The Indie Author Spotlight is back and ready to take you to an enchanting land of magic, where humans and elves struggle to coexist, dwarves are somewhat of a legend, and maniacal, power hungry men of all races yearn to rule the world. This month we chat with fantasy author, Lana Axe!
I had purchased Axe’s novel A Story of River months ago, along with a plethora of other indie books, based on the beautiful cover art, as well as the fact that it is a standalone novel set in the same world as Axe’s other standalone stories. I A Story of River had been closer to the top of my reading list, because by the time I finally dove into the land of Nōl’Deron, I was fully engaged with the characters and enthralled with the heroic fantasy story. Check out the synopsis below:
Aelryk’s kingdom is under attack by monsters conjured by a dark sorcerer. His only hope lies far to the west, where a powerful water elemental is rumored to dwell. Along the way, he joins forces with the Wild Elves, who were once his enemy. They alone can lead him through the dangers of the Wildlands. Together, they must journey to a mysterious land of eternal spring and return before the kingdom is overrun by evil.
Far to the south, a vile sorcerer will stop at nothing to take control of all the lands of Nol’Deron. He has devised a method to bind the souls of living beings, transforming them into beasts who will serve as his army. With an entire kingdom at his disposal, he is ready to make his war against Na’zora and begin his conquest of the world.
A classic tale of good vs. evil in a world of magic and adventure.
Sounds fun, doesn’t it? If you’d like to find out more about this story, as well as Axe’s world of Nōl’Deron in general, continue reading on!
Lana Axe lives in Missouri near the edge of the woods. She is inspired by her love of nature to write about elves, magic, and adventure. Growing up in Mark Twain’s backyard inspired her love of fiction from an early age. She grew up an avid reader and went on to study literature in college.
After eight years of jotting notes and building a fantasy world, she has finally begun releasing novels in her Tales from Nōl’Deron series. They will feature many of the same characters, but each novel will stand alone.
Lana Axe: Thank you for having me!
MP: Before we get into your work, could you tell us a little about yourself?
LA: I am a Missouri native, and avid reader of all things fantasy as well as a huge Star Trek fan. I am mom to a Pomeranian, three cats, four turtles, a bearded dragon, two parakeets, a cockatiel, a canary, six ducks, and two geese. I spend a lot of time outdoors, hiking through Missouri’s woodlands and listening to nature’s symphony.
MP: Wow, a lover of all animals! Tell us, when did you first realize that you would like to be a writer, and how did that passion grow over time?
LA: All through high school and the beginning of college I planned to study science and either go into medicine or some research field. After majoring in chemistry for two years, I changed my mind. All the long hours in a lab taught me that I was going down the wrong path. Though I knew a degree in literature wouldn’t look as good on a resume, I decided to follow my heart and study what I love. It was shortly after graduating in 2004 that I started compiling notes for what would eventually become the Tales from Nōl’Deron series. After many procrastinations and excuses, I finally sat down and put my first novel in order, and A Story of River came to life.
MP: What a wonderful thing it is to follow your true passion! When you first began seriously writing, was there another genre that you were particularly interested in, or dabbled with before delving into the realm of fantasy?
LA: I started out writing fan fictions of various fantasy worlds. After receiving good feedback from some forum buddies, I decided to put more effort into creating my own world. Fantasy has always been the number one genre I wanted to write, but I would seriously consider writing science fiction as well (though I’d most likely release it under a different pen name).
MP: Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books that helped inspire your writing style?
LA: I have to credit both JRR Tolkien and Mark Twain for inspiring me to write. Tolkien, naturally for his amazing fantasy series that placed wonder in my heart at an early age. If I can manage to instill a small drop of magic and wonder into the lives of my reader, I can credit Tolkien for that. Mark Twain’s writing style reminds me to keep it simple and straightforward, without ever becoming pretentious. More than his fiction, his frank writing about his own life experiences in Life on the Mississippi inspire me to do what I do.
