• A. A. Warne

A Fantasy Christmas Anthology

A. A. Warne: Hello! Welcome to the Writer’s Corner, where we talk all things writing in our corner of the world! Today is going to be very different. We have 13 authors who have collaborated into one huge anthology. Where abouts are you in this big wide world? 

Ezra: I come from Charlotte, NC, the Queen City! It’s a mythical place in the American South where “true” Southerners say we’re Yankees and actual Northerners think we’re country-folk, but really we’re just a healthy middle.

Rose: I’m originally from southern California, but I have lived in many places. My favorite was living in Japan. I’ve used some of those experiences in my writing. Currently, I live in north Florida with my writing partner and best friend, Aörali Eden.

Michelle: Tennessee. Super south and super country. 

Haskell: I’m in Tennessee too, I live very close to Michelle. Very.

Deanna: I grew up in the tiny town of Aztec New Mexico, but now live in northern Utah by the Great Salt Lake. 

Dragonness: Baltimore, born and raised.

Pam: Ridiculously close to sea level, also known as the Netherlands. Not Holland, mind you. There’s actually a difference.

Kieran: Yellowknife, Canada, where much of the year is spent holed up in the basement with Netflix and Tim Hortons to wait out the feet-high snow drifts and marauding wendigos. 

Serena:        I live in beautiful New Zealand, also known as Middle Earth, which I explore in my Housetruck, my little hobbit home on wheels.

Josh: I’m here in the middle of the US, living in the country in central Iowa, just south of Des


Laura: I’m from the Midwest of the US in South Dakota. It snows here half the year, and burns the other half. Oh, and don’t forget about tornadoes in the summer.

E. S.: I’m originally from Australia but I move around a fair bit. Currently I’m near Copenhagen, Denmark.

A. A. Warne: Can you tell us what your story is about?

Ezra: “Half Chained, Entirely Unwanted” is about the restraints which holds us back. In the story they are partly the physical boundaries of imposing walls and a dark forest, but the more powerful restrictions come in the form of an abusive family and the fear of failure. Zara and her brother must learn to break those chains first before their efforts to escape the tangible boundaries have any chance of success.

Rose: “The Faded Photograph” is about finding love and hope even through the deepest pain. It also deals with the traumas of loss and survivor’s guilt. But don’t worry, there is a happy ending! 

Michelle: “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Tinkmas” is about one of my main character main squeezes Tink. It follows her through a

Deanna: “Late to the Party” is a fun story about a dragon delivery that goes horribly wrong. 

Dragonness: “A Solstice Promise” is about a merging of holiday traditions. I love hearing about the different customs and traditions in different families around the holiday season, and I thought it would be fun to show how those traditions can blend to show something beautiful and new.

Pam: “Winter Gardens” is about the struggles of a gardener in a world where plants are sentient and are able to walk. When he tries to tame a wild redwood, one of his own trees goes rogue - and accidentally starts a famous Christmas tradition.

Kieran: “The Snows at Asrum” is heavily inspired by trench warfare along the western front during World War One, specifically the Christmas Truce of 1914. While it takes place in a different world, the story mirrors the horrors of the real war, as well as the brief but inspiring moment of humanity seen during the Truce.

Serena:          “A Heist, a Unicorn and a Prophecy,” is the story of my Elven hunter, Taramon, pulling off a heist with the help of some friends, including his unicorn. 

Josh: “For All The Clainsmyth” is one of those tales where I made up the holiday as a winter solstice holiday.  I think it’s a combination of things like Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’, ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Willow’, and probably a few other things. Ha! I hope that it has the right mix of dark and light, but I knew I wanted the ending to be uplifting. 

Haskell: NO.

Laura: “Folly Among the Holly” is about finding family even among friends. It’s about finding love from others and within yourself.

E. S.: “Hunter’s Moon” is almost an anti-Christmas story, if I’m honest. The main character, Cassia, has some hang-ups about the Hunter’s Moon festival, and I doubt she will be any less affected by them after the events of this story. But there are some nice, heartwarming moments, for her and her friends, so who knows. At its core, my story is about finding peace among the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.

A. A. Warne: Do these stories belong to a bigger world?

Ezra: Yes. Ten years after the events of “Half Chained” Zara, her brother Zaiyel, and the mysterious Zarr in Red return as major characters in my upcoming novel, The Harvest Ring, set for release in 2020.

Rose: Yes. A universe where there are many worlds and many stories to be told. And where the Fates are not revered for their interference in the lives they govern.

