Back with a new interview – things are pretty hectic on my end, so they may be less frequent in the coming weeks. Today’s interview is with R. A. Denny with her SPFBO entry The Emperor’s Harvest.
Check out some examples of my SPFBO interviews by clicking on the book covers down below!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Hi, Michael! I’m a former criminal prosecutor who left my career to do what I love. Now I write epic fantasy and historical fiction. I’ve never looked back!
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Stories pop into my head when I least suspect it. Then I do a lot of research, which for me is half the fun. I travel, read, and listen to lectures from The Great Courses. Then I bounce my ideas off my own team of “inklings.” I’m so fortunate because several of my family members are authors.
From the beginning I know the end, but the characters lead me down surprising paths along the way.
Tell us about your current project.
Here’s the blurb for my new time travel novel: Flung into the 17th century by ball lightning, Peri learns that alchemy in the hands of modern terrorists is about to destroy the world. Only she can stop them. But a time-traveling terrorist turned pirate stands in her way.
I’ll be announcing a release date soon!
Is this your first entry into SPFBO? If not, how many times have you entered?
Yep, The Emperor’s Harvest is my first entry. I’ve always loved competition. Win or lose, it’s a great motivator, and it’s fun to take an active part in the writing community. Good luck to everyone who entered!
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
In The Emperor’s Harvest, I have three protagonists, but my personal favorite is Brina. She is a Glider, which means that she has a layer of skin between her ankles and wrists that she spreads taut to soar from tree to tree. How cool would it be to be able to do that? When the series begins, she has no concept of what it costs to be a hero. She experiences a lot of shocking twists of fate, but she is resourceful and determined. Brina is vulnerable yet strong. I guess that’s what I strive to be.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Give your imagination free rein and just start writing. You can go back and edit later.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
I do tons of research into history, religion, and archaeology. To name just a few sources of inspiration: the Scythians, Alexander the Great, the Bible, Ancient Rome, Anatolia, the Incas, Plato, Balearic slingers, Congo Pygmies, and Herodotus. I challenge my readers to spot these connections on their own, but the details are available in the author’s note at the end of The Emperor’s Harvest, and on my website https://www.radennyauthor.com/blog. Warning: it contains spoilers!
What inspires you to write?
Everything around me: people I know, this world, and its history. The flying squirrels I raised as a kid gave me the idea for my Gliders.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Keeping all the story lines straight. Actually, writing it was not difficult, but editing was a bear.
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
I’m a spontaneous, shoot from the hip sort of person. But when I write, I sit on my couch with my laptop on my lap and type. My kitty curls up next to me (like she is right now.) If I get stuck, I go for a walk, jump on my trampoline, or go for a swim if it’s summer.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite part to write in The Emperor’s Harvest was the ending of the Trees plot. It was exciting and had a huge twist, which I’m pretty sure nobody will see coming. Twists are so much fun to throw in!
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Hmm. Well, I was still working as a criminal prosecutor so it was cathartic. I spent my days dealing with people who only cared about what was in it for them, so at night I created some heroes who actually tried to do “the right thing.” The world of Tzoladia was a much needed escape. The journey helped me to be grateful no matter my circumstances.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
I create an overarching plot, but after that I’m a pantser and gardener. I go with my heart and let the characters lead me. My newest book is historical fiction, so the confines of history reel me in. Even so, I research, and then I let my imagination run a little wild.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
I have a vivid imagination, so it’s pretty easy for me to get lost in my character’s heads. Sometimes I write a short summary of their background. I know things that reader won’t ever know.
What are your future project(s)?
Too many to list them all. I’m starting a YouTube channel. I’ve completed book one of my duology, tentatively called The Alchemy Pirate. I was going to start writing book 2 today, but I got distracted by this interview!
What is your favorite book ever written? Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite novel is The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. Nothing can beat Puddleglum’s speech to the Lady of the Green Kirtle.
What makes a good villain?
Wait…villains aren’t good, they’re evil! A well-drawn psychopath or someone with narcissistic personality disorder fits the bill. At work I made a list I called “Most Likely to Kill.” I picked out killers before the age of 12. And I was right most of the time. That’s a pretty scary thought. Nothing is scarier than reality, even in fiction.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Travel (I just got back from Italy); swim, horseback ride, kayak, paint, read, play tabletop games. Actually, I enjoy most activities outside, most games, and most creative endeavors. Best of all, I like to hang out and relax with my family and friends!
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Film producer? Board game designer? Artist? Motivational Speaker? Anything creative. I wrote a screen play once and produced a full length feature film. That was so much fun! I’m illustrating a video game right now.
You can travel to any planet or moon in the Solar System. Where would you go, why and what would you do there?
Io. I wouldn’t land on it since it’s the most volcanically active world in our solar system. But picture lava fountains miles high! It’s truly a land of ice and fire. The colors are spectacular, so I’d paint it! And who knows, I might find life in the underground lava tubes.
Pick any three characters from a fiction novel. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
Ok, so I’m going with Amanki, Brina, and Moshoi from my Tales of Tzoladia. After all, I created them and hung out with them during several years of writing! I’d go to their home towns, go fishing in the Lanaduk River, climb to the top of a Mesmeringa tree, and explore the caves of Hattom. Fun adventures! As long as the emperor doesn’t send his henchmen after us…
Finally, 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 love to hear from my readers!
Email: radennyauthor (at) gmail.com