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The Dragonslayer's Sword by Resa NelsonResearching a Fantasy Novel – Why Bother?

Researching a fantasy novel sounds laughable. How can you research fantasy? Plenty of fantasy authors write perfectly good novels without doing any research – so what’s the point in doing it? Why bother?

I decided to research my fantasy novels and stories because of science fiction. The first short story I sold was a science fiction story about a female quadriplegic who learns to walk again with the aid of a computer. After it was published, I got two letters from readers, both paraplegics. They both said I got the emotions 100% right – in fact, one of them asked me if I’m a paraplegic because he didn’t see how I could understand unless I’d been through it myself. (I’m not. But I like to think of myself as an empath.) The other reader encouraged me to do research. He pointed out ways the story could have been better if I’d done my homework.

I thought long and hard about what he said. His letter changed my perspective. From that moment on, I made a commitment to do as much research as possible whenever I write short stories and novels. When it comes to fantasy, I research the real-life world that I use as a model for the fantasy world I create.

Doing research has a big impact on plot and characterization as well as helping me find specific details I can use to help my fantasy worlds come alive. Truth is so much stranger than fiction that the facts I uncover while I’m doing research often spark my best ideas. So that’s one of the most important reasons why I do research when I write fantasy. It helps me come up with far better ideas and details than I could ever dream up on my own.

For example, my Dragonslayer series is about Astrid, a young woman who works as a blacksmith and makes swords for dragonslayers. In addition to reading as much as I could about blacksmithing, I took a 10-week course. I thought, How can I write about a female blacksmith unless I try it myself? One of the most important challenges I faced was figuring out how to keep up with my classmates, who were all big, burly men. (I’m not quite 5’2”.) Once I felt I had a decent handle on blacksmithing, I decided to learn about swords. Again, after I’d done my library research, I took courses to learn historically accurate ways to use medieval weapons, including swords. These weren’t theoretical courses – everything was hands on! In fact, the first course focused very heavily on safety issues so no one would get hurt. Eventually, I joined a sword guild and became a weapons demonstrator at a museum. All of these experiences had a huge impact on my Dragonslayer series.

If you’d like to sample my work for free, you can download a free “mini” ebook called “Dragonslayer Stories” from my website at http://www.resanelson.com/files. No cost, no obligation, nothing to sign up for, no information gathering. I like giving away samples of my work so you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not.

Books in the Dragonslayer series in the order they should be read:
The Dragonslayer’s Sword
The Iron Maiden
The Stone of Darkness
The Dragon’s Egg

Author Bio:
“Resa Nelson’s first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award and was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine’s first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer’s Sword is Book 1 in her 4-book Dragonslayer series, which also includes The Iron Maiden (Book 2), The Stone of Darkness (Book 3), and The Dragon’s Egg (Book 4).

Resa’s standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it “a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended.”

She has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop. Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.  Resa lives in Massachusetts.”

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Learn more about Resa Nelson below

To read reviews by this author go here
http://www.resanelson.com
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Resa-Nelson-The-Dragonslayers-Sword/122200661871
Twitter: @ResaNelson

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92 comments

  1. I didn’t know museums *had* weapons demonstrators–how does that work? Off to check out the Dragonslayer Stories, my interest is piqued!

    • Hi Trix! I was a weapons demonstrator at the Higgins Armory Museum, which is all about suits of armor and medieval and Renaissance weapons. I don’t know what their current schedule is, but they used to have lots of weapons demonstrations on Saturdays. And the techniques are historically accurate, which still amazes me. I know the Armory museum in Leeds, England also has had demonstrations like these. I hope you have a chance to see demos like these sometime. They’re really cool!

