I’ve spent a lot of time recently trying to share things, articles or giveaways that I think would be of interest on my Facebook page. Would make me popular on the interwebs and get me noticed while we put the finishing touches on Book 1 of the Monster of Selkirk series. And then I realized… while what I share may be interesting or helpful or cool (I certainly think it is) it doesn’t tell you much about my book(s) or why I wrote them. Oh sure, I wrote a blog post about why I write fantasy in particular, but that doesn’t tell you why I wrote THIS book, why I felt compelled to tell Tallis’s story. And the answer is simple, I was afraid. Embarrassed that a grown-ass woman wrote a young adult fantasy book. That the people I knew in my past lives as an adult in advertising would chortle on the inside. That, by the way, has not happened (to my knowledge) everyone has been exceedingly supportive and excited for me and I truly, and deeply thank you for that. But it’s 2017 and I’m embracing this life so here it is, the reason I wrote THIS book and pray that you all enjoy it.
Life is overwhelming. Especially for people who aren’t that stereotypical popular person, the one everyone likes and, on the surface, seems like life is just easy for. For people with anxiety, for people who aren’t as confident as they wish they could be, life feels overwhelming and like you are constantly in over your head, a step away from people discovering you’re a fraud. I feel that way on a daily basis. I look for escapes, mainly in my own imagination, where I can be the person I want to be, where I can reach out and express myself without being obnoxious.
Tallis looks the way I wish I did, beautiful and petite. It’s my self-conscious tendencies making the creature I wish I looked like but don’t because of genetics. Tallis is a strong woman who doesn’t like the situation she finds herself in, doesn’t want the responsibilities thrust upon her, but she knows the right thing to do and she’ll be dammed if she doesn’t at least try. She doesn’t want people to know she’s suffering, that she needs help, but her support group – her friends – see her for who she is and help regardless. They help her learn that it’s ok to ask for help. She struggles with loss and finding meaning in bad situations. She has to learn how to trust and how to love herself so that she can appreciate when others love her in return. She has to decide the kind of person she wants to be and seize it rather than let the world dictate to her what IT wants her to be. She has to grow and step into uncomfortable situations and find a way to accomplish her goals without losing herself in the process.
Sound familiar? Sound like people you know? I hope it does. So why fantasy? Tallis could exist in any world, even ours. I’ve said it before, I like fantasy but more importantly, it allows me to create real monsters, real nasty pieces of work, and real fantastical situations that can serve as a metaphor for those demons that generally dwell only within our own minds. In fantasy, the goals are clear, the heroes journey defined, the conclusion feels epic and dreamy and I LOVE that. It’s easy for myself to lose myself in that and forget my own real insecurities and attach myself to a strong heroine battling feral elves with the same issues I have and appreciate what a badass she is. Fantasy makes life simple while creating a new world that is rich and complicated (even without magic).
Tallis’s journey is one I find familiar but one dialed to a level that I wish was real. With amazing new places and people and scenarios that are fun and interesting but at the core, it’s still Tallis trying to handle her life without letting it become overwhelming. It’s her friends, Rosslyn and Tomas, growing up and becoming the people they were meant to be, people I’d totally love to hang out with because they are based on people I actually DO love hanging out with.
Tallis’s story is a long one because I love her and this place I’ve made for her, and by proxy, built for me. It’s personal and it’s far enough removed to where I can be punishing to my characters because I am a fan of a good “boss battle”.
I initially wrote this book for me but I do realize I am not a unique snowflake. I am not alone in how I feel or what I desire. So, I wrote this for people who maybe feel like I do. Or for people who just like a young adult fantasy story that doesn’t spend forty pages describing food and then killing off everyone and take a year to finish reading. You know what I’m talking about (but don’t get me wrong, I still love GOT, too).
I am extremely excited to introduce people to Tallis and her friends and I want them to love them (or hate them as the case may be) as much as I do. So, thank you for believing in me and joining me on this journey and I can’t wait to see where this goes!
"These words are knives and often leave scars" : On the Love and Emotional toll Good Music Leaves
I’ve worn many hats in my semi adult life. Career hats for advertising, media, video games, and writer. Personal hats like wife, friend, sister, daughter, and dog lover. But another hat I wear is that of an avid music lover.
I suspect that many people wear this hat for different reasons, snubbing people they feel aren’t true audiophiles because they don’t have intimate knowledge of this thing or that. I’m sure people will read this and scoff, saying I am not the same kind of music lover they are. And that’s cool, you can do that. I may disagree with you but whatever, you do you. But for me, I love music that makes me feel something.
As a writer, I will be the first one to tell you that I don’t know how someone writes a song. Not just the musical notes either, but the lyrics that go with it and then writing the music to fit those words and capture a moment that encapsulates someone’s heartbreak, elation at falling in love, or drive to never be put down. It’s this very reason why I love songs with compelling lyrics. Lyrics that are deep and meaningful. That tell a story, albeit a brief one. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still dance and enjoy more … simple songs, shall we say? But it doesn’t elicit the same kind of love from me.
So why am I talking about music and its importance to me? Well, because it is important to me. Writing is very isolating, it’s something you do alone. If I write while people are talking to me or the TV is on, it turns into some terrible writing, trust me. But if I find a playlist, an artist that captures the mood, the tempo, or even just the feel of the world I’m creating, I can get lost in that music and the words will just flow off of me. It’s why I love Spotify and its ability to make playlists, because that’s what I do. I make long playlists about each of the areas in my books so when I write after a break or go back and edit, I can turn on that playlist and get back in the groove pretty quickly.
Going to a concert, losing myself in the moment with live music … there’s nothing truly like it. I try to make it a point to see as many live concerts as I can during a given year. I did pretty well last year with seeing Vance Joy, Elle King, Band of Horses, Arcade Fire, Nothing But Thieves, Oh Wonder, Cage the Elephant, Tool, G-Easy, Foals, and that doesn’t include all the little bands I saw at bars, on the street, or playing at events that I didn’t recognize. I ended this year with seeing Panic! At the Disco and it just confirmed how indescribable it is to see a band that has spoken to you lyrically and musically and made you genuinely feel something. Seeing them before midnight killed New Year’s Eve for me because I couldn’t go into a bar or club and listen to DJ’s after a performance like that.
So on days when inspiration is lacking, I read a good book and lose myself into finding my next new favorite band. Panic! And Bastille have been at the top of that list for a few years now but its 2017 so we’ll see what happens and who I fall in love with. It’s an amazing feeling, to fall in love with a band like you would the boy (or girl) next door even though you know you’ll never meet them, never be the friends you think you would be if you bumped into them during a long elevator ride. It’s a long study of unrequited love, that’s for sure.
In the meantime, I leave you with this, the Spotify playlist I made for Selkirk. I hope it speaks to you the way it speaks to me and feel free to follow me on Spotify if you want to see what I listen to on the daily!