Kev’s Author Interviews, Presents…
A Short Bio
Naomi confesses that the best word to describe her is: whimsical. Forget about “the girl next door” and think more along the lines of “the girl from the next galaxy over” and you’d be closer to the correct personality categorization. She is an unequivocal day-dreamer, anime enthusiast, partisan of fantastical things, and unshakable devotee to story-telling.
In addition to writing, Naomi sings, draws, reads, plays console games, does the occasional concept art commissions, and works with rescued animals. Her love for absorbing fabulous, unforgettable stories is only out-shined by her love for creating her own.
Currently, she lives on the Gold Coast, Australia, with crazy (the good kind) family members, crazy cats, and an invaluably tolerant housemate.
Kev: What is your latest book about?
THE BEACON THRONES, Book Two of the Dragon Calling series, continues on from the story in Book One (titled, KIN SEEKER).
Laeka’Draeon is the last dragon in Valadae.
The key to finding his missing kin lies in the prophecy obtained through the centaur prophet, Belzor Ven’Ho. To interpret its hidden meanings, Laeka’Draeon and his companions must journey to heart of the Raegelian Forest, wherein resides the legendary seer, Lady Megandel.
But the enemies of the old wars have already set their plans in motion, threatening far more than Laeka’Draeon’s quest.
A terrible doom grows on Valadae’s horizon, and the power to avert it resides in the mysterious Beacon Thrones―a power only a dragon can revive.
Kev: Who or what influenced you to write it?
This being the second book in the series, it’s sufficed to say the influence continues from what began my journey with the first book.
I’ve always loved telling stories (in my head), and fantasy and sci-fi are my favourite genres in all mediums (books, art, movies). I fell in love with creative writing during my senior high-school years, thanks to my eccentric, creative and clever English teacher, and from that point on I realised I wanted to be an author.
I was actually working on a completely different fantasy story when the idea for the Dragon Calling series crept into my head. During the world-building stage of my ‘unnamed’ project, I worked on children’s folklore tales; one of them centred on a young dragon. As I continued with the ‘unnamed’ project, the little dragon folklore kept coming back to mind, goading more questions from me. I began to expand on the idea, and soon a larger story formed, speaking louder than every other idea in my head. I knew then that this was the story I needed to tell. I set aside ‘Unnamed’ and began working on what was to become the incredible, five-part fantasy series of Dragon Calling.
My greatest influences for spinning such a fantastical tale come from the classics I grew up with as a child: The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Last Unicorn.
Over the years, I’ve also been inspired by the creative talents of Emily Rodda (Deltora Quest series), Shigeru Miyamoto (The Legend of Zelda), Cecilia Dart-Thornton (The Bitterbynde Triology), J. K. Rowling (Harry Potter), and Hayao Miyazaki (co-founder of Studio Ghibli).
Kev: Did you do any specialised research for your story?
While my series is based in an entirely fictional realm, I still needed to ground it in its own world system, to make it as tangibly believable as possible. So I set about creating everything from kingdom names and governing systems, festivals, a calendar system, a magic-based system, life-spans and cultures of different creatures, to the individual traits, likes, fears, strengths and quirks of the primary and secondary characters. Yeah … it’s pretty obvious from this that I love world-building. I even worked out the basic foundation for a fictional language.
My research included things like environs and climates, the moon cycle, the properties of certain herbs, the traits and average speeds of animals like horses, birds and cats. I even looked at different world flags and colours to get an idea of how I should do the flags and emblems of the different kingdoms. And while a lot of this ‘background’ information is not necessarily relevant to the plot of the story, it gives dimension and depth to the setting surrounding the main characters. I think that’s important, especially when writing fantasy.
Kev: What challenges did you face while writing the story?
Tricky question, mainly because I’ve been working on this series (among other projects) for over a decade! The challenges varied over the years, though the repeating offenders were self-doubt and lack of emotional support (at least at the start). Every artist knows that they should embrace their unique style, and that comparison with others is a poison, but those things still try to claw their way in.
Kev: Who is the protagonist?
A young, green-scaled dragon named Laeka’Draeon (LAYK-ah-DREY-on).
With his affable, inquisitive disposition, Laeka’Draeon exudes an unexpected appeal to many who cross his path. His loss of memory lends to his naivety, but his thirst for knowledge is strong, and he is quick to learn.
Although courageous and committed, Laeka’Draeon responds brashly, especially when danger threatens. While he values life, he is readily willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of others, which subsequently leads to careless actions concerning his well-being.
Despite his earnest desire to be reunited with his family, Laeka’Draeon values his companions above all else, and as a result is unshakably loyal.
Kev: What would you say is the protagonist’s greatest weakness or obstacle and why?
Laeka’Draeon’s amnesia creates the greatest challenge for him. Without knowledge of his past or what happened to the other dragons, Laeka’Draeon is forced act and react based on direct circumstances. It’s not until the second book (The Beacon Thrones) that he begins to uncover some of the bigger picture, but his loss of memory still proves a frustrating handicap.
Kev: What would you say is the main antagonist’s greatest strength?
