Torn Universe: An Interview with Faye Fite

Today I’m pleased to introduce you to Faye Fite, one of my longtime writing inspirations, and the author of The Terebinth Tree Chronicles, which I reviewed last week! I am thrilled to have her on my blog today to talk about developing characters, specifically fighters. This was such a fun interview, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed conducting it!


Welcome! First, for a general introduction, can you tell me about yourself, how long you’ve been writing, and what you write?

Faye: Absolutely! My name is Faye Fite. I’m a disabled author of Christian speculative fiction and author of the Torn Universe, an expanded universe of science-fiction and fantasy short stories containing such things as desert elves, Aztec-inspired vampires, and sci-fi mermaids. I primarily write YA fantasy with tough, raw characters, vibrant cultures, and themes of strength, courage, and brokenness. I have been writing long before I knew how to spell properly. In my spare time, I am a college student studying nutrient metabolism and research assistant studying nutritional metabolomics.

Etta: Ah, that’s such a good pitch! It absolutely fits what I’ve seen of your work so far, and I love you say you do college “in your free time” haha. Big mood there. I’ve most recently read your Terebinth Tree Chronicles, so I’m most familiar with those characters, but if you think another character fits better for the questions, feel free to tell us about them too!

When you start a story, are your characters built from the ground up as the story forms around them, or do you start with a plot and create characters to fit the story you want to tell? Or is it a combination of both?

Faye: That’s a great question! I almost always start with a character first, as well as a theme or a question I want to explore, and then the story falls into place around them. Because my characters have such strong personalities, and because my world-building is very specific, I’ve found that letting them lose into the world results in a fairly instantaneous plot.

Etta: That makes sense! The themes in your stories are also super interesting and I want to circle back around to talk about that later. I love that you’re able to make your characters both so dynamic and distinct so it’s cool that they guide you through the story as you go. I can absolutely relate to that feeling.

What are your favorite types of character arcs to write?

Faye: I really enjoy writing angry, hurting characters who mean well, but don’t always know how to direct their emotions in a healthy way. As for arcs, I tend to enjoy writing what I refer to as “non-linear” character arcs, in that the characters don’t follow a clearly improving or backsliding trajectory, but instead take steps forward, mess up, try again, fail, rinse and repeat. These types of characters are interesting to write because they feel like a more honest reflection of most human beings, and also help myself and my readers learn how to pick ourselves up after we fall.

Etta: I respect that perspective, it great that you’re trying to capture the more nuanced and messy parts of life in your fiction – because that’s what makes the characters feel real and relatable. I especially noticed that personality with Jayel, especially in her fight with the magician. She’s doing her best to make a positive change in the world but is as often a victim of her own impulsive decisions as dire circumstances, putting her in that place where she has to act. It’s compelling, because there’s not always a right answer. The three books in the Terebinth Tree Chronicles all set up these characters’ arc and leave you with a satisfying conclusion of one arc, but you can tell they still have more growth ahead of them and I’m cheering them on.

Faye: Thank you for that awesome summary of Jayel! She is my beloved disaster child. I’m glad to hear you’re excited to see where their stories go next. I’m looking forward to publishing them!

Etta: Ahaha, “beloved disaster child” is such a fun way to describe her! I’m super excited to see her dynamic with Wanderer that you teased at the end of Flames of Courage. They’re a fun duo.

Tying into the comment about angry hurting characters who mean well, you write a lot of fighters, which I think is super cool! They face a ton of challenges in their world – be they physical threats, societal pressures, disabilities, or spiritual attacks. How do you decide which battles to give to which characters?

Faye: This is always one of my favorite parts of character creation! All of my main characters have some form of a disability (except for Ishtaka from Vengeance Hunter in the Phoenix Fiction Writers Antiheroes anthology), as I am disabled myself and am working to increase disability representation in sci-fi and fantasy. So the disability is pretty much always a given. The other circumstances are ones that I feel most threaten something important to that character, as it pushes them to grow and change. For example, Wanderer faced a lot of societal pressures in Colors of Fear because he is a fearful character who needed something to spur him into finding his purpose and his strength.

