were thinking about for them. Their quirks, age, vocal preferences, etc. However, since my job as the narrator is to be the producer and director, after the first fifteen minutes has been approved, I will not take acting or directing notes. So it’s important for me to make sure that I have as much as I can beforehand and hopefully leave a lasting impression with the author that their book, their “baby” is in good hands and that I will give it the best that I have to make sure the audiobook, which is now “our baby” is excite the listeners.

 

 

 

Partners

 

 

 

Who are your “accent inspirations”?

When I’m going to be doing accents, I don’t really have a person I’m inspired by. I just try to do as much research as I can to get the accent correct. If it’s RP British in the Regency Era, then I’ll watch a lot of Jane Austen or Downton Abbey. It’s it needs to be really Cockney like someone from Essex, then I’ll find shows like “The Only Way is Essex”. I’ve looked a lot on YouTube, but I also work with some amazing coaches to help me get the accent just right. (PJ Ochlan and Joel Froomkin are amazing!)

 

 

 

 

 

About the Narrator: Andrea Emmes

Audible Best Selling Narrator, Andrea Emmes was born in Hollywood, FL and grew up in both Tennessee and Rhode Island, started her career in musical theater. Cutting her teeth at The Trinity Arts Center in Rhode Island, Andrea eventually made her way to Orlando and began her eclectic career singing/dancing in various shows at Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Pirates’ Dinner Adventure, performing as a magician’s assistant, headlining on the Las Vegas Strip and touring Los Angeles as an L.A. Award winning artist with her album, “I’m On My Way”.

Having worked in tv, film and video games, Andrea, a total Book Nerd, now enjoys narrating audiobooks at her home studio in San Jose, California.

Her wide range of character voices and dynamic/emotionally invested performances has reviewers and listeners alike commenting on how she effortlessly pulls listeners in, and has versatility and charisma.

 

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Discussing The Strange Luck Series with Amie Irene Winters

 

 

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Strange Luck #1

 

 

 

 

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Strange Luck #2

 

 

 

 

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Strange Luck #3

 

 

 

 

 

Q&A

 

 

 

Where you a reader growing up?

Not so much. The main reason was because of the types of books that I was allowed to read. They weren’t very interesting, well-known, and almost all were religious. I dreaded reading because of this. It wasn’t until I was older that I discovered that not all books were dull and boring.
I remember that when I got my license, I regularly drove to Barnes & Noble to buy books (most in secret). Classics, poetry, non-fiction—I devoured all of them with enthusiasm.
Although I would have loved to read Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia growing up, I think being deprived of good books has made me that much more appreciative of them today. I can’t imagine my life without reading now.

Same here. I’m glad you had a wonderful discovery later in life. Too many great books!

 

 

 

 

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Was there anything in your background that influenced you to write later in life?



Reading the book Chocolat in college. It was the first time I had ever read a book that was filled with magic and whimsy. This launched my obsession with magical realism books, which led to my obsession with books about witches, which led to my obsession with fantasy books.

Nice. Once you read something you like, you’re hooked. 

 

 

 

~Reading is for awesome people~

 

 

 
Why did you choose fantasy for a debut novel?



Fantasy is my favorite genre to read because of the limitless possibilities. I love visiting other worlds. I love magic and supernatural entities. I love exploring things that I am afraid of. It seemed only fitting to write in the genre I love most.

Great! Limitless possibilities is fascinating! 

 

What made you move from California to Pennsylvania?

My husband teaches philosophy and got a position at a local university. Prior to PA, we lived in Florida and Colorado.
PA is my favorite place I’ve lived so far though. I absolutely love the seasons, especially fall. I also prefer living in a small country town versus a big bustling city.

Nice. There’s a certain kind of peace out in the countryside. 

 

 

 

 

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Describe the decision to write a book after other job opportunities.



Creative writing was my favorite subject in grade school, but once I went to college and began to explore various job opportunities, writing fell by the wayside.
I eventually went on to work in corporate America and was miserable, so I started writing stories again as a way for me to relax from the grind.
It didn’t take me long to spark the passion I had lost for writing. I looked forward to my hobby at every opportunity. After I published my first book, Strange Luck, I knew that I wanted to dedicate my life to writing. Just as Chocolat inspired me, I can only hope that my books will do the same for my readers.

Ohhh. I can totally relate to this. 

 

 

Who is Daisy Darling and how do you relate to her?

Daisy Darling is a stubborn, quirky girl who wants to be a writer, but things keep getting in the way. She inherits her family’s antique shop, ends up in a mysterious world where her memories are stolen, and then accidentally becomes ringleader for an ancient and evil theater.
Many of Daisy’s quirks are similar to mine, and some of her experiences are based on things that have happened to me.

Cool. 

 
You can learn more here:

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Strange Luck

10 Things You Didn’t Know About The Nightmare Birds

 

Does she have a mentor that she confides in?



In each book, Daisy has a mentor that helps guide her. In Strange Luck, it was a time-traveling wizard. In The Nightmare Birds, it was a beautiful and immortal performer, but in A Darling Secret, Daisy finally learns how to harness her own strengths and therefore relies only on herself.

I like the progression here. 

 
Tell us about the upcoming release of A Darling Secret.

A Darling Secret is the conclusion to the series, where you’ll learn the fate of your favorite heroes and love-to- hate foes. It’s a little darker than The Nightmare Birds, with lots of occult themes, magic, and psychological games. My favorite! ��
I wanted this book to answer remaining questions and leave the reader with a satisfying sense of completion. I spent a lot of time talking to my readers to find out what they wanted to see happen, which characters they wanted to see more of, and what they liked most about the previous books. I hope my readers will enjoy the result.

Awesome. I love that you seek out feedback from your readers. 

 

 

 
What have you learned after writing your third book?

The more you write, the better you become at writing.

Amen to that. It’s simple yet profound.  

 

 

 

Write

 

 

 
Do you outline or construct character arcs?

When I write, I don’t plot everything out in advance. I have a very general idea of what I’m going to do and the rest I come up with as I go. For example, I wanted to write a book about a world built using stolen memories. That was the general idea I had for Strange Luck. The rest took form as I wrote. A lot of the time I don’t even know what is going to happen in the story or to my characters, but that’s part of the fun. All the themes I discuss in my books are important to me and are largely based on my own experiences/thoughts, like how we are our memories.

Exploring the plot as you go does sound interesting. 

 

What’s next after the Strange Luck series?

I plan to write a standalone psychological horror novel. Details to come.

Oh, do share when available. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bio:

 

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Amie Irene Winters was born and raised in California but now lives and writes in western Pennsylvania. She is the author of the award-winning Strange Luck series.
When not writing, she can be found hiking with her dog, baking desserts, or breaking a sweat in kickboxing class.

To learn more about Amie and her books, visit amieirenewinters.com.

