You asked, I answered (part 2)

For the one month anniversary of Unbroken Fire, I’m answering more questions about my books, my writing process, and Asrian Skies world! This post is one of the few I’ve actually scheduled, because right now I’m attending my first writing conference–the fabulous Realm Makers.

What’s your world building process?
Worldbuilding isn’t a separate process for me–because to me, it’s not the most important part. You’ll find that my books leave much open to interpretation, except when needed to drive the plot. For example, the Asrian monarchy is elected, which has an effect on Avery in Asrian Skies. However, you’re never going to see the Asrian Senate debating candidates and actually electing her, because that’s not relevant to the plot. Same with the FTL travel I use. While hard scifi purists would disagree with me, the actual system is irrelevant–it’s merely a means to set the characters on their journey. You call it a MacGuffin, I call it character-driven. And no, I didn’t know the world would have FTL travel until the need for a data chip came up.

That said, I’m open about not being the most creative writer around, so 99% of my worldbuilding has some kind of historical or current reasoning behind it. The elected monarchy? Based on the Holy Roman Empire. The Haederans’ initial invasion of the Commonwealth, planet by planet? Japan’s island-hopping campaigns in WWII. Settings are mostly based on places I’ve visited. The meadows Avery and Merritt picnic in are the alpine meadows at Mt. Rainier National Park. The Senate temple is based on Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson. Central Cadena bears a striking resemblance to the winding road that leads to Naritasan outside Tokyo (oddly, pretty much all my settings are based on Narita and Tucson).

None of that is incorporated until the characters and plot are down, though.

Why was Avery so desperate to leave home at the beginning of Asrian Skies?
Remember the old slogan, “Join the Navy, see the world”? Or Luke Skywalker, desperate to attend the Imperial Academy, even though he hates the empire? Avery’s a dreamer, stuck on a backwater planet with no hope of her own life outside of being a political pawn if she stays. It’s a bit of a fantasy trope, sure, but for a very good reason. Many of us want more from life than we currently have, especially in our early twenties.

What other genre do you want to write in?
Part of me wants to try some fairy tale retellings–but every idea that flits through my mind takes place in space. I’m not sure I’m capable of keeping them in fantasy-land! But, to answer the question–fantasy.

Why does Avery describe the Imperial Security Command as secret police when . . . they aren’t?
The short answer–because it didn’t work with the novel as well as I thought it would when I started writing. Let’s face it, if they were a true secret police, Asrian Skies wouldn’t include a certain favorite scene, and we couldn’t be having that. In the story world, it’s simply a misnomer–the Haederan Empire is pretty isolated, and Avery wouldn’t have known exactly what they did.

Or, in the words of Rhys Linden:
“You guessed Haederan intelligence, which is close enough, I suppose. The Commonwealth has us identified as some sort of covert security service [author’s note: where Avery got her idea], which isn’t quite as close. Technically, the Imperial Security Command surveils, investigates, and neutralizes internal and external threats against His Imperial Majesty and the Haederan Empire.”

Got to love being able to explain away inconsistencies in a sequel!

Who’s your favorite male and/or female character you created?
I know everyone’s going to assume Chase and Avery (and you probably wouldn’t be wrong), but I do have a real soft spot for Linden. He was a throwaway no-name character in the first draft of Asrian Skies, and after my critique partner suggested he at least get a name, he arguably turned into one of the most important characters in the series–though his screen time is limited. He got a raw deal, and his story shows that even though things can change in the blink of an eye, our decisions can have rippling effects decades after we’re gone.

What’s your best writing tip/advice?
Don’t listen to all the advice, even if it’s given by a famous author. Take what works for you and leave the rest.

Anything else you’re dying to know? Leave it in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer in between sessions.


2 thoughts on “You asked, I answered (part 2)

  1. I am blown away by your insight – most people don’t realize how things we do today can affect our futures. It’s amazing looking back through family history and I can see how if one person hadn’t moved or met a particular person because of that move….giving Linden a name made me laugh – i watched a movie and the character without a name didn’t want to be there because “I’m going to die, I don’t have a name.” Everybody wants a name and wants to be recognized. I love your stories and your characters are so real. But I LOVE Chase.


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