  2. Hi! When you were first starting out in your writing, how did you slay the self doubt demons in your head?

    • Hi Steph. That’s a really good question. I think the most honest answer is that I had to learn to be brave. It’s something that happened very gradually. Probably the best thing I ever did was to go to the Clarion Science Fiction Writing Workshop (if you go to the Links section on my website, there are links to Clarion). It’s a 6-week program held every summer. In the mornings you learn how to critique other students’ work in a productive way — the goal is to help everyone learn and grow. In the afternoons and on weekends you write. It was the first time I met other people who were serious about becoming writers, and that gave me a sense of community. All of a sudden I had a whole group of people I could talk to and run ideas by and ask for advice. But the critiquing sessions — which were utterly terrifying at first — were what got me on the road to learning how to be brave. I feel my responsibility as a writer is to put my heart and soul on the page — that’s my responsibility to my readers. If I don’t take risks and put things down on paper that make me feel terrified, I feel like I’m not doing my job. I’ve found the more terrified I feel when I’m writing, the more people like what I write. When I think about self doubts, I think about fear, and I think it’s important to embrace fear and use it to propel yourself forward. So I think of self doubts and fear as gas to put in the tank — I like to use them as fuel.

  3. Have any of your books already been translated to any foreign languages?

    • Hi Minna. My books haven’t been translated into other languages yet, but there is a potential deal pending right now. I don’t want to say anything about it because it’s not a done deal yet. But I would be thrilled to see it happen!

  4. As I was getting close to the end of The Dragon’s Egg there seemed to be a lot of loose ends and I was wondering how you were going to tie them off. Great job! Not only did you wrap everything up but you did it in such a satisfying way.

    • Hi Don. Thanks so much for such wonderful feedback! One of the biggest challenges of writing this series was keeping all the details straight. Every time I wrote a new book in the series, my first step was to re-read the previous books and take notes. So when I wrote The Dragon’s Egg, I had LOTS of notes in front of me! When I wrote Book 1, I had a vision of where I wanted everything to go. The very end of The Dragon’s Egg is the vision I kept in my head while I wrote the entire series. But, wow, keeping track of all those details and loose ends that kept coming up was a real rollercoaster ride. :-) Thrilling and terrifying at the same time — and worth every minute.

  5. Hi Resa.You are a new author to me. I will have to check out your books.
    How would you describe you main character in three words?

  6. And if you could spend the day with one of your characters who would it be and what would you want to do?

    • Thanks for another great question! This is actually really easy to answer. I’d definitely want to spend a day with Astrid, my main character. And we’d go zip lining! I tried it for the first time recently, and it’s my new favorite thing. I know Astrid would love it as much as I do, and we’d have lots of fun and spend a lot of the day laughing.

  7. Robert L. Stubbs Jr.

    What’s the next thing you would like to research?

    • Hi Robert. I’m working on a new novel right now that’s present-day science fiction. One of my characters is a detective who investigates a murder, so I’ve already worked with a real detective at a police department and it’s been fascinating. At some point there’s a series I want to write that will require a lot of research of the Napoleonic era, which I know nothing about. It’s a series I’ve been thinking about for many years but it’s going to have to wait until I have the time and energy to dive into the research. Thanks for asking!

  8. Great post! What was one of your favorite scenes in the Dragonslayer series to write?

    • Hi Lesley. Thanks so much for the kind words! One of my favorite scenes to write was the first time my main character Astrid is attacked by a dragon. It was really important to me for the attack to happen suddenly and to come out of nowhere, because I wanted it to be as realistic as possible. I modeled my dragons on Komodo dragons, and I think one thing that’s so interesting about Komodo dragons is that they dig out trenches by the side of a path or road, hide in them, and suddenly jump out and attack when something (or someone) walks by. Astrid is a blacksmith, and even though she makes weapons she has no idea how to use one. So I wanted to show her being courageous but not having much luck. And then she does something totally unexpected. You can read this scene for free if you like. My series started out as a couple of short stories and you can download them for free at http://www.resanelson.com/files. This scene is in the first short story. I might have altered it a little bit for the novel, but it’ll show you what I’m talking about.

  9. Hi! You’re a new author for me. Dragons have become all the fashion of late. Are you happy about this or was it better when there were fewer books about them?
    Thank you.

