On Monday, I talked about one of my recent reads, A Bond of Venom & Magic by Karen Tomlinson. Today I am so excited to have her here on Writer Wednesday to talk about her debut novel, and to pick her brain about world-building. Finally, don’t forget to join Karen and other great authors at the release party on Facebook.
Hi Karen! Let’s start at the beginning. When and why did you begin writing?
I have always loved reading and always wanted to write. I had stories zipping around in my head all the time, especially at night before slipping into dream land. I had written some cringe worthy romances in my twenties but I hadn’t attempted writing for a number of years; my career and family took over. When my twin girls were at the age they wanted a bedtime story, we began to make one up together. Their request- dragons, a prince called Jack, a boy called Tom and a girl called Diamond Sparkles (Hmm). We had castles with secret towers and tunnels, and fairy rebels in a cave with the dragon, who would help Diamond, Tom and Jack escape a demon lord…. I then realised that my children were growing quickly, so began to write it down for when they were old enough to read it. Hence, A Bond of Venom and Magic was born. It has changed immensely over the four years it has taken me to settle into my writing style. But I think I am finding myself now.
Describe your typical writing day.
*chuckles* I don’t have a typical day! I work full time as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer. I teach on long courses, at the medical school and in the hospital. I have twin girls, a dog…oh yes, and a hubby. I fit in writing whenever and wherever I can. I take myself off to the library at breaks and lunch and work at home as soon as I can, often staying up until the early hours to market and write my books.
How do you balance work, family and writing? How do the other aspects of your life inspire your writing?
It is very hard to balance everything. I was recently trying to do too much and neglecting the most important things in my life. My girls and my hubby. I have readjusted deadlines for edits of book two and tried to remain objective about the release of ABOVAM. I have always been an active person but my fitness has reduced as I am often sitting at a computer. I therefore make time to go to the gym and take my children swimming one evening a week. I think being an author could consume you to the point you live in your fiction world more than the real world if you are not careful.
What inspired your decision to self-publish? What has your experience been like as an indie author?
When I completed my book and began researching what to do next, I found traditional publishing looked to be an empty pit of time and effort for the chance of an unlikely break. I still felt I should give it a go…and I would be lying if I said I did not want a traditional publishing contract. However, after six months, and I suppose compared to some people, a small amount of queries (around thirty I think), I decided to do it myself. I got far too frustrated with adjusting my query letter to suit individuals who were likely to give it to an assistant to read; and then wait for at least three months for a ‘thanks but no thanks.’
My MS was done, other than editing, so I decided to take the plunge and do it myself. My view was, I had put a lot of time and effort into the story and if I liked it, chances were someone else would too. I took the decision to self-publish and ignored the snide looks and condescending comments of people who really have no clue about publishing and do not know how hard it is to open a business and run it, on top of writing and learning how to market.
As it happens at that point, I read the Air Awakens series by Elise Kova, who was also a self-published author. I thought her books as a product were beautifully and professionally produced. I approached her for a bit of advice which she kindly gave and since then have found other author groups that are fabulous with their support and advice.
All I would say is if you are going down the self-published route you need to be absolutely certain it’s what you want. It is hard work and involves the sacrifice of a lot of time, especially if you work and have family commitments. Go into it with your eyes open, and do your research. It is a huge learning curve that I think I will be travelling for many years to come.
Tell me about your protagonist, Diamond Gillon. What actor could you see playing her in a screen adaptation of ABOVAM?
Oooh, good question! Well I’ll tell you about Diamond then I might have to think on the actress part!
Diamond Gillon is seventeen years old, and like most seventeen year olds, she wants independence. She wants to travel away from the trade town she has lived in all her life where she has been ridiculed, and more or less ostracized for her half-human, half-fae blood line. Unlike other half-bloods who have a dominant heritage and can therefore be accepted into either the human or fae society, Diamond is both too fae, and too human for either. Along with her friend Tom, she has had to fight to survive. Trying to avoid spoilers…all I can say is things go very awry for her. She begins suffering from the panic attacks she suffered from as a child and finds them hard to control as her life gets ever more complicated. There is a feisty side to Diamond but she is also underconfident and not sure how to protect herself. This is the result of her life being turned upside down and her deep but very confused feelings for a fae warrior, who becomes a major part of her life, Commander Hugo Casimir. Diamond has a lot of emotional growing to do, along with many of the other characters in ABOVAM! What can I say they are young and unsure of themselves…!
Actress wise I’m not sure…I wouldn’t want a big blockbuster actress I don’t think. Someone with an interesting face and feistiness. I think Raffey Cassidy from Snow White and the Huntsman would be fabulous!
