I am excited to welcome author Grace Draven, who will be celebrating the release of her first Fallen Empire novel, Phoenix Unbound, on September 25th.
Have you always had an idea as to where the series/novel is going? Do you know where it is going or is the storyline evolving as you write?
For Phoenix Unbound, I knew how the general plot arc would evolve but not the details. For the subsequent two books, I had no idea where they were going until I was about halfway into writing Phoenix Unbound. Because I’m a pantser at heart, my stories tend to evolve as I write them.
What kind of reading experience are you hoping to create for your readers? What do you want them to come away from your books saying, thinking, and feeling?
I always aim for immersing them so deeply in the story, they forget where they are or how much time is passing as they read. I want them to come away from the book convinced that the characters they read about were/are real people with genuine struggles, heartaches, triumphs, weaknesses and strengths, even when the world they operate in is populated with epic magic, fantastic beasts, and non-human races. I want them to yearn for those characters to be real, to imagine conversations with them over coffee, to wish they were neighbors or friends.
Does your mood ever affect the direction that your stories take? Has any of your stories began one way, but by the time you wrote The End, had the mood drastically changed and how did it affect the story?
Yes, I think so. Phoenix Unbound is a lot darker and a lot more melancholy than most of my other work in my opinion, and I can track that back to the loss of two very close friends in 2016. Their deaths hit me hard, and I’m still grieving over them. One of those friends was also my principal editor, so her loss was a huge impact on multiple levels. I think Phoenix Unbound reflected my general mood after those deaths. As for the mood starting out one way and ending another? I don’t recall any of my books really doing that. I tend to write darker fantasy romance with moments of comedy to lighten it, and that typically stays the same throughout the book.
Is there any particular legend or mythology that you came across that was the root of inspiration for you that was used more than others or was there a wide source?
Not so much legend or myth, but historical reference. A lot of the world building in Phoenix Unbound was inspired by my research of the Pontic-Caspian steppe as well as the nomadic horse cultures of the Parthians, the Scythians, and especially the Sarmatians.
For my readers unfamiliar with your work, what would you say to convince them to pick up a copy of your book?
Oh, tough question. I think I’d tell them if they liked reading about magical worlds and flawed but noble characters struggling to rise above and triumph over seemingly impossible odds to win the day for themselves and their peoples, then they’ll like Phoenix Unbound.
What are you working on? What do readers have to look forward to?
My roster is very full. I’m working on Book #2 of The Fallen Empire trilogy currently titled Dragon Unleashed. I also have The Ippos King, Book #3 in my Wraith Kings series, set to go live at the end of the year, a novella in the fall that will be part of an anthology with stories by Jeffe Kennedy, Jennifer Estep, and Amanda Bouchet, and that’s just for 2018. Next year promises to be just as busy.
When you’re not writing, what are you reading?
I read mostly nonfiction these days for research purposes, but the fiction I do read is typically in the fantasy or romance genres.
Do you have a geek side? Explain with examples.
I think I do. I love cosplay, whether I’m doing it or just admiring someone else who does it. If I had a limitless budget, I’d attend every comic con in the country each year. I used to be an avid D&D player when I was in college. I still love the game but no longer have the time to devote to playing. Instead, I encourage my kids to play it.
Do you have a process of how you start to write one of your novels? Is it the same or different with each novel you write?
Each novel is different. Free flowing ideas and productive word count is accomplished when I write by hand in a spiral notebook at timed intervals of 15 minutes. It just about kills my writing hand after an hour, but I get a lot done that way. If I’m typing, I often will write out my dialogue with spare notes in parentheses describing the scenery. I then go back and fill in. I mostly hand-wrote the book Eidolon and then transcribed it. Entreat Me was all typed dialogue that I filled in later, and Phoenix Unbound was a combination of these two processes.
How did you feel when you finally saw your first published book out in print?
Excited. I’m a fan of the digital format, but there’s something about the printed format that has a magic all its own and can’t be beat.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you have to have with you? Not counting my loved ones or basics I need to survive? An unending supply of books, an unending supply of chocolate, and an unending supply of cheese.
If you could be one urban fantasy creature/person/magical thing, what would you be and why?
I’d like to be the fairies’ midwife, Queen Mab, who “helps sleepers give birth to their dreams.” I think that’s a pretty awesome skill set to have.
Every year, each village is required to send a young woman to the Empire’s capital–her fate to be burned alive for the entertainment of the masses. For the last five years, one small village’s tithe has been the same woman. Gilene’s sacrifice protects all the other young women of her village, and her secret to staying alive lies with the magic only she possesses.
But this year is different.
Azarion, the Empire’s most famous gladiator, has somehow seen through her illusion–and is set on blackmailing Gilene into using her abilities to help him escape his life of slavery. Unknown to Gilene, he also wants to reclaim the birthright of his clan.
To protect her family and village, she will abandon everything to return to the Empire–and burn once more.
Meet Grace Draven!
Looking for any excuse to delay in doing the laundry, Grace Draven turned to the much more entertaining task of telling stories about fantasy worlds, magic, antiheroes, and the women who love them.
She currently lives in Texas with her husband, kids, and a big doofus dog. Laundry has now been assigned to the kids.
If you haven’t read Grace Draven before, here’s what you’ve been missing:
Phoenix Unbound (Fallen Empire #1)
Gaslight Hades (Bonekeeper Chronicles #1)
Wyvern (Dragon Shifter)
Radiance (Wraith King #1)
Master of Crows
All the Stars Look Down
The Light Within: A Winter’s Tale
Beneath a Waning Moon