Kyra Halland is the author of the week on the Goodreads Paranormal, Fantasy, Dystopia and Romance group https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1523919-featured-author-for-9-15-of-october
Welcome to Kyra Halland please tell us a little about yourself. I live in southern Arizona with my husband, who I met in college. We have two sons; one is a senior in high school, the other one works as a web designer. We also have two cats, and I seem to spend a lot of time feeding them.
I studied music in college, and have an M.A. in Music History, but I’ve never worked in that field. It does influence my writing, though. I also enjoy anime and manga, and scrapbooking.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I call what I write epic romantic fantasy – epic fantasy with a strong romantic element. In my books, you really can’t separate the romantic and the fantasy elements from each other and still have the story hold up. Both elements are equally important. I have two published novels, Urdaisunia and Chosen of Azara, and a short story collection, A Cure for Nel, and Other Stories. My forthcoming works are The Lost Book of Anggird, which will be released later in October, Sarya’s Song (projected release date Feb. 2014), and Daughter of the Wildings, a 6-book fantasy-western series, which I plan to start releasing in the spring of 2014.
How long have you been writing and what made you choose the genre in which you write? I liked to write as a child, then I dropped it while I got involved with music through high school and college. I picked it up again almost 24 years ago, when my older son was a baby. There have been a few times when I’ve taken a few years off from writing, but I’ve never been able to leave it alone for very long.
I’ve always loved to read fantasy, and I’ve also always loved a good love story. I used to get frustrated because in a lot of the fantasy novels I read, wizards never got to fall in love, or, if they did, they never got to do anything about it. Kings and princes and all those other guys, but not wizards. I always imagined different storylines for my favorite novels where the wizards got to have some romance in their lives. When I was adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom and decided I wanted a new intellectual challenge, I decided to start writing the kinds of fantasy novels I wanted to read. Not all of my novels involve wizards in love, but they all have magic (at least to a small degree), and they all have love stories.
Who or what are your inspirations/influences? My parents gave me the Earthsea Trilogy for Christmas when I was about 11 or 12, and I loved it. I re-read those books over and over. Those were the books that really hooked me on fantasy. Another favorite series is the Riddlemaster of Hed series, by Patricia McKillip, which came out when I was in high school. Again, just love those books. I also love Patricia McKillip’s style, and I think it influenced my own style a bit. Finally, my favorite author is Carol Berg. She’s a more current writer, and her wizards/magicians get to be real people. I love her stories, and would love to be able to write as beautifully as she does.
Can you name both a positive and a negative experience from your writing?Every time a reader tells me they enjoyed one of my books, and asks if there’s a sequel and when’s my next book coming out, that’s an amazing feeling. And getting to tell the stories of these fascinating characters who show up in my head is a lot of fun.
As for a negative experience, a long time ago (18 or 19 years? before my younger son was born) I belonged to a small writers’ group. We would bring printouts of our current chapters for the other members to take home and read and critique during the week. One week, I brought in a chapter with a love scene in it. The next week, the other members of the group told me (very apologetically) that they laughed at the love scene. And it wasn’t supposed to be funny! I was absolutely crushed. But, upon reflection, I realized they were right. That led to me completely re-imagining the characters and their relationship, and that book, vastly improved (I hope) is now my novel Sarya’s Song. So, that’s a negative turned to a positive.
How much research do you do? Not a whole lot. Research isn’t as important for other-world fantasy as it would be for, say, historical fiction, or even fantasy set in our world. I have needed to do research on such things as weapons, horses, and various customs. For example, for The Lost Book of Anggird, I researched different traditional tattooing techniques, traditional Mongolian food, rifles, and Mongolian horses. Probably the book that I’ve done the most advance research for is book 4 of my fantasy-western series, which involves a cattle drive. I did a lot of reading about cattle drives in the late 1800s to learn how they worked and to get ideas for things that could happen in the story. Otherwise, I just look things up as I need them
With the rise of e-books do you still publish in print as well? Is this medium important and why? Yes, I do print versions, at least for my novels. (Not sure it’s worth it for a 20,000 word short story collection.) There are a lot of people who still prefer paper books and I don’t want to shut out that part of my potential readership. Plus, there’s no feeling like holding an actual printed-and-bound copy of your book in your hands. And it’s fun to have paper copies to sign and give away to people who’ve helped you – many of my helpful test readers request paperback copies of the book they helped with as their thank-you gift.
Do you listen to music or watch TV whilst you write? I haven’t watched TV in years, but I get a lot of inspiration from music, especially music that has lyrics that go with a character or scene in the story I’m working on, or a sound that sets the mood. I like to make playlists that go with my novels, and I listen to them and other music I enjoy while I’m writing. In fact, if I’m writing without music, I tend to get distracted more easily.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? In a book, you’re using your imagination to fill in what characters and settings look like and putting your own interpretation on things. If the writer says, “He looked worried,” I can imagine what a worried expression looks like to me. There’s a lot more audience involvement that with movies and video games. It’s also easier to go back and read a favorite passage over again or to figure out something you didn’t understand the first time you read it.
What advice would you give new writers? When you’re writing a first draft, don’t worry about if it’s any good or not, or get discouraged if you start to get bored with the project. Just finish writing it. You can improve almost any story in revisions, and every writer, even professional writers, goes through phases where they feel like what they’re writing is terrible or it’s boring and no fun. If you want to drop an idea because you thought of another, just remember that that shiny new idea will also get old and boring at some point. Just keep going, and it’ll get fun again by the time you get to the end. Starting to write a novel is easy; learning to finish what you start is one of the hardest and most important lessons you can learn as a writer. I speak from experience 🙂
What are your best marketing/networking tips? Find a supportive, author-friendly Goodreads group where everyone helps promote each other on their blogs, Facebook, etc. Do as much for other people as you can; when writers help each other and share their audiences, everyone wins. If you have Facebook friends or belong to an online community who aren’t writers, let them know you write, offer coupons for free or discount Smashwords books, but don’t put pressure on them to buy your books or give rave reviews.
Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? With my Kindle and the rise of indie authors, I’ve been reading lots of things that I normally wouldn’t read. Suspense, mysteries, paranormal, all kinds of things. But my favorite thing to read is epic fantasy with a strong romantic storyline, written from an adult point of view, with unique settings and magic systems, and well-rounded, interesting characters that I enjoy spending time with.
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? Under another name, I write Sailor Moon fanfiction.
Where can readers find your books? My books are available from Amazon, Smashwords, CreateSpace, Barnes & Noble, the iTunes store, Kobo, Sony, and All Romance eBooks. My current novel, Chosen of Azara, is available at: