Today is a very special day, as I get to interview one of my favorite indie authors! Charlotte E. English is the author of the Draykon series. I have given each book in the series a 5 star rating, so you can imagine how much I like them.
I have one more treat for you. As part of the ‘Featured Author Week’, Charlotte is also appearing on two other blogs, where you can take a look at two amazing character interviews!
Here are the links to the two blogs:
Now, I can’t wait any longer, so lets get started!
Interview with Charlotte E. English, author of the Draykon Series
Describe your series? What genre would you classify it into?
Ritesh: You can find a much longer description of the series here!
How did you come up with the idea for the series?
I hardly know! It can be difficult to figure out precisely where an idea came from. I’m sure that my love of books like Alice in Wonderland had something to do with it, though; I’ve always been fascinated by really original (and whimsical) world-building, and that’s where Draykon really started – with an idea for a weird and wonderful world.
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing the first book in December, 2010. I began it because I wanted to play about with several of the things I like best in fiction – namely fanciful worlds, some unusual characters (including animals) and a mystery-based plot. I was doing it for fun at that point, purely to entertain myself. Publication has always been a goal, but at that time it was still a distant one.
Who is your favourite character in the series?
What a hard question. I love all my characters – I had to, in order to spend so many hours with them. Possibly the two I enjoyed writing the most, though, were Eva and Tren. They gave me so many opportunities to joke around.
What was the hardest part of writing the series?
Keeping going. A lot of writers struggle to finish things. It takes a lot of consistent drive to get all the way to the end of a single book, let alone three connected ones. The first one was written just for fun; when I got to the second it had become a public, published project; by the time I began on the third I had readers and fans waiting to read it. The pressure went up a lot.
How has your journey from writing to getting published been?
Shaky! In order to publish that first book I had to arrange for test readers, editing, proofreading and cover art myself, without many contacts or much money to throw at it either. I learned html formatting from scratch. I’ve had to find ways to promote the series, when I’m terrible at it. It’s been hard. I researched self-publishing as much as possible before I put out the first book, but there’s been so much I’ve had to learn along the way. And there’s a long way to go yet.
Who designed the covers for the series?
I said a moment ago that I lacked contacts, and that’s true… except in one respect. I was lucky enough to be acquainted with a fabulous fantasy artist named Elsa Kroese. For the past year or so we’ve been helping each other out: I write for her online fantasy graphic novel, Spindrift, and she does (most of) my book covers. Her work is fantastic and I’m enormously fortunate to have her help.
Did you learn anything from writing this series and what was it?
Better to ask me if there’s anything I didn’t learn from producing this series! One of the most useful things I learned from the writing related to my own personality and what I like to write best. The Draykon Series is a clear reflection of that: I’ve learned where my strengths are, what entertains me the most, and what to avoid.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
One of the big advantages to self-publishing is the ease of changing things. The book cover, the blurb, typos, even the text can be easily updated if you so choose, which is so helpful. But it can also be dangerous; it’s almost too easy to change things. Should I try to change everything that readers criticise? That’s a slippery slope that I don’t want to get onto. So no, there isn’t anything I would – or will – change. Each book has had my full effort to make it as good as I can, and they’re complete as they are.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Plenty of things. I’m not great at writing about violence, because I don’t like it. As a result I tend to avoid it – my books are quite fast-paced and suspenseful but they aren’t action-packed (that said I ended up doing War quite a bit in the third one). I can also get too involved in the inner lives of my characters and forget some of the background details, so I have to remind myself not to do that.
What are your current projects? Will the series end on the third book? Can we expect different stories set in this world? Can we get an excerpt from the third book?
That’s four questions, so let’s do them one at a time.
1) My current project is the Drifting Isle Chronicles. This is a shared world project: I worked with four other fantasy authors to create a unique world, and we’re all writing separate, but connected novels set within that world. Mine’s a steampunk adventure, which is a new area for me.
2) and 3) The Draykon Series ends on this book, but it isn’t the end of the Draykon world projects. I’m planning to do another series, connected to the first and featuring some of the same characters. In the long run I may end up doing multiple connected series in this world. There are plenty of stories left to tell, so who knows?
