Hey everyone!!! The Weatherwax team has interviewed our Finalist for SPFBO!!! The interview was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!!
I’m going to start out with some intro questions so the audience can get the basics –
I see you live in California, is that where you’re originally from? If not, what lead you there?
Originally from the Midwest, but moved to California at the age of 14 with my family, and I’ve been in this beautiful state ever since! I’m definitely partial to the northern half, because MOUNTAINS.
The tagline on your website is “epic fantasy with heart”, what does that mean to you?
Great question. My writing weighs far more heavily on character development – quandaries of heart & soul – than anything else, so the tagline derived from that.
Who were your literary influences, if any?
That’s hard for me to narrow down, because every book I’ve read has influenced me in one way, shape or form. Hm. To pick a few… I’d say Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, C.S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, George R. R. Martin, J. K. Rowling, Brandon Sanderson, Naomi Novik, and Jim Butcher.
You have a background in chemistry and biology, how did you come to be an author?
I hear this question a lot, haha. And in all honesty, if someone would have told me that I’d BE an author someday, I would’ve laughed. I’d always loved reading, but never thought I had the capacity for the authoring part. I can thank my husband for that! He always sees what I can’t. I studied biochemistry, then chose a career in clinical lab science – which I thoroughly enjoyed – but found myself going back to fiction (fantasy, in particular) more and more. Seeing how obsessively I consumed books, my husband urged me to write my own stories. I scoffed at the idea, due to aforementioned reasons. Books are for OTHER people to write. I’ll stick to numbers and titration. But he didn’t relent, and neither did my unwieldy imagination, and so I tried my hand at it.It was AWFUL (no, really.). But. I loooooooved it. The creating. The FREEDOM. With writing, the world felt limitless. And suddenly, I didn’t care that it was horrible. Writing was fulfilling in a way nothing else had been, and I loved it enough that I was bound and determined to improve. If there’s one thing I learned from so many years in the lab, it’s how to work relentlessly to yield a desired product. And so I read and I studied and I learned everything that I could, constantly encouraged by a husband who believed in me from the beginning. And, well, I’m still writing, and learning, hoping I’ve at least improved. 😀
Growing up did you have any characters from books that you looked to as a role model?
Elizabeth Bennet. Her wit, strength of character, and her loyalty.
What’s your favorite part about writing?
Again, the limitlessness. The freedom of expression, and the ability to right a world that has gone wrong, when I so often feel powerless in my own.
Okay, now onto some book-specific questions
Music can be a form of magic in this book if it’s played by the right person, are you a musician yourself? Who are some of your favorite musicians?
I AM a musician!… or, more accurately, a sitting classically-trained pianist who spends too much time frustrated over keys she used to dominate. 😀 Music is a language that speaks to my soul, which is how Sable/Imari’s power came to be. Music persuades and transports, it draws on my emotion like nothing else. To me, it’s inherently magical.Favorite musicians. That’s hard too. It depends on the genre. I love Chopin, Debussy, and Dvorak (basically all of the romantic period composers). Modern artists are all over the map. All time favorite is Coldplay, but I spend most of my time perusing Spotify playlists (usually those with electronica elements, acoustic, anything related to Hillsong, and dance for working out… which I haven’t done in 9 months). I used to listen to a lot of rock/alternative. I still hold a special place in my heart for Metallica, Deftones, Incubus, and the Foo Fighters, but these days, screaming stresses me out.Um. I feel old.
How is book two coming along? Your website said it may be completed sometime in December?
Ha! I should probably clarify that: December *2019*. Book 2 is thoroughly outlined. (Yes, I’m a plotter.) About 30K words were written before I realized I needed to start over and revisit my outline. Which I’ve fixed. I’m a little slow at present, because I can’t simultaneously grow a baby and a story, but I’m planning to get back to it after baby arrives… in TWO WEEKS. O_O
Your debut series if I’m not mistaken was YA, when writing Gods of Men did you find that switching to adult fantasy had unexpected challenges?
YES. The voicing was hardest. Took me three drafts to write the YA out of it. Thankfully, I have some very honest (and slightly sadistic) alphas, husband included, who call me on my crap – bless them! They patiently endured A LOT of words that will never see the light of day.My other concern was content. My previous series is YA, and very youthful and innocent. GODS… is not. I worried my current audience wouldn’t like the darker tone of GODS, or the heavier themes, but it was a direction I felt compelled to go. It’s worked out, though. I think. I hope…
This book features some anti-theist themes, however, you yourself are religious – was this challenging? Is there a particular reason you chose this theme?
