If you’re after a fantasy rich in humor and warmly-drawn characters, come meet today’s guest. She’s an actress, a college instructor, and an avid gamer who writes for two gaming fan sites. As of two months ago, my friend Maer Wilson also became a published novelist. I’m happy to introduce her to you today on Tartitude.
Here is the blurb for Relics, which is Book #1 in The Thulukan Chronicles:
Most of Thulu and La Fi’s clients are dead. Which is perfect since their detective agency caters to the supernatural. So, a job finding relics for an ancient daemon should be simple.
The daemon needs the relics to keep a dangerous portal closed. His enemy, Gabriel, wants the relics to open the portal and give his people access to a new feeding ground – Earth.
Stunning humanity with their existence, portals to other worlds begin to open and the creatures of magic return to Earth.
When Gabriel threatens their family, Thulu and La Fi’s search becomes personal. The couple will need powerful allies in the race to find the relics before Gabriel does. But maybe that’s what grateful dead, magical allies and daemonic clients are for.
You’d mentioned it was a challenge to identify your novel’s genre–that it was more of an urban fantasy/mystery hybrid. Indeed, Relics has a fresh and divergent tone from most urban fantasy I’ve read, beginning with your female protagonist, Fiona. (La Fi, as she’s known to her friends and family.) She’s experienced youthful trauma, yet veers away from the angsty aloneness which is almost a trope in urban fantasy. She’s in a stable marriage with Thulu, has an extensive network of family and supportive friends, and is remarkably self-possessed given her age. Were these character attributes conscious choices?
Maer: Some of them were for sure! You mentioned that “angsty aloneness” has almost become a trope, and I’d have to agree. It was that prevalence for the kick-ass heroine who went home alone and bemoaned her single status that drove me to give La Fi a husband and large family.
Hospitality is a significant theme in Relics. It makes for great fun and imagery when La Fi and her husband Thulu introduce their supernatural friends to their family at an outdoor barbecue. (I’m thinking of small children reaching for faeries with sticky hands, goblins sitting on dictionaries at the table…) Why are these scenes important to you?
Maer: For the sheer fun of it! Imagine La Fi and Thulu never really getting to share any part of their work because their clients are usually invisible to their family. Or someone they wouldn’t want around their family. Sure the family sees the fruits of what they do sometimes, but mostly not. This lets them share and maybe “show off” just a tiny bit. Another thing about the hospitality—La Fi sometimes has to remind herself to be gracious because she gets impatient. It’s a lesson Nana Fae made sure she learned, but sometimes it’s in conflict with La Fi’s inherent need for privacy.
You are an avid gamer, and as such, I imagine have indulged many fantasies about encountering paranormal creatures in everyday life. If you could enflesh one character from your novel, who would it be and why choose them?
Maer: What an awesomely difficult question! Obviously, there are so many choices. I’m going to have to go with a process of elimination on this. The easy answer would be Dhavenbahtek/Tyler Jones because he is just so fascinating, but I’m wondering if I really want him to be real. He can be a very bad boy at times. (Jan interjecting here to explain that Tyler Jones is the suave and clever daemon client of La Fi’s firm.) Juliet, the goblin is tempting, but not quite right. Same with Aurelia, the elf princess. I think that takes us to Aela, the fairy La Fi (and I) think of as a cross between Barbie and Xena. Aela is a warrior, very deadly. Her teeth are all very pointed, like shark teeth, but she has a penchant for wearing red nail polish and getting drunk on tapioca. She’s so much fun to write and I hope she’d be as much fun if she were real.
Relics contains a large and diverse cast of characters, both human and paranormal. They each come with rich backstory, nicknames, quirks, and unique voices which reflect their species and culture. Do you have a series bible, or how do you keep track of them all?
Maer: I have a timeline, with a character list that I actually remember to update now and then. As I write Book 3, I find myself having to go back to Relics and Book 2 to see what I did with a character before. That’s mostly for descriptions like hair color and such. Their stories and who they are as people are in my head as if they’re folks I know, so that part isn’t written down.
What process do you use for character development?
Maer: It depends on the character. I’ve used several processes. Thulu and La Fi came from their names and their characters were just there for me. Others I had an idea of what I wanted for the character and did research on the name. Once I have that name in place, it helps me define who they are as people. I’m sure I’m using a lot of the extensive and intensive character creation processes I used onstage. Creating characters has always been fun for me as I make up the backstories, strengths and weaknesses and motivations. Figuring out what makes a character tick is fascinating for me and those motivations drive the stories.
You teach theater. You run a very successful and well-produced literary podcast (MythBehaving) in which you interview authors. Yet you wrote both Relics and your next novel with what appeared to be ruthless efficiency. Talk to me about your writing process and how you manage your time.
Maer: Thanks for mentioning the podcast. 🙂 Actually I write organically. I’m a total pantser. I have an idea where I want to go and end up there, but the road has a tendency to veer at times from what I thought was going to happen. I write my first draft very quickly, usually under two months. I revise very slowly, with extensive input from about a dozen betas. With the first draft, I usually try to have a set goal as to when I want to be done, with a daily word count goal. So far it works for me.
What’s next for the series?
Maer: Book 2, tentatively titled Portals, has been submitted to my publisher. I’m currently writing Book 3, which I hope to have done by the end of July -ish. I have two short stories, both prequels in the series. One of those should be ready to be released in summer, 2013.
Thanks so very much for the chance to visit one of my favorite blogs and people! This was a fun and thought-provoking interview, Jan!
Zesties, a few quick announcements related to this post:
- Maer would be pleased to answer any questions you might have in the space below.
- Catch up with her at her website, Facebook page, or on Twitter (@MaerWilson). If you anywhere near Redondo Beach, go meet Maer at a reading and book signing at Mysterious Galaxy on July 13th at 2:30 PM
- Lastly, if you live in Canada or the US, I’ve got a free book for a random commenter in your choice of formating (paper or e). There are no requirements for you to share this post to qualify, but I’d certainly be grateful. Contest closes July 18th.