    • Hi Viki. Great question! When I wrote Book 1 in my Dragonslayer series, it was at a time when dragons weren’t popular and that created a problem in trying to sell it. After several rejections, I was lucky to find a publisher who wasn’t overly concerned with trends. I’m really thrilled that dragons are so popular now because I’m hoping more readers will be interested in trying my novels. I always strive to keep my work fresh and original, so I think my books are very different than most books with dragons. But as far as I’m concerned, the more dragons, the merrier!

  10. Where did you do most of the research on sword making?

    • Hi Judy! First, I was reading about Vikings and learned they had a technique that blacksmiths kept secret and handed down from generation to generation, called pattern welding. It’s just like what I talk about in Book 1 — the combining of different pieces of iron to blend strong and weak iron together in one sword. After doing a lot of searching online I found a fabulous book that describes the process of pattern welding step-by-step with lots of photos. That became my main source, but I ended up reading a lot of different books about sword making. Great question — thanks!

  11. Are you still considering an expansion/standalone book from the Dragonslayer series?

    • Hi Dan! Yes, the more I talk to people who either are reading or have read the entire series, the more I’m thinking about a spin-off series. I don’t know if you’ve read The Dragon’s Egg yet, but the spin-off series would begin about 15 to 20 years after Book 4 ends and would focus on the characters at the very end of that book. If you’re interested in a series like that, please let me know!

      • I haven’t read book 4 yet. I’m putting in an order to amazon this weekend, and it’s going to be in that order. But I’m sure that I’d love to read more. I’ll let you know as soon as I get done with The Dragons Egg.

        • Hi Dan. Please do let me know what you think. I’m not going to start a new series until I finish the standalone I’m writing at the moment, so it’s going to be several months. I want to know what you think!

  12. Who are some of your favorite fantasy authors?

    • Hi Bonnie. This question is a little tricky because I try not to read fantasy because I don’t want to be influenced by other fantasy writers. That said, Ray Bradbury has been one of my favorite writers since I was a kid. I’m also a big fan of Connie Willis, although her books tend to mostly be science fiction. I think J.K. Rowling is a genius. I also like Suzanne Collins very much — I’m reading Mockingjay right now. Who do you like?

      • Some of my fantasy authors I adore is Mercedes Lackey – that woman is a genius. She even has music that she wrote for her worlds. Love the Filk. Elaine Cunningham is another, David Edding, Anne Bishop, Jennifer Roberson, RA Salvatore

  13. I haven’t read any of your books yet but I just read the free story and am planning on buying them next time I go to the book store.

    • Thank you so much! I appreciate your reading the free story, because it’s important to me to give people a way to try my work and see if they like it. I hope you enjoy my novels!

  14. Hi! :) That I can understand, even in your own created fantasy world, the need for research. It’s still based on a fair amount from the real world here that we know about, but with maybe a few tweaks and differences to make it your own… the still need the same laws of physics in the end, sort of, if you will…

    Anyway, getting away from something that is supposed to sound like I know what I’m trying to say or whatnot… ;) Okay, the all important question since your are into scifi: a) Star Trek or Star Wars b) favorite characters from answer to part a and c) favorite movie or generation from part a. :)

    Lois

    • Hi Lois. You’re spot on about research — that’s how I feel about it, too. To answer your questions…
      1. Star Wars
      2. Han Solo, R2D2, C3PO
      3. The Empire Strikes Back
      How about you? How would you answer? :-)

      • Well, for me… sometimes it feels like I’m one of the few online that actually love both, but yep both.

        Star Trek – Kirk, Riker, Bashir; Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Original Series, Movies #7, 6 and 5 most of all.

        Star Wars – Overall, Darth Vader, but also younger Obi Wan; Empire Strikes Back, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith and Clone Wars show.

        Yep, that’s mine! :)

        Lois

        • Nice! I like the original Star Trek, too, and I really like the new Star Trek movies. Looking forward to the next one.

          • Duh – I totally forgot about the 2009 Star Trek! Loved that one too… dare I say that I actually like Chris Pike’s Kirk a little more than William Shatner’s… :) But most especially loved the new McCoy – he totally nailed it! :)

            Lois

  15. What was your favorite childhood book?

    • Hi Dovile. That’s a tough question! I read a ton of books when I was a kid. I’m going to choose my first favorite, which is Winnie-the-Pooh. My favorite chapter is when Roo falls into the river, everyone is afraid he’s going to drown, and Roo shouts, “Look at me swimming!” It makes me laugh every time.