Dragonness: Absolutely! “A Solstice Promise” takes place on a world called “Anrachel,” a place that is featured quite prominently on my blog, Blotted Ink. The characters, Scota, Shyftin, Agrona, and Chroniclus, are also featured heavily in various short stories there as well. I also plan to take the world and the characters into full-fledged novels.

Pam: Oh no, this was just a fun experiment.

Kieran: Yes, you could call it a prequel to a trilogy of novels I’m working on. As with the story it’s set in a fantasy world based on our own during the early 20th century, specifically the First World War. While the story is set during the early months of the war, the novels will take place a couple years in. 

Serena: Yes! This story is a short prequel to my epic fantasy trilogy. Taramon is the male main character of my trilogy, and the prophecy he steals in this short story is about Shenedar, the female main character. Expect a lot more action, humor and some forbidden romance in The Oath and the Blade, the first book of the Talandon Trilogy.     

Josh: You know, I wrote this one pretty quick, because I came in very late in the game. I think the entire first draft was something like, three days!  It was like lightning, but there they were; probably close to twenty named characters, a whole realm, a winter solstice holiday, and then I had to give it a beginning, a middle, and ending. It definitely took longer to revise it than to write it, but once I had the first draft and I was revising it, I decided that sometime in the future, this needs to be a longer work, with a lot more depth and a bigger world around it. Will it somehow blend in with my Wolfshire series? Perhaps, but I’m not entirely sure just yet.

Haskell: Yes. When I was offered a spot in this Anthology, I wasn’t sure what I would write. One of the books I am working on with Michelle is going to be about a prince and a Finder. This was a Chance to show a little of Aelynn’s character.

Laura: It’s possible in the future I’ll expand this short into something more. I have many ideas which could morph it into a full blown novel. Or three.

E. S.: Yep! I absolutely love world building, so it was lovely to have an avenue to express a more relaxed aspect of my world. Anukthar is a very ancient secret city, part of a vast continent with a whole bunch of different cultures and landscapes. And that’s just one continent in the world! If you could only see the maps and notes I have… well, you’d probably question my sanity, but I hope you’d be interested too.

A. A. Warne: What does your writing process look like?

Ezra: Like the Zarrs in my stories, I do my best work in the dead of night. There’s something about the dark that frees my muse. For the process itself, I sit down and type. There’s scarcely more to it.

Rose: Heh, well, that just depends. I have several processes. First is the hide and write with my dog, music, and coffee as my only company. This usually happens either early morning or late at night. If I am writing with my partner, it’s usually when we can either have the house to ourselves or we barricade ourselves in her room and just write, again with music. 

Dragonness: It changes from day to day. I have an office set up for daily writing, but I tend to travel with my work. I keep at least five notebooks in my purse (along with twenty-seven pens) so that I can jot down scenes and ideas as they come to me.

Pam: It differs per story. If I have a strict word limit, I plot the story much more and make a lot of summaries. I have a tendency to make stories far longer than they should be. For longer stories, I have a vague idea of where I want to go and just follow along with what the characters are doing. They tend to screw up their own lives much more than I can think of in advance, haha! I try to write as much as I can digitally, because my handwriting is terrible. I do carry a notebook with me in case an idea pops up, though.

Kieran: I write best early in the morning or late at night. As far as outlining goes, I’ll write a

loose one that gives the story a general direction while still leaving room to change things or explore other options. Then it’s just finding a space and getting to work.

Serena: I write whenever I can, in the little bits of time I find. I write on my phone, my laptop, in a notebook, up a tree, on a horse, on a dragon- oh that last one was just my imagination. Some day I'd like to have more time to dedicate to writing. 

Josh: I’ve been doing it for a long time! Only recently have I been pretty active about getting them ready to publish. I’d say, though, that at least in part, I have taken some advice from some guy named Stephen King- just write it.  When it comes to the first draft, just get that stuff on the page. All the minutiae and detail of things like world-building and such can be worked and fine tuned in revisions. So I have a tendency to not agonize over things like a detailed outline.  I may make a general outline and have tons of scraps of paper hanging around with notes, but in general, I’m just there hammering on my keyboard with this big stupid grin on my face.

Haskell: That’s a good question.

Laura: I find I write best late at night with only my kitty to keep my company. Lately I’ve begun writing by hand again as the feel of pen to paper helps my ideas flow better. 

