Author Interview: M.L. Sawyer

The Books

12449303Title: Quest of the Demon
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Young Adult
Publisher: Equilibrium Books
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Darci is a popular sixteen-year-old girl who plays basketball and lives in an ordinary country town. But her life is changed forever when she is accidentally transported to the land of Nahaba by a young apprentice wizard called Taslessian.
Within hours of her unexpected arrival, both teens are thrust into a dangerous journey to the cave of Grisham the Great in the hope that he would be able to send her home.
Upon reaching the cave, however, Darci quickly discovers that there is no such thing as accidents, and that their journey is only just beginning.
The Quest of the Demon has begun.

The Interview

1) Quest of the Demon is your debut novel. What was it like, writing and then publishing your first novel? Was it everything you hoped for/a bit dissapointing/… ?

Writing Quest of the Demon began when I was around 14 (15 years ago). I used to write a lot in Highschool but this was different. The story took on a life of its own. I would take my notebook around with me everywhered and the urge to write at times was all consuming (I’d get into trouble for not doing my school work when I should have been). When I got to that last page of hand writing, I knew I had done something greater than the stories I had written before and that is why I stuck with it over the years, typing it up, printing it out, writing all over the print then typing it up again… In about 2004 I sent it out to a few publishers but only received a response from one to say no thankyou. It was dissapointing, but I never stopped writing. At times I’d give QotD a rest to start on other novels in the same world, but I always came back to it. In 2010 I sent it out again and imagine my surprise when Equilibrium Books said yes! I was jumping around the office that day. The process from there was… consuming. I’m the first to admit that I am hopless with my punctuation and after a while, I just can’t see the mistakes in my own work. So my editor / publisher was very very patient with me going through the manuscript with a fine tooth comb before I got it back, checking and double checking with four volunteers until it was what you read today. For me it was an exciting process, nothing dissapointed me (except my own punctuation) and I was just excited to get it out there!

2) Where did you get your inspiration from for Quest of the Demon and the magical world of Nahaba?

In highschool I used to get my school work done and then find myself bored in class (as I did not want to volunteer for more work) so I would doodle (draw pictures in my diary). I read a lot of books from the library and had been introduced to Fantasy from Mrs. Hall my Highschool Librarian and since I always liked a good adventure, I thought I’d create one myself. At first, I was the main character of my little adventure. I’d add characters that I had drawn into my tale and of course, I needed a different world to go through. I can’t recal where I got the name Nahaba, but some of the towns are actually words from other languages – Menarik for is actually ‘interesting’ in Indonesian while Chinta (if you take out the ‘h’) is pretty / beautiful.

3) I really loved the fact that you managed to put everyday-troubles into your book, like for instance, Darci’s feelings when she’s standing in front of some weird apprentice wizard who happens to be cute as well, and she noticed she’s still in her pyjamas and holding a hockey stick. Was it your intention from the start to mix fantasy and humor or did that just happen as you started to write?

The good old hockey stick (that I actually still have in the cupboard at home). It was not my intention to add humour but I always say in life ‘sometimes if you don’t laugh, you cry’. Darci had two choices, to completely break down at the strange situation she found herself in, or laugh.

4) The first part of the novel focused mostly on the friendship between Darci and Taslessian which eventually evolved into something more. But then, in the second part, Darci started to spend more time with Lief. Why did you decide not to bring Darci and Taslessian together as an actual couple in this book?

To be honnest, I think it had to do with my own teen love life at the time. Taslessian is based loosely on a friend that I did not end up dating back in higschool. I thought about bringing them together, but in the books that follow, that would have made it more complicated. Besides, if you had the chance to be very good friends with an Elf, wouldn’t you?

5) It was quite difficult for me to choose a favorite character from Quest of the Demon. I really like Darci, but I like Taslessian and Lief as well. Who was your favorite character to write about?

Defyance is my favorite. I’ve always had a soft spot for tough women that can handle themselves, I also like the way she does not take any crap from anyone, including a very intimidating and at times, grumpy dragon Sahat.

6) Is there anything you wish you could have done differently while writing Quest of the Demon?

I’m happy with how everything turned out. I wish that I could draw better in order to have done my own cover, but I’m afraid the map (which I drew and had enhanced) was my only graphic addition.

7) What does your writing process look like? Do you write on a daily base and on fixed hours, or just whenever you feel like it?

I’ve never been good at setting hours or time frames to write. There were litterally years in between edits of QotD where as at other times, I could sit and write 1000’s of words all at once. It tends to be once I have an idea of where the story is going, I sit down and I write it untill it’s all out. Even then, sometimes I don’t know what’s going to happen and it just… ‘happens’ when I write. It’s almost like reading the story as I write it. As for the stories themselves, I handwrite everything first. It then gets typed up (editing along the way) printed, scribbled on, typed and then the process is repeated until I’m happy… (and then someone else reads it, writes on it… )

8 ) There’s some information about Tallen: Quest of the Demon – Aftermath One at the end of the first book. Can you tell us something more about Tallen?

Tallen you meet in the first novel if only briefly. She is happy with life living at home with her mother and thanks to Darci and Defyance, her brothers are sent home to join them. Her father also comes home to give Tallen some news. He has a suitor for her. She’s also 16 and it’s about the right age to get married in my world. She’s not sure how it will all go but she is comfortable that her family has her best interests at heart. She’s a reasonably independant young woman, handy with a bow, okay at cooking and is very good at looking after herself when it comes to her older brothers who enjoy tormenting her on occasion. Tallen can also see things in the fire… occasionally she will imagine very vivid images which are in reality actual events where as she thinks it is only her imagination. From her ordinary life she is thrust into the world and asked to join the quest yet she has other things in mind.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my interview questions!

Visit M.L. Sawyer’s website.

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