A Fantasy Author's Adventures in Fiction & Life

Tag: Debut novel

Natalie was one of the last fellow fantasy author’s I was lucky enough to meet before Twitter imploded. We face similar chronic illness challenges, but are still making steading progress bringing our fantasy books out into the world. This Fantasy Author Feature Natalie Kelda talks about mental health, the theme of finding joy and belonging in her SFF books.

Tell us a bit about you. Where’s home and what’s your life like outside writing? 

I currently live in West Yorkshire, UK but I was born and raised in Denmark. I moved to the UK to study some 7 years ago and somehow landed a job through volunteering and love it here too much to leave. Outside my 9-5 office job I spend most of my time writing or talking my adventure cat, Barry, on walks. Due to some ongoing health issues I don’t hike or do any martial arts at the moment but I hope I can return to these activities eventually as they give me a lot of joy and I certainly miss them.

What drew you to your genre/audience age?

Worlds different to our contemporary one have always been what drew me to reading fiction so it makes sense I mostly write fantasy, sci-fi and historical fiction. I love exploring the other and getting a break from modern life and nothing is more immersive than creating those new worlds yourself. While I enjoy reading everything from MG to adult, my voice and the themes I usually explore lend themselves best to adult audiences. I have dabbled in MG and YA but find it difficult not to become too whimsical when writing for younger audiences and I don’t enjoy having to mind the layers and themes I imbue a story with. So basically, I enjoy as much creative freedom as possible.

What are some big themes your writing explores?

I tend towards the dark side of mental health and the human experience. I enjoy scrutinising humanity’s faults and weaknesses. Sometimes this means my main characters are very morally grey and stepping on the fine lines between good or bad. Other times the main characters are the ones fighting a corrupt and (often) incorrigible society that tries to kick them back down when they’re straining to stay upright. Most of my main characters have poor mental health. Not only are they fighting an unfair system, they’re also fighting their own inner demons and these can prove a lot more difficult to get rid of or live with than the crooked government.

Found family and a sense of belonging are secondary but almost as strongly recurring themes. The sense of being lost and directionless, of not having a place to fit in, of being other and different to everyone around them. Their stories regularly revolve around finding ‘their place’ and ‘their people’.

What drives your point of view characters? 

I think it usually boils down to finding happiness and a place to belong. Sometimes external forces trip them up but often they lay down booby traps in front of themselves, never even seeing the tripwires they need to dismantle in order to find that place of joy they’re searching for. They might know the end of the road they want to reach but can’t see what’s right before them. They’re also often fiercely protective of the people they call family – at least once they find those people. 

How much do your point of view characters resemble or differ from you? 

It varies between each character. I don’t purposely add something of myself as my main characters (and often most of the side characters too) appear in my mind like preformed people. Some will have one small thing – Merlon struggles with insomnia, Tara and Balfour with anxiety while Cali has my touch and noise sensitivity – others won’t really have much at all in common with me. Iolanthe believes slavery is fine and Torhildr thinks those who she judges unworthy deserve to be killed, obviously neither of those are things I would ever agree with. I do notice I have certain types of characters appear more often than others and this usually matches with my own personality. Most are depressed or anxious, many don’t like being the centre of attention and would be described as “reserved” or “quiet” if someone met them.

What influenced the settings they inhabit?

In my space fantasy series, Inner Universe, I have created a huge world with enough planets and galaxies I can take full advantage of all the travelling I have done. I have been extremely fortunate that I saved up enough (by working 3 jobs while studying) to move abroad, alone, at age 21 and from there on I worked in countries all around the globe. This means I have first hand experience with both Outback Australia and working outdoors during Canadian winter. I can pull on skills learned while doing martial arts and Viking reenactment when I write fight scenes and know what it’s like to forage your own food or live without electricity and running water for months at a time. I noticed a shift in my writing from before I had all those life experiences to after and definitely hope I’m not done raking up knowledge first-hand by going out there and doing the things most people only read about.

What do you gain from writing your books and what do you hope your readers will gain from them? 

