All pictures in the following article are owned by the artists Chris and Ren. They are reproduced here with permission.
– Interview two is here and this time we have a creator of worlds, a breaker of hearts, a portal to dimensions of unspeakable turmoil and beauty also known as a fellow writer. Please introduce yourself for the readers.
Hi! I’m Adryanna Helene. You can usually find me going by A H, which is sort of awkward for introductions. I write fantasy stuff passionately, watch a lot of anime, and read even more manga.
– Why did you start writing?
You know, I never really thought about why. I started writing in the third grade after discovering my love of reading. Writing just followed naturally for me.
– So reading started you off, but what inspires your stories now?
I find inspiration in a lot of places though usually through art and music. Is it weird to say I’m inspired by feeling? For instance, I usually listen to music in different languages (Creole, Japanese, Korean, etc.) or instrumentals to get inspiration. I let the music give me a feeling that I want to write instead of focusing on words. As for art, I let the colors and emotions that come through the picture fuel me.
– All your stories seem to take place in the same universe; tell us about that.
You’re right! For starters, worldbuilding is hard. I hate it and love it. My world is Eszailha, which I created nearly 10 years ago as the setting for my first novel, River of Mecarn. Eszailha is an earth-like planet but still has elements of fantasy. The spirits that created the world, the Eszeha, indwell the inhabitants and give them varying abilities (powers). My main goal with Eszailha is that it is familiar enough that you don’t spend half your time trying to figure it out, but fantasy enough that it transports you.
– How much detail do you go into with worldbuilding? Did you create maps and languages beforehand, or did it just take shape around your stories as you wrote them?
Up until recently, I really didn’t go into enough detail. Three novels and three short stories in, I’m kicking myself for it. Currently, I do have a map and I’m working on country, culture and spirit outlines. And historical timelines—ugh. I stayed away from languages; I don’t think I have enough linguistic passion for that daunting task.
– If you were a character in your world, who would you be? What would your chances of survival be?
Eszailha’s not a particularly dangerous place, so I think I’d be just fine. However, I’m not sure where I would live or what spiritual ability I would have. That’s something interesting to think about. Next daydream here I come!
– So we’ve laid the groundwork. What’s your process for starting a story? Do you plan it all out or just wing it and edit later?
I usually start with a name and a personal struggle. I love naming and can’t do much else until I have that settled. From there, I form the plot around the character’s personal struggle. After taking a class on planning, I’m actually starting to do some skeleton outlines, which I had never done before. I was pantser to the max. I’m half and half now; I just add my random ideas to my outline!
– How about character creation; how are those developed?
Characters, again, start with a name. After naming I work on physical description and from there I just sit and think about how I want them to be. Are they snarky? Shy? Just plain rude? Sometimes I struggle with giving my characters different voices, so I try to spend a good amount of time figuring them out before I draft a story.
– That’s true. It’s hard to distinguish them at first. I think most of my heroes end up being very similar. Moving on though, a hunt on the Internet shows that you seem to have two blogs. Is there a purpose to each?
Indeed! My Eszailha blog is home to my short stories and the occasional (aka rare) writing craft post. My secondary blog, Wednesday Words, is a newer one that I hope will keep me writing. My writing has taken a hit with school and novel revisions, so I wanted to keep myself in check.
– Blogs are a good way to practice. What one thing you have learned has helped your writing develop the most?
Hmm. I think the most important thing I’ve learned is that it’s okay not to fall into a category. I used to spend too much time writing to fit into a mold and I was always unhappy with the end result. So I suppose I learned the joys of freedom. Now that I write what I want, how I want, I’m much happier.
– I’d be happier if I could draw too. I noticed you usually post art with your stories. Who draws them? And why do you do it? Is it a long standing relationship?
I work with two artists for that, Chris and Ren. Chris does the more manga styled pieces and Ren’s look a little more realistic. I met Chris over a year ago through a hiring site and Ren more recently through a friend. I hope to stay in touch with both of them for a long time; they’re amazing!
I commission the artwork because along with writing, I have a real passion for art. But I can’t draw that well 😦 My little sisters got that gene. I’d love to do manga; it’s just about finding a collab partner for a serious endeavor.
My best friend is also an artist, but I don’t get a chance to post much of her work because they all have spoilers! She and I are also working on a little comic about our adventures in creating my stories.
– That’s great. As my last interview showed, I’m into comics too. Back to your writing though. Desecrate was the first story of yours that I read and I was struck by the intricate character touches that made them more realistic. What do you think is your strength and your weakness in writing?
