Last week I got to interview my friend Allie (yeah, I know, you hear about her a lot. That’s not likely to change.) on her blog, Of Rainy Days & Stardust Veins, and this week it’s her turn to interview me. I have a past interview up on the blog with my sister as the interviewer, but it ended up kind of stilted and awkward, so I’m hoping with this one it’ll be a bit looser and more comfortable. Let’s get started. :)
Allie: Thanks for having me Autumn. Wow, I’m pretty sure this my my first official time here on your blog!
Archer: I think it is. XD But I’ve mentioned you several times, even before you had your own blog.
Allie: Oh, look. :D I’m famous! ;) Yay! Anyway, first question: what story(ies) are you working on for NaNoWriMo?
Archer: Officially I’m working on The King’s Paladin, book three in the Dark War Trilogy, but I haven’t managed to get myself motivated (or disciplined enough to just sit and write), so I haven’t done a whole lot. I’m at about 15.5k and today’s target is 33k, so… yeah. XD I’ve also been counting worldbuilding I do on Kersir, which is more fun but has less material on a given day. I may pick a day to spend just focusing on writing and trying to catch up in the next week or two.
Allie: Neat! I can’t wait to read that, honestly. XD Anywayyy, I’ve heard you’ve got a new novella that you’re trying to raise money for: Slander & Steel. What was it like writing that and developing Catessa’s backstory?
Archer: Um… Well, I started Slander & Steel about a year and a half ago in April 2017, so I don’t remember a whole lot about how it got started. I do remember it came about when I was doing my Deep Worldbuilding Project series here on the blog. I started a whole new world for that series (I’d kind of like to do a reboot of that series, because I’ve learned so much about worldbuilding since then), and the world was obviously my focus. I don’t remember why Catessa was the character that ended up coming out of that. I know Cordain–the second MC–came out of my interest in the elves I’d created in Shae-Nir, since they’re very different from any elves I’d seen before. Catessa lives in the main part of Kaloris, though, where it’s just boring ol’ humans, so I don’t remember why she became my MC.
Writing it went pretty well. I wrote a lot of it that April for Camp NaNoWriMo and then through May and June until, somewhere along the way, I got really stumped with where to go next because my plot had changed a lot from my initial outline and I wasn’t a fan of Adrelia, which was where the MCs needed to go next (Adrelia is the least developed of the countries), so I stopped for a while. It was that July that I decided I was going to stop beating my head against a wall with that book and start The Last Assassin, because I wanted to know what happened to Catessa after the end of Slander & Steel, and thus I began the writing of the Dark War Trilogy.
It wasn’t until April 2018 that I got back to work on Slander & Steel (or, as it was called for a very long time, The Heart of the Baenor), editing it instead of writing on. My writing had grown a lot, so I wanted to get the writing up to snuff before I wrote the last section. When I got back to that last section I talked to my dad about the thing that had been bugging me and he solved in ten minutes a problem I’d been poring over for at least six months. So then I finished the book and moved on from there to editing and whatnot. But I’ll stop there, ‘cause this is already a really long answer. XD
Check out my Kickstarter campaign for Slander & Steel, or help share it.
Allie: XD It’s okay. It’s interesting! I can’t wait for you to work more on The Last Assassin. *cough cough* ;)
Archer: Neither can I, actually. It’s been my favorite to work on, as well as the easiest because the MC is the least difficult for me to write. Nissa, from The Shadow Raven, is pretty dark and makes a lot of mistakes and she’s really emotionally draining to write, as is her relationship with Detren, which reminds me of a couple of real-life relationships of mine in some places.
I’m finding Coraline difficult to write, as well, because she’s so different from me as far as her attitude toward people and events and that kind of thing. She’s very passive (which I can be) and she’s very compassionate and sensitive (which I’m, unfortunately, usually not). She’s very rarely sarcastic (doesn’t even roll her eyes very often), but that’s what I’m used to writing so every several paragraphs I have to back off the sarcasm and remind myself it doesn’t work for her character. Even when she’s dealing with insufferable side characters. XD
Unfortunately, I can’t continue writing The Last Assassin until The Shadow Raven has caught up with it as far as the timeline is concerned. Which is taking foreverrrrrr. I’ve reached a point in The Last Assassin where the stories start to overlap, so I need to know what the characters of TSR have been through at that point and where their relationships stand and that kind of thing so that from there on I can write the two at the same time and keep things working smoothly. The King’s Paladin doesn’t need to be caught up yet, but I decided to write it this month so I could take a step back from TSR while still furthering the trilogy.
Allie: Ah. Well. Not much you can do, unfortunately.
Are there any authors that inspire you as a writer?
Archer: There are quite a few, actually, and they inspire me in different ways. Nadine Brandes and Hannah Heath are both brilliant on their author platforms. They’re super genuine and quirky, they obviously care about their audiences, they’re just wonderful people and I’d love to meet them both someday. I would love to be that genuine and caring of my readers as an author, and I don’t think I’ve gotten there yet.
Hannah Heath is also wonderful at worldbuilding and descriptive writing. Her most recent short story, Vengeance Hunter, from the Phoenix Fiction Writers anthology Antiheroes is a brilliant example of this. The culture she creates and the motifs she uses are amazing and the whole thing was great. (That whole anthology was great. You should absolutely check it out.)
Miranda Marie writes wonderful, engaging characters, and her writing in the Whispers of White duology is gorgeous. I don’t think I’ll ever write as beautifully as she does, my usual writing style doesn’t really allow for it, but I hope my characters are as engaging and fleshed-out as hers.