4) Why, certainly! Here’s a piece out of the first chapter. As it opens, the draykoni have just launched their first major attack on the city of Waeverleyne, and things are not going well…
‘Sir? Sir! Are you awake, sir?’
Aysun opened his eyes to find bare earth two inches from his face. A hand was shaking him, hard, and the voice — Ven’s voice, he realised — shouted directly in his ear. Even then he had trouble hearing the lad over the ear-splitting noise of destruction, shrieking draykoni and wailing alarms.
‘I’m alive,’ Aysun grunted, and Ven mercifully ceased his attempts to shake him to pieces. He tried to sit up, but his back protested forcibly. A curse escaped his lips as he eased himself back to the ground.
He lay still for a moment, trying to assess the damage. His body hurt almost everywhere, especially his back, but he didn’t think anything was broken. He flexed his limbs one at a time; all functional, if bruised. It was only his back that was the problem.
‘Help me up,’ he said to Ven through gritted teeth. The younger engineer was quick to obey, supporting his commanding officer until he was on his feet again. Aysun’s back continued to protest, but as it didn’t give way he ignored the pain.
‘All right,’ he muttered. ‘What’s the damage?’
‘The tree’s down, sir,’ said Ven. ‘The enemy gained a square hit on the cap, knocked most of it down in one. Took half the trunk with it.’
Aysun nodded. This was bad news; the tree in question had been one of a number of glissenwols that he’d turned into defence towers. Their wide caps were ideal for supporting war machines. He and Ven and their team had manned this one all yesterday and today, hurling boulders and explosives at the invading draykoni. They hadn’t done much damage, he had to admit; trying to hit an airborne enemy with missiles such as those was like trying to down a fly with a pellet gun. But they’d caused enough damage and enough confusion to break up the co-ordinated attacks the draykoni were attempting to launch against the city of Waeverleyne.
It was only a matter of time before those attacks were turned on the war machines themselves. The enemy draykoni had already retaliated in kind: they had collected up the boulders Aysun’s engineers had been hurling at them and started dropping them down upon the citizens of Waeverleyne. A few minutes ago, three draykoni had come at Aysun’s tree, each bearing boulders somewhat larger than his head. There hadn’t been time to evacuate. One minute he had a draykon in his sights and a missile ready to launch; the next instant all was confusion as the cap split and fell and Aysun fell with it.
He was grateful for two things. One, that his team had had the foresight to stretch nets under the glissenwol trees in case of just this calamity. The fall would have killed him otherwise.
Secondly, he was profoundly grateful that the exploding missiles he was using detonated on impact and left nothing behind. These, at least, could not be turned against the defending forces.
Ven was looking at him oddly, his expression apprehensive.
‘What is it, Ven?’ he asked tiredly.
‘I’m afraid that’s not all, sir, but I thought I’d give you a moment to catch your breath first.’
‘It’s caught. Out with it.’
‘Well… all but one of the towers are down, sir, and the last won’t hold up much longer. Also, we have three casualties among the engineers.’
‘Polis, Aram and Niefer.’
What book are you reading now?
Which are your all-time favourite authors / books?
My all-time favourite authors include Jane Austen (that wit is just remarkable); Elizabeth Gaskell (her characters have incredible depth); and Kage Baker (maybe the funniest woman in fantasy). My favourite titles by those three are Emma, Wives and Daugthers and The Anvil of the World
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
- Due to a variety of peculiar circumstances, I attended eight different schools and colleges before I was eighteen (that’s not including the three universities that came afterwards). Some of those were state, some were private. As a result, I’ve studied a real mix of subjects – everything from English Literature (always a favourite), to Latin & classical civilisations, to fashion and textiles.
- I met my partner through an online, text-based multiplayer (fantasy-themed) roleplaying game. How geeky is that? I had to move countries in order to resolve the seven-year long-term relationship thing we had going.