Etta: I love that, “circumstances are ones that I feel most threaten something important to that character, as it pushes them to grow and change”, what a succinct way to sum up character development, wonderful writing advice right there I will definitely take to heart. Wanderer’s story especially resonated with me when I first read it in high school working on college admissions. Maybe it’s not the same as joining the hunters, but the competition, anxiety, and “three in five” motif really hit home. And yes! I’m so glad you brought up the disability representation, because I was going to ask you about that next. It’s one thing that initially drew me to your stories and the indie author space as a whole, since you don’t see a lot of characters like that anywhere else!

When you write a character with a disability you don’t experience yourself, what do you research to represent the experience accurately?

Faye: I love this question! I do a combination of things. I watch YouTube videos created by people with those disabilities and read blog posts by them. I also tend to follow a lot of disabled people online and am always actively learning from them, so I absorb a lot that way. Additionally, I am involved in a lot of disability activism at my university and thus work alongside many other disabled people, so sometimes I will ask them for insight about their specific disabilities (if they are open to that). It’s a lifelong process and I’m always in “educate myself” mode.

Etta: Oh, that’s awesome! I can ditto following disabled folks online – I have a blind character in my book Storge and Molly Burke’s YouTube channel has been such an invaluable resource. Completely agree with lifelong learning, it’s great to connect with other people like that.

Another general character development question because now I’m curious about your process. How are your character’s strengths and weaknesses related to their motivations?

Faye: I often like to take a look at how people have the tendency to try to push through their weaknesses when they should instead by asking for help. This means that my characters are motivated to “overcome” obstacles that are usually of their own making….or that their motivations stem from them trying to fix external problems so they can ignore internal ones. I also like to play with character dynamics so that one character’s weaknesses result in them relying on another character’s strengths to ultimately succeed.

Etta: That’s interesting! On some subconscious level, I understood the tension that comes from conflicting internal and external, but hearing it articulated like that just made something click for me, wow. I also really like that “no man is an island” message. Team dynamics are always a ton of fun to explore and that setup is great for pushing characters to grow in ways that are outside their comfort zone.

You often have rich supporting characters who are fighters in their own rights. How do their lives affect your protagonists, and would you want to tell their stories too?

Faye: Yes, I love me some fighters! Often they are there to push my protagonists in a specific direction, either through inspiring them, teaching them, or showing them how not to behave. Many of them are characters that we will see later on, such as Fendred from Colors of Fear and Shelumiel in Flames of Courage. In fact, Wymund from Sounds of Deceit is making an appearance in the 4th Terebinth Tree Chronicles: Taste of Rage. These are all characters I’m excited to explore further.

Etta: Yay! Oh, oh, oh, now I’m so excited to see more of Wymund in the fourth book. That’s the first time I’ve heard the title, and it sounds so intense! And that’s cool how all the characters we’ve met so far are all there for a deeper purpose and will reoccur in the series. I’m looking forward to seeing how their stories all tie together. It’s like that saying, everyone is the protagonist of their own story.

Faye: Thank you! Character creation is always my favorite part of the writing process, so I love getting to pull side characters back into the spotlight in later stories.

Do you have any advice for writers about creating a compelling character arc?

Faye: Oooo. Yes! Don’t be afraid to be bold. Remember that people in real life are complicated, messy, contradictory, and that they don’t exist in a vacuum. So let your character have real highs and real lows, let them think they know what they want only to realize it’s not what they need, and remember that character arcs are often influenced by the arcs of surrounding characters.

Etta: Ah, that’s great to remember. Thank you so much! I will keep that in mind as I’m editing Storge and working on the arcs. My first draft suffered from hesitating and not going for the hard emotional beats, so it’s good to hear that reminder. 🙂

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! This was super informative and interesting and I’m glad I had the chance to chat with you! Where can we find you and your work online?

