Interview: debut fantasy author Elena Carter

Another month is almost over and we’re now much closer to next Christmas than last. That’s right I used the C word in July! Speaking of which, have you seen any of the “Christmas in July” bookish events going on around the internet? @SheShedStudios on Twitter is hosting a feature with some fab free books (she included The Fair Queen when it was free a couple of weeks ago), and Jennifer Kropf, author of the Winter Souls series, is throwing a huge book tour across the internet for her festive, family-friendly fantasy series in celebration of book two being out this November and available to preorder now!

OK, that’s enough talk of Christmas, back to the height of summer. Next week is my birthday! I’m hosting a Facebook Hop between 5 and 7 Aug to celebrate, with prizes for both UK and international winners. One UK winner will get a signed hardcover of The Fair Queen and a signed (by both me and my fellow author Alice Ivinya) paperback of Enchanted Waters, and one US/international winner will get a whole bundle of fantasy ebooks and a $10 Amazon giftcard! So head over to the FB group and join to take part next week.

On to the interview! I was so excited to chat to Elena Carter this week and find out all about her debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, which comes out 30 July and is the first book in a new series, The Dream Tamer Chronicles. Read on to find out what we talked about…

Thanks so much for chatting with me, Elena! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Elena. I am originally from Almaty, Kazakhstan, but in 2013 I moved to Varna, Bulgaria to live by the sea. Growing up in a city surrounded by mountains, I have always been dreaming of big water (which is ironic because I am not much of a swimmer, yet I can’t live without water.) 

For the last decade or so I’ve been making gemstone jewelry — after exploring all kinds of career paths, including administering a high school exchange program, working in an embassy as a political and human rights assistant, working as an assistant to an attorney, and many other totally unrelated things too. All while secretly dreaming of being a writer.

I have a husband and two sons, a teenager and a toddler. We also have a cavalier king charles spaniel and possibly the naughtiest cat in the world.

Wow, what a fascinating and varied life you’ve led so far! I bet you’re not short of inspiration when it comes to writing stories, you’ve got so many experiences to draw from. When did you start writing and what inspired you/who encouraged you?

I have always wanted to be a writer, but I guess I never had enough courage and self-belief. Until 2020, when my husband (a professional writer and screenwriter himself) finally convinced me to give it a try, after countless nudges that I used to skillfully dodge. And I’m so grateful for his persistence.

I used to say “If I ever do try, certainly it won’t be in English, because it’s my second language, and I’ll never be good enough.” 

But here I am, releasing my debut novel in English, and I am so happy I found the courage to go ahead and do it. 

I was 41 when I wrote my first book. It’s never too late to start.

That’s incredible that you’re writing your debut in a language other than you’re native one, I studied Spanish at University but I can’t imagine writing an entire novel in Spanish. You’re so inspiring! Do you have a favourite book or genre?

I have always loved reading. I started reading early, about 4 years old, and when I was 10 or 12, I started consuming everything I could find in our (very extensive) home library. I have always been fascinated by our bookshelves covering the entire walls, from floor to ceiling.

I read pretty much everything, I don’t like to limit myself to a certain genre. But fantasy has always been my favorite. I discovered Tolkien in my early university years I think, and it totally blew my mind. 

There are also some Russian fantasy authors that I have always enjoyed reading. 

Basically, I like to believe that magic exists, and the world around is not at all what we believe it is.

Excuse me, you had me at “floor to ceiling bookshelves”. I’m so jealous, it sounds like a book lovers’ dream. Tell us about your upcoming debut novel.

My debut novel, Follow the Hummingbird, is coming out on July 30, 2021. It’s about a young woman discovering the world of her dreams after she’s been trying to find ways to cope with grief having lost her husband in a car accident. She learns about the existence of multiple different worlds that are ready to open their doors to her, and, most importantly, give her hope and strength to go on.

That’s a really beautiful message, it sounds wonderful. Where did you find the inspiration for your story?

Dreams have always been a very important part of my life. They’ve always been vivid and fascinating, leaving me with a feeling that they are much more than what we think they are. 

A lot of the dream sequences in my book have been inspired by the dreams I’ve had, including some I had many years ago. It’s strange, I can easily forget what I’ve been doing last week or month (let alone the names of my former colleagues or high school teachers), but the memories of some of my childhood dreams are bright and clear in my mind.

That’s so cool, I love when story ideas come in dreams! Would you say you’re a plotter, pantser or plantser?

Plantser. When I started working on Follow the Hummingbird, I had a rough outline of the idea that I quickly put down in the notes on my phone. For the rest, the story itself was leading me, new characters were appearing and asking me to write about them, fascinating worlds were revealing themselves to me, and it was a beautiful and exciting journey. 

I’m the same, I need a map to follow to where the story is headed, but I like to leave a little room to take the scenic route. So, what are you working on right now?

In the beginning of the year, while still working on edits for my novel, I started writing a collection of short stories. They’re all separate stories and totally unrelated, except the one thing they have in common – they’re all happening in the same town. A very ordinary little town, at first glance. But when you look and listen closer, you might learn that it’s not that ordinary after all. There’s all kinds of wonderful and amazing and magical things happening to its inhabitants and guests.