  16. Hi,

    is there a genre you would love to write in but haven’t yet?

    • Hi Mary. I’m a huge fan of mysteries, and I don’t think I’ve ever written a pure mystery. I’ve blended elements of mystery in all my books (and some of my short stories), but I’ve never written a mystery that’s just a mystery. I think I’d like to try that, but right now I’m still blending fantasy or science fiction with mystery. Thanks for the question!

  17. Have you ever written fan fiction? For what fandom?

    • Hi Dovile. No, I’ve never written fan fiction. To me, a lot of the fun of writing fiction is coming up with my own characters. So writing fan fiction wouldn’t be nearly as much fun for me as writing my own work. Thanks for the question!

  18. What book do you wish you had written or thought of first?

    • Hi Amber. Frankly, about a year and a half ago I was in the planning stages of a book series that would have been too much like the TV series Grimm (which I love). When I heard of Grimm and saw the first episode, my heart sank because it was just too similar to what I was planning to do, so I scrapped my plans. So on one hand I’m disappointed and on the other hand I’m a fan of Grimm so I can’t complain! When it comes to books, my books are so personal to me and my life that my ideas are usually nothing like ideas I read in other people’s books. For example, I love the Millineum series and especially Lisbeth Salander, but there’s no way I could have written those books or created anyone like Lisbeth.

  19. Now that, is some awesome research. Things that you (most certainly I) would never think to give a try, but how much fun was that to try your hand at being a blaksmith and checking out swords! First hand can never be replaced.

    And thanks for the tip to go check out your Dragonslayer series mini!

    • Hi Lexi. Thanks! I really love doing research — for me it’s one of the most fun things about writing fiction. I had so much fun in my blacksmithing course. And here’s the irony: after I took the course I found out I come from a long line of blacksmiths and that there are currently 3 generations in my extended family who are blacksmithing today! It really makes me wonder if it was some kind of genetic memory that made me want to write about a female blacksmith.

  20. I love that you truly research things. It can be so annoying when reading a book something can be so wrong, that could have been right with just a little research. So saying that does the physical research like actually learning Blacksmith technique help you get into characters that much better and does it help move the story somewhere where it might not have gone without the researching experience ?

    • Hi Michelle. You just hit the nail on the head. Doing research always changes my original plan for a novel, and it’s always for the better. When I took my blacksmithing course, I kept up with my male classmates by finding the smallest hammer that comfortably fit in my hand and choked up on the handle in the same way you’d choke up on a baseball bat. That’s what my main character Astrid does. When I took the course I also learned that blacksmiths make their own tools specifically to fit their own hands and strength. Again, that’s what Astrid does. And in Book 1 Astrid ends up in a similar situation to the one I was in during my blacksmithing course. That’s just one of many examples of things that never would have happened in my books if I hadn’t done research. Doing research is almost like being a character in my own book! :-)

  21. Kerry Amburgy-Dickson

    How did you go about selling your first novel?

    • Hi Kerry. I contacted 100 agents. Ten agents wanted to see a sample but ultimately no one wanted to represent me, which meant I was on my own. Next, I sent my book to every major house that is willing to accept a manuscript without an agent. They all said no. I read an article in Publishers Weekly about how small presses, mid-range publishers, and university presses are doing what major houses used to do, which is to develop a long-term relationship with authors instead of just looking for books that will sell millions. Because I also write short stories, I was already in the habit of using ralan.com to look up markets, so I went there to look for smaller publishing houses. I found one that I thought would be the best match, sent in my novel, and they accepted it. I’m really lucky in that they’ve liked and published every novel I’ve written, and they’re an excellent house. I’m so happy with them.

