Saturday 22nd March 2014
Bookish Banter is proud to present today’s Featured Author…
Well last week, Bookish Banter fans, we had an awesome children’s Fantasy author tell us all the magical news about her children’s books. This week we have an equally awesome author of the Fantasy genre, this time for the older reader. So without further ado let’s pop on over to the interview chair and meet L.K. Evans…
Welcome L.K. Please tell us where you are from? Let me guess Fairy Land … just kidding…no really do you? 😉
Ha! Sadly, I did not come from any magical land. I was born and mostly raised in Arizona. When my parents went to college, we moved to Texas for a few years, but other than that and a very short stint in Arkansas, I’ve lived in my birth state. However, not for much longer. I’ve planned my escape and in four or so years I should be living under towering pines and listening to the ocean. If my luck holds, it’ll rain every day, too.
Ooh! Well Arizona sounds magical to a plain old English girl like myself and your move sounds like the perfect place to write some more magical tales.
How long have you been making magic with your writing?
Not long. I had drafted all four books of the Keepers of Arden series in a year (mid 2011-mid 2012—although, all were horrible and required rewrites), with no intent on letting another soul read it. It was my husband who encouraged me to think about actually publishing them. A few months passed before I worked up the courage to let another person read the first book in the series. Then it took many more months before I handed it over to an editor. After that, it happened way too fast. I was published in a few months after I’d made the changes the editor suggested. Besides Keepers of Arden, I have five other series in the wings and I’ve fiddled around with a few first chapters for 4 out of the 5. So basically, the majority of my writing has been over the last 3 years.
However, in high school I tested out of standard English classes, so I signed up for creative writing, which I took for the last two years of school. I wrote tons of stories during that time, but, sadly, I kept none of them. For several personal reasons, I was focused on obtaining a stable career and earning enough money to support myself (I had my own apartment when I was a senior in high school and worked full time). Because of my need for stability, being a writer never once crossed my mind. But after I obtained everything I sought, I realized how unhappy I was. So, I wrote, because I remembered being happy when I wrote. And that, over alllll those years, never changed. It’s hard work, but well worth the reward.
Wow! You are incredibly productive with all of those books waiting in the wings to be launched out into the literary world. Please come back and keep us updated with all your new releases. I am sure you will have a huge fan following in no time at all. It just goes to show how important it is for a writer to follow their dreams and share them with the world through their writings.
Are you promoting a particular book at the present time?
Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 is the only book I have published at this time. Hopefully this year, the second book in the series will be available. It’s a monster of a book, though, so it’s taking some time to edit.
I don’t have a definite date yet, but within the next 2 months Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 will be available in print. I plan to run a nice little promotion on the ebook to celebrate so please keep on eye on my website for updates.
It all sounds very exciting. I have to confess I prefer having a real live book, with paper pages to turn, in my hand but for all of you ebook junkies out there you can purchase Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 now. Just click on the book to buy it now and it will soon be nicely nestled in your ereader and ready to go.
At this point, I’m only writing fantasy. It’s my home. I grew up here and I’ve loved it since I can remember. I had a horror stage, and in high school that’s mainly what I wrote, but over the years I’ve realized that epic/sword/sorcery books will always be my favourite. One day I might venture into a sci-fi with heavy fantasy elements, and perhaps way in the future I’ll try my hand in horror, but I’ve got too many books in the traditional fantasy setting that require a voice, or rather, words.
Well there is no end to the imagination and it is so great to hear that you love your craft and have an endless well of imaginative ideas to come. This can only be fantastic news for your readers.
Can you give us the magical details of your latest book?
Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1 follows the story of Salvarias and Wilhelm Laybryth from childhood into adulthood. In the first book, we learn there is a very unpleasant “being” seeking Salvarias, though the brothers have no idea of it until later. Book 1 is more of a journey through their childhood, touching on key events in their lives. Salvarias will learn of his magic and many other gifts he possesses.
Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 2 will continue the story of Salvarias and Wilhelm and, unfortunately, the brothers’ journey will only get more difficult. The mysterious powers Salvarias possesses will be unleashed, and neither are pretty to witness. Wilhelm will learn his worth and recover a terrible memory. More secrets will be harboured and more yet will be revealed. By the end of book 2, the brother’s will be standing on the cusp of revelation.
Ooh! (shivers) sounds delightfully dark and magically menacing. The perfect fantasy story to curl up with in front of a warm fire on a cold night. Can’t wait to read it.
Where did the idea come from? Did a dark elf whisper it in your ear?
No dark elf, just the dark side of human nature.
There are many influences that helped me create the world and people of Arden. However, the strongest would be a book I read that made me want to pull out my hair. It had a set of brothers who never really got along, but deep down loved and cared for each other. I wanted them to have a closer relationship, so I said: Screw it! I’ll write my own story. Which is what prompted Keepers of Arden. As I wrote, my main thought was how judgemental we as humans seem to be. So I made a character in Salvarias, who people readily judged after one look. But there is much more to him than what he portrays.
Also, nothing scares me more than the human mind. We’re capable of such atrocious acts as well as deeply compassionate acts. For me, everyone makes a daily choice to be as good a person as they can. Basically, we have two sides and I thought to call it to light. Then I thought: What if that evil side was actually a presence alive inside you? How would you handle it? Better yet, what if you didn’t know it was evil? What if you thought it was helping you? Thus, Salvarias was born.
Oh how the psychological curiosity of a writer works – love it L.K. It is so important for a writer to really step into the mind of their characters and explore the dark as well as the light of their motivations, loves, hopes and fears. This can only lead to a much deeper understanding of the characters for the reader and ultimately a more thrilling read.
Did you have to do a lot of research for your latest work? You know late nights in a magical clearing… or enchanted wood…
I would have liked an enchanted forest. Since Keepers of Arden is, in my opinion, a character driven book, I didn’t do a lot of research. A tad bit, but nothing compared to what I’m doing for another series. There were some late nights where I just couldn’t stop writing, and some days where I stared at the computer waiting for it to do something. Furthermore, Arden is a land abandoned by the higher gods, so they’re just starting out. The lands are divided, but not at war. I consider them in a kind of shock; roaming around status quo, almost in denial of being abandoned. So to me, the world is rather simple, yet… I’ll just say unfinished.
The perfect story is the never ending kind, I say!
Do you think your writing is improving with each enchanted addition to your fantasy library?
Absolutely! I see a huge difference between book 1 and book 2. I’m sure I’ll see another leap from book 2 to 3. And Keepers of Arden will be drastically different from my next series. What has and is helping me, is reading, reading, reading. It has dramatically improved my writing.
and it can only get better and better…
Did you find yourself stuck in a dark fairy circle at any stage during the writing that held things up for a bit or did it flow freely?
If you’d asked me a year and a half ago, I would have said no, that writing comes easy to me. Now, yes I do. Going back to your last question, reading other works has taught me a lot and shown me several mistakes I made. I’m doing everything in my power to avoid them in book 2, which means writing is tougher than ever. I do have entire days where I type but nothing logical comes out of it. Other days, I seriously stare at the computer, read a few paragraphs I wrote the day prior, and I usually end the day feeling perturbed with myself. What I’ve found is that reading other books helps me move beyond those moments. After I read a good book, I sit down with mine and say: Oh, well that’s an easy fix.
It just goes to illustrate the importance for writers to keep up with their reading – they need to be able to manage their time to fit in everything that is important and there is nothing more important than reading!
Why do you love this craft so much? That’s the craft of writing by the way not magic and sorcery?
But I do love myself a bit of magic! 🙂 Seriously though, for me that’s a deeply personal question. When I started writing, it was an outlet; a way to explore myself and what I’ve been through and where I want to go. Over the short period I’ve been doing it, my feelings have grown. Yes, it still is a way for me to make sense of everything, but it is also a way to reach out to others and hopefully inspire them, or make them see a character struggle with what they’ve been through and overcome it. I want my book to help someone, even just one person. Because several books have done that for me, and I know what a wonderful feeling it is and the hope that can be gained from words.
