Author Interview #4 – Lissa Dobbs

When looking for authors to interview, I’m always excited to find an author with a high fantasy universe and well developed characters. Lissa Dobbs’ “never ending story” is just that. As I looked through her website and blogs, it became clear she doesn’t mess around when it comes to her world building.
Check out my interview with her, and swing by her websites all about her world of Shadow Walkers.
Q. Let’s start off by getting to know you a little bit. Tell us a little bit about yourself, outside of your writing life.
There’s really not too much to tell. I enjoy reading, of course. I work a day job that, while not overly stimulating, does give me time to pursue my writing. My youngest son is about to graduate high school, so we’ll be getting into college mode soon. I’m hoping that will give me time to return to some of my other passions, like making dollhouse miniatures and crocheting.
Q. I noticed you also do work as an editor. What’s your favorite part of working with other authors?
I like getting to know them and getting to know their worlds. Besides, it gives me a great chance to read some new books before anyone else gets to.
Q. While reading your website, I noticed you’re heavily influenced by folklore and fairy tales. Which fairy tale you do you find yourself drawn to the most, or what trope do you notice showing up in your writing?
Oh gosh, there are so many fairy tales. I love all of them. I can’t really think of a favorite one, though I do find it fascinating that so many of the tales have parallels in multiple cultures. It’s as if the same story is written and rewritten over and over again. You find the same thing in mythology. Carl Jung did a lot of work on that with his idea of archetypes.
Q. As a Tolkien, Rowling, Lewis fan myself, I have to ask. What Middle Earth race do you relate to the most? What house would you be grouped in? And if your wardrobe was a portal to any magical world, which world would it be?
I’m a big fan of the wizards, especially Gandalf, though I find the elves and dunedain fascinating as well. I’m a Ravenclaw at Hogwarts and a Thunderbird at Ilvermorny. My patronus is a wild boar. As to the wardrobe, Raymond E. Feist’s Midkemia all the way. Let me go there, please!
Q. After looking through your books, I was most intrigued by your novel Wolf in the Shadow. What inspired you to write this novel?
This was actually an exercise in working out character history. Two of the main characters play large roles in my trilogy, the one I call ‘the story that never ends’ because I’ve been working on it for two years and can’t seem to settle into completing the revisions on the first one, and I wanted to explore their history a bit, to get to know them. I knew the two would be connected, but I wanted to know more about that connection and the dynamics of it. I knew from the beginning how it was going to end, but I won’t mention that.
Q. Every author has their own habits and rituals. Some write for hours, at a slow steady pace, and others hammer out words in less than thirty minutes. How much time do you find makes for your “ideal writing day”?
When I’m off work, I can write for twelve to fifteen hours in a day. If it’s going well, I’ll keep going as long as my eyes are able to look at the computer screen. I get tired, of course, but I never get tired of doing it.
Q. Which of your antagonist did you find yourself connecting to the most when you wrote them? Which protagonist did you connect with the least?
The antagonist I connect with the most is one that is an antagonist in ‘the story that never ends’, but he’s a protagonist in one of the others. I can’t say too much about that without a spoiler alert for those who haven’t read the books.
As to the protagonist I connect with the least, I think that one is Gwennyth Grimsbane in Aradia’s Secret. She just flat out gets on my nerves. I get that she’s scared, and I understand why, but…suck it up and go on. Please!
Q. You have many drawings of fantastic beasts on your site, as well as links to crochet blogs you recommend.  How do these other creative outlets inspire you when you sit down to write?
Well, some of the critters come from mythology (my son draws them for me), but others come to me at odd times. I like the world I’m working with to be a complete world. The creatures help me get a feel for the world and how it operates.
The crochet patterns are also my books. I’ve been crocheting since I was thirteen, but we won’t say how long ago that was, and I love doing it. It’s peaceful. One of the best parts, though, is creating patterns, whether they’re something simply like a washcloth or more complex. I have a partial pattern for a fall tablecloth, but I simply haven’t had the time to sit down and make one. If I ever do, I’ll probably publish that pattern as well.
