Featuring author of The Golden Threads Trilogy, Leeland Artra
Hello everyone, today I am talking with Leeland Artra, author of the Golden Threads Trilogy.
Leeland, please tell me and the rest of the world about your novel. Who or what was the inspiration behind the Threads Trilogy.
Thread Slivers starts off as a royal mess. Nobody really knows what is going or why. The power players that are involved don’t even know they are involved. Simply put everyone is being forced to move, but without knowing they are making mistakes. Some of this comes from one of my favorite quotes by Napoleon Bonaparte, “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” The story of Thread Silvers takes place in a realm with a rich history stretching back over 20,000 years. Oddly enough I have a pretty reasonable idea of what happened throughout all that time, which makes the world complex and rich. Considering that nobody really knows what is happening it is not unreasonable that the coming of age story for the two main characters has a real impact on the eventual outcome. The real question is how do you avoid have a paradox?
That is truly a good question. When you are not writing what do you do to occupy your time? Do you pick up any books from your “to read” pile?
Honestly, I am a pretty boring person. I enjoy playing games, watching good TV series with friends (currently we are going through all of Babylon 5). I also have a young son that has his own ideas of what is fun. So, I tend to go along with ideas, which leads me to doing some rather interesting things like playing with Playdough for an entire day. I read when I can.
Leeland, that sounds far from boring…more like busy and very fun.
Looking back on your start as a writer, do you see any changes in your writing style or how you write now in comparison to then?
Certainly my writing has changed. I have run my first book through a number of industry seasoned editors and even a couple of writing coaches and critics. All of this has given me a lot of feedback on the improvements. Over all I have been told my writing style was already pretty engaging but I often fell into the trap of telling instead of doing. I continue to work on that.
As an author we tend not to evaluate or likes or dislikes in the industry, hence leading to the next question – What is your favorite or least favorite part of being an author?
Having only just published I don’t have a lot to go on. I love to read science fiction and fantasy books and I have discovered I get as much joy from writing my own stories as I do from reading a good book. Many times I have finished writing a chapter and then had to go do a little dance as I was excited by how it came out.
So far my least favorite thing is all the production work. It takes a lot of work to juggle all the issues around publishing and that means I don’t have time to write more. My research has shown that traditional publishing houses are getting harder and harder to deal with. As none of that sounds fun I know I am going to stay indie for some time. So I just dig in and get the work done hoping I might have a couple of hours to bang out some more of the next book.
Do you listen to anything while writing, if so what do you enjoy? Is there any one genre preference over another? If so, why?
I listen to Pandora. I have rather odd taste in music and my personal working station is pretty confusing even to Pandora. Sometimes Pandora gets stuck in some rather unusual music which is too annoying so I have to “not like” twenty or more songs before Pandora gets out of its rut. But, generally I like stuff with a good beat, meaning pop, techno, and trance. But, I also like big band music and a lot of stuff from the 50’s and 60’s. As to why, well mostly because I spent all my youth playing my grandparents LP’s while I did homework. When I was at my house I had a radio on all the time.
What genre are most looking forward to exploring during your writing career? Why?
Seriously I doubt I’ll get out of science-fiction and fantasy. There is so much there to work with. I can research almost any topic and then mix it in. For example, right now I bought a bunch of old west books on the Indian tribes of North America as well as the pioneers. Reading those is giving me a lot of material for Karakia in my books.
Who is your favorite author(s)?
I own hundreds of hardbacks and even more paperbacks. It is really hard to nail down my favorite authors. But I can say my top authors are (in no particular order) Anne McCaffrey, Mercedes Lackey, Isaac Asimov, Philip Jose Farmer, Roger Zelazny, Timothy Zahn, Lois McMaster Bujold, Robert Lynn Asprin and Trudi Canavan.
When writing how do you do it, do you prefer the pen and paper method or a computer? Or do you use both?
I’m a Navy trained software engineer, so I tend to start off by defining some specification and limitations for the book. I approach it like writing a program I design it and plot it out like a flow chart. The fun part about doing this is all the “what if” nodes, where I ask did that work Yes/No. I do all this with pencil and paper (lots of paper).
When I first started I analyzed all the books I liked looking for a template to follow. This brought me to the sixteen 6,500 to 7,500 words chapter layout broken down into three major sections where I want each section to be interesting but flow together. Using this general guideline I take the plot I roughed out and see if it will fit into the 16 chapters. If not I play with the timelines and explore some of the “well what if that did/didn’t work” scenarios until I feel I have something that would be fun to write and read. I also want each section to be clearly from one primary character POV. So the books are not an omniscient narrator’s voice but each major section is form the unique POV for that character. This leads to a lot of interesting interactions for the reader because you get to experience things and motives from the main characters and see how their own world view distorts the facts. A major example of this is you know instantly when you are looking through Lebuin’s eyes because he is constantly assessing everyone based on their clothes and cleanliness.
When I start writing I pick the best character to be the POV for the next chapter and start typing. I write one chapter at a time each as separate Word file. If I hit a snag I go back and jigger the prior chapters to make things work out better. For example, chapter one of book two was actually going to be chapter 3 initially. But, I decided it might work better as the introduction so I renamed the files and read/edited my way through the first three chapters again to get them all lined up again. I also rearranged some chapters in book one to improve the flow. There are problems with this layout, like for example the unavoidable jump back in book one to where Ticca’s time-line gets ahead of Lebuin’s and there is nearly a full day rewind. But, I think it is worth it because I initially tried it as a series of smaller chapters and felt that just didn’t have the same impact of walking the entire chapter story in one go.
When you walk into a book store, where do you head first? Why?
I head straight for the fantasy sci-fi section while my brain tries to drudge p some current authors I like. I don’t have time to follow all my favorite authors so I am often pleased to see they have new books out. Usually this leads to the agonizing question of which books should I NOT buy due to budget constraints. When pinch comes to shove at the wallet I do have a preferred list which is part genre part author based.
Did you get to quit your day job and become an author or do you still have a day job and writing is something you do for fun? If you still have a day job, what is it?
I would love to be able to be a full time author. It might even happen for me in a few years. I am going to get at least two trilogies published before I even consider quitting my day job. It would b a little scary to stop working unless I had a sold feel that things would remain stable, which means I’ll be lucky to get two new books out a year. If I was doing nothing but writing I figure I could put out maybe four books a year. I do need to do a lot of research for my books. So not sure what the final pace would be.
For now, I continue to work as a software engineer for Expedia. I like this a lot because it seems very symmetric to me. By day I help people take vacations and travel smoother, and at night I take them even further to the realms of imaginations. I do love traveling!
Happy reading and thank you Leeland for stopping by today, spending time allowing us to get to know you better Best of luck and many sales to you!!!!