Diannika Alyse Star: Good evening! Thanks for agreeing to speak with us for Fantasy month!
To start us off, could you tell us a little about your book “Devotion”?
Katika Schneider: It’s my pleasure! Devotion is the first of my character-driven epic fantasy series, Tale of the Fallen. Its premise is a holy war against demons, set on an island nation whose god abandoned them. An immortal paladin is sent to try to restore faith to the nation and fend of the demonic threat. I like to think it has a little bit of everything in it – action, suspense, mystery, political intrigue, and a touch of romance.
Star: OOOH, That definitely sounds worth reading! What made you decide to write about that?
Schneider: Well, the series honestly began as a mistake. My freshman year of college, my then-boyfriend-now-husband asked me to create a character for an online RP he was part of. I said I’d only join if my character and his character could know each other, and he told me that was fine as long as I could figure out the logistics of how they met. That’s when I met my female lead, Nessix Teradhel, and she grabbed me by the hand, introduced me to her entire family, then dragged me along through her story. Before I knew it, the simple background for this character became an entire history, from birth until death, leaving me no real room for role playing. Having failed my objective, I told my husband what I’d done and he laughed and told me to scrap the RP idea and write the entire story. From there, I took a step back, fleshed out the history of the world of Abaeloth, created gods, killed gods, and created new gods. The entire beast has now gotten rather out of my control and after Tale of the Fallen is completed, I have at least two other series in The Afflicted Saga already underway.
Star: Wow. That is kinda awesome. 🙂 How many books do you anticipate in Tale of the Fallen?
Schneider: Assuming all of the rewrites stay on track, Tale of the Fallen will have five books. The entire series is already at least in first draft form, so mostly I have to make sure they clean up at the same pace which they came out. Once I have the entire series live, I’ll start on my male main character’s storyline, Legend of the Risen, and it’s currently at five rough drafts and not quite done.
Star: Was there a choice to finish a series before publishing, or did it just happen that way?
Schneider: When I first started writing what became Devotion and the subsequent books, I’d been determined to publish as soon as I could get them out. I’ve got a vicious inner editor, though, which kept me working on Devotion for the better part of 4 years. Once I finished Devotion, I set it aside to begin Deception, and in the first December of working on this book, I learned about NaNoWriMo (which I had barely missed). I was absolutely determined to participate in it the following year, so made finishing Deception my priority. Since then, November’s become a sacred month for me and I’ve churned out a fresh rough draft every year since 2007. Somehow, my publishing dreams kept getting shuffled aside – I’m going to blame how hectic life got on that one – but I’m actually very grateful for the delay I had. Let’s just say, it took me getting much deeper into other characters’ pasts for me to fully understand what I was working with, and it took me getting to experience a whole lot more in life to be able to do my characters justice. I’ve been in the world of Abaeloth since 2003 and it took until 2014 for me to feel as though I fully understood it enough to make things official. While part of me is disappointed for not making my original goal, there’s a much bigger part of me that is glad I took the time I needed. Having a massive backlog of first drafts is a happy accident and added bonus.
Star: So would you recommend those looking to publish a series in the future to wait until they had first drafts of all of it?
Schneider: It’s hard to say, since I’ve only experienced it this way and everyone has their own journey, but I definitely think it helps having the series already written out. For me, I feel as though it’s taken a lot of pressure off as far as trying to create a release schedule. Honestly, if I had it to do over again, I think I’d try to have the entire series at beta-level or better before releasing the first book, so it could all be seamless, but you live, you learn.
Star: I know I’ve heard people say that that definitely increases the overall quality and continuity of a series (As well as, of course, the publication rate lol)
When did you first realize you wanted to be an author?
Schneider: It first occurred to me in fourth grade. I’d had trouble getting interested in school until my fourth grade year. My teacher scheduled an hour of every day for Writing Workshop where all we did was learn about the different genres, different story telling devices and techniques, all that good stuff. Pretty much, it was an hour a day where we were allowed to be creative and express ourselves, with lessons in language arts hidden in there. I absolutely thrived on that hour and knew I had to keep writing in my life for the long haul. Not only did Writing Workshop secure my love for the written word, it also turned me around and got me caring about education as a whole. It’s one of the reasons why I think writing is such a beautiful part of our lives.
Star: Did you always write fantasy?
Schneider: To my recollection, I’ve only written one story that didn’t have some degree of fantasy element to it. I’ve always loved to read fantasy, but had been scared to write it for the longest time until I got my feet wet with a DragonLance fan fiction (before I knew what fanfic was) in junior high. I dabbled with a dystopian trilogy when I was in high school, but never made much of it. I’m a notorious rule breaker (or, at the very least, a rule stretcher) and there’s a certain degree of freedom that comes with writing in a completely unique world. Fantasy’s a good fit for me these days.
Star: Who would you say has inspired you most in your writing?
Schneider: As far as the authors that influenced me the most, it has to be Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. They’ve written three of my all-time favorite characters and really are the reason I thought maybe I could give fantasy writing a try. Outside of other authors, I credit where I’m at with my writing on my husband. He makes it a point to ensure that I can devote the time and energy needed for my writing and has so far funded all of the costs that go along with self publishing. I could not be where I am today without his support.
Star: It’s great that you have that kind of support!
One last question before we go, Do you have any advice for other writers?
Star: One more question to wrap things up.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Schneider: My advice to other writers is to write true to yourself, and take the time the story takes. Trying to write to suit other people and trying to rush a finished book are two of the most harmful things you can do to the integrity of your story. Don’t be afraid of letting it come out organically; that’s the best way to really let the story shine as it’s meant to.
Star: Thank you so much for doing this interview. It was great speaking with you!
Schneider: It was a pleasure! Thank you for having me.