And also, in a different way, all of the mainstream YA authors out there who showed me a distinct lack of uplifting fantasy that doesn’t have a whole bunch of language and sex in it. They’re the reason I have as specific a goal as I do with The Dark War Trilogy, to write without vulgar language and to show that the abusive and/or unthoughtful relationships in YA books today are not healthy or romantic. They’re harmful and they have consequences.
Allie: Or, you could go ahead and answer my next question. LOL. Anyway, yeah, Miranda Marie is amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever reach her level of awesome. XD
What is your goal as a writer? (I know that you kinda answered this already.)
Archer: Basically to fill the hole that I found in YA books. There are a lot of things I love about the YA genre, but if you’re a Christian reader, or even a secular reader who just is not interested in reading all the junk they put in YA, good luck finding anything on your library shelves. We go to the YA section because we want the deep stories and fleshed-out characters of the adult section without all the content, but with the majority of mainstream YA you might as well go to the adult section.
I also just want to provide more uplifting speculative fiction in general, and stories that deal with real-world problems in a realistic way but show that there’s still hope to overcome them. I don’t see a lot of realistic problems and realistic struggles in speculative fiction, and I want to change that.
Allie: *nods* That’s such a good goal. ^-^
Who is your favourite character to write? And are they your favourite overall?
Archer: Oh dear. I have so many! My favorite to write is probably Solem Anders from my Mirror-Hunter Chronicles short story series. He has the most distinct voice out of any of my characters, inspired by Lemony Snicket, so he’s a lot of fun.
My overall favorite character is a lot harder. I think I tend to have a few favorite character templates, if you will, that I really like. There’s the witty, flirtatious, usually blond, usually tall guy who’s just a totally lovable dork. Characters like Jeevan from The Shades and the Elect or Jak from Queen of Feanor. For some famous published counterparts: Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles, Jest from Heartless, Nathan from The Fire Rain Chronicles.
There’s then the compassionate, thoughtful, super sweet, usually musical, slightly shorter guy like Braedyn from The Shades and the Elect or Detren from The Shadow Raven. Natan from Echoes and Tristan from The Girl Who Could See are pretty good published examples of this one (particularly Natan).
I also kind of like the brooding, quiet type as long as they’re done well and not total jerks who are romanticized anyway. Parr from The King’s Paladin and Kallum from The Masked Captain are good examples from my own work. Published examples would be folks like Halt from The Ranger’s Apprentice.
As far as female characters, I like the sassy, snarky, reckless type, like Nissa from The Shadow Raven, Rynn from The Masked Captain, or Kaitlyn from The Shades and the Elect. You can find a ton of these in published books so I won’t even bother listing a few.
I also like the teasing matchmaker/fangirl type like Madi from The Shades and the Elect or Casabree from The King’s Paladin (she’s a new character who came out of nowhere and I think I’m gonna like her a lot). Like Iko from The Lunar Chronicles.
I love way too many of my characters to pick just a handful. But I really enjoy the characters from The Dark War Trilogy and from The Shades and the Elect.
Allie: Don’t we all. *laughs* I have too many favourites to count.
Do you have any weird writing habits? Like, always having to have a certain blanket, or randomly drink tons of water on long writing hauls?
Archer: Not really. I do think I tend to drink more water than usual when I’m writing, but I don’t have any particular weird habits. Or even habits at all, lol.
Allie: Huh. I know you love music, do you have any artists that inspire you?
Archer: Ah, music! Somehow I didn’t even think of that. XD What I listen to/what inspires me really depends on what story I’m writing and what mood I’m in. There are artists that inspire me as far as life goes, rather than writing-specifically, like Lexi Walker and Peter Hollens, but when it comes to writing I don’t have a set artist or two. I listen to a fair amount of Imagine Dragons, Fall Out Boy, Audiomachine… there’s a lot of Ruelle on my Dark War Trilogy playlist. But it really depends.
Allie: Huh. For some reason I had no idea you liked those bands. *shrugs* The more you know.
What’s your favorite thing about music?
Archer: I’m not sure. I think probably its ability to tell a story and affect emotions.
Allie: You like to sing too, I know that. XD What’s your favourite song to sing? (I also know you just did The Marvelous Music Tag, so I won’t ask too many more questions down this vein)
Archer: Agggggh. So many! D: Touch the Sky is a lot of fun just because I always sing it with an Irish accent. XD I guess I’ll go with that one so we don’t end up with another mammoth answer to this one. ;D
Allie: Lol. ;D Indeed. I never have gotten up the courage to sing that one. At all. Nevertheless with an accent. XD On a scale of one to ten, how much do you love fuzzy blankets?
Archer: Probably around eight.
Allie: Good number. XD
This is cheesy and cliche, but what are you passionate about? What do you want to do with your life here on this earth? (Are they intertwined? Are they separate?)
Archer: I’m passionate about providing uplifting YA fiction, obviously, and about helping other authors grow and learn in their craft. I’m also passionate about music, about the power of youth, and about youth doing great work in the church and youth programs in the church being effective to embolden and train the next generation of the church. I know I want to be an author long-term, and I want to continue to help other writers grow, but I also wouldn’t mind working in the youth ministry in a church somewhere, maybe as a praise and worship leader for the youth.
Allie: If you could describe yourself in a sentence, what would it be?
Archer: I’m a speculative fiction author and singer who’s passionate about encouraging youth through books, music, and the church.
Allie: Better than I did! XD What about one word?
Archer: This is a lot harder. “Creative,” I think.
Allie: Good one. :) Anyway, that’s all I got. Thanks for letting me grill you. XD
Archer: Absolutely! It’s been fun. :) Thank you for grilling me. ;D
I hope you enjoyed getting to know a bit more about me. I know a lot of those answers were really long, so kudos if you read through that whole thing. XD
Now a question for you to answer in the comments: what’s your favorite mythical animal and why?