Welcome today to Kyra Halland, author of Urdaisunia and Chosen of Azara, who has graciously agreed to stop by for an interview!
1. What do you write about? Tell us a little about your previously published works.
I write epic fantasy romance; that is, novels set in a fantasy world with solid fantasy plotlines that also involve a romance between the two main characters as an integral part of the plot.
My first published novel, Urdaisunia, is set in a desert land that is facing challenges of drought, famine, disease, conquest, and internal betrayal. The gods have been neglecting the land while they argue over whether the native Urdai, the conquering Sazars, or someone else should be allowed to rule. The main characters are Rashali, a widowed Urdai rebel, and Eruz, the heir to the Sazar throne. Both of them want what’s best for the land and its people, even though they have different ideas about what that is and how to go about it, and they have to fight against those who want to exploint Urdaisunia for their own purposes. The gods take an interest in Eruz and Rashali’s unlikely relationship and make a bet on the outcome of it, on which hangs the fate of the land and even the eventual destiny of the gods.
My most recent novel, Chosen of Azara, is an intergenerational tale of the destruction of the magical land Savaru and the quest to restore it to life. Juzeva is a Savarunan princess who is married off to an enemy prince as part of a peace treaty. Before her marriage she was entrusted with a magical secret that would allow the land of Savaru to be regenerated should it ever be destroyed. After her marriage, she’s betrayed and disappears with her secret. Sevry, Juzeva’s nephew, the last king of Savaru, learns of Juzeva’s secret and through magical means spends centuries hunting for her or one of her female descendants who can use the magic to bring Savaru back to life. Lucie is a sheltered young noblewoman who is unaware that she has inherited this secret, until Sevry tracks her down. She is faced with a difficult choice between what she wants, what her family wants for her, and what she knows is the right thing to do, but finally she realizes that she needs to follow her heart, regardless of what anyone else says.
2. Tell us a little about your work in progress.
The Lost Book of Anggird is the next novel I’ll be releasing, later in October! A staid and stodgy professor of magical theory and his sexy assistant, who completely rocks his world, embark on a quest to discover why the magic of their world is deteriorating and to do something about it. They discover that everything that’s been taught about magic is a lie, and find themselves digging into the roots of a shocking, centuries-old conspiracy as well as having to face the demons of their own pasts. It’s a fun book, with lots of adventure and magic, and I love the interplay between the lead characters.
I’m also working on a novel called Sarya’s Song, which is set in a world where magic is worked through music, and a 6-book fantasy-western series, Daughter of the Wildings. The setting is inspired by the American Old West of the later 19th century, but it’s also very much a fantasy world.
3. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Write. Write as often and as regularly as you can. Don’t get hung up on all the “rules” of writing; write in a way that most clearly expresses what you want to say in the way you want to say it. Write what your heart and mind are demanding that you write. Learn to finish what you start: As you write your first drafts, don’t worry about if it’s any good; you can fix pretty much anything in revisions, so don’t quit if you think it’s bad. Also don’t quit if the story gets hard to write in the middle, or seems boring, or you think of a new and more interesting idea. This is very normal and happens to many if not most authors on many if not most of their books. Just keep going; it gets easier, and it’s an incredible feeling when you reach “The End.”
4. What is your personal writing process?
I usually start with an image of some characters in a specific situation. These just kind of come into my mind out of nowhere. I work out who the characters are, and what’s going on, and why. I figure out their goals, what they want, what challenges and conflicts they face, and more or less how I want the book to end. From this I make an outline and also work out the background, the worldbuilding and the “why” and “how” of everything. Then I start writing the draft. As I write, things change with the outline, so it’s always growing and evolving. I write in scenes, in a program called Liquid Story Binder, which is great for planning and organizing, and also makes it easy to move/add/delete scenes in the manuscript. When I’m done, I print out the manuscript and let it rest for a while. Then I do one deep, thorough revision, send it out to my test readers, do a second revision based on their feedback, then a revision to polish things like description and dialogue, followed by a line edit and a few copyedit/proofreading rounds. I believe it’s important not to over-revise, because this can take away everything that’s interesting and unique about your book.
5. Who are a few authors you look up to?
I adore Carol Berg’s books. Her stories, her characters, her worlds and magic, her writing – rich and smooth, like really good dark chocolate. I would love to be able to write like her.
6. What book are you reading now?
I’ve been doing a lot of read and reviews for my Goodreads group. For my “recreational” reading, I’m reading The Master of Heathcrest Hall, the third book in the Magicians and Mrs. Quent series, by Galen Beckett.
7. What inspired you to write your first book?
I’ve always loved fantasy, and I’ve also always loved a good love story, but I had trouble finding the two combined in a way I found satisfying. After I finished grad school (Master’s in Music History) and transitioned to being a stay-at-home mom with my first son, I wanted a new intellectual challenge, so I decided to try writing the kinds of romantic fantasy novels I wanted to read. Twenty-four years later, that first novel is still in a folder on my computer, and I’m going to take it out sometime and revise it and set it loose into the world.
8. If there was one message you could send to everybody who reads your books, what would it be?
Thank you for giving my books a try! I hope my books have made your life a little brighter, whether by giving you a few hours of entertainment or providing some enjoyment and uplift during a difficult time. Thank you for your support 🙂
9. Have you ever used characteristics from someone you know in one of your books?
lol, my husband eats everything with a knife and fork. Even “finger foods” like pizza and bacon. Professor Rossony, in The Lost Book of Anggird, has very fastidious table manners, and he does the same thing.