I am also starting to work on the next book in The Dream Tamer Chronicles, telling a story of one of the characters in Follow the Hummingbird.

I love short story collections! I’m writing one myself at the moment, set in the same world as my main series, The Fair Chronicles. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Don’t fear. Don’t doubt yourself. And never — NEVER — give up. There’ll be good days and bad days, there’ll be ups and downs, it’s all a crazy roller coaster sometimes (okay, let’s be honest, most of the time), but just stay consistent and stay on track no matter what.

Also, you have to believe in your writing in the first place. If you don’t, no one else will.

That is such great advice, it’s so important to believe in yourself first, and be your own biggest cheerleader. Thank you so much for chatting with me today, it’s been lovely! Before you go, how can we find out more about you and your books?

Website:  https://elenacarterauthor.com/  

Newsletter signup: http://eepurl.com/hwgca1

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elena_carter_author/

Facebook page/group:  https://www.facebook.com/Author-Elena-Carter-112309984416068/

Check out Follow the Hummingbird of Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B097F4RYN7/

And add it to your Goodreads shelf: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58421874-follow-the-hummingbird


I hope all of you fellow writers listen to Elena’s advice – believe in yourself and never give up! And if you like the sound of Follow the Hummingbird, it comes out on 30 July so there’s not long to wait now.

Happy Christmas in July guys!

Lyndsey

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Interview: bestselling urban fantasy author C.C. Solomon

Hello! How’s your summer going? We’re in the midst of a serious heatwave here in the UK, but we’re due a big thunderstorm over the weekend so hopefully the heat will break soon and we’ll all be able to get some sleep.

This week, I had the huge privilege of chatting to USA Today bestselling author C.C. Solomon, whose brand new book, Dark Hauntings, came out this week! Read on to see what we chatted about and find out more about her new release.

Hi C.C.! Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell us a little about yourself to begin with?

I’m originally from the suburbs of Baltimore, MD. I have a very dog behaving cat named Stormy.  I’m an avid traveler. Especially international travel. I’m also a big fan of karaoke, horror movies, anime and Asian dramas. During the day I work in civil rights, in the area of employment discrimination. 

I also love karaoke and international travel! But you can keep the horror movies, I’m a giant wimp. Your job sounds so interesting, I bet that’s really rewarding. So, when did you start writing and who encouraged you?

I started writing when I was around eleven years old. I wrote a short play in my English class that my classmates put on and did some other short stories as assignments. My English teacher, Ms. Weber, told me I was good and to keep writing and I have!

I love that, my teachers were really supportive and encouraging too. That’s so cool that your classmates performed your play! I bet that was an incredible experience. What would you say are your favourite genres to read and write?

I write what I like to read, mostly. I am a huge urban fantasy and paranormal romance reader. However, I also love a good contemporary romance novel. I mix them all up in my reading list. My favorite tropes are love triangles (I know many people hate them but I love the drama), friends to lovers, enemies to lovers (but only if it’s more banter and not the guy being a jerk or bully). And I love character driven story lines. 

I do enjoy a really well done love triangle, and enemies to lovers is my absolute favourite! But you’re right, only if it’s a bit of rivalry. I don’t personally understand the appeal of bully romance, but each to their own I guess! Tell us about your most recent release.

Right now I have a few recent releases. Last month, I along with several other authors released a YA fantasy and sci fi anthology called Girls of Might and Magic

I also updated the second book in my Paranormal World series, Mystic Journeys

This month, I release Dark Hauntings. This is technically the second in my new Paranormal Times series set in the same world as and a spin off of my Paranormal World Series. There is a first book/prequel novella called Mystic Memories. In this series a faerie with a missing memory is trying to navigate her way through a post apocalyptic world, solve a gruesome mystery, and capture a fae throne. All with a side of romance. 

OK, you have literally combined my two favourite things there – fae novels and true crime! Congratulations on your new release, I can’t wait to read it! I absolutely loved Girls of Might and Magic, it was such a fantastic collection. Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings? 

I’m a huge anime, horror and k drama fan so they allow me to think outside of the box because of the unique, non-Western storytelling. I also am a daydreamer, people watcher and avid traveler so the combination is always giving me ideas, with new settings and scenarios popping up in my head. 

It’s always the strangest places inspiration can spring from, I find the final pieces of the puzzle for a story usually come from a completely different genre or format, like podcasts and documentaries. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Plotter. I usually have a fairly detailed outline but it gets revised along the way. Without some direction I’d have a hard time keeping focused and engaged. 

I’m the same, I need a vague map to where I’m headed, but I also leave myself room to take the scenic route. What are you working on right now?

I’m currently a little over mid way through my sequel to my novella, Mystic Realms, in which we again focus on my character Lisa who is forced to save an elven king from a curse or else she’ll have to repay a sinister favor to him. It’s heavy paranormal romance compared to most of my other work. 

