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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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.
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.
Discover the wonder and mystery of the Wildings with magical bounty hunters Silas Vendine and Lainie Banfrey. This box set contains the first three books of this western-inspired fantasy series filled with adventure and romance: Beneath the Canyons, Bad Hunting, and The Rancher's Daughter.
In the conclusion of Daughter of the Wildings, Silas and Lainie recover from their ordeal in Granadaia, while knowing that an evil is at work that threatens the freedom of the Wildings. Then the unthinkable happens, the battle begins, and Lainie and Silas must draw on all their power and strength to protect their beloved Wildings and the people who make it their home.
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.
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.
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.
Silas and Lainie have defeated the rogue mage who nearly destroyed Lainie's hometown. But wizards aren't welcome in the town of Bitterbush Springs, so they've hit the trail. Then Silas gets word that a mage hunter down in the 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.
Silas Vendine, mage and bounty hunter, is on the hunt for renegade mages. Lainie Banfrey, a rancher's daughter, could end up on the wrong end of a hanging rope If anyone finds out that she's a mage. Togther, they must stop the renegade mage who is tearing Lainie's hometown apart before the dark power he has unearthed destroys everyone who makes the Wildings their home.
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.
In a world where music is magic, Sarya can hear music no one else hears. Once a respected arranger of musical magic rituals, now she's in exile after a wedding ritual she wrote led to tragedy. As disasters shake the world, she hears haunting new music in the wind - music that heralds terrible new forces at work in the world, or forces so old they have long been forgotten.
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.
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.