Interview with Kyra Halland

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 current project is a six-book fantasy-western series, Daughter of the Wildings. I got the idea one day several years ago that a high fantasy in a setting like the Old West would probably be about the coolest thing ever. I wanted to combine the elements and traditions of high fantasy and the classic pulp westerns in a way that I had never seen done before. After I did a lot of thinking about who the hero would be, Silas Vendine, the gunslinger and bounty hunter who is also a powerful mage, introduced himself to me. From there, Silas's world began to take shape. Like the American Wild West, the Wildings was settled by a motley assortment of folks looking for a new life - in this world, non-magical people who were driven by oppression out of the mage-dominated civilized land of Granadaia. Of course, where there's a wide-open, lawless land, lawless people are going to come fortune hunting - renegade mages, discontent with the strict rules in Granadaia, seeking wealth and power in the Wildings at the expense of the Plain (or non-magical) settlers. Silas hunts these renegade, on behalf of the ruling Mage Council (though he has no love for the Mage Council and its authority) and to protect the settlers. At that point, Silas's love interest, Lainie Banfrey, stepped in. She was born in the Wildings, to Plain parents, and raised among the wizard-hating settlers, but she has magical power, that she's both terrified of and drawn to.

So with the main characters and conflicts in place, I sat down to write the book. It was just for fun, an experiment - and it turned out to be a lot more fun than I could have imagined, plus at the end Silas and Lainie were in even worse trouble than they were at the beginning of the book. Which meant I had to turn it into a series, even though I'd never written a series before.

I wrote the entire series before I started publishing it, just to make sure I could finish it, and in the course of the writing some interesting things happened. The main thing is that Lainie turned out to be far more than just the love interest - as the "Daughter of the Wildings" of the title, she comes into her own, in her unique relationship with the land of the Wildings. With Silas at her side as her equal partner, they fight to preserve the freedom of the Wildings and the people who live there. The main villain of the series also turned out to be someone I never imagined it would be when I wrote book 1!

The entire series is completely written and has been revised to make the books consistent and unified from beginning to end. This is probably my favorite project I've ever worked on (though asking me to choose my favorite book is like asking me to chose my favorite of my children!) and I'm thrilled and excited to share it with the world. I hope you'll come join Lainie and Silas on a western adventure full of magic (and a healthy dose of romance)!
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 rest of the books in the Daughter of the Wildings series. You can read more about the series and see the amazing cover art by Mominur Rahman ( here:

