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 I have since unpublished and buried it deep in the backyard.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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Interview: fantasy and myth-obsessed author Ben Lang

It’s been a good week in the Hall household, me and my husband both got our first dose of the vaccine! And we’ve seen a few friends and been for a couple of meals out, so it’s safe to say life is starting to return to normal, and it feels really nice.

This week I’ve been chatting with another fellow Brit, and a local boy at that – the myth-obsessed fantasy author Ben Lang.


Hi Ben! I’m so excited to chat to a fellow Notts-based author! Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?

I am from London, but my family moved around while I was growing up so I spent a few years living in Beijing and a couple in Singapore. I live with a hamster called Zarniwoop (after the Hitchhiker’s guide character), and a human called Megan (name origin unknown). 

I traveled to Singapore a few years ago and absolutely adored it! I’m so jealous you got to live there for a while. When did you start writing and who inspired or encouraged you? 

I started having ideas for stories very young. My parents strongly encouraged it, especially my mum who helped me write many of them. Alice Ivinya and I have been friends for years and showed one another a lot of our early stuff. I was inspired by her example of getting some of her wonderful stories published, and she gave me the first encouragement to get something to a state to show people.

Alice is such a wonderful supporter and mentor, you’re so lucky to have her as a friend. And your parents sound so encouraging! What are your favourite books?

My favourite genres are science fiction and fantasy. My favourite book at the moment is probably Hyperion (Dan Simmons), but I have a wide range of things I really like. Growing up The Hobbit was my favourite for years, along with some Narnia. The Tombs of Atuan is probably my favourite short story.

I love The Chronicles of Narnia, and I need to read The Hobbit one of these days! Tell us about your upcoming release.

My first published story will be The Bridge, a short story appearing in a collection called Enchanted Waters. The story opens with a chance encounter between an elephant-riding preacher and a lonely young woman. The “vibe” is vaguely South-east Asian, although I cheated a little with one character who would be more at home in Camelot. I didn’t realise until more than a year after the story was finished, but it has a lot of elements in common with the Monkey King adventure involving the Golden Rays monastery.

That sounds fascinating, I’d love to read more fantasy stories set in or inspired by South East Asia. Where do you tend to find inspiration for your stories?

Obviously other books can be a good inspiration. Strangely I find the stories people tell at a dinner-table can be a good seed. These are often based on something strange that someone thinks is noteworthy. They are real, and therefore usually quite devoid of tropes and standard structures, but they are polished a little by the speaker. Really good seeds.

That’s genius! Like people watching on a much closer scale. Would you consider yourself a plotter, pantser or plantser? 

Had to look these up! Certainly a pantser. When I sat down to write The Bridge I knew nothing about what was going to happen except that I wanted an elephant and that my first line was “They met at the edge of the river”. I didn’t know who either of the “they” were until I got to the next line. This worked out well for The Bridge and I think the “making it up as you go” technique has the nice side effect of making it feel like a spoken story.

Winging it this way was a bit of a revelation as everything else I had tried previously was more planned, and a lot worse. I have tried the “know nothing” tactic a few more times and learned it doesn’t always work out as well, although its generally better than planning for me. Recent attempts have been a hybrid.

I find a hybrid to be the best way for me too, I do love to plot and plan but I also leave room for a bit of discovery writing along the way. What are you working on right now?

I have half a short-story about a tortoise which is looking for a second act. I also have one about some cowboys that kind of spirals into nowhere because winging it didn’t pan out – I would like to fix it at some point although maybe it belongs on the dead heap.

Never delete anything! You never know when a scene or snippet from an old trashed story will be the perfect addition to your new WIP. What one piece of advice would you give aspiring authors? 

Try writing a short story with no plan.

I had been revising my fantasy novel for years and it was by that point built on foundations laid when I was a decade less able. It was overburdened with stuff, was never actually going to be finished and was certainly never going to tie together. Plus, whenever I sat down to work on it I knew where things had to go, but somehow characters would say and do things I hadn’t planned and I had to either abandon the plan or not use the new text.