 

 

Connect:

Website
Blog

Facebook

Twitter

 

 

Buy Links:

Amazon
Barnes & Noble

Book Depository

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Don’t be a stranger! Come back and see us!

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

@MTW_2018

http://www.mysterythrillerweek.com

 

 

 

Burned by Fire Book Tour with Author Danielle Annett

Burned by Fire

Blood and Magic #3

Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy, Magic, Vampires

Publication date: September 30th 2016

 

 

 

 

Aria’s pyrokinetic ability has always been hard to control, and being pulled in so many directions, isn’t making it any easier.

Now she has to help Inarus, a foe turned friend who is being targeted by the Human Alliance Corporation-the very organization he once worked for.

But the HAC has more than just Inarus in their sights. Aria finds herself going deep into enemy territory to save a witchling child with never before seen powers, that the HAC has kidnapped to further their own ends.

Aria has been hired to save a child once before, and she failed. That failure has haunted her even to this day and she wonnt let herself fail again. With the HAC closing in, and complications between herself and the Pack rising, Aria has no choice but to succeed. A child’s life is on the line and Aria will risk everything to save that life.

 

 

 

Add to Goodreads

Buy links: Amazon Kobo

 

 

 

 

There’s nothing like the imagination of a buddinig writer. Author Danielle Annett does a great job conveying her characters in the midst of dynamic relationships and navigating through dire circumstances. I’ve always appreciated the cast that surrounds the main character. To me, it always brings out the best fiction in any story. Aria has good intentions, but struggles to contorol her pyrokinetic abilities. Because of her lack of control, and apparent weakness, she’s become dependent upon her Alpha mate, Declan. This forces her to deal with her mixed feelings about him, her friend Inarus, is caught up right in the middle of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My rating

 

Four golden stars isolated on white background

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Biography

Danielle Annett is a reader, writer, photographer, and blogger. Born in the SF Bay area, she now resides in Spokane, WA, the primary location for her Blood & Magic series. Addicted to coffee at an early age, she spends her restless nights putting pen to paper as she tries to get all of the stories out of her head before the dogs wake up the rest of the house and vye for her attention

 

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Thank you Bookmark booktours and Danielle!

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

The Crown of Stones Trilogy by Fantasy Author C.L. Schneider

 

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PLEASE WELCOME ONE AWESOME FANTASY AUTHOR

C.L. SCHNEIDER

 

 

 

 

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C.L. Schneider is an author mom who just penned her first published work, The Crown of Stones. The first in a trilogy, Magic-Price is a gripping account of one man’s struggle to accept who and what he is. It’s the journey of a flawed hero, a fallen race, and a land at war. A page-turning tale of prejudice, betrayal, secrets and lies.

 

 

 

*It sounds absolutely and deliciously scrumptious!*

 

 

 

 

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GULP…

 

 

 

 

 

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THE CROWN OF STONES

 

 

 

 

 

*How long did you live in Kansas?

I was born and raised in Atchison, Kansas, a small town on the Missouri river. Atchison is the birthplace of Amelia Earhart. It is also considered the most haunted small town in Kansas. I came to New York after I finished school and have lived in the same general area (the Hudson Valley region) ever since.

Haunted small towns, eh? Just in time for Halloween!

 

 

 

 

 

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*What sorts of books did you read growing up?

I come from a family of readers, all with different interests, so the bookshelves in my house were bursting with books from all genres. I was an early reader. In elementary school I devoured my older sibling’s collections of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, but by the time I was in middle school I was reading a lot of the classics. Some of my favorites were: Gone with the Wind, Jane Eyre, Rebecca, Frankenstein, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Northwest Passage, The Time Machine. I loved mysteries and gothic novels. From there, I moved onto historical fiction and horror. I didn’t start reading fantasy until after high school when my brother bought me a copy of The Mists of Avalon. I fell in love and read it twice within a couple of months. I had already finished my first novel at that point, but that book changed everything for me. It narrowed my writing focus. Once I read Mists of Avalon, I knew fantasy was my genre.

That’s an interesting mix of books there! It intrigues me how certain books can have a particular affect on us. In your case it was The Mists of Avalon. 

 

 

 

 

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.-Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

 

*Who were your favorite characters growing up, and how did you relate to them?

I adored Scarlett O’Hara. She was such an amazing character. On the surface she was this incredibly strong woman who let nothing stand in her way. She knew how to work the system to get what she wanted. Yet underneath, she was vulnerable. Scarlett O’Hara was the first truly flawed character that I ever encountered and she definitely set the bar high. I was also drawn to Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. To me, at the time, he was the epitome of a tortured character. I loved his passion and recklessness.

YESSSS. Flawed characters are the name of the game. It’s amazing how we’re touched by them isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

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*What’s your educational background?

I’ve had no formal writing education. Writing is just something I’ve done for as long as I can remember.

Me neither!! Hah! But you’re trilogy looks AMAZING. The reviews I’ve seen are also very astounding. Impressive for someone who has no formal background in writing. You’re an encouragement for the rest of us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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*Who are you favorite characters today and how do you relate to them?

One of my favorite characters that I’ve discovered recently is Mason Stone from the Saint Monolith series by fellow indie author Tom Reinhart. Mason Stone is such a compelling character. He’s an unsung hero, a loose cannon vigilante, a tortured man, and a very lost soul. I can’t say that I relate to him, really, but I admire how he doesn’t hold back. He does the things that everyone else wishes they could.

Hmm…I haven’t heard of him, but I’ll check him out! 

 

 

 

*Tell us about Ian Troy and how you crafted him.

There is a quote by Kahlil Gibran that I believe describes Ian Troy perfectly: “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” That is Ian Troy. 

Ian is an anti-hero, flawed as they come. He’s solder, a magic user, a drinker, a smart-ass, and an outcast who’s maddeningly stubborn and guilt ridden. Ian’s story is a dark one, and he goes to some very dark places. He doesn’t always do the right thing. In fact, he does some very bad things. But you can always count on him to be selfless in the face of danger and put other’s lives ahead of his own. How did he get to be this way? Over the course of the trilogy, you learn about the roller coaster of his life and how he was manipulated and coerced even before he was born.

I love flawed characters. The more flawed they are, the more opportunities they have to incite emotions in a reader. Flawed characters, to me, are far more interesting that the gallant white knights and the perfect super heroes. Those are fine, to a point. But I’m far more intrigued by what’s underneath the shining armor and the mask. What trials and tribulations did they have to endure? What past mistakes or secret desires are they hiding?

When I created Ian Troy, I set out to construct a character that I, as a reader, would want to get lost in. It was important to me that Ian carried traits from some of the characters that sparked my imagination growing up. I wanted him to be a cowboy and an outlaw, a good guy and a rogue; a detective when he needed to be, a monster when he could help it, and a hero even when he tried not to be. I knew his story would revolve around magic. That he would be flawed and suffering, bold yet strong, valiant yet broken. To me, the best way to create and explore a tortured character was to make his greatest strength (magic) also his greatest weakness.

