We would love to welcome Kylie Griffin to the blog. Kylie is a debut author, whose debut book, Vengeance Born, was released on the 7th February. It’s part of a series called the Light Blade series, and it’s set around demons in a fantasy world. Head on over to Kylie’s website for more information.
BookPushers: Kylie, welcome to the site and thanks for agreeing to take part in our fantasy celebration. Can you tell us what drew you to the fantasy genre, and how you came up with the idea for your demon world in your new debut series, Light Blade?
Kylie: It’s wonderful to be here and helping celebrate Fantasy Month is a real pleasure – the genre has given me so many hours of pleasure that I hope we can convert many more readers to the worlds available out there!
As for what drew me to the fantasy genre, I guess you can say I was born with a fantasy gene. My earliest memories as a child was of watching TV shows and movies like Dr.Who & Star Wars and loving the whole world building aspects of the stories. The first book I read in this genre was Anne McCaffrey’s DRAGONFLIGHT and I was swept away a-dragonback and have never come down from the clouds.
I was reading a lot of urban fantasy and paranormal fantasy at the time I came up with the idea for my Light Blade series, looking for something more along the lines of fantasy romance (aka Elizabeth Vaughan’s Warprize series) but couldn’t find to many books in this genre. So I decided to write my own. I guess it harps back to my teen days of reading such wonderful fantasy genre authors as David Eddings, Andre Norton, Isobelle Carmody, Ursula Le Guin, R.A.Macavoy and Rowena Corey Daniells. I wanted to create an epic-like fantasy world – warring races (human and non-human), good vs.evil, with a diverse cast of characters – and entangle it with romance.
Why demons? I have no real idea. I just liked the idea of creating a race from scratch, and not your typical biblical or end of the world types like the ones you find in mythology.
BookPushers: Your fantasy world is based around demons — which you don’t see very often in fantasy romance. What can readers look forward to in the series and will there be anymore supernaturals lurking around, ready to surprise anyone?
Kylie: Funny you should make mention that my fantasy world is based around demons that you don’t often see. My editor said almost the same thing when I asked her what she liked about VENGEANCE BORN, and this is a direct quote from Leis – “You’ve created an interesting world that will appeal to both paranormal and fantasy romance fans which I like and it has depth to it which I think is important for this kind of book. Your stories aren’t just about the relationship but the world these characters live in as well. And while you have “demons” in your books they aren’t the traditional fire and brimstone kind but different and therefore intriguing.” – it’s what made her take it on and contract it as well as the next two in the series.
When I first started playing with ideas for this series, I knew I wanted to make it (at a minimum) a trilogy. The scope of the external plot wasn’t going to fit in just one book. While the series isn’t epic fantasy in its purest form, it does have similar elements. The world is entirely fictional, there are different races, the plots employ typical themes such as a quest, a guiding deity, struggles against an opposing force, the threat of world domination, revenge and redemption, but readers also get to focus on a romance between main characters.
Without giving away any spoilers, in VENGEANCE BORN readers quickly learn the Na’Reish outnumber the humans, and that the human race is under threat of enslavement. Annika and the other Na’Chi prove to be the key to humanity’s survival, although no one realises it at the time, and it takes Kalan to engineer a change.
This change and some of the broader themes continue throughout ALLIANCE FORGED. We get the Na’Chi perspective on trying to find a home and acceptance amidst a time of unrest and change for the humans. Kymora is a handmaiden and the spiritual leader of the humans, she’s also blind but gifted with the supernatural power of being able to decipher people’s emotions through reading their auras. Varian is leader of the Na’Chi, and responsible for their safety and well-being while trying to make an alliance between them and the humans work. ALLIANCE FORGED continues the theme of dealing with prejudices – racial as well as physical disabilities- and trust and survival.
In Book #3, we focus much more on the conflict between humans and demons and while I can’t reveal who the hero and heroine are, I can tell you the two main characters consist of a Light Blade warrior and a Na’Reish demon. They make for a challenging couple, in more ways than one . Prejudice and preconceptions definitely play roles in this book, but there’s also more of a focus on revenge, rebellion and making peace with the past.
