I got my sister, who goes by the screen name Siberia, to interview me today about my writing. I’ve interviewed myself before, but this one is more cohesive and more organic, I think, because she and I were able to play off of each other like I couldn’t with myself, lol. I hope you enjoy reading it. :)
Siberia: Hello, Autumn. How are you doing?
Autumn: I’m doing well. How are you?
Siberia: I’m well. First I would like to ask you, what is your current project?
Autumn: My main drafting project at the moment is The Dark War Trilogy, and specifically The Shadow Raven. My main editing project is House of Mages, which I hope to have published sometime early next year.
Siberia: What are those about?
Autumn: The Shadow Raven is the second in the Dark War Trilogy, and definitely my favorite. It’s about a shapeshifter thief named Nissa Quail who ends up becoming friends with the prince after she steals his crown. When his father is murdered, her efforts to uncover the killer dig their country – Roenor – deeper into a war, which involves three different countries including Roenor.
House of Mages is about a girl named Lian Vandal, the daughter of a corrupt Archmage, who uncovers a plot of her father’s and has to save the world. There’s more to it, but I stink at coming up with descriptions of my books on the spot, lol.
Siberia: *chuckles* They sound very interesting. When do you think we’ll be able to read The Dark War Trilogy?
Autumn: According to my current plan, I’m hoping for sometime in mid to late 2018. I’m not 100% sure, because I’m not 100% sure how long the editing process will take, and there’s sort of a prequel that has to be published first, but I’m hoping for mid to late 2018 with the first book. The first chapters of each the first and second books are on my blog, and you can get access by signing up to my newsletter.
Siberia: Great! I can’t wait to read them. Do you have any favorite characters?
Autumn: Out of all of my books or just from my current projects?
Siberia: Out of your current projects. Who are your favorite characters in The Dark War Trilogy?
Autumn: Oh gosh. There are so many. The characters are my favorite thing in the series, lol. Um… If I had to pick two favorites from each book, they’d be Cor Claris and Tiberius Alister from The Last Assassin, Detren Everlind and Nissa Quail from The Shadow Raven, and Ismena Ivery and Toril Valda from The King’s Paladin.
From House of Mages my favorites are Lian Vandal and Darklin Hunter.
Siberia: Why are they your favorites?
Autumn: Cor is adorable, and he’s constantly spouting little bits of wisdom that surprise even me, lol. Tiberius is just a fun character. Detren is basically what I’d like to be: compassionate, merciful, always does the right thing even when it’s hard, etc. Nissa is a lot of fun to write because she loves fashion so much, lol. With Ismena and Toril, I think they’re the most well-developed characters in The King’s Paladin. Oops. That needs to be worked on.
Siberia: How do you feel about each of the books?
Autumn: The Last Assassin is cool to write. In the beginning I was writing it at the same time I was writing The Heart of the Baenor (the prequel I mentioned above), and since Catessa is a main character in both, but she’s at very different stages in her life, that was really interesting. Now the characters and their interactions are just really cool, and the overlap with the other books.
The Shadow Raven is, as I said, my favorite. Nissa’s arc is really cool, Detren is definitely in my top ten favorite characters I’ve written, and their interactions are really fun/interesting/dynamic/tragic. Dynamic, that’s a really good word for them. So, yeah, again the characters are my favorite part.
The King’s Paladin is my least favorite, but I think that’s because I need to develop it and its characters more. I really like the premise and the idea of Coraline (the MC)’s character, but it’s not translating to paper well just yet. I’m hoping that once I come back to it I’ll be able to write it better and I’ll have it better developed.
Siberia: What genre or genres do you usually write?
Autumn: The most common for me is fantasy; both of my current projects are fantasy. I also do a little bit in the dystopian genre, and my short stories are often contemporary.
Siberia: Do you tend to write the same genres that you read?
Autumn: Absolutely. My writing has always been heavily influenced by what I read. To start out, I read a lot of mystery, and so my first attempted story was a mystery. That totally didn’t work (pro tip: always plot out a mystery before writing it), and looking back it was quite disturbing, lol. After that I got into reading fantasy – I think I started with Terry Brooks – and so that was what I next tried writing, and that stuck in both reading and writing. I haven’t stopped either since. My dystopian writing started a couple of years ago when I started reading things like The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, etc.
Siberia: What do you like most about writing fantasy?
Autumn: Definitely the freedom. That was most of the reason I stuck with it after I started, was that there aren’t as many rules, you can make it up as you go along and you don’t have to do a lot of research. I enjoy research sometimes, but I don’t think I’d enjoy writing a kind of genre that takes an extensive amount of it, like historical fiction.
Siberia: And what’s the worst part of writing fantasy?
Autumn: Avoiding common tropes and clichés, maybe? I don’t know. There are some fantasy writers who’d say the worldbuilding, and I agree with them to some extent. There are times when I hate the work of worldbuilding, and then there are other times when I love just getting lost in all the creativity of it.
