Today it is my pleasure to share my interview with L. L. MacRae, author of the Linaria and Kouzlo series.
Her brand new series, Dragon Spirits is out on ebook now and on paperback just round the corner on 11th June 21!
Welcome to Spells & Spaceships!
Dragon Spirits Book 1 The Iron Crown has just been released. Firstly, congratulations! What can potential readers expect from your book?
Thank you so much, Alex! It’s an honour to be here!
The Iron Crown is the first book in a new epic fantasy series called Dragon Spirits. Readers can expect to be immersed in a classic adventure fantasy, with an eclectic cast of characters, and plenty of dragons! It is full to bursting with curses (and blessings), spirits, griffins, an ancient enemy on the rise, and more.
The series touches a little on themes of life and death (and whether you accept it, fight against it, or try to change it), and there is also LGBTQ+ rep. It’s quite character-driven, too, and the worldbuilding has also been praised.
There are some tropes that readers might recognise, such as found family, amnesia, and things being more than what they seem. Although hopefully readers will find interesting spins on these, and have their expectations subverted!
Overall, the atmosphere is light-hearted and hopeful. It’s fun, escapist, fantasy!
Looking at your website, readers have a nice opportunity to experience your prequel novella for free, right? That seems the perfect opportunity to experience the world of Tassar you’ve created.
Yes! I have three series and each of them has a spin-off/prequel novella to introduce readers to the various worlds – all for free!
The Citrine Key is the name of the prequel novella for Dragon Spirits, set five years before the first book. It isn’t essential reading by any means (plenty of people have read The Iron Crown without reading the novella and had zero issues in understanding or comprehension), but it offers a taste of Tassar, introduces some of the worldbuilding, and is told from the POV of a main character that appears later in The Iron Crown itself.
From the reviews coming through, the POV character from The Citrine Key is becoming a favourite character overall, which might tempt people to give the novella a look! I think readers always love a roguish character with a past they’re trying to be free of!
Has your career in marketing had an impact on your approach to the market as a self published author?
I would say my career as a Copywriter has probably impacted me more than general marketing, as that was where I specialised. Paid ads, like FB and AMS, have a steep learning curve – one I’m still at the bottom of! Thankfully, there are plenty of groups, tools, courses, and seminars to aid marketing self-published books, and as these are more specific to books, they’re more useful than anything I did when I worked in marketing.
As a Copywriter, I often had to write things to various deadlines, and being succinct was always a necessity. As a result, I try to apply clarity and simplicity to my fiction writing, which makes it approachable and easy to read for beginners to fantasy and veteran readers of the genre (I hope!). I’m usually able to avoid infodumps and build intrigue or expand the world, characters, mystery etc. in a natural way as the book progresses!
However, I think as a self-published author, being part of a community and “networking” is really important. While writing itself can be lonely, you need a whole community to get the book as good as it can be. From editors to alpha/beta readers, arc readers to everyone who decides to buy the book, they’re all part of your author journey. Recognising and appreciating that is really essential, I think. It’s important to build those connections, make friends, and elevate each other!
How many books are planned in the series and do you have plans for any more novellas? Are the books already written?
There will be a trilogy of novels in Dragon Spirits, but I do have some ideas for other spin-off novellas (possibly even novels, depending on where the plotting goes), which would be really fun to do! None of the books are written yet, but some are in the early plotting stage.
I have a couple of mini-projects to complete over the summer, then I’ll start on book two, The Shadow Gate, probably in August or September, to be released in March 2022.
I see you’ve already published two other series (and none of the books drop below 4 stars on Goodreads, which is quite incredible!) – would you say you’ve changed as a writer much from your debut up to this point?
Oh gosh, yes, I’ve changed SO much! I’ve published the best part of a million words between Moroda (my debut novel) and The Iron Crown. A couple of people who generously dedicated their time to reading an ARC of The Iron Crown – and who had also read Moroda – commented on the growth they can see in my writing.
My characters are miles better than in my earlier works, with stronger personalities and motivations. Overall my writing is tighter than before and has generally levelled up!
Part of that growth is why the mini-project I mentioned earlier is actually re-writing Moroda and Palom (the first two novels in my World of Linaria epic fantasy series), as I’m releasing those as second editions under my current author name. While they were decent books, they were quite rough around the edges, and I’d like to take my author name changing as an opportunity to bring them up to my current standard.
Can we get a little insight into the role magic plays in your new Dragon Spirits series?