This trilogy will tie up some over-arching plot threads but there’s plenty of scope to incorporate other threads and extend the series beyond three books. For the moment though, the series mainly focuses on these three races and their unique differences but if I’m contracted for more books then I can definitely see myself branching out and seeing what other supernatural elements I can incorporate. There are some secondary characters are already demanding that their stories be told, so I hope I get the chance to tell them.
BookPushers: Your heroine in Vengeance Born, Annika, is half demon and half human. Will the series be following her and Kalan, or will there be new protagonists introduced in each book?
Kylie: VENGEANCE BORN (Bk#1) is Annika and Kalan’s story and it’s a stand-alone. It’s not an urban fantasy-like series where you follow the same characters through story after story. Readers are introduced to the world they belong to as well as the conflict existing between three races. The book also outlines or touches on many of the themes I hope to explore through this series.
You will see Annika and Kalan again in other books in the series, but only as supporting characters. As for the heroes or heroines of the other books, many of them come from the ranks of secondary characters readers meet in VENGEANCE BORN.
Bookpushers: What can you tell us about the sequel, Alliance Forged?
Kylie: For anyone who’s already read VENGEANCE BORN, you’ll have followed a secondary story line involving Kymora and Varian. Kymora is Kalan’s sister, and the high priestess of the human’s deity in the human’s world, while Varian is the leader of the half demon-half human race called the Na’Chi. ALLIANCE FORGED is their story and I had a lot of fun writing it!
Book #2 in the Light Blade series
There is no mercy in the demon realm. No escape. In this place of desperation and conflict, anyone who is not purebred is virtually powerless. Until a blind priestess lays claim to a half-breed warrior, body and soul…
Hunted and marked for death by Na’Reish demons for their half-blood heritage, the Na’Chi are searching for a new home—something an alliance offered by the human leader could provide. With both races divided by prejudice, when Light Blade rebels brutally attack the Na’Chi, the alliance seems doomed to fail.
Varian, leader of the Na’Chi, a hybrid race of gifted warriors, is cursed with the darker impulses of his demon heritage. Controlling the part of himself that craves the high of the battle is a struggle he’s afraid he’ll lose—until he meets Kymora Tayn, a priestess driven to serve her deity. While he’s unwilling to trust anyone outside his people, he finds himself drawn to Kymora’s strength and passionate nature, and discovers she has the power to calm the darkness inside him.
When the Na’Reish raid human territory for blood-slaves and kickstart a war, the key to the survival of both races—Na’Chi and human— is an alliance. However, when Kymora is kidnapped, pitting human against human, Varian realizes he must embrace his darker half, not only to save the alliance…but also the woman he loves.
BookPushers: Have you decided yet on how many books there will be in the Light Blade series?
Kylie: For the moment I’m contracted with Berkley to write three books in this series, although I certainly hope to write more in this series. I have at least another four characters with possible stories to be told. But, just in case, that doesn’t happen, I can tell you I’ll be wrapping up some overarching storylines in the first trilogy of this series so readers won’t be left hanging if there aren’t any more. As a reader, the one thing I hate is a series that suddenly ends and everything isn’t sewn up.
BookPushers: There are so many pros to writing in the fantasy genre with creating whole new worlds and races. But are there any cons to the fantasy genre, and do you have any?
Kylie: That is a darn good question. I guess you can say it’s more my writing style that trips me up than any problem with the fantasy genre as such.
I’m a scener/pantster – I tend to write as the ideas come, no plotting as such. That can be a disadvantage when writing a series. It’s only recently though that I’ve evolved into a semi-plotter, more out of necessity (and contractual obligation as my editor requires a full synopsis before I write the novel), than choice.
I guess the most frustration comes from that I don’t have all the world building details clear in my head. I have no doubt all the details exist, just in my subconscious and they only surface when I need them, aka as I write the story. I can never envisage something fully until I do. Does that make sense?