Waiting on the back burner are some more stories set in the same world as Chosen of Azara: a collection of short stories that fill in some of the background of Chosen of Azara, and two novels set in the world of Estelend but otherwise unconnected. I'm also planning a sequel to my first published novel, Urdaisunia. 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:
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, M. Edward McNally, and Jonathan Moeller.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Mostly I'm reading, or feeding my cats. I also keep up with friends and family members on Facebook, and participate on the National Novel Writing Month boards. I enjoy scrapbooking and watching anime, but don't seem to have as much time for those as I would like. I also have a family to look after and a household to manage, and those kind of take up a little time too :)
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. I'm currently working my way through the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, by Steven Erikson, mixed in with other fantasy books. I also enjoy romance. With affordable ebooks by indie authors, I've branched out and sampled a lot of other genres - suspense, mystery, paranormal romance. It's been fun exploring all the great authors and stories that are out there now!
Published 2015-07-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Brilliant Career of Sajur Golu and Other Tales of Azara
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 31,360. Language: English. Published: August 25, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » General
This companion volume to Chosen of Azara contains nine tales of magic, family, ambition, honor, and love.
Light in the Darkness: A Noblebright Fantasy Boxed Set
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 1,147,890. Language: English. Published: October 18, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Twelve noblebright fantasy novels of beauty and wonder! Noblebright fantasy characters have the courage to risk kindness, honesty, integrity, and love; to fight against their own flaws and the darkness of the world around them; and to find hope in a grim world. Most books in this set are appropriate for ages 13+, but several books are appropriate for ages 16+.
Love and Magic: Three Novels of Fantasy, Adventure, and Romance
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 238,340. Language: English. Published: July 2, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Three novels of fantasy, adventure, and romance. Complicated, honorable heroes; strong, smart, feminine heroines; magic, romance, and adventure; deep emotion mixed with a dash of offbeat humor.
Mistress of the Mirror and Other Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 9,770. Language: English. Published: June 23, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Five short fantasy tales of strange things found in pawnshops... And things too strange for pawnshops.
Daughter of the Wildings Books 1-3
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 165,140. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
In the first three books in the Daughter of the Wildings series, bounty-hunting mages Silas Vendine and Lainie Banfrey team up to hunt down renegade mages and other evildoers while staying one step ahead of the law themselves and growing a love deep and strong enough to resist all the dangers and troubles that try to tear them apart.
For the Wildings (Daughter of the Wildings #6)
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 79,580. Language: English. Published: March 26, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » Action
In the conclusion of Daughter of the Wildings, Silas and Lainie have to draw on all their power and strength - and on the life of the land itself - to protect their beloved Wildings and the people who make it their home.
City of Mages (Daughter of the Wildings #5)
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 61,140. Language: English. Published: October 21, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » General
A nightmare come true - Silas is taken by mage hunters. Determined to rescue the man she loves, Lainie braves the perilous passage through the Gap to follow him and his captors into the mage-ruled land of Granadaia, where she discovers a betrayal she never imagined and a deep-rooted conspiracy that threatens the safety and freedom of the settlers in the Wildings.
To the Gap (Daughter of the Wildings #4)
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 69,850. Language: English. Published: August 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » General
Silas wants to take Lainie to a place where she can be safe, so, to earn money, he signs them on to work the big yearly cattle drive. The drive itself is threatened by renegade mages; the prosperity of the Wildings settlers depends on the success of the drive, and Silas and Lainie’s lives depend on being able to hide from mage hunters and mage-hating Plains while they fight to save the drive.
The Rancher's Daughter (Daughter of the Wildings #3)
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 52,050. Language: English. Published: April 23, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » General
Once a hunter of renegade wizards, Silas Vendine is now on the run from the law himself. He and Lainie are led to a meeting with one of the richest ranchers in the Wildings, who wants them to undertake a dangerous mission into A'ayimat territory. But Brin Coltor is hiding a few secrets of his own, that lead Silas and Lainie right into the trouble they've been trying to avoid.
Bad Hunting (Daughter of the Wildings #2)
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 49,070. Language: English. Published: February 19, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » General
Silas Vendine, bounty hunter, and Lainie Banfrey, mage in training, have hit the trail. Then Silas gets word that another mage hunter down in the dry and desolate Bads is onto something big and needs backup. He and Lainie head into the badlands only to find one mage hunter dead and another one missing... And Silas could be next.
Beneath the Canyons (Daughter of the Wildings #1)
Series: Daughter of the Wildings. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 71,810. Language: English. Published: February 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Adventure » General
Cowboys and gunslingers meet wizards in this high fantasy series inspired by the Old West. Silas Vendine, a mage and bounty hunter, and Lainie Banfrey, a young woman terrified of her own developing magical abilities, pursue a lawless renegade mage deep beneath forbidden lands held by the hostile A'ayimat, where only Lainie's untamed power can save them.
The Warrior and The Holy Man
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 22,120. Language: English. Published: April 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
Haveshi, a young wife and mother betrayed by her clan, sets out on a path to regain what she has lost. Latan, a lowly clerk in a magical order, finds himself on a path of unexpected danger and self-discovery, guided by the warrior named Haveshi Yellowcrow. Two fantasy stories that make up a novella-length duology, set in the same magical world as Chosen of Azara.
Sarya's Song
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 83,490. Language: English. Published: April 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
In a world where music is magic, disgraced musician Sarya dyr-Rusac hears strange and powerful new music on the wind. Torn between the man who loves her, whom she can never have, and a beautiful man in chains who appears in her dreams, begging her to sing him free, she must discover the meaning of the mysterious music she heard before the world itself is torn apart.
The Lost Book of Anggird
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 132,280. Language: English. Published: October 28, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
Stodgy Professor Roric Rossony has been asked to find a way to stop the deterioration of the powerful magica, and hires Perarre Tabrano to translate books for his research. Caught up in their unexpected romance and by the most important work of his life, he goes too far in his research. Magical disaster strikes, and he and Perarre must flee in search of the secret of the magica's origins.
A Cure for Nel, and Other Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 10,660. Language: English. Published: September 3, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
The Peach Tree: Lonely seamstress Sula will do anything to gain her greatest desire. You Can't Take It With You: Uncle Morgi, the richest wizard in the city, has died, and his most valuable possession is missing. A Cure for Nel: When Leya's daughter falls ill, their only hope is the man who abandoned them years ago to pursue his dreams of magic.
Chosen of Azara
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,990. Language: English. Published: June 21, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
In a quest that spans centuries, Sevry, the last king of the land of Savaru, searches for the woman who holds the secret to bringing his destroyed homeland back to life.
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 75,100. Language: English. Published: February 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic, Fiction » Romance » Fantasy
In Urdaisunia, a land torn by war and drought and abandoned by the gods, a widowed rebel and a prince walk intertwining paths of danger, love, and war to save the land they both love.