E. S.: I just write. I sit and a tap away and I get it done. I’ve never had much in the way of muse or inspiration for writing, that all dries up the second I sit down to actually do it, so it’s more of a mechanical process for me. Plus, being a visual artist primarily, I see it in my head very clearly. Putting it into words gets easier and easier the more I practice.

A. A. Warne: Can you describe your writing space? What makes it uniquely you?

Ezra: The canvas of my house is stark black and white with rare moments of singular, bold color. Cleanliness is next to godliness, they say, and I for one cannot think straight in the midst of clutter.

Dragonness: My writing space is currently a child’s desk surrounded by four bookcases. The wall my desk faces is covered with bulletin boards that I keep updated with character sketches, various notes, outlines, and inspirational buttons. It helps keep me in “the zone” when writing--and it’s fun to show visitors because it looks like I’m an insane conspiracy theorist.

Pam: Either the dining table or the corner of the couch. Why? Because there are wall sockets nearby and my tabtop (tablet-laptop hybrid, or a computer with an identity crisis) doesn’t come with a long power cord. My living room has a strong fantasy feel to it. It’s filled with swords, axes, crossbows, old maps, animal skins, dragon statues, candle holders and even a little fairy house.

Kieran: I’ve been lucky enough to live within walking distance of some really nice coffee

shops, so I like to go to those, get a drink, then listen to music that matches the vibe of what I’m working on. If that’s not possible, I just do the same thing at home. Nothing fancy.

Serena: When I had an office, (before we moved into our housetruck tiny home), I had the space above my desk plastered with Lord of the Rings posters, inspiring quotes, landscapes, mountain stones I'd collected, etc. Now in my Luton bedroom/office, I have my three bows and a bunch of arrows, my model horses to represent the horse characters in my trilogy, my Lord of the Rings figurines and a teapot and cup just because they're red.

Josh: I really don’t have just one. I am fortunate to have a bill-paying job where they allow me to have my laptop with me. I get bunches of writing done there, and in that way, but I do find my cluttered office to be the right environment when I can write there-to be honest, usually when I’m at home, it’s taking care of home, or doing the things I can’t do on work days (I play a LOT of guitar, and I work with others on films). So in terms of some sort of ‘writing cave’ or something, I don’t have one.

Laura: My office is currently being painted and the floors redone so I’m sharing my husband’s office. I’m usually in my comfy chair with a lap desk to prop my notebook, or laptop, up high enough to be comfortable.

E. S.: Wherever I am is my writing space. Sometimes at my desk, sometimes on my couch, at my dinner table. But I’ve written on the train and during breaks on hikes as well. I am the unique element in my writing space; wherever I am, I write.

A. A. Warne: What is your writing kryptonite? 

Ezra: I must confess, I go down Youtube rabbit holes filled exclusively with Kpop music videos. It’s a special kind of Wonderland in which Alice would find herself just as confused, but me, I am the Mad Hatter of that land!

Rose: Pinterest, definitely! Though I have to say I’ve gotten some great character and story ideas from that lovely rabbit hole. Another thing that keeps me from writing is being interrupted. If I am in the zone, just leave me be. I mean it. I bite! *laughs*

Dragonness: Netflix, Hulu, HBO…. Basically streaming services of any kind. I’m currently cycling through “Psych,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Bones.”

Serena: Kids! I love my darlings, but I can never give them as much attention as they crave, so it's sometimes a battle to get writing time for me. 

Josh: Certainly, the distractions of the internet are a huge hazard when trying to write, but I find that sometimes I need to look up a particular word, or quickly research a weapon, or some aspect of a castle, so not having the internet around is a no-no.  But Kryptonite? I think I could sum it up by saying- OTHER PEOPLE. If other people are around, they’re usually my biggest distraction, because I like to disappear into whatever world I’m writing about, and someone wanting to talk kills that.

Haskell: I literally have all of the hobbies. I am a firefighter who works 24 hour shifts, three beautiful monsters, and a son, I am in school full time, and I love to play video games with my oldest monster, Michelle. So writing happens, but sporadically.

Laura: Streaming services and people. One demands my attention, and the other grabs my attention.

E. S.: I have an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s that makes me super sleepy most days. So, unnatural sleep, I guess. 

A. A. Warne: What kind of research do you do? And how long do you spend researching before starting to write the book?

Ezra: Research should be like the insides of a wall. Insulation, studs, electrical wiring, and plumbing--they’re critical to the performance of a building, but no one should think about them when they step into a room. I dig into topics far enough as to write a believable world, but not so far as to overshadow the kernel of wonder behind an idea.

