So I'm so super stoked to have stumbled across this awesome author online, and even more stoked that she was totally cool with me sending her WAY too many questions for her to answer. (I love it when I get to have good, hard hitting conversations with authors and I'm so excited to be sharing this one with everyone!)
Anyways, science fiction, fantasy, teen angst and existential enlightenment, you can't go wrong with checking out this awesome author.
Please help me welcome:
Why did you first start writing? What was the inspiration for your first book?
I first started writing as an angsty teen, trying to sort out my emotions. At first it was mostly poetry, but by 14, I was writing full novels (which have never seen the light of day! HA!). When it came to Pendomus (Book 1 of the Pendomus Chronicles), the inspiration was a conglomeration of a lot of things. In part, the idea of the world and the main character, Runa, kinda just plunked into my head. I didn’t sit down and truly map it out. It was sorta as though she was ready to tell her story… In reading it, I find a lot of the things I enjoy in there—mystery, magic, technology, science fiction, fantasy, a bit of angsty dystopia still at play.
Did you ever consider traditional/self-publishing? Was there a reason you chose the way you did to go about publishing your works? Do you have any insights for future authors trying to make the same choice?
When I first started, it was just as self-publishing was starting to really hit the big time. In the beginning, I totally anticipated going a more traditional route, once I was finished. However, as I started building my author platform, I fell in with the indie/self-publishing crowd and realized I had the background and experience to make this work myself. I have worked in the retail side for bookstores, I worked in publishing, printing, marketing, and I am even a graphic designer. So for me, once I got over some of the drummed in ideas that self-published authors aren’t “real” authors, I jumped in and never looked back. When it comes to the insights for other authors still trying to decide, I think the key is to really determine the reasoning behind wanting to go traditional versus indie. If you have the know-how, or the desire to learn the ropes, you may find indie gives you far more control over your creative expression.
I’ve had this discussion over and over again, with many different writers starting out in their craft and I’ve never heard this answer before which is just beautiful: “Relevance happens when you walk in your authenticity, not when you’re chasing anything to take away the “lack of” in your life.” That’s a beautiful way to look at writing in a world where it’s all about the next big thing. Can you talk a little about what you mean by “your own authenticity”? I think that’s such an important thing for other writers to think about and would love to share that if you wouldn’t mind.
Not a problem at all! As a creative, as well as compassion-based human, I really struggle with the egocentric way our society has trained everyone to be on the hunt for the “next big thing.” The “hustle” mindset permeates so much of our world right now and while there’s some truth in getting your ass in gear and getting your work done, we, as creative people, have to stop comparing every little thing our peers are doing. A great quote I remind myself often of is, “Stop comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle.” And that’s so true. We’re all on a journey of discovery. We all want to be heard, and understood. Well, ain’t no one gonna be understood tryin’ to be someone else? Ya know? So walk your authenticity with a very simple mantra: Be you. Write what’s in your soul begging to be released and do it for you; no one else. Not everyone will like you. Not everyone will want to read your stuff or understand where you’re coming from. But you know what, who cares? I don’t like everyone on the planet, but those I do love—I love and respect deeply. I follow religiously. Those are the people you want to attract to you with your creativity. That’s the attention you’re seeking; the one’s who truly “get” you and want nothing more than to cheer on your success. Sometimes, being relevant to the masses means silencing the genius inside and that’s not where any of us are actually craving to be.
(You can read Carissa's article: “Fuck Being Relevant” for a more in-depth answer Here! https://www.carissaandrews.com/fuck-being-relevant/)
How many books do you have published now?
I have three books available for purchase at the moment, though technically only the first one is officially published. Pendomus (Book 1 of the Pendomus Chronicles) is available now in both digital and print formats. The second and third books are coming out October 10th 2017 ( Polarities – Book 2), and November 21st 2017 (Revolutions – Book 3).
Why did you choose to focus on a YA audience? In what ways can your novel transcend the traditional notions of YA literature and affect an adult readership as well?
When Pendomus first sorta landed in my head, Runa was about 12 years old in my mind, and not anywhere near the 17 year old she ended up at in the start of the series. I ended up veering toward the YA scene mostly because I found it to be a much more exploratory genre than any of the others. There’s a lot of leeway and give to the Teen and Young Adult genre that I just don’t see in other genres. They almost take themselves a bit too seriously. That being said, my audience for the Pendomus Chronicles is mostly made up of women (and I’ll get more specific and say mothers in their 30s). I think it’s because the series, while written clean enough for YA, still has adult themes and undertones. Not all of them are sexual in nature, but those certainly arise as well. Beyond that, it’s also an exploration of finding out who you are (through the main character Runa, and even those around her). By your late 20’s and early 30’s a lot of us are starting to question our decisions and wonder what our “real” purpose is in this life. Is it to be a Mom? To work non-stop? To deliver something beautiful. We’re on the hunt for authenticity and truth. This theme definitely resonates with those currently on that journey in their own lives.
