Monday, November 14, 2011

Lavinia Thompson - Fantasy Author

 Lavinia Thompson
Fantasy Author

     Thank you for joining me here today as we welcome a new independent author as she gets ready to release her first fantasy fiction story. She looks forward to chatting with you this week through comments at the end so please leave her a message! Without further ado, please welcome our author! 

Deanna:  Lavinia, thank you for being with us this week! Tell us a bit about yourself.

Lavinia:  I have been writing since I could put pen to paper so it seems. I don’t remember when I started writing, but I was very young. It has always been my passion. Growing up, I couldn’t think of what else I wanted to do with my life. I went through the motions of trying to figure it out. I got told lots- “Don’t go into writing or journalism. There’s no money there. Go into nursing. Do something with yourself.” As if following my own dreams wasn’t doing anything for myself.
      I don’t remember exactly when my mother’s abusive ex came into the picture, either, but I do remember all the dark days and nights that followed. I remember watching my mother get hit and thrown around, screamed at and accused of cheating or not caring for her kids or of being an alcoholic or a drug addict. I remember getting yelled at, for not doing well enough in school or not doing something right or being a bad sister or a lesbian. In a small town, these accusations and verbal abuses got around. I was bullied at school, abused at home and witnessed abuse. Writing back then was my sanctuary. My bedroom was the only place where I could shut the world out, hide away and write away everything only for a little while. My dark fantasy series, “Spellbound” was started around this time. This is also when many of the poems in “She Wasn’t Allowed to Giggle” were written.
      Many of those pieces were lost when Mom’s ex burned down the house in 2004. Eight years of abuse and life went up in smoke that July. So did my original draft of “Spellbound by Fire” and so did numerous poems which I never got to salvage. Mom’s ex left town that summer. I guess the healing journey should have begun...or so they say it should. In reality, the healing journey never ends as much as it progresses. I kept writing. I graduated high school and was still trying to figure out what to do with my life. In 2009 I began working seriously on “Spellbound” for the first time since the house fire and was toying with the idea of a poem book about domestic violence. But I wasn’t ready to face those poems then. I went to college and majored in journalism. In my second college year, “Spellbound by Fire” got accepted for publication but I withdrew it after deciding that self-publishing would be better for me. It was just this past summer (2011) when I decided to embark on a self-publishing journey and I knew what my first project would be: I wanted to get that poetry collection about domestic violence done and published. And so here it is. All these years later after the abuse came and went, dominated and defeated; I have the voice and power today.

 What made you want to become a writer?

Lavinia:  It is simply something I have always done. There was never a point in time when I decided to just “become a writer.” I was born a writer. What made me decide to become a published writer was encouragement from some writer friends and determination. After being destroyed in the house fire in 2004, “Spellbound” wasn’t touched until about 2008. At that point in my life, I was still coming to grips with what happened to my family and I, still trying to figure out why it happened and where to go from the end of it while knowing it’s never really over. Two writer friends I met online encouraged me to continue with “Spellbound” and finish it. I’m glad I listened to them. I get to tell my story and get it out there, even if it is intertwined with fiction. After giving up writing twice in my life only to realize what kind of lifeline it is to me, it’s not a matter of I “want” to write- I “need” to write.

Deanna:  Do you write under a pen name?

Lavinia:  Yes I do. Lavinia Thompson is my pen name, named after one of my ancestors.

Deanna:  What type of hero do you like best?

Lavinia:  I like a strong hero who is relatable and most of all, human. I like a hero who makes mistakes and grows from their mistakes, a hero who can fall and get back up. A hero who is always right and perfect is not relatable. To put it into perspective, I put it in the same context as what I believe about religion. John Lennon is my favourite person in the world; I follow his beliefs and live by them day to day. I don’t believe in God. The difference: Lennon was a human being. He made mistakes and was never once made out to be perfect. He is believable. Characters with a God-like complex aren’t as believable as heroes who are infallible.  

Deanna:  How many plots do you include in one of your books?

Lavinia:  Too many!! I was warned when writing “Spellbound” to keep notes on my plot lines and to keep track of them carefully. I didn’t listen. That resulted in me having to go back and rewrite half of the book. I think by the time “Spellbound” ended it had something like 15 plots. My other books won’t be much different.