Anonymity. The ‘allies’ in the story remain unaware of the main antagonist’s existence, even though they are experiencing the effects of his secretly implemented plans. As you can imagine, it gives the enemy a terrible advantage. It leaves the ‘good guys’ scrambling against an increasing barrage of disasters, without any idea of the true source.
Kev: Could you provide a short passage from your book to give us a taster? (75 words or less)
Excerpt taken from The Beacon Thrones, Chapter One – Eclipsed, page 5:
A strong gust of wind rushed through the trees, scratching the leaves together wildly. A heavy shadow passed over the moon. The watchers snapped their heads skyward but saw nothing. The silhouetted boughs groaned and creaked in eerie admonition.
A harsh metallic sound scraped through the air. Heart pounding, Nomar twisted to face its origin.
Kev: Do you use some kind of formula when you write?
I usually have the ‘major’ plot points set in place, though no concrete plan on how each will be connected, or what exactly will happen in between to flavour those connections. I like to have some things planned (like what primary events need to happen within each book), but other than that, I sit down and hand the reins over to the characters. It’s amazing where they end up taking the story, and I’ve found that they are far more competent at journeying from major plot to major plot, than I am.
Kev: Preference for writing: Day or Night?
At the moment, I am finding the best time to work on my writing is in the afternoon. Sometimes, when inspiration persists, I’ll dig in during the night hours.
Kev: What is your editing process?
Chapter-by-chapter; I like to write out a chapter and then go back and tweak it. I find I gather momentum from this process, but it’s not something every writer finds effective. Sometimes I’ll go back and read the previous chapter before continuing on to the chapter-in-edit, kind of like skipping back to the last scene in a movie, or a ‘previously’ blurb in a TV series. I find it helps to get a better feel for the atmosphere and pace of what’s going on.
Once I’ve done my (many, many) edits, I sent the manuscript off to my editor. And then, once returned, it’s back to another big editing sweep. After that, the book goes to beta readers, so they can catch any stray misspellings or sneaky grammar errors.
Kev: Who creates your book covers?
As a professional illustrator, I’ve been able to design, illustrate and format my own book covers.
Kev: How do you promote your work?
I promote via social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Wikia, Twitter), as well as my own website and monthly blog. I also promote through local book-signing events, pop culture conventions, and fellow readers/ writers/ bloggers who host author interviews and featured book articles, like this wonderful site. J
I make it sound like I have the whole ‘promotion’ thing lined up like little ducks. Lol, not really. I find it one of the hardest aspects of being an author. Self-promotion is not my strong point, but I’m working on it.
Kev: What advice would you offer to new authors?
If you plan on being a writer, you first need to be a reader! You learn a lot from the prose and styles of other writers. But don’t just read one genre. Expand your mind and experience with multiple genres! Historical fiction, thrillers, mysteries, sci-fi, paranormal, you learn different lessons from each.
I’d also recommend following the blogs and websites of those with a wealth of knowledge and experience (your favourite authors, or popular literary agents). There is so much invaluable and inspiring information available, and more often than not, it’s free!
Above all, I encourage budding writers to believe in themselves. It’s a tough business, and people these days are often cynical and sharply opinionated. Don’t let the negatives of outside influences get you down. Build yourself up. Find your footing, and then take the leap, knowing in advance that you won’t be able to please everyone, and be accepting of that. You will find those who share your passions and opinions. You will find those who love your work. And that’s the goal, right? You’re not writing for those who don’t like your style, you’re writing for those who do.
Kev: Which two social media platforms do you use the most and why?
Facebook is my main social media platform, mainly because it has a good setup, and I find it easy to navigate and interact with/ through. I’ve also recently started using Twitter. I’m not very twittery, but I’ll keep at it and see how it goes.
Dragon Calling on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dragoncalling
Myself on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ProwlerofProse
I also have a Dragon Calling Pinterest board: https://www.pinterest.com/thewhimwerecat/dragon-calling-series/
A book trailer for KIN SEEKER (the first book in the series):
AND a Dragon Calling wikia page! http://dragon-calling.wikia.com/wiki/Dragon_Calling_Wikia
Kev: Do you have a website?
Website? Yes! Follow this link for Dragon Calling awesomeness. https://dragoncalling.wordpress.com/
Kev: Is there anything else you would like to add?
The Beacon Thrones is the second book in the Dragon Calling series. Book One, Kin Seeker, is where the story begins, and of course starting at the beginning is a very good place to start! 😉
I’ve also published an illustrated Companion Guide for Kin Seeker, and plan on doing a Guide for The Beacon Thrones as well. Check this link for more info on the books: https://dragoncalling.wordpress.com/books/books/
Book Three in the Dragon Calling series is well underway, and I’m hoping for a late 2015/ early 2016 release.
I also do my own poster and bookmarks designs! Series 1 (Kin Seeker editions) are available for purchase via the Dragon Calling Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/dragoncalling/app_251458316228). Series 2 (Beacon Thrones editions) are ready for print; just working on getting the funds.
If you’re into short stories, I’ve written two, both of them award-winning (“Final Flight” Winner of The Best of Supanova, 2012, and “The Drowner” Highly Commended in the Inktears Short Story Comp 2014). You can check them out via this link: https://dragoncalling.wordpress.com/short-stories/
Thanks for giving me some of your blog space, Kevin! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this Q&A.