#SPFBO4 Interview with Suzanne Rogerson, author of The Lost Sentinel #1 in the Silent Sea Chronicles

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Today I’m pleased to welcome to my blog Suzanne Rogerson, author of The Lost Sentinel #1 in the Silent Sea Chronicles.

As you may be aware if you’re following the SPFBO competition or my updates I’ve recently cut a further five books and unfortunately The Lost Sentinel was part of that second round of cuts. However, as I’ve mentioned previously I don’t just see the SPFBO as a competition with only one winner.  I like to think that all the authors who enter the competition are winners, maybe not for the elusive No.1 spot, but in bringing awareness  to their own books and to the huge self published market that’s out there.  I think you all deserve a massive round of applause simply for putting your books forward.  (N.B. – Suzanne’s books are currently on sale worldwide and the links for further information are below).

Anyway, enough of all my chatter.  Let’s move on to the interview with the wonderful and rather lovely Suzanne:

Hi Suzanne, welcome to my blog, I’d like to start by asking if you could share with readers a little bit about yourself and your book/s.

Hi Lynn. Thanks for having me over for an interview.

I’m an author of epic and heroic fantasy and I’ve been self-publishing for almost three years. I first discovered my love of fantasy when I read a page of Druss the Legend over my husband’s shoulder way back in my teens. It was at a time when I knew I wanted to write but couldn’t decide which genre to try. Thanks to David Gemmell, and my husband, I’ve been obsessed with the fantasy genre ever since!

My debut was Visions of Zarua published in 2015.

VisionsofZarua

This year I’ve entered The Lost Sentinel into SPFBO, which is my second fantasy novel and Book 1 in the Silent Sea Chronicles.

The Lost Sentinel is set on the magical island of Kalaya, which is dying as the connection between the people and their magic fades through ignorance and distrust. We follow three main characters;

Tei is a young woman forced to leave home when her magic is discovered. She flees to the mountains to join the other exiles and takes up their cause to find their dying Sentinel’s replacement. This person is the key to saving the magic, but mysterious Masked Riders are determined to thwart them.

Brogan is a newly appointed Assembly member who would rather be back on his farm than making decisions about Kalaya and its magical community. From the start he realises the Assembly, the ruling body on the island, is corrupt and he’s forced to face some difficult choices when he discovers compromising facts about his past.

We also follow Farrell, a pirate hunting sea commander of a race who were forced from their home when magic-hating invaders attempted to annihilate them. They have made a new life on a barren island dubbed Stone Haven, but their existence is harsh and when they hear of a magical island across the sea the temptation proves too much for the desperate people.

The three storylines come together over the course of the first two books – The Sentinel’s Reign  (No.2) is out now.

I think I read on your author’s page that you started writing stories at age 12.  Have any of your characters or storylines survived and fed into your published works??

Yes, I did complete a whole novel when I was 12 in 6 old excise books that I have tucked away in the bottom of the wardrobe.

The story was about a 15-year-old girl forced to move home and leave everything she loved behind – so that part of the story is very much like Tei’s situation in The Lost Sentinel. There are also elements of heroism and sacrifice in my first novel that are predominant in The Lost Sentinel.

You published your first book in 2015. What lessons did that teach you in terms of publishing Lost Sentinel and has your writing process evolved over the three years since?

When I first self-published I had no contacts in the blogging community and hadn’t considered sending out ARC’s to reviewers. Visions of Zarua disappeared until I did a blog tour 7 months later.

I learnt to be more organised with The Lost Sentinel. I sent out early ARC’s, arranged a big blog tour, 99p pre-order, giveaways etc. I made sure there was as much buzz as I could create around publication day. However, it was so stressful I promised myself I wouldn’t do it again.

With my third book this year, I sent out ARC’s and had a low key unofficial blog tour around the release date. It was much less stressful, but I think the book sales may have suffered as a result. I also hadn’t banked on a prolonged heat wave and the World Cup happening around my publication date. Terrible timing!

The last few years have shown me that I can achieve it all by myself, but if I want to keep my sanity and sell books then I may need to get some help with the promotional side of the business.

My writing process has definitely changed as well. I format the document as I go along using saved setting in Word’s style menu. This has saved me days of work adjusting the text. 

I’ve also used excel spreadsheets to plan my chapters and scenes so I have a clear idea of the various story threads and the timelines.

