So I return to you with my interviews! A latest survivor managed to claw their way out of my interview dungeons, but before we let them go out into the wild, I will give another reminder that it’s only a few days until Booknest Award stage closes, so come along and vote for your top picks!
The Thousand Scars is longlisted as Best Debut. The categories are chock full of amazing authors and great books, so visit the website by clicking on the fancy image below. Voting ends on the 14th October. Pick the best.
Now onto the main event with Carol A. Park, author of the nifty looking Banebringer. It has a pretty cool premise and I dig the cover, so come check it out down below:
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
I write what I love to read—fantasy! My books are secondary world, character-driven, and tend toward hard magic systems. I don’t write paranormal, grimdark, or fantasy romance (as a sub-genre, though I enjoy well-written relationships/romance as a sub-plot in my fantasy).
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Most of the stories I’ve written or started writing have begun with a character or characters in some way. Then I grab an idea I’ve had rolling around for a magic system or plot thread and mix and match until something clicks. For me, character is primary, meaning the story I want to tell is about a character or characters and as a result what events they are involved in, rather than about a series of events and as a result the people involved. Thus, my plots often evolve around the character rather than the other way around—though certainly as I write and edit the two inform each other.
Even when I start with a plot idea first, if I can’t get the main character(s) right, the story stalls.
Tell us about your current project.
Right now I’m focusing on finishing The Heretic Gods trilogy, which is a secondary-world, character-driven adventure fantasy (for lack of a better sub-genre). The first book, Banebringer (my entry in SPFBO4) was published on May 1, 2018, and I’m in the process of editing Sweetblade, which is a shorter stand-alone spin-off about one of the main characters. Then I’ll move on to drafting book two proper!
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
Vaughn is the titular character of Banebringer. He’s a Banebringer—someone given powers by heretic gods—and thus a fugitive. He was born the third son of a prominent noble, though his bloodline is largely irrelevant now that his very existence is illegal. He’s also a skilled archer, which he puts to use hunting bloodbane, the monsters that terrorize the land because of the existence of Banebringers.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Read. Read in your genre, read outside your genre, and read non-fiction. Practice. Write (and finish!) a book, and then scrap it (or re-write it from scratch, if the premise is still solid). And then edit, edit, edit.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
I have a habit of plucking interesting bits out of ancient mythology, cultures, etc, and making up my own world that resembles nothing in ours precisely. The “heretic gods” pantheon is based loosely on Aztec mythology. The core of the Setanan Empire has loose roots in Celtic culture, with a bit of ancient Canaanite thrown in.
What inspires you to write?
Writing is a bit cathartic for me. I’d write even if I never sold another book (though I might be less driven to meet deadlines), because it’s an outlet for my constantly churning inner life.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Getting Ivana right. I went through three drafts and had to write 20k words of her backstory (not wasted words, since they’ll end up, in part, in Sweetblade!) before I was happy with the character.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
That’s hard, but I think any of the chapters where I get to play with mythology, linguistics, or have fun with Ivana and Vaughn’s “frenemy” relationship. I can’t say much more without spoilers!
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
This was the second book I’ve polished for publication. I discovery-wrote the first book (which I will publish eventually) and had to scrap the entire thing like three times while I figured out what the plot was! This time, I actually started with an outline of the major plot points, which worked much better for me because I wrote tighter and with less waste to start. While I don’t think I’ll ever be a hard-core outliner, I’ve learned to incorporate outlining into my planning process, and I’ve grown as a writer because of it.
Because this is the novel that I decided to go indie with, I also had to struggle some with my goals as a writer as I considered abandoning the track of trying to get traditionally published.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
To me, writing characters is a bit like acting. I rehearse scenes in my head (or out loud, if no one is around) playing all the parts. I’ll toy with different inflections, wordings, reactions, just as if I were practising a role for a play, until I get it right. I think that makes me slightly crazy, but aren’t all artists?
Sometimes I’ll do fun things like take personality tests as if I were a character (not like, what Disney princess are you, but think Myers-Briggs, etc), because the questions make me think deeply about how that character would really react given certain circumstances.
What are your future project(s)?
After The Heretic Gods is finished, I’ll return to a world I’ve already created and finished the first book. This four-part series is epic fantasy, but still heavily character-driven, about a world that has lived in a golden age of peace since its inception—and how it spins out of control.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Teach dead languages to middle or high school students at a private school.
What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
Whatever works best for people! My website is www.carolapark.com, and you can sign up for my newsletter there or contact me through the contact form. You can also follow me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/parkcarola), Twitter (@parkcarola), or of course Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17950418.Carol_A_Park).
You can buy Banebringer on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Banebringer-Heretic-Gods-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07C29DQH5/) and you can also find it at B&N, Kobo, and the Apple stores.
Thanks for the great interview Carol! I will return this weekend with another. For me, it’s back to editing The Aegis Mora and working with my characters. They do get annoying.