It’s time for another author interview, this time from award-winning author R. Tran. I first met her a month or so ago. I was intrigued by her series and once I got to know her, I knew you’d love her, too. So grab your favorite beverage and sit down for an in-depth interview. She reveals odd writing habits, choosing character name and how to handle reviews, not to mention how cockroaches totally freak her out. Take it away, R. Tran:
Do you have any odd writing habits?
I usually hand-write my manuscripts first. I read them at least two or three times editing as I go before they are typed. Even though it makes writing anywhere more practical it does make deciphering some notes and edits harder at a later point.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
For my fantasy novels, I use both methods. If the character is important I try to find a name with a specific meaning. Mara for example appears in folklore as a goddess of death and also a demon. It seemed fitting based on where her goals laid at the beginning of the novel. Other characters like Kess got his name in the first draft because I liked the way it sounded and I couldn’t imagine him with any other name.
In my novel For Their Sins I had to research names from all over the world making sure that each fit with their country of origin or heritage. A name or two belonged to friends or family as well.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
I hold two degrees including a doctorate. I have a nice house and a good job. My first two published novels reviewed well and even received an award a piece. Yet, none of that compares to my family. My best accomplishment, by far, is my two daughters. They just turned 4 and 6 and I don’t know where my life would be without them.
Have you always liked to write?
No, there was a time I didn’t even want to read. I hated it. If there were cliff notes when I was in school I would have had a whole set. Book reports were like pulling teeth for me. Then one day a friend suggested I read A Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind. I thought she was joking; it was three inches thick. But, I fell in love with it and with reading again. Soon after my dad died. That same friend was writing a story that she let me read. I thought I could do that. It was better than therapy. Anything was better than therapy when you’re 16. So, I started writing and haven’t stopped since.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
Don’t be afraid to edit. Cut out dead weight so you can highlight the juicy bits. If it doesn’t do anything for the story or seems irrelevant, cut it.
Also get a beta reader or two or five before publishing. I had no idea what that was until about two months ago. My third novel was already advertised and out for pre-purchase on Amazon, it was too late for major changes. I lucked out and most of my problems seem to be small, but things could have gone horribly wrong.
Lastly, avoid “to be” verbs. They give a very passive tone to the writing. I think in writing that was the one thing that really stuck with me. My college English professor had a limit on how many we could use in a single essay and yes, she counted them. I’ve read other works that don’t follow this rule and what she said is true. ‘To be” verbs aren’t always necessary, well unless you’re Shakespeare.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I read all my reviews. I do not respond to them except to say thank you. Not everyone will like my book. It’s why I did not publish for so long. But, the reviewer not only read my book; they took that extra time that most readers don’t to tell others what they thought about it. I don’t always agree with what the reviewer says, but I try to see it from my reader’s perspective. Just because I intended something one way doesn’t mean that is how it was received. I try to learn from criticism; it’s the only way I will grow, learn, and do better on my next book.
What is your best marketing tip?
If you aren’t used to talking about yourself do so, and I mean now. You are you’re best salesman. I still have a hard time promoting myself in person, although I haven’t had any formal appearances or signings. Still, if some one sees me writing, I use that opportunity to promote myself. I still have a hard time working up the nerve.
If you have a Twitter account, pin a tweet promoting your book to the top of your feed. Anytime I look at new authors I want to follow or even help out by retweeting their books, I want to see that first without scrolling through a bunch of random tweets. If I don’t see one right away I give up.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)
The Rashade’ and A Guardian Falls combined is my first book. Originally they were written as one massive manuscript. I split it in two to make it more marketable. I prefer reading a long book. I am just getting into a book around 200 pages. However, I realize I am not the norm. So I followed general publishing consensus and split the book in two. The original manuscript was finished in 2002. Since then I have completed 5 more manuscripts and have 6 more in the works.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
Currently I am working on Volume 3 and 4 in The Chronicles of the Coranydas series. I hope to have these published in February and July, 2018. I am also hoping to have the prequel to the same series ready for publication late next year. It will answer a lot of questions for those that read the series. Lastly I want to finish a manuscript that was inspired by the Exodus story in the Bible. That is, if I quit getting sidetracked by the sequel to For Their Sins.
And now for some more personal questions…
What is your biggest fear?
Cockroaches! I have an irrational fear of cockroaches. I know I am a thousand times bigger than them and all I have to do is step on them but they are gross. I see one and I jump. Even a dead one instills fear in me when my husband chases me with it or throws it at me.
What’s on your bucket list (things to do before you die)?
I crossed a lot of them off before the girls were born. But I still want to ride a mechanical bull. I want to visit all 50 states. I want to see the ruins in Greece and Rome. Lastly, I want to ride as many famous and/or record setting roller coasters as I can.
Do you have any scars? What are they from?
I have a scar on my right thigh that I’ve had since I was three. I was climbing out of an old galvanized pool and cut it open on the rim that had rusted through.
