I originally did this interview back when The Enthronement was first released and I was on my very first-ever book tour. I had a great time with this team! And now more book are out, I thought it might be nice to have a bit of a throwback moment.
Tell us about your newest book.
My latest book is The Enthronement which is the first part of The Enthronement series. It was inspired partly by one of my favorite retold fairy tales I read as a child called “The Princess Test” by Gail Carson Levine who wrote Ella Enchanted. Since I read that, I knew I wanted to write a “princess test” story. I was reading books with that kind of contest theme, Hunger Games, Matched, The Selection, and while I was reading these books, a scene just walked into my head where rebels attacked the castle, and the prospective princesses were hiding with the royal family in a saferoom and some broke in. And the protagonist kills one of the rebels who try to hurt one of her friends, and not to be too harsh but that is quite alluring to the prince, and he loses his head and kisses her then and there. And that is how The Enthronement began.
Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing your newest book?
Honestly, for me it was being consistent. I am a busy person, and I was just finishing up college when I started working on The Enthronement, and I’d just released my final book of the Custod Chronicles so I was on a high and wanted to keep going, but with all the changes in my life there would be weeks I’d write a ton and other times I’d have huge gaps in writing. And that made it hard, and it’s still a struggle, but for The Enthronement that was my biggest struggle.
Tell us a little bit about your writing career.
I started seriously writing when I was ten years old. That’s a long story perhaps for another day, but I would write what we would now call fanfictions. As I got older and knew I couldn’t publish them but knew I just wanted to write no matter what else happened in my life, so I might as well fight to do it professionally, I started working on making original works and building the Custod world that my books take place in today.
I got serious about publishing when I was about seventeen and to publish the series I’d written most of in high school. I took a break to serve my church for eighteen months and when I came back, I started college and the adventure of publishing. My first book The Custod Chronicle Rising came out when I was twenty-one. It took me three years to come out with the second book and the third came a year later, and now I’ve published the first of my next series, and I’m sure there are many more in me. I already have so many ideas.
They say Hind-sight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?
I have no idea. I started writing so young, but going back to when I started to seriously work towards publication, I would tell myself it is alright to trust when I thought something was good and not let editors ruin it too much. To this day, I regret how many editors I had look at my first book. I think it stripped down a lot of the story, but I was so worried I didn’t know what was good. Get editors. I 100% think everyone needs a good editor, but you don’t have to take every little correction and you don’t need twelve.
What was your most difficult scene to write?
The hardest scenes for me were the girl drama moments between the candidates of the enthronement. I think most of the scenes I’m thinking of are actually in the next book, but it was hard not to just copy those high school dramas, and I wanted to copy that a little bit, but I wanted the drama to feel real and not over the top, but honestly, I didn’t experience enough girl drama in my life to have much experience. When girls were rude or dramatic, I just ignored them, so I didn’t have much first had knowledge of the drama.
Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much?
I don’t use themes very intentionally. I’m like J.R.R Tolkien like that where for me it’s all about the story and worldbuilding, but themes pop up as I write and I’ll try to use them as they come up. I find family is a big theme I write. Liekly because a lot of young adults are struggling with their identity vs their family identity, and I’m close to my family so it’s an easy theme, and of course the Custods are a family organization so that happens. I also notice a theme of finding confidence in yourself and having faith in that as a theme. Not just in The Enthronement but all my works I’ve made and am working on thus far.
What are you working on now?
The Enthronement book 2. Actually, my editor is going over it right now. This is the second round so I’m hoping there’s a release date announcement coming soon. I also have a new series that’s slowly cooking in my mind, but I have to be careful not to let that take over, so I lose my current project. But I always have 2-3 ideas cooking in the back of my mind.
Is there a release date planned?
I have a goal in mind, but I’m not confident enough to say for sure now, but I will say it’s likely early 2023.
Who is your favorite character from your own stories, and why?
My problem is it seems to be whatever character I’m working on. Gavril is a favorite right now, and of course Kascia. And if you asked me a year ago I’d almost certainly say Cedrick and in a year, you may have a whole new name pop to mind. But I’ll say Gavril is catching my attention the most these days.
Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?
I didn’t have one book I loved, but series. I was a Harry Potter child, so I reread those over and over. I also like The Princess Tales by Gail Carson Levine. I think it had a big impression on my love of fairytales and rewriting them. One of those stories inspired The Enthronement. I also was a Hunger Games fan when that was new. Those were the main books I enjoyed as a child.
What are your plans for future projects?
My goal is to keep writing what I love constantly so I can release at least two books a year. When I finally get to write full time I hope to double that to a series a year, so 3-4 books a year. I really do have enough ideas to keep that going for at least another twenty years or so.
Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?
Thank you for having me! It’s always wonderful to get to do interviews like this and share some of the behind the scenes magic. I hope to join you again, maybe for the squeal.