Wednesday, October 14, 2015

An Interview with PD Kalnay, Author of The Arros Chronicles

I was recently able to interview P.D Kalnay, author of The Arros Chronicles, a young adult fantasy series centered around the adventures of six princesses. 

You can visit P D Kalnay at his website or follow him on twitter to keep up to date with his latest projects. 
The Spiders of Halros (The Arros Chronicles #1) is currently free on Amazon in US, UK, and Canada. I highly recommend this series if you want some fun, light fantasy to read. I have really enjoyed them so far. Now on to the interview!

So far you’ve published two novels in The Arros Chronicles. Can you tell us a little more about this series and where your inspiration came from?

I started writing The Spiders of Halros as an experiment to see if I could: a) write a novel and b) write a fantasy novel my younger sister would enjoy. Along the way I became interested in the characters and the story grew. Originally, I planned to write a middle grade trilogy (you can still see some of the bones of that in the first book). Once I’d laid out the entire story arc I realized it would take six or seven books (of the same approximate size) and the story-line went too dark for pre-teens. I found myself in the position of not being able to let my nine year old nephew read the second book which is why I rated the series as young adult. I think you’d have to search long and hard to find a thirteen year old who’d lived a sheltered enough life to be shocked by anything in The Arros Chronicles.
The inspiration for the series was the many, many fantasy books I’ve read. Admittedly, only a small percentage of those had female leads. I started a princess filled series for reason b) above.

How do you choose names for your characters? Do the names have special meaning within the story (or to you)?

I find naming characters to be particularly onerous. Back when I was much younger (and never finished writing any books) I would spend a good deal of time world building. Drawing maps, filling in family trees and all the rest of the things you’ll find in the appendix for the Lord of the Rings. Now I mostly cut to the action and build the world in a backhanded way. The names of the princesses in The Arros Chronicles are, with one exception, my niece’s names. You can decide if that’s sweet or merely lazy. Some people have strong feelings about using real life names for characters in fantasy books. I find if the names in a book are weirdly unpronounceable I mentally replace them with nicknames anyway. I make up the odd name, but I try to keep a tight grip on my use of x’s and z’s.

Do you have any favorite authors or books you would recommend?

Some of my favorite deceased authors are Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Terry Pratchett. For the guys still writing, I’d recommend Brandon Sanderson and Jim Butcher. Fiction is very subjective, so I think it’s best to sample a lot of it and find what you like.

Do you have a certain place you write (office, kitchen, outside, etc)? Do you set daily/weekly writing goals?

I write in a little office/closet with a big window beside me. I’m the sort of person who likes a quiet distraction-free environment. I’m always amazed when people tell me they write while listening to music. I find being outside too distracting to read, let alone write.
I set myself a 2000 word a day minimum. That’s an arbitrary number. On a bad day I’ll struggle to hit that and on a great one I might crack 7000. I’m slower and more meticulous than a lot of writers I think. My goal is to write 2000 words which will likely make it into the finished book.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?

Both. It depends on the day. Sometimes I sit down and write with no plan. Sometimes I have a chapter planned out. Sometimes the entire series is planned out. Once in a while, some scene from later in a book or series will hit me in a bout of inspiration and write itself (those parts are almost always keepers).
Usually, a book is some combination of the above. Even if the overall plot stays the same there are always unexpected twists and turns that pop up. I find writing a book as exciting as reading one.

What book(s) do you wish you could have written?

I’ve loved a lot of wonderful books by other people, but would most like to write my own truly excellent book at some point.

How do you come up with titles for your books?

I look for an underlying theme or piece of the story that sets the book apart from the others in a series. Nothing I’ve written yet has kept its original title in the end. Titles are like online user names, most are already taken.

Have you always been a writer? Who/what first inspired you?

I’ve always been a reader. I didn’t start writing (fiction) consistently until about two years ago. Writing books was on my to-do list for a few decades. I started a novel in the mid 90’s and made it about eight chapters in. The only copy is a dot-matrix printout on perforated printer paper. It wasn’t terrible and after reading it again I thought, I’d like to know how this ends.
I think C.S. Lewis deserves credit for my initial love of reading.

Are you currently working on any projects?

I’m always writing something. I have to do the final edit on a science fiction novel which is more or less finished. The third book of The Arros Chronicles is about half written and all laid out, but I’ll probably only write one book a year for that series. Most recently I’ve been writing a new middle grade fantasy series while I let the science fiction book percolate. I’ve been writing that series all together, moving from book to book. I find being my own editor; I need a break from a book to see it with fresh eyes again. I start working on another in the meantime.
Finally, I’ve got a stack of picture books to illustrate (someday).

What is a question you’ve always wanted to be asked in an interview? Answer that question.

This is my first interview;)

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