I currently live in North Carolina with my better half and my horde of goblins. I am a Licensed Master Social Worker, receiving my degree from Wichita State University. I have worked with children and families for the past fifteen years in a variety of unique venues: a residential behavior school, a psychiatric treatment facility, and the child welfare system. I have functioned as a supervisor, an educator, a behavior specialist, and a therapist during my career. You, however, may recognize me as the dude whose dragons were said to destroy George R.R. Martin’s and Christopher Paolini’s dragons in a very biased Twitter poll. My first novel, Melkorka, was released in 2015, and I have been writing fantasy fiction like clockwork ever since.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
This month I completed the third book [Maharia] in my trilogy, The Kaelandur Series. Maharia is my fifth published, print novel and my fourteenth published work. Yet this is my first whole trilogy.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing stories around the age of nine, completing my first short story. I suspect writing was originally an escape. I mean, I was already dreaming of bestsellers at nine-years-old. Over time, writing has become more of an expression of my own exploration of self.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I called myself a writer regularly by the time I was in high school. I had finished my first book by the time I was seventeen. I remember my class voting me the most likely to become a famous writer…but I think they said I would be writing for television.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My first published book was inspired by a dream I had in 2013 where a dagger brought demons back to the living world. This book was Melkorka, the first novel in The Kaelandur Series.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Maharia is the name of the northern lands in my world, Aenar. The first two books in the series, Melkorka and Dyndaer, are named after a lone castle and an enigmatic forest.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I enjoy blending theology in with my fantasy tales, and I would hope readers will be able to find many gems throughout the series. I have been told by fans that my fantasy novels have many quoteable lines. Overall, I would like readers to have a strong sense of looking at their own lives and their purpose.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
In terms of realism, the books are laden with the realities of war, slavery, government control, religious oversight, etc. No experiences in the book are based from my own experience. If any parallels are found, it would be in the history of our known world.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli and Liberty by John Stuart Mills.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I have found many new authors whose works I enjoy: John Ryers, Angie Grigaliunas, and Angela B. Chrysler. However, my favorite author is likely J.R.R. Tolkien. I can read his works over and over again. He is not the best author, but his introduction to world building, magic, language, and fantastical races opened the doors for many authors today.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I have been supported by so many people throughout my writing career in forums, writing groups, or personal relationships. It would be incredibly difficult to name only one.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I currently write full time, and I hope to continue to make strides in my writing career.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I always find areas in my books that I would change, even the day after I publish them. A word I would have changed, or description I might have added. I try not to get too caught up on the details, and instead, I incorporate what I learn into my next book.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Again, the bearded Kadari and Beryl tightened their hold on his arms.
With a flash in her eye, Kveta pulled aside Branimir’s cloak and pulled the dagger from the belt. Kaelandurstayed hanging from its sheathe around his waist. She barely looked at the copper blade, twisting the iron dagger in her hand. The sharpness of the weapon gleamed in the firelight.
Her free hand grabbed his shoulder roughly, balancing her weight to keep pressure off her bandaged leg. “Should I wedge this in your leg, your eye, or your dear, little bits?”
Beryl’s blithe snigger robbed the air from Branimir’s lungs. “Why choose only one?”
Disbelief and horror seized Bran, his timorous lip quaking with realization. He twisted against the Kadariholding him, hardly budging.
He dared to break from Kveta’s ghastly expression to look at Falmagon. The twisted smile under the Patrician’s mustache screamed of gratification. After Harrowhal, he realized how far gone Falmagon truly was. He once thought Falmagon, at least, considered himself decent, but nothing was left of the Highborn Long-Walker.
Nothing could have readied Branimir for the shockwave of pain riddling through his body as Kveta speared him with the dagger. He reacted at instinct, thrashing violently against the two Kadariholding him hostage, his wail causing the very flames of the distant fire to waft. He could not pinpoint where she struck him at first, only knowing the pain surged from beneath his belly. The heat of the immediate wound was only diluted by the warmth of the thick blood flowing down his slender leg.
He moaned. Tears descended from his cheeks with heaved sniffles, snorting his slick snot back into his nose and off his upper lip.
Kveta twisted the blade, grating the sharp edge against his femur, isolating the dagger’s location. Branimir blubbered softly, catching the saliva on the edge of his tongue, hatefully glaring at the Kadariwoman.
He gagged in effort to keep his throat from closing, gasping for oxygen. He needed to breathe. He had to shake away the abysmal pain. Inhaling the metallic odor of his own blood, Branimir gazed to Falmagon and exhaled the bitter thoughts flooding his mind. “I will kill you! I swear it! Marheena will leave you broken and deformed!”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Romance. I have found through the course of my novels there is very little, if any, romantical interest or love stories in my books.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I do not travel much yet, but I am planning to change that this year.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My cover designer is primarily Winter Bayne. Though, the artist Shen Fei did complete the cover for Anaerfell.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The most difficult part of writing is not being finicky over every little word. I have the tendency to edit while I write, which helps me in the longrun, but can be cumbersome if not watched.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Do not try to write like other authors. You should follow the rules of writing, but you also must find your own voice.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
They hear it from me often enough, but thank you, I could not do what I do without you.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I am currently reading The Fantasy Faction Formula by Deborah Chester.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I do not. But the first book that stuck with me was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My children. Sometimes in the same sitting.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
That is a difficult question. If I had to narrow it down, I would want to meet Erzebeth Bathory. She is, hands-down, my favorite historical figure and I would love to learn more about the rumors of her bathing in virgin’s blood. In the modern day, I think I would want to meet with RA Salvatore just to play a good, old-fashioned tabletop game.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Nothing. I would prefer that I am sent out to see on a pyre of logs and set afire with a flaming arrow. Though, I think that might be illegal.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
I enjoy reading, time with family, tabletop gaming, and the occasional television show.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I am currently catching up on the acclaimed Breaking Bad. Otherwise, I watch Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. I particularly enjoy anything that has a touch of fantasy or a dystopian setting.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food – Pad Grapow (Thai-Hot), Color – Green/Black/Grey, Song – Bulgarian Folk Rhodope Mountain by Nadezhda Hvoyneva
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Considering a spent the first half of my adult life working in social services, I would probably return to that work if needed.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?