Welcome to BookView Interview, a conversation series where BookView talks to authors.
Recently, we interviewed author Lori Hyrup , about her writing and her debut, Secrets of Tanoria: The Crystal Warrior, an exhilarating, page-turning epic fantasy. (Read the review here.).
I have been creating original worlds since I was in high school. Much of that worldbuilding has carried over to my 25-year career designing video games, but some of it I’ve to myself. I’ve been a designer of video games since 1996, and I’m currently managing the design and narrative department for the AAA game, Wonder Woman.
All the years spent designing many different types of games has given me an arsenal of knowledge to share with others. In addition to developing games, I spend part of my time teaching at the Academy of Art University in the School of Game Development.
I, along with my husband and daughter, just recently moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to the Pacific Northwest. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with my family, I enjoy spending time with my family, reading, playing games, and painting miniature gaming figures.
Personal Website: www.lorihyrup.com
Do you Google yourself?
I have Googled myself, and I’ve learned that I’m the only “Lori Hyrup” to be found on the internet. So, if you search for my first/last name combo, you’ll find me.
What is your favorite childhood book?
My favorite childhood book evolved based on where I was in childhood. Between elementary school and middle school, I read a lot of books based on animals. By high school, I’d shifted to science fiction and fantasy. Books that had animals and sci-fi/fantasy were even better. I was also addicted to series rather than just single books.
So, in Middle School, my favorite series was the Black Stallion, which was initially inspired by seeing the original Black Stallion movie. The Black Beauty series and the Misty of Chincoteague series were close runners-up. In my “horse phase,” my first attempt at writing a book was based on a horse and called the “Sun-glazed Colt.”
At the end of middle school and beginning of high school, I found Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. That then led me to the Last Herald-Mage by Mercedes Lackey (and the rest of the Valdemar series). I loved both. I read and reread those books many times.
Who and what ultimately inspired you to become a writer?
I’ve always had a very active imagination. Finding both the Pern and Valdemar books sparked a thirst for both science fiction and fantasy. As I read the books from those series, my mind started spinning off its own characters and the worlds they inhabited in my imagination. Needing to get those things out of my head and onto paper was the ultimate inspiration.
How did you decide which form or genre was right for you?
Finding the Dragonriders of Pern and the Last-Herald Mage started me down a track of science fiction and fantasy. Even though the Pern series is technically science fiction, it carries a fantasy vibe (it’s not hard science fiction). I love magic, psionics, amazing powers, unique worlds, and unusual creatures. So, over the years, I’ve become more focused in my subgenre. Epic fantasy is my focus, and I have some interest in branching out into both superhero and young adult fantasy subgenres.
Were your parents interested in literature? Did they read a lot? What books did you have in the house?
I grew up with just my mother, and she didn’t have any interest in reading. However, at one of the places we rented when I was a kid (about 9-10 years old), we had a garden shed, and in that shed, someone had left behind a big bookshelf filled with books, things like Chronicles of Narnia, Watership Down, Lord of the Rings, etc. We were very poor, and I couldn’t afford to buy books. We also didn’t have a nearby public library. So, I coveted those books and carried them with me through the years.
Eventually, in high school, I discovered the Science Fiction Book Club through an ad in TV Guide. They had a deal to get a bunch of books for 1 penny, and then you just had to buy one more. I went for the deal and made my grandmother and aunt all do it so I could get even more books. By the time I graduated high school, I had quite a library, some of which I still have decades later.
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 foundation of this story began when I was in high school, more than 30 years ago. In my 11th grade English class, my teacher had us write in a journal for the first 10 minutes of every class. I don’t do personal journals very well, so I just started writing a story. The MC was originally based on me, and some of the supporting characters were inspired by classmates. That said, where it ended up is vastly different than where it started.
Has this novel changed drastically as you created it?
This story has changed significantly since it first began those decades ago. Here is the journey it went on.
As I mentioned, this story began as a journal entry in my 11th grade English class. That same English teacher also taught creative writing, so I took that my senior year. I continued to work on the story. At the end of that year, the teacher erased the disk (this was on the 5 ¼” floppy!). All I had was a physical copy. So, I needed to rewrite the entire thing.
The following year, I went off to college. I prioritized school over my writing, so I only worked on the book during breaks. However, every time I got to a break, I had to reread to book the remember what I’d done. So, I didn’t make as much progress as I wanted.
After undergrad, I jumped right into work. I ended up going so deep into my professional career as a game developer, I left little time for writing. Progress stalled.
Then, in the late 2000s, I dusted it off a bit, and I realized my perspectives had changed. I’d matured as a writer and had become more educated about the world. In that first version of my story, I’d had many points of biases, stereotypes, and a general lack of knowledge for some of the things I choose to include in my story. The setting and some world choices were also no longer working for me. So, I gutted almost the entire thing and restarted, keeping only the idea of the core characters and some of the themes. first on the worldbuilding. I went from a sci-fi story that started on Earth, went to a new world, and then focused on the people on that world to an epic fantasy that focused entirely on one world. Finally, after going through all that, I started into my story once again, making slow but steady progress.
In 2009, I heard about NaNoWriMo for the first time, and it was going to start in a few days. I thought, “This is the motivation I need to get this done.” However, instead of using the story I’d started some months before hand, I decided to start on a brand-new story set in that same world, but in a new region conceptualized specifically for this event. The main character of my original story would become a supporting / secondary main character for this new story, but set four years after my previous story. So, with absolutely no pre-planning, I wrote the new story off the cuff, and at the end of 30 days, I had a complete first draft. In the span of 30 days, I not only had a new story, but I performed the regional worldbuilding as a went along. I had an entirely new continent/country, new people, legends and lore, a new profession for my new main character, a rough map of the region, and more.
Through editing and revisions, nothing significant changed with the story or the characters. I did at a couple of chapters to help flesh things out a bit more, but my first novel for this world I’d started decades previously was finally complete.
How did you decide on this title?
The original working title for this story was Crossroads of Destiny, and even after it was completed, I thought that was the final title. Then, at some point during the post-writing work, a thought struck me. The new region of the world was called Tanoria, and in the lore of the world, most people don’t even know the land exists. It’s surrounded by a supernatural fog. People looking for it can’t find it, and people who leave can never return.
The reader is discovering this land along with the secondary main character, who is from the lands beyond Tanoria. The title is from her perspective. She is learning the secrets of this new land, Tanoria. She also encounters the main character, created off-the-cuff for that 2009 NaNoWriMo effort, a character who can summon a crystal sword and who fights dangerous creatures with crystalline physiology in Tanoria called shard-beasts. She is the crystal warrior. So, Secrets of Tanoria: The Crystal Warrior was discovered.
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