Today we want to welcome Lynn Kurland, author of romance and fantasy, to the blog. Lynn’s books, including the Nine Kingdom series and the de Piaget Family Series, have delighted fans of romance and fantasy for quite some time. To see Lynn’s booklist, please head on over to her official website.
BookPushers: Lynn, welcome to The Book Pushers and thank you kindly for agreeing to take part in our fantasy romance bonanza! Were you always interested in the fantasy genre or did you learn to love it over time?
Lynn: Thanks for the invite!
I actually can pinpoint the precise moment when my love affair with fantasy began. It was thanks to my 4th grade librarian who had us sit on the creaky wooden library floor in a little semi-circle around her while she read from The Hobbit. All it took was, “in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” and I was hooked!
BookPushers: Your writing is very much steeped in fantasy and romance. Can you tell us just how much work and progress goes into creating a whole new fantasy world?
Lynn: I am extremely grateful for all the years I wrote romance before I wrote fantasy, because since my romances are connected by families, I learned early on not to paint myself into a corner. That has been critical in creating the Nine Kingdoms simply because since I know I’ll be writing as many books in this world as the public will tolerate, I’m continually looking ahead to keep from locking myself into something I might regret later.
But creating a world? Wow, that’s really an intimidating thought, isn’t it? In the beginning, I honestly tried not to think too much about what a daunting task it was. I just looked at the whole place a little at a time. Once I had the first couple of novellas down, I sketched out a primitive map and let that be good for a start. I’ve added more detail as time has gone on. As far as politics and peoples and countries go, that was just a matter of nosing around and seeing what the characters were up to and where they had come from. Of course, every realm has its own peculiarities, but I try to leave those specifics for the books that concern them most.
BookPushers: Fantasy is steeped throughout so many genres such as Contemporary, Historical, High Fantasy, and now YA fantasy. Does fantasy give authors that much more creative juice when you’re not restricted to today’s world’s rules — and even moral structures?
Lynn: I think it does. The world today is such a crazy place (does that make me sound old, or what?) and things seem so much more complicated than they were when I was growing up. Maybe that’s because the older I get the more I realize that while there are definitely moral absolutes, there are also many shades of gray about so many things. But given that I like things nice and tidy, it’s wonderful to have the chance to build another world where good is good, evil is evil, and the nice guys always finish first. Simplistic, maybe, but to me really good fiction mingles escape with something that, when you turn that last page, leaves you thinking, “yes, I can do hard things/make the world better/love the people around me more.”
BookPushers: Talking about HEA, in romance it’s a given that there must be one, or if not HEA, a HFN (happy for now). Do you think Fantasy gives authors more room to step outside of the romance conventions if they want to?
Lynn: It certainly seems to, perhaps because in fantasy the quest is really the thing, not the romance. For me, though, I want to know that, along with the quest, the romance (however slight it might be) is a done deal—and the more details about the last bit, the better. It was, after all, the *lack* of detail about Arwen and Aragorn’s HEA was what led me to writing romance and then fantasy in the first place!
BookPushers: Have you ever thought about writing something that is not fantasy based?
Lynn: Nah, that’d be boring. 🙂 I did a short once that was just a straight contemporary romance. No magic, no paranormal, just Alaska and a smashed wedding cake. It was a lot of fun, but it was very early in my career, and I don’t think I would do it again.
My two favorite phrases are “hmmm,” and “what if . . .” If I’m walking up castle steps in England, I’m either wondering who else did the same thing or imagining what it would be like to watch one of my characters do the same thing. If there’s a fantasy element involved, so much the better. I think even if I attempted a mystery, it would have to have in it something . . . unusual.
BookPushers: What is your favorite trope in fantasy novels? Least favorite?
Lynn: Favorite: Protagonist realizes he/she isn’t who he/she thought he/she was.
Least Favorite: Anything that smacks of “wow, Tolkien did this so much better.” And names with apostrophes. And copious amounts of unreadable dialect. That was three, sorry. 🙂
BookPushers: What advice would you give to any aspiring fantasy authors? What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
Lynn: The best piece of advice I ever read was actually the worst piece turned around and that was to take a copy of an NYT bestseller and mark it up so you could see what the author had done, presumably so you could do it yourself. Even now, I think the only thing that accomplishes is teaching you to write just like said random NYT bsetselling author. It certainly doesn’t teach you anything about how *you* write.
I think the best piece of advice I could give any aspiring writer is to read widely (without a highlighter in hand!), read a lot, read only quality stuff, then at a certain point put away what others have done and concentrate on your own work. As much as I love fantasy (and romance!), I don’t read either anymore simply because I don’t want anyone else’s voice coming through my stuff.
It’s a little unnerving to let go of all the supporting hands and take those first few steps into the unknown, but personally I think it’s out there in the dark that you find your own voice.
BookPushers: You have participated in several anthologies. Which writing format do you prefer or find comes more naturally?
Lynn: I’d much rather write a longer book. It takes me as much time to put together a novella as a regular novel, so it isn’t really efficient time-wise.
BookPushers: Have you ever considered writing a stand alone fantasy novel or do your worlds run more in the series/epic area?
Lynn: I’ve thought about stand-alone books for a couple of characters, but at the moment the trilogy format seems to be working best. It’s absolute luxury to get to linger with characters through a longer word count.
BookPushers: And finally, what are some of your favourite fantasy books, and do you look for stories that have a HEA in fantasy?
Lynn: Lord of the Rings was definitely the first and still the most beloved for me. I loved Robin McKinley’s Beauty, Barbara Hambly’s The Ladies of Mandrigyn (two words: Sun Wolf), Sharon Shinn’s The Shapechanger’s Wife, too many Patricia McKillip’s books to name . . . the list is long.
And yes, I like a happily ever after in fantasy . . . eventually. 🙂
We want to thank Lynn so so much for this interview and for taking part in our Fantasy celebration! For one lucky commentator we’re going to give away the 1st book in the Nine Kingdom series. Ends April 12th.
Darkness covers the north, since the black mage has begun his assault on the kingdom of Neroche. Legend has it that only the two magical swords held by Neroche’s king can defeat the mage. Now the fate of the Nine Kingdoms rests in the hands of a woman destined to wield one of those blades… In this land of dragons and mages, warrior maids and magical swords, nothing is as it seems. And Morgan will find that the magic in her blood brings her troubles she cannot face with a sword – and a love more powerful than she has ever imagined.
All you have to do is comment below. The giveaway is open to wherever the Book Depository ships to.