My website is my one-stop-shop to finding me and my stories. You can also find me on Twitter and Instagram (@_FayeFite).


Thank you again to Faye for agreeing to do this interview with me and for sharing such thoughtful and thought-provoking answers! If you enjoyed this, be sure to go check out her other work. Thank you for reading, and until next time, happy writing!

Reading Rec: Terebinth Tree Chronicles

Hello everyone and welcome back to another reading rec! This month I want to talk about an author that I’ve enjoyed for quite a while now: Faye Fite. I found her blog back in high school when she still wrote under her other name, and the perspective she shared in her writing advice inspired me to get serious about my writing. Her books introduced me to the indie publishing space and the worlds of possibilities that open when you can control the content of your stories. Faye writes Christian speculative fiction that isn’t preachy and features badass disabled characters.

The Terebinth Tree Chronicles is a series of high fantasy short stories that share the backstories of Wanderer, Jayel, and Ailith – the future protagonists of an epic who are on a mission to assassinate the dark lord that’s plagued their world and ruined their families. Currently, three books have been released in this series: Colors of Fear, Flames of Courage, and Sounds of Deceit, but there are more on the way! Faye also has a few standalone books, including Skies of Dripping Gold, and So I Accidentally Killed the Chosen One, which are both part of the same expanded story-world as the Terebinth Tree Chronicles, called the “Torn Universe.” I’m not sure how they all connect yet, but it’s a really cool concept! Faye is also a member of the Phoenix Fiction Writers, and has published three short stories in their anthologies.

I can wholeheartedly recommend all of her writing, but today I especially want to focus on the characters in the Chronicles and how their arcs are set up to have satisfying conclusions within each backstory book, but leave enough open-ended questions for the rest of the series to continue building.

Colors of Fear

The first book in the series follows the story of Wanderer, a desert elf who’s desperate to join the Hunters – an elite group of fighters dedicated to taking down the dark lord, Elgar. Three out of five Hunters dye within their first year of service, but he has a family to protect: his mother and chronically ill younger brother, Twig. While his brother wastes away from the disease that plagues their world – called Muria – Wanderer recovered, only to be left with a strange ability. He sees emotion as blinding color.

“Some days, he couldn’t even see the sky through his fears.”

When the colors choke his vision and make him stumble on the qualifying obstacle course, the Hunters turn Wanderer away, and force him to find a different path. He must choose between staying home, and watching his brother suffer, or leaving, following the orange strings, pulling him West, and putting his life on the line to kill Elgar and end their suffering once and for all.

Flames of Courage

The second book in the series follows Jayel – a partially deaf she-elf who also wanted to join the Hunters. Despite a perfect run, she’s turned away for her half-blood status. Boiling with anger, she returns to town, where she finds a slave trader abusing another young half-blood boy. Jayel springs to his defense, and when she escapes the guards and makes it home to her mentor Shelumiel, she’s concocted a new mission: bring justice to her people. Shelumiel warns her she won’t be able to accomplish her goals alone, that her plan is half-formed and that she must learn how to wield a sword. Unwilling to be dissuaded, Jayel sets off into the desert alone.

A day’s journey and a sandstorm later, she finally reaches the Spirit-Arch, a gateway to Maiah’s afterlife. There, she’s attacked by a human magician, and a slave, sent by Elgar to kill her. In self-defense, Jayel’s fire powers erupt, and betray her true identity as one of the Athelan – the Holy Warriors of Maiah. Upon realizing that she’s fighting slave, Jayel tries to persuade the magician to surrender. The woman reveals that if she doesn’t bring Jayel back to Elgar, he will kill her village. There are no right answers, and no innocent parties. When the fight finally ends, Jayel is left mourning the stranger and holding her blade.

“It was a lie. I don’t protect. I just… fight. For me. Not for anyone else.”

