Interview with Lara S. Chase

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am fortunate to have a husband I'm nuts about, so I spend a good bit of time with him, and together we have an amazing group of friends. We hang out with them doing pretty much anything--be it sharing a meal, having a crazy game night, or a ladies crafting and wine night. I also love to cook, so I'm in my kitchen a lot, and have a food blog to keep all my recipes organized. In what time I have left, I'm usually reading fantasy (all kinds) or watching one of the many CW shows I'm addicted to.
What is your writing process?
Everything starts with a basic idea, be it for a fantasy world, character, or a small piece of a plot. From there, it bounces around in my brain for awhile, and I daydream and flesh it out a bit when I'm bored and stuck some place where I have nothing to do like waiting rooms or car rides or at night if I wake up and can't get back to sleep. I usually have a couple story ideas like this jumbling around all the time. Then, when I need a new project, I take the idea that seems the furthest along, and I start the process of research, character development, and outlining the plot. Sometimes this process takes almost as long as writing the book, and the binder it produces is usually as thick as a book. Then I write a first draft, have a few beta readers give me some feedback, and then work on editing it for a final draft. Again, sometimes the editing and polishing can take almost as long as writing the first draft. Once I have it where I want it, I send it to an editor who cleans it up even further for me. After all that, then I'm ready to publish.
How do you approach cover design?
First of all, I know enough to not try to do it myself. I don't think my readers would be impressed with my stick figure drawings of Galine and Sasha. I have a amazing cover designer I work with, Aria at Resplendent Media. Traditionally published authors often have no say over their titles or their covers, so it's very nice to be able to have exactly what I want on my cover. Nothing drives me more crazy than to read a book and the description of the main character does not match the depiction of him/her on the cover at all. I've read more than one bestseller where they don't even get the character's race correct. Aria's wonderful at matching the descriptions I give her, even changing eye colors to the exact shade I want. She also is great at bringing a critical scene to life and matching the overall urban fantasy mood I'm trying to convey.
What do you read for pleasure?
I mostly read different types of fantasy. I enjoy urban fantasy and paranormal, of course, since that is what I write, but I also enjoy most young adult fantasy, epic fantasy, retellings of myths, folktales, or fairy tales, alternate histories, time travel, and some science fiction. I also love a good humorous book and an occasional romance, thriller, or mystery. I'm also a sucker for a good cookbook. My husband laughs at me because I read them like novels, devouring every page. In general, I will read most anything if you make me care about the characters. If I'm indifferent about what happens to the characters, though, I don't care if you've won the Pulitzer Prize, I'm ditching your book.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle Paperwhite with the built in light. I am absolutely in love with it. Admittedly, I haven't tried any of the other e-readers. Before I got it, I used the Kindle app on my phone and laptop/tablet. It was nice, but eventually my eyes got tired from the glare. I can read from the Paperwhite for hours, and I like the light so I can read in the dark in the car or in bed and not wake up my husband. It's also great for travel. Before when I traveled internationally, it was difficult to find books in English, but that's not a problem anymore.
Describe your desk
I don't actually write at my desk. I write in either a recliner or a wingback chair and footstool with my laptop. I also do a lot of writing in my pajamas. Comfort while working is one of the huge perks of the job. I do use my desk for outlining and editing, though, when I need to spread out papers and take a more hands on approach. My desk is very special to me. It's a wooden hand-me-down from my great aunt, who was also a writer in her younger days. She was a reporter for a local paper, and even had her own column, nearly unheard of for a woman at the time. She also wrote a book about living along the Ohio River and our family.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in rural Indiana on a farm. While I know Friday Night Lights was about a community in Texas, it could have just as easily been about the small town I grew up in. We had more corn, but we we no less football obsessed. My junior year we were the state champions in our division, and my senior year we were the runners-up. As someone who was not good at sports, and didn't even have much interest in them, there was not a great deal for me to do. To stave off boredom, I was either reading a book or imagining new adventures for my favorite characters when stuck somewhere without a book. Almost as soon as I learned to write, I began to put these daydreams down into stories. By the time I left Indiana and started living in cities with plenty of diverting pastimes, I was already in love with books and writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My current project is The Gamayun Prophecies, an urban fantasy/paranormal series. The first book is Call of Affliction, the second is Wings of Ash. They are both out now, and the third book, Crown of Sacrifice will be out in March 2016. The idea for the books originally came from a Russian painting I saw of a Gamayun. Since I read a lot of paranormal fantasy, I was intrigued by this picture of what was clearly some sort of shapeshifter, but I had ever heard of a Gamayun. I did some research and came across some of the old Russian folktales about the prophet that was half woman/half bird. I didn't find much, but it was enough to get my wheels spinning, wondering what it would be like for someone to live with a power like that today. What challenges would they face, especially if as a prophet, they didn't even believe in the God they served? Galine's character took root, and Sasha's soon after. I wanted to write an urban fantasy series that was still full of the action and romance readers were used to, but with a story line different what they might normally read.