Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Interview with B. Lynch

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
King Callie’s the first book in a trilogy about Caliandra Feor, the teenage princess of Barra. She’s had a really rough year, all of it stemming from her dying father, King Rionn. He inherited the rule by being the chosen one who put together Peacebringer, a magic axe, but when he dies, the crown goes to the next person who can put the axe back together – and the previous king’s family takes a substantial reduction in income and status.

When her father became sick a few months before the book starts, her fiancee left her for a richer woman, which has left her absolutely crushed, especially since she finds out in chapter one that the ex-fiancee and his new beau are getting married.

Then her brother Valric goes off on some crazy quest, because the Royal Seer told him he could find a cure for the King’s illness. But the real reason is that the Royal Seer had a vision that Valric would be the next king – and that if he took the throne, Barra would be destroyed.

Then he has a second vision… and realizes that Caliandra would be the one to save Barra, as its King.

One of my beta readers described it as “The story of a young woman becoming the king of her country, coping with love and loss and war and real friends and frenemies - like the Daenerys story of Game of Thrones.” I think it’s very flattering to be described that way, and I think fans of the ASIOF books, as well as anyone who’s enjoyed Robin Hobb’s Farseer Trilogy, will find something to like in King Callie.

Do you have a favorite character?
Only one? As much as I love Kells and Royth and Callie, I’m going to have to go with Patta.

She’s the wife of Marrol, the main antagonist; she’s very much molded in the Claire Underwood / Cersei Lannister / Lady Macbeth vein. She’s ambitious, like Callie is, but there’s the additional wrinkle of her being half-Asian in a city and environment that’s primarily white – life hasn’t been easy for her.

She’s come by her title through an advantageous marriage to Marrol, when he was just a general and she was just a merchant’s daughter, but together they manipulated their way to gain the support that Callie’s father, King Rionn, needed to grant his friend Marrol a seat on the Council as the Minister of War.

She values family very highly, and is incredibly close to her brother, but she’s also very unemotional about things; she can make smart snap decisions without regrets, and because she grew up with a bit of a chip on her shoulder, being the object of scorn for her heritage and for being a social climber, she really wants to prove herself. She wants to make a mark, and she wants to leave a legacy. Not having been able to give Marrol a family has been incredibly hard for her in that regard, and not to spoil any of the events in book one, but things do not get easier for her.

With Patta, I wanted to create a female character who could be a very sympathetic antagonist, and I wanted to also take the opportunity to add some diversity to the female cast – and to be sure that there were women who had a stake on both sides of the story.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I did – I sent out twenty-four queries for Callie, and got some very nice refusals. One agent loved the book, but confessed she’d had a hard time selling YA Fantasy like it, so she had to turn me down. And that wears on you – you write what you think is a great book, and you have to distance yourself from the rejections because it’s just business. At the end of the day, you might have written a great book, but some agent may be repping a book just like it, there may be a glut on the market, or they might just not like it for reasons that have nothing to do with you.

I remember when I was doing PR for an indie game company back in Philly, and one reviewer ravaged the game and gave it a terrible rating. The guys who created the game were crushed – but then we read through it a bit more closely, and we found out that the game reminded the reviewer of the piano lessons he’d been forced to take as a child, which he absolutely hated. So he took it out on their game. Since every other review adored it, they realized they could just brush it off. Same way I’ve tried to brush off the rejections. There are some things that are just beyond your control, you know?

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
I’m leaning towards doing both; it’s going to be a lot of work to self-publish books and to publish traditionally on a consistent schedule, but I think it’ll give me the creative control I want along with the exposure that having a traditionally published book brings. Plus, self-pub lets me deliver books at a pace I like.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
It was a mix of things; if I hadn’t already had a background in marketing and PR, it would’ve been a bit of a harder choice. Funny enough, I originally wanted to self-publish Callie, and a friend of mine talked me into querying it, so after the querying process finished, it wasn’t so much a case of “oh, well, nobody wants it, I’ll take it online,” as it was “Okay, Plan B didn’t work, it’s back to Plan A.”

Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
My critique group is actually only two other people – my friend Carol, and my friend Liz. I met Carol through my regular writing group at Cool Beans in Oradell, NJ, and Liz is a friend I made at Wicked Faire years and years ago. They’ve been essential to Callie becoming what it is; they helped me smooth out a lot of rough parts, they’ve given me a lot of really strong criticism, and it’s helped tremendously.

There’s also my bro Kam Imam, who I met through /r/FantasyWriters. We traded some very helpful edits, incisive criticism, and a lot of good-natured support. He helped me make the intro chapters a whole lot stronger, and I’m really grateful for that.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
Follow the muse first, then outline. I like to just explore a few chapters of an idea before I outline it meticulously, just to see how much I like it and what potential it might have.

Outlines help me get the sense of structure and where to go. I remember when I used to write without outlines… I’d get lost and I’d get stuck, and then I’d get frustrated, which would only get me more stuck. With outlines, I always know where I need to go, and it’s really taken a lot of the aggravation out of the process.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
King Callie will also be for sale on April 23rd on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Nook, Oyster, Scribd, and if your library has Overdrive, you’ll be able to borrow it!

Also, if you want to see what all the fuss is about, go find King Callie on Smashwords. I’ve got the first 25% of it up there for anyone to read, absolutely free. And if you aren’t hooked, no worries!

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Thankfully, the brunt of the next book is already written, so for the next few weeks, it’s just marketing, marketing, marketing… the big worry I have is writing and editing over the next couple of months. I got accepted to the Odyssey Writing Workshop, which runs from June 8th to July 17th, and I’m very excited about the possibilities of growth that it will offer. It’s incredibly exclusive, and I think it’ll help me become a better writer – and it will push the release of the second book back a bit, to late Fall of 2015 but I think it’ll be worth the time invested.

The current marketing’s been working really well, though – King Callie’s already broken the Top 15 in Amazon’s YA Arthurian Fantasy category, which is absolutely fantastic. Here’s hoping I can crack the top 10!

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Baking! I really got into over the past two years. My dad’s always been a big baker, but more recently, I found that my stomach does much better with vegan baking – so I’ve experimented with different kinds of cookies, cakes, brownies, bread, a bit of pie, and chocolate chip cookie dough truffles.

It’s very relaxing, but I can’t do it too often, otherwise I end up eating quite a bit more than I wanted to.

B. Lynch is a New York area-based mobile game writer who also enjoys writing novels, reading fantasy and lit fic, watching 80′s action movies, keeping up with Downton Abbey, and vegan baking. He was once a fight scene extra in one of the worst fantasy movies of all time, so he figures it’s all uphill from there.