For example, in VENGEANCE BORN we get a snapshot of the demon world as Annika & Kalan escape Na’Reish territory and only small insights into the Na’Chi, the half demon-half human hybrid race. I added in as much detail as I needed for it because I saw it in my head when I was writing the scenes. But other than that, the rest of their world – the fortresses, the nitty gritty details of their physical locations, the idiosyncratic quirks as a race etc. were just vague ideas. I knew enough to get by.
When I began writing ALLIANCE FORGED, I had to flesh out more of the Na’Chi world as they featured much more prominently in the storyline, the hero was Na’Chi. And with Bk#3 in this series, the one I’m writing at the moment, we’re back in the world of the Na’Reish, so again, I’ve had to develop them more fully and formalise details.
If I’d been a plotter then perhaps this might not have been such an issue. I’d have everything worked out to the nth degree and could just concentrate on getting the story written. Everything would already be “discovered” and I’d know what to reveal where and when.
On a broader note, with the popularity of the fantasy genre, and the paranormal in particular, with readers, there’s a demand for stories in this genre, so the selections of books is huge. Take vampires for example. A very popular trend, but how many different series/versions/types have been created and are on the bookshelves at the moment? Oodles of them. So, if an unpubbed author is writing about vampires, they better have a darn good twist to the overdone trope to make an impression on an editor.
Once I finish this series I’ll have to pitch something new to my editor. I guess my challenge as an author is to keep my ideas fresh and unique and hope she likes them enough to say ‘yes’.
BookPushers: With so many inventive creatures created in fantasy worlds, will you be inventing anymore scary ones in your series like the Vorcs, and do you have plans for strange cute ones too?
Kylie: As I mentioned in the previous question, I’m a scener/pantster, so any creature in my world tends to appear as I write and I never really know what’s coming.
I can tell you readers will meet another creature called a war-beast in ALLIANCE FORGED, Book #2 in the Light Blade series. They’re pretty docile creatures in comparison to the predatory Vorc. The war-beasts are large, strong, shaggy animals used as mounts by human Light Blade warriors to patrol their territory or to travel from one place to another.
BookPushers: Do you have plans or ideas to write in other genres, or perhaps creating new fantasy worlds?
Kylie: Other than the Light Blade series, I have Book 1 of another fantasy romance series completed. It has the potential to expand too. And I also have another two science fiction romance series on the go as well.
One genre I’d like to try is post-apocalyptic romance. I’ve started a couple of books in this vein but never finished them, or the manuscript is finished but needs a ton of work as I wrote it in my early twenties and haven’t ever gone back to it.
BookPushers: Can you share with us some of your favourite fantasy reads that are timeless to you?
Kylie: The whole Dragon Riders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey (actually anything by this author is a keeper for me).
Same goes for anything written by Andre Norton. Three whole shelves in one of my bookcases is filled with books from these two authors alone.
The Warprize series by Elizabeth Vaughan – I love her world-building.
BookPushers: And finally, which fantasy hero or heroine would you like to take for dinner — and what fictional fantasy would it take place in?
Kylie: Ah man, you’re limiting me to one character and one setting? That’s so unfair! LOL
All right, after some serious thought I think I’d like to take Judd, the ex-Psy-assassin from CARESSED BY ICE by Nalini Singh, out to dinner. I’d love to get the nitty-gritty details of being Psy – I find their powers fascinating, not to mention their need for Silence. I’d also like to discuss how, once he left the Psy-Net, he dealt and coped with emotion and if it’s still a daily struggle.
Where would be go? Pern, of course. I have this thing for dragons, so what better setting than a Weyr? Sigh.
Kylie Griffin’s obsession with all things paranormal/fantasy started at an early age, when she used to imagine the jacaranda tree in her front yard was a spaceship used to defend the world from invading enemies. Writing stories seemed a natural extension to her childhood adventures.
Today, she’s a primary school teacher sharing her love for the written word with young children. In her spare time, she writes and reads all things paranormal.
Kylie lives in a small rural village in outback New South Wales, Australia, where she volunteers in a number of emergency service organizations in her local community. Visit her website at www.kyliegriffin.com