Life in Writing
I had a fun time with this interview. Lyra Shanti, Author of the Shiva XIV series combines sci-fi and fantasy with a metaphysical element in her books that makes them absolutely fascinating. I've already been fortunate enough to read her book Shiva XIV and write a review for it, so I was excited to do this interview. We had the chance to talk about how she gets her inspiration, what she loves about her characters, and what makes her books so unique. Read through the interview below.
Q: Where are you from?
A: I’m originally from Bellingham, Washington where everything is green and beautiful with mountains, lakes, and tall trees. I was then taken to Southern Florida when I was twelve years old, and have been here ever since. There’s the beach and Disney World, so I guess I can live with that.
Q: Why do you write sci-fi and fantasy?
A: In sci-fi/fantasy, we are free to explore universes unknown and places that exist only in our minds. It’s the ultimate freedom!
Q:What are you currently working on?
A: At the moment, I am finishing up Book 4 in my Shiva XIV series, and I am about to publish Book 3 at the end of the year. I’m also in the beginning stages of writing a new YA fantasy series, which will have dragons and wizards, and all that fun fantasy stuff.
Q: When will your next book be released?
A: The Riddle of the Gods (Shiva XIV: Book 3) should be out around September. That's what I'm aiming for anyway.
Q: Tell us a little bit about it.
A: Shiva XIV is about a boy named Ayn and his journey to become the legendary hero he's been prophesied to be. Growing up in a secluded temple, surrounded by priests, he's not known much of his planet or galaxy. However, unexpected circumstances force Ayn to face his destiny in a way he never thought he would. Soon, he is taken on an incredible adventure that makes him question his very soul. Book 1 starts the journey, and by Book 2 (The Veil of Truth,) he is growing up and facing his true power. Book 3 centers on the galactic turmoil and political upheaval that has occurred, as well the man, and hero, Ayn must become if he wants to save his universe.
Q: That sounds pretty epic. How do you come up with other worlds and various characters?
A: I get asked all the time how I can come up with so many different names and places, and honestly, I have no idea! It usually just comes to me as I write. It’s sort of like being half-asleep and in that lucid state where I’m aware, but also connected to my subconscious and things just come to me the same way it might if it were a dream. However, I’m also a big myth and ancient history fan, so I’m sure I’ve been influenced by various cultures around the world. There is a strong Tibetan theme with the priests in the beginning of Shiva XIV, but it also has elements of ancient Egypt. I like to mix it up in my stories to create something that feels alien and new, yet familiar.
Q: When did you decide to become a writer?
A: I began writing songs and small plays when I was about seven years old. I then took up poetry in my twenties, which helped me grow as a writer and allowed me to express my feelings and thoughts. It wasn't until my thirties that I had the notion I could possibly do novels. Honestly, I was a bit terrified. But with Shiva XIV, the story took hold in my mind and just wouldn't let go until I let it flow, and once I did, it was like a flood rushing through me. I had no idea I'd become a novelist, but it now feels like what I was always meant to be.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration on what to write?
A: Inspiration can come from many things: a good book, movie, song, you name it. Sometimes, I will watch Lord of the Rings (for the millionth time) or I will listen to LoreenaMcKennitt or maybe watch some anime. It just depends. I also get a lot of ideas from talking to my other half, Timothy, who is also a writer and composer. Just blabbing about the story can be helpful for me, and I get new ideas in the process. Luckily, Timothy doesn't seem to mind when I do that.
Q: What are some of your hobbies outside of writing?
A: I'm a film fanatic. I love old classics and new movies too, if done well. I also love sitting around with my cats and Tim and watching shows like Arrow or The Flash. My new favorite show, however, is Lucifer – the writing is witty and smart. As fun as a show or film may be, I respond most to good writing with dialogue that makes one think.
Q: What book are you currently reading?
