I hear you saying “It’s been forever!” and “We thought you forgot!”, but I assure you, nothing could be further from the truth. (well, ok, maybe you are slightly on the money, but I refute forgotten and forever). I do, however, agree that it’s been some time since I put some lucky writer In The Lime Light, but as holidays will take over any free moment one might have in ones schedule, I’m sure you understand. Be that as it may and notwithstanding, I should like to introduce you to fellow author and blogger, Lela Markham, who I met through the tweets and twitterings of Twitter. She and I recently spent some time chatting about writing, our books, and the joys (and trials ) of self-publishing. (not to mention the magic and wonder of Alaska) (curious? do read on!)
SO, without further Ado (yes yes, there I go again….)
Hello Lela, Please Tell me/us all About Yourself:
LELA: Hi, thanks for having me. My name is Lela Markham. I’m an Alaskan novelist and general rabble-rouser, which you will find is a character quality of many Alaskans. We sort of like to swing flaming sticks at hornet’s nests to see what comes out. I told stories from the time I could talk. If you write them down, it’s not considered lying. I have a husband and two adult-adjacent children and an ancient husky who keeps a yellow Lab as a pet. I work full-time as an administrator for the State of Alaska and squeeze fiction writing and publishing into my spare time.
Tell us about your Blog.
LELA: Aurorawatcherak is my main blog. I have blogs for each of my book series too, but they’re mostly book-oriented. Aurorawatcherak is sort of all over the map. My original purpose in starting it was to highlight my writing, but research for the Transformation Project took me toward examining political philosophy, which was good because I don’t think I’m enough of an expert on fiction writing that I could post more than four times a year on a writing topic and I think it’s really boring for readers to just keep seeing “Buy my book!”
For variety – and because I have a limited attention span — I bounce from political philosophy to my Christian faith, to insights in economics and history. Occasionally I examine the candidates and then sometimes I talk about my writing. I’m participating in the Open Book Blog Hop these days, which has me writing about totally-not-me topics on Mondays and then focusing on Thankfulness and now Courage on Thursdays. On Wednesdays I post an author interview and maybe portions of my WIP. It’s really got a raven’s nest flavor to it – whatever the shiny object is at the moment. Although I have very strong opinions on political philosophy, I am not into partisan politics. I’m a registered non-partisan and with libertarian (small l deliberate), voluntarists and anarcho-capitalist leanings, so I think I’m a little unique that way.
That’s quite a mouthful and explains a bit about What Inspires and stirs your creativity, but please tell us more?
LELA: Several things. First, God and my relationship with Him. Jesus Christ is my Muse with some augmentation by music, books, newspaper stories, and people on the street that I pretend not to stare at or listen to their conversations. The world is filled with stories and finding those and bringing them together in unique ways is what really sets my creativity on fire.
What Message, if any, do you hope to Share through your blog/posts?
LELA: Well, speaking strictly about my blog – I think that people should set aside political designations (Republican, Democrat, whatever) to decide for themselves what they believe on a particular issue and to know that liberty means you don’ have to mold yourself to your neighbors’ vision of society, but that also means that you cannot force your neighbor to mold himself to your utopia. We can influence one another through debate, but whenever we use the coercive power of government to make laws that we expect other people to comply with against their wills, we are making ourselves into tyrants at the expensive of liberty. Yeah, there have to be some rules, but pretty much boil down to don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t aggress against someone else’s property and fulfill your obligations – which is the basis for natural law. If we all just stopped and asked ourselves if what we are doing contradicts natural law and accept that when we violate those basic few rules our neighbors do have a right to object and even punish us or ban us, this would be a whole lot more free and civil society than it currently is and we wouldn’t need to run an annual deficit of over $1 trillion.
What are your Dreams for the Future in regards to your Blog and your work?
LELA: The blog will probably go on being my Raven’s Nest. I sort of like doing it that way. I think it’s entertaining. I am trying to get to a place this year where I riff on the non-partisan theme. Yeah, there are a couple of the Republican candidates that I might vote for in the primary, but I am currently planning to vote third-party in November because so far neither major party has shown me that it gives a damn about the United States or has any intentions of preventing the hard economic crash that our spendthrift fiscal policies are guaranteeing. When I ask myself “Do I want that candidate (male, female, Democratic or Republican) to be President when the Greatest Depression hits?”, I shudder and want to crawl under my bed to hide. There are a couple of them that I think could soften the blow, but I don’t think there’s a hero on the horizon and there are one or two of them who would be absolute disasters in the coming crisis. The more liberal candidates of both parties lack the understanding of economics and history to weather this coming storm and Donald Trump scares the stockings off of me.
I don’t expect my little following of 600 people to do anything to change the election results, but I’m hoping some people will read what I wrote and, when the fecal matter hits the oscillating rotor, remember that there is a road less traveled that we might find more pleasant if we’d just give it a try … if we even have the liberty left to try it.
Sadly true, but being bold, you have written and released some books: Tell us All About Your Book(s):
LELA: Right now I have two series in progress. Daermad Cycle is an epic fantasy with medieval Celtic influences set in an alternate universe with elves, dragons, vengeful goddesses, manipulative mages, and a fractured kingdom about to be devoured by a greater enemy. The Willow Branch came out in 2014 and Mirklin Wood is scheduled for publication in March of 2016. I left a bunch of cliff-hangers at the end of The Willow Branch, some of which I will resolve, but then I’ll probably leave some more at the end of Mirklin Wood. It’s a tradition epic fantasy pitting good and evil against one another with I hope some unique perspectives. I get to explore language and mythology, which I am very much enjoying.