This ties back to the main themes in my stories: mental health and belonging. I suspect I’m autistic and have never truly fitted in anywhere. I struggle a lot with chronic depression and moderate anxiety but the one thing that consistently helps and keeps me afloat is writing characters who keep fighting even when they face much larger challenges than I (hopefully) ever will. It’s my hope that my stories don’t just bring catharsis and healing for myself but also for other people who find life difficult – because it’s really bloody hard sometimes and it can be nice to read about characters who aren’t so different to yourself.

Where can we find your books?

Author hand-stamped paperbacks and my free short stories are available on my website(https://nataliekelda.co.uk/shop) while ebooks of River in the Galaxy and Outer Universe can be found on Amazon and they are available through Kindle Unlimited as well.

Fantasy Author Feature: Natalie Kelda

Author bio

Storytelling and inventing new worlds has been a part of Natalie’s life since before she could read or write. Nowadays she mostly writes in English but you’ll often discover hints of her native Danish or some of the other languages she has picked up along the way.


Website Twitter Bluesky


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Related Reading

You’ll find more talk of fantasy characters, setting and world-building inspiration in:

Fantasy Author Features: Nikky Lee (YA SFF)

Debbie Iancu-Hadad (YA Fantasy & SciFi)

Mara Lyne Johnson (Comedy SciFi)

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Ash Oldfield’s Interview of Me

Fantasy Author Feature: Mara Lynn Johnstone

Mara Lynn Johnstone and I met via Twitter when I was preparing to become an indie author. I was an ARC reader of her debut SciFi novel Spectacular Silver Earthling, which stars a robot with attitude, whom a friend compared aptly to Bender from Futurama. In this interview, she talks about the inspiration for her world building and whacky characters.

Tell us a bit about you. Where’s home and what’s your life like outside writing? 

I live in California, where the weather is lovely when things aren’t on fire or flooding. Husband, son, cats. I do a lot of writing-related things even when I’m not working on my own projects: organising events and anthologies for the local writers’ club, judging for contests, and planning multiple cooperative projects with other writers. Plus I play a lot of D&D with good friends, which is an excellent form of storytelling that sometimes leads to actually writing things down.

What drew you to your genre/audience age?

I’ve always loved reading fantasy and science fiction— all the exciting adventures that I couldn’t expect to do in real life. While I would have loved to grow up to be a dragon-rider, dimension traveller, or shapeshifting magician, I made the decision early on to write about it instead. I’ve never looked back.

What are some big themes your writing explores?

I’m sure if you look closely, a lot of my stories boil down to “Treating others well gets you farther than treating them badly.” That’s a pretty basic trope, but it’s amazing how many different ways you can show antagonists who are cruel and sow the seeds of their own downfall while the protagonists cooperate. Now that I think about it, the last three books I wrote all hinge on the main characters making friends who help make victory possible. It’s definitely something that’s held true in my own life, so I’m not surprised it comes through in fiction. Anyone who’s worked retail can tell you that the nice customers are the ones who get all the favors, while the pushy ones only think they’re getting a better deal. Friendship is magic in all forms.

What drives your point of view characters? 

They often have a catastrophe to avert, a kingdom/species/planet to protect, but sometimes the core conflict is as personal as specific friends that they care about intensely. My characters tend to be optimistic and resilient, though with a definite range on the “dignity to silliness” meter. A good sense of humor is crucial in coping with all manner of crises.

Some are more like me than others, but there’s always a facet that makes them feel familiar on a deep level. An element of “Oh yes, this is what I would do.” That can mean being patient and chronicling part of their life through art, or being the centr of attention with witty things to say, or being ready and willing to befriend any random animal that crosses their path. I like to say I’m an ambivert: just as happy reading alone as dancing on a table with friends. I can see myself in the quiet characters just as much as the wisecracking loudmouths — as long as they’re kind. And I like to think that all of my main characters would make good friends, just in a variety of ways.

How much do your point of view characters resemble or differ from you? 

A Swift Kick to the Thorax Book Cover, floating manuscript pages over outer space background, pen floating below, bite mark in bottom right corner of pages.