A: I'm currently reading a few books by fellow indie authors William Burcher, Nathan Wall, and Mimi Marten. I love finding new talent and indie authors can be rare gems!I'm also getting around to reading the first Shannara book. I'm a little late to that one, I know, but better late than never.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: Hermann Hesse is one of my all-time favorites. His work had a profound effect on me ever since I first read Siddhartha when I was thirteen. I also love J.R.R Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, and Philip Pullman.
Q: What do you do to market your books?
A: Everything I can think of! Anything from Amazon ads to circulating on Goodreads to Twitter to Facebook. I'm still learning what works and what doesn't. Self-publishing is a rough road, but it's worth it to have complete creative control over what you write.
Q: Of all the books you’ve written, which is your favorite, and why?
A: So far, I've published two Shiva XIV books, a poetry collection, and one novella (The Rainbow Serpent, which is a re-imagining of the fall from Eden.) Out of those, I think the second Shiva XIV book, The Veil of Truth, is my favorite. It has so much action, and the story ends on a really exciting moment in the series. However, I believe book 3 might be even more exciting.
Q: If any of your stories could be made into a movie, which would you choose?
A: I think Shiva XIV is extremely epic and perfect for the big screen. Some adjustments would have to be made, as they always are in adaptations, but I think the series would be a great film series.
Q: If you could be friends with a fictional character (Including any from your own stories) who would you choose?
A: In my own series, I'd want to be friends with Axis. He's magical and whimsical, yet loyal and true. In other books, I would want to be friends with Harry Potter, Frodo, and Sam.
Q: Does your taste in movies and shows line up with your taste in books? If they differ, how so?
A: That's a really interesting question. I think they do mostly line up. I usually am attracted to imaginative stories with complex, epic plots and heroic characters. I'm mostly drawn to fantasy or sci-fi in film, TV, and books. However, there can be exceptions. For example, I love strange David Lynch films like Blue Velvet or brilliant thrillers like old Hitchcock movies. There usually has to be a likable main character for me though. If all the characters are nasty or rude, I just can't get into it. I like both dark and light to be represented in stories, but ultimately, I need someone to root for.
Q: Do you have a certain place that you like to do your writing? Does environment affect your work?
A: I wish I had the luxury of writing in a relaxed den with a large, cherry-oak desk and in a quiet neck of the woods, but my life just doesn't supply such an environment. So, I have learned to write pretty much anytime, anywhere, no matter what the surroundings. I've become a master at tuning out the unnecessary while focusing on what really matters.
Q: What are some of your favorite foods?
A: Japanese and Thai! I'm also a serious chocolate fiend.
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: First, I'd go to Europe, stopping at England, Scotland, Ireland, France, and Italy. I'd then have to go to Greece! Ancient temples and beautiful old castles are my thing. I pretty much want to go anywhere and everywhere that has old sculptures and architecture. I'd love to see the pyramids in Egypt too.
Q: Of all the books in the world, why is yours worth taking the time to read?
A: One thing that my Shiva XIV series has that I think is very rare among sci-fi and fantasy is a strong spiritual and metaphysical theme throughout. It's not religious per say, and it never loses the action or adventure, but it constantly goes back to the spirit behind everything with an emphasis on philosophy. That's something I personally enjoy when reading other books, though it’s pretty hard to find, especially within the sci-fi/fantasy genre.
Lyra Shanti was a delight to interview and is an excellent author. If you'd like to learn more about Lyra or her books, you can do it at any of these links:
Author website: www.lyrashanti.com
Shiva XIV website: www.shivaxiv.com
Shiva XIV on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShivaXIV
Lyra Shanti on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Lyra-Shanti-53063129363
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lyra-Shanti/e/B004RZZEXW
Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/lyrashanti
You can also feel free to read my own review of Lyra's book Shiva XIV here.
Daniel M. Quilter is the author of A Soul Divided. On this blog he'll interview other authors, review books, share nerd wisdom from popular sci-fi and fantasy, and occasionally share his insights on writing. See a list of his works or see what he's working on.
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