Interview with Robyn Lloyd

What is your writing process?
It all depends on how quickly a story comes to mind.

The quicker the idea comes to mind, the more linear I have to write. Beginning, middle, end, and everything in between, strictly in that order. The creative juices are overflowing so fast, I'll lose my plot bunnies if I don't. My stories tend to have more action/forward motion this way.

The longer I've had the idea in mind, the more leisurely I can write. A sentence here, a paragraph there. It's more like note-taking on how I want to work something out, then I'll write whole scenes once I'm satisfied. Things may change throughout, but I'll still work through the list. My stories tend to have more detail this way.

If it's an idea I have to force, it'll be the roughest draft, by far. I'll write the beginning or the end, skipping back and forth from chapter to chapter, writing all the major points. Only then will the smaller details come into play. Hopefully. My stories tend to be more dramatic this way.
How do you approach cover design?
Oh, I love cover design! Second-most passion is drawing.
- First, I figure out which character has the strongest presence in the story--usually the protagonist, sometimes the antagonist--or if an object would be better (like the many objects on the cover of my short story compilation, NOT SHORT—FUN SIZE).
- I also figure out if the cover would be best in my style or my sister's (she's a much more diversely skilled artist).
- Next, I imagine what pose would most powerfully encompass either the entire story, or the character's/object's entire part. I may sketch on paper or on the computer, whichever medium is available at the time of the idea or whichever I want the initial drawing in. Sometimes, I may just simply jot ideas down in a memo on my phone. The sketch always, always has a bunch of notes around it.
- Should it be a simpler pose and style, or should it be exaggerated and stylized? Should there be a lot of details, or as bare as possible? Should it remain only on the front of the book (as is the case for e-books), or should it be a wrap-around across the spine and bleed onto the back cover? Should there be a character or object at all?
- Once that's all answered, there's figuring out the style of color: a few colors; multiple colors; black and white with red; earthy; dark; ethereal? Should there be an outline, or should the colors be free?
- Shading and lighting comes after that.
- Next is background, possible border, text, etc.
- Last is my signature and watermark.

And, voila!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's like asking which tooth to pull. Such a long list! In no particular order:

1) THE SEVENTH TOWER by Garth Nix. This series really got me into reading fantasy. I'd seen it in a Scholastic flyer, praised by George Lucas--I knew that name! So, gathered enough money with chores and babysitting to buy it. I hadn't realized it was book two. It didn't matter. My world exploded and I had to read more. It was fantastical, scary, action-packed, dramatic, funny. It had elementals, royalty, vikings, oracle crones, codexes, villains, neat fantasy names, and a storyline based around jewels, of sorts (loved geology, still do). I've had the series for nearly twenty years now, and every so often go back to reread it.

2) THE DREAM-HUNTER by Sherrilyn Kenyon. While I absolutely adore every book by this amazing woman, this was the first I read. Not my top fave of hers, but it has the biggest place in my heart. I had picked it up around twenty years old, not realizing just how adult it was, but I became a Menyon for life by the end of the prologue. Her vast knowledge of mythology (Greek in this one, my fave), use of modern society, sarcasm, drama, romance, and especially familial values gets me every time, and keeps me coming back.

3) MISTBORN by Brandon Sanderson. I was never into political stories until I picked up the first in this series a friend recommended. This man has such a way with stories, I was hooked instantly. It wasn't as action-packed as I was used to, but on the same token was chocked full of non-stop action; so many hidden layers!; it borders sci-fi as much as it screams fantasy; makes you love the characters, only to be heartbroken (first and only book I've ever thrown out of anger/shock. Finished it anyway and adore it); reopened my love of Dungeons & Dragons, even though it's not associated. The list goes on.

4) ROMEO & JULIET by Shakespeare. I'm a sucker for certain tragedies because of this. Got into Shakespeare young and learned the love of a good, dramatic flow, with or without rhyming. It had nothing to do with it being a classic or reading it in school. I just picked it up while really young and fell in love.

5) SADAKO AND THE THOUSAND PAPER CRANES by Eleanor Coerr. While NUMBER THE STARS by Lois Lowry is a favorite, SADAKO left a deeper mark. I remember sitting in class, silently crying as I listened to my substitute teacher read it. It was so beautiful (tearing up typing this). And, then, we made the paper cranes with the instructions in the back of the book. I'd already loved origami and Japanese culture, so learning the legend of the birds only strengthened both. Every time someone I care for is sick in the hospital, I have the urge to make paper cranes. Every time I have the urge to make a paper crane, I know someone I care for is in the hospital. When I lost my copy of the book, a little piece of me went with it--until I found it while packing to move some years later. The book sits where I can reach it at any time to reread it.

