I’d like to welcome C N Lesley to the Blog today. She’s a debut author whose fantasy novel “DarkSpire Reaches” was published on March 20th by Kristell Ink, and she’s agreed to submit to some gentle probing from me….
1. Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Central Alberta, which is the Province on the right hand side of the Rocky Mountains, along with my husband and cats. Two of our daughters live close by and the other one is a resident of Vancouver Island.
Aside from writing, I love working in my yard, which is now a shade garden. I have been collecting ferns, hostas and other shade lovers for a few years now, but still have roses and hollyhocks. Also, I like to paint watercolours, although haven’t done much of that lately.
I am currently owned by two cats, both rescues. Going back over the years, I can only think of one cat we chose as a kitten. All the rest were in desperate need of a home.
2. Your first novel, Darkspire Reaches, came out a couple of weeks ago. Could you please tell us a little bit about the book – no spoilers!
Mmm, no spoilers? I will do my best. It is set on another world that is not too dissimilar to Earth in that it has the same sort of seasons and mostly the same sort of creatures. Maybe it is a lost colony of a future Earth and that explains the likeness?
There are three distinct races appearing in the book. The Angress people are roughly based on Europeans and have the same expansionist tendencies regarding new territory. They, like the Ancient Egyptians, believe their ruler is a living god.
The First Born tribes are based on Native American people and are nomadic, revering the land to the point where their earth magic has created a sentient tree consciousness called the Shangrove. They worship a divine creature in the form of a wyvern.
The Draken race come from another world and are creatures of magic. When they find their beasts are similar to wyverns, they convince the tribes that the extra pair of legs the beasts sport are due to them being a superior form of wyvern. They tithe from the tribes as a result, and often use the much smaller form of wyverns, the firedrakes, to act as messengers between aeries in order to keep the tribes under control.
At the time the book opens, all the Draken race except one are gone, sucked into a vortex created by the magic of the First Born tribes. The last lonesome Draken and his firedrake companion now hunt for a child that should have been left as a sacrifice for the wyverns and was stolen. He will not rest until he has found her.
3. How have you developed your characters? Do you have a favourite character?
I don’t sit down to deliberately create a character. They sort of spring into life all by themselves as the story progresses. They are not all good, or all bad, but somewhere in between, like most people.
I think my favorite character would have to be the firedrake, Kryling. He invaded the story and wouldn’t go away, despite rewrites. Kryling is very basic and also amusing, despite his favorite food being rats. Of course, I love Raven and Connor, but Kryling is the comedienne.
4. What is your favourite part of writing? Which parts do you find easy? Is there any particular aspect of writing that you struggle with, and how have you overcome it?
My favorite part is writing a new story when the words are just flowing. I am not an outliner, so the scenes come as they will. What I don’t much like is going back over the first draft and sorting out all the ‘darlings’ for immediate elimination. Those phrases that seemed so wonderful and inspired at the time now have a distinctly purple aura and just have to go, but the love for them is still there, so it hurts to cut them out.
5. What made you want to be a writer? What were your favourite books growing up?
The notion came to me in grade school, when a teacher really liked an essay of mine in an English Literature class. Of course, life got in the way and the longing to write went on the back burner. It wasn’t until I became a stay at home mom that I had time to scratch the itch.
My forays into the local library as a child were to raid the shelves of any books on fairy tales I could find. Later, I discovered Michael Moorcock’s books and that lead to Tolkein and the Lord of the Rings and from there, Frank Herbert’s Dune.
6. I love your cover, it’s very dynamic, and it’s nice to see a female protagonist on the cover who isn’t half-dressed and posing like a porn star! Could you tell us a bit about the cover? Does it illustrate a particular scene in the book?
Actually, I can’t bear those covers with half-dressed women. Most of them look like a cross between Zena, the Warrior Princess and Wonder Woman. My Raven isn’t like that and she is feminine without the need to flaunt. I wanted something to show what she was like and that she had magic, such as a fight scene between her and the wyvern with the mountains in the background. I needed a gold wyvern and there is a reason for this choice. However, it is not a scene from the book, although close.
7. You are Assistant Flash fiction editor at Abyss and Apex. What does that job entail? And do you have any advice for people who want to submit to the pro mags, for example, mistakes you see over and over again?
I guess I am one of the people who wade through slush looking for diamonds. My advice? Read the guidelines. Some submissions are off topic and this is of no use to the magazine. A lot of very good stories get rejected because they don’t have that extra special sparkle. Make sure the story will stand out.
8. More about flash fiction – obviously you have written flash. How hard is it to go from writing flash fiction to writing a novel? What do you think makes a successful flash fiction?
Actually, I went from writing novels to writing flash fiction and that is difficult. It is going from having all the space in the world to fitting something on the head of a pin. There is a sharp learning curve on how to condense ideas and still keep them intense.
For me, a successful flash story should be complete in itself and maintain the same tension throughout. Sagging middles, or fading ends will wreck a sharp beginning.
9. Can you share some of your favourite books and movies of the last few years?
Movies: Lord of the Rings, Dune, Star Trek, Star Wars, Indiana Jones and Avatar.
Books: Lord of the Rings and Dune because I will reread these after an interval. Terry Brooks Shannara series. Ilona Andrews’ Magic series and her Edge series. Jeaniene Frost’s Cat and Bones series, Giacomo Giamateo’s two murder mystery series, Kendra Highley’s Y.A monster hunter series…I could probably fill a couple of pages with favorite books. LOL.
10. What are your plans for your next book?
Um, I have several next books. I tend to work on several at once, so that if I dry up on one I can skip across to another. Today I will be working on the second book in a trilogy and also on a stand-alone sci fi book. I may also look in on two different urban fantasies, neither of which are guilty of sparkly vampires. Then there is my shiny new idea for a fantasy novel. I have a snippet of that up on my website. Also, I am playing with ideas for a sequel to Darkspire Reaches and now have a very credible antagonist.
Thank you very much to C N Lesley for agreeing to be interviewed! She blogs at http://cnlesley.com/, and Darkspire Reaches is out now – http://www.kristell-ink.com/future-releases/darkspire-reaches/ – looking forward to reading it!