April Special Feature – an Interview with Siarven

Welcome to April’s Special Feature! Today I’m talking with one of my great writer friends about how they create epic immersive fantasy worlds! Siarven is an incredible author and illustrator, and I’ve recently had the absolute honor of beta-reading their WIP, Dreams Shadow, which features in this interview. I’m super excited to share their cleverness and creativity with you all today! For this interview, my parts and questions are in the headings, and their responses are everything written below.

Question 1: First can you tell me about yourself and what you write? 

Hello 🙂 I’m Jana, I go by Siarven online 🙂 I’m 24 and currently study VFX with a focus on Concept Art. Storytelling has always been my first and most powerful passion, from telling stories out loud to myself (and my little brother) when I was small, to visual storytelling in various different forms, to loving film scores most of all because they tell a story with sound. Besides art and writing, I also play the flute & piccolo and love to sing because music has always been incredibly important to me. I adore the natural world (plants and animals and fungi and such) because it’s deeply fascinating to me and am very passionate about protecting it from destruction. Also just in general, I’m absolutely obsessed with how our world “works” from a cellular level upward, geography, biology, physics, how everything interlinks to make our world the way it is. Most of this stuff ends up in my wips in one form or another 😀 I also love hiking and going places by bike, and usually take my camera because nature photography is also my favourite ❤ 

I’m from Germany but prefer to write in English because I like my writing style a lot more and the German publishing industry kinda sucks but that’s a whole other can of worms… I mainly write hope-punk dark epic fantasy stories, but, to be fair, they’re usually a very wild mix of things that interest me, so you can find elements from all kinds of genres in there 🙂 The general important things are that it’s all rather hope punk, both protagonists and antagonists have rather grey morality levels, there’s a variety of cool creatures, powerful platonic relationships of various kinds abound, and there’s an often rather mean magic system. Basically all my characters are some shade of queer because that’s very important to me personally. It also almost always spirals out of control because I love complex, interwoven story lines the most, which is very unfortunate for me. XD  

Question 2: When you start a WIP, what’s your starting point? Do you build worlds from the ground up, or does the story come first, and you paint in the world as a backdrop as needed, or something in the middle?

Interesting question! 😀 I’d say it varies, actually? My main WIP Dream’s Shadow grew out of an image of a young boy’s ghost standing behind his grieving mother at his hospital bed. Like Dragons of Old grew out of roughly 20 paper scraps where I’d scribbled small random ideas like character names, character relationships, a striking visual, things like that. My newest WIP seed (I haven’t started writing it but I could in theory start now if I wanted to) grew out of an art I started for a uni course and two picrew portraits. xD In general, I think I start with two or three characters and how they relate to one another and the world around them, and all of that kind of grows organically at the same time. I don’t excessively world build, character-build, or plot before I start writing. I have a beginning, an ending (where the characters start and where they end up), I have a rough idea of what their world might look like, and then all of those things grow and develop as I write. But, mind you, I’m not sure how all of this will develop in future WIPs 😀 I’m still quite far at the beginning of this entire journey, and I usually only plan ahead a bit and then see how stuff works out 🙂 

Continue reading

January Special: An Interview with Katelynn Koontz

Welcome to January’s Special Feature! Today I’m talking with one of my great writer friends about how she writes complex and compelling character arcs! Katie is an accomplished author who writes across several genres including Fantasy, Sci-fi, Horror, Poetry, and Contemporary summer reads. She also does art, and drew the illustration of her OC, Bolte, for this post’s header/preview image. Katie is active in the writing community on tumblr and is one of the nicest people I’ve met there, so I’m happy to be able to share her fantastic personality and advice with you today!

Continue reading

The Liebster Award!

a decorative graphic with the Liebster award logo - a blue ribbon shape with the name surrounding by flowery colorful paisley patterns

Thank you so much to Alina who nominated me for this award!! She’s so sweet and her blog is really great so I highly recommend checking it out! I’m honored that you would consider me for this and I can’t say how grateful I am to have the opportunity to participate in and promote some interaction in the online writing community!

Rules:

  1. Thank the blogger that nominated you
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you
  3. Nominate 11 bloggers
  4. Ask your nominees 11 questions
  5. Notify your 11 nominees

Questions/Answers:

When did you start blogging?
I started blogging a little over a year ago on tumblr! I’d just graduated high school and wanted to do something fun and productive with my summer before going to college so I started my writeblr and the rest is history. I started this website/blog this August after finishing the manuscript for Storge! Finally completing that first draft was a massive confidence booster that helped me take a big step into more formally promoting my writing.

