Six Elementals Author Interviews will introduce prospective readers to some of the best writers in their genre you may, or may not, have heard of, via a series of six questions. I encourage you to check out the work of these phenomenal creatives! Links to their websites and purchase links will always appear, accompanying the interview. Check them out!
I am over the moon with excitement at being joined by the award-winning fantasy author, Angela Boord! Angela's current published works are: Fortune's Fool, Smuggler's Fortune, Dragonmeat, and Dark Ends (anthology with several other authors where Angela's contribution Dragonmeat also appears).
P.L.: Thank you so much Angela for joining Six Elementals Interviews! I'm going to enjoy a big fanboy moment here! As I've mentioned to you in the past, your writing style, how you handle exposition, the amount of detail and immersion in your writing, make it pretty well my "ideal" type of writing style. Fortune's Fool, your award-winning novel (a finalist in the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off of 2019), has become an extremely popular book in fantasy circles, especially as a result of your exceptional approach to detail, and care and attention to world-building. What goes into making such a novel so engrossing, and so meticulous in terms of the world you have created?
Angela: Thank you for inviting me, PL! :) Mostly I’m just trying to write the kind of book I’d like to read. So, first and foremost, I’m trying to engage myself in the story, to keep myself interested and to have fun getting to know these people and the world they live in. I guess “fun” is relative when you’re a writer—we can put our characters through some pretty nasty circumstances! So, maybe it would be better to say I like to keep myself entertained.
Back in 2017 when I started writing again after a long hiatus, I read some books that gave me probably the best writing advice I’ve ever had. Don Maass’ books Writing the Breakout Novel and The Emotional Craft of Fiction helped me to understand the importance of larger than life characters, and Rachel Aron’s 2k to 10k helped me to know that when I hit a place where I stopped having fun, I should take it as a sign that something’s wrong with the narrative. I put those two pieces together into a sentence I tell myself when I start running into problems: WRITE BIG, HAVE FUN. So, that’s basically my writing philosophy in a nutshell. I try to pull my own filters off and let my characters do their thing. If I’m stuck, I’ll ask myself, “What’s the coolest thing I could do here? The most fun? The most interesting? What could go horribly, horribly wrong?” I try to plot so I have some idea of where I’m headed, but when I’m knee-deep in words, the story usually knows best.
I do put a lot of work into revising my stories into shape, though. Usually, I don’t know the way the story really ends until I’m about 75% through a book, so revising is often about setting up the beginning to make it look like I always had the ending in mind. It’s a lot of reverse engineering, and a lot of building up the characters’ relationships.
As far as the worldbuilding goes…I’m a geek and I like to know things, so I’m always picking up little interesting tidbits from books, documentaries, anecdotes, etc. The characters bring some of the worldbuilding with them, but I usually find, as I’m writing, that I need to know things I didn’t know I needed to know. When I hit those spots, I stop and do some research, add in the little details I need and then go on. There’s a good example of this in the sequel to Fortune’s Fool, which I’m working on and will hopefully be released in 2022: I wanted to write a cannon foundry, so I stopped and watched a bunch of Youtube videos about casting cannons. Which was a lot of fun, actually!
P.L.: It does sound like a lot of fun! That is also some great advice: WRITE BIG, HAVE FUN! I will remember it! I have to commend you for finding the time to write, considering some of the incredible responsibilities on your plate! How do you juggle being a writer, wife, and mother to nine children?
Angela: I drop a lot of plates, honestly lol. I think the biggest thing I’ve learned how to do is to identify what’s essential and let the rest slide. I think sometimes people hear I have nine kids and think of me as some kind of superhero, doing everything—making all the food, going to nine different soccer games, keeping up with everybody’s laundry and the house, sitting down with the kids for six hours every day to do school at the table… The truth is, I can’t do everything so I don’t, but most of my kids are at the age now where they’re pretty independent and they help out a lot. I have trained myself to be able to work while lots of people are happening around me, though, and I just try to slide the writing in when I can—early in the morning when the kids are getting breakfast or before they’re up; in the afternoon when I’m sitting in my car waiting on my youngest daughter, who has Down Syndrome, to be done with therapy; at night after the youngest kids are in bed. Sometimes I also write when I’m making dinner, which some people have told me is a superpower, but honestly, I try not to cook dinners that need a lot of attention ;-)
P.L.: Well, you are certainly a superhero to me Angela! Kudos to you and all you do for your lovely family, and as a writer! I know it's not about labels, but how would you classify the type of fantasy that you write? Would you consider Fortune's Fool to be a romantic fantasy? Epic fantasy? Both? Something else? And why?
