An Interview with Fantasy Author Rebecca Lennard

When did you start taking writing seriously and honing your craft?

In my last semester of university – I had a three week prac to do, and decided to use the time to revise and edit the novel that had taken 15 years to write. It would take me another two years to release it to the rest of the world – exactly half my lifetime was spent writing Ronah.

Are you a pantser or planner? What is your philosophy on planning out your books / pantsing through the writing process?

I’m a bit of a pantser – although writing epic fantasy means that I have learned to do some plotting. I usually start with four points for each section within a chapter– and then flesh them out. Sometimes there is more, and sometimes sections jump around in the book – but it gives a great starting point, and ensures that no plot point is forgotten.

What three fantasy authors would you say has most influenced your writing?

Anne McCaffery – for her world building, JK Rowling – for the magic, and Sara Douglas, for the epic length of her books. They’re actual writing styles, not necessarily. For me, they’re all great writers, but it has been an age since I’ve picked up one of their books. I’d like to think that their influences are sparks, and my writing is the fire.

Have you ever abandoned a piece of writing and left it unfinished? Would you ever go back, change it and finish it?

Yes, I have. Languishing in a drawer somewhere remains the unfinished musings of an fourteen year old. Best they are forgotten and unburied. I do have quite a few stories on the go at the moment that are currently unfinished, but not abandoned.

Do you have a day job and what is it?

I’m a librarian. I spend my days surrounded by the fruits of other’s imaginations – and despite the wealth of knowledge that surrounds me, the most consistent questions are along the lines of ‘How do you print?’ and ‘Do you know my password?’ I love when people ask help finding a book, or a scrap of information they’re not sure about.

How has your career impacted your writing career?

I knew some tips and tricks of getting my books into the hands of library readers that other authors don’t know. Hint: If your library has a request option, ensure that your book is with the main library suppliers in your country, then request your book. *cough* it’s even better if a friend/avid reader can request it for you. *cough*

Please, authors, do not expect every single library to hold a copy of your book. Whilst there are some library users who use the collections as a try-before-you-buy option, many don’t. There is but a single sale to be had. And in a large library group like the one I work for, there is not enough room on the shelves for all ten books of a relatively unknown author to sit in every library. I know that hurts from an authors point of view – but libraries have a limited budget and need to spend on a multitude of authors. And some won’t even buy from you, some will insist that you donate a copy or two instead.

What fantasy subgenre(s) do you enjoy writing the most?

I love epic fantasy. The world creating, meeting new characters, discovering different lifestyles, different magics, and different languages. It’s something that I can get lost in far too easily.

Outside of fantasy, what genre or subgenre would you like most to write in? (eg. Historical Fiction, Mystery, Sci Fi, Spy Thriller, etc.)

I’m currently working on a sci-fi epic fantasy cross. It’s a soft science though, and is so much fun to write. I would like to try my hand at historical fiction one day, but fear that the research period would divert me for years as I’m a bit of an ancient history buff – I studied Ancient Latin at uni.

What was the first book you've published and what do you like about it?

I published was Ronah in December 2018. I enjoy that I was able to finally introduce other people to the world inside my head. Ronah stars Shari, a seventeen year old with a secret – but when it gets out, everyone she loves is in danger.
[See to learn more.]

What was the most recent book you've published and what do you like about it?

Rakemyst is my most recent novel, published in November 2019. I love that I was able to explore Shari’s fathers people – the Ilutri – and delve into some more worldbuilding. Winged humanoids, the Ilutri have mastered the element of Air, but find it difficult to catch their breath when the bone-clad Chirea invade with threats to steal their magic and kill their leader. I loved writing the Chriea – a totally grounded, non-magical race who were able to get the best of the Ilutri on quite a few occasions. Lucky Shari is around to give them a hand!

[See to learn more.]

How many books have published thus far and what are their titles?

I’ve been published in an anthology – The Evil Inside Us in 2018. Guardian, my novella, was also published in 2018, as was Ronah. Rakemyst was published last year.

What was your favourite hero/protagonist you've thus far written about? What makes them special?

Sam is my favourite hero. He’s special, because he doesn’t see himself as a hero, and he’s a bit of a git. Honestly, he’d much prefer to bite the digits off the residents of Ronah one by one than help them most of the time. But deep, deep, deep down, he’s a good guy. Maybe.

What was your favourite villain/antagonist thus far? What makes them special?

It doesn’t help much if I say Sam again, does it? He’s a bit of an anti-hero, and great at making matters worse. My other favourite would be Anriluka. She’s a U’tan – a type of tentacle demon who likes eating anything with a brain. Particularly eating the brain. After being trapped and denied a decent meal for quite a few centuries, it was fun to see what torturous tests she would come up with for Shari.