What is one extreme sport that you’d like to try?
I’ve swam for years so I’d like to try scuba diving! Does that count as an extreme sport? That and skiing and mountain climbing. I enjoy individual and outdoors sports a lot.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully I’ll have graduated college with a chemical engineering degree and have a stable first job within a few months! I’m not sure where the career will take me quite yet, but I’m going to be continuing to write and build my author’s platform in the meantime as I get my footing in the real world of being an independent adult.

What’s something new you want to try?
There’s a really cool group of people called the Renegade Bindery that collects resources and tips on how to bind books – specifically fanfiction – at home. I’d love to bind a fic for one of my good friends when I have the time/money for materials/equipment.

What is one fruit/vegetable which you certainly do not like?
I’m not a fan of olives, they’re usually too salty for me to eat without choking down a gallon of water. They’re fine in dishes and on pizza though.

Who’s someone you look up to?
I’m going to answer a few different people for different aspects of this question if that’s ok!
– My go-to answer for this question is usually St. Catherine of Alexandria, my confirmation saint! She has an incredible story which I recommend checking out, and I try to emulate her actions and her Faith in my day to day life. I also really admire da Vinci for how he dedicated himself to studying the world and finding the beauty in science. I often pick up new hobbies in an attempt to learn as much as possible and follow that example of never not learning.
-For writing inspirations, like any self-respecting fantasy author and Catholic nerd, I have a massive respect for J.R.R. Tolkien’s work! I also love Madeline L’Engle’s Time Quintet and Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain!

What sport do you wish you were good at?
Running! I did swim team for years so you’d think I’d have good cardio and endurance but whether it’s track and field or cross country, I’ve never been able to keep up very well whenever I’m on land.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Probably cookies and cream or something chocolate and fudgy unless I’m having fall deserts like pumpkin pie and apple crisp. Then butter pecan and vanilla are best.

Would you rather be the protagonist or the antagonist in your favorite movie/book?
Can I opt to be the sarcastic sidekick instead? I’d be happy being one of the protagonists in The Princess Bride though!

What is one subject that you studied/are studying that you despise?
I hated both the math classes I’ve taken in college (Calc III and Linear Algebra) but I don’t know if that’s an instance of “difficult professor + COVID” or if I just genuinely hated the subject. Currently, I don’t like accounting very much. It’s an important subject and I understand that someone has to do it, but it’s best for someone who’s very linear-thinking and detail oriented and that person is not me.

What is your favorite sauce?
This is such an interesting open ended question! Condiment? I’m not sure…do those count as sauces? Probably ketchup in that case. For pasta, Alfredo is my favorite.

My Nominations!

My Questions:

  1. What’s your favorite part about the writing community?
  2. Do you prefer writing dialogue or description, and why?
  3. Do you have any creative hobbies outside of writing, and how did you get into them?
  4. When was the last time you had a good night’s sleep?
  5. Are you reading/watching/listening to anything right now that you’re excited about?
  6. What’s your favorite YouTube channel?
  7. What writing advice would you give your younger self?
  8. What’s your opinion on color coding?
  9. Is there a specific theme or aesthetic that underlies all your stories?
  10. How many WIPs do you have?
  11. What’s your wildest dream as a creator? (for example, do you want to see fanart of your ocs, have a movie made of your book, etc?)

Thank you again Alina for nominating me! This was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to meeting more people in the community. I’m always happy to work with other writers, so feel free to reach out if you have any ideas for this blog. Take care, and happy writing! 🙂

Starting an Author’s Platform: An Interview with Max Gray

Welcome to my first interview post! *celebration trumpet sounds*

I had the honor of working with Max Gray to talk about how he got started with his author’s platform and how he approaches engagement in the community. Max is a trans writer (using he/him pronouns) who writes contemporary works, almost always with some kind of queer romance involved. He is currently planning a surrealism novel called Plant Life, and is drafting a fanfiction called Superkids.

You can find him on his Website, Tumblr, Twitter, and Instagram @maxgraybooks, and on his Youtube channel!

Question 1: Why did you first start posting your writing online – not just for your current WIP but where did you get your start? The first step is a big one, so I want to hear about how you came to take it.

Max: Well, I actually started out on Wattpad with my girlfriend at the time. I’ve been writing since I was in first grade, but it was always off and on, until my girlfriend at the time and I started writing together, and we posted all of our books on Wattpad. I think the main reason was probably just because we had fun with them, and wanted to talk to other people about the stories and characters. For both Plant Life and Superkids, I started posting about them pretty much as soon as I got the idea. If I didn’t have people actively waiting to read Superkids, and excited for it, I probably would have given up on the story a while ago.

Etta: It’s really cool that you were able to find your community so quickly, and that they’ve been so encouraging to your writing process!

Continue reading