- I studied ballet for years. I still have my pointe shoes, though I haven’t danced on them in a long time.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
Thank you for being readers! None of this would be possible without those who are willing to give a fair chance to books by independent authors, and I’m always grateful for that.
On the art of writing fantasy books
How do you come up with names for the characters and places in your books?
I know it doesn’t sound very interesting, but… I just make them up. I’m not even sure how. I just run sounds through my brain until something clicks, then I figure out how to spell it. It doesn’t always work.
Which do you think is more important, world building or character building?
Neither. Or rather, both. I don’t think the various elements of a story can or should be divided up like that. The characters should be a product of the world they live in, and the world should reflect the attitudes of its peoples. They’re too closely bound up together – too much the same sort of thing – to give strong priority to one or the other.
How easy is it for you to write non-human characters?
Surprisingly easy actually! I really enjoyed writing animal characters like Rikbeek, Sigwide and Prink, and I’m looking forward to coming up with some new animal friends for the next series. They’re great because they can be quirkier than purely human characters, full of oddities that are fun to write.
Then of course there’s the character of Pensould, who turns up in book two. He usually wears a human body and he’s sentient and fully intelligent, but his mind isn’t human at all. He was harder to write, but a fun challenge.
If you could not write in the F/SF genres, what would you be writing?
Historical fiction, probably historical mysteries. It’s my second love. But I keep coming back to fantasy, because it gives me the freedom to be as imaginative and creative as I want. I have a powerful imagination, and I like to be able to use it in any way that I like.
Can you tell us more about the world in your books?
The world – or the part of it that we’re dealing with in this series – is called The Seven Realms. It’s largely divided into contrasts: one half is “Darklands” territory, which means it’s magically manipulated to be dark all the time. Most of the rest is Daylands – which of course is the opposite.
Alongside these lie the Off-Worlds: the Upper Realms (Iskyr) is an alternate plane of reality closely connected to the Daylands. There are multiple suns up there, so it’s always light. The Lower Realm (Ayrien) is closely connected to the Darklands, and always dark – though there’s some weird moon activity going on down there.
The Off-Worlds are very fluid and nothing stays the same out there for long. Landscapes change at the drop of a hat, and those with enough of a certain kind of talent can manipulate their surroundings in some interesting ways. Those places are dangerous, because you never know what you’re going to get next.
How easy or difficult is it to write a character like Llandry? One who is pulled between two completely different worlds? I’ve seen it happen so many times in Urban Fantasy that I’ve always wanted to ask this question!
Oh my, Llandry. She was hard to write for several reasons, being a weird mixture of fears, anxiety and unlikely courage. I sometimes had to stop and think really hard about how she’d behave, because there were multiple things going on there. First I had to imagine Llandry in a world that’s completely different to my own, but familiar to her. Then I had to throw her into another world that’s unfamiliar to both of us and figure out what she’d do. It involved some interesting mental gymnastics!
ebooks, paperbacks or hardcover?
Ebooks. Paperbacks (in English) are scarce and expensive where I live; ebooks are much more convenient and affordable.
Cats or dogs?
Cats! I love dogs, especially beagles, but I’m a cat person at heart.
Coffee or tea?
Tea. I’m too anxious by nature to drink coffee. It makes me panicky rather than alert. (Ritesh: Me too!)
Cake. Unfortunately. (Ritesh: hmm, Why ‘unfortunately’? I love cake!)
Vanilla or chocolate ice-cream?
What are 4 things you never leave home without?
Um. Clothes, shoes, phone and lip balm.
Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
In the mornings, at my desk in my living room.
If you were deserted on an island, who are 3 famous people you would want with you and why?
I don’t think there are any famous people I care enough about to want them with me on an otherwise deserted island. I’d rather have my partner, my dad and my favourite teddy bear.
Which is your all-time favourite song (only one song please)?
I have about thirty, but I’ll pick one: Nadia Ali, Love Story.
What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
The Castle TV series. I love it so much.