Pam: If I would do research in advance, I’ll end up on Wikipedia, click every link I can find, and never leave the place. I would never finish a book… Instead, I do research when I run into a knowledge gap during my writing and I’ll stop doing research once that gap is filled. I still spend too much time on Wikipedia, though.

Kieran: Always at least some, but it depends on the project. For this WWI fantasy trilogy, I’m still researching. I’m doing a lot more than I normally would for that because it deals with such a major historical event. For most stories, I’ll just do a little to get started, and then constantly get sidetracked Googling minor details I didn’t think of. Probably a habit I should try and break. 

Serena: I love researching subjects I'm interested in. I already have a huge store of knowledge from my life experiences and things I was into growing up; horses, Bushcraft, animals, survival, medieval life, history, etc. I add to it anytime I need to, or come across something new that sparks my interest. And before you know it, my books have grown again, lol.

Josh: Oh, I’d never wait until I had all the research done to get started, ever.  And I’d never recommend that to anyone else. You’re wasting the energy of excitement about a new idea if you stall out to do a bunch of research.  Start writing! You can always pause to look something up or answer one of your own questions, but you cannot replace that giddy, “Oh, this is a good one!” feeling when you come up with a new idea. I have a tendency to do research when I wade into something I don’t know about (like, say… sailing ships), or if I’m wanting to make something really detailed.  Sometimes, the research CREATES an idea. I have a horror story I’m starting right now which came about because I randomly happened across an old Natve American legend and thought, ‘wow! This is terrifying!’. Within minutes I’d come up with the setting, characters, general plot, and I was off!

Haskell: Research? I know everything.

Laura: I’m a research as I go kind of gal. When an idea hits me, I start writing before I lose interest in it and when I don’t know something, I look it. And then get stuck looking other things up.

E. S.: I listen to history podcasts for fun, I travel for fun, and I’m pretty deep in the rootwork and witchcraft communities online. Those things have held true for most of my life (well, books before there were podcasts, but still) so it doesn’t really feel like research. Beyond that, just the usual stuff - random areas of mathematics as and when I need them for estimating journey lengths, some herbalism if I spot a nice plant in the forest I want to put in my stories, that sort of thing.

A. A. Warne: How many unpublished, half-finished novels do you have right now?

Rose: *looks around, leans close and whispers* Um, too many? *grins* Seriously, we have several in various stages of being written. Some are only notes, some plotted, some are written but mellowing or in need of rewrites because of plot changes or additions. The nice thing about this is that we can sit down and work on any of these at any given time and it keeps us moving when writer’s block or in our world, fatigue hits. 

Dragonness: I have one novel that I’m currently pitching to agents, and two novels in the development stage. One is halfway through its rough draft, the other is a third through its rewrite. 

Pam: I’m working on a big, fat, fantasy trilogy. You know, the kind that will break your toes when you drop it on them. 99% of it is on digital paper, and some bits are fully edited while other chapters still need to be rewritten entirely.

Kieran: Well, there’s this trilogy, then the standalone sequel novel set a few decades later, then there’s an unrelated trilogy I have planned, then a solo book which ties into that, then a few other standalones… 

Serena: A few stand alones stuffed in my treasure hoard. Maybe I'll get to finish them after my trilogy.

Josh: Unpublished?  Currently most everything.  Unfinished? If we’re not talking about just ideas, but are dealing with things I’ve actually started typing on, it’s probably around a dozen things split between dramas, horror, and even a romance novel! In terms of Wolfshire, I recently decided to cap the main series around forty books.  I have fourteen complete drafts that are either first drafts or some form of revision. Number fifteen is about ¾ of the way there, and sixteen through twenty there are lots of parts. Books twenty one through thirty are ‘designed’, I would call it. I know the overall arc from 21-30, and I have many ideas, notes, summaries, etc.  Thirty one to forty? Again, the overall arc is there with lots of notes, some things written, but lots to go. So short answer? Lots of things not finished. 

Haskell: Yes.

Laura: Many to put it simply. My main series is currently being written while other ideas clamor inside my head distracting me.

E. S.: Unpublished? Six. Unfinished? Only one, the one I’m working on now. I don’t tend to write more than one at once. I don’t tend to be working on them long enough to juggle multiples. On my good days I can smash out around 15k words of draft, or around 10k if I’m editing. My books all hover around 100k-150k words. The actual writing is very quick - it’s everything else that trips me up!

