An Interview with author Susan Faw
Susan Faw is a Young Adult author who writes intriguing and award winning fantasy books. Her stories can be enjoyed by readers of all ages from young adult on into old age, you won’t be disappointed.
1. What are the titles of your work and can you tell us a bit about them?
My titles, in order, are:
Seer of Souls
These titles make up The Spirit Shield Saga. It is now a complete series.
The books follow the struggles of a fractured family of godlings, struggling to control the souls of the world. When sibling rivalry is elevated to the level of the gods, survival is highly over rated!
Who’s your favorite character from your books?
I seem to do evil antagonist really well. I think I have had a lot of experience with the evil side of mankind so it lends to limitless fodder to feed on, when creating my evil characters. So my vote goes to Helga.
Alright, I have to do this one. You just won the overall at the Chanticleer book awards. That’s a big deal! How do you feel?
OMG how do I feel? Shocked. Amazed. I keep checking the awards on my wall (I put them in a shadow box to protect them) to make sure they are still there, like they might vanish or something. I think all authors are introverts at heart, so I keep looking for the other author with the same name. There must be a mistake, right?
It just goes to show that you can have a crap load of bad reviews (I have plenty, and those early troll-baited “DNF 36%” reviews hurt. Badly. I actually had Seer of Souls scheduled for a new round of edits I thought it was that bad. I was supposed to start them in January. I postponed them because making the first cut. And then the second cut. I mean you can’t mess with a manuscript that is in the running, right?
I always thought I could write. The biggest thing, for me, about this win is the sense of VALIDATION. It’s not just me saying this. Someone else says it, and not because I begged, not because I traded favours. The impartiality of it means so much!
So, fantasy, huh? I’m a massive fan of the world you’ve created in Seer of Souls. What is the biggest challenge to writing in a genre where everything has to be made from your own mind?
Well, I live in a world of my own making every day. So do my characters. I think we both live in the same world, so it’s more like we visit back and forth. I like to live in their world more than mine, so I do! And if I really get stuck I go find some wacky element to bring into play and watch how my characters react to it, such as the flutes or the soul fetches. Adding an unusual element always gets the creative juices flowing!
Gods living among humans has been done before many times, yet you still manage to pull something unique out of it. What’s your secret? – promise we won’t tell <;
I think most other series have left them as gods. I liked the idea of the gods sacrificing themselves to save the world. It’s a very common religious theme, right? But forgetting that they did so makes it fun, as the quest to discover who they are becomes a race to their own doom. (I am trying to not give away too much here, so I will say no more!)
What authors have inspired you to write?
Hands down, JK Rowling, and Robert Jordan, for the uniqueness of their series and their skill at their craft. I also credit Brandon Sanderson, more so for his podcast, Writing Excuses. It was the first podcast I listened to, to learn the craft of writing a book, especially fantasy. His podcast was pivotal in my growth and eventual decision to become an author.
What age were you when you started writing?
If you consider writing to be story-telling, then I have been writing since before I could write. When my sister and I were about four or five, we would play this game where we would pick a picture at random from the National Geographic and we would have to create, on the spot, a story to explain the picture. We would play this for hours and I can remember laughing at the silly stories we came up with.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I would call it more writer’s slow down. Most writer’s block is, simply not understanding where your story is going. For me, I am pantster through and through. I never know where it’s going. So what I do is throw in one of those random elements again, and figure it out from there. For example, I dropped a meteor on Ryder’s band in Seer of Souls, where it wiped out half of a village. I left it completely unexplained because I didn’t know where it came from either. But then in Soul Sanctuary, I figured it out. It was an explosion from the mountain during one of Helga’s experiments. She was responsible for it :-p. Whew. That was a close one…
Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Pantser baby, all the way! I find outlines kill my creativity. I have an over-arching idea of where the story is going, but it’s more like A,B,C, you know, the three act structure, than an outline.
Do you ever get sad when you realize that the characters that you’ve created aren’t real?
Yes, and not just my characters but other people’s characters too. I really wish I could meet Harry Potter. Just once.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
When I finished writing Seer of Souls, I really had no idea what to do with it next. Those podcasts from Brandon Sanderson were craft related, and he is a traditionally published author, so he really didn’t address the indie world. I knew people were indie publishing but I had no idea what to do or where to start. I had a friend who was an editor (she is retired now) and she pointed me towards some people I should be following (Kristen Lamb was one of the first, and Rachel Thompson) and it was through the connection with Rachel Thompson that I heard about Booktrope. I queried twice before being accepted in. Booktrope was a hybrid small press, and I got my start there, for they took my book and helped me find my editor and my cover designer, who are still with me to this day. They helped me get Seer of Souls published, in February of 2016 before they closed their doors on May 1st, 2016. It was the start I needed and after that closure, I had learned enough to take it to the next phase as a fully independent author.
If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Not really. I needed the help to figure everything out. I will be forever grateful to Booktrope for giving me the foot up. Their model was unique, a blend of indie and traditional. I was sad to see it go down.
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
As The Spirit Shield Saga is now complete, I am working on a brand new series entitled “The Heart Of The Citadel”. It will be a series combining dragons and djinn (genies)…or if you wish (say it aloud with me) Djinn and Dragons! Hahaha
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism has been that my characters lack development. Patently false, but it still stings. My best compliment? From a reader, that they couldn’t put the book down and stayed up all night just to finish it.
From a reviewer, came this email, from the Book Pipeline Competiton, just after my Chanticleer win.
With regards to your submission for the 2016 Book Pipeline Competition, below is the internal feedback from our judges, commenting primarily on the entry’s film or TV potential. Although the notes are relatively brief, we trust this will help give you a bit of insight into our process.
Seer of Souls
This piece is incredibly well-written. The vivid exposition and intrigue, engaging plot design and heightened stakes all exposed in the opening chapter acted as clear evidence to the writer’s skillful abilities in the fantasy genre. This narrative felt as though it had the potential to reach the heights of an epic fantasy series like LORD OF THE RINGS while at the same time adding something new and fresh in the midst of familiar tones and fantasy elements. Immortals being born as human beings and a magic system that finds its roots in established fantasy works added with the maturity of a well-established voice all came together with the potential of creating an excellent fantasy-adventure. There is no doubt that the writing employs the use of large cinematic descriptions that would translate very well to screen and if this narrative’s execution proves as provoking as the writing style, it could very well attract producers and studios interested in finding the next epic fantasy film.”
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write what you love. Write with passion. Write the best you can, being conscious of quality and heart. Do this, rinse, repeat. We write because we love to tell stories. So tell them!
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I listen to a CD of Lord Of The Rings music over and over and over, by Peter Hollens. It becomes mood music.
I also write on the deck under my patio umbrella. I will spend all day there in the summertime. I love to write outside.
What others are saying about Susan:
“I love fantasy if it’s well-written. The world-building has to be competent, the characters engaging and the plot well-realized and significantly short on holes. Susan Faw’s Seer of Souls checked all three boxes.”
“A great edition to an over saturated genre, and the author has real talent holding the reader’s attention through the complex storyline.”
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