I love, love, love your description of your characters and your entire premise. 

 

 

 

 

 

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”- Kahlil Gibran

 

 

 

*What do you love most about him?

I love Ian’s strength, his ability to keep going, to keep striving for what he knows is right even against terrible odds. It probably sounds strange, but when I’m faced with a difficult task and I feel like giving up, I think: Ian wouldn’t give up, and it pushes me to keep going.

Now that’s awesome. You’re inspired by your own character! That’s heroism at its best.

 

 

 

 

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*If you were to meet him in person how would you feel?

Oh, I’m not sure! No one has ever asked me that before. I might feel a little star struck, actually. Though, I would love to find out. It would be amazing to have the opportunity to sit down with Ian and the gang at one of the taverns in my book and share a bottle. That would be a fun night!

I can almost picture this playing out in my head, lol!  That would be EPIC.

 

 

 

*What did you enjoy most in writing the Crown of Stones Trilogy?

Worldbuilding was definitely one of my favorite parts of writing The Crown of Stones. I loved forming all those realms and crafting their history. Taking the flaws and accomplishments (and the secrets) of each society and interweaving them together over the three books was so much fun. Mirra’kelan is a world I’m proud of. I think it has a lot of potential for future stories.

I also thoroughly enjoyed the characters. One of the hardest parts of moving onto a new project was letting them go.

Yeah, that sounds like it would be pretty hard. Having to let them go and move on would be tough.

 

 

 

 

 

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*What exactly is Epic Fantasy?

Epic fantasy is generally described as a novel set in an entirely imaginary world, completely unlike our own, with environments and societies that are fully explored and realized. As a rule, the story is lengthy and often evolves over multiple books. It frequently includes a large cast of characters, complex magic systems, sweeping battles, and/or a journey across multiple realms. The plot is complex and game-changing, leaving the story-world altered on a grand scale and the characters evolved.

I like it. Just realized my story sounds a lot like epic fantasy. 

 

 

*What is Urban Fantasy?

With urban fantasy, the magical/supernatural elements are still there, but story generally takes place in more of a contemporary, urban setting than epic fantasy.

I wonder what is it if your story has both elements of Urban and Epic fantasy? Interesting. 

 

 

 

 

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*Can you give us a teaser about your next book?

My next book, Nite Fire, is the first in an urban fantasy series. It’s the story of Dahlia Nite, a half-dragon shapeshifter from a parallel world very different from our own. Many years ago, Dahlia’s emerging empathic abilities interfered with her job as an assassin. She failed the dragon queen, Naalish, and was condemned to die. Being half human (and able to shift into human form), Dahlia fled her home for the only other world where she had a hope of blending in: ours.

Nite Fire is set in the fictitious Sentinel City. Already a hot-spot for the unexplained, when a series of brutal killings disguised as spontaneous combustion strike the city, Dahlia knows the killer is one of her own kind. She worms her way into the investigation, teaming up with a human detective to solve the case, while struggling to maintain the lies that have kept humanity in the dark for centuries; believing myths and legends were just that.

As Dahlia searches for the truth behind the murders, the bit of peace she’s found in this world starts to unravel. Nite Fire is the first book in a series. An early excerpt is posted on my website on the Playground page Nite Fire Play if you’d like to have a look! Leave a comment, too. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

 

You really now how to craft a story with intriguing characters! Please drop me a line when you finish. I’d be open to review it. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Connect with C.L. Schneider!

Twitter | Facebook | Google | Goodreads | Amazon | Website

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for ridin’ the train folks!!

 

 

 

 

 

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When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. -Ernest Miller Hemingway

 

 

 

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To write well, express yourself like the common people, but think like a wise man. -Aristotle

 

 

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“When I want to read a novel, I write one.” -Benjamin Disraeli

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t be a stranger…

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

The Core Elements of Storytelling and Writing Great Fantasy with Marya Miller

 

 

 

Please welcome  a talented and inspirational fantasy author, 

editor, copywriter and ghostwriter 

MARYA MILLER

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marya forest

 

 

 

Welcome Marya! 

 

Marya is a Fantasy writer; copywriter; ghostwriter. Harpist. Scot. Lover of forests, mountains and horses.Completing the Dragonish Trilogy. Marya is also a fellow Wordplayer on K.M Weiland’s Facebook group.

Find her on twitter @Marya_Miller and check out her awesome website Marya Miller Writer.

 

 

Somebody roll out the red carpet!!!!

 

 

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*Are you originally from Ontario Canada?

I’m originally from Glasgow, Scotland. We emigrated to Ontario when I was twelve, at the start of Grade Nine. It took me a LONG time to get used to Canada, but then I discovered Algonquin Park; plus I moved up to Northern Ontario four years ago and I love it up here: There are actually little mountains around Thunder Bay, and it stays light till 11pm in summer, the way it did in Scotland. So now I have the best of both worlds.

Here’s a shout out to all the awesome writers in CANADA!  

 

 

 

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*What is it about forests you enjoy?

The peace. The light. The scents. The wind rushing through the trees. And the fact they can also be a little bit haunting, and scary.

Being in a forest always makes me think something magical is going to happen. I’m going to see elves at any moment, round the next bend in the forest trail. Or bears. Or both.

That would be quite a sight—elves and bears rounding the corner. Let’s hope the bears would be nice. 

 

 

 

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*How long have you been a writer? 

Since I could write. I wrote my first “novel” when I was eight, a gripping drama about my teddy bear being abducted by two evil henchmen called Grimm and Ghastly; both wearing rather Victorian-looking top hats draped with black crape. (At eight, you think that is highly original.)  I actually still have it–complete with illustrations. 😉

I wrote four young adult/children’s fantasy novels in my twenties, and gave up too early in their rejection cycles. One almost got published by Scholastic–but my editor left and the new editor wasn’t interested.

My first published fantasy story was “Deus Ex Machina” in the early eighties, when computers were just being birthed. It’s very dated now–I wrote about (*gasp*) a sentient computer that started reading the books it stored. That story got me a job at TPUG Magazine (computers) and I was promoted to Assistant Editor and Managing Editor there. I’ve worked in various editorial and production positions at various magazines; both salaried and freelance. I had a stint as General Manager of “The Independent News”. And I invented my copywriting job when I ended up in a wheelchair, trapped in my house, back in 2008, when I ended up having to support my husband. I have been with the same major client now since 2009, and really enjoy it–but it kept me away from fiction till last year, when I joined Holly Lisle’s free “Flash Fiction” course and the fiction bug came back, full force.

Wow, it’s amazing you have that much writing experience, and your first novel sounds great! I’d totally read that.