If you could propose the plot of a TV show what would you make it about?

I’d probably make it about my books. CGI is advanced enough that it might even be possible. Having Shari and the gang on the screen would likely give me goosebumps – although I do dread the idea of living out Rick Riordans reality and have them totally smash the story line into pieces.

Do you like to use tropes in your writing and subvert the reader's expectations, or do you try to avoid them entirely?

There are tropes in my writing – Shari is essentially a ‘Chosen One’ – although she was asked first; there’s a prophesy that comes from the depths of time; and there’s a guy whose probably going to be really bad for Shari lurking in the background.
There’s a lot of tropes that get turned on their heads though – people may come back from the dead, but not in a way you’d expect. The pretty, popular girl wants to be more and learns how to fight with the weapons she has – just not in the way you’re thinking. More like in the ‘lets test the tensile strength of a stiletto heel against flesh’ kind of way.

What skills do you yourself possess that you feel the need to write about and keeps you inspired? (eg. Archery, blacksmithing, horsemanship, languages, etc.)

Languages – I can speak a few words in far too many languages. I can also read and translate Ancient Latin. I can’t fight to save myself, but I do watch martial arts classes with an eye for detail.

Do you get annoyed when you see movies, TV shows or books that show unrealistic depictions of things or do you brush it off as the "magic of fantasy"?

I prefer to suspend belief when consuming the work of others. Unless it’s totally unrealistic and jarring, in which case I just itch to correct it. I do read a lot of fanfiction in my favourite fandoms, and I put that down as the reason that I can more easily brush things off.

Do you celebrate after you finish writing a chapter or a book? How do you celebrate?

Usually I celebrate after the end of a story. I prefer to celebrate with a bubble bath, a glass of whiskey and dry, with some brie and crackers, strawberries, and chocolate. Then I ignore the book for at least a week and get out and do all the things I’ve been putting off.

Do you prefer to write what you would like to read, or do you try to cater to a specific audience? Or sometimes both?

I write the story for me. When I’m not writing, I’m an avid reader. I will, in the beginning phases at least, be the one to read over the book the most. If I’m not enjoying it, then I change it. And change it again, every time the boredom starts to creep in. The highest compliment a reader can tell me is that they didn’t want to put the book down. That’s what I’m going for when I write.

What is the darkest thing you've ever written about?

There’s spoilers in this answer – you know that, right?

Ok – for those of you who are brave enough, one of my characters gets his brain scooped out through his eye socket. While his friends watch on. When he comes back to life, he lasts less than a minute, as he gets a three-pronged claw shoved through his back, and his rib cage explodes, showering those same friends in his remains. Again.

When reading fantasy what is one thing you wish other authors would stop doing?

The love triangle. It’s reached epic proportions in YA fantasy, and is just overdone. Make them a triad, or make her choose. Flip it and have a guy legitimately stressing out because two insanely hot women are after them and he’s worried he’ll choose the wrong one – instead of just banging them and calling it done.

Do you sometimes find it difficult to find books to read because you are looking for something specific, nobody has written it, and you realize you should just write it?

That’s pretty much why I started the Lissae series. Back when I was first writing it, there weren’t a lot of strong, female leads. I wanted a book about magic, and dragons and danger with a girl strong enough to save the day without needing help from a guy.

To be fair, Shari does need help, and she’s evolved as a character enough to ask, albeit

Where do you see yourself twenty years from now and what might you be writing about by then?

I’m not naive enough to think that Lissae won’t burn me out by the end of the series. I can’t see myself not writing. If you’d told me twenty years ago that I’d still be writing the Lissae series, I wouldn’t have believed you.
I think historical fantasy could be on the cards by then.

What is your next book that is coming out, when should it be available, and what is it about?

The next book is Talhan, the third novel in the Lissae series. It should be available in late Spring (Southern hemisphere)/late Fall (Northern hemisphere).

What are you currently working on?

Talhan. The last year has been full of family emergencies, but I’m determined to have it done in time!

What are you currently reading by other fantasy authors?

The top or my TBR pile is Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski. I’ve also got the rest of Brandon Mull’s The Five Kingdom Series, the Shannara Chronicles by Terry Brooks and Weapon by Lynette Noni.

Do you follow any specific authors on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc?

I do – I follow Rick Riordan, V. E. Schwab, Lynette Noni and Matthew Reilly. There’s a slew of others as well, I’m sure.

If you could recommend one or two fantasy author(s) for me to interview after you, who would that author be?

Delia Strange and Linda Conlon are co-authors. They have a very interesting way of writing.

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