Hi guys, I hope you are all well. Today I have a very exciting posts – it’s my first ever author interview on this blog and it’s with a new favourite author of mine, Alicia Wanstall-Burke. I read her debut book, Blood of Heirs, earlier this year and loved it. The sequel, Legacy of Ghosts, is set to be released 30th November this year (2019). In preparation for it’s release, I was lucky enough to interview the author herself. Let’s meet the author and then onto the interview.
Based in outback Queensland, Australia, surrounded by coal mines, dangerous reptiles, drop bears, and a wide blue sky, I am a writer, a mum and a cat-herder. There are rumours I may be a quokka in disguise, but these are not to be believed.
As a child my head was forever full of stories and characters, but I didn’t know quite what to do with any of them. In my teens, I began to collect the words into tales and ever since, I have committed myself to the apprenticeship of an emerging writer.
For many years I worked on my stories in my spare time, until the birth of my son in 2012 allowed me to focus on writing full time. I dabble in editing and proofreading, and I have completed a Bachelor of Education as well as studied towards a Post Graduate Certificate in Ancient History.
Firstly Blood of Heirs is a fantastic debut book and I am so excited to see more of this world. What was your inspiration for this book?
Thank you! We’re definitely going to see more of Coraidin as the series moves ahead, and that’s really what drove me to write it. I had shelved a decade long project and had a map of the world with parts yet unexplored just off the edges. It would be a shame to waste a good map! I’d always wanted to write something partially set in a landscape like Central Queensland, as it’s almost the absolute opposite to the traditional Eurocentric setting we’ve often seen in the genre. Also, the Australian bush is scary. It wants you dead. It was a perfect place to set a fantasy story about tribal and family conflict!
Can you give a brief summary of Blood of Heirs for anyone who hasn’t read it yet?
It is, at essence, the story of two young heirs who find themselves cast adrift and fighting to survive in a world set against them.
Lidan and Ranoth don’t meet in Blood of Heirs, but their tales are entwined by a common foe and shared experience—the expectations of unreasonable parents and a society that disdains them. Lidan is a female heir in a culture rooted in patriarchy, and Ran finds himself on the sharp, bloody side of the law, despite being the son of a duke. Yet, in defiance of the hurdles thrown into their path, Lidan and Ran are determined to carve a place for themselves in the world. If they can survive long enough to try.
What was it like starting the sequel? Did you feel less pressure since the world is already established? Or did you feel more pressure since it’s a sequel?
I hated writing Legacy of Ghosts!! It was so bloody hard. Blood of Heirs was more free, it didn’t have any connections or strings it needed to abide by. Legacy of Ghosts was two thirds written when I launched Blood of Heirs though, and the final third was the coming together of threads I had been building since chapter 1 of Heirs. It was terrifying and exciting all at once.
Can you tell us anything about book 2?
Legacy of Ghosts picks up four years after the end of Blood of Heirs. Our characters have grown, and with them the conflicts that surround them. They are forced into situations against their will and again need to find a way to navigate the storm.
Lidan has lost her title but found the beginning of a path she never thought would open for her. She’s torn between what she always thought she should want and where her instincts are telling her to go.
Ran is pushed back into the wilds of the world and begins his hunt for justice and revenge for what has happened to him. But it is an extraordinarily perilous journey he’s embarked on, and there is every chance he will perish in the attempt to reach his goals.
Speaking of book 2, did you plan out the series’ first or did it develop organically as you wrote it?
I had originally thought Blood of Heirs would finish where Legacy does! As I wrote book 1 I realised quickly that I needed more time to tell this story, and it stretched into two books. I’d always known the main plots and character lines, but a lot of the other stuff that happens along the way was unplanned and organic. There are characters with big parts that weren’t ever in the plan!!
What was your experience of self-publishing like?
Scary and stressful! Haha! It’s been challenging and eye opening, but I have the most amazing friends who have mentored me along the way. No publishing pathway is easy or ‘better’ than another, and while the idea of being traditionally published appeals, it has its own drawbacks.
I’ve loved the freedom to choose my production team, having veto rights on covers or launch dates, making editorial choices myself without the need to abide by someone else’s expectations, and that is the great thing about self pub. But I’m terrible at the business side of things!!
What can we expect in the future from you? More books in this series?
We’ve got one more book in this trilogy; Empire of Shadows. All the conflicts come to a head and our characters have difficult choices and challenges ahead. And we’ll get to see a whole new part of the world we haven’t been to yet — the Woaden Empire—which as until now only been a looming spectre on the horizon.
After that, we’re going to kick of a new story out in the archipelago—The Smuggler’s Daughter—a tale of pirates and politics and world-altering threats!
Did you always want to be an author? If so, who inspired you?
I wanted to tell stories, always. Either through acting or writing or painting or making little movies. It was an innate, obsessive drive. Also, I can’t stop the voices, so it’s either write it down or go utterly bananas. Some might say I went off the deep end long ago, and I can’t say they aren’t wrong!
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Join your community. Be active, be kind, be awesome. Don’t be a dick. Keep writing. Don’t turn the stove on when you’re writing. Remember to drink the coffee before it gets cold. Never assume you know everything and always be willing to learn. Get a cat or a dog—they will sustain you.
Lastly, what are your favourite fantasy books?
I read a lot of Juliet Marillier when I was younger! I just adore her work. I devour Matthew Reilly books, though they aren’t fantasy. I was inspired to push my characters harder and further by Mark Lawrence and Anna Stephens. I learn something new from every author I read, and there aren’t really words to express how grateful I am for that.
That’s it for today. Massive thank you to Alicia Wanstall-Burke for agreeing to this interview. This was my first author interview so I was little nervous but I’m happy I reached out. Have you guys read Blood of Heirs? I highly recommend checking it out. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.