ABOVAM is an epic fantasy set in the eight Kingdoms and the land of the Goddess & the Guardians, called Eternity. What are your top world-building tips for new authors?
Set rules for your world. I didn’t to start with and had to do a major re-think when I was editing. I think one of the most helpful things to do is set out your character profiles. Set limits as to what your characters can do and achieve. They have to have weaknesses as well as strengths, no matter how annoying they might be to the reader. I have tried to give mine traits that I have seen in people I have met over my life, so that I can relate to them whilst I write. You will be writing about your characters for a long time so either love them or passionately hate them but feel something for them, or it will be a long hard road…!
Have an idea about who the people in your world worship, and what the history of that world is. I have a huge back story in my head that has consequences for the characters I am writing about now. But obviously this is classified information and will only be revealed when I have the time to write that novella!
ABOVAM is the first in a series called The Goddess & the Guardians. How many books are planned for the series, and when can we expect more?
I originally planned a three book series…Silly me!! My first book was 250000 words and my second was 260000 and my rough draft for no 3 is 145000 so now I am planning probably five books to get the story to where I want it to end.
Who is your biggest supporter?
I don’t have one particular. So many people have supported me. It’s very hard when you first set out because you have no idea if anyone else will like your story or writing style, but my lovely awesome friends Jenny and Suze have supported me and encouraged me from the start. They have been enthusiastic since I started this journey four years ago and have cheered me up when I have felt low and bolstered my self-confidence when I needed it most. My husband now gets my obsession with this path I have chosen and has been fantastic in his support of me. And of course my little girls think it’s great that mum has written the book we started together!
What are you working on now?
I am currently trying to do a story plan for the whole series to make sure I answer all the questions I need to. I am also editing book two in the series which will be out spring 2017. My main focus recently has been marketing for the release of A Bond of Venom and Magic. If you want to join in the release day fun, my Facebook release party link is here. The awesome Kelly Oram and JA Culican are joining me, along with the lovely JZN McCauley and Katy Haye.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am a very active person, or try to be. I love sports. I am ashamed to say that my Karate has fallen by the wayside after 29 years of instructing as I had time off for an injury and then got caught up in my book launch (like I said…sacrifices). I still go to the gym and practice karate with a colleague of mine though, which is great. I like swimming, walking in the peak district hills near my home, and I like nothing better to relax with a good book or watch a film, with big special-effects, that I can enjoy with my girls.
Where can we find you on social media?
I love to chat with people on my street team – just named by the awesome members as The Silver Guardians! You can join here.
My other social links are here:
The Wraith Lord is hunting; his prize, the key to unleashing darkness and Chaos upon the eight Kingdoms.
For Diamond Gillon the war raging in the south seems a remote danger until she loses everything she holds dear. After her home is brutally attacked Diamond is catapulted into a terrifying new world in which legendary beasts arise, magic is condemned and half blood fae, like her, have no rights. Diamond is drawn ever closer to her saviour Commander Hugo Casimir. Despite her growing feelings for him, Hugo remains a paradox, not only is he a heartless killer, he is owned by the cruel immortal fae queen; a queen who will murder her own people for magic. Will Hugo become her friend, her protector or an enemy not worthy of her trust?
As Diamond’s circumstances become ever more perilous she is drawn deeper into Hugo’s world and discovers the lengths to which he will go to save what he holds dear.
A Bond of Venom and Magic is a tale of two people bound by magic and secrets, but trapped in the complexities of love and betrayal. It is the beginning of an epic journey, one that will test Diamond’s resolve and determination to battle an evil that threatens not only her world but that of Eternity, the land of The Goddess and the Guardians.
Karen has always been an avid reader. Her taste in books is eclectic but she likes nothing better than an exciting fantasy, set in a new and magical world. She lives in Derbyshire, England, with her husband, twin girls and her Dalmatian, Poppy. Karen trained as a nurse and currently works as a resuscitation and clinical skills trainer, this involves training a wide variety of health care professionals and medical students in acute patient care. In addition to writing, and reading whenever she can, Karen likes to keep active. She has been training at Shotokan karate since being thirteen, likes walking, mountain biking and (for something completely different) cake decorating. She is currently working on book two in The Goddess and the Guardians series.
Huge thanks to Karen for stopping by and answering my nosy questions. If you haven’t ordered ABOVAM yet, you should definitely go do it now. If you’re interested in a Writer Wednesday feature or writing a guest post for the blog, drop me a line at email@example.com.