Since signing with Musa Publishing, I’ve met a bunch of extremely talented authors. So, as you can imagine, when a number of them agreed to answer questions on my blog about their writing and latest offerings, I was super excited. Today marks the start of a series of author interviews, which will shed light on the many different approaches to writing and showcase some fantastical books.
Customer Service Representative by day and writer by night, Arley Cole is the author of several short stories and the upcoming fantasy novel The Blacksmith’s Daughter. She has spent far too much time in school and has written most of her life for other people. Now she is writing for herself.
The Blacksmith’s Daughter
She believes she is only a blacksmith’s daughter, but he must discover the truth or risk losing his land—and his life.
Acwellen Lex’Magen rules as liege lord of a small country bounded by forbidding mountains and powerful neighbors. When the neighboring baron, allied with a powerful wizard, attempts to take over his land, first by political, then by covert means, Acwellen finds an ally of his own in Enith Roweson, an unassuming blacksmith who possesses powers he’s only known of in legends. As he attempts to unravel both the plots against him—-including the nature of the monsters sent to assassinate him—-and the mysterious powers Enith is only beginning to understand she has, he also finds himself falling in love with the blacksmith’s daughter.
Hello, Arley. Welcome to my blog. Why don’t you start by telling us how long you’ve been writing fiction?
I have been writing all my life. My first work was a play in first grade about Snoopy and Charlie Brown. I played Snoopy in the one and only performance.
I’d love to have seen that, hehe. I adored Snoopy as a child.
So would you say you’re a plotter or a pantser?
I am definitely a pantser—an iron the pantser. Believe it or not, my best plotting takes place when I am ironing or cleaning house. For some reason, when my hands are occupied, my brain turns loose. I also have a reputation for dreaming significant parts of the plot. The opening of my latest work, The Blacksmith’s Daughter, was a dream I had several years ago. I filed the memory away and eventually got around to writing the rest of the story.
Most writers tend to favour a particular POV. I prefer 3rd person, how about you?
Most definitely rotating omniscient. I like to tell stuff on everybody, but only one at a time!! I have done a little first person and will do so again, but my first person narrators tend to be terribly unreliable characters. You can’t believe a word they are saying.
You must be terribly excited about your debut novel. Without spoilers, can you tell us a little bit about it?
The Blacksmith’s Daughter is a fantasy with a good dash of romance and some serious monster killing. I love a fantasy that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty. Enith Roweson, the main character, thinks she is only a simple blacksmith, but in actuality she possesses powers that come from her father’s family. Our hero, Acwellen Lex’Magen, realizes out pretty early in the book that she’s got something unusual going on, but he can’t put his finger on what it is or why he ought to know more about it than he does. Eventually, all this leads to some serious revelations about her family, his family, and the history of their country. But they’ve got to survive the plotting of some very strange baddies in order to figure all this out.
Who will enjoy reading your book and why?
The Blacksmith’s Daughter is cross-listed at Musa Publishing under the Euterpe YA imprint as well as the Urania speculative fiction imprint. I think it will definitely appeal to anyone with a fantasy bent—as well as folks who like a some romance with their adventure. The Young Adult focus is interesting, though. I was a little surprised up front that it was placed there, but in retrospect I can truly appreciate why. First of all, even though the main characters are in their late twenties/early thirties, they are all still finding out who they are and what their contributions will be to their world. Acwellen has only recently become the ruler of his country, and Enith is just discovering her powers and heritage. Nerian also has not found out who he truly is. I guess the YA focus has less to do with age and more to do with the theme of becoming who you are. Plus, the romantic angle isn’t explicit, so nobody’s sensibilities will be shocked. However, these are also grown, married characters so readers don’t have to wait for everybody to get out of high school before the romance gets the ultimate payoff. So there is sex—I just don’t have to feel guilty about writing it since everybody is, like I said, grown and married.
The names of your characters are pretty unusual. How did you choose them?