I have another set on the front of my shin that is nearly faded now. I got those when I was 13 and Three Non-Blondes had the biggest hit on the radio. I was canoeing with one of my best friends and our canoe was rolled by a tree branch under the water. As another group of canoers pushed our boat free the front bolts of the canoe scraped long gashes in my leg.
I have my C-section scar from my youngest daughter. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
Lastly, I have a scar on the inside of my right pinky finger from a wine glass breaking in my hand this summer. Sorry no fun tale there, just good old-fashioned clumsiness.
What do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
I don’t have any recurring dreams now but when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter I did. I had very vivid dreams about zombies. Most of the time I was hunting them, but sometimes I was being chased. I would wake up occasionally still worried there were zombies lurking in my room.
Title: The Rashade’
Genre: Epic Fantasy
After her father was murdered before her eyes, Mara Coranyda traded a life of privilege, for one devoted to vengeance. Shortly into her quest to find the mage that murdered him, Mara discovered it wouldn’t be an easy task to accomplish. Not only would she have to find the magical artifacts to destroy him, but she would also have to raise an army to stop his conquest of her homelands.
From her roost in the tree, Mara had a clear view of the mouth of the pass. She bent her head in silent prayer as she had so many times before.
Mara jerked her head up as dry leaves crunched under a boot. A scout was in the clearing once again moving slowly. Shiny helmets followed. Soon, helmets became men and men became archers entering the clearing. Most of them didn’t have their bows strung. They talked and laughed as they marched unaware of what lie in wait. When the bulk of the archers entered the clearing, Mara shot the man in the lead. His bow fell off his shoulder as he hit the ground. In the blink of an eye, the sky was thick with arrows and men were falling with loud screams. Those with strung bows began firing blindly into the trees but died first because they were the biggest threat. Those who were bending bows were the next to fall. By now, the enemy cavalry were entering the clearing at a run, trying to get past the hidden archers slaying their comrades.
Mara whistled loudly for Bishop and the other riders to join her. She waited for Bishop to pass below her as he ran down the trail and jumped onto his back. Leandra and Valaska led the riders. Drawing her sword, Mara saw the enemy directly ahead. Their lines broke allowing enough room for the Shiori riders to slip among them. At first sight of women, the men were undeterred, but after Leandra and Valaska got away unscathed after killing a man each, they began to turn their horses and fight.
Valaska took off a man’s head in one clean swing. The horse continued to run out of fear adding to the chaos. Mara whistled twice to halt the reign of arrows as Valaska neared the archer’s range. Many of the enemy cavalry still remained. Those who had not scattered into the woods, herded into a tight circle for safety using their small shields to block the arrows.
Mara entered the clearing, veering right to pick off stray men leaving the mass of horses for the Shiori to attack as a unit. An enemy soldier charged at her raising his sword to strike. She ducked and held her sword low to her side. Bone cracked as it hit its mark nearly slicing the man in half. Rushing ahead, she swung in a wide arc catching another man in the neck. He fell off his horse grasping his neck in a futile effort to stop the blood. An arrow whizzed past Mara’s left shoulder killing the soldier ahead. Effortlessly, she veered right for another man. He saw her, though, and swung wide. He missed her, but she took his arm. Closer to the pass she saw the end of cavalry and beginning of the infantry. Still, there was no sign of the mage.
Mara glanced at the clearing to watch the mass of horses and people in its center. They had to break apart the enemy without risking their own warriors. “Wayette, fire into the center!” she yelled, pointing with her sword. Somehow Wayette heard her over the noise and four arrows caught enemy soldiers off guard. Those men did not break until four more men fell trying to defend themselves from Shiori blades. Mara rushed a few stray men and killed them easily. Storm’s cry overhead signaled the mage’s arrival.
Mara rode hard back to the tree line to retrieve Wayette. The mage was already on the ground running to meet her. Mara pulled Wayette onto the horse behind her and headed back to the pass. Mara killed three men as they rode past and Wayette knocked another two away with her staff. When they reached the pass, Wayette sent up a large light spell to signal their own infantry. Within moments, heated shouts erupted from the woods as Shiori warriors rushed onto the battlefield. Mara and Wayette jumped off Bishop’s back and sent him to the woods. “I’ve got your back until help arrives. Go on,” Mara told Wayette nodding to the mage.
Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N211HHR
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01N211HHR
I started writing as self prescribed therapy after my dad died when I was 16. As a teenager I was too scared to admit I was depressed so it was my coping mechanism. It took years before I got the courage to publish. In the years between writing was my relaxation whether I finished the stories or not. I had to get them down before I forgot.
Twenty years later I have, two degrees, three published books, a husband who loves me, two little girls I adore and a spoiled dog.
Social Media Links:
Facebook page: https://m.facebook.com/Rtranbooks/
Independent Author Network: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/r-tran.html