Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What order should I read your books in?
With most of my books, it doesn't matter. Urdaisunia, The Lost Book of Anggird, and Sarya's Song are all stand-alone novels, in different worlds with different characters, that tell complete stories.
Chosen of Azara and The Warrior and the Holy Man are set in the Estelend world. Chosen is a stand-alone novel; Warrior and Holy Man are two longish short stories that can also stand alone but also supplement each other, featuring two characters who are mentioned in passing in Chosen. You can read them in any order. I suggest reading Chosen first and then Warrior and Holy Man, starting with Haveshi's story first. But you can also read them the other way around.
In the Daughter of the Wildings series, the books need to be read in order. Beneath the Canyons is the first book; the order numbers of the books will be clearly marked on the covers and book titles, and the reading order is also listed on the book page.
Q: How long have you been writing and what made you choose the genre in which you write?
A: I liked to write as a child, then I dropped it while I got involved with music through high school and college. I picked it up again almost 24 years ago, when my older son was a baby. There have been a few times when I've taken a few years off from writing, but I've never been able to leave it alone for very long.
I've always loved to read fantasy, and I've also always loved a good love story. I used to get frustrated because in a lot of the fantasy novels I read, wizards never got to fall in love, or, if they did, they never got to do anything about it. Kings and princes and all those other guys, but not wizards. I always imagined different storylines for my favorite novels where the wizards got to have some romance in their lives. When I was adjusting to life as a stay-at-home mom and decided I wanted a new intellectual challenge, I decided to start writing the kinds of fantasy novels I wanted to read. Not all of my novels involve wizards in love, but they all have magic (at least to a small degree), and they all have love stories.
Q: Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
A: I grew up, and still live, in Arizona, in the desert. While I hate the heat and dryness and love to see green and trees and water, the harsher beauty of the desert has sunk deeply into me. Significant portions of most of my books take place in desert settings; my novel Urdaisunia takes place entirely in a desert land, and important events in Chosen of Azara and The Lost Book of Anggird also occur in the desert. The desert seems to evoke lost people, mysteries, and ancient magic, and the harsh conditions can be the source of a lot of story conflict and challenges for the characters.
Q: Who or what are your inspirations/influences?
A: My parents gave me the Earthsea Trilogy for Christmas when I was about 11 or 12, and I loved it. I re-read those books over and over. Those were the books that really hooked me on fantasy. Another favorite series is the Riddlemaster of Hed series, by Patricia McKillip, which came out when I was in high school. Again, just love those books. I also love Patricia McKillip's style, and I think it influenced my own style a bit. Finally, my favorite author is Carol Berg. She's a more current writer, and her wizards/magicians get to be real people. I love her stories, and would love to be able to write as beautifully as she does.
Q: What music do you listen to, while writing?
A: Mostly alternative rock and symphonic metal. I have a fondness for female-fronted European metal bands, like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Delain, Edenbridge, Visions of Atlantis, and Xandria, but there are also some male-fronted bands I like too, like Myrath, Seventh Wonder, Serenity, and Kamelot. I also like Evanescence, AFI, and Angels and Airwaves. Other artists on my writing playlist include My Chemical Romance, The Killers, The All-American Rejects, Dire Straits, Savage Garden, Nina Gordon, Social Distortion, and Moving Mountains.
I like lyrics and music that set an emotional tone for what I'm writing, or that match up with scenes in the story. I also usually have a love song for each of my couples.
Q: Is there a message in your book? Do you want your readers to take something home?
A: I think a message in all my books is the importance of honor, of doing what's right even though it's hard, and also the importance of family, and how love can make you into a stronger and better person.
