I have an extra interview this week, with Kyra Halland, fantasy and romance writer. In the Fantasy, Dystopia, and Romance writers group that I belong to on Goodreads, she’s this week’s featured author! Learn more bout Kyra here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950045.Kyra_Halland .
1. What first made you want to write books?
I’ve always loved stories, especially fantasy and love stories. I had a hard time finding the kinds of romantic fantasy books I wanted to read, so, as a new stay-at-home mom with a young baby, when I wanted a new grown-up challenge to balance out the baby care, I decided to write the kinds of novels I wanted to read.
2. You write romantic fantasy. What is it about the combination of those two elements that appeals to you?
Love is a powerful motivation, and showing characters in love, in a developing or even a committed relationship, shows sides of them that otherwise might not come through in the struggle to save the world or whatever the fantasy story is about. I think that showing the loving and romantic side makes the characters more well-rounded and more sympathetic, and raises the stakes in the story. Saving the world is one thing; saving it for the people you love – spouse, lover, children, family members, friends, makes it a lot more personal. I also like seeing how the development of the relationship and the fantasy quest or task or whatever the characters are doing affect each other – in my novels, the two are closely intertwined, and also how the couple deals with the challenges they face together. It’s also interesting to see the couple work together to achieve their goals – even if, or especially if, they have different ideas about how do go about it!
Oh, and, wizards in love. What’s not to love about wizards in love? 😀 I have a thing about wizards in love, because in the books I read, it seemed like wizards never got to fall in love, or, if they did, they never got to do anything about it. It seems like so often in fantasy (or at least in the books I read), wizards live fairly ascetic lifetstyles, and there’s something appealing about the contrast between that and the emotion and passion of falling in love and building a relationship.
3. Tell me about your latest book.
Chosen of Azara is a novel with a long history behind it. The original idea came to me as an image of a young woman in the woods, seeing a vision of a strange man. Some time later, the man appears at her home, looking for her. I wrote one early version of the story and wasn’t happy with it, so I went deeper into the man’s background, and came up with an inter-generational tale of the destruction of a beautiful, magical land and the quest to restore it to life. It’s divided into three sections, each with its own main character.
Juzeva is a princess of Savaru, dedicated to the service of a magical Source, Azara. She is married off to an enemy prince in an effort to prevent a war, but then she’s betrayed and she has to go on the run to protect her daughter and the secret she holds, which is the key to bringing Savaru back to life.
Sevry is Juzeva’s nephew and the last king of Savaru. He is twenty-three when his land and people are entirely destroyed. Through magical means, he spends centuries hunting for one of Juzeva’s descendants, who would have inherited Juzeva’s secret and would have the ability to restore the land of Savaru.
Lucie is a sheltered young noblewoman who is unaware that she has inherited Juzeva’s secret. She is looking forward to married life with her handsome fiance, Estefan. When Sevry shows up and tells her she holds the key to bringing a dead land back to life, she doesn’t want to listen. Eventually, she’s faced with a difficult choice between doing what she wants, what her family thinks she should do, and what she knows is the right thing to do.
It isn’t a very long book, but it’s epic in scale, and full of tragedy, adventure, heroism, honor, and romance.
4. What has been the hardest part about writing multiple books?
Recently I was working on three books at once! Right now it’s down to two, because one of them is out with the beta readers. I’ve been doing this mainly to stay on my release schedule and because I’m eager to start releasing the third of the three projects, hopefully in spring of 2014. Working on multiple books actually works pretty well for me. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, with severe physical and mental fatigue, and breaking tasks down into smaller segments actually helps me get more done with less fatigue and burnout. I’m also at different stages on different projects, so the variety also helps keep me fresh. The hard part is that I do get tired sometimes before I’ve made my daily goals on all three books, and it doesn’t leave me with a lot of time or energy for doing other things. Plus I get impatient and want to just get one thing done and out of the way. But I know if I tried to do that, I’d burn out quickly.
Somehow I do manage to not mix up characters and stories and end up writing an inadvertent crossover!
5. Who is your favorite writer, and why?
I love Carol Berg’s novels. Her writing is gorgeous, smooth and rich, like really good dark chocolate. Her characters are interesting, too; I enjoy reading about characters who are already established in their adult lives and identities who then have those lives disrupted and have to find a way to pick up the pieces and start over. Her books feature characters like that, and she writes them very well. And her magic systems are pretty cool and unique.
6. Tell me about what you’re working on next.
I’ve got a new book coming out later this month, The Lost Book of Anggird. It’s an epic fantasy with a strong romantic storyline, about a professor of magic who goes too far in his research into magic’s origins and causes a magical disaster, and the woman he hires to translate ancient books for him. Together they embark on a romantic relationship and a quest to fix what’s gone wrong with the magic.
My next novel, Sarya’s Song, is out with the beta readers right now. It’s set in a world where magic is worked through music, and has one of my favorite romances in it, between Sarya, a talented Arranger of magical musical rituals, and Adan, the incredibly handsome and talented singer who’s been both the closest thing she has to a friend and the bane of her existence since they were teenagers. I have a background in music, so I thought a magical system based on music would be pretty cool.
Finally, I’m writing the draft of book 6 of a 6-book fantasy-western series (also with a romantic relationship at the core). It’s based on the American Old West, but is also definitely in a fantasy world, not our world. Silas, the wizard bounty hunter in it, is one of my favorite characters ever, and this series has just been way too much fun to write.
7. Where do you think the publishing industry is going these days?
I love the sheer variety of books that are available now with the rise of self-publishing as it exists now. I think the publishing industry is going to need to become more flexible and competitive as far as how they deal with authors, such as better royalties and more freedom; being more accessible to a wider range of authors; and putting out a wider variety of books if it’s going to remain a desirable path for authors to follow and to keep readers buying their books.
8. What advise do you have for other writers?
Don’t write what you think other people want you to write; write what your mind and heart are demanding that you write. Also, it doesn’t have to be good at first; you can fix anything in revisions. On the other hand, don’t over-revise, because then you risk stripping the individuality and life right out of your story. Finally, always be working on that next book, because writing is something that you can definitely improve at with practice.