A. A. Warne: What are you reading right now?

Ezra: I love to support indie authors and currently I am reading The Elementalist: Rise of Hara by T.M. White.

Dragonness: I’m currently reading House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig. It’s an excellent, spooky read that’s a twisted version of the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

Pam: The Fall of Gondolin by Master Tolkien.

Kieran: All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and The Brotherhood by Philip Smith.

Serena: I'm reading Echoes in the void, by Liberty Speidel

Josh: One of the most shocking things to people who read my stuff is, I don’t read that

much, and it’s often non-fiction when I do. If I want literature, I have a tendency to listen to an audio book, but the last book I actually read was a book written by a friend called Asunder by Liz Steinworth. Otherwise, it was probably some biography or book about weather or sharks. Ha ha!

Laura: I’m reading Green Rider by Kristen Britain.

E. S.: I’m cycling between Trolldom by Johannes Björn Gårdbäck, which is about Scandinavian folk magic; Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes by Tamim Ansary, which is, well, exactly what the subtitle says; and Byzantine Cavalryman C.900–1204 by Timothy Dawson, which is also exactly what the title implies. 

A. A. Warne: Have you ever gotten reader’s block?

Josh: Frequently. It’s easy to talk myself out of writing with a guitar nearby.

Haskell: No. I love to read.

E. S.: I’ve had reader’s block for about four years now. I’m not sure why. I think partially I’m just tired. I’ve been reading the three I’ve been reading for over three months now, nothing really catches my interest like it used to. I’m sure something will again one day though. 

A. A. Warne: Do you believe in writer’s block? Ever suffered from it?

Pam: I don’t know if it’s the same, but I believe in a lack of motivation and inspiration. And yes, I’ve suffered from it, but my solution is simple: go do something else. If I don’t like to write, or don’t know what to write, I’ll paint. If I don’t like to paint, I’ll write. “Write every day” is the worst writing advice for me, because I need a break every now and then to reset my brain and get those creative juices flowing again.

Josh: Oh yeah… And usually it happens after I finish a writing project, then decide I’m just going to move on into the next one. But inevitably, it’s like the amount of energy to finish the last one kind of takes away the mental energy to write, for me. Usually at that point, it’s time to concentrate on something else- I found that I like to paint and draw. Of course there’s music, but sometimes it’s things like getting out and hiking, just hanging out with friends, or getting into fights on the internet over trivial stuff. : ) 

E. S.: I don’t believe in it for myself, but I suspect my experience of writing is different to a lot of people’s. I can’t feel the absence of muse or inspiration, because I never feel those things to begin with, at least not with the actual writing side of things.

A. A. Warne: What is the most difficult part of the writing process?

Ezra: Self-discipline. With practice, brainstorming, drafting, and editing are as simple and second nature as shifting in a manual transmission car. Unfortunately, there are so many good stories available to binge that I often don’t have the restraint to focus on producing my own. It’s a self-imposed hard life.

Rose: For us it is time. Our day job work schedules are difficult to work around but we make time for us to sit down together and write.

Pam: I have problems coming up with endings, which sometimes stops me from starting to write the story (especially short ones). Oh, and social media. Too much of a distraction. 

Kieran: Focus. I’m very easily distractible, though it’s not as bad once I get into a groove.

Serena: I have had times I couldn't write, I think you could call it writer's block. There's a lot of stuff that can keep us from writing; depression, stress, exhaustion, fear, sentient trees, angry dragons. Ok, the last two are less common. Seriously, though, we have to look after our physical selves and our creative selves, if we expect to make good work. Feed our souls, nurture our passions, protect our spirits. And don't piss off any ents or dragons.

Josh: The publishing part.  I have been a storyteller as long as I can remember, and I

absolutely LOVE entertaining people. To me, there’s nothing better than introducing people to a world and characters I’ve created. But the nuts and bolts (and money) of the publishing world is what bogs me down.

Haskell: rewrites, i’m lazy.

Laura: Focus is a big one for me. I find it difficult to concentrate on one thing for an extended period of time. 

E. S.: I speak too many languages and get right shirty when I realise the phrase or expression I’m thinking of doesn’t have an English equivalent. It’d be nice if I was properly fluent in at least one of them, but I’m not, I just speak half of a few.

A. A. Warne: Tea? Coffee? Or other? And why?

Ezra: Hands down, coffee, but throw in cream, kahlua, and vodka...oh wait, it’s a White Russian.

Rose: Coffee. Coffee. More coffee. Did I mention coffee?

