Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we talked to K.E. Barron, about her writing and newly released fanatsy, the series kicker in Bloodstone Dagger series, The Immortal Serpent (Bloodstone Dagger #1) (read the review here).
K.E. Barron wanted to be a writer her entire life, but she chose to be an accountant instead. Now she divides her time between writing books and balancing them. She grew up in Fernie, British Columbia and now lives in Alberta, working in as a financial analyst and writing fantasy books in her spare time. Her interests are vast and varied, ranging from the aesthetics of eighteenth-and nineteenth-century period pieces to the scholarly realms of evolutionary psychology, anthropology, economics, and religion. These eclectic inspirations are all part of the magic and cultural realism of her fantasy novels
Do you find writing therapeutic?
Yes. It’s a big part of why took up writing at this stage of my life. I had crippling anxiety for many years and writing helped me focus that negative energy into something productive and positive.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Hold off publishing that big series. Hone your craft through short stories or stand-alone novels first. If you want to work on your series for fun, go right ahead, but if you’re serious about publishing, it’s best to start with something that you can feasibly finish within a year or two. The more written works you can complete from drafting to editing, the better writer you’ll become and much more quickly than if you’re stuck on the same series for years on end. If I could do it all again, I’d have published more self-contained novels to build up a bigger following before getting into the Bloodstone Dagger series. At the time I started it, it was supposed to be a stand-alone, much like my first novel, The Eye of Verishten. Then it became a duology, then a trilogy. Now? It may not stop at three. Although, Book One has been reviewed very well so far, and I don’t regret writing it, I just find the progress between books has slowed considerably. I may have been further along in my writing career had I focused on the stories with faster turn-around.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Neither. I try to be different but originality is not the main goal. I just write what I like and avoid what annoys me. I believe less in giving the reader what they want, and more in giving them what they don’t yet know they want.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
Yes. I don’t feel emotions strongly. I’ve been referred to as an emotionless ice queen by some. I use art as a way of expressing emotions that I have trouble expressing in real life. I’m not sure I could write the stories that I do if I felt things too much as much of it may be triggering for some people.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I did a blog post about this a while back. It all depends on what naming conventions make sense for the particular culture I’m creating. Sometimes I use a random name generator then change the results until something clicks. Other times, I use real world names that are uncommon in modern day. Ancestry sites are great tools for finding names specific to a certain period. Using unusual last names as first names is also something I do. Changing consonants in real-world names fetch great results because they sound natural but are totally fictional. I also find it’s important to google every name I create to make sure I don’t name someone after something unintentionally.
Do you Google yourself?
Every once in a while. Sometimes, that’s the only way I can tell if someone has reviewed my book. I imagine the more successful I am, the less useful googling myself will be. But right now, I can’t help it.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
For me, it’s finding the time. Between a career in finance and working on the farm, being able to put all that away to lose myself in a fantasy world is easier said than done. I use my analytical brain so much that it can be near impossible to switch to a creative brain and vice versa. Sometimes I feel like I’m two different people split down the middle. If I’m in an accounting mood, nothing can get me to open that word document, and if I’m in a writing mood, nothing can get me to look at a ledger.
What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
My favourite author has always been Brandon Sanderson. His characters and world building were one of my biggest inspirations. I love how accessible his writing and worlds are, and that you don’t even have to be big into fantasy to enjoy him. That’s the quality I hope to bring to my own books. V.C. Andrews was another author I read a lot of in my teenage years (which would be considered highly inappropriate today). They were like reading super tragic soap operas. The characters’ lives were complete train wrecks that I couldn’t look away from. For those familiar with her books, I’d just like to make clear that I don’t feature incest in my own books and likely never will, but the melodramatic storylines Andrews wove had me and my friends hooked, and I find that is a quality missing in a lot of today’s fiction. I believe you can have melodrama in fantasy while still grounding the story in some form of realism.
What’s more important: characters or plot?
When I first started out, I thought characters were all that mattered and plot was secondary. I’ve come to realize that plot and character cannot be so easily separated. A character arc is the plot. Characters drive the plot forward. Neither can exist without the other. I typically come up with characters first then figure out how I want them to progress as people. The plot tends to (not always) fall into place. Most plot problems can be solved with re-evaluating character motivations. Sometimes, I do start off with a plot and then figure out how to fit characters into it, but I find this method much harder and it takes me longer.
QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR BOOK/WRITING:
Tell us a little about how this story first came to be. Did it start with an image, a voice, a concept, a dilemma or something else?
The concept of the Immortal Serpent, Part One of the Bloodstone Dagger was with me since high school, only back then it was more of a Legend of Zelda fanfic. Hardly anything from that fanfic ever made it into the Immortal Serpent, but I’d be lying if I said those inspirations were not steeped into the very essence of the characters and world. I’ve drawn on many other books, games, movies, and TV shows for inspiration since then, but the Bloodstone Dagger series, in particular, is the closest to resembling the video game franchise that captured my imagination so many years ago. It was because of that game that I started writing in the first place, but it was Game of Thrones on HBO thirteen years later that sparked the urge to write something wholly my own. Five years after that, I got up the courage to write with the intention to publish, and I’ve never looked back since.
What’s next for you?
I do intend on finishing the Bloodstone Dagger series as fast as I can and then I’ll move onto shorter stand-alones. I’ve already built concepts for three fantasy romances and a short story anthology using characters introduced in my previous novels. However, it will not be a requirement to read any of my previous works to enjoy them. When I’m ready, I intend to tackle a six-part epic once I’ve developed enough of a following who will stick it out with me until the series’ end. Then, I’ll retire with my husband on our farm writing who knows what at that point.
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