With her plan in shambles, Jayel follows the last directive she has left – learn how to use a sword. She continues West, and encounters a familiar figure – a fellow fighter, an elf cursed by colors, and a partner in training. The story ends with a hopeful, resolute tone. We don’t know how their stories will end, but we know that there’s a cause worth fighting for.

Sounds of Deceit

The third book in the series doesn’t take place in the same desert as Wanderer and Jayel’s stories. In a city controlled entirely by Elgar’s forces, Ailith and her brother Durran are ex-Hunters who struggle to survive by taking dangerous jobs from the remaining Faithful. Her powerful magic lets her perform incredible feats at the expense of her sanity, as the cacophony of noise that accompanies each spell causes her incapacitating brain-fog. She takes impulsive risks to distract herself from the lies and fear that rule her life, but that changes when they’re approached one night by Wymund – an acquaintance from their Hunter days. He asks them to join the group that plans to assassinate Elgar, but the siblings refuse to break their self-imposed exile.

As Ailith watches the suffering in the city, she keeps her head down. In the shadow of the clock-tower, she hides when she could help the Faithful being persecuted, because she is afraid of her magic, and is losing faith herself. With the encouragement of her elderly priestess friend, Nyara, and the long pressures of her past, she reaches a breaking point.

“I want our pain to be worth something… I want to stand tall.”

That night, they take out the guards, free the Faithful caged within, and destroy the clock tower that tormented her with its noise all along. She’s taken the leap of faith, and though we don’t know where it will take her, there is a promise that her power will prove to be a blessing in the end, when she joins forces with the other protagonists to set their world to rights.

If any of these stories sound interesting to you, I highly recommend you check out Faye’s site and read her books! These are just some of a wonderful universe to explore, and I hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the characters. Make sure you check back next week to read our interview, but until then, Happy Writing! 🙂


How To Write A Fighter

If you’re here looking for a guide on how to write a fight scene, I’m afraid you’re in the wrong place. There are approximately 59,900 results on google about descriptive verbs and pacing, which are useful, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. Today we’re talking about characterization.

Everyone loves a fighter. They’re compelling by nature – someone who’s willing to put their life and safety on the line for something they believe in or a person they care about is someone the audience will root for. But how does this archetype act when they’re not in combat? How might a trained character approach a battle differently from your average Joe? I think the mindset of a fighter is interesting to explore in slice of life scenes, and this article will break down some ways to think about your OCs in a different context.

What are my credentials to talk about this? I did Shotokan Karate for 9 years, fencing for 3 semesters (started with Epee and switched to Sabre recently, if you’re curious), and just started taking Tae Kwon Do on my college campus. I am not a sharpshooter, but I have some experience with both firearms and bows as well. This article won’t get into details of different weapons or fighting styles, but the advice will apply to a broad range of contexts and genres. So, shall we begin?

Continue reading

January Goals Recap

Hello everyone, and happy February! This last month was a super productive one for me, thanks to winter break, and then a week of zoom-class to start the semester. I packed every day full of work to take advantage of my free time and marked off 19/24 general goals! I also prioritized reading this month, since it’s more difficult for me to find uninterrupted time during the school year. During breaks, I work in an IT job, and I never thought I’d be grateful for blue-screening computers, but I finished beta-reading a couple books while waiting on system restores and updates to run haha. My one gripe is that my friends aren’t on Goodreads yet so they don’t “count” towards my public goal – officially, I’ve finished 3/50 for my yearly resolution!

I think I’m going to focus on writing progress in February, before the semester gets too intense. My class schedule this year is really nice, where every day starts at 9:20. If I can get up on time, that gives me roughly an hour of writing time in the mornings. Hopefully that won’t be eaten by writing lab reports lol. Without further ado, here’s my recap for January!

Won by 4 points – 9/10

Finish Order of the Sun – This is a book by a good friend of mine, Lila Mary (@writeblrfantasy on tumblr), and the first in a romance-political-intrigue-fantasy trilogy. I really enjoyed this story, and I’m super excited to read the next two books!

