Today’s featured author interview is with author C.L. Schneider! I first came across her work when I won the Fantasy Jackpot at The Brain to Books Con and she sent me her trilogy of The Crown of Stones. Since then, her series has become one of my favorite series of all time, and I am just in love with her writing! I hope that you love finding out more about her through our interview, and think about picking up her trilogy as well!
From a land long-divided by prejudice and fear, comes the story of Ian Troy, a magic-user bred for war. Reviled for their deadly addiction to magic, Ian’s people suffer in slavery. Drugs suppress their wills and their magic. Their once great empire lies buried, lost beneath the sand and a thousand years of secrets—until Ian unearths the Crown of Stones. Ignorant of its true purpose, Ian wields the circlet’s power and brings peace to the realms, but at a terrible price.
A decade later, scarred and guilt-ridden, Ian has rejected his heritage and his magic. Old enemies have resurfaced and new ones have risen to seize the Crown of Stones. Unwittingly drawn into the conflict, Ian’s addiction reawakened.
Caught in a web of obsession and lies, Ian returns to the past to save the future in a time-spanning journey fraught with loss, betrayal, torture, friendship and love. His beliefs and convictions, his knowledge of magic and history are challenged as Ian unlocks the mysteries of The Crown of Stones. Despite devastating personal consequences, he clings to a hope for peace. But how much is he willing to sacrifice? How much burden can he carry? And how far can a man fall before he can’t rise again?
Visit C. L. Schneider’s Amazon Author page http://bit.ly/CLAmazonPg where The Crown of Stones series can be purchased in paperback and for Kindle.
Born in a small Kansas town on the Missouri river, C. L. Schneider grew up in a house of avid readers and overflowing bookshelves. Her first full-length novel took shape in high school, on a typewriter in her parent’s living room. Currently residing in New York’s Hudson Valley Region with her husband and two sons, she spends her days torturing characters, overdosing on coffee, and waiting for the zombie apocalypse. C.L. Schneider writes epic and urban fantasy for adults, as well as the occasional sci-fi or post-apocalyptic story. Her trilogy, The Crown of Stones, is an adult epic fantasy that follows the trails of Ian Troy, a man born with an addiction to magic. To subscribe to her newsletter, read reviews, excerpts, and more, visit her website at clschneiderauthor.com, where you can follow her journey as a self-published author on her blog, “Heading Down The Yellow Brick Road”.
- What is your first memory of writing?
I have a lot of memories of writing when I was a child. I would write scripts for my favorite TV shows, news reports, poems, commercials, short stories. But the memory that stands out to me the most is one where I not only wrote the story, but I also illustrated it, and designed the cover.
I was young, definitely elementary school. The story was about a squirrel. The pictures were my own hand drawn scribbles of squirrels and trees, with woodland animals and scenery. When I was finished, I took the pages and stapled them into a cardboard ‘cover’. Then I glued fabric on the cover and decorated it. I came across it a couple of years ago in a box in my basement. I still remember how proud and accomplished I felt when it was done.
- Do you write only fantasy, or do you like playing with other genres?
I write mainly epic and urban fantasy. There are occasionally some sci-fi elements woven into my stories. I enjoy the supernatural/paranormal and post-apocalyptic slant. There is so much you can do with fantasy. The possibilities are endless.
- What is your advice for aspiring authors?
I always answer this one the same way, with the advice I wish someone had given me a long time ago.
- Write every day. It doesn’t have to be large chunks of time. For years I mistakenly believed that if I didn’t have hours to devote, why start. Then I learned. I started squeezing it in every free minute I had, and my writing improved. The more I wrote, the more improvements I saw, the more confidence I gained. It also taught me to fall in and out of the story quickly-a must when you have kids at home!
Even if you only write a paragraph and you throw it out tomorrow, just write. Flexing your creative muscle day in and day out makes a difference. It helps you find your voice.
•Don’t keep your stories to yourself. Ignore the doubt and seek out feedback. You need an honest critique, not only from someone who reads in your genre, but someone who doesn’t. I wrote only for myself for years because I didn’t think I was good enough. It was only after I broke away from that fear and let someone read my work that I was ready to move forward with publishing.
Don’t isolate yourself. Connect with writers, readers, and everything in between as soon as possible. Don’t wait until your book is published, or until you have a website. Get out there now. Twitter, Facebook, a writer’s group, wherever. Share your ups and downs, your accomplishments and frustrations. Writing is beautiful and painful, and often it’s both at the same time. Many authors (published and non-published) are in the same boat, and it’s no fun sitting in it alone, especially on the days when the water’s rough! I’ve made some great connections through social media, as well as some cherished friends. The inspiration and push I get from interacting with them always gives me a lift.
•Leave your comfort zone. It’s nice and safe in there, but nothing will ever happen if you don’t step out.
- Believe in yourself. Don’t undervalue what you’re doing. You’re not ‘aspiring’. If you write, you’re a writer.
- Read. Don’t stick to the genre you write in, read across all genres. Get a feel for how a story goes together, for how other authors handle plot, scene structure, etc. It’s okay to emulate other authors at first. If you keep writing, your own style will emerge.
- How did you get your ideas for The Crown of Stones?