Deanna:  That IS a lot of plot lines! Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Lavinia:  Every day is different. I work as well, so I don’t sit down every morning and write all day. That’s the goal eventually.
Right now, a typical day for me involves going to work, coming home in the afternoon or evening and writing as much as I can. It’s about allotting time to get writing done. I’ve had to cut out my social life and more to get “Spellbound” done. I finished the first draft of it the night before I started my first day of college. During the time I was rewriting the last half of it, there were times when I’d go to college first thing in the morning, around 8:30 am, and I’d be home at 5 or 6 pm, and then I’d watch hockey or Criminal  Minds then write. The writing would often last until about 2 or 3 am when I’d go to bed just to get up and do it all over again. I somehow finished college in all that mess!
When I moved out to the west coast this past summer I went out there with the dream of settling down out there and becoming a full-time writer. It didn’t work out the way I planned so my fiancĂ© and I ended up moving back to Alberta where there are more jobs. The dream didn’t change though.

Deanna:  Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?

Lavinia:  The “Spellbound” series has a basic theme of stopping and preventing violence against women. “She Wasn’t Allowed to Giggle” has a theme of finding the light at the end of the tunnel after living with abuse. So I suppose yes, there is usually a theme revolving around violence against women and children somewhere in my books. The second of the series, “Spellbound by the Sword,” focuses on the male victims and survivors of abuse. 
Here is an excerpt from Spellbound:
Every feeling has her exhausted of living but Janey walked alongside Jill, who as always had the composure of the full moon in a midnight sky. If Jill felt weak at any time she never showed it. If she felt any sort of sadness or anger, grief, despair or hopelessness, it was always covered by a mask of strength and will power. Janey could only wonder if she could ever be like that.
Jill didn’t say a lot. Janey had the feeling she wanted to keep quiet about their destination in case the Black Guards were around once outside the camp’s magical barriers. Jill had set her Silence Spell on Janey before leaving the camp, like she did with anyone who helped her on witch rescues.
“This is in case you get caught by the Black Guards. If they torture and interrogate you about the tunnels, passwords, me, any of that, you won’t tell them the truth. You can lie but you will not be burdened as the one who told on us. I do this to everyone who helps me,” she had explained.
Janey didn’t argue. She didn’t want to be the one to destroy what took years to create. The witches had no other hope in these times.
The moonlight peeked through branches, daring not so much as speak their unanimous secret as once again Janey was reminded of a warrior as those long locks of red hair fell around Jill’s paled face and down her curved back. Those dark eyes were intent upon her mission with a slight churning of dark anger and frustration at injustice, a far away trance of the things she wanted so much to change that as much as she tried weren`t changing.
Jill suddenly stopped Janey in mid-step, putting a hand up silently to indicate something was up ahead. From a rustling of bushes, both women were ready to run should it have been anyone other than the tall, lanky man who emerged not too far away. Janey glanced to Jill, who smiled and went up to the black skinned man with long, messy hair that looked like it hasn’t seen a brush in months, maybe years. His black shirt was faded almost gray and the large hat cast shadows on his dark face.
“Good day ladies, Jillfern,” he greeted gruffly. If Janey didn’t know any better she would’ve labelled him a pirate. 
“Hello Captain Morley. How did it go?” Jill asked indirectly. Morley shrugged with a grin that strangely reminded Janey of Billy, that same mischievousness in his eyes.
            “Let’s just say that the ones that got in me way won’t ever be doing this again, lass,” he said slyly.
            “Excellent. One can always count on you, Morley,” Jill told him.
            “All ye need to do is ask, ma’am. I have our latest here,” Morley said, stepping though the bushes for a moment. Janey could only see his hand beckoning across the path as one by one, woman after woman filed through the bushes before her and Jill. Janey was at a loss for what to say, seeing blood stained and bruised faces, some with open wounds and others who had nothing to the insensitive expressions in their empty eyes. It was an unnerving sight to see, bringing up that anger and yearning for change within. Neither of the women showed it; at least not completely.
The women were of a broad age range; some older, some middle aged, others who looked younger than Janey. United there were similar scars, united there was a spellbound determination and longing for a better future. United they were fighting this in ways Janey never knew of.
            “This is much appreciated Morley, thank you,” Jill said graciously. Morley stood back watching the women approach Jill. For the first time Janey spotted a few children in the group and almost felt sick at the fear in their innocent eyes and marks on their faces and arms.
            “As I said, all ye need to do is ask. This barbarianism almost killed me wife. It’s a cause I’d die for,” he replied, grief hovering murky in those eyes.
            “I know dear. This has killed too many. I’m going to change it or die trying,” Jill told him. Janey didn’t know where Jill got the determination to carry that out every day. 
            “You’ve already done lots lass. When will ye need another sailin’ to Adara?” Morley asked.
            “Within the next few days probably, Captain. I’ll keep in touch,” Jill told him. Morley nodded.
            “Yes ma’am. I’ll be on my way to let ye get everyone to safety. Stay well, all you,” he replied before turning and vanishing into the night. This was more than what Janey had been doing at the camp. It had become a much more dangerous thing, lurking around the brinks of Black Guard territory; slipping their own victims from right under their faces.
“Ladies, if you please, follow me,” Jill said softly, beckoning for the women and children to follow her down a green sloped hill and towards the trees on the other side of the small clearing. A few women held hands with the frightened children as they walked. It was hard to say if the mothers were there or if it was maternal instinct for them.
Within moments Jill approached a huge round oak standing majestically over the forest; his branches seemed as if they could touch the nonchalant clouds. Gently she placed her hands upon the trunk and whispered something inaudible into crevices of the bark. As if obeying as the witch told him, the trunk slowly cracked and before Jill opened a small door there in the tree. One by one, Jill ushered the women through.
Janey stepped inside right before Jill. There was a downward spiralling staircase below her feet that she followed. With her heart beating faster, Janey kept up with the women ahead of her. There was a light anticipation then, with the women likely feeling as if the worst might be over.
Behind them, Jill had a magic ball of light in her hands. As they came to end of the stairs, Jill shuffled to the front of the group silently. There stood a simple wooden door in what Janey thought to be the other side of the tree until Jill turned to them.
“This is the portal to the refugee camp by Mcgough. This is the portal to your freedom, my sisters. Follow me through here one by one. Let me hope for you that this is something that never again happens.”
With the magic light sitting like a crystal ball in the palm of her one hand, she pulled open the door with the other to reveal a burst of vibrant white beams shedding the room. She grabbed women one by one and ushered them through the portal. Janey was the last before Jill. Closing her eyes before entering, it felt like flying without moving, a trance like state of motionless grace in which she was moving but she wasn’t. Just as fast as it had begun, it was over.

