Today, we welcome YA author, Lisa Dunn, to the blog!
Give us a quick one paragraph summary of your latest release.
Slate is running from his reputation as Chasmaria’s greatest hero and from the memories of war that haunt his dreams. Bard of Harding is a poet who wants nothing more than to sing away the warrior’s demons. When the best friends land in Kilcarraig, a nation held captive by devouring dragons, Slate sets off alone to fight Kilcarraig’s dragon tormentors, while Bard sifts through the lies of a thousand hearts in order to discover the one song that will chase away not only Slate’s demons, but every shadow of doubt, fear, and regret in his own heart and in the hearts of all Kilcarraig.
Is this book part of a series, or a stand-alone?
HEARKEN is a spin-off sequel to the Chasmaria Trilogy, set primarily in the country to the north of Chasmaria. Readers of the trilogy will enjoy getting to know Slate and Bard as protagonists in their own rights. While there are references to characters and events of the trilogy, new readers should be able to jump right in, but they might find themselves compelled to travel back in time to a meetinghouse in Thresh where one brash girl defied the branding rod and fought her way to truth, goodness, and beauty.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Raised on fanciful bedtime stories and dad jokes, it would have been impossible for me to reach adulthood without a deep appreciation of the power of a well-told tale and snort-worthy humor, both of which have helped me through a tragedy or two. (Seriously, you don’t want to sit next to me at a funeral… or maybe you do. I don’t know. It could be fun.)
At any rate, I’m glad to report that after an exceptionally imaginative childhood and a slightly aimless youth, I settled down with a boy who made me laugh, and we had a few kids of our own. I’ve been a homeschool mom since 2007 and somehow managed to scratch out a few books between Algebra and Grammar lessons. When I’m not writing or teaching, you might find me editing for Anaiah Press or experimenting with hot pepper recipes. Latest gems? Mango habanero hot sauce and Carolina reaper chocolates.
How did you hear about Anaiah Press?
The whole author gig sort of happened by accident, as did the editor gig. I’d always thought it would be cool to be a published author, even started writing a novel in my mid-twenties. (Mercifully, that manuscript has been lost!) In 2012, I had the idea for GRIT OF BERTH AND STONE. I started writing, sending each chapter to my sister for review. About 50,000 words in, I realized I might have a story people would pay money to read. At that point, I started googling “How to Publish a Novel,” sent some queries to agents, got a few full requests, and multiple rejections. Then, I stumbled into a Twitter pitch event and got “Likes” from three editors, if I remember correctly. I ended up signing a contract for GRIT, and then HEIR OF KORADIN, CHILD OF THRESH, and a few years later, HEARKEN THE SONG OF KILCARRAIG. In between CHILD and HEARKEN, Anaiah advertised a developmental editor position. I applied, got the job, and have had the joy of working with some lovely, talented, funny writers. (Sean McMurray, Chrissy Dennis, Kara Leigh Miller, and Joiya Morrison Efemini—in chronological order because it would be impossible to pick a favorite. They’re all wonderful!)
How did you get the idea for your book?
As I neared the end of CHILD OF THRESH, I knew Slate had more growing to do. He was a hero, but he didn’t feel like a hero, and the adulation of the crowds really bothered him. He simply couldn’t stay in Chasmaria. Being a Threshan, he’s kind of reckless—and kind of restless until he can prove himself—so it made sense that he’d need a hopeless quest, and what kind of hopeless quest would it be without evil monsters terrorizing an apathetic people and an all-powerful dragon who could save them all but might not exist? Oh, and don’t forget the hero’s companion….
Tell us why we’ll love your book.
First, it’s all about a people emerging from the dark apathy of despair, rediscovering faith, and being restored to wholeness, which seems like a message we desperately need right now. Almost everyone is dealing with some kind of grief or disappointment—in some cases, both—but ultimately, these characters have a deep love for one another, and I hope their love—as well as their faith and hope—will encourage us to love, to believe, and to hope more fully. There are a lot of classic fantasy elements—monsters and dragons, legends and fairy tales, a girl who never stopped believing and a girl who can’t allow herself to believe. Also, a secret army and a few characters who eavesdrop on hearts. And did I mention dragons? Yes, I did, but it’s worth mentioning again. Dragons.
What does your writing process look like?
I hear many writers say the best approach is to write, write, write and then go back and revise, but that’s simply not how I work. I want to get it right before moving on because if the foundation has a crack, the house is liable to collapse. Does that mean I get every chapter perfect before moving to the next? Absolutely not! But I work hard to ensure each chapter is as solid as possible before moving to the next, and if I’ve been away from a manuscript for too long, I’ll go back to the beginning and revise until I get to where I left off. That’s not to say my way is best—it’s simply what works for me.
Where can readers find you online?