Angela: I think it’s both! I think it falls under three primary categories: Historical Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, and Romantic Fantasy. When I sat down to write what I thought was going to be a novella—many, many years ago—I conceived it as more of a straight epic/historical fantasy revenge plot. But then Arsenault showed up, and the story got a lot more complicated. So, I would say that Fortune’s Fool is historical or epic fantasy first, with all the political scheming and magic and swordfighting that you might expect in an epic combined with a lot of Renaissance-inspired worldbuilding…and then the romance fits into that.
P.L.: I am a sucker for both historical fiction and romance, and those were some of the most enjoyable aspects, for me, of Fortune’s Fool! I am always fascinated by what authors love to read! What are the preferred genres you like to read, and who are you "must-buy" authors?
Angela: I read pretty widely, although my volume is down since I started writing again. My favorite fiction genres are fantasy (of course) and romance, and you can probably figure out that my favorite fantasy subgenres are romantic, epic and historical. I mostly read historical romance, but occasionally I’ll read contemporary, too. But I also read a lot of nonfiction, too—mostly memoir, history, and science writing. I just read a couple of Michael Pollan’s recent books – This is Your Mind on Plants and How to Change Your Mind, which are kind of mash-ups of all three of those genres. And I found a really interesting history in the bibliography of Plants…a book called At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, which is about how people regarded nighttime pre-electric lights.
My “must-buy” authors… Krystle Matar (I actually beta read for Krystle, which I consider a huge privilege and I can’t wait to get my hands on the next manuscript she sends me!); Carol Park; K.S. Villoso; Robin Hobb; Diana Gabaldon; Josiah Bancroft.
There are really so many terrific authors out there right now, I just wish I had more time to read!
P.L.: I hear you! Too many good books out there, so little time! Your protagonist, Kyrra, in Fortune's Fool is disabled. You handle her disability with skill, sensitivity, and realism, and I applaud you for that, as have many of your readers. Literature is an important vehicle to help marginalized persons feel seen and heard, and teach others about the importance and impact of their experiences. What has been some of the positive feedback from some of your readers about Kyrra, and how you portrayed her having a metal arm?
Angela: In one of my SPFBO finalist reviews, a reviewer who lives with a physical disability said she thought that Kyrra’s struggle to accept and live with her disability was handled well, and that she appreciated that Kyrra didn’t either wallow in despair or skip that struggle entirely. She thought it seemed realistic. And I really appreciated hearing that. I never wanted to fall into that narrative where the disabled character lives her entire life as a victim in search of a cure, but I also didn’t want to gloss over the difficulties her disability presents. Even though Kyrra gets a magical arm which she can use to bash in doors, it actually causes her a lot of problems; it’s still a prosthetic, not a cure. And I wanted to show how Kyrra’s relationship with Arsenault begins and grows because Arsenault isn’t trying to cure her, instead he’s trying to help her navigate her life with her disability in a way that preserves her agency. So, it means a lot to me when readers mention that they connect with Kyrra’s struggles.
P.L.: I agree, and once again, I think you did a marvellous job with Kyra! As we approach the end of the year 2021, what are your writing goals for the new year, 2022?
Angela: Oh, man. I had originally hoped to bring Book 2 of the Eterean Empire series, Fool’s Promise, out in late 2020. Due to unavoidable 2020 circumstances (I think we can all identify), my editor had the book for a lot longer than expected, and to fill in the time I switched to revising another book I pulled out of my closet, a Cold War portal fantasy titled Through Dreams So Dark. So mostly my goals for 2022 are to release both of those books: Through Dreams So Dark first and then Fool’s Promise. If things go well, there might also be another Eterean Empire novella that takes place after Smuggler’s Fortune, featuring Kyrra with Razi and Nibas again. Dreams and Fool’s Promise are both LARGE, and I’m having to do quite a bit of revision with both of them, so that’s why it’s taking me so long. But I’m hopeful for 2022!
P.L.: Well thanks for breaking my poor TBR Angela! Ha ha! Guess I will have few more must-adds for 2022! It's been a true honour and a pleasure speaking to you Angela! Thank you so much!
Angela: Thank you for having me, PL! :)
Buy Fortune's Fool on Amazon here.
Buy Smuggler's Fortune on Amazon here.
Buy Dragonmeat on Amazon here.
Buy Dark Ends on Amazon here.
Follow Angela Boord online below!