My character names all mean something in The Blacksmith’s Daughter. I worked a baby names website to death coming up with everybody. Even place names have a meaning—it might be Chinese, but it means something. I’ll mesh words together and tweak them until they sound good, but it always starts with a meaning. I’ll also look them up on dictionary.com or Wikipedia to be sure I’m not putting together something that has an inadvertent double meaning. That’s the trouble with fantasy names. It is so easy to dream up stuff that is just unpronounceable or overly cute.
Can you give us the low down on your hunky MC, Acwellen?
Acwellen is very much driven by practicality and duty. He feels a deep obligation to be a good liege lord of his country and to be a good husband—no matter how he actually ended up married! But there is a passionate streak in him that takes duty and turns it into commitment and that takes practicality and turns it into drive. He is loyal to his friends and deadly to any who try to hurt them. Plus he’s a former military man and a real butt-kicker.
I’m always intrigued to know how authors envisage their characters. Who would you cast as the lead characters of your book and why?
Melanie Lynsky would play Enith. She’s got a very girl next door quality but has an unexpected depth and beauty that comes through when you least expect it.
Ah, Acwellen. That one is so hard. Since Thor came out it would be very easy to see Chris Hemsworth play him. Another great blonde would be Josh Holloway. But I might be saying that because I have a massive crush on Sawyer from Lost right now. I do also have a huge crush on Thor. So I may be just dreaming.
I thoroughly approve of Chris and Josh. Yummy And Melanie is a classic beauty.
I’d love to hear about your journey to become a published author.
I have been an off and on writer all my life. Then I became a college English instructor. Grading other people’s essays did not improve my creativity. A change to part time newspaper editing stoked the creative fires again and I started writing—a lot! At the moment, however, I am into my third career path as a Customer Service Rep for the local electric utility. Just call me Power Queen. The steady pay is good, but I’ve got to get back to a place where I can write more often. More than anything, I want to write full time.
What’s the best piece of writing or publishing advice you could give other writers?
Write. Just write. And put it out there to be read. There are too many good places to blog and to create fanfiction or post your work for feedback like on Fictionpress. The reviews and the feedback you get will only help you improve your craft. If you get a bad review, don’t get discouraged. Think about what you can take away from it to help you with your craft. If you get a good reader, be sure to write back. Encourage them in their critique. I have a great friend in Spain—thank you, RonCN—who has been instrumental in getting me over the hump of sending out manuscripts. I am a better writer because she was such a great reader.
Do you have a favourite writer, perhaps someone who’s influenced your writing?
I am heavily influenced in fantasy by long time reading of Ann McCaffrey, Roger Zelazny, and RA Salvatore. I love the way Ann McCaffrey joins world building and incredible magical or technological exploration with relationships—especially romantic ones. When I read her work, I always come away feeling like I’ve gotten to know people and their families—just in a different world. With Roger Zelazny it would have to be the visual impact of Amber and the Courts of Chaos. Plus I love his take on magic in the Amber books. Such a cool system. And who can’t help but love how RA Salvatore breathes life and development into a game system. I do love his fight scenes, but mostly I have an obsession with Artemis Entreri.
Can you recommend any craft books that you’ve found particularly helpful?
I just love The Truth about Fiction. It is a sincerely good book on the practicalities of writing. It got me rolling!
Finally, as a treat for your adoring fans, can you provide a sneaky peek at any future projects?
I am editing a Christian contemporary romance called Sunny and Grey which takes place in part in a comic book/gaming store. I love those! And I’ll be ironing my way into the sequel of The Blacksmith’s Daughter very soon. It is called The Merchant’s Son and will feature Nerian in a major way.
I’m pleased to hear there will be a sequel to The Blacksmith’s Daughter. Excellent! Thank you so much for providing us with such fun and detailed answers. I’m sure readers will join me in wishing you every success.
Please write a comment below to let Arley know how much you’d enjoyed her interview. Perhaps you have a pressing question that I failed to ask. Don’t be shy. Write your question in the box, and Arley will be more than happy to provide an answer. You can also subscribe to my blog (top right) for the next author interview with Devin Hodges on 29th October to be delivered to your email in-box. Thank you for your support.
The Blacksmith’s Daughter is available from Musa Publishing.