 

 

 

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*What’s are the best things about being a copywriter?

The chance to help people–and I’ve enjoyed my clients’ successes too. I also like the anonymity. I am actually pretty shy and don’t like being in the public eye. I’ve always liked being “behind the scenes”. Plus it allows me to work from home.

The thing I like most about copywriting (apart from the flexibility and the ability to work at home) — it teaches you discipline. There are always deadlines: There is no such thing as writer’s block and you learn to produce and be efficient about it. I’ve found this enormously helpful in my fiction writing. 

This sounds it helps produce the solid character we all need to be efficient.

 

 

 

*What’s it like being a ghostwriter?

Very similar to my days as a magazine editor. It’s all about long hours, research, proofing, deadlines and deadlines. When I hear people I admire raving about something I wrote (not knowing I wrote it), it’s a very weird feeling.

Sounds like hard work! You’re doing all the heavy lifting, but no one knows your’re the muscle behind scenes. 

 

 

 

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                               The heavy lifting of ghostwriting

 

 

 

*You have an awesome website! You stated “Communication is my passion” Can you elaborate on this?

Thank you. Communication has been the common thread running through my life, right from when I was little. I came from a dysfunctional family and a rough neighborhood. I always found myself in the middle at home and school, doing my best to get people to understand each other and be kind. I think there’s a lot of loneliness and disconnection in the world. I would love it if my stories made someone forget loneliness and feel connected while reading one of my books.

I love this because it’s so true. That’s a great aim for your books!

 

 

 

*Do you have professional storytelling experience? 

I’m a graduate of the Storyteller’s School of Toronto and participated during the eighties and early nineties in several Storytelling Festivals and ran workshops. I was also lucky enough to have the great Irish storyteller, Alice Kane, as my teacher. She became a dear friend and the most moving milestone in my career was Alice choosing to tell a story I wrote for her, “Bonnyton Moor”, as the final story on the last CD she ever made before she passed away. That too was a very weird feeling.

My father and big brother, Stephen, were both amazing storytellers, and I got my love of stories from them. In addition to telling stories, Stephen also read us just about every fairy book in existence, his favorites being the Andrew Lang series. My sister and I still remember gorgeous illustrations by the likes of Edmund Dulac, Kai Nielsen and N. C. Wyeth.

And, of course, the Rupert Bear annuals.

Wow your experience is impressive!  Would love to pick your brain more about the storytelling experience. Perhaps at a future date.

 

 

 

 

*What are the most enjoyable aspects of being a writer?

Being able to write out of deep values you hold, but being able to have fun too. Being able to lose yourself in another world, in your characters and cultures. Stories are nothing more than a way of making sense of real life, so you have to be brutally honest with yourself when you’re writing. Every flaw you have screams out at you from your writing–and I’m not talking about technique. You need to be brave and face yourself, otherwise you have wimpy, shallow characters. So in a way, it’s like therapy–which, in itself, is not much fun, but it’s worth it. You feel like you’re growing–particularly important when most of your life is lived between four walls. I’m never lonely when I’m writing. 

I also love the way characters take on a life of their own and sometimes totally upset your plot structure and march your book off in a completely unexpected direction. I don’t always let them steer me off course–but most times, they’re usually right.

I also love the fact that I can write non-fiction as my “day job”–my bread-and-butter–and slip away into the forests of Dragonish when my workday is done. It’s having the best of both worlds.

YES, love it. This resonates deeply, and has a  lot of wisdom to it.

 

 

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“I’m never lonely when I’m writing.” -Marya Miller

 

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*Give us a summary of your current WIP or most recent publication.

My flash fiction anthology from the world of my upcoming Dragonish series–“Tales of Mist and Magic”–is about to make its debut. (There’s a sample story from “Tales of Mist and Magic”, plus a bonus story you can download that won’t appear anywhere else, on my Original Fiction web page: http://maryamillerca.ipage.com/dragonish )

My last story published was “Block Magic” (no, that’s not a spelling mistake), which appeared on Day 23 in the Indie Author’s Advent Calendar. Before that, my last mainstream print published piece was “Too Happy to Die” in the anthology, “Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Dog’s Life”.

I’m sure you have tons stories waiting to be revealed, keep writing!

 

*In your opinion what are the elements of a great fantasy book?

To me, the characters are the heart and soul of the best fantasy books. They make or break them–if I don’t care about at least one character deeply, I won’t invest in the journey. In addition to this, there has to be something that makes me feel that there’s a magic door or curtain somewhere that will transport me to a world where magic is real. You can find those doors in all the greatest fantasy novels: Not literally, but you step through and suspend disbelief; and it’s both much safer than the world you’re in and more terrifying; and infinitely more beautiful.

There were moments in my childhood–for example, when I was three and my big brother saved up his pocket money and took me and my sister to Rouken Glen. We sat in a forest in a hovering mist of bluebells. He put a bluebell flower on his pinkie and told me it was a fairy’s hat, and I totally thought that was real! The beauty of that forest, the magic of the sunshine; the feeling that wonderful things could happen any minute–that’s what fantasy novels are all about for me. To give it a bit of context: We traveled to that forest on a tram, coming from the heart of Glasgow, which was grey and grimy in those days–there were still coal fires. We lived on the edge of the Gorbals, and life was pretty grim, so for my brother to transport me to this magical world… well. I can’t describe it. It was my first forest, and I was hooked.

My brother died when I was seven, and I’ve been trying to get back to that world ever since.

So for me fantasy novels are all about loss and hope; being surrounded by darkness and finding a way out through a combination of core values, courage–and magic. And if there are dragons, wizards and elves to reassure you that you’re not alone, so much the better.

Very touching story! 

 

 

 

 

“To me, the characters are the heart and soul of the best fantasy books. They make or break them–if I don’t care about at least one character deeply, I won’t invest in the journey.” ~Marya Miller

 

 

 

 

 

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                                        Invest in the journey….

 

 

 
*Can you give us 3 critical components of storytelling? (you can list more if desired)

Universality, truth–and not getting in the way of the story.

A good story is universal. It needs to make people care about the outcome. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know that world–you need to be able to relate to the main character’s journey, care about it. A good story has to be true–even when it’s fiction. Pick a story with all these elements, and don’t get in the way of the story when you’re telling it–and you’ll be a great storyteller, whether you’re writing it or telling it.

EPIC. That’s great! I love absolutely love this. You need to put this on a t-shirt.

 

 

 

 

*What are you experiencing right now in your writing journey?

What I’m experiencing right now is excitement. I’m living for and through my Dragonish series, and I wish there were thirty-six hours in a day and I could spend them all writing. I feel that after years with fiction on the back burner, I’m finally reaching my zone. My own story arc is becoming clear, and the goal’s in sight.