  22. You must be some empath. How did you mentally place yourself in the shoes of a paraplegic?

    • Hi Lexi. Oddly enough, I was having a day where I was feeling extremely sorry for myself. I was feeling hopeless and remembered a TV report I’d seen about quadraplegics and technology. All of a sudden, I felt an incredibly strong connection with quadraplegics. I felt like I couldn’t relate to anybody other than quadraplegics. It was night, so I turned out the lights and soaked in those feelings. I don’t know how to explain it, but I’ve always worked hard at putting myself in other people’s shoes and trying to understand how they feel and what their point of view is. Weird, huh?

  23. I am totally going to download your free mini book and check it out. Books sound like something that I would love to read ! Thanks.

  24. Howdy Resa!

    Did growing up in a liberal oasis in the corner of a conservative state influence your decision to write fantasy?

    [and yes, I did go to Jr. High, High School, and undergraduate college with Resa]

    • Hi Marcia! I’m so happy to see you here! That’s a really interesting question. I think it had a huge impact on my decision to become a writer. i think it still has a big impact on the themes I choose. Growing up in our hometown did a lot to shape who I am. And I think it’s a big reason why I live in Massachusetts. Actually, I think the fact that our school system was so awesome and that we could take courses like Science Fiction really helped. So, yeah … I think so. Thanks for coming to my release party! :-)

  25. I think it’s unbelieveably awesome that you did your research like this! So when you first thought up Astrid as a blacksmith, were there things that drastically changed after you took the courses?

    Thanks!

    Oh and I did have more questions, but I went to your website and got completely distracted by the Matt videos. So now I can’t remember all of them. But I hadn’t watched those in a while, since he changed the dancing up. So very cool and so sweet!

    • Hi Rae. Thanks so much! Yes, taking the blacksmithing course completely changed the way I thought about Astrid when she’s working. Sometimes I’d take notes in class, like the way the fire changes color, the way iron sounds when you hammer it on the anvil, stuff like that. But I really noticed the way I felt being the only woman and being so much smaller than my classmates. At the same time, my arms were getting so strong that I began to see myself differently — I began to see myself as being really strong and powerful even though I’m just a shade under 5’2″. Plus I gained an appreciation for blacksmithing as a craft. My teacher was amazing. He’d show us what we’d be making at the beginning of each class. He’d start with a piece of iron and it seemed like he’d turn it into a finished product in just a few minutes. It took the rest of us 3 hours to do the same thing and not nearly as well! There were just so many things I learned that really changed my perspective. And the weapons courses also made a huge difference throughout the entire series. So much of what’s in the series is real and true — there’s almost as much nonfiction as fiction. Thanks for asking! (And thanks for telling me you watched the Matt videos. Isn’t he great?)

  26. It’s nice to meet a new-to-me author! Your books sound interesting.
    Where do you write?

    • Hi Cheryl. It’s nice to meet a new-to-me reader! :-) Thanks so much for the kind words. I write at my dining room table. Sometimes I type and other times I use voice recognition. Books 1 and 2 in my Dragonslayer series (plus a standalone novel) were written by voice. Then my beloved 17-year-old computer died at some point while I was writing Book 2. I typed Books 3 and 4. I’m just now getting back in the habit of using voice recognition again. The funny thing is that I can’t tell the difference between books that I typed and books that I wrote using voice recognition. I know Book 2 is a mix, but I have no idea where I stopped using voice and started typing.

  27. As a lover of fantasy books… and writing her own.. I can understand the research of certain things. I know I have a few blacksmith characters that I did endless searches on-line to do little snippet writing (nothing for a novel but role play). I’ve even researched metal jewelry making, soap making, etc.

  28. If you could live in a literary world what one would you choose?

    See I would live in Valdemar or Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar world. I would LOVE to be a shin’a'in, hawkbrother or even a Herald (to have a horse companion that spoke mentally to me.)

    • Hi Raonaid. Great choice! The first thing that pops in my head is Connie Willis’s Doomsday Book. The whole idea of doing time travel as a requirement to earn a college degree is too hard to resist.

  29. Did you ever do extensive research on something, then later realized it didn’t really fit with what you were writing about? If so, did it feel like a waste of time?

