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Interview with D.L. Gardner

She is an award-winning author, screenwriter, and artist living in the Pacific Northwest region of the US. Her books range from historical to historical fantasy with epic and portal fantasy as her major focus. She believes that books should be good enough to last from one generation to the next.

Q.1 Tell us something about yourself not many people know?
I’m a mother of 7, grandmother of 16, and great-grandmother of 2.

Q.2 Are we going to read more from you in the near future? Any new project you’re working on?
I’m working on a second stand-alone spin-off novel set in the Sword of Cho Nisi world. It’s in the outline stage and I hope to run a Kickstarter for it soon.

Q.3 What inspired you to write the Sword of Cho Nisi series?
I was looking to create a fantasy series that encompasses a world of diversity, i.e. many different cultures, lands, and belief systems while speaking directly to the human condition. The main character, a young princess, makes a fatal mistake that affects her life and the safety of her father’s kingdom. 

We all errors and at times those errors can have lasting effects on our life. Sword of Cho Nisi is, as one editorial reviewer puts it…“ a compelling fantasy tale that demonstrates the power of forgiveness and redemption in the aftermath of tragedy.”

Q.4 What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Funny I actually find writing male characters much easier than writing female characters even though I am female. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s because I sympathize with them more.

Q.5 Do you plan out your book before you start writing, or do you just write and see where it takes you?
I plan. I have a method but sometimes I change my method depending on the mood of the book. Still, I always have a very loose outline to follow before I begin.

Q.6 How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I can create a draft within a month once everything is outlined but it often takes me half a year to finish. Much of what I do after the first draft is research, and developmental edits as well as revisions.

Q.7 What was your hardest scene to write?
I always have difficulty writing battle scenes. I know these are something that fantasy readers look for in a book and I want to make them authentic, with good pacing, and still unique in their own way.

Q.8 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I would probably spend more time in the garden growing things. Working in the greenhouse, going for walks. But it would be difficult not to write. It’s part of me.

Q.9 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?
I’ve written 21 novels, short stories, and novellas that are published. It’s hard to say which is my favorite. I poured my soul into all of them. But I think Darkness Holds the Son is one of my best (of course the last is always better than the first). I am also fond of Thread of a Spider because of all the research that went into that book.

Q.10 Is it vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
It’s absolutely vital to reaching people interested in your genre and it’s very difficult. I have found personally that Kickstarter is my best solution to reach fantasy readers. I have done two crowdfunding launches with Kickstarter and they were very successful.

Q.11 If you could be a member of any fantasy race, which would you choose and why?
Take me to the Shire and let me be a Hobbit!

Q.12 If you could invite one character to dinner from your books at home, who would it be and why?
I’d invite Ian from Ian’s Realm. I think because that was the first series I wrote and Ian’s been with me the longest, I know him better than any other of my characters. We’ve done a screenplay, a concept trailer, and six books in that series. He started off as a young man in book one and we worked out his coming of age, and even his love affair with Abbi and raising his daughter Cassandra. It would be fun to have him over for dinner.

Q.13 What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before or after beginning a book?
I research whatever the book needs and depending on the book is when I do the research. For instance, Thread of a Spider is a historical fantasy that takes place in 1920 Ireland when the Southern Irish were fighting for their independence. I read books on Ireland’s history (Paddy’s Lament for one) and books, videos, and diaries of the injustices that were done to the Irish. This gave me rich material to form my characters and their backstories. 

For Ian’s Realm, I had the opportunity to travel on a tall ship (there are pirates in that book). For Cassandra’s Castle, I took up fencing and worked with my fencing coach to write the climactic fencing duel between the MC and the antagonist.

Q.14 Among all the supporting characters in your books, who is dear to you and why?
I really like Kairos the Wizard in the Sword of Cho Nisi series. He’s a funny guy but extremely ingenious. He thinks very little of himself and shies away from using his skills mostly because he’s afraid, but when push comes to shove, he’s a hero.

Q.15 Who designed your book cover? How do you select them?
I have several different designers. There’s a lady on Fiverr who goes by German Creative who did most of my earlier covers. I wanted more painterly covers for Sword of Cho Nisi and so I had Mario Teosodio do the first three, and Burak Önal does Darkness Holds the Son.

Q.16 How do you select the name of your characters?
I research cultures that my characters were designed after and use words from those languages that might describe them. Oftentimes I have to rearrange them into something pronounceable.

Q.17 Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad ones?
I do. For the unfavorable ones, if they are constructive, I think about what the reviewer is saying and take it into account. I’ve used some unfavorable reviews for Ian’s Realm while doing rewrites. Not everything a reviewer says though should be changed. Sometimes the reviewer didn’t comprehend something in the story, so I take those reviews with a grain of salt.

Q.18 Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
A. C.S. Lewis
. He had such a pleasant outlook on life, and such a simple voice in his stories, yet he said so much I would love to just talk to him.

Q.19 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?
I especially like the Shattered Seas Series by Joe Abercrombie. I liked that he took a young king with a very prominent disability and made him the unwilling hero.

Q.20 Share the experience of your writing journey so far?
I published my first novel, Ian’s Realm, in 2011 and have written at least one novel every year after. Some years I’ve written two and three novels. I started out publishing with small presses but found I enjoy the freedom and control of being an Indie published.

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