Right now, I’m thrilled to be experiencing the wisdom of other writers through writer’s groups on Facebook. I took a smattering of real-world writing courses in the past, and for the most part, with the exception of one single course, I found them discouraging. I came away with the feeling “I may as well give up fiction: Everyone else is so much better at it than me”. But online groups like KM Weiland’s “Wordplayers”, Dave Lynch’s ePub Scene and the forums I’m on in Holly Lisle’s site have totally broken that curse. There is such generosity and professionalism in these groups from writers at all stages of the game: I’ve had feedback, inspiration, encouragement–and I’ve learned a lot.

I think you need real feedback and real interaction from other writers who understand the process. Without it, you’re stuck in a vacuum. That’s the place where all storytellers tend to wither and die.

This is so encouraging! I’m so glad you found a good source of inspiration and encouragement. One less storyteller in the graveyard. This is a HUGE reason why I started conducting these interviews in the first place. 

 

 

 

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*What’s your GOAL now in this stage of your career?

My goal is to be able to work full time on my own writing–not that I don’t enjoy copywriting, my day job: But for that I need to be three people! I want to see the Dragonish series in print before I die.

You’ll do it, Marya. I know you will. 

 

*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

Nothing stops me from completing client projects. I owe it to my clients to give them #1 priority, so I do.

With my fiction, though (1) literally not enough hours in the day is my biggest obstacle–that, and (2) being completely intimidated by the technology end of uploading books to Amazon. (3) I would also like to invest in some professional editing on my books before I release them to the world–I need to increase my income first for that to happen.

(That being said, the nice thing about obstacles is that it’s fun looking for ways around them.)

I hope one day you can be a full time writer with your work as the top priority! 

 

 

 

*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

What keeps me motivated is caring about my world and my characters. I want them to have voices, to be heard. I want to bring some magic back into the world, so that people can tackle the darkness safely, through the pages of the Dragonish stories. And my characters are fun to write–Granny Maberly, Ushguk, Anno, Morwen, Leith–I love them all. And a few of them are pretty funny. Though whatever you do, don’t tell Granny that!

I love that you want your characters to have a voice and be heard! That’s awesome!  

 

 

 

 

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             Give your characters a voice 

 

 

 

 

*What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals? 

Wanting to be a better writer. Though I think ALL writers struggle with that. You have this wonderful, vibrant, rich story in your head, and you read what you’ve written; and you feel as if you’ve only captured a glimpse of it.

I think writing “better” or “good” can be quite elusive, just as it is deceptive. We should focus more on telling the story. No one ever feels good enough.

 

 

 
*Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?

I think a lot of writers give up because there’s no one in their corner to say “keep going”. They question the value of their stories. They don’t receive feedback. They start to feel like voices in the wilderness–you know; the old “if a tree falls in the forest, will anyone hear it scream?” In traditional publishing, the world I’m from–and I had an actual, professional background in editing and publishing–the odds are stacked so hugely against you as a fiction writer. There are many horror stories about publishers from even successful authors. It’s a world of rejection as routine; and if you’re accepted, that’s only the beginning of the obstacles. Plus many writers have people telling them what they SHOULD be doing instead of writing. It amazes me that writers keep going at all, if I’m honest.

But being isolated as a writer … that’s like standing up in a darkened auditorium and telling a story to a chair (which I’ve done, by the way). It’s like sending a transmission out into space and knowing the odds of anyone ever hearing it are a gazillion to none. When a story isn’t heard, it tends to wither and die.

WOW. This is therapeutic. There’s the matter of someone being in our corner, surviving rejection, and overcoming isolation. These are all very critical elements to our success. Thanks for sharing. 

 

 

 

 

 

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                   Every writer needs a cheerleader!

 

 

 

*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?

Your stories are important. They’re real. If you blow on all the stories that have withered and died, some of them will spark and come to life again–no matter how long they’ve lain in the darkness.

You are important. And the publishing community has changed, thanks to ePublishing and the internet. There’s never been a better time to be a writer! 

If you’re really feeling down or discouraged, read KM Weiland’s “Conquering Writer’s Block and Summoning Inspiration”. Join Holly Lisle’s free Flash Fiction community and get your confidence back sharing 500-700 word stories with an informed, encouraging and honest group. Take her “How to Think Sideways” course (or ANY of her courses. My favorite, besides HTTS, is “The Secret of Page-Turning Scenes”). If you’re stuck at the business end of writing, visit Joanna Penn’s site and read her books too.

These are three authors–KM Weiland, Joanna Penn and Holly Lisle–who inspire, not flatten. They share incredibly valuable knowledge born of real-world experience, obstacles and success. They’re like a good fantasy novel: They give you the weapons to tackle the monsters with, and teach you how to use them. They’ve got your back, and you can trust them. Plus they’re fun to read.

And do join a good writer’s group–one without ego; where the emphasis is on the writing, not the personalities.

Exceptional. This is very inspiring! Thanks so much! When I do these interviews, I’m the first to get inspired! THANK YOU. 

 

 

BONUS:

*Who are the best authors of the century?

That’s such a broad question, I’m not sure how to answer it.  All I can do is give you my own personal choice…

Ahhh, I’m going to get nailed for choice number one: JRR Tolkien. He’s my first love. In spite of what Peter Jackson and an ocean of imitators have done, you can’t beat Middle Earth.

I also love Terry Pratchett’s writing–his Discworld series in particular. He defies genre. He can go from low comedy to advanced philosophy in a blink–and it works.

Finally, John Bellairs; just for his book “The Face in the Frost”, which exuberantly defies every rule about adjectives and adverbs. It’s also the book I would memorize and become, if I was a character in Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”.

Yes–all fantasy, I know; but each of these three authors defied genre and they gave their worlds and characters unique voices. They wrote books that changed lives, healed wounds, comforted. They’re like old friends to me now, and I still reread them.

Lovely, simply lovely.

 

 

THANKS FOR YOUR PARTICIPATION MARYA!!!!

 

 

 

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There is no friend as loyal as a book ~Ernest Hemingway

 

 

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Somewhere there’s a book to be written, and somewhere there’s a book to be read. ~Benjamin Thomas

 

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When your eye hits the page there’s magic, staying magic. ~Benjamin Thomas 

 

 

 

 

The power of a great story is the remnant of character, keep writing. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

 

Solid Inspiration for Struggling Writers with Brianna da Silva

 

 

 

 

STORY OF THE WRITER 

SERIES WITH

BRIANNA DA SILVA

 

 

 

 

World poverty

 

 

 

 

“You have to be a terrible writer before you can be a good one or a great one.” ~Brianna da Silva

 

 

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We may be from different lands, cultures, backgrounds–But one thing is abundantly clear; we all speak the same language of grief. ~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

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Brianna da Silva

 

 

 

Everyone please welcome Brianna da Silva! 