And for the record, Robin Bennett of A Swift Kick to the Thorax has the most similarities of any character I’ve written, simply because her first short story was an exploratory bit of nonsense that I didn’t expect anyone to ever see. Ha. It turned out to be great fun, and snowballed into two novels and an endless list of short stories. I regret nothing.

What influenced the settings they inhabit? (What real world places, experiences, studies etc influence your world building?) 

I keep a collection of ideas to use in fiction someday, and that includes many interesting locations. The sandstone beaches and bizarre rock formations in Spectacular Silver Earthling were based on those at Salt Point State Park. The car chase through a lightning storm in Swift Kick was inspired by a photo of thunderstorm weather over farmland. I am endlessly fascinated by how many awe-inspiring sights there are in our world; more than enough to create a whole galaxy of others. I’m always taking note of more. 

What do you gain from writing your books and what do you hope your readers will gain from them? 

I have fun with it, first and foremost. Delightful adventures; memorable experiences; fictional friends who are near and dear to my heart. Since I grew up reading constantly, I’ve lived many a life through other writer’s books, and I hope to bring readers along for the ride with my own. There’s so much to do and see: excitement and drama, exploration and close calls, good times and cathartic emotion. My characters can find things to enjoy in even the darkest times, and they’ll see you through to the other side. Often with a feeling of “Woo, that was intense! Let’s do it again.”

Where can we find your books?

maralynnjohnstone.com/books

Headshot of SciFi author Mara Lynne Johnstone, a white, brunette wearing blue rimmed glasses, a big smile, elf ears and with a blue stuffed dragon perched on her shoulder.

Mara Lynn Johnstone grew up in a house on a hill, of which the top floor was built first. Interested in fiction, she went on to get a Master’s Degree in creative writing, and to acquire a husband, son, and three cats. She has published several books and many short stories. She writes, draws, reads, and enjoys climbing things and can be found up trees, in bookstores, lost in thought, and on various social media.

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Related Reading

You’ll find more talk of fantasy characters, setting and world-building inspiration in:

Fantasy Author Features: Nikky Lee (YA SFF)

Debbie Iancu-Hadad (YA Fantasy & SciFi)

Natalie Kelda (YA SFF)

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Ash Oldfield’s Interview of Me

Fantasy Author Feature: Debbie Iancu-Hadad

Debbie Iancu-Hadad is author of YA Fantasy and SciFi with strong romantic threads. Our debut trilogies publishing journeys have run parallel and we’ve been critical readers for each other during our editing journeys. My favourite things about her books are her well-developed characters, their flaws and the banter and relationships that exist or develop between them. I also enjoy the fast pace of her stories, which keep me turning pages through her fantasy and sci-fi worlds. In this Fantasy Author Feature, we discuss her characters and story worlds.

Tell us a bit about you. Where’s home and what’s your life like outside writing? 

I live in Meitar in the south of Israel. I’m self employed and when I’m working I give laughter yoga workshops, chocolate workshops and teach people how to improve their humour. 

I’m married and have two kids, my daughter is almost twenty and my son just turned 18. And my writing buddy Shugi is a five months old golden retriever mix. 

What drew you to your genre/audience age? 

I write the kind of books I’ve always read, which is fantasy and sci Fi for YA. Maybe one day I’ll write for adults but I’d probably need to grow up first. My first Nanowrimo project “The goodbye kids” was inspired by my daughter when she was 16, and I just stayed in the zone. My Achten Tan series has characters ranging between 16-22. 

What are some big themes your writing explores?

I like to discuss what makes us belong to a place and how where we’re from shapes our perspective. All my locations are very immersive, whether it’s a space station or a town made of bones in the middle of the desert. 

Another issue I want to promote is body positivity and the inclusion of people with disabilities. 

What drives your point of view characters? 

A profound desire to prove themselves. Mila in Achten Tan wants to release her magic and get her voice back. Kaii the chief’s son in The Bone Master doesn’t want responsibility but won’t turn his back on a friend. Haley in the Goodbye Kids just wants to avoid getting hurt again, but desperately needs a friend. 

How much do your point of view characters resemble or differ from you? 

