Lizzy Ford, author of the best-selling Witchling Series, shares her thoughts about creating kick-ass characters, meeting reader requests, and more.
Your books deal with such varied types of characters — from vampires to witchlings and even kick-butt cambions — where does your inspiration come from?
I’m fascinated by human nature, so I tend to build characters around traits that intrigue me. The Witchlings came about as a dare from young adult indie author Julia Crane, who said I should write a YA paranormal series about witches. I’ve depicted gods with human traits and weaknesses, half-demons who want to do good, vampires who could take over the world – but don’t feel like it.
I like a challenge such as taking a character or subject that’s common and writing them differently, just to see how it turns out. It doesn’t hurt that I have an insanely active imagination. My husband often laments my revisionist history when it comes to reinventing conversations we’ve had or making up explanations about electronics instead of Googling them, like I should.
I recently took a poll of my readers and asked them what kind of book they wanted to see. Their response: Dragons. So, I’m thinking I’ll start a book about dragons sometime this year.
To date, what is your favorite series that you’ve written and why?
The original Rhyn Trilogy has a cult-like following among its readers, though I don’t consider it to be my best work. I’m more proud of its spin-off series, Rhyn Eternal, which features Death and how he finds balance, true love, and the ability to see beyond the bleakness of his world. I personify both Death and Fate in the series, which has been a hit with my readers.
I like this series, because it reminds me a lot of life. Sometimes, what we want and what we need are two different things, and we have to accept that. There are no easy answers, but there’s a greater purpose to most parts of life, and of course, there’s always hope.
Do people you know ever make their way into your stories?
I’d say traits of people I know do. If there’s something about someone that fascinates me or angers me or manages to snag my attention somehow, I’ll probably build a character around it. For example, my husband’s dark, jaded sense of humor is reflected in the remarks of a couple characters.
You are known for your speed of turning out stories. Do you ever have any down time from writing and how do you spend it?
I don’t have much down time. When I do, I tend to write stories that’ll probably never see the light of day. I have ‘hobby’ stories and ‘work’ stories. I started out writing fantasy when I was younger and switched to romance only about three years ago. Romance is an easier genre to break into, and crazy-popular, so it’s been an awesome journey. Someday, I’ll slide back into writing fantasy, I think.
I’m currently in search of a real hobby. I’m thinking horseback riding, but not convinced yet!
Give us your best writing advice in five words or less.
Ignore the critics and persevere.
Best comment you’ve ever received from a reader.
My favorite comment came from a reader who told me she hadn’t read a book in years that inspired her more. I love this, because it reminds me why I experiment with characters and story lines: To keep things fresh and different. It keeps me from getting lazy with my writing. Every book is a little better than the last, and I plan on continuing that trend.
Tell us what you’ll do when you rule the world.
First: Put a Starbucks on every corner.
Second: Buy my dream house on the ocean and rescue elephants.
Third: Write books without worrying about whether anyone will ever buy them. I don’t even plan on marketing.
Fourth: Make a law to send mean, spiteful, or hurtful people to Antarctica.
Fifth: Ensure all my friends and family are taken care of in every way possible.
I have more ideas, but that’s a good start!
What are your top three marketing tips?
1. Engage readers and bloggers.
2. Write. Release. Repeat.
3. Try something new.
What are your top three reads and why?
1. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
This is my all-time favorite book. I’ve read it dozens of times, and every time I re-read it, I find something new. I love how she portrays the characters as flawed, but redeemable – if they choose to be. The humor and care she has for her characters in this book always makes me smile.
2. “Damian’s Oracle” by…me!
Okay, so maybe it’s corny to list one of my books on here! BUT, there’s a good reason for it. “Damian’s Oracle” was the first book I ever released, and it was the book that helped me realize I could really be a writer. The feedback I received from readers helped me believe in myself. So, corny or not, this book is always going to be among my top three!
3. “The Sable City” by M. Edward McNally.
This spot rotates. I’ll probably always have the same top two books, but I tend to find a new book, fall in love with it, then find another new one and repeat the process.
“The Sable City” is an epic fantasy by an indie author. I absolutely loved this book, because it was not only easy to read, but the characters were just so real. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and was so absorbed in a book. I read it in one sitting.
Of all the characters you’ve created, which would you like to (or avoid!) having coffee with?
Like: Zoey from “Zoey Rogue.” She’s the kind of person you want to hang out with because she’d be an absolute riot!
Avoid: Any of Rhyn’s brothers from the Rhyn Trilogy. They’re a scary lot and don’t think much of humans!