We all know I love reading romance--historical and contemporary. But every now and then I get in the mood for a good fantasy adventure too. Which is why I'm so excited to interview this new-to-me author, Lydia MacClaren. She writes Inspirational Fantasy and her stories intrigue me. She's even including a way to get one of her stories for free, so be sure to read all the way to the bottom!
Lydia, thanks for joining me today. Let's start off easy. What made you choose fantasy as your genre?
I love creating other worlds! Sure, I could write in ours, but I find it so much more interesting to write about a world where magic and fantastic creatures exist!
Fantasy books are fun to read because their worlds are different than our own. How hard was it for you to create a whole new world for your characters to live in?
Not hard at all! I write what’s called “soft worldbuilding,” and I think that has made creating intricate worlds less time-consuming for me. Soft worldbuilding only describes what is necessary for the plot without a lot of additional information. I have a rough idea of what my world is like, with some important details, then I start writing and allow the rest to fill in as I write! It’s a bit of a mix between discovery writing and plotting, and it works for me.
What is the favorite kind of creature or city you've created so far?
What I love creating the most in my stories are the magic systems. They are so fun to develop, probably because I can be as imaginative as I want and everyone just accepts it because… why not? We all like exploring what is not possible in our world.
You have listed some amazing authors as your inspiration (Lewis, Tolkien, etc). How do you think your story compares to theirs? Did you catch yourself borrowing from some of the themes/characters/lands they already created?
Lewis and Tolkien sparked my interest in fantasy, along with Donita K Paul, Gail Carson Levine, Shannon Hale, and Megan Whalen Turner. The influence these authors have had on my books is primarily in similar themes. One big difference between me and my influences, I use fewer fantasy creatures than most of them!
I love most of those authors as well. Okay, how hard was it to create a theology/religion for your fantasy world? How does it compare to Christianity?
Everything in my books is informed by the Bible. Though I don’t write allegories, I do use motifs and themes from the scriptures. In my first novel, Seven Lives Saved, there is only one god that has not abandoned the world. Obviously, this god is not a perfect one like the only true God, but in this story, he does represent the patient, long-suffering nature of our own Savior, and extends the offer of redemption to our main character. In my other books, the religious system may reflect how darkness is already defeated, how we pursue justice while waiting for true justice, or other such biblical themes. I firmly believe that all stories in some way ultimately point back to the greatest story: Jesus’ death for the forgiveness of sinners. What better story is there to tell?
You self-published. Is there anything you wish you had done differently when looking back? Any tips for those who might be considering it in the future?
What I love so much about self-publishing is that you are limited only by your imagination. Within my budget, I have been able to pursue so many exciting paths! I have some projects I am so excited to move forward on, and I am free to do so! Looking back, I probably would have organized my book rollout a little differently to be better marketable. But even then, one of the major hang-ups for writers is not having the confidence to finally press publish so I’m glad I moved forward with publishing as I was ready to. My biggest tip for any writer considering self-publishing is to really study the market and understand what niche their books fit into. Whether self-published or traditionally, a lot of marketing will fall on the author, so growing as an author also means growing in marketing.
What projects are you working on now for the future?
I just published a romantic fantasy novella, Bone Beads! This cozy fantasy is all about change and forgiveness, set in a wintery tundra with hate to love, warm bonfires, and late nights telling stories. Oh, and that novella is free on my website! I am also currently editing another novel I plan to release this November. The storytelling never stops!
As a mommy and an author, do you sharpen your story-telling skills by making up bedtime stories?
My girl is a little young to sit and listen to a story without pictures, but hopefully someday! I think I have more practice with my husband when I make up outrageous explanations for simple things. He says I have a “storytelling” voice that lets him know when I am not at all serious.
Last but not least, can you leave us with one fact about yourself that very few people know?
The stories I wrote during high school were the least romantic ones I have ever written, while the ones I am writing now have much more romance in them. Maybe it’s just me, but that feels rather backward!
Thanks so much for joining us today, Lydia!
And readers, I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek into Lydia's life and writing. See below for a link to grab her free novella. I may go grab it for myself as well!
Leiv has a deadline to meet. Sent to record the first census at the nomadic tribe’s annual gathering, he wants everything to go perfectly. But when a snowstorm delays his return to the capital, Leiv must face how foreign he feels in his own tribe.
Eirlin needs the census taker to leave. Frustrated by all his counting, Eirlin cannot focus on preparing for her sister’s coming-of-age ceremony. But when a snowstorm traps him there, Eirlin can no longer ignore her harsh attitude toward Leiv or why his presence makes her uneasy.
As the snow continues to fall, Leiv and Eirlin discover that late winter nights often lay bare the simplest things.
Want to know how you can get this neat story for free? Click here.
Lydia MacClaren has been writing stories since her earliest memories. She lives in rural Pennsylvania with her loving husband and sweet daughter. When she is not chasing around a never-sleeping baby, she writes. When she is not writing, she dreams about her fictional worlds.
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
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