Transformation Project is set in the American Midwest. It’s an action adventure apocalyptic headed toward dystopian. In Life As We Knew It, terrorists blew up several American cities in simultaneous attacks. I ended it with everyone hunkering down to wait out the radiation. In Objects in View, we get to see how well the government copes with the disruption in their standard operating procedure as my townsfolks forge their own disaster plan. The series is definitely designed to explore some of those anarchist themes that I flirt with in my real life. LAWKI came out in March 2015. Objects in View should come out in the fall.
I have several others works-in-progress that I hope to someday publish, but these two are taking most of my attention right now.
What genre do you prefer to write or are you truly eclectic?
LELA: I am extremely eclectic. I love fantasy, but find that I need the release of writing other genres. If I tried to hold myself to just one, I think I’d stagnate and my production would go down. There are a couple of genres that I don’t read and therefore don’t write, but I have about five genres I write in often.
Do you painstakingly plot out your story; are you a discovery writer or a bit of both? Why?
LELA: I’m a discovery writer and that is a function of being a character-driven writer. I am really recording the story as my characters reveal it to me. After I have the basic bones of the book of the first half of the book, I do outline for continuity sake and I decide how my characters are going to get to the end … or since I write series, how they are going to get to the next threshold. The outline often reveals the milestones the characters must meet to reach that threshold. Certain characters have to engage in certain conversations and events in order to get to that point, so the outline makes sure that happens. But that typically doesn’t exist until after the rough draft is complete. I have a process of write, rewrite with outline, edit.
I love what you’ve said about your characters revealing the story to you. This is how I write as well. Can you also Share an insight or secret about your book(s)?
LELA: Islamic fundamentalists have almost nothing to do with the terrorism in Transformation Project and my characters are wrong even in their guesses of who might have done this horrible thing.
Who is your favourite/least favourite character & why?
LELA: Now that’s like asking a parent to choose between their children which is their favorite!
In Daermad Cycle it is Lady Lydya of Clarcom. She’s a very strong woman who loves her children fiercely and would walk through fire to accomplish what is right, but she’s also a woman of character. The men in the series talk about honor a lot … she embodies it.
In Transformation Project it has to be Jazz Tully because she is somewhat based on me when I was about her age, so she’s pretty easy to write.
My least favorite character is either Talidd or Gil in Daermad Cycle. They’re both very dark characters and hard to write. Especially with Talidd, I often feel like a need a shower after I’ve written a scene.
I have my favs/least fav in my story as well. It does help to make the characters relatable though, right? What do you feel is your best advice to share with other aspiring authors?
LELA: Read everything you can get your hands on, including crap because that will teach you what not to write. Buy a dictionary and a thesaurus (or get them on line) and read them like they were a novel. Research everything. If your character is opening the back of a delivery truck, research connex boxes so you know what the parts are called and how they work. You don’t want some truck driver who spent good money buying your book to have his willing suspension of disbelief destroyed by your ham-handed writing.
And now, the part most people find a bit more Challenging….Lets hear About YOU:
Describe yourself in Five Words.
LELA: Adventuresome. Determined. Opinionated. Committed. Imaginative.
If you could meet one person from the past, who might it be and why?
LELA: Paul the apostle because I would love to sit down and talk theology with him and have him explain some of the passages he wrote that I struggle with.
Agreed, as I often feel my head spinning when I read the new testament. When you are not writing/taking pictures, what is your favourite pastime?
LELA: Well, living in Alaska, we have two seasons – indoor and outdoor. They don’t really have much in common. So favorite outdoor pastime is hiking. My husband’s nickname is Ridgewalker, so we’ve seen a lot of 300-degree vistas. We’re not mountaineers … we leave that craziness to the truly fit … but if you can make it to the top of it in an overnight camping/hiking trip, we’ve been there and not just in Alaska.
Favorite winter time, not writing pastime – I could just say reading, but that would be a cheap selection because it’s really writing-related – so it’s probably quilting. It’s like doing a collage, bringing together different patterns and colors in a mosaic that you really don’t fully see until right at the end and then … wow! And then you have this practical artwork for your beds, couches, chairs … I’ve got one that serves as a rug on my side of the bed. I love that kind of practice creativity.
And following that lead, can you Describe Your Perfect Day . What makes it Perfect and Why?
LELA: A perfect day would be one mostly spent with family and friends doing something moderately athletic – hiking, canoeing, building a cabin or collecting firewood – that ends at a warm springs near Fairbanks (called Chena Hot Springs) followed by a relaxing dinner and feet up at a nearby cabin. I’d gain some ideas for writing, but also interact with people in a companionable and relaxed way.
What makes Life Worth Living?
LELA: Jesus Christ crucified and living in my heart eternally. Everything in my life comes back to my faith and when all is said and done, there is nothing of higher value that I possess or that possesses me. It’s what makes living in a family tolerable and sometimes lovely, it inspires my writing, it keeps me from committing a road-rage atrocity on the drive home … it’s just everything. It’s the sundae, the whip cream, and the cherry on top.
Where can we find what you’ve written?
Main website: https://aurorawatcherak.wordpress.com/
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Lela-Markham/e/B00OQWYP68/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1452735955&sr=1-1
Daermad Cycle: https://thewillowbranchbookonedaermadcycle.wordpress.com/
Transformation Project: https://transformationseries.wordpress.com/
Thanks Ever so much for sharing yourself and your dreams with us, Lela 🙂 Best wishes and much success, not to mention many Blissful days in the Alaska haze 🙂