 

Brianna is a YA fantasy writer, bookworm, Christ follower and is currently editing her novel and novella. You can find her tweeting encouraging words @Brianna_daSilva and blogging at The Story Port, a blog for storytellers…And by the way, her site is AWESOME. There’s something so mesmerizing about it.

 

*Where are you from originally? 

Virginia… the land of misty fields and muggy summers! Before that, Pluto, I think.

Pluto to Northern Virginia, must’ve been quite a road trip.

 

 

*What are you studying? 

I actually graduated two years ago. My degree is in Digital Arts and Design. I get paid to make things. (AKA do magic.)

You look SO young I assumed you were still in college! 

 

 

*I love your blog! Tell us about it. 

Aw, thank you! My blog is called StoryPort. (briannadasilva.com) I write about storytelling techniques as I learn them, and give updates about my own epic fantasy projects.

 

 

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*Can you tell us about your languages that you are developing? 

Ooh! I get so excited about my languages. (I’m a nerd… can you tell?)

I have many in development, all inspired by various real-world tongues and writing systems. I’ve tried to veer away from the cliché Middle-Earth-sounding languages.
For example, one of the major languages in my current WIP, Emergence, is called Mosori. It’s a crossover of traditional Hawaiian and modern Spanish. For fun, I’ll teach you a phrase:
An aki ma’hani.

(Say: on aw-KEE muh-HAW-nee)
That’s an idiom that basically just means, “It’s all good; no worries!”

That’s cool! Thanks for sharing. I love the name Mosori and the sound of that word. For those of you who don’t know, Brianna and myself are crazy about languages. 

 

 

 

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Brianna’s work in progress

 

 

 

 
*You’re writing Science fiction & Fantasy right? 
Almost… I’m writing epic fantasy, but I definitely have ideas for SFF down the line! 😉

That’s great–But I totally forget what epic fantasy is, honestly. Definitely sounds epic though. 

 

 
*Tell us 3 FUN facts about yourself.

I was home schooled through high school.

I once ate zebra steak in Namibia. (It tasted surprisingly like… steak.)

I have a pixie cut. More importantly, I actually am a pixie.

Home schooling sounds extremely difficult from a parent’s perspective. Zebra steak sounds rather appealing. I’d totally eat it with BBQ sauce…And I suppose you could pass for a pixie! 

 

 

 

*You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you? 

I started writing when I was three years old. Well, I could only dictate back then, but I knew from a very young age that I was meant to be a storyteller. When I was eleven, I first became introduced to epic fantasy and young adult literature. It has remained my main passion ever since.

Wowsers! I’m always amazed by those who start their passion early in life. Brianna I’d love to have you back and pick your brain on your reading experience. 

 

 

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*What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

My goal is simple, but ambitious! I want to make a living as a self-published author, blogger, and filmmaker. This is just not a hobby for me; I’ve taken my vocation very seriously since I was a kid.

Wow that’s great! You’re pretty focused. I fully hope you achieve your’re dreams.

 

 
*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT) 
A constant flow of ideas. In my early teens, I never finished anything, because I was always working on at least half a dozen projects at once. I was passionate about all of them. But since then, I’ve learned to be more focused.

Perfectionism. The first true novel I ever finished took me four years to write. And it was terrible. After that I adopted the iterative process of writing: Get down a rough draft quickly, and don’t worry about making it perfect. Then edit, edit, edit. The results are better this way, and it’s much easier to finish each draft!

Fear. While I wouldn’t say fear has prevented me from completing a project, it has certainly made it harder to reach that finish line. Fear of failure, fear of creating subpar work, and fear of vulnerability through art all plague me on a constant basis. Pushing through this fear is what gives me the freedom to create.

The constant flow of ideas is a source of trouble for me. Staying focused is a challenge. Perfectionism is problem for a lot of writers I’ve talked to. Fear is another frequent nemesis.  But I guess suffering is inevitable with anything you truly love. Romance always comes with turbulence.

 

 

 

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*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE) 

Creating stories gives me a deep sense of purpose. When I’m writing, it feels like something I was made to do, even on days of stress or insecurity or self-doubt. Also, my mind is constantly bustling with ideas. What would I do with them otherwise?

Creating stories with a sense of purpose seems to resonate well with me, and I’d rather be bustling with ideas than have none at all!

 

 
*What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way? 

I might say time. I make time to write almost every day, but it still feels like I never have enough of it. (Can’t we all relate?) And I have so many stories bubbling inside me. They’re impatient!

I just thought of this today. The lack of time. I want to kick my job to the curb, shoo everyone away and write. Just write; story after story after story, until my heart’s content. 

 

 

 

if not now when

 

 

 

 
*Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

I think fear is a major factor. Creative people typically struggle with perfectionism, but the thing is, our standards are always higher than our abilities… and they should be! It means we’re constantly improving.
I think what can happen is that while writers are in the formative years, while they’re still growing and their craft is still rough, they can run into discouragement. This stage is where writers need encouragement and affirmation the most. But if they don’t get that, they may be overwhelmed by the sense that they’re “not good enough,” and give up before they have the chance to reach that level.

This is a very good word to hear. I don’t claim to be a perfectionist, but I do struggle with elements of the same mindset to some degree. 

 

 

 

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Have you made peace with imperfection? See yourself in a different light for a change. A change in perspective changes everything.

 

 

 
*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up? 

Listen up, friends, because I’m going to give it to you straight: Everyone starts off terrible. It’s the truth! It’s the same if you’re learning an instrument, a sport, or any other skill. You have to be a terrible writer before you can be a good one or a great one. Writing isn’t about tapping into some magical inner gift that was bestowed upon you at birth. It’s about tenacity. It’s about remaining teachable like your life depends on it. It’s about learning and practicing and never giving up. So, don’t be discouraged if your craft isn’t where you want it to be yet. Just keep going. You’ll get there!

Oh, I love it! This is great encouragement. This goes back to what you said earlier, our standards will always be higher than our abilities. Or, you could say, we don’t measure up to our own expectations. We consciously or subconsciously expect our abilities to match, or even exceed,  our ever-ethereal standards. Then we slowly begin to suffer from the self-inflicted wounds of introspection, discouragement, doubt, settling in like stone. Our hopes and dreams hemorrhage on the spot, and the rigamortis of writer’s block comes in to finish the job.

 

 

 

“A goal without a plan is a wish” -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

 

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“It always seems impossible until it’s done” ~Nelson Mandela

 

 

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*Tell us about your current WIP (work in progress)

Here’s the synopsis for my WIP, Emergence:
The Empire of Dorina has never been challenged… until now. Invaded by a powerful enemy bent on massacring their people, the Dorins act in desperation: They send courageous ambassadors into the vast, untamed wilderness beyond their borders to seek aid from two legendary cities.

There’s only one problem.

If they can find the cities… if they can survive the journey… there’s a high chance these cities will join their enemies instead.