I think all fantasy writers have magic deeply engrained in their being – they must do or how else could it flow so freely from them in their writing? I think you are incredibly inspiring and I’m sure many others will feel that also, just from how passionate you are about your writing – your world and character building reflects this.
How much planning goes into a book? Do you spend a long time planning or do you just start writing and see where it leads you?
I think this would vary by series. For Keepers, my process was write as I go. I had no idea where the book was heading until it was done. I think that process was important because I grew my characters with each experience. Heck, I grew with them. However, for one of my next series there will tons of planning. I want it to be as much about the characters as it is the world. Another series is still heavily character driven, but needs a bit of history built up… detailed history that I didn’t need for a book like Keepers. I’d need that mapped out so I don’t get lost.
Yes mind maps are just important as real ones – don’t want to get lost in a writer’s head! LOL
Do you have a crowd of magical beings who follow you and read every word and encourage you?
My mother and sister were first to read my book. We have a very small family, but both were extremely supportive. I’ve only been published for about 9 months and I’m slowly building my audience. I’ve got a few fans who mean the world to me. Hearing their praise can never get old. Since I’m in this business for the long haul, I’m not in a huge rush to build a massive fan base. I’m patient enough to let it grow organically over time. Without a traditional publisher, the marketing is left up to me. I’m fine with that, but I’m a rather shy person. It takes me a bit to reach out, so I understand my “magical beings” will come with time.
Absolutely, family is the most important first audience and soon you will have a whole new family of those “magical beings” dying to hang on your every word and spell binding chapter… 😉
What is your experience of the Publishing industry?
I have no experience with traditional publishing (I didn’t submit my manuscript to any), but the indie/SPA is a terribly tough business. Extroverts might have a better run at it, but us introverts have an extreme challenge ahead of us. Regardless, writing is something that I love doing, which means I’m more than willing to put in the work needed. I have no illusions of being the next Patrick Rothfuss or Michael J Sullivan, but I have hopes that I can at least support my habit.
I am so with you on this one L.K. I’m introverted too, a lot of writers are, but I think the most important thing is, like you say, just to keep being creative for your own enjoyment and pick up those illusive “magical beings” along your own journey. 🙂
Talking of journeys – this book is part of a magical and mysterious series? Where is it going?
I’d say… well, mostly magical, with a little mystery. I’ve thrown enough clues into the first book that a person who studies it might be able to solve everything and know what’s going on. I lean more towards magical because Salvarias is a mage, a very powerful one. However, there’s not a lot of mages in Arden. They’re rare and treated rather poorly, not to mention there’s the Association of Mages, that sets some strict guidelines. If anything, I’d say this is a journey type book. It follows the brothers from birth to adulthood. Book 2-4 only spans a year or so, but I envisioned the reader following the brothers as they try to discover who they are and what role they play in the world.
Have you had some good reviews for your book?
I’ve had some great reviews. A few 4 and 5 stars and a couple of 3 stars, but nothing lower… yet. I’m sure it’ll come. Not everyone loves every book. Keepers of Arden is a slower read, in my opinion, so those who seek action-packed books might not enjoy this. The lower stars have made comments about some of the events being convenient, which they completely appear to be, but there is a story why things unfold as they do. We just won’t understand until book 4. All the reviews praise my character development in Salvarias and have mentioned my descriptions are well done. Another liked my play on good vs. evil. Another loved the brothers’ relationship. All good things 🙂
Of course everyone gets different things from different books. The slower build up just means this book is part of something much deeper to come… If you would like to read some of L.K’s reviews follow this link to her website where there are plenty to choose from… http://booksbylkevans.com/my-books/
If you couldn’t be a writer what would you do instead? And no! A magician’s apprentice is not an option!
Dang it! I’d love to be a mage! Oh well. I’d have to go with… dog day care owner. It’s what I was looking into doing before I wrote Keepers of Arden. I have two beautiful Siberian Huskies and I adore dogs (actually, pretty much all animals. There’s a few insects I don’t much care for, but everything else is on my like list). So having a room full of dogs for an entire day wouldn’t be a bad thing.
