Hello Readers and Writers!
We would like to introduce you to an author who is passionate about her creative freedom, so much so that she turned down a contract for traditional publishing! She's a very hard worker, releasing three books in a year and designing her own covers! She also has a very unique method for conquering writers block! Read on to find out her strategy!
Introducing Catelyn Edgar-Vinnell!
When did you start writing as a career?
What's your current work in progress?
I have two books I'm actively writing, and another two in planning stages, which I'm planning to co-write with my sisters. The ones I'm actively writing are my 4th book of the current series, The Zenith Convergence, and my spin off set in 1632 Scotland, from a villain's point of view. That one's great fun.
You write YA Fantasy and Magic. What led you to that genre?
I'm kind of a walking, talking YA novel myself. I'm Pagan, so I see magick everywhere on a daily basis. Not quite the same magick you see in the novels, we're not hiding out with fantasy style magick, I swear! (Or are we? ;) ). Anyway, it fit a very comfortable niche for me, and they always say that writing is easier when based on some elements of truth - so that's what I did. I mixed fantasy with the real world and introduced elements of real Pagan practices with the kind of magick every witch wishes they could see, but have to experience on a personal spiritual level instead.
Your book covers are beautiful and well themed! What was the process to get them created?
Thank you! I actually made them myself. I've been using Photoshop since I was about 16 and I'm a self-taught graphic designer. I primarily use free stock images which are royalty free, but I also hand draw some elements of the covers, like smoke, or basically small things which tie the images together. I think Cataclysm's cover is the most complicated, it has about 15 different images pieced together. I think my favourite cover however is my spin off series one which I've shared with you.
How do your books rebel against the status quo in your genre?
I think the biggest point of rebellion in my novels is the fact I openly address tropes when they're used, through humour primarily, like Lila's proclamations that she's just 18 years old and where the heck are the adults who are supposed to save the world, etc. Sometimes these tropes are necessary, but handling them with humour I think makes the readers go, oh, so this is a deliberate use rather than just an easy go-to cliché, etc. I've had readers comment on the humour before. All positive, thankfully!
I'm also aiming to have my novels be as inclusive as possible when it comes to lgbtq and poc representation. I didn't do enough in book one but I'm going to gradually open up that world to inclusivity, because I feel that's an important stance to take, and I want all of my readers to see themselves in my novels.
Do you have any plans to write outside of your current genre?
I actually have two in development - and I'm writing both with a different sister! one is a crime novel which is all about a woman who had a car crash and lost her memory - when she wakes up, her son is gone. It's a mystery, which I hope will write well... The other is a Dystopian/Post-Apocalyptic novel with magickal elements; It's early days, but I adore the plot we have for it. I also love that three of my sisters are also writers, and it's about time they released novels, with their talents! My older sister is busiest, but has been writing a novel for years, which I know will be great (though I'm not allowed to read it yet!) because she's one smart lady.
This kind of got into talking about my sisters, but I love them so much and love working with them, too. It's kind of exciting, and I hope that my readers will enjoy the novels too, even though they branch off from what I usually do in genre.
How do you beat writer's block?
I enter competitions, actually. I write short stories, poetry etc. Sometimes getting away from the genre you're stuck in helps clear the mental avalanche and get the fountain of inspiration flowing again. I write every day, without fail. Whether it's short paragraphs or 10 pages of my novel, I sit down, and force myself to write. Got to stop those gears getting rusty, after all!
Your first book released in 2016. How has your writing grown since then?
When I first wrote Ancestral, I focused too literally on the emotions and dialogue of my characters. I've gone back and fixed some of it, but I do acknowledge that it was a little internally focused! Since then, I've found a balance between description, internal thoughts, dialogues, etc. I feel like I've grown as a writer, but I think that's inevitable when you write more than one novel. I always strive to do better, to make the next book better than the last, to give more action, more suspense, and to make my readers hate me a little bit before (hopefully) forgiving me for being mean to their favourite character, haha. (Special shout-out apology to my sister Lisha who was very cross with me due to events in book 3...)
Talk to me about the path you choose in publishing.
I actually received an offer to publish with Austin McAuley after I'd written Ancestral, but the contract they offered me was super restrictive and it felt like they'd stifle my creativity, so I went down the self publishing route via (at the time) Createspace & Amazon Kindle. I did receive a boost in confidence from AM's acceptance, though, as my first novel was deemed an "immersive and imaginative read."
After that, well, let's just say I had no cold feet when it came to publishing my novels, and it was worth it. Every piece of feedback I've had has been positive, and you can't really ask for more than that. I'm in this to bring a new world to my readers, and the only currency I need is their unending devotion... I mean, attentive interest, haha (Just kidding, don't worry.) The only thing that matters is that the people who read my books can join that world in their minds. In my teens, I lived in many worlds, I always had a book in my hand, and it's a vital tool in personal growth, I feel, to be able to understand a hundred points of view by engaging with fictional individuals you can shut the book on at the end of it all.
What advice would you give to an author who is discouraged by the strenuous process of writing and releasing books?
Writing is hard. Everyone will say to you 'oh, I can write a book!' to try and make it seem like your difficulties are laughable or that you've given up. Let that make you mad, then prove them wrong. My top tips? Well, tip number one - I couldn't LIVE without the site pacemaker.press. It's run by some amazing people who will help you out (once I was too broke to pay for their services, so I whined about it on Twitter and told everyone how much I love them - they responded by giving me a few free plans. That's the kind of people they are - looking out for the little guy! The site is so useful, it allows you to set deadlines, gives you daily goals, etc.
My second tip - Find a community. Having others on your side, spurring you on is vital. Twitter is an awesome place for promotion, but sometimes it can feel like shouting into the void. If you're looking for a tribe, Tumblr may be more your speed.
The Zenith Convergence Series deals with some heavy topics such as grief and depression. What made you want to include those subtopics in your books?
I included them because they're real. I often found that reading about fantastic worlds seemed to have recovery times which were so fast they never really dealt with them at all, and yet the characters continued to kick ass and take names. Sometimes, that can feel like you're not handling things properly in real life, like you're somehow failing at life. It was important to me, as someone who has been to the depths of depression and having lost almost everyone important to me before I found my own life accomplices, that there were some emotional consequences to events within the books. There's also a lot of 'why me' included - this is my little way of saying yeah, it's teenagers saving the world, and they don't know why it's down to them, either! I mean, who would be able to accept that role, regardless of age? I definitely don't want that job, lol.
What are you reading now?
I don't really have reading time at the moment, so i'm going to mention my favourite books... the Well of Echoes series by Ian Irvine. They're genius, and I'm forever thrusting them into the hands of my acquaintances. They're High Fantasy, but the world is stunning, very steampunk and creative.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
More books! I currently have a plan to do 26 books in The Zenith Convergence series (as long as they keep flowing), so there's one for every letter of the alphabet. I'm also writing a historical trilogy in the same universe which will be the Shadows & Silhouettes series. I've also got plans for a further 3 (or more!) novels following a character between the two sets of novels, which will all bridge together over time. At this exact moment, I have two novels more than half written, which will be released next year, and I hope to have another 2 out by the end of 2021/early 2022. I'm enjoying writing them, so health allowing there should be plenty more, with time.