I feel like it has been forever since I posted any personal updates on here, but I have so many exciting authors lined up for blog tours that they are all I want to talk about! Today's author is Vanna Smythe, who penned Protector and the recently released sequel Decision Maker in the Anniversary of the Veil series. Stay tuned after the interview for the blurbs on both books and the chance to win Protector!
Question: Decision Maker is the second book of the Anniversary of the Veil series but you mention on Goodreads that the book can be a standalone. What can you tell people about the series that are just hearing about it for the first time?
Vanna Smythe: Anniversary of the Veil is a planned 3 book series and tells the story of a young soldier, Protector Kae, and Princess Issa who get caught up in a huge, world-altering and life-changing event. Each of them has a separate role to play in this event (the so-called Anniversary of the Veil) and both have tough choices to make. Decision Maker concludes the story started in Protector, but I thought that, as a story in itself, Decision Maker can be read as a stand-alone novel. Though it is greatly enhanced by the first book ;)
Q: I love how your biography on your website reads like a story itself. You've lived in European cities for most of your life and seem to be inspired by them. Do you have a favorite spot in any of these cities where you feel more inspired?
VS: I like Paris for its whimsical, historical feel, but I feel most at home in Italy, Venice and Rome mostly. Something about the easy way of life there just pulls me right in.
Q: What can you tell us about your process? Are you more of a pantser or a plotter?
VS: By natural inclination I’m more of a pantster. I can sit down and complete a novel in 3 weeks from start to finish. But I am very bad at revising, which is why I’m now learning how to plot better before I start writing.
Q: You have a pretty quick turnaround between the publishing of the first and second books (which makes us readers cheer!). What can you tell us of your process for writing the series? Did you already have the second book mapped out before the first was published?
VS: This kind of ties in to the last questions. I did a scene-by-scene, plot outline for Decision Maker, which greatly shortened my writing and revising time. It basically took me 6 months to write and revise the second book. I want to short this time to 4 or 5 months for the next one ;)
As for planning a series, I have a document where I write all the major world-building points and the different characters’ traits. I also have a general idea of where I want the story to go and how I want it to end, but I generally let the story itself dictate the ending, if that makes sense ;)
Q: Could you see your series turned into a movie or television series? If so, who would be your ideal cast choices for Kae and Issa?
VS: I am so woefully out of touch with who’s who in Hollywood right now. But I see my series being more of a TV or HBO show, with maybe a bunch of new, non-famous but excellent actors ;)
Q: Do you have a soundtrack that you write to or are you more of a quiet writer?
VS: When writing Decision Maker I listened to those sounds of nature mp3s. Sometimes it was the only way that I could get into a writing mood. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics when I write, but I might try some classical music in the future.
Q: What was the inspiration for Anniversary of the Veil series?
VS: I did some research into the phenomenon of Twin Souls and soul mates once, and thought it would make an excellent fantasy plot line. Twin Souls are basically two halves of the same soul, existing in separate bodies. In my story, Issa has a Twin and she feels a very strong pull to join again with. This is a central point of the story, but I build a very complex world around it ;) I don’t want to give too much away, though.
Q: Some self-published authors set out to do so from the start whereas others try to go the route of traditional publishing first until they decide to strike out on their own. What made you decide to self-publish?
VS: I didn’t even try the traditional publishing route first. I’d spent over a year and a half revising Protector, and I really didn’t feel like waiting another year or two before it was published. This, and the success indies are enjoying right now was why I decided to self-publish. So far, I don’t regret it.
Q: Publishing too soon with too few edits is one of the biggest complaints people tend to have about self-published authors. Your blog announced when you had sent the manuscript of Decision Maker off to the editor. What is your editing process with self-publishing? When do you finally say "This is ready" without the fear of publishing too soon?
VS: Well, to be completely honest, I wasn’t 100% sure that Decision Maker was ready when I published it. But I also didn’t know how I could make it better still ;) I had three good beta readers and my editor go over it, and all agreed it was good. One reviewer even said it was better than Protector, so I guess I was right about it being complete ;)
For Protector, on the other hand, I had about 10 beta readers and my editor go over it, so I was fairly certain it was the best thing I could produce. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and can’t let other people read what I write unless I am absolutely certain it is the best work I can produce. I’ve worked in journalism and copywriting for over ten years now, which helps in seeing when something is good enough to be published. But I would definitely advise any indie author to not get lazy on the editing part.
Q: What is ahead for your writerly future?
VS: I’m starting Book Three next week ;) I hope to release it in spring. Then I also have an idea for a new series I want to start.
Q: Your covers look absolutely amazing. What can you tell us of the process of choosing cover art?
VS: I designed the cover for Protector myself. I put more then 40 hours into finding the artwork, figuring out the concept, etc. mainly because I had to learn Photoshop to do it. For the second book, I had the concept but not the time, so I hired an excellent cover designer. I’ve also, since then, found many awesome images on sites like shutterstock.com and bigstock.com, which I might use for future books. If I have more time, I might actually do the last cover myself ;)
Kae has trained his entire life to become an elite Protector of the Realm. But when he earns that honor he finds himself protecting something far greater: the Veil separating two worlds. On one side of the Veil lie untold stores of magic. On the Realm's side, magic is all but obliterated, and Kae is one of the few who can use it. The priests who secretly rule the Realm will do everything they can to control his growing magical abilities. He's willing to pay the price, even though it comes between him and Issa, the princess he loves.
But the Veil has weakened over a thousand years and powers on both sides will stop at nothing to keep it intact. Strangers from the other side have kidnapped Issa to take her across the Veil and sacrifice her to strengthen it. Kae is the only one who can find her. If he goes after Issa, he loses everything he's worked so hard for. But if he chooses duty over love, Issa will die.
Kae, a warrior Protector, has followed Princess Issa across the Veil separating two worlds. They were told Issa will be a key player at the Anniversary of the Veil, but have been mislead! Kae will have to make a terrible choice when the Anniversary finally comes. He is the Decision Maker and will have to play a part in a ceremony that will join Issa's Life Force with her Other Half - but in so doing, it could leave her senseless or worse, dead.
As the King fights to find his daughter, as the Priesthood is falling apart; Kae has to decide if he will kidnap the Princess to stop her Joining and force her into a life of unhappiness, or if he will allow her to Join and thereby leave her a mere shell of herself. Meanwhile friends and foes alike are showing only half-truths to both Kae and Issa. They must make the most important decision of a lifetime without enough knowledge. How can they know it will be the right one?