What kind of a host am I?? I invite Kylie Griffin to my blog and then go out and forget to leave the welcome mat out… My sincere apologies. I feel especially lousy as Kylie is such a wonderful supporter of other writers and does an amazing job of showcasing different genres over on her blog. Make sure you drop by and visit after you’ve read her post here! Kylie is also very generously giving away a signed copy of Alliance Forged – details later in the post!!
Without further grovelling, it’s over to Kylie 🙂
Helene, it’s wonderful to be visiting your blog again! I had such a great time back in January (by my, how time has flown!). Thanks for inviting me back! And what’s even better is that we share July as a book release month – you with BURNING LIES coming out on July 2nd, and me with ALLIANCE FORGED a day later!
Lovely to chat with you again, Kylie, and delighted to be release buddies in July!! I’m looking forward to learning more about your writing. Fantasy romance fiction is a growth genre. Which author in that genre has been an inspiration to you? What was it about their stories that resonated?
With Anne McCaffrey, while her stories and world-building were excellent I loved her characters and the interaction between them. They were so real. There were so many that she had to keep an index of who was who and which Weyr or Hold they belonged to, but most times the major characters and major secondary characters were revisited so often in her books that they became old friend, and it was just their name or a mannerism that triggered my familiarity with them. I don’t know how many times I’d look up from a book and experience disorientation because I was so deeply entrenched in the lives of her characters.
My love for Mercedes Lackey stems from her world building – in particular, her Heralds of Valdemar and the other linked series. Her descriptions and the way she portrayed the fantasy elements in her books were just so easy to imagine or understand. Again, it was the realism and suspension of disbelief.
I can relate to the genre’s appeal being partly to do with stepping outside of our ordinary world and into something magical but so very believable. When you wrote Vengeance Born how did you go about building the world in which your stories are set? How do you keep track of the elements in your world? Do you plot, keep a notebook full of characters, names, descriptions?
I wrote VENGEANCE BORN as a complete pantster, so I really didn’t have a process to my world building for the book, much of it came from my subconscious as the story unfolded. I had the opening scene in my head, I knew who the main characters were but not a lot else.
Once I had the draft story down though, I went back through and layered in detail – beefed up descriptions of the scenery, chose specific individual words that described physical characteristics of the characters and so on. During this time I jotted information under headings like physical places & names, characters, plants, animals, religion, politics, military, social structure, language, history and so on.
This then went into my series bible for later use when I wrote ALLIANCE FORGED (Bk#2) and ALLEGIANCE SWORN (Bk#3). The history of the Light Blade world has evolved the more I delve into the series. Events or important information have come to light as I’ve written the individual stories. The one thing I have had to check for though is consistency of facts and information, particularly what’s been revealed where, by whom and in what book. LOL
I have an A4 spiral bound book with tabs dividing it into each book in the series and within each section I have the information I mentioned previously put into sub-dissections. Sounds quite orderly but it’s all hand written in my scrawl, some of it’s been crossed out, rewritten, added to and so on.
One thing I did forget to mention – I also put maps, synopses and title names in the series bible. I love making the maps. I’m a visual learner so seeing where everything is helps me see it in my head (don’t give me a real map though and ask me to guide you – that’s one skill I have trouble with!). (I’ll include some maps/pictures for this answer)
I love the idea of maps and series bibles to keep everything in order. Reminds me of reading about how Tolkein wrote Lord of the Rings! How do you give your readers context in your new world when everything is new to them?
Ahh, what a great question! A writer named Samuel Johnson sums this up perfectly (it’s a quote tacked to my office wall) – “The two most engaging powers of an author are to make new things familiar and familiar things new.”
With the creatures in my fantasy world, they’re not ones we have in our reality. They’re entirely made up, name, physical description, but what I’ve tried to do is take elements of animals from our reality and combine the features, the behaviours, the physiology and create something familiar enough in the readers mind that they’re able to build up an image of them.
For example, featured in all three books in this series so far is a creature called Vorc.
Swallowing hard against a dry throat, she sent a swift prayer to the Lady for help then stepped forward to meet the two Vorc racing up the slope.
