1. I have often heard that the second book in a series is the hardest to write. Did you feel that way about The Remedy?
Serena: The Ryn and The Remedy were originally written as one really long book, so I guess you could say that, while I didn’t feel that way about writing The Remedy, I’m feeling that way now with book 3 of the series! I love the fun characters I’m working with (Pirate Cazien and Julien’s sister, Erielle) and the twist I’m putting on the new fairy tale I’m re-imagining is really fun (my little secret, for now!) but I do wonder if readers who loved the “sweetness” of Rynnaia and Julien will love the snarkiness and edgier nature of Caz and Erielle, as characters. I hope so…
2. Finding the Remedy involves an old prophecy, clues, and then the Remedy itself. When did you write the prophecy (before or after they went on their adventure?) and at what point did you know what the Remedy was?
Serena: Keep in mind that these two books evolved over 7 years of rewriting and revising… but there was a little of this and a little of that. Originally, when I got to that point of the story that needed the prophecy revealed/scrolls translated, I just wrote the poem. I was reading a lot of poetry right then—romantic poetry, of all things. Nothing like the riddled mess in The Remedy!—but it came rather swiftly and was kind of a fun way to go about figuring out how to turn riddles—riddles that I wasn’t even sure what they meant, myself!—into actual scenes and settings. But both the poem and the action it led to were revised countless times before the final version of The Remedy was published.
3. When writing fantasy-like novels, you can’t really do research, so what kind of preparation do you find yourself doing?
Serena: There is always research, even when you’re making up everything about the world. I’ve read a ton of material on weapons, ships, clothing, pirate history, sea creatures, travel times, topography – sometimes you even have to go back and reread your own work to figure out how long it takes a character to get from point A to point B. I spend a crazy amount of time on Pinterest, finding images that speak to the story. (I have boards for the Eyes of E’veria series as well as one specifically for Book Three!) But the biggest way I prep for writing? Believe it or not, I listen to a lot of music. I know the basic structure of the book going in (especially with this series, since I’m starting each 2-book set with a known fairy tale!) I also have a pretty good idea of the story arc, the theme, and how I want to see the characters grow over the course of the novel. I make a ton of playlists of modern music with lyrics that speak to the characters’ personalities and situations. I burn CDs and take them in my car (some of my best scenes have come to me while driving!) But when it comes to the actual writing? No words, please! While writing, editing, and revising, I listen to instrumental music—mostly movie soundtracks.
4. What is the ‘one thing’ you wanted to convey to your reader with The Remedy?
Serena: That would be Rynnaia’s realization: “I am known and I am loved.” – I think it is the cry of every heart. We may not go through the sort of identity crisis Rynnaia does over the course of the two books, but we long for the same sense of belonging, of being loved, not only by the people we love, but by God. It’s a pretty big deal. To recognize and accept that, out of all the people in the world, all the beauty, all the universe . . . the One who created it all KNOWS and LOVES you on a personal level? That’s huge. That’s what I hope my readers will see and take to heart through her story.
5. Can you tell us more about your next project (aka will Cazien’s story be told?)
Serena: Oh, Caz! He is such a popular boy! I don’t want to give away too much yet . . . but yes, Captain Cazien de Pollis shares the POV spotlight with Erielle de Gladiel in books 3 & 4, which take place fairly quickly after The Remedy’s end. And they are both excessively fun characters to write! But don’t worry: I won’t be finished with Caz at the close of book 4. He’s too much fun! (And I have too much backstory written about him to let it go to waste.) So here’s a little teaser: I have a couple of Eyes of E’veria prequel novellas in the pipeline—and at least one of those is entirely focused on Cazien’s mid-teen years, his “errand”, and his legacy. In that book, our fair pirate is fifteen years old and not yet a captain. That being said, I think readers are anxious to see what will become of Captain Cazien as they “know” him now—at 19/20 years old. Plus, readers are curious to see what comes of all those cryptic remarks he made about Erielle in The Ryn and The Remedy—so I don’t think they’ll mind waiting for that peek back in time!
Thanks for the interview, Embassie! I’m glad you enjoyed the books!