Booktrovert Reader Podcast

Interview with YA Fantasy Author: Vanessa Lanang

August 10, 2023 Charity the Booktrovert Reader Season 1 Episode 24
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
Interview with YA Fantasy Author: Vanessa Lanang
Booktrovert Reader Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript

Hello Readers!
In this episode, I met an amazing YA fantasy indie author Vanessa Lanang who wrote Fireheart.
A coming-of-age YA fantasy book where there is magic, fire breathing dragons, and a slayer school. A fantastic young adult fantasy novel for teens.

What we discuss in this episode:
✨Inspiration behind writing Fireheart as a YA Fantasy
✨Behind the magic system of her book
✨How Vanessa tackles the challenges of writing YA fantasy and how she overcomes them
✨Her thoughts on the world of AI writing books
✨How Vanessa researched and planned her writing

Purchase her book on Amazon: Fireheart by Vanessa Lanang

Follow Vanessa Lanang:
Instagram and Threads: @vanessalanangauthor

Twitter: @vanessalanang

Readers can sign up for my substack/newsletter on my website: http://www.vanessalanang.com
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Author Interview Vanessa Lanang 8.8.23

 U1 

 0:00 

 Hi, readers. This is Charity, a host of booktrovert reader Podcast. I have another guest with me today. She is a fantasy author. She wrote Fire Heart, which is a Ya fantasy novel. Okay. Vanessa Lenong, thank you for jumping on with me today. Tell me about yourself and your 

 U2 

 0:16 

 book. So I write ya fantasy. I actually like several genres in Ya by day, I'm actually a book editor, so edit? Yes, I edit pretty much all genres of Ya and romance. Fireheart is actually technically my third book. I wrote other it's like sports fiction books for Ya readers two years ago, but this one's my first full length book. Those were kind of like novella late. Fire Heart takes place at a dragon slayer school during an ongoing war for the control of magic, where you have Kalia, a young dragon slayer that discovers the school is corrupt. And she searches out her father, who is a commander of a military, while secretly hunting the dragon that killed her mother when she was young. So she comes to find out she lived a very sheltered life and knows nothing of the world of magic because they keep it completely censored in the military school. And like myself, she's of mixed descent and explores themes of not feeling like she fits in between two different worlds. In this case, the dragon slayer school and the world of magic. But she does learn that everything we need has always been inside of us, and it's very much coming of age story of self discovery and a world full of truths we're not ready to face. 

 U1 

 1:30 

 Okay. I like how you describe that because I got through part of it, and I liked how you described it, the coming of age of this main character, a Kalia. 

 U2 

 1:41 

 Kalia. 

 U1 

 1:42 

 And yeah, they call them the Slayers. Basically. They hunt dragons and things like that. And I like that specifically just because dragons are the enemy in this particular 

 U2 

 1:54 

 story. Right. 

 U1 

 1:56 

 So you say that you are an editor. What got you into writing in the first place? The 

 U2 

 2:03 

 editing part of I guess my career has really only been happening in the last few years. I started writing because I've just always been a voracious reader at a really young age, and I was the kid that instead of going out and doing fun things in the summer, I was reading Yay. 3s Who needs outdoor activities when you have the library, right? The pizza competitions. Yes. 

 U1 

 2:31 

 Thank you. They need to bring that back. 

 U2 

 2:33 

 I started writing probably in I mean, I would write things like, when I was in school, like, nothing that was publishable, just loved telling stories. And eventually I started writing, and I did take a little bit of a break, and I came back to it. I joined a writing group and I don't know, I've spent, like, the last ten years kind of writing and honing my craft, and I end up working with this publisher that we we talked very much about how hard traditional publishing. Is, especially when you're looking for a Big Five publisher and you need to get an agent. And there's just so many great stories out there that aren't being told. I helped them launch a company for independent publishing. Wow. 