The incline barely slowed their powerful, barrel-like bodies. Their claws churned up the soft dirt underfoot, and pointed snouts with long, sharp fangs were low to the ground as they raced along the animal trail, tracking Kalan’s human scent. Prodigious hunters, they could track for days and through most weather.
Moonlight glinted off metal chain amongst the fur at the ruff of their necks. Annika inhaled a relieved breath. While their Masters’ saddles were absent, they wore the collars of trained Vorc. That meant they were out hunting alone rather than on patrol with any of the Na’Hord. It gave her and Kalan a chance of remaining undetected—if she could deal with them. The musky odor of the oil in their shaggy coats sharpened as they drew closer.
When they saw her, they split up and approached from two sides, their small slitted, luminescent green eyes glowing with feral intelligence. The larger one, the alpha male standing eye to eye with her in height was the one she watched…
The alpha’s nostrils flared and his upper lip curled back as he caught her scent. He hesitated, narrow head tilting to one side. Sharp, dagger-length fangs gleamed in the moonlight. Blood stained his whiskery jaw. They’d already hunted and fed…
Annika moved closer and to one side of the male, very aware that she was now within striking range of his unsheathed claws. His lip trembled as a rumble came from his deep within his chest.
“Kula veh, be calm, kula veh . . .” She kept her actions slow, her words soft and soothing, keeping her gaze on the spurs on the back of his claws. They glinted wetly, coated in a deadly poison the males used to paralyze their prey. During training, and while on patrol, they were usually capped to avoid accidental poisoning of Master or human prey.
Placing her hand on the alpha male’s hide, she gently stroked the coarse pelt. The pungent, musky odor coming from his fur was almost overwhelming. She kept her breathing shallow as she smoothed her hand along his side. The bristles on his neck lowered the longer she petted and murmured reassurance.
(Snippet from VENGEANCE BORN, Ch.4)
I’m sure everyone who reads this description will see something different in their mind but I bet you’ve all build some sort of image, and you know that the Na’Reish (demons) use the predators to track humans and as transport beasts.
That’s fantastic, Kylie. A wonderful example of showing not telling as well as a vivid scene.
What are your top five tips for new writers embarking on Fantasy romance stories?
1. Be consistent – whatever sort of world you create make sure you stick by the parameters of it. If you have magic then make sure whatever ‘rules’ you come up with for its use, you don’t break them, unless you have a darn good explanation and one readers will believe. You’re aiming to suspend disbelief, not jerk them out of your story yelling, “Hey, you can’t do that! It’s against the rules.”
2. Read widely in the genre – for pleasure and to analyse what sorts of world building other authors are using.
3. If you’re a visual person, like me, then make maps, collage, search and collect images that inspire your imagination or best represent what your story and characters are like. Not only will it keep you grounded in your world but they’ll come in handy one day when your editor asks for ideas for your book covers.
4. Write what you love – not for a trend or the most popular paranormal creature on the market at the time. Doesn’t mean you can’t write about what’s popular but it better have a darn good hook or twist to make it stand out in a heavily saturated marketplace. But the bottom line is that your story and voice will shine through regardless of the species of your hero/heroine.
5. Have fun.
Great advice for any writer! Tell us about your new release, Alliance Forged. What’s next in the series?
ALLIANCE FORGED is the second in the Light Blade series and it picks up where VENGEANCE BORN left off. The humans and Na’Chi (half-bloods) have formed a tentative alliance but there’s still a lot of uncertainty on both sides as to whether the partnership will work. The Na’Reish have escalated their attacks on the border and joining forces to withstand a demon invasion is more imperative than ever.
The story focuses on Kymora and Varian, two characters introduced in VENGEANCE BORN. Varian is Na’Chi (half human, half demon) and is seeking a haven for his people but fears the humans will never be able to put aside their mixed blood prejudice, a belief reinforced as he struggles to control his darker half-demon personality. In her role as high priestess, Kymora fights to unite their two races while helping Varian accept his dual nature.