Read + Comment on Dreams Shadow – I read Dreams last year, and helped Siarven as they further developed the story, so I was HONORED to read the latest draft this month. It’s incredible, and I cannot wait until they publish it so I can yell about it with other fans. It has some of the coolest worldbuilding I’ve ever seen, and if you want to hear more about it, you can check out my interview with them here!

Read Youth Sunken for Katie and Review – Youth Sunken is a new horror novel by Katelynn Koontz (@abalonetea on tumblr), and I received a free copy as part of her Patreon. It’s a thrilling story that feels like an episode of the twilight zone, and I highly encourage you all to check it out!

Make a new website schedule for the year – My original plan for the year involved serially posting a chapter of Runaways a month and launching a new pen name, but I realized I was far too busy and burnt out from school and other obligations to dedicate the time I would need to make this happen. I also didn’t want to rush the story and put out sub-par work, so I decided I would stick with my regularly scheduled posting for now, which meant reworking my plans. I’ve got some exciting ideas coming up for extra content, and taking this extra time and energy means that Runaways will be better than ever when it’s ready for release!

IG and WordPress scheduling for January – Starting the year out strong with not missing a week! I’m hoping to do a scaled-back version of #faebruary on Instagram this upcoming month and I’m super excited to share some of my illustrations and concept art with you!

Finish and send out mailing list story – I had the worst writer’s block coming off a weeks-long writing hiatus and trying to manage three different tenses for this, but “Brigid’s Visits” is now available to my newsletter! In case you missed it, you can sign up here and get access to my backlog, including “Matter”, and “Jack of Fables”!

Research and fix wordpress tags – pffff I’ve been promising myself I would do this for months, but when I spend so much time coding for class, the last thing I really want to do is more CompSci stuff in my free time. One of these days I’ll put my Responsible Businesswoman hat on and get my platform act together, but for now I’m just vibing on my tiny corner of the internet.

Finish Storge Read Through – I’m SO PROUD of my new outline guys, you have no idea. It’s huge. I have an excel sheet with 16 columns, and 114 rows to track every aspect of the story, tabs with an “easier to see overview”, character arcs, worldbuilding trackers, and themes/motifs/foreshadowing. This was a huge amount of work, but it’s serving its use as I rewrite! I also completed half of the first chapter! I’m tentatively hoping to finish this rewrite by the end of the year, which means I will need to do 2-3 chapters a month. I’m not holding my breath on this, but I think it is a strong start. There’s a saying that goes “5 minutes of organization is worth 15 minutes of work” and I’m hoping that holds true for this project.

Do 3 marker arts / Watch the Witcher – well, I started the Witcher, so I’m calling that good enough. I’m mainly watching it because ALL of my friends have recommended it, and I love Joey Batey’s music in The Amazing Devil, so Jaskier is the highlight of the show for me. I struggled to get past the nudity and sex scenes, but maybe I’ll pick it up again later. I have done quite a lot of marker art though, so this goal of “Do some fun, creative, low stress things you’ve been meaning to mark off” is done!

Check on Runaways Betas – A few of my lovely readers have finished the draft and left me incredibly kind comments, and a few had to quit for time-constraint reasons, so I threw it at a few more family friends. I’m hoping to have a clear consensus soon – it’s difficult to tell sometimes with a DNF if the problem is the story being boring or just life being crazy, but I’m hopeful they’ll help me turn this story into what it deserves. If you’re interested in joining as a beta reader, please fill out this short form! It contains all the information about the story and logistics.

That’s all I have for today, so thank you for reading! What are you working on this month? I want this blog to be more than me shouting into the void, and so if I can use this platform to help boost other creators, I’d love to see your work too. If you want to have your recommendations and/or your own writing featured in a Resource Rec post, or if you want to collaborate with me, you can leave a comment below for both, or contact me on either tumblr or IG! Happy Writing! 🙂