The Crown of Stones trilogy was mostly inspired by my creation of the main character, Ian Troy. I love reading flawed characters. They feel so much more real and interesting to me. In fact, the more flawed they are, the more emotions they incite in the reader. Gallant white knights and perfect super heroes are fine. But I’m more intrigued by what’s underneath the armor and the mask. What trials and tribulations did they have to endure to earn their rank? What past mistakes or secret desires are they hiding behind their mask?
When I created Ian, I knew his story would revolve around magic. That he would be flawed and suffering, yet bold and strong, valiant yet broken. I thought the best way to create and explore a tortured character was to make his greatest strength (magic) also his greatest weakness.
Around that time, I discovered the stories of Jim Butcher and Simon R. Green. I loved their snarky characters and how they handled first person. Even though I’d read plenty that warned me against writing in first person, it was always my favorite, and their books gave me the push to write Ian’s story that way. In the beginning, the working title was The Amethyst Crown. I’d always wanted to do something that revolved around this beautiful chunk of amethyst that had sat on my bookshelf for years. But as the story expanded to include other stones, so did the crown, and the title. I knew a little about crystal healing and thought the idea of the energy/auras of a stone was a good basis for a magic system. Once the story took off, that’s where the bulk of my research was. Every stone and every spell used in the Crown of Stones books can be traced back to the concepts of metaphysical health and crystal healing/magic. I simply tweaked, expanded, or flip-flopped their uses for my own.
- What do you hope that readers will take away from your writing?
Though I do call attention to some relevant issues and themes in my stories, I’m not necessarily looking to impart any life lessons. My goal when I write is to make my readers feel. Reading should be an adventure. I want them to be entertained and immersed, to have fun, to live the good and the bad through my character’s eyes. If I can take a reader on an emotional rollercoaster, making them feel the beauty and the ugliness of the characters and the world that I’ve created—make them laugh, hold their breath, get angry—then I’m satisfied I’ve done my job. It’s an amazing feeling when someone tells me they have a book hangover after finishing one of mine, or months later they tell me they still miss my characters.
What I want them to take away from my writing is memories.
- How long did it take you to finish the first draft of The Crown of Stones?
That’s a hard question to answer. When I started the first draft I was pregnant. I didn’t get far before my oldest son was born. After that, my writing was all done in fits and starts. At this point I wasn’t ready to jump into the publishing world. I was still more or less writing for myself with the dream of ‘someday’ I’ll publish. My thought was: when we’ve finished having kids and they’re in school, this will be my new career. It was what I’d wanted since I was 16. But while the creative urgency was there, I didn’t feel any real pressure to get it done. Going from managing five offices to being a stay at home mom was a new challenge that kept me very busy. I would sneak my writing in when I could, thirty minutes here, 10 minutes there. A lot of it was done in a notebook. It was portable and I could jot down my thoughts whenever they struck. On the more demanding days, I didn’t get to write at all. The farther along I got in the story, the more frustrating that became. Then my second son was born.
All in all it took years to finish the draft. Then I rewrote it about a half dozen times. I lacked confidence and feedback, and it wasn’t until I finally let someone read the story that I seriously devoted myself to what I’d wanted to do all my life: turn my passion into a career.
- Do you feel close to your characters, as though they are family?
I definitely feel close to my characters. Now that The Crown of Stones trilogy is wrapped up, I miss Ian and the gang every day. I’m not sure I would call them family, though. I’ve heard people refer to their characters as their children, but that’s not quite an accurate description. I feel more like they are a part of me, especially Ian. There are many times when I’m struggling with something, whether it’s physically or emotionally, and I think to myself, Ian wouldn’t give up. It may sound silly, but his stubbornness actually gives me a push.
- Do you use writing as an escape from reality?
At one time I did see writing as an escape. In fact, it probably was for most of my life. But the switch flipped once I wholly devoted myself to it. Now, writing is my reality. I actually have to escape from it now and then. Seriously, I grow roots. Just ask my friends who are constantly trying to pull me away from my desk!
- Do you think that being an author is a great way to get messages across in your writing?
Absolutely, I do, if that’s the author’s goal. Words have power. In the right hands, they can be a great motivator and a great influencer. If a story is done right, if it’s strong enough and it resonates deeply enough with someone, it can have a lasting impact on their life.
- What are you currently working on?
My current work in progress is an urban fantasy entitled Nite Fire. It’s the story of Dahlia Nite, a half-dragon shapeshifter from Drimera, a parallel world very different from our own. Many years ago, Dahlia’s emerging empathic abilities interfered with her job as an assassin. She failed her Queen and was condemned to die. Being half human (and able to shift into human form), she fled her home for the only other world where she had a hope of blending in: ours.
Nite Fire is set in the fictional Sentinel City. Already a hot-spot for the unexplained, when a series of brutal killings disguised as spontaneous combustion strike the city, Dahlia knows the killer is one of her own kind. Dragged into the investigation, Dahlia teams with a human detective to solve the case, while struggling to maintain the lies that have kept humanity in the dark for centuries; believing myths and legends were just that.
As Dahlia searches for the truth behind the murders, the bit of peace she’s found in this world starts to unravel. Nite Fire is the first book in a series.