She’s the character I had a lot of fun creating. Why? Kymora’s blind. Without going into a lot of her backstory (which you’ll find out about if you read the book), I loved the challenge of creating a character who was once able to see but then has to deal with the devastating loss of a vital sense. And on top of that (because this is a paranormal romance) I gave her the ability to decipher people’s feelings through listening to their voices and sensing their emotions in their auras. I loved playing with the whole perception/reception of a person with a disability who has an awesome power at her disposal to compensate for that loss. Her scenes were a real hoot to write.
Book #2 of the Light Blade series
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a blind priestess lays claim to a half-breed warrior, body and soul…
Hunted and marked for death by Na’Reish demons for their half-blood heritage, the Na’Chi are searching for a new home—something an alliance offered by the human leader could provide. With both races divided by prejudice, when Light Blade rebels brutally attack the Na’Chi, the alliance seems doomed to fail.
Varian, leader of the Na’Chi, a hybrid race of gifted warriors, is cursed with the darker impulses of his demon heritage. Controlling the part of himself that craves the high of the battle is a struggle he’s afraid he’ll lose—until he meets Kymora Tayn, a priestess driven to serve her deity. While he’s unwilling to trust anyone outside his people, he finds himself drawn to Kymora’s strength and passionate nature, and discovers she has the power to calm the darkness inside him.
When the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves and kickstart a war, the key to the survival of both races—Na’Chi and human— is an alliance. However, when Kymora is kidnapped, pitting human against human, Varian realizes he must embrace his darker half, not only to save the alliance…but also the woman he loves.
As for what’s next – ALLEGIANCE SWORN is the third book in the series. I don’t have a confirmed release date yet for it but as soon as I do I’ll post it up on my website and other social media sites.
Book #3 of the Light Blade series
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a demon leader seeks to unify the races…
With the alliance of the humans and the half-blood Na’Chi forged, the demon Na’Reish prepare for war by seizing human blood-slaves. Captured during a rescue mission-gone-wrong, Light Blade warrior Arek Barial finds himself claimed by a Na’Reishi female who offers him an unexpected choice.
Raised in the elite ranks of a society she abhors, Imhara Kaal lives a dangerous double life as a Na’Reish Clan-leader and an advocate for a caste-free life that honors the Old Ways. Openly rebelling against the Na’Reish would mean her death, unless she can find an emissary willing to present her petition to the human Blade council.
But Arek isn’t about to blindly follow a demon—despite the intense attraction growing between them. And while hatred for the Na’Reish is all he has ever known, Arek must learn to trust Imhara, or risk the destruction of all three races…
Last time I was here, Helene, your readers helped me out with suggestions for titles for Book #3 – and there were a swag of suggestions but I do believe you suggested ALLEGIANCE WON & ALLEGIANCE GIVEN and that triggered Cath Evans idea of ALLEGIANCE SWORN (which, as you can see by the title was the one my editor and I ended up going with)! (And I’m delighted to have been part of the brain storming process for that name, Kylie!!)
So this time around, while I don’t have another book that needs a title, I do have a copy of ALLIANCE FORGED to give away. But there’s a catch! I think it’d be fun to ask your readers this question – If you had to lose one of your senses, which would it be, and why?
Yikes, that will be a very difficult question to answer, Kylie! I don’t think I want to choose one at all! But for such a great prize I guess I can think about it… So over it’s over to you guys. The contest will run for a week from today so that will mean drawing the winner Monday June 25th. The contest is open internationally and if you are the lucky winner and live overseas then Kylie will order the book for you and send a signed book plate in the mail.
Thanks for visiting today, Kylie, a pleasure as always! For more details about Kylie or to buy any of her books follow the links below. Look forward to seeing some interesting answers from you all 🙂
Kylie Griffin Bio
Kylie Griffin’s obsession with all things paranormal/fantasy started at an early age, when she used to imagine the jacaranda tree in her front yard was a spaceship used to defend the world from invading enemies. Writing stories seemed a natural extension to her childhood adventures.
Today, she’s a primary school teacher sharing her love for the written word with young children. In her spare time, she writes and reads all things paranormal.
Kylie lives in a small rural village in outback New South Wales, Australia, where she volunteers in a number of emergency service organizations in her local community. Visit her website at www.kyliegriffin.com
To purchase any of Kylie’s books click on any of the following book sellers: