Last week I interviewed her mother, so this week, as promised, I’m talking with Serena Clarke, fantasy author and book cover designer for a small publishing group here in Southern Utah.
ME: Having just interviewed your mother last week, I can’t help but be curious about how influential her example as a writer was to you as you grew up? And tell us a bit about your early years, as well as your early experiences with writing. (Including a photo of you as a child, and you with your mom when you were younger)
SERENA: I have loved writing for as long as I can remember, long before my mom became an author. I took creative writing classes throughout high school and college and I was constantly coming up with ideas for stories. I was mostly writing short stories because I never thought I would get a book published.
But when she became an author, she inspired my decision to get my books published. She has not only been a big inspiration, but also a big help in the whole publishing process. (I’ll bet! And I’ll also bet she’s been grateful for your help with covers!)
(Serena with her mom, Linda Weaver Clarke)
ME: Which authors (and we’ll leave your mom out of the equation) do you admire most and why? How have they influenced your own writing?
SERENA: I have always loved fantasy and romance. I loved the idea of escaping into a world of magic and princesses and fairies. Gail Carson Levine is one of my favorite fantasy authors. Ella Enchanted has always been one of my favorite books. I love the way she created a whole new world and she took a classic story and made it unique. Her style made me realize that as an author I can create my own world and come up with my own rules.
ME: Growing up in the red hills of Southern Utah, you might naturally be drawn to this kind of setting in your novels. Do you incorporate this kind of terrain (and please provide a picture of the scenery near your home) in your fantasy novels, and why or why not?
SERENA: I grew up surrounded by colorful, rugged mountains, fields of lava rock, sage brush, and creosote bushes. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful places to be. (Agreed!) But I don’t prefer to write what is familiar to me. If I write what is reality to me, it takes away from the fantasy world. I write about a world that I would like to visit.
ME: Besides writing, you work with a group called Red Mountain Shadows Publishing. Please describe the group and your role there. (And I’d love to post a sample or two of your cover work.)
SERENA: Red Mountain Shadows Publishing is a company that helps Independent Authors get their books into shape. We help with the editing process as well as the formatting and cover design.
(Book 1 of Serena’s fantasy series)
I do some of the editing, but my main role is as a Graphic Designer, designing the book covers. This is something I enjoy doing just as much as writing!
ME: Which plays a larger role in your stories—romance or fantasy? And can you see yourself writing in a different genre at any point in the future?
SERENA: The romance and the fantasy go hand in hand. Usually what sparks the idea for a story is the idea of a developing romance. But what moves the plot line along is the fantasy.
For fun, I have written in many different genres and someday I may publish some of them, but I prefer fantasy. It is the most enjoyable for me.
ME: Please describe the process you follow in drafting your stories. When it comes down to it, would you consider yourself an outliner or a “pantser,” and why?
SERENA: I am definitely a “pantser!” As I go along, I may begin to sketch up an outline, but I rarely know where my story will lead me until I am there. I usually begin with a single idea or a scene and think “Hmm…that would make a good story.” So I will write down the scene and think, “Well, what now? How do I get to this point? What happens after this scene?” And then begins the real work!
ME: What are you working on now and how far into it are you? Also, once this series is concluded, what’s next for you?
SERENA: I am currently working on the third book in the Isian Series. It is called The Secret of Isian. It should be out by the end of the year, fingers crossed!
What’s next? That is a good question! I have so many other books in mind and not enough time to write them all. So we will see what my imagination decides is priority when I get to that point!
(Since I somehow forgot to ask her the storyline of this series, here’s a quick blurb about the first in the series, THE TREASURE OF ISIAN:
Prince Garin is a brave, proud, adventure-seeking prince. Elani is his most trusted servant and she would do anything for him, even die for him. Their quest to find the mystical Treasure of Isian is immediately interrupted and they find themselves confronted by angry giants, soul-stealing elves, bewitched dragons, a vengeful water-witch, battling foes, and a mysterious kingdom. Elani must face her greatest fears to save her prince and her kingdom. Garin must decide what the most important things are in his life. Will they be able to make a great sacrifice to save the kingdom? And will Elani find true love? Become lost in the adventure, love, loyalty, and mystery of The Treasure of Isian!)
ME: Finally, please describe your favorite writing space. (And I must have a picture.)
SERENA: My favorite writing place is laying in the hammock outside my house. A big mulberry tree shades it and it faces the Red Mountain. Being in nature helps inspire my writing. It is most enjoyable in the spring and fall, but not so much in the summer when it is over 100 degrees! (Like today will be :@)
You can learn more about Serena, her writing, and book design on her website. Her books are available on Amazon but you’d do better to click here to get to them (since she’s not the only author named Serena Clarke).
And next week I’m excited to interview clean romance author Marie Higgins!
Originally posted 2014-05-28 06:00:31.