 U1 

 3:12 

 Yeah. Because I think I was video the doom scroll. 1s Is that what they call it now? Yeah, the Doom Scroll 1s about how much of an impact Amazon had on the publishing company and how competitive it is just to get into the Big Five publishing. And then once you're in, you're locked in. And I find that very fascinating to those authors because I found lately the ones that are not more independently published are the best told stories I've been coming across lately. And now I'm like, okay, I need to diverse. Now I'll get away from the big box stores, basically, and just read more of them. I love it. Yeah, I love that about you, about how you're doing that. Obviously those skills played into editing. Did you get someone else to edit your book or did you edit your own 

 U2 

 4:03 

 book? Oh, no, I would never edit my own. Seriously. You're too close to the material to see the mistakes and what other people see. And I always think that collaboration really takes you further. So even if you decide to self publish your own book, you should really look into getting a professional editor. Just story structure, for pacing, all those things. You really can't do it on your own. 

 U1 

 4:30 

 What would you say is the hardest part about publishing your own book? I would say as an introvert, it's really hard to put yourself on a platform and be like, look at my book. The marketing part has really been the hardest part. Right. 

 U2 

 4:46 

 Writing is a very solitary kind of profession, and you get to create this world and you do it pretty much on your own. And even when you're working with an editor and someone who's doing your book cover, you never really see them. Everything is your email, so you're still kind of like, it's just you. And then now you have to sell your book after you've published it. It's not natural. 

 U1 

 5:13 

 Yeah, I get that. I mean, I've talked about myself a few times at editing and I'm like, no, take that out. 2s Because you're private. That's why I call myself the booktubert. Right, exactly. In your writing, would you say that you're a planner or a prankster when you were writing? 

 U2 

 5:33 

 So, the very first book I ever wrote that I had considered for publication, I totally panced it. And when it came to edits, it was the most horrible experience I ever had. And I decided, I will never do that again. 

 U1 

 5:49 

 Now I'm an extreme plotter. I do and then after I've done a beat sheet, write out all the scenes, and I do individual story arcs for every scene. 2s Fireheart. Actually, once the chapters were written, I made sure there's actually three scenes per chapter, and each scene has its own individual arc. Okay. I 

 U2 

 6:10 

 went to the extreme. 

 U1 

 6:13 

 I've heard spreadsheets, I've heard slight prancing, but still planning. So I always love asking that because everyone's writing style is unique. Have you abandoned any pieces of work that you'd done? You have two. I'm assuming they're romances, right? Which ones? The sports 

 U2 

 6:31 

 ones? Yes. So actually, I wrote those for a book imprint that specializes in what they call the reluctant reader. 

 U1 

 6:40 

 Okay. What that is is basically they're writing content for teenagers, but it's written at a fourth grade reading level for those who that their reading level isn't quite as high because it's hard for 

 U2 

 6:53 

 teenagers to read about to read middle grade book because the content, they just can't relate to the content. So it's written at a fourth grade reading level. I have a snowboarding book and a basketball book, and so there isn't actually any romantic arc in there. Basically, like, individual struggle, coming of age things. 

 U1 

 7:10 

 I see a theme coming of age. Yes. 

 U2 

 7:15 

 I read and write almost 100% young adult. Okay. 

 U1 

 7:19 

 Have you started anything and then decide to abandon it or planning on revisiting it anytime in the future? I would say that very first book I ever wrote. That one's in the dust. 3s And then I do have a folder on my laptop where I keep all these things that I've kind of started. I don't know, maybe I'll revisit them. I feel like as a writer, I've grown, and it's really hard to go back and revisit some of those older projects that I've kind of started. I am working right now on a short story for an anthology, and it is 

 U2 

 7:55 

 Ya, but it's a little bit kind of like a thriller. 

 U1 

 7:59 

 Okay, that's definitely a little different than your fantasy book. Yeah, 

 U2 

 8:05 

 I'll revisit fantasy again. There was an opportunity, so I decided to write for it. 

 U1 

 8:11 

 You never know, you might have a talent or a knack for it. 1s We'll see. So just to talk a little bit about Fireheart because that's what we want to promote. What inspired this setting in this world of magic for 

 U2 

 8:29 

 was probably I didn't necessarily start in fantasy. I enjoyed horror, and I went through this Dystopian phase. I'm sure 

 U1 

 8:38 

 you probably read like, Divergent 

 U2 

 8:40 

 and Hunger Games and all these books by Cassandra Clare, and I kind of slowly shifted into fantasy. I kind of wanted to create a world that I felt like was a little bit different. I'm not really into epic 

 U1 

 8:55 

 fantasy, 

 U2 

 8:57 

 and so I kind of wanted to. 1s The interesting thing part about this book is that it had originally started as a fantasy with Sci-Fi elements in it. Okay. And when I had brought this to critique group, they were like, you kind of got to pick a lane. It's either Sci-Fi or it's either fantasy. Now I see things where people do these mashups of both. 

