I’m here today with the awesome R.A. Lewis, author of the awesome Secrets and Swords (my review for it is up on the blog, here!), which is only $0.99 on Kindle over at Amazon (FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited), and $12.00 in paperback! Thanks for joining me, RA!
I am excited to be here!
I’m glad to hear that! So, Secrets and Swords is all about a girl who has to stand up for herself in a man’s world. What inspired you to write about Roguelyn’s struggle?
Well, the story of Roguelyn came to me years ago (in high school actually) but has morphed over the years. I am a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault and have worked on crisis lines and with survivors so I felt compelled to write a story that showed a woman going through some of the same things I went through. I wanted to write a character who was strong in the face of trauma, who was able to overcome the worst of the PTSD and still do what she needed to do. I wanted a character I could look up to.
I think Roguelyn is someone many women could look up to. Her story is definitely an important one. If you could speak to Roguelyn, what do you think you would say to her?
Well technically, I spoke to Roguelyn every day when I was writing her story. But what I would say to her if she was in front of me now is that this doesn’t define you. These horrible experiences only make the good times richer and more precious. I would teach her grounding techniques and encourage her to see a therapist. I would tell her to talk about it, don’t bottle it up. I would tell her to take deep breaths, that this too shall pass. And then I would congratulate her for surviving and thank her for telling her story.
The hardest thing about writing, other than the challenge of actually planting your butt in the chair and churning out words, is impostor syndrome. Basically, it’s the feeling that you are an impostor in the writing/publishing world like somehow you are there by mistake and pretty soon someone is going to realize you don’t actually belong and will kick you out. It’s the feeling that your writing is awful and no one will ever want to read it. That you are a terrible writer and it was a mistake to publish. That’s the hardest thing to overcome. It’s the thing that often stops me from writing on the tough days. It’s what causes the full-blown panic I feel whenever I actually finish a project and when I publish something or send out a story to my readers. But in order to achieve my dream of being an author I have to just push through. As Shia Labeouf said in his iconic video “Don’t let your dreams be dreams, just do it!” HAHA!
Keep writing. That is the best advice for any aspiring author. Plant your butt in that chair and get those words on paper. The more you write, the more you improve. You should have seen the first novel I wrote! It was painful to read. That was almost six years ago. I have plans to rewrite it as the plot is fine, but a friend read it and while she liked the plot she messaged me and said “I hate your main character. Like, really hate.” Not because she was necessarily badly written, but because she wasn’t a likeable person. And I’d done that on purpose, but through that process, I realized that just because I like a character doesn’t mean others will. So learning to write what people want to read is something that comes with time. My writing now is night and day compared to my writing six years ago and I find it keeps improving. So keep on writing and improve your craft. You don’t need a fancy degree or even experience writing before, just the will to sit and get it done.
I have always wanted to be a writer. I read a book called Ronia, Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren when I was a kid and it made me want to write stories like that. I wanted to transport and change my reader. I wanted to tell stories that made people feel something. I began when I was about seven writing silly stories. Most of them had questionable plots and characters who changed names and even genders throughout the story that usually ended before actually having anything important happen. It’s quite funny to read over what I used to write. When I was twelve I wrote my first book in my head from start to finish but I never really was able to write it down until a few years ago. It is very different now but I think it’s still a decent story. I wrote here and there through high school and college but it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realized that I still really loved writing. Then I discovered NaNoWriMo and wrote my first full-length novel. The rest is history so to speak and I have been writing ever since, learning and enhancing my writing.
I love to read as well. A good writer has to be an avid reader. I’m weird though and prefer audiobooks as I’m an old lady and fall asleep when I sit and get comfy to read a book. So I listen and drive or listen and clean. It makes commutes to work bearable! I also love to sing and swim, spend time with my two dogs, four cats, and my husband. I love camping and being outdoors, but I’m also a huge homebody who would rather get comfy on the couch and binge watch TV or watch zombie movies (I have a soft spot for The Walking Dead). And I love to nap. I think most people are perpetually sleep deprived and I have the ability to fall asleep anywhere, anytime. I once fell asleep during a test in college. So I could use a nap. Always. I have Psychology and Sociology degrees and for many years I worked with survivors of domestic violence as well as with teenage boys on parole and probation with drug and alcohol problems. I am a certified drug and alcohol counsellor so I guess you could say I am passionate about those subjects as well. I’m passionate about body positivity and mental health and I plan to continue to pursue those subjects within my books.
That’s great! So What are some of your favourite books?
Oh man, so many. Honestly, I’d direct you to my blog authorralewis.wordpress.com for a more comprehensive list (I have two posts on there about my favourite fantasy books). But in general, I love the greats: Tolkien, Rowling, Martin, Maas. But I also love Garth Nix, especially his Abhorsen series, as well as anything by Sherwood Smith. Patrick Rothfuss and the Kingkiller Chronicles as well as Scott Lynch and the Gentleman Bastards series. I love Cinda Williams Chima and her Seven Realms/Shattered Realms series. And finally, another favourite is Rae Carson. I love really any fantasy series with a strong female character who overcomes all obstacles put in her way. I also love complex characters with a riot of a plot who makes you want to go on an adventure.
Oh man, I would say my book is a very traditional fantasy book, despite the trauma in it. I would say fans of Sherwood Smith’s Crown Duel would enjoy it. It’s hard to place one’s own book alongside the greats! If you like Tamora Pierce and the trope of a girl dressing as a man, or a girl pretending to be someone else in order to prove they are as good as the boys, then you’ll enjoy my book!
Thank you for having me! My next book is called Born of Air, Book 1 of the Valdir Chronicles. It’s about a teenage girl who discovers she’s not as ordinary as she thinks when she overhears something she shouldn’t. With the help of a friend and a wyvern, she embarks on a journey to find her place in the world. The release is set for some time in May 2019. I look forward to talking with you again! Thank you!