Indie Author Interview #6 Beth Wangler

Beth and I are clearly going to have a lasting friendship because it was sparked by a mutual love of orange trees and knowledge of smudge pots (google it). I haven’t read as much of her work as I would like to. But her ambition is inspiring (you’ll see what I mean when you read the interview!)

First off, what a great name you have! You must be an intelligent, compassionate, interesting person. 😉 Tell us three fun facts about yourself! 
Three fun facts about myself are as follows: One, my favorite color is yellow.  Two, I love crochet, and have very strong opinions about it being better than knitting (all my friends now know the difference 😉 ).  Three, my first and last name can be interpreted as meaning “House of Sorrow on a Hill,” which I think is very poetic.
(Me: Sounds worthy of Anne of Green Gables!!)

If you had to live in Middle Earth (terrifying thought I know), where would you live and why? 
Ooo, I love this question! I would definitely choose to live in the Shire.  Rivendell and Lothlorien are enchanting, Gondor is stately, and Rohan is rustic, but nothing beats the coziness of the Shire.  Adventures are great, but for everyday life I’d rather have a cozy hole with a fire in the fireplace and a nice cup of tea.

I’ve talked to a lot of writers who dabbled in the craft for a while before fully pursuing it. Was there an epiphany moment for you when the sun shone down on you and butterflies landed on you and you knew you were chosen to be a writer? 
Haha, I don’t know about a moment when the sun shown down on me (I usually hide from the sun.  It likes to burn me).  But there was this:
When I was a child, I would devour books like one drinks water.  One day, when I was somewhere around the age of third grade, I was laying on my bedroom floor consuming the latest literary adventure.  Usually when I read, nothing could pull me out of the book, not without a lot of effort.  This particular occasion was different.  I paused in my reading and had an epiphany that would change my life: I could add books to the world, not just consume them.
I’ve been writing ever since.


Tell us a little bit about your other works (published or in process). 

In 2012, I independently published The Weavers’ Blessing, a fairy tale novella loosely inspired by “Snow White.”  It’s about a princess trying to save herself and her country from the evil king poisoning the land.  In the years following that, I wrote two more fairy tales and published them on my blog.  The second, The Kangraffs’ Curse, is about a runaway prince who has to face his parents in order to save a peaceful kingdom from destruction.  The third, Noemi’s Dragon, is about a princess who will fall prey to a dragon unless she finds her true love by her eighteenth birthday.
Most currently, I’m working on a fantasy series tentatively titled The Firstborn’s Legacy.  This series combines my loves for fantasy, history, and Bible stories in nine novels and some supplementary works in the form of poetry or short stories.  Child of the Kaites, the first novel, is about Raiballeon, who battles fear and world-bending evil spirits as she tries to free her people from slavery.  I publish new chapters on my blog bi-weekly (until the end of the school year, at which time I’ll return to weekly postings).
I’m editing book two, The Steward’s Apprentice, about orphaned Vree who takes up her mentor’s mantle and tries to become the strong leader she thinks she should be while dealing with the surly old Steward, small town bullies, and talking weasels.  I’m nearing the end of drafting The King’s Son, book three, which is roughly the Biblical story of Jonathan and David, but with dragons, fairies, and giants.

So, I’ve only been able to read 3-4 chapters of your work Child of the Kaites, but I’ve been loving it. Tell us a little bit about it. (General plot, inspiration etc) 
I’m so glad you’ve been loving it!  I love all your comments and feedback.
Child of the Kaites is the first novel in my The Firstborn’s Legacy series.  The whole series of 9 books plus some-odd supplementary pieces is inspired by the history of the world (broad, I know), specifically focusing in on Jewish/Christian/Biblical history.  CotK is inspired by the story of Moses and the Exodus.  At the start of the book, the people of Maraiah have been enslaved for generations.  Now, at last, their deity has heard their prayers for freedom and promises to answer through Raiballeon.  The problem is that Rai, an odd girl to begin with, has been living in exile on a neighboring island.  In exile, Rai resigned herself to life as a storyteller and as the quasi-servant of the family that sheltered her.
Then a person from her past unexpectedly appears, along with an enigmatic stranger.  Their unsettling presence forces Rai to ask herself if she’ll reclaim her calling and possibly die, or reject her purpose and let history forget her name.

What kind of books would you like to see more of? 
I would like to see more hopeful kinds of books.  I’m a middle school teacher, and I’m reminded every day of how many of my students are depressed.  I know it’s commonly viewed as the sign of a good writer to put your characters through all sorts of troubles and make their lives living nightmares.  While I agree that characters should face challenges, just like real people do, I want to see more books that embody hope in the darkest situations.  Our children–and we ourselves–need to be assured that the darkness will end and we don’t need to face our trials alone.  To quote Samwise Gamgee, we need the reminder that “there’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.”
(Me: This is why we’re friends!!) 


What is one area you’ve seen yourself grow in as an author? 

I’ve seen myself grow in lots of areas, especially recently.  The areas of growth that most excite me are more behind-the-scenes.  In the past year, I’ve started actually outlining and doing more planning ahead for my stories.  This has helped tremendously, with keeping plots straight, characters consistent, and good ideas from dying.  I’ve also been amazed at how much plotting out my stories helps prevent writer’s block.  Since the beginning of last July, I’ve been writing six days a week with little deviance.  That’s amazing for me!  I never had this much consistency before.  I’m super excited about how much gets done when I write just a little every day.  I’d feared that planning things out would diminish my excitement for my stories, but I’m thrilled to find that I’m just as excited as before–if not more excited now.
For an area of growth you could observe when reading my stories, I think I’ve improved at balancing backstory.  I’m a history teacher at heart (and in reality).  I love inventing complex pasts and cultures, planning everything from clothing to customary greetings to political structures to religions.  It’s hard to hold back on sharing the world I’ve created, but I know I’ve gotten better at not info-dumping.  Of course, I still have a great deal of room for improvement.


What is one area you’d like to improve in and what steps do you plan to take to get there? 

I’d still like to get better about weaving in manageable amounts of worldbuilding, instead of overloading the first few chapters with it.  In addition to that, I really want to get better at writing romances.  Most stories have romantic subplots, and I think these relationships between characters can be incredibly beautiful and deepen stories.  I just find myself caught up in other subplots and the main plot, and usually my romances end up like this: “Oh, this character should like someone.  Well, I guess I’ll shove these two together.  Eh, good enough.  Now, back to the dragons.”
My go-to solution for anything is research.  Right now, that looks like observing how other authors do better jobs at this, reading articles, and paying more attention to the romantic relationships of the people around me.


Have you read any good indie books lately that you’d like to recommend? 

I’m reading Ashley D Hansen’s Ethan right now, which she publishes weekly on her blog.  It’s about Ethan, a secret agent on a mission that may be him beyond his advanced skill level: Working with a partner.  I also loved her The Darkest Hour, a distopian Sleeping Beauty where Aurora just wants to be a chemist and the evil queen has a (maybe) mystical gem.  I’m also reading J.E. Purazzi’s Revelation, a scifi/biopunk novella.  Since I just started, I can’t give a good description of it yet, but I’m loving her writing style and the character and world are intriguing so far 🙂

Thanks for the interview, Beth! I’m excited to read more of your work. Get to know Beth more on her website and follow her on Twitter: @beth_wangler !

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