Another interview for you guys! Stay tuned for a special post featuring yours truly this weekend. . .
Today’s interview is with Meagan Hurst, author of her awesome Journey of an Arbais Mage series. Here is the link to her first in the series, When the Kingdom Falls!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hello! Thanks for taking the time to do all of these interviews, it’s been a joy and a blast to read all of them. I’m Meagan and I currently dabble in epic fantasy novels. My current series has two novels live in the world: When the Kingdom Falls, and The Price of Survival, and I am hopeful to be able to release the third in the series sometime in 2019. And…as a forewarning, some of my answers might end up being novels as it’s a flaw I have.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
That’s a tough one. With characters, they tend to come fairly easy. They just seem to show up out of the blue and have their own personality. Unfortunately this often comes with a massive backstory/history I would love to include in-depth (I’m a sucker for world building/character building in anything I read.) As for plot…I’m another person who doesn’t outline. My few attempts to outline even report papers always ended up in failure (I had an outline and then I had something that had nothing to do with said outline) so I just wait to see what happens as I write. This occasionally has me arguing very colorfully with my characters about their life choices but, what can you do?
Tell us about your current project.
I’m currently working on novels 3-6 in my current series. The first drafts are there, but now I get to go back and see what exactly is in them since it’s been a while. Book three is my main focus, but I’m terrible with focusing on one project at a time so being able to work on several at once is always a huge help. I’ve also been writing a few “short stories” (which seem to mostly slide into novel size) about back history or particular events in the world that are mentioned in passing in the main series, but those have been mostly to give me something to split my attention on as opposed to something I intend to do anything with.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
I’m bad at describing characters…and I took a gamble with my MC because as she emerged, she was who she was, and I refuse to try and force characters to act/think/be something they’re not. So, my earlier warning of small novel answers to questions? That applies here. Sorry!
Zimliya de la Nepioa (who prefers Z) is the main character the series follows. She’s distrusting, mentally/physically scarred, and has the unfortunate habit of reacting violently when startled. She’s also slightly suicidal and she’s always waiting for a betrayal from everyone she interacts with. She’s spent a long time prior to the start of the series (…again, massive backstories) getting her reactions under control and it’s going to be something she continues to struggle with.
Since I know so much of everyone’s past, I debated where to start the series and choose when Z’s in her early twenties. Despite her shortcomings—mostly in the social interaction/trust category—she’s spent the last fourteen years trying to reestablish alliances between the kingdoms. She’s mostly succeeded by way of the heirs of the kingdoms, but due to her past Z can only trust people as allies as opposed to also considering them friends. She likes just about everyone, and she doesn’t hold grudges for the usual reasons—an assassination attempt by certain rulers in certain kingdoms is a test and it’s not personal, so it’s fine for example—but she just cannot trust, so she struggles to accept or ask for help.
But the people who took her in are called the Rangers (well, officially Nishienes, though that name is now only used by one immortal ruler when he wants to be an ass) and they broke away from a human kingdom four thousand years ago in order to combat threats to the world as they saw fit rather than risking the fate of the world to the self-interests of each kingdom. As such, Z was raised from the time she was eight on with that mindset and it gave her something to hold onto and strive for. But…she’s broken, and it’s sheer willpower that’s forced her to crawl out of her past and her shortcomings, and both of those have a habit of returning to anyone at horrible times.
Annnnnd, I’ll try to make this one shorter (sorry!) Though the series follows Z, I was informed by several people who have read book 1, 2, and they’ve also read a good portion of the work-in-progress book 3, that I have to mention someone else as a main character. So, I’m bowing to their demands.
Nivaradros (and random side note: I absolutely love his name) is apparently my secondary main character strictly because he’s around a lot. He’s a Dragon, he’s over four-thousand years old, he’s been exiled from his people for most of his life, and he’s attacked every kingdom in some manner at some point in his history because he pretty much hates everyone, even his own kind. While Z’s made the attempt to learn why Nivaradros was exiled from his people’s home, the Dragons and Nivaradros don’t like to reveal anything, much less personal details.
There have been several attempts to kill Nivaradros by Dragons, other immortals, and humans alike, but Nivaradros has always survived and ever since Z met him there has been a bit of a do-not-attack freeze out there; Z protects allies and she considers the temperamental Dragon to be one. But, since Nivaradros is a Dragon and does not play well with others, his recent decision to join Z and whomever else she drags into whatever she intends to do for the foreseeable future is causing a lot of friction with her allies.