 U1 

 9:23 

 There was a lot of science face elements to the magic that I ended up taking out. And so it's kind of evolved into fantasy only. Yeah. I don't know 1s when I work on this type of stuff, 1s the fantasy part of it does have a kind of pants feeling to it. Okay. So it's kind of evolved that way. And then, of course, I go back and I make sure that the rules work and that there's no holes, as you can say, plot holes no one likes. 

 U2 

 9:55 

 Right. Exactly. 

 U1 

 9:57 

 What inspired you, this story? Some people had a dream, some saw video game. Like, what inspired you for this one? I 

 U2 

 10:05 

 just really wanted to write a story about dragons. 1s It kind of came out from there. I was like, I want to do dragons, but I want to do something maybe a little bit different. And the dragons are not they are kind of the enemy in this, but they're not all exactly the same. There are some that I guess are nice, are friendly. I kind of also wanted to like we were talking about themes, and I do always have this kind of theme of identity in it. And so I also wanted a character that kind of found her, is like on this journey of identity just based in this world that kind of, I feel like is a little bit of a reflection of the world that we live in today. 

 U1 

 10:47 

 Yeah, because I think that's the main theme is that she grew up in this culture. Her father was the general of the Slayers and everything. And then she's kind of realizing that it's not all the way it seems. It seems like the people above them are cruel and they don't serve justice even. It says in the synopsis, they put to death Slayers. So she's brought to question everything that her whole culture she grew up in. I felt that and I saw that her doing that, and I think it's just a development of her throughout the plot. How did you develop the magic system in your head? You said you had some scientific things behind it and then you took it out. So how did you create that? 

 U2 

 11:29 

 So what I tend to do when you kind of get an idea, I don't go straight the plotting end of it. I might write a few key scenes that I've kind of had in my head that I've brainstormed a little bit and then I use it kind of as a basis for how I'm going to expand on it. I might be like this character, I want them to be able to do this. I have this key scene in my mind, and maybe this is going to happen. And after I write those scenes, I start to take out those elements, those fantastical elements. And use them as, I guess, kind of like an outline for the magical world that they exist in. 

 U1 

 12:06 

 Did any of your characters are inspired by anybody in your life or anything like that? 

 U2 

 12:11 

 No, I don't think 

 U1 

 12:14 

 mean, like, I 

 U2 

 12:15 

 would probably base the main character on myself. Not that I'm on any type of fantastical 

 U1 

 12:22 

 journey. Are you sure about the magical Batman or something? 

 U2 

 12:26 

 Don't tell anybody, 

 U1 

 12:29 

 but 

 U2 

 12:29 

 just, I guess, like personal struggles growing up. I mean, of course they're not going to be exactly the same, but just going through trying to figure out where you belong in the world. Yeah. 

 U1 

 12:41 

 Gosh. Especially as you're a reader. Right. People went to summer camps and I'm like, just don't bother me. Yeah. 1s With you writing I think you wrote this. Did you publish this last year, right. In 2022, right? Yes. So this is way before force wing Hype, obviously. Had you had to fight for any originality when you were writing this story, or how did you go about that? Because I know there's like so much you edit quite a bit too. I 

 U2 

 13:13 

 actually don't edit too much fantasy. We're fairly selective when it comes to fantasy, just because the market is tough. There's so much fantasy out there. And like you said, you didn't even come across some of these indie fantasy books till recently. And there's so much out there. 