Q. Richard Bach once said, “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” Who or what kept you writing at your low points on your road to be an author?
Mostly the people in my head. The ideas come whether I want to sit down and write the stories or not. It keeps me going when I feel like it isn’t worth the effort.
Q. Your work is filled with rich, vibrant cultures. Do you find yourself basing these off of any culture we see in today’s world, or are they whatever comes to mind?
Some of them may have tidbits from our cultures, but none of them are copies. I like to toss in different elements to make things original. A lot of the cultures develop on their own, and some of them are just coming to mind. Now that Aradia’s Secret is finished, I want to take some time and do some heavy-duty world building, even more so than what I’ve already done.
Q. When working on cover art, what inspires you the most?
I’m not the best at cover art, so I go with what I can make that I think might look all right.
Q. Ethan Grimley III is a Shadow Walker whose books, A Walker is Born, Cronos Attacks, and Revenge of Cronusare written for the early middle grade reading level. What do you hope inspires your young audience the most about your novels?
I’d like more than anything for some of them to slow down and spend some time with the old stories, the myths and legends. I think we’ve lost a lot of our love for those and the lessons they can teach. Sure, technology may make us more efficient, but myth and legend help us to be more human. We need more of that.
Q. If Ethan’s story were to be picked up for a movie or tv show, who would you hope to have play his lead role?
I have no idea. I don’t watch too much TV, and movies are mostly background noise for me. Just someone who could get to know Ethan and portray him realistically.
Q. I loved the imagery you put into your short story, How I Came to Experiment With Bonded Humans, especially how you described the demons your main character Professor Valedihr comes into contact with. What inspired the way these creatures looked?
I read a LOT of mythology and folklore, plus I read a lot of fantasy. Some of the images came from the woodcuts in old books (check out Internet Sacred Text Archive); others came from documentaries like Blue Planet, the ones that show the sea creatures that look like they could’ve come from the third hell.
Q. Some writers like to work alone, others need a “tribe”. Do you surround yourself with other authors, or do you prefer to figure out your plots on your own?
A little of both. Most of the people I bounce ideas off of aren’t authors. Since some of them have the same interests I do, it’s easy to get into a ‘what if’ kind of discussion. Most of the time, though, I work alone.
Q. What made you decide to self publish vs. the “traditional” route?
I chose self-publishing just because it seemed like fun. I have complete control over my work and can pretty much do what I want to with it. I like that.
Q. Writers, like all artists, collect ideas from their childhood and use their experiences in their stories. What place or person from your youth tends to show up in your work the most?
You know, I don’t think there really is one. Not a person anyway. I read a lot as a kid, and I’m sure some of my favorite characters may shine through, but I can’t think of a character or situation that really comes forward in my books. I’m sure someone else who read them and knew me then might could pick some out, though.
Q. What do you find is the most enjoyable thing when writing for children, and the least enjoyable thing when writing for adults?
I love writing for all age groups. There really isn’t a preference for me. All of the stories, the ones from Grevared anyway, actually link together, even if that isn’t obvious. Even The Chronicles of Ethan Grimley III has bits that will matter later, even if they don’t matter in a children’s book.
Q. If you could spend the afternoon with any author, alive or dead, who would it be?
Raymond E. Feist. He’s always been my favorite.
Q. To end, tell us a little bit about what you’re working on right now and when you hope to have it finished.
I want to go back through ‘the story that never ends’ again and maybe get it ready to publish. I also want to take some time to visit the world and maybe stay there for a few days, write out a bit more about the flora and fauna, the subcultures, etc. I’m not planning on putting out another book until fall or winter.
Please feel free to list any of your webpages and social media below. If I left one out, you’re more than welcome to add it.
Facebook: @shadowwalkersofgrevared
Twitter: @LissaDobbs

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