Another excellent question. My intent with this story is less “anti-theistic” and more “what mankind does in the name of religion.” I don’t think anyone would dispute that a lot of terrible things have been said and done in the name of religion, and I tried to show this through antagonists like Ventus and Hagan and Jeric. All men who do horrific things, truly believing themselves to be acting within the will of their god(s). So then we have Sable, who sees the fruits of their religion and wants no part in it.Which brings me to WHY I chose this theme. I was at a place in my own spiritual life where I wrestled with my faith because of others’ fruits. I absolutely believe in Jesus. But people do and say so many things in the name of Jesus, it’d warped my perspective. I had to get back to who Jesus WAS and IS. The One who taught relationship, not religion. The One who preached a gospel of Truth and hope with forgiveness and mercy and love. (Also why I’m such a sucker for redemptive character arcs!) I’m not against religion. But I am against religion overriding Jesus’ greatest commandment, which is to love one another.So to contrast Ventus’ perverted “faith,” we see another version – the true version – through Tolya and Tallyn’s living testimony. Sable can’t understand how they claim to follow Ventus’ god – the Maker. But the problem isn’t the Maker; it’s mankind. Mankind is quite adept at “manipulating truth to suit his desires,” says Tallyn, and Sable is urged to seek the truth and discover who the Maker really is – for herself. It’s also in this contrast that Jeric begins questioning his own faith, or, more specifically, his understanding of it. So again: not so much anti-theistic, but anti-“mankind’s perversion of God,” or the Maker, in this case.
After this series is completed will other series be based in this world?
Hmmm. I hadn’t thought that far! It’s always possible. It depends where the winds of creativity steer me once I type THE END. One never really knows…
What made you want to enter your book into SPFBO? How did you find out about it?
I found out about the SPFBO through a posting in another author group (AAYAA). I was thrilled to see so many other indies writing epic fantasy, and this incredible blogging community that’s supportive of them/us. Seriously, THANK YOU for valuing us indies, and for promoting us! You guys rock!
And now for some silly questions – we’ll try and keep them at least partially related to your books.
If you had to choreograph Gods of Men into a five-minute long interpretive dance routine, what song would it be set to, and what would your costume look like?
Um. The word choreograph gives me a minor panic attack. #NOTADANCER Let’s see. For song, I’ll go with… Nara by E. S. Posthumous. My costume? I would NOT be on stage. I would be dressed all in black, hiding in the shadows. Like Sable. I would hire dancers, and they would work out the costumes, because I believe in delegation.
If Sable and Jeric were suddenly transported to modern day California, what’s the first thing they’d do?
Oooo this is fun. Hmm. They’d probably get arrested. Jeric would get apprehended for carrying unconcealed weapons, and then arrested for refusing to relinquish them. Sable would get caught trying to smuggle him out, because video surveillance is a thing she hasn’t quite figured out yet.
If you could choose a magical ability, what would it be?
This sounds lame, but I would love to pull a Mary Poppins and have my house put itself back in order. I have two young kids and a third on the way. I already spend way too much time picking up after people.
If you could choose a best friend from any fantasy book, who would it be?
Samwise Gamgee. Also, I gravitate towards these kinds of people in real life. (You know who you are <3)
I see you’re a fan of the outdoors/camping – if you could go camping in any fantasy world, which would it be?
My immediate response is Middle Earth, but I think that’s because of the movies and New Zealand. Skyrim is a close second.
What do you think a dragon would taste like?
Gamey, like deer. But maybe with a little more fat (I mean, come on. Their wings do most of the work). And they would have an ashy/peppery aftertaste. I’d love for Book Wol to pair this with one of her fantastic cocktails!!
What magical animal would you like to have as a pet?
A mini dragon. (which would probably increase my home insurance, haha)
The world shall be destroyed tomorrow but you have built a spacecraft to save you, your family, and your pets (I’m not a monster) – you have left room for 3 things to show any aliens you meet to give them an idea of what humanity was like – what 3 things did you bring?
My laptop (my LIFE is on this thing, so it almost feels like cheating…). Coffee beans. And a beer.
If you could sit down for tea (or coffee) with any historical figure in the history of humanity, who would you choose and why?
Jesus. And, well, referencing my earlier answer, because I’d love to meet Him, and I have a lot of questions
If there was one song you could pick that best defines Jeric and Sable’s relationship, what would it be?
Till I Found You, by Phil Wickham. It fits their individual/spiritual journeys, as well as their journey together.
What does your dream team of 6 Pokemon look like? Alternatively – what 6 video game characters would you pick to be on your team?
My Dovahkiin, Geralt of Rivia, Yennefer, Ciri (let’s just bring the whole family!), Link, and Mario.Side note: REALLY excited about the upcoming Witcher adaptation on Netflix!
Which house would the sorting hat put you in? What would your Patronus be?
I get Gryffindor every time I take a quiz. Aaaaand Pottermore gave me a Nebelung Cat for a Patronus. So… I don’t really know what that means.