I’d like to think my strength is in creating characters. I know I’m not perfect at it, but I think it’s a strong point in my writing. As for weakness—description. No doubt about it. I’m terrible at settings and describing my characters within the story. If it looks like I’m sort of put together, I can guarantee it’s because I had a professor pushing me to change things. I’m very visual and often have a hard time putting into words what I see in my mind. (This also ties into why I get so much artwork done!)
– I’m similar. It’s a very clear movie in my head but I get distracted by keeping the action flowing. It becomes like tunnel vision for the reader. Action or description is one argument in writing, another, which do you think is more important, character or plot?
Character. I think plot follows naturally when you have a solid character. Plot is, of course, very important, but you’ll never get to the plot if there aren’t characters you want to go on the adventure with.
– Do you foreshadow a lot of future stories in your work? Should readers be on the look out for tidbits?
Yes and no. I have seven countries in Eszailha and I write about each of them so some will tie in and some won’t. I’d say, be on the lookout when reading the short stories I have out right now. There will definitely be moments in my main novels that will make you go, “AHA!” (you know…once the main novels are published…)
– What does the future hold for Eszailha?
The possibilities are endless. I have many ideas for adventures on Eszailha, and I’m so excited to explore each of them. The only thing that won’t be happening is the addition of a new country. Promised myself I wouldn’t do that again…
– The strife of a god…. Can you give us any previews of upcoming stories?
Why, yes! I posted a deleted scene from this story on my secondary blog, so here’s a preview of the actual story, coming soon!
Song of the Nava
Rajula caressed the strange rock with gentle fingers, her eyes wide with awe. “What sort of rock is this, Aarileya? Where did you find it?”
“It’s not a rock.” The older woman took the object from Rajula’s hands and squeezed it twice. Her fingers squished into the surface. “It falls from the trees on the island. It’s edible.”
“Spirits above! How did you get it?” Rajula took the soft rock back and turned it over again and again. Part of her didn’t want to the know Aarileya’s answer. Having an object from the island meant going to the surface—it meant putting one’s life at risk. Her people, the Nava, were forbidden from such things. Still…
Rajula tilted her head back and squinted in the sunlight that filtered through the water. A school of peix fish swam overhead, darting back and forth, reflecting bows of color from the strips of blue and purple scales that circled their bodies. A coral snake trailed behind, its serpentine body cutting through water with ease. It darted through the school, scattering them for a moment, and took refuge in the reef. She loved the beauty of the sea, but something above the water called to her.
Her gaze darted back to the object. “Are…are there lots of these?”
Aarileya swam closer and twined her tail around Rajula’s. She placed her hands over hers and leaned forward so their foreheads touched. “Their trees are heavy with them,” she whispered, an edge of excitement in her voice. “Taste.” She lifted their joined hands to her mouth and sank her pointed teeth into the flesh of the rock. “Come on. Now you.”
Rajula hummed reluctantly, but her heart set to pounding. She glanced over her shoulder to see if any of the other women were nearby. They weren’t supposed to have this.
“You don’t have to,” Aarileya said. She began prying Rajula’s fingers away.
“No!” Rajula ignored the thumping in her ears as her heart beat faster. “No,” she said again, lowering her voice. “I want to taste.”
Rajula lifted it to her mouth and took a bite. Sweet water flooded her mouth, tantalizing her taste buds and sending a pleasant tingle through her body. She wasn’t partial to the mushy texture but oh, the taste! Swallowing, she turned to Aarileya and made a noise of excitement. “Delicious!”
“It is! The next time I’m able to get one I’ll be sure to share with you again.”
Rajula looked at her hands and the torn, purple flesh of the soft rock. The sweetness on her tongue faded away and a feeling of unease settled in her stomach. She wanted to ask Aarileya how she was getting these things if the trees were on the island, past the place where it was safe for a Nava to go. The words stuck in her throat as she looked back at her friend.
I shouldn’t ask such things, especially if I don’t want to know the answer.
– Nice. That seems like ample foreshadowing itself. Thanks for that. Is there anything else you would like to shamelessly plug now?
Is this a plug? If any artists reading this are interested in serious collab projects…you now know where to find me. 😉
Thanks for taking the time to chat with me!
– And now it’s time to say goodbye. Any last words? That sounds like I’m going to put a gun to your head, but I promise I’m not (there are plenty of other body parts).
Just wanted to leave links for my artists:
And here are some of my other page links just in case
FB: A H Serrano (https://www.facebook.com/eszailha/)
Insta: @ahserrano_creative (https://www.instagram.com/ahserrano_creative/)
– Thank you! Please check her work out, because it’s top notch and she should be published soon.
If you have read her work and have further comments and questions, leave a comment here and I will pass it on or have a look at one of her sites or SNS connections. In the meantime, I’m always looking for more artists to interview, so if you want to be placed under the spotlight that’s slowly growing in size, drop me a line.