 U1 

 13:29 

 Okay, so you said that with you being an editor, you're very particular about what books you edit in fantasy. Do you have to fight with kind of the originality and finding your own place in the fantasy world with all the competitions out 

 U2 

 13:43 

 there? I think it is very challenging. There's so many great fantasy writers, of course, that came before me. And I don't read epic fantasy. Right. I prefer low fantasy, something that it's a little more accessible. It's not completely like the world building isn't a major, major part of the 

 U1 

 14:04 

 book because when you read epic fantasy, there are just pages of what the world hails. I'm in awe of that, to be able to do that. So I do think it is hard for originality. Especially when I was bringing this to critique group, there were some fantasy readers in there and they're like, oh, this has been done, this has been done. And I'm like, well, I haven't even read that book. I take it from somewhere. I kind of look at it in the perspective of there are hardly very few original ideas. 

 U2 

 14:32 

 And it's really about you putting yourself into that work and it's in the detail and how you present it would be the best way to look at it. I kind of wanted to well, maybe this has already been done. I'm going to tell it in the way that I want to tell it. Hopefully people will see the difference 

 U1 

 14:51 

 in it. Do you think there is a benefit or to not reading that kind of fantasy that helped you with your novel, creating it because you're not obviously influenced. By what they did. You did it by your imagination and your creativity. I think it helps in the sense that that's not sitting in the back of my head when I'm writing. I have a little more freedom. But then I feel like I 

 U2 

 15:13 

 would have also liked to have read those books or those stories just so that I knew what was out 

 U1 

 15:19 

 there. What would you find is the most challenging thing about writing fantasy and how do you overcome those challenges? 

 U2 

 15:26 

 I would say the world building and keeping everything and not missing everything is the hardest 

 U1 

 15:33 

 because you create a 

 U2 

 15:34 

 world, you really have to make notes on what you put out there so that all of a sudden, whatever magical spell hasn't changed, because your readers will notice. Even if you don't notice, your readers will notice where you made a mistake. Now, there's a fantastical element that is able to happen that wasn't able to happen earlier in the story. I tend to go on Pinterest, and I make a pinterest board of scenes and images and things that are in the story so that I have visuals. I'll even print them out and I'll post them all over the wall. I look like I'm somebody's demise. 

 U1 

 16:08 

 Just as long as there's no red string 

 U2 

 16:12 

 so my wall will look like that. And then 

 U1 

 16:14 

 I do character sheets for 

 U2 

 16:16 

 each of the main characters so that I can remember what color their hair is, their eyes, what they're wearing, some of their favorite lines. And I think that's the most challenging part is just keeping it all intact and being really familiar with the world. 

 U1 

 16:32 

 I like that because you're used to Pinterest being home decorating, wedding planning, and hopefully that is food that you make one day. But 

 U2 

 16:42 

 dragons and fighting, archery, and these weird lands that I managed to find on there. 

 U1 

 16:50 

 Hey, that's cool. Now I'm like, I need to restructure my Pinterest life because I didn't think, no more 

 U2 

 16:57 

 DIY. It's fun. There's actually some really great pictures in there, and then I'll pull pictures of what I think the characters look like. So it's like we were talking about with all these strange pictures with dragons, and then they'll be like Henry Cobble. 

 U1 

 17:12 

 This is a random question that kind of popped up my head, and only because you're an editor. There's a thing going around with the AI. I even saw another bookstagrammer says, hey, for fun. I just wrote a chapter for it with AI. And I'm like, oh, boy. Where is this world coming through? 1s What is your thoughts on that with AI being evolved? 

 U2 

 17:32 

 Even as an really, you know, controversial? 

 U1 

 17:37 

 I've 

 U2 

 17:37 

 also worked in the entertainment industry because I live here in Los Angeles and who are in the Writers Guild. 2s I think it's very challenging. I'm not necessarily pro AI as far as creatives go. There's so many creatives out there, and we already struggle with trying to get our work out there and to. 1s Able to make a living off of know so many creatives have to take second jobs in order to write or make movies or create. And I think that it's right for them to strike and try to get paid for the work that they're doing instead of it being outsourced to AI. So I think it's really scary for authors that have had success on Amazon and publishing and have made livings now creating books to have somebody who is looking at it more from a business perspective. And it's just like, well, I'm just going to throw in an idea. AI is going to write my book and I'm just going to publish it and put it on Ku. Because, I mean, you can slap a book together. You get some stock images, some pre made covers and have AI whatever, write your story. And then you make up money. And I feel like you steal a space from creatives that are putting a lot of their heart into their work in order to create stories that they want to tell. 

