Interview with Kyra Halland

Published 2017-12-28.
When did you first start writing?
I liked to write stories and plays as a child. The first story I remember writing was the tale of Daisy the Horse-Farm Horse, in 2nd grade. I also wrote a play about Sir Francis Drake when I was in the 4th grade, and my very awesome teacher, Mrs. Garrity, allowed me to perform it for the class. The scene with the storm at sea was very exciting!

Starting in 5th grade, I became more of a music person, and ended up getting two degrees in music before becoming a stay-at-home mom with my oldest son. I decided at that time I was ready for a new intellectual challenge, so, since I'd always loved to read and had trouble finding the kinds of romantic fantasy novels I wanted to read, I decided to start writing my own. That was more than twenty years ago, and now, with ebook self-publishing, the time is finally right for me to start sharing my stories with the world!
What's the story behind your latest book?
My most recent release, Heir of Tanaris, is set in the Tehovir world, where magic comes from Sources, natural wellsprings in the earth. The basic idea came to me of a man who was a slave at a corrupted Source, forced to do terrible things there, who learns that he has the potential to do much better things with his life and escapes.

My current project is a follow-up series to my 6-book fantasy-western series, Daughter of the Wildings, combining the elements and traditions of high fantasy and the classic pulp westerns in a way that I had never seen done before. I'm bringing a conflict mentioned in the last few books of Daughter of the Wildings to the forefront - a new threat to the freedom of the people who live in the Wildings. It's fun to catch up with Silas and Lainie and the other characters from Daughter several years later, and to bring in more of the wider world.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in, and still live in, the desert areas of Arizona. I hate the heat, and I love to see green and water and trees and stuff, but the harsher beauty of the desert has sunk deep into me. Many of my novels are partially or entirely set in desert settings. It's different from the typical fantasy setting, and there's something about the desert that suggests mystery and ancient magic, in addition to providing plenty of conflict and challenge for the characters just by its dry, harsh nature. Urdaisunia is set entirely in a desert land, and the land itself is very much a character in the story; I don't think that story could exist in any other setting.

However, as a child I was also fortunate enough to spend two separate years living in Germany while my father was a visiting professor at a couple of different universities there. We traveled a lot and saw a lot of old towns and castles and cathedrals, and this experience helps add realism and dimension when I do write in a more European-style setting.

Finally, taking "where" not in the sense of a place but in the sense of the social surroundings I grew up in, my father was a professor (retired now), so I grew up in the academic world. A lot of the people my parents socialized with were also professors and their families, we made regular visits to the campus, our family life revolved around the academic year, and learning and academic achievement were highly valued in our family. This is reflected in the search for lost and hidden knowledge that makes up an important part of the plot in some of my books; The Lost Book of Anggird and Sarya's Song are especially examples of this, and part or all of those novels take place in an academic setting.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
When I first started writing novels, in about 1990, I wrote my first novel, hunted up an agent in Writers Marketplace who handled fantasy, sent off my query, received a request for the full manuscript (and a reading fee, if you please - this was way before the Internet as we know it now exists and before all the helpful information on it was available, so I didn't know reading fees were bad), then got one of those encouraging rejections that made me feel like I would hit the target with the next book.

Somewhere along the line, I had also become aware of the importance of marketability in convincing an agent or editor to buy your novel. So I sat down to write my next novel and found that the idea of having to write something not only good but also that the powers that be would deem marketable made me freeze up. I struggled and struggled with that second novel, trying to turn it into something like I'd seen on bookstore shelves, and finally gave up. I knew then that trying to write for the gatekeepers just wasn't for me. So I gave up on the idea of publishing for the time being.

When it became possible for people to set up their own free websites, I experimented with that. I posted an earlier version of my novel Chosen of Azara on a website I set up, and began posting that other novel I'd given up on years before. Then, a few years ago, when self-publishing as it exists now came into being, with the development of the Kindle and print-on-demand publishing, I realized that was what i had been waiting for for twenty years. I could write what I wanted, how I wanted, when I wanted, and be in control of the entire process.

That novel that I gave up on because I couldn't make it "marketable"? The first thing I did when I started thinking about becoming an indie author was write it the way I wanted to write it and revise it into something I was proud of. It became my first published novel, Urdaisunia.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
It's hard to decide on one greatest joy. I have these fascinating characters living in my head, demanding that I tell their stories, and bringing them and their stories to life is tremendously fun and fulfilling.