Kindy Sharrow, a fifteen-year-old Nocturan with bat wings, claws, and night vision, previously had to hide from the empire, which cruelly slaughtered her kind for sport. Now, required to join the war against the invaders, she must fight her own demons: A secret drug addiction that is slowly killing her. And she has one, ultimate goal: Destroy her arch enemy, Charris Pouden, and his lustful desire for her, before he gains enough power to destroy her first.

Kindy finds herself entering the war with her younger brother Jensen, and new friend Lasía, a mysterious archer with a pet battle wolf. Together they fight against the bloodthirsty invaders, and journey into the heart of the wilderness to find the only two cities that will save them.

But as they begin to learn more about the empire’s secrets… a dark history buried in ashes and drenched in blood… they wonder if their enemies are not so wrong for wanting to annihilate them after all.

The bonds of friendship will be tested. Alliances will be questioned. In a story of political intrigue, ethics of war, and young love, one question must be answered: Which side will you join?

That sounds like an great story!  I believe you’d be a great storyteller. Go for it! 

 

 

 

 

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~Fear can paralyze you…Unless you make the first move. -Benjamin Thomas

 

 

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~DISCIPLINE is the bridge between goals and accomplishment. -Jim Rohn

 

 

 

 

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THANKS FOR  JOINING THE TRAIN

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com

Interview: with Author Melanie Marttila

 

 

Story of the Writer

 

Everyone please welcome Melanie Marttila 

 

 

 

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Melanie is a science fiction & fantasy novelist-in-progress, a published poet and short story writer and all around awesome person. I first met Melanie through our awesome Facebook group entitled: THE WORDPLAYERS. Sounds cool huh? Because it is!

 

WELCOME ABOARD

 

 

Are you originally from Canada?

Well, this is an interesting story (but I may be biased). I was born right here, in Sudbury, Ontario, and when I was about a year and a half, my grandparents built themselves a new house. My parents decided to buy my grandparents’ old house, where my dad had grown up.

It gets better.

After I spent a few years away at university, I returned to Sudbury, married, and, once we both had stable employment, my husband and I bought the house from my parents 🙂

The land on which both houses stand was part of a farm that my grandfather had bought, back in the day, and to finance the building of their new house (which my parents eventually moved into after my grandparents passed) they sold off some of the land to the city.

So I live in the house in which three generations of Marttilas have lived, on the street that bears my family name. Beside my mom. My writing room was my bedroom growing up. How cool is that?

I mean, some people might think it’s BORING, but, you know. Cool. *smiles*

 

I keep meeting great writers from Canada, it’s wonderful! I seriously need to go there one day. Look out Canada!

 

 

 

 

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What’s it like?

Sudbury is a mining town in what most people consider northern Ontario. If you look at a map, we’re actually smack in the middle, about an hour and a half drive from Manitoulin Island in Georgian Bay, which is part of Lake Huron.

We’re the site of an ancient meteor impact, which is where all the stuff mined here came from and why Sudbury is called the nickel capitol.

Sudbury is also on pre-Cambrian shield, ancient mountains that have been ground down by glaciers. We have a chunk of it in our basement 🙂

When I was a kid, open pit smelting had blackened the rock and consumed most of the trees as fuel. In the 60’s, NASA came up here because the landscape, at the time, was very much what they expected to find on the moon . . .

The International Nickel Company (INCO) built the stack (to divert the sulfurous smog produced by smelting the nickel), changed their refining processes, and started to recover the landscape that had been ravaged by their previous practices. Now, we’re lovely and green again—in the summer, anyway. Winters here are pretty hellish.

Having said all that, my family was never involved in mining. Sudbury is the kind of place that gets into your blood, though. That’s why I came back and have made my life here, despite the winters.

Our area of Ontario is dotted with lakes that have formed in depressions in the pre-Cambrian shield. Outside the city, it’s considered prime cottage country.

 

Sounds like a memorable and scenic place. 

 

 

How long have you been writing?

Egad. Since I was seven years old.

 

 

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Wowsers!  I have a seven year boy right now. Writing is not his strong suit, its reading. But it’s amazing you were able to begin writing stories at such a young age. 

 

 

 

What was your career path?

I worked in retail from the age of thirteen through high school, had some interesting jobs in university—canine security patrol and video camera person and editor for a company that filmed show jumping and dressage shows across Canada and down into New York—and after graduation, I had an unreliable series of contracts in libraries and academia. My sister-in-law made me aware of an opportunity with her employer, and now I’ve been working with that same employer for fifteen years.

I’m currently in L&D, learning and development. Call me a corporate trainer. I’m a certified trainer (and certifiable, some would argue), but still working toward the goal of being able to leave my day job for my true passion, writing.

That’s an interesting mix of jobs there. I love how it always comes back to writing in the end. 

 

 

 

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I find everyone’s story so fascinating. Normally it starts early in childhood, then comes back full circle with a full blown passion of writing. 

AMAZING.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“The journey, not the arrival matters.”

~Michel de Motaigne

 

 

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What did you study in college?

 

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BA in English Literature, rhetoric emphasis, cum laude, thankyouverymuch 😉 MA in English Literature and Creative Writing.

Ouch, that sounds difficult. But it does make me very curious. I’ve only had one creative writing class in college. Got an A. Makes me feel smart. 

 

 

 You’re a writer; so what’s your story, or what inspired you?

I was in grade three. I’d just gotten a puppy and wrote what might be called a “personal essay” about her. So I was already writing. I just hadn’t really caught the bug. Yet.

Then . . . IT happened. The students of the grade five class wrote and illustrated their own storybooks and were invited to present them to us.

One of the grade five students, a girl named Siobhan Riddell (isn’t that a lovely name?) did her own version of St. George and the Dragon. I didn’t even remember the rest of the stories. I wanted to take Siobhan’s home with me and read it and look at the pictures, over and over.

The thing you should know about Siobhan is that she was an awesome artist, even then. She grew up to become a professional artist and then, that bastard cancer took her from the world 😦

But that was the moment. I made my first submission—to CBC’s Pencil Box, a show that dramatized the stories of their young viewers—that year. I wrote the Christmas play for my class the next year.

And I’ve been in love with words ever since.

 

That’s such a lovely story! I often wonder what it is that ignites in some children to become writers and not others.  I suppose some just “catch the bug”. Love that expression.

 

 

 

 

 

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What’s your GOAL in becoming a writer?

To write. Pure and simple. Writing is (almost) everything to me. It’s my spiritual practice; my counsellor; my companion, and my comfort. I feel off when I can’t write for whatever reason. I have said that I’m going to write until age and infirmity—it’s going to take both of them because I’m not going down without a fight—rob me of the capacity.