There are probably pieces of me in all my characters, if not my current self then the way I was when I was younger. 

I’d love to say I have magical powers but sadly I have yet to come into my powers (I’m hoping it’s an old lady thing that’s still in my future). 

Joking aside, all my characters work through the sense of being an outsider. For me that reflects moving from England to Israel as a child and always feeling like a part of somewhere else. 

What influenced the settings they inhabit?

Achten Tan is a place like no other, a town built inside the rib cage of an ancient leviathan. 

The place is the brainchild of Chris Van Dyke, who initiated the original Achten Tan anthology. I just moved in there and refused to leave. 

The space station and futuristic world of The Goodbye Kids are nothing I’ve ever experienced outside of my imagination. I was going for a sense of extreme isolation. 

What do you gain from writing your books and what do you hope your readers will gain from them? 

Millions and millions of dollars…ha ha, I wish. 

No, but seriously, I love having people share my character’s journey and being able to leave daily life aside for a while. I write about magic and it might be a cliche, but books really do have the ability to transport us to another time and place.

Where can we find your books? 

On Amazon

My fantasy debut, “Speechless in Achten Tan,” has a kick-ass tattooed witch who can’t speak, a city made of bones, giant ants, a heist by a cool ensemble cast, magic, romance, banter, innuendo, & cute boys kissing.

Prepared to be left… speechless!

Speechless in Achten Tan (Both books are on sale till Feb 14th)

The Bone Master follows Kaii Haku as he leaves the comfort of Achten Tan to save a friend kidnapped by pirates.

Connect with Debbie on:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
DebbieInacu.com

Author Bio

Head and shoulder photo of bright red haired Debbie, wearing a denim jacket and pink tops. She's plus sized, blue eyed and has a pink lipped smile.

My name is Debbie Iancu Haddad (46), I’m a mother of teenagers (it’s like being a mother of dragons except they burn you with sarcasm). 

for my day job, I am a public speaker specializing in teaching people how to use humor and a laugh yoga instructor.

I was born in Israel to a British mother & Romanian father who met in the immigration center in Beer-Sheva. When I was 10 months old the family returned to England for six years and re-emigrated in 1981.

Growing up bilingual in Israel was a huge help and saw me through a BA, an MA, and a third of a PhD. Even though I take studying seriously (almost no one who knows me would say too seriously) – my research interests focused on humor.

My MA was an exploration of Diet humor and my doctorate research was about humor as a communication tool used by managers and headmasters.

You may ask “don’t I take anything seriously?”

The answer is: “No. But thank you for asking”. 

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Related Reading

You’ll find more talk of fantasy characters, setting and world-building inspirations in:

Fantasy Author Features: Nikky Lee (YA SFF)

Debbie Iancu-Hadad (YA Fantasy & SciFi)

Mara Lyne Johnson (Comedy SciFi)

Natalie Kelda (YA SFF)

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Ash Oldfield’s Interview of Me

Fantasy Author Feature: Nikky Lee

As as an Aussie YA Fantasy author on Twitter, it didn’t take me long to bump into fellow Aussie and SFF author Nikky Lee. In this interview, Nikky tells us what draws her to writing YA, what drives her characters, the real-world influences on her world-building, and what she hopes readers will gain from reading her work.

Tell us a bit about you. Where’s home and what’s your life like outside writing? 

Hi, I’m Nikky. While I was born and grew up in Perth, Western Australia on Whadjuk Noongar Country, I now reside in Auckland in Aotearoa New Zealand. I write all things speculative, from dark and epic fantasy through to dystopian futures, space opera and the occasional piece of horror. I also write a mix of short and long fiction. 

Outside of creative writing, I work in marketing as a communications and content specialist for a market research agency. So anything with words usually goes through me, whether it’s a report for proofing or blogs, case studies, website copy and so on. 

When I’m not writing, I’m an avid kayaker, swimmer and coffee lover.

What drew you to your genre/audience age?

