I put Jak Phoenix 2 aside today for the opportunity to speak with Tracy Falbe, an outstanding independent fantasy author. Her work is exceptional and her presentation of everything from book to website is very professional. If you’re a fantasy fan, I urge you to try one of her novels on for size.
Here is the interview…
MW: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
TF: I grew up in rural Michigan which exposed me to nothing exciting. I can’t remember a time when I did not entertain myself with adventuresome daydreams. I was always a princess leading the rebels while dangling over lava pits when I was a little girl. And I always knew that I wanted to write novels when I grew up. When I was in grade school I would draw pictures, write stories on the pictures and then staple them together. I’m a natural born publisher.
After growing up in Michigan I spent most of my adult life in Nevada and Northern California. I earned a journalism degree from California State University, Chico. It’s a good degree for someone who wants to be a writer. Then in 2009 I moved back to Michigan. Living in the Midwest is weird after being out West for so long. I call it rustbelt living. The traffic is light and you can always get a parking space. I sometimes feel like I’m in the witness protection program.
Today I appear to live an ordinary life. I have a husband, kids, dog, and cat. When I’m not writing, I enjoy growing food, bicycling, swimming, boating, and watching depressing documentaries. I read a lot of nonfiction, especially history, economics, spirituality, current affairs, and environmental subjects. Unlike most people I meet, I write novels and sell them on the internet, and I love doing it.
Could you give us a rundown on The Rys Chronicles?
I’m the type of reader and writer who likes characters that are not purely good. Character flaws are interesting. The world is a hard place that is constantly pushing people to do bad things. From this perspective I try to summon characters who have room to improve and then use fantasy adventure to push them into moral dilemmas, like a rebellion needs to be started to defeat evil but many people will die in the bloody conflict.
The two main heroes in The Rys Chronicles are the human warrior Dreibrand Veta and the rys Shan. Rys are the magical race in the novels. The most powerful among them are capable of remote viewing, mind reading, levitation, and even seizing the souls of the dead. The series covers about seven years of the characters’ lives. Dreibrand is a violent man with mighty ambitions but he gradually develops past his pride and greed and tries to accomplish the greater good. Shan ascends to supreme power and is corrupted by it, but eventually grasps redemption.
I try to have each novel in the series tell a story and deliver reader satisfaction while propelling the overall epic. I’ve created a large fantasy world of two east and west cultures that have long been divided by an empty wilderness protected by the enslaved souls of the rys Queen. The Rys Chronicles tells the story of the breaching of this geographical barrier and the resulting conflicts.
The Rys Chronicles is medieval style fantasy, but my primary historical inspirations come from my American heritage. Empire, colonialism, racial tension, slavery, frontier, and freedom all percolated through my imagination as I created the fantasy series.
I make it easy for fantasy readers to sample my fiction and decide if it’s their style of entertainment. The first novel Union of Renegades is always free at www.braveluck.com.
What draws you to the fantasy genre?
I like the escapism. Fantasy worlds aren’t the lame one I live in. There’s magic and I like the ancient or medieval feel of fantasy. In fantasy, the characters get to really confront their problems. They fight the monsters, kill the bad guys, save the villagers. They can take bold action, unlike the real world where your mistakes go on your credit report and you get laid off and just have to suck it all up. I also very much enjoy how fantasy can provide illuminating commentary on real world social ills like slavery, religion, patriarchy, war, tyranny, etc. The characters deal with these burdens and their struggles are heroic.
What type of readers will enjoy your novels? Are they geared toward seasoned fantasy readers or will someone curious about the genre find enjoyment as well?
I think that someone curious about the fantasy genre might enjoy my fiction if he or she was willing to go along with typical fantasy conventions like the world is not historically real and there is a magical race. I believe most of my readers are seasoned fantasy fans, but that’s the audience I market to. What I know of my reader demographics, I can estimate that men and women almost equally read my work. I might skew a little toward the male, but I wrote with both audiences in mind.
What films or books inspired you on a creative level?
When I was a teenager I started reading the Dune books by Frank Herbert. The grand scale of his novels with the multiple characters, multiple settings, and intricate societies impressed me. I emulate his style a little by writing from multiple points of view and weaving together action from various locations. Of course, like most people, J.R.R. Tolkien ignited my love of the fantasy genre, but the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard probably inspired me more because I liked their willingness to be violent and sexy.
I also like the novels by George R.R. Martin although I finished writing The Rys Chronicles before I read his work. I like his gritty style. There’s no sugar coating.
What lasting impression would you like to leave on your readers?
My foremost goal when writing is to create a story that has action and characters people can care about. I want to entertain, and beyond that I hope that people might ponder some of the themes I work with, like lust for power, the temptation to do bad things to achieve good ends, and breaking free of oppression.
How would you describe your experience so far as an independent author? Do you have any desire to make contact with a traditional publisher?
I started publishing The Rys Chronicles at the end of 2005, and it’s been a bumpy road mostly because I did not know what I was doing, but I’ve learned a few things and feel much more confident about my business now. Even in the beginning, I always had sales trickle in and the occasional nice email from a reader. To think that out of all the hundreds of thousands of novels out there that someone chose my work and liked it is just so amazing.
Life as an independent author has become much easier and rewarding over the last couple years because I can now be included at major online retailers. A few years ago, self publishers were not allowed. Now the ebook retailers are willing to let readers decide what they want to buy instead of limiting their online catalogs to only what traditional publishers think is good.
I make no efforts to contact publishing companies. If some big company were to come at me with a proposal, I would certainly look at it. A publisher who could put my books in bookstores might be worth doing business with.
Where do you see the publishing business in the next few years?
I’m not an industry expert, but it looks like in the future publishers will have to get a little more active about finding talent and rewarding it. Authors don’t have to wait around for rejection anymore and humbly place their manuscripts in a closet. Authors can take their works directly to the market and make money if readers find them worth reading. But traditional publishers still have massive market share, so I hardly lay awake worrying about them. Publishers still have broad access to offline retail outlets for print books, so that’s a strength for them. Except for that, it seems inevitable that publishing will shrink a little as an industry as authors weed out middlemen.
Are you able to tell us a little bit about what you have in the works?
I am writing another four-part fantasy series. It is a prequel to The Rys Chronicles set 2,200 years earlier. There are significant historical events I refer to in the first series, so I’m delving into that past. I have three of the novels written and will soon start writing the fourth and final part. When they are all completed to my satisfaction, I will publish the series and then have 8 novels for readers.
My latest update about this fantasy work in progress is at this page:
Where can people keep up to date on your work?
My blog Her Ladyship’s Quest www.herladyshipsquest.com is the place where I’ll announce news about future novels. Until then, I write book and movie reviews, interview authors, feature books old and new, write articles, host blog tours, and try to publish content that readers will enjoy or find useful.
Another option for following me is to join my readers’ list at http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/free_ebook.html. You get to enter a monthly ebook drawing and download Union of Renegades for free too. I won’t send you many emails, but you will someday get an announcement about my new novels.
Thank you so much for agreeing to answer these questions. Do you have anything else to add?
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, and I wish you much success with Jak Phoenix.
Fantasy readers can sample the first novel Union of Renegades by downloading a free copy from her website www.braveluck.com. Paperbacks available too.
All my fantasy novels are also widely available at major online retailers.
Barnes & Noble Nook http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Union-of-Renegades/Tracy-Falbe/e/2940000720509/
Google Ebooks http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=ifNnT44l-KIC&dq