That sounds like so much fun! I’ve recently fallen in love with novellas and short stories. Especially when they tie into a series I love. Before I let you go, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Keep writing. That’s the biggest thing. Especially for indie authors. A lot of our success can come from building a brand which comes from having several books published. This way you give readers something to come back to. Also writing that first draft is tough but don’t stop. Even if you know you’ll change something, just make note of it to go back to later and keep moving forward in the story. Once the first draft is done I think it gets easier and more rewarding. 

Such great advice, first drafts are always a hot mess, but they’re the only way to get to the second draft, and the third, and the final, polished book.

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, C.C.! It’s been so nice to get to know you better and hear about your new releases. How can we find out more about you and your books? 

Visit C.C.’s website

Join C.C.’s email list

Find C.C. on Instagram

Follow C.C.’s Facebook page

And join her FB group here


That was so much fun, if you love urban and paranormal fantasy I hope you’ve added C.C.’s books to your Goodreads! And don’t forget to check out her brand new release, Dark Hauntings: A Paranormal Times Novel.

Happy reading!

Lyndsey

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Interview: Epic fantasy author Kala Merseal

Hi friends! How are we already half way through July? This year has absolutely flown, especially after last year seemed to drag so much.

I’ve been a busy bee this month, making my new story A Fair Deception available on Amazon (if you’ve read it I’d absolutely love it if you left a review on Amazon, Goodreads and/or Bookbub!), drafting my new 2k word flash fiction story for an anthology coming out next year with a group of 20 fellow authors, and ramping up the marketing for my new release, Enchanted Waters, which comes out tomorrow!

In between all of that though, I made time to chat with the lovely Kala Merseal, author of The Guardians of Altana series. Come along and see what we talked about…

Hi, it’s so lovely to be speaking to you! Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi, I’m Kala! I’m an indie fantasy author that lives in southeast Missouri. I’m married, with three furbabies. I love books, comics, anime, and Asian live-action dramas, as well as playing The Sims, Skyrim, and Summoners’ War!

Aw, I have two furbabies and now I want another one! I used to play a lot of Assassin’s Creed and I actually miss it, I’ll have to start playing again when my son is asleep. So, what are your favourite genres to read and write?

My favorite genre hands-down is fantasy. Epic/high fantasy, dark fantasy, urban. I’ll take any of it. As for tropes, I do love the “enemies to lovers”, the “bad guys are actually good guys”, the “bad guy becomes redeemed”, and finally the “good guy spirals into corruption” tropes. The Guardians of Altana has redemption for the antagonist in the end but doesn’t follow any of my other absolute favorite tropes. I would say GOA’s main theme is redemption though. 

I do love a redemption arc, but “good guy spirals into corruption” sounds really interesting, you’ll have to give me some recs! Tell us about your first published book, was that a fantasy novel?

My first published book was actually back in 2016 and it was called Purge, a vampire horror novel. I have since unpublished and buried it deep in the backyard.

In 2020, I published my first epic fantasy novel, The Shadow Curse, embarking on a new journey as an indie author. At the end of this month, exactly a year since I published the first of my series, I’ll be publishing the conclusion, The Dark Realm!

That’s so exciting! Congratulations on having a complete series, that is the absolute dream for any author I think. Where do you find inspiration for your characters or settings?

My latest series (my first officially published and finished series) is from a dream I had a few years ago.

I’d love it if story ideas came to me in dreams, mine always seem to be from podcasts! Random, I know. And I’m always driving or doing dishes so I can’t write them down. Do you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser?

I am a plotter all the way. I can’t keep my head straight if I don’t have a voluminous amount of notes for my stories and their worlds.

Same! Although I’m more of a plantser, I love a big story bible with character profiles, magic rules, geography and flora and fauna, and a chapter by chapter list of what needs to happen, but I do leave some room for discovery writing. What are you working on right now?

I just released the last book of my series, The Guardians of Altana, on June 29. So exciting! In my spare time, I’m outlining my next series, The Hunted Duology.

That’s so exciting, I hope your release went well! That’s amazing that you already have another series to get stuck into, I need to think about what I’m going to do after The Fair Chronicles is complete. But that’s a problem for 2023 Lyndsey! 

Thank you so much for chatting with me today, Kala, it’s been lovely! Before you go, what one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors?

Don’t give up. I think that’s the best thing that needs to be constantly drilled into writers and creatives in general. It’s so easy to stop doing what you love just because life gets in the way. 

Absolutely, it’s not the easy choice, especially if you’re an indie, but it’s so worthwhile and there’s room for all of us on the bookshelf! How can we find out more about you and your books?

You can join my newsletter or join my Facebook group! I send out emails twice a month but I’m frequently on Facebook.

 Website: www.kalamerseal.com 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kalamersealwrites/ 

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/KalaMersealAuthor 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KalaMerseal 


If you’re anything like me, you feel absolutely spoiled with incredible new fantasy books to add to your TBR now! It’s going to be a long, hot summer of reading friends.

Lyndsey

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