MP: Both wonderful authors to gain inspiration from! Moving on to self-publishing, why did you choose to go this particular route, and have you found some success through the e-book format?
LA: There are many reasons I decided to self publish, but the most pressing one is that I am impatient. When I finally finished all the edits to A Story of River, I lamented the fact that it would probably be years before someone would agree to publish it. Luckily, my husband was well aware that people were self-publishing like mad. He showed me some information, and I did some research of my own. Turns out, I’d been reading fantasy by self-published authors for years and had no idea! It didn’t take too much more convincing after that. I was free to choose my own editors and cover artists, as well as make the final decisions regarding my own story. I think it’s worked out pretty well.
MP: I gave a brief description of your novel, A Story of River, but could you tell us what the over-arching theme is and how did you come up with the idea for the story?
LA: A Story of River swam around in my head for about eight years before I managed to get it on paper. My greatest fear, the one that held me back so long, was that I wouldn’t be able to capture the magic I wanted to convey. After dozens of readings of The Lord of the Rings, I finally realized the magic was in the characters themselves as well as the world they live in. As long as I was true to that, the story would flow. My greatest hope is that the story will transport my readers into a world they would love to inhabit, and to instill that same sense of wonder I get when I walk through the forests. Hopefully, I’ll inspire some young readers to take an interest in nature and perhaps work to preserve it for the future.
MP: You have multiple books all set in the same world of Nōl’Deron. Would you mind telling us a bit about this world and why you chose to do standalone novels rather than an ongoing series? Do you have any more novels planned for this series?
LA: My main reason for making the books standalone is that I am an impatient person. To be more specific, I hate waiting for the next book of a series I’m reading to be released. I decided I would not make my own readers wait. Each of my books has (and will always have) a full story contained within it. My readers won’t have to wait years while I decide how to end a story. I do reuse the same characters, and I encourage my readers to read the whole series to see what their favorite characters are up to.
MP: Well, I for one am excited to read the rest of the series, starting with The Blind King! You do have another series that you’ve begun publishing. Can you tell us about Tales of Folk and Fairy? How does this series differ from Tales from Nōl’Deron? What new elements are you bringing to the table this time around?
LA: Tales of Folk and Faery is a series of short stories (around 10k words each) that retells fairy tales that are widely known. My versions, however, are very different from the ones that have been made popular by Disney. These stories are dark and certainly not for children. The second installment of that series is in final edits and will be released this spring.
MP: Sounds interesting! What are you currently working on?
LA: I am finishing final edits of a new novel entitled A Slave to Magic. It features a new pair of characters, Kwil and Nera, and takes place in a land of feline humanoids known as the Gatans. A Slave to Magic will be released in April 2015.
MP: What have you found to be the hardest part of writing?
LA: I would have to say self-doubt. Like many authors, I tend to ask myself the same questions over and over. Is this story saying what I want it to say? Does this plot make sense? Is this character true to himself? Is anybody going to want to read this? Should I stop here and start over? Luckily, most of those doubts can be removed in the editing phase. It’s pushing through that first draft that matters most. If you don’t finish, you can’t edit and make it better. So I’d advise anyone thinking about writing to stop with the doubts, sit down, and write. No first draft is perfect, and you can still work magic in edits.
MP: What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview? How would you answer that question?
LA: Question: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made so far as a writer?
Answer: Waiting so long to get started. I can’t imagine how many novels I’d have written by now if I’d sat down and written years ago instead of just compiling notes. I have a huge list of stories I want to write, and the list keeps growing. I wonder if I’ll ever get through them all.
MP: Finally, how can the SF Signal community help support you?
LA: SF Signal’s community can help me by giving my work a try. If you like it, tell a friend or two about me. I enjoy sharing my stories with the world, and I’m always happy to find new readers. It’s wonderful to see how far my work has reached. I’ve been contacted by readers around the world, and that’s a wonderful feeling. If you’d like to keep in touch, sign up for my newsletter. I’ll let you know when I’m publishing something new.