Today I’m talking with Christina Daley, author of Seranfyll and Eligere. If you missed either of those reviews, click on the links.
Christina, I’ve been very impressed with the overwhelmingly positive messages in the Seranfyll series. I wonder if you’d share your inspiration for developing it. Oh, and please include how you came up with the character of Domrey. I love him! Especially in the first book. From drinking himself into oblivion, to taking the lash for a friend, to knitting on the roof of the house, I never knew what he’d do next!
Thanks so much your lovely compliments, Michelle! I actually don’t remember how I came across this story. I just had a nameless slave girl who was bought and freed by a very rich and very drunk man. I didn’t know anything else about them, not even if the man was a villain or not. But I wanted to know more, so I started writing their story in early 2009. I got about 20 pages in, but since I didn’t know the man very well, I ran out of ideas and set aside those pages to work on another book.
Some time later, I came across a biography of William Wilberforce, the 18th century MP who spearheaded the effort to abolish the slave trade in the British empire. He was an extremely interesting, eccentric, generous, and flawed fellow. I liked him right away, and he was the perfect model for Domrey.
Of course, I didn’t want Domrey to be the predictable “knight in shining armor” sort of hero–more like a “knight in slightly tarnished armor.” So, I threw in all sorts of things about him that I’m personally not acquainted with, like the excessive drinking, the knitting, and the enviable shoe collection. Having more definition to Domrey’s character brought me back to those 20 pages, and I completed the rest of the book in early 2010.
That makes me like Domrey even more!
I bet a lot of the folks reading this don’t really know what an author does every day. Do you have a day job? When do you write? And do you have any “tricks of the trade” that help you in your writing? (Sorry, that was three questions!)
My background is in journalism, and I work full time as an editor. Considering all the typos that make it into my own books, you probably wouldn’t think that 🙂 I don’t write everyday, but when I do, it’s usually very late at night (or early in the morning, depending on how you look at it).
I’m not sure about any “tricks of the trade” necessarily, since different things work for different people. I personally don’t force myself to write. If I’m trying to work out a particular scene, for instance, and it’s just not coming, I take a break that can last a couple hours to a couple weeks. Once I’ve figured it out, though, I’ll go back and the words will flow better.
One thing I do know that works for every writer is to read as much as possible, and not just in the genre you’re writing in. For me, at least, I risk getting “tunnel vision” that way. And I think it’s good to read both popular and not-so books. The books I don’t really care for are the best at teaching me how I don’t want to write. I seriously question anyone who wants to be a writer and doesn’t like reading. (I so agree!)
As an indie author myself, I’m always curious to learn how others reached the decision to self-publish. Can you briefly describe the road that led you to make that decision?
That’s an interesting question and one I actually haven’t been asked yet. When I had finished the manuscript in 2010, I queried several agents and editors and got a lot of requests to read it and some great feedback, but ultimately no takers.
But I took all that feedback and nearly rewrote the whole book. Then, a couple friends of mine (who don’t know each other, actually) sent me the USA Today article about Amanda Hocking and her self-publishing success. I figured I’d give it a shot, and I released Seranfyll as an ebook in May 2011 and the paperback that July. I’m definitely no Amanda hocking, but Seranfyll did surprisingly well in my opinion, and I’ve been very pleased (and touched a few times) with the comments and emails I’ve gotten from readers.
I had ideas for more books, but I hadn’t actually planned on making Seranfyll a series since I didn’t know how it would be received. Then, several pretty awesome readers said they were looking forward to the next book, and I was like, “Oh, sweet. I guess I’m writing a sequel now.” I was glad about that, since I really enjoyed writing Seranfyll. So, that’s how Eligere came about, and that released this past March.
I reserve question number four to ask something really random, just to keep things interesting. So, describe for us your ideal vacation spot. (I’m guessing it isn’t the steamy, buggy jungles of Amyrania.)
I’ll be honest; my idea of “roughing it” is going out, enjoying some hiking, and maybe burning something over a campfire before returning to the hotel for a hot shower. That’s probably why I wrote about Amyrania the way I did, since it’s the type of place that would completely pull me out of my comfort zone. But I love going anywhere I can explore, do something fun, meet good people, and eat great food. I’m not the type of person who can lie on a beach; I’d get bored and want to go surfing or something.
And lastly, I always like to ask for a sampling of authors and works that have influenced my interviewee. Care to share a few?
My two biggest influences are probably C.S. Lewis and J.K. Rowling–the former for his insight, the latter for her style, and both for their imaginations. I also read a lot of comic strips when I was young, especially Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson and Garfield by Jim Davis. Whether one acknowledges that they’re literature or not, they did teach me a great deal about humorous set ups and pay-offs, as well as writing to-the-point dialogue. But simply, I just had fun reading them.
I have the highest respect for both of those authors, and I’d be lying if I said they haven’t influenced me as well. I have never thought of comics as literature before, but you’re right, they really are, and you actually named my top two! (I also like Peanuts.)
Thanks so much for joining us today, Christina! I love getting to know the people behind the stories. And thank you for setting your books at such affordable prices. The very best of luck with both of them.
Seranfyll (book one) is priced at only 99 cents! Eligere is just 2.99. Find them here:
And now the promised giveaway!
Christina has generously offered a signed paperback copy of Seranfyll to one lucky winner. To enter, simply comment below. Be sure to include an email address where I can reach you to get your address should you win. I’ll draw the winner next week Monday (May 14). Good luck!