Q. You write romantic fantasy. What is it about the combination of those two elements that appeals to you?
A: Love is a powerful motivation, and showing characters in love, in a developing or even a committed relationship, shows sides of them that otherwise might not come through in the struggle to save the world or whatever the fantasy story is about. I think that showing the loving and romantic side makes the characters more well-rounded and more sympathetic, and raises the stakes in the story. Saving the world is one thing; saving it for the people you love - spouse, lover, children, family members, friends, makes it a lot more personal. I also like seeing how the development of the relationship and the fantasy quest or task or whatever the characters are doing affect each other - in my novels, the two are closely intertwined, and also how the couple deals with the challenges they face together. It's also interesting to see the couple work together to achieve their goals - even if, or especially if, they have different ideas about how do go about it!
Oh, and, wizards in love. What's not to love about wizards in love? :-D I have a thing about wizards in love, because in the books I read, it seemed like wizards never got to fall in love, or, if they did, they never got to do anything about it. It seems like so often in fantasy (or at least in the books I read), wizards live fairly ascetic lifetstyles, and there's something appealing about the contrast between that and the emotion and passion of falling in love and building a relationship.
Q: What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
A: There are two greatest joys: Bringing these characters who live in my head to life and telling their stories, and when a reader writes to me and tells me how much they enjoyed my story. If I can touch someone's life with my books, whether it's by giving them a few hours of relaxation and enjoyment or helping them through a difficult time, that's an incredible feeling.
Q: Are your books YA (Young Adult)? What ages are they appropriate for?
A: My books are written for adults. They feature adult characters with adult lives and concerns, and contain mature themes and situations including minimally to moderately explicit sex and violence (although I'm not exactly writing erotica here - far from it!), some rough language, and dark psychological issues and life situations such as rape, abuse, insanity, and suicide. I suggest my books for ages 17 and up; of course, this depends on the individual reader and, in the case of readers on the younger end of that age range, how their parents feel about it.
The content of my short stories is less explicit; however, they still feature adult characters and address adult themes and situations, and might not be of much interest to younger readers.
For more information on the content of my books, see this blog post: http://www.kyrahalland.com/1/post/2013/05/this-book-is-rated.html
Q: Why are you self-publishing?
A: I realized a long time ago that I freeze up if I'm trying to write for the approval of the gatekeepers of the publishing world - agents, editors, and, most of all, marketing departments. Also, publishing contracts have always been very unfair to authors and have only been getting worse in recent years. I chose self-publishing because it allows me to write what I want, when I want, how I want, and to maintain complete control over my books, my rights, my writing, my worlds and characters, my time, my career, my name and my money.
Q: I want to self-publish too. How should I go about it?
A: Read this blog post I wrote about my own self-publishing process:
And also read these blogs:
Dean Wesley Smith
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
The Passive Voice
A Newbie's Guide to Publishing
David Gaughran: Let's Get Digital
Finally, you can get lots of information from Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon, CreateSpace, and Smashwords.
Stay far far far away from self-publishing "services" such as Author Solutions, XLibris, Trafford, AuthorHouse, iUniverse, and Publish America. For more information, see these posts on David Gaughran's website.
Q: Will you review my book?
A: I don't accept review requests, sorry.
Q: I have a great idea for a novel. Will you write it for me?
A: Much as I like to help people out, the answer is no. For one thing, I already have too many of my own ideas to keep up with. For another, it may be a great idea, but chances are, it isn't a great idea for me. Ideas and novels are very personal; you have to write what you love, what's meaningful to you, what is in your mind and heart demanding to be written. Ideas provided by other people usually don't fit that description. And even if I did write a novel from your idea, chances are the story I end up with wouldn't be the story you wanted. Finally, the legal and financial arrangements would be too complicated.
If you have a good idea for a novel, write it yourself. You can find lots of resources for beginning writers at the National Novel Writing Month boards (in fact, I encourage you to take your idea and join NaNoWriMo!) and at hollylisle.com. But, you say, you don't know how to write a novel? Neither did I, at first. You learn by doing. Or you don't have time to write a novel? If you have 15 minutes a day, you can write a novel in a year.
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