Deanna:  What a beautiful world! How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?

Lavinia:  That’s hard to say right now. “Spellbound by Fire” is the first novel I truly finished. It took me so long because of the road my life was on. When I really got down to working on it religiously, it took me about a year. That’s the timeline I’m setting for my future novels as well.

Deanna:  Do you have to be alone to write?

Lavinia:  Yes. Having people around me is a total distraction. I normally shut myself off in my room, put my headphones in and crank some heavy metal. My mother likes to burst into my room and scare me when I’m in the middle of writing torture or execution scenes. (See what I mean? Total distraction…) I’m not the type of writer who can go sit in a coffee shop and write. I need to be alone where I can close off the world to enter my own universe. (It’s ok, they like me there.)

Deanna:  Since I’m a people watcher, I don’t get a lot of writing done in coffee shops either. How do you go about naming characters?

Lavinia:  Often my characters will “tell” me their name. I have a name book I consult when I’m looking for a character name and the name that is meant for the character will just jump out at me. I’ll also look them up on Google if I’m looking for foreign or medieval names.

Deanna:  I love it when the characters talk to me so much! Is it easier to write about the characters if you find pictures of them before you write or do you write then find character pictures?

Lavinia:  I don’t ever have pictures of my characters. I see them in my head and that’s how I describe them in the story. Once in a while I’ll be browsing fantasy art or I’ll be Deviant Art or something and I’ll run across a picture that has striking resemblance to one of my characters. But I don’t seek them out.

Deanna:  Each author has their own way of coming up with what their characters look like and how they go about that process. How do you pick locations for your stories?

Lavinia:  For “Spellbound,” the setting was years in the making. I constructed the setting in my head and made notes on it and drew maps. The map of Nevermore, the main setting for “Spellbound by Fire” is posted on the Facebook page and blog. (Facebook  and blog)
      “Spellbound by Fire” will be released before the end of 2011. I am self-publishing it. You can keep up with the latest news at my writer’s blog or on my writer Facebook page.

Deanna:  I admire those who write fantasy and create those worlds and characters that go with them! We look forward to the release of Spellbound and I wish you luck. Self publishing is not easy but it is fun to experience the entire process and sense of accomplishment. Please let me know if I can help you in any way. Lavinia, thank you for being with me this week. Readers, Lavinia will be around all week if you have any questions or want to leave her a comment.