Such a lot of time and effort goes into publishing a book. I think readers are often blissfully unaware of the ins and outs. Would you say that writing has been everything you had hoped? What aspects of being an author do you really enjoy for example and what aspects are not as good?

Writing and publishing my own books has been much better than I could have imagined. I’ve reached readers all over the world and there’s nothing as gratifying as reading reviews from complete strangers who’ve really connected with my work. That’s the best aspect of it for me. I love the writing and creating side (and I’m also a self confessed editing addict), but when someone says they’re in love with one of my characters, or that they couldn’t read through their tears, that means everything to me.

The hardest part is waiting. Waiting for those sales and reviews to come in, and trying not to be disheartened when things are slow. The competition for a reader’s time and money is immense and being part of SPFBO this year has shown me just how good the competition is. Sometimes that makes it hard to keep up the enthusiasm. Just yesterday I was feeling low about my writing career, but then I opened my latest W.I.P, Book 3 in the Silent Sea Chronicles, and realised I couldn’t wait to carry on the journey with these wonderful characters who no longer just exist inside my head. I know I have people eagerly awaiting my next book so I refuse to give up on the dream just yet.

What next?  After you finish the Silent Sea Chronicles do you have something else in mind?  Will you stay in the same world but maybe take on a different character’s story?

After the Silent Sea Chronicles (SSC) trilogy is complete, hopefully sometime in 2019, I have a couple of ideas I want to follow up on.

One is to write a prequel for the SSC, which will focus on pivotal moments in the history of the people and the magical islands. In particular how the island of Stone Haven lost its magic and the near annihilation of Farrell’s people before their escape across the sea.

The next book I hope to finish is a standalone and will be another heroic fantasy. I started it during Nanowrimo a few years ago and it’s still waiting for an end. The characters have been calling to me so I’m really excited about continuing with it. Plus as one of the main characters is an apothecary, I’ve bought myself an online Herbal Mastery course. I love a bit of research and I love plants so that should be really interesting.

I’m also thinking of publishing a short story anthology at some point next year. So I have plenty to keep me busy.

That sounds great. So many plans in the pipeline. How do you find time to relax or have fun?  Or has writing become a thing that you never switch off from??

I hardly ever switch off from writing and the many tasks involved in self-publishing and marketing my books. Sometimes it’s exhausting!

But I am still at my happiest when I’m writing, so I don’t regret the path I’ve chosen.

My favourite way to relax is watching films and reading books, or going for walks, though we don’t find as much time for that now the kids are getting older. I keep hoping to get a dog one day, but it’s a two against two vote in this house.

Finally, to conclude on a slightly different note can you tell readers:

What’s the last book you read. What book are you reading currently. What book do you plan after that one is completed?

Funnily enough my answers will be SPFBO related as I’ve picked up a few of this year’s contenders and have pledged to myself to read them over the coming months. I’ve recently finished The Exercise of Vital Powers by Ian Gregoire. This was an almost from Kitty’s group in 2017. It was a very entertaining read and I’m looking forward to the sequel.

I’m currently reading Game Bird by Aidan R Walsh. I’m really enjoying this and wish I had more time to just sit and be totally immersed in the story.

Not SFPBO related but I won a first edition signed hardback copy of City of Lies by Sam Hawke. I’m just a few pages in, but I already feel as though I’m going to love it.

I plan to read another SPFBO book after these two and I have a couple from your group Lynn, which are high up on the list to read. So I may go for either A Wizard’s Forge by A.M Justice or High Barrens by Alice Sabo.

It’s been great to be a part of SPFBO this year and I wish the remaining authors good luck in the competition.

Thanks very much for agreeing to feature me, Lynn.

Suzanne, thank you so much for taking part in my interview and the competition.  It’s been a pleasure chatting to you.  I think there’s some excellent advice for others amongst these answers and a lovely shout out for the books you’ve read and plan to read. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all the best with the Silent Sea Chronicles. 

I’d also like to share with readers that Suzanne’s books are currently on sale worldwide.  Check out the links below for information:

The Lost Sentinel – Book 1 Silent Sea Chronicles
The Sentinel’s Reign – Book 2 Silent Sea Chronicles

Visions of Zarua – Standalone epic fantasy

Suzanne can be found:
Website
Goodreads Author Page
Facebook Author Page
Twitter
Instagram

Interview with the Vampire, No.1 of the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

Interview with the Vampire is another of my holiday reads that I’m catching up with reviews on.  I must say this is a beautifully written book, I wasn’t sure how I’d fare with this having seen the film years ago as I always prefer to read the book first but in this case it wasn’t a problem.  Of course I had the faces and voices of Tom Cruise and Brad Pit flitting through my brain as I read which I guess was inevitable but it didn’t detract from the book.  In fact, it was a surprise just how much the film has remained faithful to the book.  Inevitably there were some changes, even the ending was different but the changes weren’t significant and it seemed to me that even some of the dialogue had been lifted straight from the book to the film.