Up until this book, however, Nivaradros has largely left Z’s past alone because Z actively avoids all thought or mention of it. Where things start in When the Kingdom Falls though, Nivaradros decides on his own to join and assist Z, and when another ally of hers hands off protecting her to the Dragon, Nivaradros takes the job way too seriously and starts pushing to find out just what happened in the kingdom Z fled as a child that left her so shattered. Upon discovering this was Nivaradros’s main goal, I may have thrown a book or two at him—Z just spent a good portion of the book trying to stab him.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Remember everyone’s process is unique. Listen to others on what works for them, try it even, but if it’s not for you then try something else. Your writing system has to work for you, not for anyone else. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to figure out what works for you either, writing is a process and part of that process involves actually doing it.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Uh, the fact that there are multiple kingdoms and different cultures/thoughts/opinions? And the fact that people—beings of all races—act like people. They have good and less-than-pleasant bits to them. Other than that, I honestly have no idea because I didn’t consciously drag anything from the real world into the series by choice. I am certain there are several things, but I don’t have anything that leaps out at me because I am terrible about noticing or caring things like that outside of the whole “find out all the character’s whole lives” thing.
What inspires you to write?
I’m not sure. I was always a huge reader. I kept four to five books in my backpack to help get me through the school day, and fantasy ended up as my favourite. Z’s story has been in my head for years though, so people eventually convinced me to start writing it down and once I actually started it, I realized I did really enjoy it.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Going past the writing part. I was really happy with this series hidden on my computer, but people who glanced at it over the years insisted more be done with it, so here I am. Though, I’m starting to wonder if my original thoughts on the whole thing are in fact correct. Too late now to change things.
And then the relationship between Z and a villain in the series has always been a struggle because it’s just…odd. And wrong. Z’s past has made her look at the world in a manner I cannot and it’s made her interactions with that character occasionally mind boggling.
Oh, and titles, I hate coming up with titles with a passion. When the Kingdom Falls sat without a name for quite a while—honestly, I still don’t know how I managed to actually name it.
What was your favourite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Not sure I have a favourite (or at least just one) but I do enjoy writing the interactions between the many different characters that exist and, since I know the history between them, some of those interactions surprise me. And the interactions between Nivaradros and Z tend to make me smile because the two of them interact surprisingly well together which was something I was doubtful of when they first met and Nivaradros was dead set on killing her.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned several things, but most importantly I reaffirmed the fact outlines are not my friend and that I have no control over any of my characters. I’m not alarmed or worried about the lack of outlines, but there is nothing more horrifying than being 100% sure you have finally figured out where things are going only to have all of the characters you’re working with suddenly splinter off in different directions. Saying certain words while I go sprinting off after them though helps.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
Ah, arguments do wonders for understanding characters. Actually, that’s a lie, but arguments do drive home the point that my characters at least are individuals and they rarely act how I suspect they might. Most of my characters have a strong enough sense of presence that I know more than I need to, even if they only show up once in the series. Z’s outlook of the world is so…odd to me though that I’m both impressed and alarmed by it at times.
What are your future project(s)?
At the moment, book three in theory. I have side projects as well, and other books in this series, but I have no idea if/when I’m going to do anything with most of them.
I really, really like how book three shaped up to be though, and I’m hopeful I can release it in 2019 because of everything that goes on within it. Finding a title, however, was a disaster. Though I’m pretty sure the one I landed on will stick, especially since I already got the novel a cover.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
If I had magic and could shrink…I always wanted to be a jockey, so I’d go for that. Magic aside, I’d love to work in a library.
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)?
I’m really bad at social media interactions. Facebook is generally a fail, and though I recently joined Twitter, I’m pretty much silent on it.
So, the best way to reach out to me is either through my website: https://authormeagannhurst.com/
Or my Goodreads account: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17143787.Meagan_Hurst
Though, since I mentioned Twitter, here is the link to me there as well: https://twitter.com/meagannhurst
It’s likely I won’t have another SPFBO interview up until Monday. Stay tuned for a special post on the 7th December. It is the first anniversary of my launch of The Thousand Scars, and I have a year retrospective to show you all. Stay tuned!