The other greatest joy is when a reader writes to me and says, "I loved your book, is there a sequel, and when's your next book coming out?" No matter how many times that happens, I always get a huge smile on my face and all kinds of warm fuzzy feelings.
What do your fans mean to you?
I love it when my stories affect someone, whether it's giving them a few hours of entertainment or providing uplift and encouragement when they're going through hard times. It's a tremendous feeling when someone writes to me and says they loved my book, especially when they want to know when my next book is coming out! There's no greater compliment than to hear that someone enjoyed one of my books and wants more. I would write even if no one but me was reading it, but knowing that others enjoy what I write makes it even more fun and fulfilling.
What are you working on next?
My ongoing project right now is revisions and edits on the follow-up series to Daughter of the Wildings, and I'm planning a trilogy set in the same world but in a different area and timeframe. I've also printed out the first novel I ever wrote, about 25 years ago, and its sequel, to evaluate them for possible revision and release. You can read more about my upcoming projects here: http://www.kyrahalland.com/still-to-come.html
Who are your favorite authors?
Carol Berg is my favorite author. She could write the phone book and I would read it. I also like Steven Erikson (Malazan Book of the Fallen series), Brandon Sanderson, Lindsay Buroker, Pauline Ross, and Jonathan Moeller.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Mostly I'm reading, or feeding my cats. I enjoy scrapbooking, playing Pokemon, and watching anime, but don't seem to have as much time for those as I would like. I also like looking at cute pictures of my adorable granddaughters!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My top favorite is Flesh and Spirit/Breath and Bone (two books, which actually go together to make one long novel) by Carol Berg. Amazing writing, amazing characters, amazing story, amazing world. The first time I read them, I was torn between not being able to put them down and not wanting to read too fast because I didn't want them to end. So I read them twice in a row without stopping in between.

I also really like the RiddleMaster trilogy by Patricia McKillip. I discovered these when I was in high school, and they get better with each reading. Magical, mysterious, multilayered world, great characters, gorgeous writing.

So technically, that's five, but I'll also mention the Earthsea Trilogy, Pride and Prejudice, and Jane Eyre.
What do you read for pleasure?
I mainly read fantasy, mostly by indie authors. I especially enjoy high/epic fantasy with strong romantic storylines. I dabble in other genres, especially romance and historical fiction.
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Latest books by This Author

Defenders of the Wildings: The Complete Series, Books 1-3
Series: Defenders of the Wildings. Price: $9.99 $5.00 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 269,380. Language: English. Published: March 5, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
Once, they were hated and hunted by mage hunters and Plain folk alike. Now, former bounty hunters turned renegade mages Silas and Lainie Vendine finally have the life they dreamed of - until an old and vicious hatred of mages rears its head. Silas and Lainie must fight to protect everything they love, everything they've worked for, before it's all destroyed.
Mages' Uprising (Defenders of the Wildings #3)
Series: Defenders of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 $2.00 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 103,160. Language: English. Published: October 9, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
(5.00 from 1 review)
When the true extent of the Chardonikans' plans in the Wildings is revealed, Silas and Lainie must somehow work together, even though they're separated by the enemy, to defeat the Chardonikans, reunite their family, and protect the freedom of all the people of the Wildings.
Mages' Exile (Defenders of the Wildings #2)
Series: Defenders of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 $2.00 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 82,540. Language: English. Published: February 26, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Western
(5.00 from 1 review)
Once, Silas and Lainie Vendine, former bounty hunters and renegade mages, had a home and ranch of their own and a position of respect in the town of Prairie Wells. Now, mage-hating foreigners have driven them from their home. With the Chardonikans intent on tearing their family apart, Silas and Lainie must find allies and discover the true nature of their enemies.
Daughter of the Wildings: The Complete Series
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $18.99 $9.49 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 374,330. Language: English. Published: October 26, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Historical, Fiction » Western
Cowgirls and gunslingers in a world of magic. This box set contains all six books of the Daughter of the Wildings series, plus two Silas and Lainie short stories. Discover magic, adventure, and romance in this innovative fantasy series inspired by the Wild West.
Mages' Home (Defenders of the Wildings Book 1)
Series: Defenders of the Wildings. Price: $2.99 $1.50 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 85,470. Language: English. Published: September 21, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Fantasy » Historical
(5.00 from 1 review)
Former bounty hunters turned renegade mages Silas and Lainie Vendine finally have the life they dreamed of - a home and ranch of their own where they can live in peace and raise their family, and the friendship and respect of their non-magical neighbors - until an old and vicious hatred of mages rears its head.
Heir of Tanaris
Series: Tales of Tehovir. Price: $4.99 $2.50 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 101,270. Language: English. Published: October 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
(5.00 from 1 review)
When Davian, a badly-injured runaway slave from a corrupted magical Source, is brought to Isamina's healing Source, Isamina must find the courage to heal his damaged spirit, while Davian must defeat the evil within himself to become the great man he was meant to be and win the love he yearns for.
Source-Breaker
Series: Tales of Tehovir. Price: $3.99 $2.00 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 60,770. Language: English. Published: January 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
(5.00 from 1 review)
A washed-up repairman of magical Sources and a Source priestess whose career has run into a dead end come up against a sorcerer conducting dangerous experiments with magic, that threaten all the world's Sources.
The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara
Series: Tales of Tehovir. Price: $2.99 $1.50 USD. (50% off until July 31!) Words: 31,360. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
This companion volume to Chosen of Azara contains nine tales of magic, family, ambition, honor, and love.
Love and Magic
Price: $7.99 $2.99 USD. (63% off until Aug. 31!) Words: 238,760. Language: English. Published: July 2, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
(5.00 from 1 review)
Three novels of fantasy, adventure, and romance. Complicated, honorable heroes; strong, smart, feminine heroines; magic, romance, and adventure. Contains Urdaisunia, Chosen of Azara, and Sarya's Song.
Mistress of the Mirror and Other Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. (Free until July 31!) Words: 9,770. Language: English. Published: June 23, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
(4.00 from 3 reviews)
Five short fantasy tales of strange things found in pawnshops... And things too strange for pawnshops.
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