What inspired your latest novel?
The Bardess of Rhulon began with the idea of a female Dwarf heroine. There are very few Dwarven heroines in fantasy tales, which makes my story unique. Usually, fantasy dwarf stories are all about manly, dwarves, armored with battle-axes, downing buckets of ale as they braid their long beards. I wanted to expand on a fantasy story where Dwarven culture was more developed and rounded. Then when I had her name, Rose Greenleaf, the story began to unfold.
How did you come up with the title?
That was tough, because for the few years as I drafted my novel and made changes, I just called it Rose Greenleaf. When Prince Culain Ironheart, who employs her as his official bard, he calls her Bardess. In my Dwarven society, this was an ancient title for female bards, which is rare now. Her Rose’s world, a proper young girl marries, has babies, bakes pies, and stays home. Rose is incapable of this. This drives her mother nuts. Her nature is wild and her talent as a bard is impressive. Since Rose is from the country of Rhulon, I finally titled my novel, The Bardess of Rhulon.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Love your children, but let them grow and become the person they want to be. For women everywhere, you must also rise to become the person you want to be. I love creating tales with interesting heroines. That is my brand and my purpose as an author…to create tales where heroines rule. We need heroines now, more than ever.
How much of the book is realistic?
Well, this is a fantasy set in a secondary world. There is magic and magical creatures. What is realistic is the viewpoint of my society structures, customs, and everyday issues. I incorporated themes that people of this world can relate to-arranged marriages, family problems, slavers who kidnap innocents and the law (my rangers) who infiltrate and save people, prejudice, mother and daughter conflict, political issues, and religious strife when faith becomes fanatical. The list goes on. That is what makes my tale realistic-when you add in the real things every society experiences. It is also about learning who you are and who you should try to be.
Are your characters based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I wish I knew these people, but they spring from my imagination in full bloom. If I could escape to a world with magic, I would already be there!
Where can readers find you on social media and do you have a blog?
Do you have plans or ideas for your next book? Is it a sequel or a stand alone?
This will be a trilogy. I know how Rose Greenleaf’s adventures and how her tale ends. The tentative titles for the next two books are The Rhapsodé Curse and The Sun Blade.
Of the characters you have created or envisioned, which is your favorite & why?
So hard, so hard….I love them all. Rose Greenleaf, Belenus Ayecroft, her old bard teacher, Red Meg Sparrow, Skullcap Axton, and Prince Culain Ironheart. I even have a fondness for the sly changeling, Crimson, and Beleth, the Goblin Queen.
I must admit Rose Greenleaf is my favorite. She is everything we should be! She is brave, honest, determined, and talented. She takes risks to achieve her dreams. It brings her some regret, but also maturity. She is not a princess in a tower awaiting rescue. Rose fought for everything based on her own merits and talent against all odds. A Dwarven maiden with an old lute and singing skill braved a journey of adventure and danger.
Do you favor one type of genre or do you dabble in more than one?
I’m a fantasy girl. I do some science fiction, and have a novel planned (with a heroine lead of course). As a reader, I love reading fantasy of all kinds, science fiction, and even mystery. My writing talent is for fantasy.
Do you plan your stories, or are you a seat of the pants style writer?
I plan a lot for my novels. From creating basic story, characters, world, races, politics, and religion. All of my novels have a compendium. It is very detailed. Rose’s compendium is 40 pages long, with details on world, cultures, characters, everything. I do not do chapter outlines. I just know where I want to go.
What is your best marketing tip?
I wish I had more knowledge to share. I am still stumbling, finding ways to make it work. Use social media wisely. Make sure you research any media promotions, but it can help a little. Use Canvas to create your own ads for Twitter and FB. Pray a lot.
Do you find social media a great tool or a hindrance?
It can be both, but it is a long learning process.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Creating new characters and stories!
Who is your best supporter/mentor/encourager?
My husband, Rick Hipps, is my best mentor/supporter.
Where is your favorite writing space?
My writing desk at home with all my inspirational images and books.
If you could meet one favorite author, who would it be and why?
Some of my favorites are sadly gone. David Eddings, Tanith Lee, Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard. They created fantastic images and rich characters in their tales. I am reading new talents now, so I hope to have new ones to look up to soon.
If you could live anywhere in the world – where would it be?
Ireland. I am of Irish heritage and drawn there.
Do you see writing as a career?
If I ever make enough money at it, I’ll let you know.
Do you nibble as you write? If so what’s your favorite snack food?
Chocolate!!! Cookies are good writing companions. Which is why I have to do extra cardio. And lots of coffee or tea.
What reward do you give yourself for making a deadline?
Shopping and adding to my book collection.
Verna McKinnon is a writer of fantasy and lover of all things joyous and geeky. She writes obsessively and drinks coffee. Fantasy author of heroines. She is the author of fantasy novels The Bardess of Rhulon, Gate of Souls & Tree of Bones. Fantasy is her genre of choice. You can read her blog and updates, plus some of her previously published short stories at her website http://vernamckinnon.com. Follow Verna on Twitter & Facebook for the latest on her life as a poor, published, but proud indie fantasy author.