 U1 

 18:58 

 Right. And I think even AI can design book covers. Right, 

 U2 

 19:02 

 exactly. And then that hurts. Also the people who are graphic designers that depend on creating art. I've seen some of these AI websites. They're actually stealing art that's already pre made and just editing it. And there's like, to a certain degree that when you edit it, it now becomes a different copyright. It no longer belongs to the original creator. There's a lot of gray area in there. 

 U1 

 19:25 

 I'm slightly up to date because my sister is firing her be a movie director in the thriller genre horror. And she's talking about that. It's always interesting to hear about it, especially as like, when you said California, I was like, oh yeah, that's right. She is in California. So you're definitely in the 1s I'm not I'm not a WGA writer because I don't do but my very close friend, like, even when before all this happened, just trying to get work and getting paid properly and getting credited properly is a struggle. So then now you throw in 

 U2 

 19:59 

 where you're going to have to fight with a robot, be able to work to survive. Right. When it comes to money, it's like you'll never win. AI is cheap. All right. I wanted to ask you because I'm like a dark turn. 

 U1 

 20:14 

 I like getting information about what's actually happening. So that's why I want to know. 

 U2 

 20:18 

 Yeah, no, it's good. I think it is a topic that needs to be acknowledged. 

 U1 

 20:23 

 So you mentioned dabbling into thriller. Is there any other genres that you want to get into writing? 

 U2 

 20:29 

 I wish I could say crime fiction, but I'm not good at detective stories. 2s It's not really in my wheelhouse. That's why when I edit, I stick to certain genres. I've dabbled in romance. I don't know about necessarily writing full romance, but I do like to have a little romance and fantasy. Yeah, I don't know. Maybe that we'll 

 U1 

 20:52 

 see. Especially with the romanticy trend these days, I think. 

 U2 

 20:58 

 Yeah. 2s I've done contemporary romance. Like, I've co written something with another author that's not published. I feel like romanticy is like a whole nother beast. I've seen that's, how popular it really is. But I'm like, man, how do you write? Like, do you write dragon sex? How do you do this? I Saw Snake one version. I didn't read it, but snakes are or you're like, my no zone. 

 U1 

 21:28 

 And I'm like, no, but, yeah, I think it's a genre. It's not romance or fantasy. It's a genre. It's a 

 U2 

 21:37 

 genre, yeah. I would feel comfortable editing it because I feel like I can pull from different places. I feel like I do a good job of seeing the bigger picture and really honing in on the details. But I think writing it, I would be a little bit out of my elements to write Romanticy, 

 U1 

 21:54 

 which I've heard with some authors, sometimes emotions are hard for them or action scenes are hard to write in a book. What would you say was hard for you? Writing Fireheart? If there's any element in it that was hard, 

 U2 

 22:07 

 I would say that I had to do a lot of research when it came to the action scenes. I felt very comfortable with writing where you have the descriptions of the dragons flying in and the fire and those, but when they actually had to do any type of hand to hand combat where there was a lot of different things going on spatially, you really have to look at it almost like you're filming a movie. I feel like, in your head so that you can see all the different elements happening. And when it comes to the combat stuff, it's like, okay, wait, someone's hand is here, and then you have to do this. And how do you describe that without it being a bunch of words of action just thrown at the reader and then, is it logistically correct? So I did have to reach out to someone I know that does kung fu in order to make sure that some of these moves that they're doing is actually feasible. 

 U1 

 23:01 

 Right. I got Asian inspired. Is this Asian inspired kind of a ya, or I'm guessing 

 U2 

 23:10 

 I don't know if I necessarily intended it to be, but maybe I did draw a little bit more from Eastern culture just because my background I'm half, 1s you know, that area like the Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia, as opposed to a lot of fantasy kind of picks up on Western culture. 

 U1 

 23:31 

 Yeah, because they did, like, a moon ritual or something like that. And that's the reason I was, like, getting those vibes. Get to know the book. 