Writing something short gives you more freedom from plans and a better chance of finishing it. Once you have one finished thing you can show people and that adds momentum to write another.

That’s great advice, free writing can be so good for creativity, and I’ve definitely found writing short stories to be a totally different challenge to novel writing.

Thank you so much for speaking to me today, Ben, it’s been so much fun! How can we find out more about you and your books? 

Check out my Amazon page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ben-Lang/e/B08RXHZPSH?ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vu00_tkin_p1_i5


Ben’s story The Bridge will be included in Enchanted Waters alongside my short story Daughter of the Selkie King, coming out 16 July. Another one of Ben’s brilliant short stories, A Junk Out of Cinderbar, is going to members of the EW street team as a thank you for joining and agreeing to support our anthology with reviews and social media posts. Interested in joining?

Click here to join the Enchanted Waters street team!

Lyndsey

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Ways you can support your fave indie authors

If you’re here then you probably love reading, and I’m willing to bet you’re a fan of indie books. And wouldn’t you love it if your fave authors could write and publish more books for you to devour and adore?

Then you’re in luck, because I’m going to tell you some simple and easy ways that you can support independent authors, most of which won’t cost you a penny (although we do love it when you buy our books! And we enjoy paying for things with money that we’ve earned from our passion – it feels amazing!).

Ten ways to support an indie author

  1. Buy a book for yourself or a friend
    1. If you already own the ebook, why not buy the paperback or hardback as a gift for your bookish friend? Audio books are also becoming more popular with indies, and once you own the ebook the audio is usually only a few quid with Amazon!
  2. Write a review
    1. Reviews are the single most effective way of supporting your favourite authors – indie or otherwise. Amazon starts to promote books in their own newsletters once they have over 50 reviews, and that really helps authors to be discovered by new readers. Even a one line review and a star rating is enough to make a difference, so next time you finish a book just head over to your favourite place to find new book recs and leave a short review.
  3. Share on social media
    1. Post a photo of your copy on Bookstagram, share the author’s cover reveal post on Facebook, tweet the link to your review, make a YouTube or TikTok video of your top five indie books. Basically, wherever you spend time online, tell your friends and followers about your latest reads.
  4. Suggest a book to your book club
    1. Haven’t joined a book club yet? Why not start one and schedule the first three books to get you started, and then take suggestions from a different member each month. You could even have themes, like ‘indie book month’ and ‘debut author month’.
  5. Create fan art
    1. If you love to draw or paint, why not recreate some of the characters and scenes from your favourite books and share your creations online?
  6. Write fanfic
    1. Get on fanfiction.net or WattPad and write the happy ending (or steamy scenario) your fave characters deserve!
  7. Donate your copy to a charity or local free library
    1. Write on a post it note why you loved it and pop it in one of those free library boxes you find in some towns, or drop it into a charity bin so someone else can discover their new favourite author – and you can help to raise some much needed charity funds at the same time.
  8. Preorder new releases
    1. Preorders help authors to hit the bestsellers list on release day, which helps them to reach new readers and be promoted by Amazon. They also tell us what our readers want – 500 preorders on your new urban fantasy release? Make it a trilogy! Plot a spin-off series! Write novellas from the POV of side characters!
  9. Buy merch (and tell people what it’s from)
    1. If you love a mug or tote bag with a catchy slogan, check out your fave author’s website and see if they sell merchandise with quotes from their books. You could get all your Christmas shopping done in one place!
  10. Engage with them online
    1. Follow their social media accounts, like, comment and share their posts, join in with their giveaways and games, tell them you love their books! We love hearing from our readers and we really appreciate every message, every comment and share, and every post shouting about our books. Keep them coming!

So that’s ten pretty simple ways you can make your favourite authors happy and give them a reason to celebrate! And keep writing books you’ll love.

Tell me in the comments, who’s your favourite indie author? And what’s your favourite book by an indie author?

Lyndsey
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