LOL yeah my alter ego is a Silver Sorceress – a character from my book. Doggy Day Care sounds awesome! I’m a crazy cat lady myself! ;
Your favourite Author is…
It changes frequently. Right now, it’s Patrick Rothfuss for both his writing and his humour outside his books. And I have to add two more: D.Z.C. and Zachary Jernigan. Both I find incredibly talented and I look up to them immensely.
For those of you with a curious nature and a thirst for new writing blood, follow these links for a look at L.K’s favourite authors for right now…
Patrick Rothfuss – http://www.amazon.com/Patrick-Rothfuss/e/B001DAHXZQ/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Have you got a book trailer?
I don’t. I’ve thought about it, but then I decided against it. Maybe one day.
Absolutely, plenty of time. Many authors say they are invaluable, others don’t think they help. It’s just another promotional tool in your writing toolbox.
What do you do to wind down?
Read or take my dogs for a walk. I’m finding reading is, as always, a wonderful escape from reality and the pressures of life. I’ve hidden away in pages of books since I was little, and when I emerge, I feel rejuvenated and stronger. I like to hang out with characters who are experiencing situations ten times more horrible than mine and maintain their hope and fight. It’s inspiring.
Do you belong to a friendly writers group and does it help?
Sadly, I don’t. Since I started writing Keepers of Arden for myself, I never thought to join a group to obtain feedback. It’s definitely something I’ll be doing for my next series and I have a group I’ve been keeping my eye on for a year or so. I think having that group support would have been instrumental in helping me learn faster than I am, and I’m not about to make the same mistakes on the next series. So, hopefully, I can come back and visit you and provide a much better answer to this question.
Don’t forget you can find some great online groups and forums too, Facebook also has lots of groups. I have a lovely fantasy group on Facebook that I keep an eye on and pop in and out of on occasion and also MARSocial has some great groups. Here are those links if anyone would like to explore them.
MARSocial (Media Arts Review) – a dynamic social media network and a premiere on-line magazine for writers, authors, artists, and musicians. – http://marsocial.com/
Fantasy Writers on Facebook – a magical friendly bunch who really support each other – https://www.facebook.com/groups/235780430645/
What is you experience of editing and polishing your manuscripts?
Oh… I hang my head in shame here. This was the biggest learning curve I’ve dealt with. I read that you had to get your work professionally edited. So, I forked out the money and I will never be able to thank my developmental editor enough. He broke me of so many bad habits and made my book readable. You’ll notice, however, that I said “developmental”. I had no idea there were so many types of editors. I also thought I could catch typos. I mean, I caught them in books I read, so surely I could catch them in my own work. Oh how wrong I was. I missed so many. I recently just republished it after sending it off to a proofreader. Best thing I could’ve done.
Lesson Learnt 😉
Any tips for all our budding authors out there wondering how to get started?
Well, hire a professional proofreader for sure, and I’d highly recommend a copy editor and developmental editor. You really should have all three. I’d say there’s only a handful of authors that can edit their own work. You’re just to close to it. Secondly, read, read, read.
Yes I think every published author will agree with you there. However I would say, don’t get too hung up on hiring expensive professionals to start with. I would say that if you are eager to have as many people read your work as possible – go for it! Ask friends, family and Beta readers to go through your manuscript, self publish if you want to see your work out there and are becoming too disillusioned with waiting around for that illusive ‘big break’. Then when you can afford it, hire the professionals and publish newer editions of your work later on. Of course that is just my personal opinion as a writer who is also a poor single parent with little money to fork out. Some readers will see through the imperfections, some won’t, but a reader is a reader and reviews will always be varied and personal.
Here is a an Excerpt from Keepers of Arden: The Brothers Volume 1, so snuggle up in a cosy corner of your library and enjoy…
Thank you for joining us here on the ‘Bookish Banter’ L.K and taking time out to give us such an interesting insight into your writing world.
Link city – as many as you need to guide us round your internet trail of magic, mystery and mayhem…
My Website where I also post reviews of other fantasy books: http://booksbylkevans.com