Pam: Mead. Or just water. And occasionally tea. You’ll not find coffee in my house; the boyfriend and I don’t like it. I must be a very rare human: a writer who doesn’t drink coffee... 

Kieran: Coffee. 

Serena: Coffee, the earthy smell of hopes and dreams with a bit of milk in the morning. Or at lunch. Or afternoon tea. Or late at night when I really shouldn't…

Josh: Good question! I drink a lot of water, but I like a lot of other things, ranging from simple lemonade to very aged scotch. I don’t think any of them really has any bearing on my writing, but lots of different drinks interest me.

Haskell: Coffee. Black. Tea, also black. Scotch, neat.

Laura: Water as I don’t like the smell of coffee. And I’m not a fan of tea either.

E. S.: Tea - coffee is bad news bears for me, makes me feel like I’m dissolving upwards in my mind. Not in a fun way.

A. A. Warne: How do you select names for your characters?

Ezra: The cultures in my stories all have base inspirations. Sometimes I select a real world culture, other times it’s a mythology, or even the taxonomy of spiders! I like the national and ethnic groups in my fictional world all to sound distinct, much like we can immediately recognize French, Japanese, and Latin names as being unique from one another. Within those rules, the names are chosen by feel.

Rose: Hmm, honestly it depends. Some of my characters give me their names. Thannor, for instance, that elf loves to tell me exactly what he thinks… All day, every day. My own personal little devil on my shoulder. There are others, however that have had thought and planning go into their names, and usually there is meaning behind the names. 

Dragonness: The names I choose are often misspelled versions of other words. For example, I thought of the name Shyftin after seeing the phrase “Shift In” on the chalkboard of one my college classes. Chroniclus is a misspelling of “chronicles.”

Pam: Depends on the language they speak. I know which sounds are common in their language, then do some keyboard bashing with those sounds until something pops up that could be used as a name. I don’t develop languages in detail, though, just the sounds that make them distinct.

Kieran: Most of the cultures in my setting are at least partially based on real cultures, so I just use names from those. If they come from a culture not based on a real one, then I just try to come up with something which fits the character.

Serena: Through a convoluted process of googling names and meanings, imagining characters, chopping up names and sticking them together differently, googling again… using misspelled words, accidental mispronounced words, so many sources.

Josh: This will sound oversimplified at first, but for a lot of them in the fantasy setting, I just… make up something that sounds cool. You have to be careful with that, and as I’ve learned, say them out loud. I had a character with a certain name that I’d been using for a decade, but during a review with a friend, I said it out loud and immediately thought “Oh. No. I don’t like that at all.” Over time, certain factors played in like, I’m not going to have an orc named Tom, just based on the world-building I’ve done around my series. Hobgoblins have no vowels in their names. Humans may have different names based on where they are.  Some of my characters’ names are very familiar- I have a Geoff, a Travis. But some of them, like Saegeal, were names just made up. Some of these names go back to when a handful of the characters were created in the late 80s.

Haskell: I find that if I write them, they tend to name themselves. Occasionally it is story based.

Laura: I often come up with the names myself. Sometimes I’ll turn to Google when I’m stumped and take something, twist it, and make it my own. Rarely, my characters will tell me what they want to be called.

E. S.: Mostly they just come to me randomly. I’m bad for having dozens of fully-fleshed but nameless characters wandering around in my head - they get names only when they need them, and not a moment sooner, but thankfully so far they’ve all come easily. 

A. A. Warne: Have you ever based a character on someone you know? Did you ever tell them?

Ezra: Once. It made me feel uncomfortable and I completely revamped her character for that reason alone! I never told her. That would have been embarrassing.

Kieran: No, that feels really weird to me for some reason. The closest I get is that I might

base a character partly on a historical figure or a famous person.

Serena: I named a lesser POV character after a friend, at his request. He's a spy/ninja, very loyal and funny. I didn't base his characteristics on the friend though.

Josh: Not the character, per se, but their look or voice, certainly. That’s a thing I started doing to help me review, because I read with more interest if there is an audio-visual tie to the words on the page. So, certain actors, models, musicians, and even some people I know have become my mental “cast” for mainly my Wolfshire series. A really memorable voice helps me out a lot, as does a really memorable look. There is an elf character that I told the guy I model him after, and he told me he was humbled by it, and hoped the character kicked much butt!

E. S.: Heheh… yes, but I haven’t told any of them. I will say no more on the matter.

To be continued...

A Fantasy Christmas: Tales from the Hearth is now available for pre-order: