This week I visit with TL Rese, author of Spirit of a Kyrie to be released later this year. Let's see what she has to say.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I was born in Texas, but soon after, we moved to Iowa then Maryland. My family moved around a lot when I was a kid. We finally settled in Upstate NY when I was seven. Afterwards, I went to college in California, and I did my graduate studies in England, because I absolutely love British literature. UK authors – from J.R.R. Tolkien to C.S. Lewis to J.K. Rowling – have had a tremendous impact on me and my writing. I stayed in England for about seven years and only recently returned to California. So yes, I've been to a lot of places. I love to travel, and I think that's reflected in my writing; my characters are always travelling somewhere, discovering new things, meeting new people, and having their own personal adventures along the way.
2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?
My most recent novel is Spirit of a Kyrie. It can be classified as epic fantasy or science fantasy. It's set on a grand scale with magnificent landscapes and detailed worldbuilding. However, at the heart of it, it's a pretty simple story. It's just about a young girl's quest to become a kyrie knight. In order to achieve this, she leaves behind everything she's ever known and journeys across her world, meeting new friends and making new discoveries about herself. It has those elements of travel and adventure that I mentioned earlier, but it's also a celebration of courage, perseverance, determination, talent, skill – all those things that one needs in order to fulfill a dream.
Spirit of a Kyrie will be published later this year, so feel free to check my blog or sign up to the mailing list to be notified when it's released.
3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?
This novel is both. I plan for it to be part of a 7-book series, but each book in the series is a standalone. The books can be read in any order, but your experience of the books will be different depending on the order you read them.
4. How long have you been writing?
Since I could hold a crayon.
5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
've probably been influenced by every writer that I've ever read. I've always been especially drawn to fantasy literature, even as a child – I couldn't get enough – so there's something innate to it, I guess. Later on, the Lord of the Rings films had a powerful effect on me. It was the movies that brought the books to my attention, and to be honest, it was Peter Jackson's interpretation of Middle Earth on the big screen that really inspired me to do my own epic worldbuilding. I definitely get a lot of ideas from movies and television, and I think you can see that in my writing; there's a very cinematic feel to my works.
I'm also inspired by many elements of reality – such as history or real-world landscapes, as well as just normal day-to-day living, something that I might see while walking down the street or running an errand. Anything can be potentially inspiring, so I try to keep my mind open and my eyes peeled.
6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?
Don't give up. As hard as it is to keep going, if you give up, you will never make it. If you're serious about being a career writer, then you must keep writing. If your work gets rejected or gets bad reviews, then move on and write the next one. Writing is like any other skill: innate talent is useless without practice. Keep writing, keep practicing, and you will get better.
I would also say: do not publish your first novel. I'm sure there are great first novels floating around out there, but it's more likely that your first novel is not your best because it is your first and you haven't had much of a chance to practice your craft yet. As tempting as it is nowadays to push that “self-publish” button and see your first novel launched into cyberspace, once it is in the hands of others, you cannot snatch it back. Do not do it!! Write two or three more novels, plus some short stories or novellas if you like, get feedback (friends and family do not count), develop a skin as thick as armor to protect you from the criticisms and rejections (remember that praise is nice, but criticism is like bitter medicine), consider the points your critics have made and edit accordingly, then edit some more, then edit it again... Once you have done all this, go back to your first novel. Chances are, only then will you see how awful your first novel truly was and be thankful you never published it.
“Making it” as a writer is a lifelong journey and a big commitment. You only have one life: what do you want to do with it? If you're certain your answer is “to be a writer”, then do it. Go all in and don't look back. The journey will not be a bed of roses, but then the greatest adventures never are.
7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
Someone who's a fan of epic fantasy, who especially enjoys the worldbuilding aspects, and who likes action sequences and strong female protagonists; also, someone who's looking for more than just the typical good vs. evil narrative, who appreciates more complex, ambivalent stories, and who enjoys descriptive passages.
8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
I'm an obsessive outliner. I have reams of notes stacked on my bookshelf and sitting on my hard drive. I jot down these notes whenever I get an idea, so they accumulate over time. Before I write the story, I sit down and organize all these notes into an extensive multi-page outline. One of my mottos is “Write the story before writing the story” – i.e. I write the entire story in outline form, and then I write the story in its intended form. Then I edit, edit, edit, edit…
9. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?
I don't think writers should ever pay for reviews. If you pay money for a review, you become a customer, and those who're selling their reviews will not write a poor review, as it's bad for business. The whole review system then becomes damaged and pointless.
There's been so much recent scandal involving the review system that no one trusts good reviews anymore. I understand the temptation to just buy some good reviews or to get a few friends and family members to post up glowing remarks – it's a quick and easy solution. Moreover, it's not just indie authors like John Locke who're rigging the review system; I know traditionally published authors who've herded friends and family onto their Amazon review page, as well. However, when everyone starts tampering with reviews and it becomes a trend, then there will inevitably be blowback like Amazon's recent purge of reviews.
Reviews should come from honest, reliable, unbiased sources. These are harder to get. Professional reviewers are swamped with requests; most may never reply because they don't have the time. I sent out 70 (not an exaggeration) review requests and only two reviewers reviewed my novelette, Ingress. It's like the agent-querying process all over again, sending out request after request with only a few who reply with interest. But writing is a long-term game. Trying to fix the system in your favor may help in the short-term, but in the long run, it'll only damage your credibility and readers won't come back. Don't think no one will find out, because they will! Amazon will wind up purging your reviews, or readers will become suspicious of a bad book with numerous 5-star reviews. Even in the fast-paced new world of push-button publishing, there are still no short cuts to establishing yourself as a writer. Go slow, hone your writing, get honest reviews, build credibility, and over time, you will establish a good reputation and readers will know they can trust you.
10. Where can readers find your work?
My work is available from most major e-retailers, such as Amazon, Apple, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. I'm giving away my novelette, Ingress, as a free sample; you can find it on your preferred e-reading device, or go to Smashwords and select the format that you want to download.
11. Where can readers find out more about you?
I have a blog that I will update more frequently once my novel revisions are completed. I'm also very active on Twitter.
T.L. Rese is the pen name for Theresa Lee. She was born in Houston, TX (1982 - ). When she was seven, her family moved to Upstate NY, where she grew up before moving to California when she was eighteen. Specializing in epic fantasy, she now has a PhD in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London, and a BA in English from UC Berkeley. Her hobbies include travel, photography, piano, and horseback riding.
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