I’ve always loved speculative fiction, I grew up with Narnia and Star Wars and those cemented my love of the genre. If it had magic or space battles I was there for it. As for writing short fiction, that development has been relatively recent. For the longest time, I struggled to write anything that wasn’t novel length. My ideas were too big and sprawling (and still often are). Then I stumbled upon a prompt for a submission that really sang to me and I thought I’d give it a go. From that I discovered short fiction is a fantastic way to experiment with style and tone and ever since then I’ve been hooked on writing short stories in addition to longer works.

What are some big themes your writing explores?

In my debut novel, The Rarkyn’s Familiar, the theme of what makes a monster a monster is very prevalent. Along with themes of friendship, found family and not judging by appearance or heresay. My shorter works have examined heaps of other themes, such as climate change and dealing with loss and grief (Dingo & Sister), corrupt people and gods in power (The Dead May Dance), and letting go of a loved one (Ram’s Revenge), to name a few. 

What drives your point of view characters? 

Cover of the Rarkyn's Familiar. A large winged, bird-like monster with a glowing red and glowing white eye flaps above a young woman carrying a sword and wearing a brown cloak.

Good question! I’ll limit this to the characters of The Rarkyn’s Familiar as it’s my best known work so far. For Lyss, she’s haunted by the murder of her father and wants nothing more than to bring those responsible to justice. She’s practical and full of grit and determination to get what she wants, but the trauma she’s experienced has really shaken her. She’s often afraid and is constantly fighting to not succumb to that fear. However, once she meets Skaar, her priorities quickly shift to survival. 

Skaar is the other main POV in the story, as a non-human character his worldview is different in many ways to the likes of Lyss and other human characters and yet surprisingly similar in other ways. Like Lyss, he has past traumas that haunt him. But after several years imprisoned at human hands, the tantalising hope of freedom is what drives him, along with the desire to survive.

How much do your point of view characters resemble or differ from you? 

Hmm, this is a tough one. There’s a lot of me in Lyss, and I’ve taken inspiration from some of my personal journeys, particularly my mental health journey, to tell Lyss’s story (more about that here). There might be a bit of trait admiration at play as well where I give my POV characters traits I admire—resilience and resolve being chief among them, as well as a willingness to strive for might seem like impossible goals. 

And there are probably resemblances that I’m not even aware of that only someone who knows me could spot. Stubbornness might be one 😉

Which real-world influences have contributed to your world building?) 

In the case of The Rarkyn’s Familiar, its world building was inspired by a lot of fantasy that’s come before: Robin Hobb, Tamora Pierce and Hayao Mizakai’s Princess Mononoke for their fantastical creatures and immense landscapes, as well as Kentaro Miura’s Berserk, which was my first foray into grimdark fantasy and inspired elements of the Empire’s corrupt nature. I’ve blogged about it in more detail here.

Countless visits to the South Island of New Zealand has helped me dream up my mountain settings. As for the society and culture of the book, a couple of elective units in medieval and ancient history came in handy 🙂

For my other stories, Dingo & Sister was primarily inspired by a trip across the Nullarbor, an arid plain in Australia between Perth and Adelaide. Unbelievably hot (something like 47 degrees celsius outside) and red red sand. For other story settings, particularly those set near the coast, I’m lucky to have an abundance of water activity experiences to draw on (surfing, snorkelling, fishing, sailing and so on) from a childhood spent camping and holidaying all over the Australian coastline.

What do you gain from writing your books and what do you hope your readers will gain from them? 

First and foremost, I write to entertain. My stories are a form of escapism for me and, I hope, for my readers too. While my work can delve into some heavy topics and I’m conscious about how I portray certain topics, I’ll prioritise entertainment over social commentary (though that’s not to say you can’t have both!). However, if I can make my world and characters feel real in the mind of my reader and sweep them away into lands of magic and wonder after a hard day at work, I consider that a win. 

As for what I gain from writing, it’s mostly escapism, as I said earlier. But on occasion writing has helped me process something from the real world, be it a personal fear, an event, an issue I’m wrapping my head around, or a notion I’m simply coming to terms with. For example, Ram’s Revenge was a story that was partly me coming to terms with the fact that my grandmother wouldn’t be around for much longer. Of course, I usually don’t realise it at the time, only when I look back at it later. 