Dawn is a really interesting part of the life cycle. It’s not quite day, but it’s no longer night. Things begin to build there and yet many things are blissfully unaware of the first light, asleep or only half-awake. When you were creating Pendomus, were you looking at the setting as a place of new beginnings, or of that in-between phase where nothing is certain?
The planet is tidally locked, and for me, the idea of that early morning light being frozen in place was an interesting one to toy with. What would it be like to always look outside and have it be perpetual dawn? I personally, love that time of day and the way the light filters through the trees—and in specific, during winter, the way the random snowflakes meander peacefully through the trees. It’s magical. Metaphorically speaking, perpetual dawn was also a symbolism for the story of Runa, and the planet of Pendomus as a whole. The entire system is on lockdown. So, while humanity wants to evolve, the planet wants to move forward, it can’t. Not until certain elements come together. Having that precipice of “the start” ties well throughout and will definitely make more sense as readers complete the series.
Names, in science fiction, fantasy, EVERYTHING, are always super important. (I’m a name geek, which sounds super weird, but I love them! Lol). How did you come up with Runa and Traeton? Did you look at a particular significance to the names when you chose them?
Oh, I’m a total nutjob when it comes to names, too. Everything has meaning. Runa, for instance, is the feminine form of the word (or name) Rune. It’s derived from the Old Norse word meaning “secret lore.” Traeton was a name that quite honestly, just showed up. I was writing the opening scenes with Runa and all of a sudden, this guy existed. I’ve looked up the meaning, but there’s nothing conclusive out there. As an interesting side note, though, Traeton likes being called Trae, and I’ve since stumbled upon the Liberal Redneck (as he’s called), Trae Crowder. How cool is that? Of course, I could go on and on about names and their choices—things like the Everblossom, Tree of Burden, Pillars, AirGliders, etc... They all have meaning and make sense when looking in on it with the full lens. But I will share the story of Pendomus’ name, for those who are unaware. Pendomus was actually created by me, based off of 2 Latin words Paene (meaning almost) and Domus (meaning home). However, when you combine these two together, Paene gets shortened to Pen. Thus… Pendomus. AKA: Almost Home. ;)
So, this is a three-book series at present. Do you plan on writing a book four, or will your next books feature the same characters? Or will your next works focus on a new world and new characters?
At the moment, I have no plans to write any more Pendomus books, but I’ve already told my BFF—I’ll never say never. Who knows? It might be fun to come back in a few years to prequel the series or do an afterward? Heck, maybe even a standalone companion. I just know that I’ve been wrapped up in this world in some way, shape, or form since 2010—so it’s time for me to move on and write something new for a bit.
Do you have any books in the works at the moment?
There’s always another book in the works… LOL! Whether or not it’s active, is another story. ;) I have 2 stories I’ve been toying with for a while, but I haven’t finished yet. Of course, now I have another fantasy novel bursting to get out, which I’ve only done the mapping for, but it’s pretty persistent. I may have to pick that one up as my NaNoWriMo novel for this year. I also have a non-fiction book I plan to map out and get written and possibly publish next year. A lot of the writing is already done, I just need to format it into something intelligible.
Any advice you’d offer up-and-comers looking to find their place in the literary world?
Stop looking. Seriously. You don’t need to find your place. You own it already, so act like it. Write the stories in your heart and mind and stay true to you. The more you do that (even if it takes years of going at it alone), your audience will find you.
And one random question just for fun: if you could be a sea goddess, what animal would you ride across the oceans to command the tides?
Okay, I gotta admit, I had to look up totem lunar animals. You can’t command the tides without being tied to the moon, right? Okay, so, based on my research, if I were a sea goddess looking to ride across the oceans to command the tides, I gotta get me an awesome dolphin. Their totem traits include: grace, power, playfulness, intelligence, compassion, social, duality, balance, curiosity, and restlessness. Who wouldn’t want to embrace all of that? Okay, maybe not so much the restlessness…but at least you don’t have time to get bored!
Thank you so much to Carissa for taking the time to talk with me.
Her second book, Polarities, goes LIVE everywhere on October 10, 2017! You can pre-order copies now at the links below!
I can't wait to see what else Carissa comes up with and shares and am so excited to pick up her newest book!
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You can also sign up for her blog here: http://bit.ly/CarissaAndrewsNewsletterLinkypoo