 U2 

 23:39 

 Yeah. I didn't pull that directly from any type of ritual that I know of, but I did want it to have a little bit different feel than, I guess, traditional fantasy that pulls from Western 

 U1 

 23:50 

 culture. You wrote I think the main weapon that they use is archery in this one especially when, like, the first chapter, we're jumping into the action. And everything. Are you familiar with archery or did you have to ask for help on that one? I did a lot of research on this. I even watched videos. All the different types of arrows, bows, like trajectory of how far they go. And then you can kind of expand it a little bit because kind of under the influence of magic. So their powers are a little bit more heightened. But yeah, no, I don't do archery. Although I would love to do try it out. 

 U2 

 24:27 

 It looks easier than it probably is. 

 U1 

 24:31 

 The muscle it's going to take just to go like an inch back, right? Yeah, no, I did a lot of research on this. 1s You get a lot of these more 

 U2 

 24:41 

 medieval fantasy where they have 

 U1 

 24:44 

 swords. Yeah, 

 U2 

 24:46 

 I kind of wanted that to not be an option. Like there's not necessarily metal work in this world. They're pretty much going based on unless there's like no gunfire or anything advanced. Everything is archery. 

 U1 

 25:01 

 That's what I liked about it because it's the weapon of choice in fantasy is swords or daggers. Archery is not very common if anything. So that's what I liked about it at the most because it's different. 1s How do you celebrate finishing a book or writing a chapter? Just to keep yourself motivated and to keep going? Because I know sometimes it could probably be overwhelming and hard sometimes to write. I mean, 

 U2 

 25:26 

 there are days that especially because I spend my day 

 U1 

 25:31 

 job reading other people's work, 1s to do my own is sometimes a challenge. Especially if I'm editing out of genre. Like I'll be editing ya. Contemporary romance. And then now I have to switch brain gears and move fantasy. 

 U2 

 25:46 

 I've tried to set a timer so that maybe just focus on these just a little bit at a time just to get some words in there. Maybe I'll go out afterwards and celebrate with a boba, 

 U1 

 25:59 

 something fun 

 U2 

 26:00 

 like that. When I finish a full book though, might go buy myself something a little nice just to be kind of like, you did 

 U1 

 26:06 

 it, Yay, 

 U2 

 26:08 

 now you have to go edit 

 U1 

 26:10 

 it before you 

 U2 

 26:11 

 send it to your editor. 

 U1 

 26:13 

 I heard for example, for construction, they work on another person's house all day and that's the one thing they don't want to do is work on their own house. So I can see portraying and editing and going to your own book, I like that a lot. So the struggles are real. 

 U2 

 26:32 

 Yeah, it is. And then I have to find some time in there to also read all these new books that are coming out in order to stay up to date in the genre. So I either need to learn to write faster or read faster. One of 

 U1 

 26:46 

 the two. I think I've resulted in some audiobooks lately just because I have so much I want to read and it just seems like there's 50 new books that get pumped out every single month. I want to read 

 U2 

 26:57 

 the Struggle is real. I mean, I do audiobooks as. Well so that when I'm doing laundry or washing dishes or driving somewhere, I have something. It's like reading a book, trying to make my time useful. 

 U1 

 27:10 

 Do you find that you write well in the morning or well in the evening after you're done working? 

 U2 

 27:16 

 So I would say I'm better off writing probably in the morning when I'm freshest. But I don't always get the opportunity to so, yeah, write in the evening now. When I did Fire Heart, I wasn't editing. Like, my children were really little at that time when I was writing, so my days were kind of consumed with them. It was really hard to write. I was cranking out 1000, 2000 words a night. At night. I don't know how 

 U1 

 27:42 

 I wrote, 

 U2 

 27:44 

 because I cannot do that now. 

 U1 

 27:45 

 So you said that when your children were little, how long did it take you from starting Fighter Hearts? The thought process, getting it on Words and then getting it published, how long did it take you altogether? Probably, like, maybe nine months. The last quarter of the book, I really pumped out fast. I actually probably started writing this book back in, 1s I want to say 2015, 2016. So I actually had this book for a while. I did try to traditionally find an agent for it, and I had a lot of interest, but eventually I didn't find an agent for it, and I kind of held onto it for a year or two 

 U2 

 28:26 

 before I came across the publisher that I have now. 

