About five years ago I was invited by a friend to join her book club. I stepped out of my introverted comfort zone and went. All my fears just melted away in a room surrounded by a bunch of women I didn't know, yet I seemed to fit right in. It ended up being on my list of the best decisions I've ever made. Immediately I recognized a "kindred spirit" (and fellow heathen) in Terra Luft. We have been strengthening the bonds of our friendship ever since through common interests like books, coffee, yoga, motorcycles and more books. Now one of my favorite people is officially a published author! From the sideline I've watched her take her hobby and turn it into a career. She's inspiring, and always encouraging. I couldn’t be more proud of her!
Reflections is Terra’s contribution to the Secrets & Doors Anthology. I was given an Advanced Reader Copy and the opportunity to interview Terra on my blog. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and I recommend it to everyone. If you like fiction of any kind you will want to read this book. Also, all proceeds go to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, so you'll be effortlessly donating to a good cause too. Check it out.....
Open the door and unlock the secrets in eleven short stories from The Secret Door Society, an organization of fantasy and science fiction authors dedicated to charitable work. All proceeds from this anthology benefit the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in their quest to cure Type One Diabetes (T1D).
In these pages you’ll discover a modern woman trapped in an old fashioned dreamscape, a futuristic temp worker who fights against her programming, a beautiful vampire’s secret mission disrupted by betrayal, a sorcerer’s epic battle against a water dragon, the source of magical mirrors—and more. There are tales for every science fiction and fantasy taste, including new works from award-winning authors Johnny Worthen, Lehua Parker, Christine Haggerty, and Adrienne Monson.
Join us in the fight against T1D as you peek into a world of magical and mysterious doorways—if you dare.
Not only is this my first interview with an author, it is also Terra's first interview AS an author. I'm honored to be part of her journey. So here we go, introducing Terra Luft.....
Is Reflection your first published work? Tell me how the opportunity to have your story put in “Secrets and Doors” came to be.
How did you come up with the idea of mirrors being a gateway? What made you decide to make the other side dark and scary rather than something wonderful?
Most of my ideas begin with tiny pieces of everyday life and my imagination taking it into fantastical places. I believe this one specifically started while I listened to bestselling authors talking about the best ways to build magical systems rooted in reality. Someone mentioned a mirror, and next thing I know my fingers were frantically typing the question ‘What if there were no mirrors’ in my idea file. It took about three months of brewing in the back of my mind asking questions about why mirrors would have been banished and how people would see themselves, how they would feel about it, etc. before characters and their stories started to emerge. I made the other side dark and scary because that’s where my mind usually takes me. I blame Stephen King.
Your main character, Jadayell is very skeptical of what she considers folk lore, or superstition. Did you pull that skepticism from your own personal experiences?
Most of the skepticism came from exploring how society without mirrors would work and build stories and characters from there. In my own life I’ve always been a rebel. Tell me I can’t do something and suddenly it is the only thing I want to do. I put myself in Jadayell’s shoes trying to live in a world where you were forbidden the basic ability to know what your face looks like. It wasn’t hard to guess how a rebellious girl would react. In Jadayell’s world, it has been more years than anyone alive can remember that they’ve been living under this oppression. I think the further you get from the cause of a rule, the less likely the youngest generation of thinkers will follow blindly without questions.
There’s very little physical detail about your characters. One would assume they are human and look like us, but I couldn’t help letting my own imagination take over and picture them the way I wanted them to look (I pictured elfish characteristics, pointed ears, long thin limbs, graceful). Did you purposely leave details out so the reader could explore that on their own?
I think that’s the beauty in all fiction. You as the reader get to decide what everything looks like as the story unfolds in your imagination. As an author, I have my idea but it is only the seed I give the reader so they can fill in all the details. How often is a movie made from a book you loved and the person they cast as your favorite character looks nothing like you imagined? There are clues in Jadayell’s story that tell readers specifically that they are from Earth originally but from there you get to decide.
I would love to read more about Jadayell, Zophah and the world they live in. Do you plan on expanding this story into a novella or novel?