The book of course starts with a young man interviewing a vampire!  Pretty unusual as a concept and I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall to watch the conversation prior to them both removing themselves to a private room with just a tape recorder between them.  It’s such a great vehicle for a story as the storyteller, Louis, casts his mind back over the past 200 odd years of his existence.  An existence that seems to have been passed in a search for the truth.  Truth about the nature of the beast that he has become.  How did vampires begin to exist, are they inherently evil?  Are they the creation of the devil?    If you thought Edward had teenage angst in Twilight well it doesn’t bare much comparison to the anguish borne by Louis.  In this book, Louis is grieving for his recently departed brother.  He seeks death and finds his wish about to be granted when he meets the character Lestat who instead of death gifts him with immortality.  At first Louis is mesmerised by Lestat’s charm and fascinated by what he is, not to mention in awe of what he can teach him, but he soon starts to loathe his creator as he realises that he has very little wisdom to share.  From then onwards Louis battles with his own demons.  The humanity which he still clings to tempered against the anguish he feels for the victims he feeds on.

I wouldn’t think I really need to elaborate too much on the rest of the plot as the book and the film were written and produced quite some time ago and so are probably relatively well known.  Not to mention the book seems to have something of a cult following which is understandable in terms of it being both fairly ground breaking, an intriguing story and well written.

Anne Rice has a beautiful style of writing.  She describes the places and the times so well that you can picture them easily and yet the book doesn’t feel over burdened but flows in a natural and persuasive way.  I loved the descriptions of New Orleans and Paris and also enjoyed watching as the years unfolded starting with Louis’ time on the plantation.  As mentioned the film is fairly true to the book although there was an additional section within the book when Louis and Claudia are on their personal quest to find others of their kind and travel to the Carpathian mountains.  That particular chapter vividly brought to mind the Hammer House of Horror films with Christopher Lee and his blood red eyes terrorising the superstitious peasants.  I did love that particular part of the story, especially when they go under cover of dark to the abandoned ruins in search of vampires.

All that aside I think my favourite aspect, along with the writing style, has got to be the characterisation.  The three main characters of Louis, Lestat and Claudia are so well drawn.  You can’t help partly agreeing with Cruise at the end of the film when he says that Louis is ‘whining’ again.  Because Louis can come across a little bit that way.  Whilst he’s desperately seeking answers Lestat’s answers are somewhere along the lines of ‘get over yourself, you’re a killer now, go with it!’  Without a doubt Lestat is my favourite character – although I think I preferred Louis in the film!  Lestat is just so blatantly and unabashedly a killer.  He suffers no remorse, no feelings of doubt or last minute qualms or pity for his victims.  He toys with them, much in the way a cat will play with it’s captured!  You could say he’s just wonderfully evil and I love the way he follows Louis about taunting him to try and make him snap out of his humanness!  Claudia is a great little vampire, she appears to be younger in the book than she’s cast in the film, and as with Lestat there’s this brilliant evilness to her where she uses her childlike exterior to trap victims.  Victims that she would otherwise be unable to defeat given her size.  I love the way she has similar demons to Louis.  They’re both tortured.  He can’t accept his nature and live with himself and she will never experience the full growth to womanhood although inside her tiny body is a 200 year old female.

The other thing that didn’t really occur to me whilst reading the book but sprang to mind when I was thinking about it after finishing is that there is very little human participation in this story.  Obviously, we have the young man undertaking the interview but we only have snippets of involvement from him.  And we have a brief involvement of other people when Louis is initially turned – particularly one female who he has mixed feelings about.  But, other than that this really is the vampire show and it’s a good one.  And, in spite of the fact that Rice has brought to us these fascinating and beautiful creatures (and may have been the first to do so) there are no elaborate love triangles involving humans.

I really enjoyed this.  It’s completely different to Dracula (which I love) but it seems to be one of (if not the) book that brought us this new breed of predators.

And, as this is ALL about the vampires I think it qualifies for my RIP event!  Check out Stainless Steel Droppings for the details and to join up.