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Why, how easy it is and the great pay! Ha, ha, ha. Sorry, I think the hysterical moment has passed now. One of the rude awakenings I have had is that the only reason to write is because you love to write. Both the traditional and indie author path are very difficult. What eventually helped me decide the indie path was my books didn't fit into an easily definable genre. They are mostly urban fantasy with a touch of paranormal, young adult, new adult, horror, romance, humor, myth retelling, etc. Even within the urban fantasy genre, you're supposed to write about vampires, werewolves, the fae, or some other well established beastie. Writing about an obscure shifter from Russian religious mythology doesn't seem marketable to established publishing houses. So while most agents that read what I wrote liked it, they just weren't willing to take the risk on something they weren't sure they could sell. Being an indie author gives you the freedom to bet on yourself. I felt there was an audience out there that would enjoy Galine and Sasha's story, even if it wasn't typical. If reviews are any indicator, I was right.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love my characters. I spend a lot of time outside of writing the book developing what they are like. I want to know how they dress, what their apartment or house looks like, how they smell, what they eat for breakfast every morning. My characters become beloved friends to me, and I want them to feel the same to my readers. I love to hear from a reader, "Oh I read this scene and I just hurt so much for the character I cried," or "That character always makes me laugh," or "I can't believe he did that!" Anytime a character becomes as real for a reader as they have for me, I love it.
What do your fans mean to you?
It's still hard even wrapping my head around the idea that people buy and read my books! Then on top of that to have fans sort of makes my head spin. Every time someone new leaves me a glowing review, or signs up for my newsletter, or likes my Facebook page, I'm a little overwhelmed. It's very humbling to have people emailing me letting me know they just can't wait for the next book. I never really set out to write to become famous or make a lot of money. I always did it in hopes that people would just read my stories and enjoy them. So when a fan tells me that they liked a book, I'm incredibly grateful, because it really is why I write.
What are you working on next?
Right now, the third book in the Gamayun Prophecies, Crown of Sacrifice, is in the capable hands of my editor and cover designer getting the finishing touches for publishing. Since it is mostly done, I'm concentrating most of my energy these days on the fourth book, Flight of Hope, which will be out in June 2016.
Who are your favorite authors?
Megan Whalen Turner, Kristin Cashore, Naomi Novik, Deborah Harkness, Maria Semple, Patricia Briggs, Karen Chance, Eileen Wilks, Patrick Rothfuss, Stephenie Meyer, Cassandra Clare, Robin McKinley, Leigh Bardugo, Diana Gabaldon, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Peters, Lloyd Alexander, Laini Taylor, Tamora Pierce, Garth Nix, J.K. Rowling
Published 2016-02-15.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Flight of Hope
Series: The Gamayun Prophecies. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,930. Language: English. Published: June 27, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Galine is tired of running. As she continues to flee Sirin, Sera, and the God who cursed her to be the Gamayun, Galine is also haunted by visions of the past. Galine even begins to fear visits from the child Zhanna. In this fourth book of the series, Galine will no longer be able to fly out of her enemies' grasp. Some of them will catch her. When they do, what will be the cost?
Crown of Sacrifice
Series: The Gamayun Prophecies. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 72,790. Language: English. Published: March 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Galine thought she’d have some time to heal after Sasha put a hole in Sirin’s chest. But Sera takes up her mother’s quest to hunt down the Gamayun. Sera isn’t Galine’s only problem. She still doesn’t know where Sirin’s demon hawks are taking the souls they steal. In order to find out, the group must split up. Each journey brings danger, but Galine’s allies could be their own worst enemies.
Wings of Ash
Series: The Gamayun Prophecies. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 70,080. Language: English. Published: February 23, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
Galine knew Alex was trouble from the moment she met him. Now he's whispering lies about her. Unfortunately, Galine has been telling lies of her own to keep her identity as the Gamayun a secret. Even more troubling, she's beginning to wonder just what Alex is. Galine struggles alone, but while trying to keep Sasha safe, has she cut herself off from the one person who might be Alex's match?
Call of Affliction
Series: The Gamayun Prophecies. Price: Free! Words: 72,380. Language: English. Published: February 23, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban, Fiction » Romance » Paranormal
Galine Karsavina no longer has control over her body. She is forced to shift into the half woman, half bird Gamayun and deliver prophecies to Sirin, who guards the gates of hell. The last Gamayun lost everyone she ever loved. Galine refuses to meet that same fate, even if that means lying to her sister and best friend. Her only ally is Sasha, but can she trust this guardian keeping secrets?