    • Hi Bethany. That’s an excellent question. It’s never happened with what I call “physical” research (like taking courses in blacksmithing and using medieval weapons), but it happens sometimes when I do library research. But it doesn’t feel like a waste of time. I just see it as part of the process. For example, while I was writing my first novel I read dozens of nonfiction books that added nothing to my novel. But the next book in my pile of research books had one tidbit of information that sparked an idea that runs through the entire series. I might never have discovered that one tidbit if I wasn’t willing to wade through the entire stack of books. Considering how important that little bit of information turned out to be, it was worth every second.

  30. are you going to right some books in are time zone?
    Not Just the Future are the Past.

    • Hi Stacey. Yes! I’ve already written a standalone novel that takes place in our world right now. It’s called Our Lady Of The Absolute, and the fantasy part is that somewhere in the world there’s a place where people live like they did in ancient Egypt, including worshipping the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt — and they hate dealing with foreigners even though they’re willing to work with them. That’s actually my favorite of all the books I’ve written. (I’m a big fan of ancient Egypt.) Also, the book I’m writing now takes place in our world and is set in our time. Technically, it uses an idea that’s science fiction but I’m hoping it’ll read more like a murder mystery. Thanks for asking!

  31. Is there any special way that you celebrated either when you got “the call” or release day? A special dinner, drink, party, buying something that you had been wishing for?

    • Hi June. The only thing I do is that whenever I get my copies of a new book, I open the book and pull out the first copy I see — that becomes “my” copy of the book that I keep on my bookshelves. But I do have rituals before I begin writing a new book. The night before I start writing, I have a dinner that is symbolic of the book I’m about to write. For example, the night before I started writing The Dragonslayer’s Sword I got takeout from a local Chinese restaurtant and the dish I got was called Dragon and Phoenix. There’s also one movie I watch after I have my symbolic dinner. I imagine inviting all the characters from the book I’m about to write to come into my home and watch the movie with me, because it’s about a writer and his relationship with the characters he creates. By the time the movie is over, I always feel bonded with my new characters and ready to get started on the new book. I used to worry about how real my characters feel to me until a friend told me, “If your characters don’t feel real to you, how can they feel real to your readers?” So now I just embrace it. :-)

  32. did you research science fiction when you wrote your first story? just curious.

    • Hi Mark. I started writing short stories when I was in the second grade, so technically the answer is no. :-) I did start doing research once I became an adult, but I didn’t do much at first. I do lots of research for novels, but I tend to do less for short stories just because I don’t want to waste time. When I write science fiction, the science tends to be in an area where I already have some knowledge or where I know someone who can bring me up to speed. Sometimes I’ll have a short story that needs more research, but I’m finding that I can draw upon research I’ve already done for novels for some of my stories. Thanks for the question!

  33. great post
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  34. Do you have any plans for more hands on research? The blacksmithing and using swords sounded interesting.

    • Hi Susan. Yeah, the blacksmithing and swordwork were both really fun. I’m working on a novel right now where one of the main characters is a small-town police detective, so I’ve been working with my local police department. It’s been really interesting and helpful. Some things I’ve learned I never would have thought of on my own but they make perfect sense.

  35. I’m a Fantasy fiend and have been since Terry Brooks and Anne McCaffrey captured and stretched my imagination. And I agree with you completely about research. Fantasy requires the reader to believe the unbelievable and embrace the improbable, which means a successful story requires the reader to trust it. The first inaccuracy or sloppiness with known facts destroys the trust between the reader and author, and the spell is broken.

    • Hi Storm. I’m glad to hear your thoughts, and what you’ve said makes perfect sense to me. One thing that I’ve experienced several times is that when I’ve run stories or novels through my critique group, it’s the factual stuff that people have a hard time believing. For example, when I put Book 1 (The Dragonslayer’s Sword) through the group I was in at the time, one woman in the group said she was thrown out of the novel because she couldn’t believe a woman could be a blacksmith. After she finished with her critique, I told her about the course I had taken. I’ve met some female blacksmiths since then, and I’m sure they’d be surprised to hear her opinion.