In the beginning, this was just a short story I wrote for some instant gratification. I’ve been working on novels for years and I wanted the satisfaction of finishing something in a much shorter time frame – months rather than years. Lucky for you, I’m a novel writer at heart. I’ve been brewing the rest of their story and it’s on deck for drafting as soon as my current project is finished with revisions. The story and where it ended up are pretty special so I’m glad I took a break from novels to write it. All the proceeds from Secrets & Doors are being donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Eradicating this horrid disease is a cause close to my heart having recently lost my Mom to complications arising from diabetes. It will be a personally satisfying reward to help with such a worthy cause.
As your friend I know what a potty mouth you have, and yet there was only one swear word in the entire short story. I know you have other projects in the works. Will they also be of a similar genre? Fantasy/horror?
It’s true… I swear like a sailor thanks to my Dad who is the son of one himself. I’m not against using profanity in my writing but Jadayell just didn’t like it as much as I do. There were also submission guidelines which dictated reining any potential profanity in as well. Apparently I’ve found the one set of rules I’m unwilling to break.
As for other projects, I have written novels from urban fantasy to contemporary fiction to paranormal. Most of the ideas I have sitting on the back burner waiting their turn are in the science fiction, fantasy and horror categories. Which is why my business cards say ‘Speculative Fiction Author’. Attempts to label me any narrower is likely futile. To steal a line from one of my fellow authors: I write books I’d like to read.
As you know from our conversation at book club, the term “speculative” was new to me. I could be wrong, but I’m willing to bet that other readers are not familiar with that term either. It seems unfair to place an author in one box, such as Stephen King being labeled horror. I like that speculative covers multiple genres. “Secrets and Doors” has eleven short stories and just as many authors. Would you say they all fall into the speculative category?
The term ‘speculative fiction’ is a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements (according to Wikipedia.org). That most certainly would include all of the stories in Secrets & Doors. The truth of genre labeling is that the labels only exist so book stores know which books to shelve together. I know most writers could classify their work in multiple genres – the same book sometimes fitting into more than one depending on which element of the story you focused on. I think more people should label themselves as speculative fiction authors and writers because it doesn’t put you in a very small box. My first novel was a fantasy and I set it aside to write other books in genres I felt I would be most successful in because I didn’t want my fan base (if I get one of course!) to expect only fantasy novels from me in the future. It is a shame people aren’t more familiar with the classification.
As a woman who is passionate about reading and would love to write something of my own, I find the entire process daunting. How long have you been writing? Do you find that it takes a lot of self-discipline to get the story on the page or does it come naturally to you?
I’ve been writing since 2008. It took me no less than five years just to learn the basics of the craft and get one entire rough draft completed. The learning curve is steep. Like most things in life if you’re willing to do the hard work it isn’t impossible. For me, the first draft comes pretty naturally now. That’s only true now because I spent years doing it harder and hating it because I was doing it the way other people told me worked for them. It wasn’t until I figured out exactly what my own process was that it was easier. The hardest part for me is making time in my life for consistent writing. Saying that “someday” I want to write a book doesn’t get any words on the page. That book or that story won’t write itself.
One shock I had to get over was when I finally clawed and dragged myself across the finish line of “The End” just to realize that was only the beginning. The truth is the first draft is the easy part. It is revisions and editing that reduces even a bad ass like me to tears. Writing is hard and takes a lot of hard work. People who want to write should know that going into it. Trust me when I say it is worth it, though.
One final question. Readers are going to want more. How do they find and connect with you? With the Secret Door Society as well?
I'm a social media junkie. So there are lots of ways to connect with me. As for wanting more, I'm working hard on the next book that hopefully will find a home shortly. I don't mean to be a tease, that's just the way publishing works.
You can find the Secret Door Society on Facebook as well by searching "The Secret Door Society".
Thanks for having me, Amy, it's been a blast!
There you have it. The one and only Terra Luft giving us a little insight on the art of writing and how much work goes into getting a story from a writer's imagination into your hands (doesn't that make you appreciate it a little bit more?). If you are feeling inspired to write something of your own then jump on over here, www.onceuponakeyboard.com, and get some knowledge from Terra and her cohorts.
Terra Luft is a speculative fiction writer and prolific blogger. An overachiever by nature, she tackles every project with coffee and sarcasm, and believes all rules exist to be broken. She works full time by day and writes by night; always searching for that ever-elusive work life balance people tell her exists. She lives in Utah with her husband and two daughters, their naughty dog and a cat who stole her heart.