 U1 

 28:29 

 Okay, and they helped you publish, of course, 

 U2 

 28:31 

 right? Yes. That's great. With the COVID and everything. That's 

 U1 

 28:35 

 awesome. That's what I liked about the colors. A lot of the purple tones on it. So that's really drew my eye. 

 U2 

 28:41 

 That cover artist is amazing. Her stuff is amazing. She's on Instagram. Like, if you look at all her other stuff, they're also beautiful. 

 U1 

 28:49 

 Do you have any other works? Wait, I think I did ask you this. You're working on an anthropology of a thriller right now. Is there any other fantasy books that you're thinking about doing? 

 U2 

 28:59 

 I think if I do another fantasy book, there might be a BookTube for this. I left it kind of open ended in the first book. They were just kind of initially dealing with I don't want to give away everything but this entity. The idea with the next two books is they would look for there's this crystal that's mentioned in Fireheart. They would probably go look for the missing pieces of it, and they would have to travel to either to the volcanoes or to the Iceland in order to get the two different 

 U1 

 29:30 

 you know, I'm biased. You write it, please. Thank 

 U2 

 29:33 

 you. Work on it. My board with all the red strings on it, 

 U1 

 29:40 

 just say, this person bookshelver reader told me, so I have to do it. So, obviously you had this book for a while. Would you do anything differently with this book? 

 U2 

 29:51 

 I think plot wise, I'm really happy with the story arc. The way it ended. A little more time on the back end of it fleshing out like the. Final scenes, maybe 

 U1 

 30:01 

 added a little bit more magical elements to it, because she does spend a lot of time 1s in the military school where their magic is not necessarily there. 

 U2 

 30:13 

 So I guess maybe the book would have been longer. 

 U1 

 30:16 

 But for the most part, I'm happy with the characters. I felt like she did evolve without falling prey to two many tropes that the heroes journey through. I tried to make her where she wasn't whiny or she's too much of the chosen one. I know that's, like, a really big fantasy trope, and it's not the freshest approach. So I didn't want her to be, like, necessarily the chosen one for this. It kind of happened that way. This was just part of her history as opposed to some type of being coming down and like, you're the one that has to save the world. Save the world, exactly. I did one time ask about that, about women or character female characters being portrayed in fantasy. And that's the one big turn off a lot of people, is the whiny aspect of it. And I didn't get that at all with your character. I felt like she was very strong. So that's what I like about that sometimes that's what I find hard in Ya, is the whiny teenage aspect of it. And so that's how I know I'm an new adult reader, fantasy reader, but I do love when I can get a fantasy that has a little more mature Ya character. I love that. Thank you. Where do you see yourself for 20 years from now? Would you be still writing or just still 

 U2 

 31:36 

 editing? I think I would see myself in both. I've tried different careers, and I've done different aspects of writing. Number one, I actually really enjoy editing. I love helping authors make a better story. And okay. I feel like I'm good at maybe not necessarily my own work, but in other people's work. I'm very good at massaging the smaller details, bringing out the different things that are missing in people's work. It's so satisfying to see an author happy after they've gone through this long excruciating process and they're not alone. I would love to keep writing. I still enjoy telling stories. I hope in 20 years I have a couple more books under my belt. 

 U1 

 32:20 

 I'm like pulling a lot from your editing background as well. But now that you're a published author, what advice would you give to aspiring fantasy authors who's looking to write their book, looking to get the ideas on paper and then getting it published? 

 U2 

 32:34 

 I would definitely say I know everyone's writing process is different. The importance of a beat sheet and story structure is huge. Especially, I feel like, in fantasy, where 1s you're dealing with a lot more challenges than you are in contemporary writing, where it exists in a world that actually exist, as opposed to a world that you now have made up, created. On your own. So you have to be able to introduce all the aspects of that world to the reader and make it accessible for them to understand. I would say that in addition to that, also reading in the genre, like definitely something that's current and then definitely something that's kind of in the vein of the style of fantasy that you want to read. Reading other people's work is really so important. 

 U1 

 33:24 

 Okay, so what fantasy authors inspires you? 