Where can we find your books?

You can find my books online wherever good books are sold. 

The Rarkyn’s Familiar store links.

Dingo & Sister store links.

Author Bio

Dark haired, blue eyed nikky, pale skinned headshot with a big smile.

Nikky Lee is an award-winning author who grew up as a barefoot 90s kid in Perth, Western Australia on Whadjuk Noongar Country. She now lives in Aotearoa New Zealand with a husband, a dog and a couch potato cat. In her free time, she writes speculative fiction, often burning the candle at both ends to explore fantastic worlds, mine asteroids and meet wizards. She’s had over two dozen stories published in magazines, anthologies and on the radio.

Her short fiction has been shortlisted six times in the Aurealis Awards with her novelette Dingo & Sister winning the Best Young Adult Short Story and the Best Fantasy Novella categories in 2020. In 2021, she received a Ditmar Award for Best New Talent. Her debut novel, The Rarkyn’s Familiar, was released in 2022 and is the first of an epic fantasy trilogy about a girl bonded to a monster.
You can connect with Nikky on: Facebook Instagaram Tik Tok Twitter

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Related Reading

You’ll find more talk of fantasy characters, setting and world-building inspirations in:

Nikky’s Interview Of Me

Writer Pantser Interviews

My Fantasy Feature Author Interviews of:

Debbie Iancu-Hadad (YA Fantasy & SciFi)

Mara Lyne Johnson (Comedy SciFi)

Natalie Kelda (YA SFF)

An Interview with Emma Lombard

Many writers who joined Twitter after Emma Lombard (in my case in 2019), have learnt a lot from her. Not just about how to Twitter as a writer, but also from her blog posts and the example she’s set in areas like developing your author platform as an unpublished author. But Emma is no longer unpublished. I’m excited to say that her debut novel, historical fiction Discerning Grace (book 1) is out now, and to be posting this interview with Emma about it.

What inspired you to write DISCERNING GRACE?

I’ve always been a little nosy—I know, I know … curiosity killed the cat! But back in 2001 during one of my regular letter-writing sessions to my grandmother in England, I decided I’d like to know a little more about our family history from the older generation. Once they’ve passed it’s so hard to find out what kinds of people they knew and the sorts of things they got up to.

So, my darling late grandmother, whom I was incredibly close to, indulgently began answering my questions and documenting memories of her own childhood and stories of ancestors. All it took was for me to read the opening to one of her letters and I just KNEW I had to write a story about it! This is what the letter said, ‘Your GGG grandmother was only 16 when she ran away from home to marry a sea captain … her family cut her off and she sailed the seas with him …’

Come on! What author couldn’t resist a little bit of real-life inspiration like that?

And so, that is how my purely fictional, historical naval adventure— with a dash of romance—blossomed. I’ve been thrilled by the journey of writing it and all the research too, but most of all, I’ve loved imagining the incredible courage and fortitude it would have taken my ancestor to choose such a life! Plus, there is my GGG grandfather’s side of the tale to consider too. As my grandmother put it, they were ‘obviously a very enlightened couple, and she a very, very liberated woman.’

An Interview with Emma Lombard

What was the best piece of writing advice you received when starting out?

To give my main character, Grace Baxter, more agency instead of her being a victim of circumstance. I was pushed to get her to create and direct her own circumstances. This was a bit more of a challenge having a female lead character in the early 1800s because of societal restrictions on women in those days. But I also figured that there had to be pioneering women, even back then, who broke the mould. Since Grace is inspired by my three times great grandmother, who indeed bucked the norm in her day by leaving her well-to-do family in England to elope with an English sea captain and live with him at sea, I felt I had a little more leeway to play with when writing Grace’s character. And besides, what’s a rollicking romantic adventure without a feisty heroine!

What is your favourite historical era and why? Do you have a favourite historical female? Why?

I’m open when it comes to reading historical fiction through the different eras, from Jean M. Auel’s prehistoric The Clan of the Cave Bear, to Vikings and Romans, through to later centuries like in Wilbur Smith’s Courtney series. As for writing it, I’ve been so immersed in the 19th century since I’ve been writing my own books, that I have a soft spot for this era. There’s a great balance of knowledge and information out there since it wasn’t too long ago—say unlike the ancient Egyptian era. I have huge admiration for historical authors who write about ancient times. The research required for that is mammoth (snigger)!