Honorable mentions:
- CHRONICLES OF NICK by Sherrilyn Kenyon. An alternate universe where Nick Gautier gets a second chance.
- MAXIMUM RIDE by James Patterson. Teens experimented on to have avian wings save the world!
- LE MORTE DE ARTHOR by Sir Thomas Mallory. Foolishly did a 10-page paper on this monster-sized book, but was worth it!
- THE WARDSTONE CHRONICLES by Joseph Delaney. Amazing children's/young adult horror series!
- TWILIGHT series by Stephanie Meyer. I stand by this one. Read the first three books in five days, while traveling back and forth to move 30 miles away. Her style flows and the drama was addictive.
- Almost anything by Dr. Seuss.
- Almost anything Roald Dahl. "The Babysitter" was the first poem I ever memorized, it was so funny.
- HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE and HOUSE OF MANY WAYS by Diana Wynne Jones. If you're a fan of Studio Ghibli's version of the former, read this.
- SAILOR MOON by Takeuchi Naoko. My first manga series and one of my first anime series.
- HELLSING manga by Hirano Kohta. What became of Dracula (one of my crushes as a child and a huge inspiration). Takes place during WWII and the 1990s in Britain. Very graphic and disturbing, but oddly beautifully so.
- VAMPIRE KISSES by Ellen Schreiber. Cheesy, fun vampire love story between a goth teen girl and her mysterious boyfriend.
- THE CHRONICLES OF VLADIMIR TOD and THE SLAYER CHRONICLES by Heather Brewer. The author is from my hometown! An endearing tale about a vampire teen boy trying to balance life as a vamp and a human.
- VAMPIRE KNIGHTS by Hino Matsuri. A teen romance vampire manga series, of course, but something about it is just so enchanting, I couldn't put it down.
- DRAGON KNIGHTS by Ohkami Mineko. Get darker and more mysterious as it goes, it follows knights that can use elemental powers (with the help of dragons).
- MICHIGAN CHILLERS by Jonathan Rand. Similar to Goosebumps. Met Mr. Rand at my elementary school and decided I'd be an author giving autographs one day, too.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
My mother says the first book I really got in to at just under a year old fascinated me for days. I stared at the cover until I got frustrated because I knew there was something more to it, but wasn't sure what. When she demonstrated how to open it, I flipped out and turned the pages for hours. Haven't stopped since.

That wasn't the first one I remember--first I remember is The Foot Book by Doctor Seuss, which taught me the love of rhyme, art, and how much I prefer romping around in bare feet instead.

But, that story of hers has stayed with me. The "story" of me falling in love with books, "written" by my mother. Anytime I have doubt about writing, if it's truly my greatest passion, I recall her story and the joy it brings us both. Anytime I get bored with books (heaven forbid), I recall that story and the joy it brought. The impact speaks volumes. Most of all, it reminds me of why I write--not only to see my joy, but to hopefully see my tales bring others joy, be it their first story or their last.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing stories as long as I can remember. In early learning, I'd search out things to tell a story about, even though I couldn't write them down as well as I wanted. In my six years of elementary school (1st through 6th), I worked as hard as possible to be one of two students allowed to attend The Writing Festival for free with my family because of my stories. The school actually had to tell me to stop, so that other students had opportunities! The Writing Festival was where I could take my story, have it read by professional authors, and be in a class where I could illustrate my stories, too, and then read it to a crowd, among other fun things.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Lapeer, Michigan, in a neighborhood that was technically in the "country" but technically a suburb, too. I think the open outdoors that I periodically avoided, and yet opened the windows to as often as possible, influenced the use of nature in my writing. Being two miles from the city influenced my love of having characters living close to society, and yet just far enough away to escape. Living near an airport and being able to hear the train in the wee hours of the morning led me to enjoy the silent nights with the tree-frog-choruses that frequent the rare quiet moments in my writing. The ability for my characters to just... listen. The open sky, where I could go out to my driveway at midnight to watch the stars with my family or sunrise from one room and sunset in another inspired my frequent descriptions of the sky in writing.
Describe your desk
It used to be a corner desk with a PC screen and black-and-neon-blue-glowing speakers in the middle of it. On top, to the left, sat a pile of folders and loose papers. To the top right, my printer/copier.
To the left of the monitor was a shelf with a set of small doors, like a cabinet built in. On the doors sat over fifty small sticky notes with the differences between words (affect vs. effect, for example). Behind the doors sat my dozen or so sketchbooks, all filled and overly loved. Underneath the doors sat various drawing and writing tools, a small purse with floppy discs/A-discs with my older stories, and other knick-knacks. To the right of the computer screen was an open shelf, filled with my first checkbook, passwords, email addresses of friends, loose drawings, and loose papers I had written quotes I liked from authors, shows, songs, etc--inspiration. Under that was a drawer, where I kept trinkets and old computer hard drives I hoped to one day save, wires, and some neat graphite pieces my father made as a carbide tooler.
Underneath the top of the desk was the keyboard. Beneath that, to the left, sat piles of books and binders and more drawing supplies. To the right, on a shelf, was a VCR player I kept for watching old VCR tapes, despite my TV only accepting a DVD player hookup. Under that--my computer itself. Between it all, to the back, a subwoofer.

Now, I sit in a chair or on my bed with my laptop. I have become my desk.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Honestly, one of the main reasons is because I'm such an introvert. I'm very friendly, but I really didn't know how to go about getting in touch with a bunch of people to help me. Was still too new at it all, and lost while in a new State. I tried self-publishing in 2008 and didn't do too bad, but didn't know nearly enough yet. Even though doing every job on my own was too much work at some points, I really liked the freedom and being able to say, "I'm young and I did this." It helped my confidence and to learn where I stood--inexperienced and ready to become the author and publisher I wanted to be. At the time, being an indie author was still a novel idea to most (rim shot). Now, it's common! Funny how fast things went after a certain point.

Upon entering classes through Full Sail University, I've learned everything I wanted and more. Aside from the requirement to faux-self-publish during classes, I dove at the opportunity to get back into publishing for real after so long of dropping it and re-working toward it. I'd love to move on to having an agent someday, and being published, but for now, I'm perfectly happy getting my name out there as an indie author.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm just starting out, but word-of-mouth has actually worked the best, so far. When I wrote and self-published my first book (currently on hiatus), NOTHING IS AS IT SEEMS (2008), I asked multiple family members to read the proof, as well as a handful of friends. To this day, most of them periodically ask about what I'm writing and if they can read it. Their friends, as well. My father took my short story, "The Messenger" (2017), published through online magazine SCARLET LEAF REVIEW, to work after I printed it out for him, and it was passed around to probably thirty people. Now, most of them ask him frequently if I have anything else out. A few have been passing around my proof copies of other books I intent to rewrite that I never published.

Now, promoting my website, https://robynlloyd.wixsite.com/worldofmco9 , has helped, as well.
What's the story behind your latest book?
NOT SHORT—FUN SIZE (2018) is a compilation of five flash fictions and short stories I wrote while attending Full Sail University's online classes for my Creative Writing Bachelor's degree. Adding to that is the book I'm working on that has to do with two of NOT SHORT—FUN SIZE's stories, "The Minion" (2017) and "Paths That Bind: A MINIon" (2017). I had wanted to write a story centered around elements similar to Mario and Legend of Zelda and arcade game-like video games: Evil bosses, minions, heroes, potions that heal and make you go faster, monstrous creatures, dare-devil feats, princesses, funny animal friends, etc. The idea of a minion that defies the norm appealed greatly to me.

The chance to develop it presented itself in a class called "Discovering New Worlds," where we were to expand a world through rigorous research. The teacher basically said, "Be free, but within these guidelines!" While dealing with the stress, pain, and relief of losing my grandmother (ironically in the same state as Full Sail University, while I lived 500 miles away and traveled back and forth), I went overboard with details for this minion-boss-princess story. It went from a silly, video-game-like story, to a two-part epic. THE MINION will now be a story split between the antagonist's side of the tale, Kry For-Me Slaine, and the protagonist's, his Boss, Kill R. Marksman. Boss Marksman's will be set far before the events of "The Minion," "Paths That Bind: A MINIon," and THE MINION, to explain what twisted him so harshly.
Published 2018-01-23.
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Books by This Author

Not Short—Fun Size
Pre-release—available November 1, 2018. Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 7,470. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
NOT SHORT—FUN SIZE. An overall Fantasy Fiction, this small e-collection of shorts includes Detective, Paranormal, and Action/Adventure Fiction! With a little drama and romance between the lines. Enter, where ghosts steal cars; thieves get sweet revenge; a 1930s-detective is torn between the law and love; and an elemental General gets caught in the line of duty, where integrity challenges morality.