Siberia: How do you usually do your worldbuilding?
Autumn: There is no ‘usually’ with my worldbuilding, lol. It’s different every time. With a lot of my books I don’t do enough, actually, and so there really isn’t a process to it. With Themar, the world on which The Dark War takes place, I went through it step by step, and you can see those steps in the Deep Worldbuild Project posts on my blog. There are others that are in the planning stages where the worlds were actually the first things that popped into my head, and with those I’m trying to go as in-depth as I can to make those worlds really shine and stand out.
Siberia: What are your favorite and least favorite steps of worldbuilding?
Autumn: I hate coming up with wildlife. I don’t know why, I just hate making up creatures and plants most of the time. I think my favorite would probably be the culture, and what makes it stand out from the others around it and how they interact and whatnot. This is particularly true of the two I’m developing right now, Parvani and Kersir, because they both have very distinct cultures within them, and those cultures tend to clash a lot, and then compliment each other in other ways, and it’s really cool.
Siberia: It does sound like it would be fun to write. What is your favorite part of writing in general?
Autumn: The characters. Characters are what I connect with most both in my own stories and in those that I read. If I don’t like the characters, I’m likely to not be satisfied with the book, no matter how good the plot is. Sometimes an intricate world can redeem a book with bad characters, but that’s a rare occurrence. So, yeah, definitely characters. I love getting to know them and figuring out what makes them tick and what makes them the way they are. That’s definitely my favorite part.
Siberia: Interesting. And your least favorite part?
Autumn: Generally plot. I tend to stink at coming up with plots. There are a couple of exceptions, but I’m much more likely to have incredible characters and no adventures to set them on than to have an incredible plot with no characters.
Siberia: So, you said that Tiberius is a really fun character. What makes him so?
Autumn: Honestly, it’s mostly when he’s around Catessa. She kind of brings out his playful side, and he returns the favor. It makes the characters with the two of them my favorite to write. But he’s just got a fun personality, too. And yet he can be really serious when he needs to be, which is something that I always love about characters. I love those characters who can be really playful and teasing and never take anything seriously, but when something happens to someone close to them or something really important has happened, they can be really sober and serious.
Siberia: I’ve also heard you have a psychopath in The Last Assassin. What’s it like to write that?
Autumn: Really fun, actually. It’s really cool getting inside his head, because he sees things in details. He takes a whole and pays attention to the details involved, and it’s really fascinating and really creepy.
Siberia: And you said earlier that Cor is really wise. Could you give us a couple of examples?
Autumn: Sure! He has two quotes that really stick in my mind, and I actually made them into images so they look cool, lol.
Siberia: Those are super cool. *smiles* How old is he?
Autumn: He’s nine.
Siberia: Wow. I love him already! I can’t wait to read the story! How long have you been working on this story?
Autumn: I’ve been working on House of Mages for eighteen months, and I’ve been working on The Last Assassin for four.
Siberia: That’s a year and a half for House of Mages! Have you gotten discouraged with it along the way?
Autumn: I have. Several times, in fact. With almost all of my stories I’ve gotten discouraged at some point in the process, but I always get over it in one way or another.
Siberia: And how long does it usually take you to write a book?
Autumn: That varies a lot. My first novella took about five years, but there have been others that only took a month (NaNoWriMo for the win!). It greatly depends. And the editing process is something I haven’t even gotten into with most of them.
Siberia: How many unfinished books do you have?
Autumn: Probably somewhere around one hundred.
Siberia: Woah! Do you have any plans to pick some of those up again?
Autumn: Some of them, but not a lot. Most of them I only keep for future reference so I know what I’ve written, and at this point I’d have to start all of them from scratch because my writing has grown so much. There’s one series that I’d really like to reboot, but I’m having trouble figuring out how to go about doing that.
Siberia: What are your plans in general for future projects?
Autumn: For now I have my hands full with The Dark War Trilogy. I’d really like to focus on that one and get it published. I consider it my “passion project,” and I’d really like to see it in print, on shelves, and being enjoyed by an audience. After that, I think my next novel project will be the hesitantly titled Dark Queen Rising, but who knows what I’ll actually want to focus on by then?
Siberia: *chuckles* Okay. And where can we learn more about your writing?
Autumn: I have short descriptions of each of my main projects on the “My Books” page here on the blog, and I also have Pinterest boards for a lot of those, which are linked on that page as well. I have a Facebook page where you can follow my short stories and some of my writing updates, and if you sign up to my blog newsletter you’ll get updates on my writing and my blogging, as well as the codes to the first chapters of each Dark War Trilogy book.
Siberia: Sounds good! I think that about wraps it up for today. Thank you for coming.
Autumn: Thanks for the interview. :)