While there are many well-known historical females, my research unearthed a whole world of unknown women whose stories have not had a spotlight shone on them. These have been my favourite historical females to find—mothers penning journals about parenthood, sisters writing letters to relatives from the other side of the world, wives aboard ships keeping diaries that recorded tiny details of daily life not captured in a ship’s log books. It took me ages to find some resources that spoke about women aboard ships who were not just there to entertain the sailors, but who played a pivotal role in sailing the ship, raising a family aboard, and supporting industrious endeavours. These are some of my favourites:

  • Seafaring Women by renowned historian, Linda Grant De Pauw
  • Female Tars by Suzanne J. Stark
  • Hen Frigates by maritime historian, Joan Durett
  • She Captains by maritime historian, Joan Durett

What message are you sharing in your books?

The themes in my first novel, DISCERNING GRACE (Book 1), include:

  • an independent woman
  • the importance of love over money
  • appearances can be deceiving
  • love can conquer all
  • triumph over adversity

Does each book stand alone, or are you building a body of work with connections or themes between each book?

I love reading a long series where you can immerse yourself into another world and get to know the characters intimately through several books, so it felt perfectly natural for me to write a series too. It has been a joy to evolve my characters from their young and naïve selves in the first book, and mature them through their life experiences in subsequent books. Discerning Grace (Book 1) is out now. The second book is nearly ready to publish, and I have complete draft manuscripts for books three and four.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

Ooo, isn’t this every writer’s dream!

Due to the nature of my story aboard a 19th century Royal Naval tall ship, there aren’t that many female characters, though I could play no role on the ship since I get hideously sea sick!

I would have to stick with a role that is safe on land, so perhaps one of the dinner guests in my opening scene.

You have created images for your main characters, how does that help you write them?

I asked my beta readers to send me images of real-life people who they thought most looked like Seamus and Grace. Those images, along with the descriptions from my book, created the basis for the artwork I’ve commissioned (because I can barely draw a stick man!) They turned out exactly as I envisaged them in my mind’s eye! 

It has been marvellous to have them drawn so young and fresh when we first meet them. For the subsequent books in the series, I can envisage the deepening of Seamus’s smile line beside his mouth, or the crow’s feet around Grace’s aquamarine eyes. I don’t necessarily speak to my characters, but I do sit and watch them interact and play out scenes in my head (it must look like I’m staring into space, and not working, when I do this!) I only need to look at their body language in their artwork for an inspirational reminder about how they react physically and verbally to different situations.

Since I own this artwork, I’ve actually created my own Redbubble store called, By-the-Book (yes, like the name of my newsletter), where my readers can grab their own favourite keepsakes.

What do you do for fun? What does a perfect day look like?

In everyday life, I’m Mum to four teenage sons—my men children, all of whom are taller than me—and two cantankerous cats who often thrash it out for a spot on my lap! I live in the perpetually sunny city of Brisbane in Australia. I love building jigsaw puzzles (especially Wasgij, backwards puzzles), playing Candy Crush (my secret shame!), and playing board games with my boys—though gone are the days when used to I beat them, they whip me soundly now. And I totally suck at Risk! Having raised four rambunctious boys, my perfect day these days constitutes solitude and silence. It doesn’t matter where, as long as those two ingredients are present.

Emma Lombard's portrait.

AUTHOR BIO

Emma Lombard was born in Pontefract in the UK. She grew up in Africa—calling Zimbabwe and South Africa home for a few years—before finally settling in Brisbane Australia, and raising four boys. Before she started writing historical fiction, she was a freelance editor in the corporate world, which was definitely not half as exciting as writing rollicking romantic adventures. Her characters are fearless seafarers, even though in real life Emma gets disastrously sea sick. Discerning Grace, is the first book in The White Sails Series.

Connect with Emma: WebsiteFacebookInstagramGoodreads 

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