  36. HEIDI SHAFER-WILSON

    I think its great u do research for your books..Do you have a favorite author that you read their books and helped you become a great writer?
    Thanks for your wonderful stories ….

    • Hi Heidi. Thank you so much for the kind words! I think every author I’ve ever read has helped me. When I admire a book, I learn by studying exactly what the author has done. And when I read a book I don’t like, I learn what not to do. So I feel like I’m constantly learning and growing, and every book I read helps me along the way.

  37. What is your favorite part of the story process?

    • Hi Donna. My favorite part of the story process is the very beginning. I’ll spend years thinking about a novel before I write it. When I get to the point where I decide I’m going to write it and start working on the outline, it’s so exciting because it feels like the beginning of an adventure. Anything can happen, and I love not knowing exactly how the book is going to turn out. I also love the act of writing. Putting words on paper is the best part of my day. Thanks for the question!

  38. I havn’t read your books yet but I’m very intrigued do they are definitely going on my TO READ list! I really do appreciate the research. It makes fantasy stories kind of educating. You’re not making anything up, you’re just telling the truth so a reader can lern stuff (okay, tbh I don’t think I’m gonna need knowledge for example about blacksmithing but who knows?). My question is: when you litteraly sitting down in front of your computer to write a book, you need to be inspired/in some kind of special mood? Or you can just sit and write whatever is happening?

    • Hi Paulina. Thanks so much for the kind words and for a great question! I used to think I had to be inspired until I reached a point where I was in school full-time (for a career-changers program) and working a day job full-time. I couldn’t see any way to keep writing, and the thought of not writing for a year wasn’t acceptable. I had a boyfriend who came up with a plan. The one free night I had was Wednesday night, and he told me to go into a room for an hour or so and write every Wednesday night. At first, nothing happened. But after a few weeks I discovered that I’d been thinking about what I wanted to write and when that little slice of time came when I could sit at a computer, the words came spilling out. Ever since then, that’s how I work. I set aside scheduled slices of time to write each week. Because I got into the habit of thinking about what I want to write, those words come spilling out onto the paper pretty much every time.

  39. What are your thoughts on audiobooks? Listen to them at all?

    • Hi Joani. I don’t know why, but I struggle when I try to listen to an audio book. One moment I’ll be listening and engaged in the story, and the next minute I’ll be thinking about something else! Then I have to go back and figure out where I stopped paying attention and start over again. Sometimes this happens while I’m reading, and it’s much easier to go back and find the place where the book lost me and my mind started wandering. The weird thing is that I don’t have this problem when I watch movies or TV — I completely sink into the world and get lost in it. Maybe I’m just a really visual person.

  40. I agree with you 100% on research. I recently released an interactive novel game based on Chinese literature, folklore, and kung fu movies. I am sure that I still got details wrong — there’s a lot of material there! — but I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching people do martial arts forms with various weapons, looking up details from Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and watching scenes from kung fu movies to make sure I was capturing the tone I wanted. (And I wrapped in as much real-world martial arts, based on the style I already study, as I could!)

    I *love* that you took a blacksmithing class. That’s really going the extra mile!

  41. You are a new author for me and I am also new to reading this genre. I will be adding this book to my buy list. Thanks for the giveaway.
    lauratroxelatyahoodotcom

  42. Stefanie Gladden ( Ann Lyfe )

    what inspires you to write?

    • Hi Stefanie. First, I love stories. I never get tired of watching movies or good TV shows. I feel like a little kid at bedtime who wants just one more story before going to sleep. I feel the same way about creating stories. I never get tired of doing it, and I see stories in things all around me. When I was really little — a pre-schooler — I constantly made up stories to entertain myself. It’s become a life-long habit. The bottom line is that I feel constantly surrounded by stories and it’s a matter of picking and choosing the ones I want to tell. Thanks for the question!

  43. if you could invite 3 people to dinner living, dead, real, or imagarinary who would they be and why.

    • Hi Pamk. Wow, what a difficult question. Frankly, the first thing that popped in my head was Harry, Ron, and Hermione. I think it’s because I feel like I already know them and I’d like to catch up and see how they’re doing.

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