10. What inspires you to write?
My characters. These fascinating people just show up in my head, demanding that I tell their stories. And I can’t rest until I get them told, and let the characters come to life in my books.
11. Where can readers find you and your work?
My website is http://www.kyrahalland.com
I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/KyraHalland
and Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6950045.Kyra_Halland
My work is available on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Kyra-Halland/e/B00BG2R6XK), Smashwords (https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kyrahalland), Barnes & Noble, the iTunes store, Sony, Kobo, and All-Romance ebooks. Buy links for individual books and sites are easy to find on my website.
Excerpt: Chosen of Azara
Lucie broke the stems of the herbs she had found, taking care to leave the roots and lower shoots intact and to not shake the seed-heads. As she gently laid the herbs in her wide, shallow basket, the stillness and heaviness in the woods took on an additional tension, as though the air itself was waiting for something to happen. Lucie also fell still. A warmth, almost as of something living, seemed to radiate from her crystal pendant. She had felt this sense of expectancy and that strange warmth from her pendant four times before in her life, near this very spot, this place where the herbs grew more abundantly and more potent than anywhere else. She stood, turned, and looked up the path.
The man faded into sight. When she was a child he had frightened her, though she was also curious about him. But as she got older, she had become confident enough in her instincts to know that he wasn’t a threat to her.
He stood there, on the path but not on it, seemingly just beyond her arm’s reach. He wore only a loincloth, and was bone-thin except for the stringy muscles of his arms and legs. His black hair hung lank and tangled around his unshaven face. He wasn’t handsome, not in the strong, hearty Ceryrian manner, but there was something about him that made Lucie think of faraway places and long-ago times of tragedy and heroism. Pain and weariness were worn deep into his face, though he was far from being an old man. Scars crisscrossed his chest and lower legs. His ankles and wrists were also scarred, as though from being bound in ropes or manacles for a long time. Not for the first time, Lucie wondered about the meaning of all those scars. What sort of life had he lived, to be so harshly marked by it? Who was he, and why did he appear on this path from time to time?
The gaze of his dark eyes was fixed just below her face, on her crystal pendant. Her mother, Rinata, who had been given the necklace by her own step-grandfather, had given it to Lucie for her fifth birthday. Lucie’s Grandmama Lillia had been furious. Lucie had listened to the heated discussion, carried out in whispers as though her mother and grandmother thought that would keep her from overhearing them.
“You know how I feel about that nonsense being passed down,” Grandmama had said.
“It’s her birthright, Mother, and I want her to have it and to know where it came from before it’s too late for me to pass it on,” Lucie’s mother had replied just as firmly.
Lucie hadn’t understood what the quarrel was about, but she had understood when her mother told her the necklace was an ancient treasure from a faraway land that had belonged to great-grandmother Varena, and that she must treasure it and take the very best care of it. Lucie had done so, all the more since her mother’s death nine years ago; it was one of the things that linked her most closely to her mother. Now, Lucie wondered what interest the man could possibly have in her necklace or if, after all, he was only staring at her breasts.
All at once, a flare of life and hope transformed the man’s face into something unexpectedly, heartbreakingly beautiful. He took a step forward. Startled, Lucie jerked back, but in that instant he disappeared. The path was empty again. The woods were still as warm and drowsy as before, but the tension was gone from the air.
What did you see? she wanted to call out to him, but he was gone.
About the Author
Beginning with the Prydain books by Lloyd Alexander and the Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Leguin, Kyra Halland has always loved fantasy. She has also always loved a good love story. In 1990, as a new stay-at-home mom with a young baby, she finally decided to combine those two loves – like chocolate and peanut butter! – by writing the kinds of romantic fantasy novels she wanted to read.
Courageous and complicated heroes, strong, smart, and sweet heroines, magic, romance, adventure, heroism, excursions into the dark corners of life and human nature, and a dash of offbeat humor – all of these make up Kyra Halland’s worlds. She is excited to share those worlds with readers, and hopes that others will enjoy her worlds and stories and characters as much as she does.
Kyra Halland lives in southern Arizona. She has a very patient husband, two less-patient cats, and two young adult sons. Besides writing, she enjoys scrapbooking and anime, and she wants to be a crazy cat lady when she grows up.
Chosen of Azara
Juzeva: Born a princess of the beautiful land of Savaru, dedicated to the service of the magical Source Azara, she is forced to marry a man she doesn’t know for the sake of her country’s survival, and finds herself trapped in a web of evil and betrayal…
Sevry: The last king of the war-ravaged land of Savaru, he is tasked by Azara with finding the secret that his aunt Juzeva carried with her when she disappeared – the secret that will bring Savaru back to life – and finds himself hounded by evil men who want to use that secret for their own terrible purposes…
Lucie: The cherished only daughter of a Ceryrian baron, haunted by visions of a desperate man, she is unaware of her true heritage and the power she holds to restore life to a long-dead land…
Then Sevry, Savaru’s past, and Juzeva’s secret catch up with Lucie, leading her to adventure, danger, and a love that will forever change her life and the lost land of Savaru.