AUTHOR CHARLOTTE E. ENGLISH, IN HER OWN WORDS
I’m an independent fantasy author, born in England but now resident in the Netherlands. I live out here with my partner and two cats (every author has at least one cat, right? It’s nice to fit in). I’ve loved reading since I was a young child. In fact, it’s fair to say that I spent most of my teenage years living in books. When a person spends that much time dreaming in text, taking up writing is the only logical onward step. I like to write fantasy fiction because it gives me all the scope I could want to exercise my powerful (and overindulged) imagination. I have plans to write some historical fiction someday, but for now that can wait.
The Draykon books are my first fantasy series. The third book is coming out soon, which means I’m a bundle of mingled excitement and nerves right now (not that unusual). My next project is a steampunk adventure with a bit of intrigue and at least a little bit of romance.
You can find Charlotte here:
About Charlotte’s Books and the Draykon Series:
BOOK ONE: DRAYKON
When shy and retiring Llandry Sanfaer discovers a mesmerizing new gemstone, she suddenly becomes the most famous jeweller across the Seven Realms. Demand for the coveted stone escalates fast; when people begin dying for it, Llandry finds that she herself has become a target.
Lady Evastany Glostrum has her life in pristine order. Prestigious, powerful and wealthy, she is on the verge of crowning her successes with the perfect marriage. But when her closest friend is murdered for the jewellery she wears, Eva is drawn into the mystery surrounding the curious “istore” gem.
The emergence of the stone is causing chaos across the Seven. Gates between the worlds are opening at will, pulling hordes of creatures through from the shadowy Lower Realm and the glittering Uppers. As Eva works to discover the culprit behind the spreading disorder, Llandry must learn the truth about her precious istore stone – before she herself becomes a victim.
BOOK TWO: LOKANT
The long-vanished draykon race has been restored to the Seven Realms, and the mystery of the istore stone is resolved. But Lady Eva Glostrum returns to Glour City with many questions unanswered. Who are the enigmatic sorcerers who woke the draykon? Their powers are beyond anything she has ever known. With one dead and one vanished – literally – Eva has little to go on save a book taken from a mysterious tower in the Lowers, its cover marked with the strange word “Lokant.”
Llandry Sanfaer is anxious to learn more about the glorious draykoni, whose story is so inexplicably bound up with her own. But when she brings another draykon back from the Long Sleep, she finds she has made a grave mistake. Worse, a white-haired sorcerer with a talent for mind control is stalking her across the Worlds…
As war builds between humankind and draykoni, Eva must uncover the identities of the sinister white-haired practitioners – and come to terms with the truth of her own heritage. And Llandry must learn why she appears to be their primary target…
BOOK THREE: ORLIND
War has broken out between the humans of the Seven Realms and the long-lost draykoni race. Llandry’s home city is under attack, its defenders scrambling to find a way to fight the draykon enemy. The outcome of the conflict seems certain – until the draykoni vanish. Where could they have gone, and why?
Lady Eva Glostrum is convinced that this means bad news. The Lokant sorcerer Krays is still at large, and his mysterious projects centre on her world – and the draykoni. Could he have something to do with their disappearance? If so, why? And what will it mean for the Seven Realms when the draykoni come back?
As Llandry fights to defend her home, Eva sets out in pursuit of Krays. Determined to learn the truth, she’ll go to any le
ngths to prevent him from damaging the Seven. Her quest will take her right into the heart of Krays’s Library – and there she will uncover another long-kept secret.
DRAYKON SHORT FICTION: LEXIMANDRA REPORTS
In this four-story anthology, Mr Pitren Warvel makes a mess of his sorcery; a young reporter pursues Lady Evastany Glostrum for an interview; Rikbeek the gwaystrel encounters a spy; and the Sanfaer family develop a new approach to keeping poultry.
- Review of Orlind (Draykon #3) by Charlotte E. English (riteshkala.wordpress.com)
- Giveaway of the Draykon Series by Charlotte E English (riteshkala.wordpress.com)
- Charlotte’s Mini Autobiography (riteshkala.wordpress.com)
- Charlotte E English as ‘Featured Author’ for an entire week! (riteshkala.wordpress.com)