Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus (FSF): Hi Elizabeth, how are you doing? How have the last couple of years of global insanity been treating you?
Elizabeth Lavender (EL): I’m good. My family is probably the most chill about it. We took it in stride. We really didn’t change much honestly. We did what we had to if places insisted.
FSF: We did too. In fact, the introvert in me really enjoyed the quieter pace and the time to connect with family and nature. Having my wife home for two years was really nice. Of course, I empathize with everyone it has affected negatively.
EL: We did work some remotely with work, but it wasn’t all the time. I found I work better in the office than at home.
FSF: Let’s start at the beginning. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And describe the journey that led to your first published book.
EL: I’ve had the story in my head since high school. I graduated high school in 1995, so I’ll let you do the math. It’s rather scary. I don’t know that there was a point I said I want to be a writer. I had always found writing easy and enjoyed doing it. However, there was finally just a point where this story was there for so long, and more and more of it kept getting written in my head. Finally, it was time to write it down on paper. So I started writing it out and once I did, it just flowed. And so The Spinning of Deception was woven.
FSF: So tell our community about The SunSpear Series and why everyone should be grabbing it right now!
EL: Well it has everything. LOL. It’s classified as sci-fi/fantasy, but I have people that generally don’t enjoy sci-fi and they love the series because there are so many other elements. However, for sci-fi person, it will take you in though. You will fall in love with the characters regardless. You can’t not do so. The series starts with our two main characters, two sunspearbearers on opposite ends of the galaxy, determined to stop the Black Dragon army from destroying each galaxy in a bloodbath. We meet our first sunspearbearer, Dante, who carries the burden of fighting against his own father who commands the Dark Lord’s armies. Then there’s The Girl, who is shrouded in mystery from her name to her spearbearer training. She receives visions, a gift from the Ancient One. A vision about an event from the past about Dante’s family triggers a sequence of dangerous events, but it could be the means to defeating the Dark Lord’s forces.
FSF: I’m reading book one and loving it! So You’ve chosen to self-publish the series. What has been the biggest joy so far in the experience and what have been the biggest obstacles?
EL: With self-publishing, it’s really all you as far as having the reins. It’s been my joy and an obstacle in the same breath. With working full-time, I have to be able to make my own deadlines and control that part. Also, I really have the freedom to write the story as I feel like it should be told. Those are all the good parts. However, when you are self-published, you have to play so many roles that if I was traditionally published I could hand off some of that to someone else to do. I admit that part would be nice sometimes because parts of it take longer to do because I’m still learning the business part of being an author.
FSF: Do you write with a market or audience in mind or do you write for yourself and hope that readers come along for the ride?
EL: Considering how the story came into being, it’s closer to the last one. I do want to share the story with others because I felt it had to be told. But no, I had not thought of a particular market or audience when I wrote the story. I do hope that once people start to read the series, they will grow to love it as I have.
FSF: How much of yourself and the people in your personal life make it into your writing? And what are some examples if this is a tactic your employ in your work?
EL: I try to keep it to a minimum as far as actual people. It’s mostly some of my characters’ likes and dislikes. For example, The Girl has a love of the water, the way it has a calming effect. I’m originally from the Alabama coast and that was something I always found to be the case. So there are little things like that. The series is what I would consider clean (people have different definitions of that), and that’s a part of me too. I wanted people to be able to read through and not have to be worried about that element. There are themes of friendship, sacrifice, forgiveness, and grace in the series, things that are very much a part of my core values.
FSF: What are some of the biggest influences on your work, from books, film, television, etc?
EL: I love Star Wars, specifically the original trilogy (New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and The Return of the Jedi). On the fantasy side, Tolkien has to be one of my favorites, with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Also, there’s the Narnia series by CS Lewis. I enjoy the suspense/thriller element that explores the more unseen, but equally powerful battleground, which is why I’m a big fan of anything from Frank Peretti and Ted Dekker. Also, one of my favorite fictional characters is Jean Valjean from Les Misérables by Victor Hugo. It’s an amazing story of a convict finding grace, forgiveness, redemption, and pouring it out to others. One of my other all-time favorite books is The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, and I always loved the main character, Edmond Dantes, from it. It’s kind of on the opposite end. He does find all those things, but only after he poured out revenge on all those that caused him to be wrongly imprisoned. How he does it for each one is the true genius of it.
FSF: As an indie author, how Important is reader interaction to you, and what is your preferred method of networking with your readers?
EL: I absolutely adore reader interaction, and I try to always encourage readers to feel free to contact me. If you read my about the author page on my website, you’ll find I made it as if I was sitting down having a chat with a friend. I wanted to create that with my reader from the beginning of this journey. As far as the preferred method, I don’t know that I have one. I tend to share the most in my monthly newsletters, so that’s where I would expect it the most. Right now, I’m most active on Facebook and Twitter, so that’s probably the next best place to connect with me.
FSF: What takes up your time when you’re not writing?
EL: My family. I have two boys and my husband. My oldest son has been doing theater for a couple of years now and is getting further into that. So we try to encourage that, and we enjoy going to see the story played out on stage. The youngest one is hoping to get back into soccer. The Covid thing messed that up last year, but it looks like this spring he can go back to it. We stay busy with our church too. I do quite a bit of reading of other authors’ books when I’m not dreaming up the next battlefield to put my own characters in. I can devour a book easily in a sitting if it grabs me.
FSF: So what’s next for you? What can readers look forward to in the next year?
EL: I started writing book 4 in the Sunspear Series. I’d love to promise it would be out next year, but balancing working full-time and writing, I don’t want to make that bet. I can promise the reader I will finish the story of Dante and the Girl for them. Just stay with me until the final word. I will keep them posted on where I’m at in the process.
FSF: What one piece of advice would you offer to new and aspiring authors?
EL: Write the story that’s in you. The passion for your world and your characters will come through on its own. Have readers fall in love with your world and your characters as much as you have. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Surround yourself with people that will always encourage you to keep the journey going. You never know if your story is what someone needed to hear.