There are a couple of different streams of magic, not all of which have been encountered or explored just yet! I will say that the majority of it comes from two places – the dragons and the Myr, which are a race of creatures that have historically been at odds with the dragons.
Both species are pure magic, although their power comes from different sources. Both also interact with – and influence – the world of Tassar and its inhabitants in very different ways.
Corruption, curses, and blessings, can all affect people and spirits, leading to some different and exciting ways that magic can be shown!
The cover art for both The Iron Crown and The Citrine Key is so eye catching! Who designed the artwork?
Thank you! The artwork was created by Psycat Studio 🙂
And to get to know the author a little better!
So, some more laid back questions so readers can get to know you a little better as a person as well as an author.
The most important one; please tell us about your dog!
Okay, grab yourself a cuppa or other preferred beverage, because I can talk people’s ears off about Boris!
He is a type of bulldog (my default answer when people ask what breed he is) – but if you’d like to know the specifics, he is an Alapaha Blue Blood Bulldog, and he’ll be turning eight years old on 28th June! The breed is considered quite regal-looking (a fact I definitely agree with), and one of his nicknames, among many, is King Boris. I think it suits him rather well!
My boyfriend got him as a puppy, and when we started dating, I pretty much adopted Boris, too! He is my constant writing companion (also feet warmer), and provides entertainment whenever I am working.
Despite how much I adore him, he really is a “daddy’s dog” and I am forgotten instantly when my boyfriend returns home from work!
He has a few health issues, including arthritis, and he isn’t able to walk as far as he used to, but that’s fine, because Boris is a champion sleeper. We both love sitting in the garden together enjoying the sunshine when it makes a rare appearance in the UK, and I wouldn’t be without him!
You’ve entered SPFBO this year. Good luck! Have any self published books from other authors caught your eye so far this year – even if it’s just the cover?
Thank you so much! Keeping my fingers and toes crossed! I entered SPFBO 4 a few years ago with Moroda, which was a semi-finalist! I am hoping The Iron Crown does well, too, but mostly I’m trying not to be too stressed about it all!
There are so many other books in the contest that look incredible – a couple of which I’ve already read! Of the ones I don’t know, five books that I really love the look of are:
From The Darkness Comes by Joy Demers
The Broken Heart of Arelium by Alex Robins
Cold From The North by D.W. Ross
The Thunder Heist by Jed Herne
Shadows of Ivory by T.L. Greylock and Bryce O’Connor
What does your writing setup look like?
I have a couple of different places where I write depending on my mood and the weather. Most of the time, I write on the sofa with Boris curled up beside me! But I often will write at the dining table, or upstairs in the home office (usually when it comes to the final stages). If the weather is nice, I’ll sit in the garden!
Tea is a non-negotiable part of my writing set up, and I need music of some sort, as well (though it has to be free of lyrics, otherwise I end up typing what I hear!) Video game music and movie soundtracks are usually best.
I also have a notebook and pen because sometimes jotting down ideas on paper works better than typing!
If you had 6 months of free time to write, and could spend it wherever you liked money and Covid no object, where would you transport to as your perfect spot?
Honestly, writing in the garden is the best place in the world for me!
If I was to be bolder, perhaps a castle somewhere, looking out over the sea? Water always helps my creativity flow, so having the sea or a lake or something like that would be super exciting!
What do you do to celebrate when you finish writing a book?
It’s nice to celebrate with a takeaway! (Chinese food is my favourite by far.) But sometimes I will get some cupcakes or brownies!
What is your favourite non dragon fantasy creature?
Griffins! (I love pretty much any fantasy creature that can fly!)
Do you have a favourite book or series?
Hard to choose just one! So I’m cheating a little and listing my current top ten books:
The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang
Senlin Ascends by Josiah Bancroft
Jade War by Fonda Lee (book two in her Green Bone Saga)
Ruin by John Gwynne (book three in his Faithful and the Fallen series)
The Copper Promise by Jen Williams
The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick
Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan
The Heartstrikers series in its entirety, by Rachel Aaron
If you’re not reading or writing, what do you do to relax?
I’m usually playing video games of some sort! RPGs are always fantastic (especially JRPGs, with the Final Fantasy series being high on my list). I’ve recently started playing Spiritfarer, which I’m utterly in love with!
My boyfriend and I are also huge petrolheads and we have a number of cars between us. Once things are safer post-covid, it’ll be good to go back to shows and events and have fab days/evenings out with friends again!
Thanks for taking part in the interview today Lauren! Best of luck with your new series and your SPFBO entry.
Thank you so much!
Here’s more Boris! I love him!