My self-worth isn’t pinned to getting published, but I can’t see how I can justify quitting my day job unless I can make a decent living from my words. So, I’m doing the work to make that happen.

So far, I’ve had three sales of science fiction short stories, a handful of wins in local writing contests, and a bunch of poetry published in anthologies.

2015 was a year of near misses, long lists, short lists, second readings, and the like. And lots of rejections. I’m also querying an epic fantasy novel, without success. I like to reframe rejections: I’m one ‘no’ closer to ‘yes!’

I’m focused mostly on writing novels now, though, and most of those are fantasy of various shades.

YES. I love your attitude here. “one step closer to yes” is a great way to look at it. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. We wouldn’t mind seeing more of your poetic muscle too. 

 

 

 

What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)

I generally finish what I start. I’m diligent (and a bit compulsive) that way.

The three things that keep me from writing as much, or as quickly, as I’d like are:

The day job. It allows me to invest in my writing (conferences, courses, etc.) but—man—would I love to spend my days doing the thing I love.

Actually, it’s just the one thing (oopsie). *grins*

 

I like that you are DILIGENT. It’s an indispensable character trait necessary for every writer. Without it our stories go nowhere. Our characters go nowhere. Our careers go nowhere. Splendid. You don’t suppose you could lend me some of yours do you? Got an extra gallon or so lying around?

 

 

 

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Here’s a picture of Melanie’s desk

 

 

 

What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)

The writing itself. It is truly a way of life for me. I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

As one of my characters says, I want to be a part of the great voice that carries this age into the future.

Now that’s not arrogant at all, is it? 😛

 

Not at all. You are very clearly a writer to me. I love your laser-beam-like focus on writing.

 

 

 

What’s your ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way?

Um. Yeah. Day job.

Ah yes, the dreaded day job. The more I dive into the writing realm the less I like my day job. All I want to do is read and write. I’m not sure how that happened, but there it is.  

 

 

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Day Job: I hate you.

You:  I hate you too.

Day Job: I wish you’d quit and go write somewhere.

You: I will, you just wait…

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have given up your dream, why? 

I’ve never given up. The dream has lain dormant for periods of time (sometimes years), but even when I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about writing, journaling, daydreaming, and doing other creative stuff (sketching, gardening, cross stitch–yeah, that’s what I thought at first, too–and I was even in a musical for a local theatre company).

I discovered Joseph Campbell in my undergraduate years and I’ve really come to understand my creative journey in terms of the Hero’s Journey. It hasn’t been a straight line, or even a circle, as the Hero’s Journey is often presented.

It’s been more of a spiral, kind of like the end of C.S. Lewis’s The Last Battle, where the Pevensies, Scrubb, Pole, and the rest run through Narnia after Narnia, in Escher-esque fashion, Aslan urging them, “Further on! Further in!” until they reach their final destination.

My journey has been defined by my threshold guardians. The play I wrote in grade four? The teacher edited my work substantially without telling me or explaining why the changes were necessary. Even at that point, I knew it was wrong, and it seeded a deep distrust of authority.

In grade five, a former friend appeared to offer an olive branch, bury the hatchet, what have you, but only did so long enough to gain my trust and ask to ready my stories . . . to which she took an entire bottle of white out, returning my exercise book of obliterated words only when the teacher made her stop.

The big threshold guardian was my first advisor in my MA program, an icon of Canadian Literature. He questioned my presence in the program and accused me of “wasting his time.” That was the wound that wouldn’t heal, even after I returned to work with a different advisor and finish the collection of short stories that became my creative thesis.

After that, I internalized the lessons of my threshold guardians over the years and my internal editor became monstrous. It’s one thing when other people tear you or your work down, but when you start to tear yourself apart . . .

It wasn’t until another icon of Canadian Literature shared his own trials with threshold guardians that I found my way back to the page.

I’m happy to say I haven’t left it since.

 

Wow that’s a very touching story with devastating experiences along the way. But what I’m really seeing and enjoying, is your resilience through it all. 

 

 

 

Why do writers give up, quit or never complete their projects?

Fear.

The new writer is afraid to look silly or expose their relative level of craft to the scrutiny of others.

The experienced, but unpublished, or minimally published, writer is afraid that they can’t be as good as other publish authors, or that their stories have no value.

Even published writers fear that they can’t write another novel as good as their last.

You have to learn to put fear in its place, make it your friend, listen to the legitimate lessons it has to teach you, and then agree to disagree on the rest.

That’s the hard part.

 

Well said. Seems like fear must teach us many lessons along our journey. To step out there and expose ourselves to the world. For better or for worse. With this in mind, I found a Superhero guy to help us out a little. I call him….CAPTAIN NO FEAR.

 

 

 

 

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  Captain No Fear

 

 

 

Behold some of Melanie’s poetic muscle below.

 

 

A Poet’s Apprentice

 

learning the words;

noun and adjective,

verb and adverb.

Putting them together

in little sentences—

she won’t let me play

with the big ones yet—

But she’s left me alone

just for a minute

with this big cauldron

teeming with

letters

and other viscera.

Before she returns

I grab the ladle

and gulp,

burning my mouth

with the potent brew.

Then I run

me and my belly full of words,

out the Dutch-door,

through the muddied fields

of hay stubble,

to the tree with leaves of paper,

draw forth the quill–

stolen from a feather duster–

prick my thumb

for ink.

Then.

I write.

Lovely!  That’s great!  UGH I miss poetry so much. I haven’t written very much lately. You’ll have to come back and grace us with your poetic words. 

 

 

 

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*Tell us about your short stories

In “The Broken Places,” a doctor on board a generation ship headed for another galaxy tries to diagnose a strange plague affecting the ship’s crew/citizens. What she discovers in trying to find a cure for the blue skin, void-like eyes, and verbal non-sequiturs is something she never suspected, but if she doesn’t stop the condition from progressing, the crew, and their mission, are in jeopardy. That one was published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine in June 2014.

“Downtime” is the story of Opus, an AI-borg who achieves sentience, and liberation from her creators, as she learns what it means to be human, and that she’ll never be one. The good people of On Spec Magazine, one of Canada’s most respected speculative fiction markets, published that in their Fall 2014 issue.

 

Something tells me one day you’re going to hit one out of the ball park. 

 

 

 

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*what has writing taught you over the years?

What has writing taught me? Who I am. That quote by Flannery O’Connor, “I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say,” is very true. The more I write, the better, the more authentic, a person I become. The rest is between me and the page 😉

 

Oh yes! I love that quote. I’m finding it to be very true in my own experience. Writing things out is a very tranquil experience. There’s no like it. 

 

 

 

THANK YOU MELANIE

THIS WAS A TRULY ENJOYABLE INTERVIEW

 

 

 

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Keep writing 

until the pen

runs dry

~Benjamin Thomas

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Thomas

@thewritingtrain

http://www.thewritingtrain.com