 U2 

 33:29 

 Probably one of my ultimate favorites would be Lady Taylor. I don't know if you're familiar with the Daughter of Smoke and Bone 

 U1 

 33:36 

 series. I have that book and I've been hearing so many good things about so it 

 U2 

 33:41 

 was written a little bit a little while ago, but as far as I always get this thing where people are like, oh, you write Ya. That's not as like there's a stigma behind it and I find the right authors. There are some really talented writers out there. The language is not dumbed down. The prose is beautiful, and she would probably be one of them. In fantasy, I try to read a little bit more from writers of color. And so a few other Ya, I'm going to only give Ya. 

 U1 

 34:15 

 That's fine. I really 

 U2 

 34:17 

 like Roshani Chakchi. She wrote A Crown of Wishes and then another one would be Batahir, which she wrote an Ember and the Ashes. And that's another series. In addition to being a writer of color, their writing is beautiful and I think they do a tremendous job on world building. 

 U1 

 34:37 

 I have all those books on my bookshelf. I'm like 

 U2 

 34:40 

 if I made an actual pile of the books I haven't read but that I bought, there would be no books on my 

 U1 

 34:45 

 shelf. Reader struggles. Okay, so we know your book is available on Amazon. Where else can we get access to your book? 

 U2 

 34:54 

 Fireheart. So it is also on Barnesandnoble.com. You can order it from the you can get it on Bookfunnel if you're on Bookfunnel is actually priced a little bit lower on Bookfunnel. Okay. It's a good place to find the ebook if you want the ebook. Those are the main ones. I think the ebook might also be on Kobo. I don't know how many people use that. I feel like it's a lot of Barnes and Noble and Amazon. So because it's on Barnes and Noble, like, if you prefer to shop independent, you can do bookshop.org. They also carry it both, I think, an ebook and print. Okay, yeah. And then if you want signed copies, I have a couple of events coming up. If you're in the Los Angeles area, I have a book signing at Romans in Pasadena on August 27. On September 23, I'm doing a book event called Pasadena Loves Ya. And I'll be on a panel with several other Ya authors. Okay. 

 U1 

 35:46 

 Yeah, we'll put some of that in the show notes if anybody wants to get in touch with you as an author definitely have that information below. Anything that you want to say about yourself or about your book or any advice to. Anybody. Right? Before we go, 

 U2 

 36:02 

 I would probably say support indie authors. There's a lot of great stories out there. And when I say indie authors, it's a little bit of a broad range. I would say it includes small press authors. We're all trying to get our books out there, and there's so many great stories aren't being read because we're all trying to find our place at 

 U1 

 36:22 

 the table. Right. Definitely rate and review, because that definitely helps a 

 U2 

 36:26 

 lot. Oh, my gosh. Thank you for saying that. That is a struggle. I've given many books out for Arcs, and then nobody 

 U1 

 36:36 

 reviews. 1s And the thing is, I 

 U2 

 36:39 

 feel like sometimes people are afraid to leave a review. 

 U1 

 36:42 

 Their taste in the book 

 U2 

 36:43 

 isn't what you would want. But honestly, good or bad reviews help us because it gives us visibility on all these platforms that have reviews. 

 U1 

 36:55 

 Right. Especially the Amazon Trojan algorithm. And 

 U2 

 37:02 

 supposed to be 100, and you start to show up in the newsletter suggestions and on the 

 U1 

 37:09 

 other recommendation. Recommendations. 

 U2 

 37:12 

 Exactly. We need those reviews for visibility. 

 U1 

 37:16 

 Okay. I like how you said that, because I've always tried to pull advice for other authors, too, and things like that, and just demand readers that good or bad, like you said, it's important. Those reviews are important. 

 U2 

 37:28 

 Yeah. It's okay to be honest. Don't be afraid to be honest. 

 U1 

 37:31 

 Right. Not harsh. Not harsh. 1s Well, thank you, Vanessa, for joining me. I really appreciate your insight and your your book. Definitely be posting in the show notes. How to get access to your book. Definitely looking forward to anything else you publish in the future as well. 

 U2 

 37:47 

 Thank you. Thank you so much for having me on here. This is a lot of fun. I love talking books. 



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