I had the pleasure of recently interviewing fantasy author R.R. Willica. In this interview we talk about her newest release, Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker, the second book in her Darkness Falling Trilogy. She also shares with us her journey as a writer undertaking this project and her future writing plans.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I've been writing and storytelling since childhood but completed my first full-length novel manuscript when I was thirteen. I started writing Darkness Falling when I was seventeen in 1997. When I'm not writing I like playing video games and watching movies or TV shows. I'm also a wife and mother and work full time as a receptionist.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
The latest book is called Darkness Falling: Shadow of the Seeker and it's the second book in my Darkness Falling Trilogy. I originally intended for Darkness Falling to be a single manuscript but it was far too long and complex. I decided to revise it and cut it into a trilogy for my author debut.
The original inspiration was based on an idea I had about magic and science and how they function as a duality in ways to explain the natural world. The book is about the idea of balance in multiple aspects; good and evil, light and dark, male and female, weak and powerful. It also discusses how those things must be in balance and the scales must not tip too far one way or the other otherwise there is oppression and destruction.
I also got a lot of inspiration from video games such as the Final Fantasy series but from many other games as well.
|R.R. Willica's New Release|
How would you categorize your book?
It is categorized on Amazon as Fantasy Science-Fiction > Dystopian but it is more of a Modern Epic Dystopian Fantasy with some Science-Fiction elements.
Introduce us to your series characters.
Impyra is the protagonist. She is 22 years old and has lived her entire life as a slave to the Empire and in recent years the concubine to the crown prince. She also has special powers, which are technically forbidden. When we first meet her she is a little off balance because she has never been free to make her own choices in her life. Sometimes she is fierce and other times timid, just trying to get a feel for herself.
Brosen is the main character and is 21 years old. He is an Enforcer; a type of soldier / police officer for the Empire. The Enforcers are also slaves but they have greater freedom. They are highly trained from early childhood to be loyal, but when he meets Impyra he chooses to help her because he is tired of the injustices he witnesses in the world.
How does the title relate to the story?
Darkness Falling is a play on words that it represents oncoming evil, but it also plays on the duality in the idea that there is hope that the evil can be overthrown, or "cast down."
The first book is subtitled Soldiers and Slaves because it explores the idea that in the world of the story, people are either soldiers or slaves, either by choice or through circumstances outside of their control. Every character in the book can be seen as either of these two aspects, sometimes both.
The second book is subtitled Shadow of the Seeker and that plays directly on an object within the series of antagonistic importance and how it is looming over the situation.
Tell us more about the cover design.
|Book One Available Now|
For Soldiers and Slaves I had a friend, Allix Styers, and she came up with the original design of the cover. We lost contact and shortly after I realized I wanted to change the subtitle (it was a slight change but important,) and also my husband and I decided that the original font used was too generic. Unfortunately, she had disappeared so I taught myself to use Gimp and remade the cover. It's a little different; the colors are darker and the building is bigger, but it's the same concept. I credit her for the design of the first book.
For Shadow of the Seeker, I decided that it was better to rely on myself. We had a blizzard so I took my husband's sword outside and took pictures of it in the snow. I come from a family of artists. I draw a little but writing is my primary art. I think I did a pretty good job for my skill level.
The font I found at 1001 fonts and is by Vic Fieger. http://www.1001fonts.com/icbm-font.html
Describe your writing process.
I am not a pantser or a plotter. I write with what I call "disorganized organization." In my head my stories are all plotted out in advance, but I don't write an outline. I do, however, put in a lot of work for world building such as drawing maps, writing out historical timelines, figuring out years, inventions, and birthdays, and distances between locations. Much of this world building happens while I write, however; and the story itself plays like a movie in my mind. I can fast forward, rewind, and pause as needed. I have a knack for chronological order, although I did test myself a great deal because Darkness Falling gets stretched over three time zones across the planet where the story takes place.
I also type everything. I never have a "notebook" stage. My mind moves pretty quickly and I'm not able to keep up by handwriting.
Describe your writing environment.
I mostly write at home. My desk is in an office next to my husband. We often chat while I write. The kids are around, too. It's noisy in my house. Sometimes I use music to help me focus but not always.
How much research did you put into your series?
I did some research about helicopters, a good amount of research about how long it takes to travel from point a to point b via ship and helicopter. I also did some research about motorcycles that can run on snow and certain types of damage an axle can take for a battle scene.
What is the best advice and the harshest criticism you have received as an author?
The best advice I've ever received is not to give your readers a textbook. Just because you're excited about your world building doesn't mean everyone wants to sit through paragraphs full of imaginary history lessons. It's actually the harshest criticism I ever received, but it made me look at my writing and really be honest with myself. It forced me to grow and get better, and it reminded me that I will continue to grow the more I write.
What advice might you give aspiring authors?
My advice to aspiring writers is that the world of writing is hard. Traditional publishing is hard to get into, but indie writing is not "the easy way out." Just because your published somewhere doesn't mean anyone will read your work. Both paths require a lot of work and perseverance. You also have to be ready for someone to say something harsh, and to learn the difference between constructive criticism and taking things personally.
What kind of books did you read as a child? How did the genres or authors influence your writing?
As a young child I loved fairytales and a lot of books and fantasy, but I didn't always love fantasy books. I was not a fan of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, for example. It didn't feel fantastic enough for me. That may seem odd, but it's the truth. I also never got into the "teen" books of my era. The Babysitters Club and Sweet Valley High didn't appeal to me, but my mother wouldn't let me read Sweet Valley High anyway. She wanted me to think about more than just boys.
Instead I read Stephen King's The Eyes of the Dragon at 11 years old and after that went straight into The Hobbit, the Shannara series, Katheryn Kerr, Margaret Wise and Tracy Hickman, Douglas Adams, and Tad Williams. All of them influenced me, but especially Tolkein. I was enthralled by the idea of writing a new language and even tried to write my own. It didn't work out. Later I was inspired by Terry Pratchett. When he died it was a big epiphany for me that I needed to get my writing out into the world and I decided to publish as an indie author.
What types of books or genres do you read for pleasure?
I read across genres today. I'm more likely to gravitate toward fantasy or fantasy comedy but if a book sounds good I'll read it. I also like supporting indie authors so I've been reading a lot by indie authors right now.
What is next for you?
Next I'm going to finish the Darkness Falling Trilogy with Book Three which will hopefully be out in the winter. After that I'm planning to continue writing. I currently have an epic fantasy comedy, a comedy YA zombie story, a modern fantasy comedy, and then more traditional fantasy books all partially written. I think I have 9 total just waiting their turn. I expect that number to grow. I also may someday revisit the world of Darkness Falling but set the books in different eras in history.