Six Elementals Author Interviews will introduce prospective readers to some of the best writers in their genre you may, or may not, have heard of, via a series of six questions. I encourage you to check out the work of these phenomenal creatives! Links to their websites and purchase links will always appear, accompanying the interview. Check them out!
This is a distinct honour and pleasure, in that I have the fabulous, highly touted historical fantasy novelist, Shauna Lawless joining me!
Shauna has recently published the first book in the “Gael Song” entitled: “The Children of Gods and Fighting Men”! Coming soon in Autumn 2023 will be the sequel, “The Words of Kings and Prophets”!
P.L.: Shauna, thanks again for joining Six Elementals Interviews! First of all, massive congratulations on becoming a published author! So happy for you!
A very special moment for me here, to be able to interview you! I admire your writing very much! “The Children of Gods and Fighting Men” was a fantastic debut! Absolutely loved it, and it is definitely in early consideration for one of my top traditionally published fantasy reads for 2023!
By far, I’m not the only reader or blogger with your debut novel on their potential “best of” lists for 2023! And the hype is only building for your follow-up, “The Words of Kings and Prophets”!
I believe that most would say, by important metrics of nominal success that most authors achieve in the first few weeks of releasing their book – especially numerous positive reviews – your launch has been highly successful. How do you feel about all you have achieved following your release?
SHAUNA: Hi P.L Stuart – thanks so much for inviting me to talk to you today! And what a question!!
The short answer is – it’s been absolutely amazing.
I’ve been a prolific reader all of my life, so to have a book that is published and in the bookstores is really incredible. Aside from spending time with my family, writing is my favourite thing in the world. To be able to do it for a living is a huge privilege.
The slightly longer answer is that is has been absolutely amazing and also LOTS of work. I really mean that. Since January 2023 it’s become my full time job and I do wonder how I used to manage writing alongside another career. However, I’m a great believer in the moto ‘hard work pays off’. And it has. So many wonderful things have happened, from special editions with the Broken Binding to being asked to attend fantasy conferences – both of which weren’t even on my radar when I signed my deal.
A lot of writers (and you will know this yourself) talk about the dreaded imposter syndrome. I’m not immune to those feelings. I do, however, really try not to listen to those negative voices. To make an impact in the SFF world is actually quite difficult. There are so many good books, both indie and trad these days – so breaking through, even a little, is an achievement.
P.L.: I would definitely say you’ve ‘broken through” Shauna! Your book is causing quite the positive buzz! There are so many incredible aspects of your debut book, yet I’d like to focus for a moment on the characters. You give us, in “Children of Gods and Fighting Men”, two fabulous female protagonists, on opposite sides of an ancient conflict. Can you explain a bit about what went into the decision making to have these two particular heroines at the centre of the novel, and what you like about each of them?
SHAUNA: Ah, well – so many thoughts went into this process.
Firstly, I would say, I’ve been reading Irish history books for years. I’m also a huge fan of Irish mythology. So I actually had a lot of the historical parts of the story in my head already. I did research while I was writing, but for the most part, I knew what was going to happen.
The thing with Irish mythology is that many of the stories are historical fantasy in nature. The Ulster Cycle – which features the famous Cú Chulainn, is about a war between the Irish provinces of Connaught and Ulster, but also features magical characters, like The Morrigan of the Tuatha Dé Danann.
When I started writing, it seemed quite natural for this to happen in the 10th Century. It felt natural to weave Irish history and these mythological stories together once more. It was only once I finished that I realised that this was actually quite unusual – and I know some agents/publishers thought it would be too difficult to market because of this. Thankfully my agent, Ed Wilson and my publisher, Head of Zeus, saw the potential in the story.
The first character to come to me was Gormflaith. She is a real historical character, although I have given her fire-magic due to her Fomorian heritage. It only seemed right that the other POV character came from the rival tribe of the Tuatha Dé Danann. I wanted this character to be very different to Gormflaith, and Fódla soon was realised.
Once I had my protagonists, it really became an easy book to write. Their voices came very quickly, and having female perspectives also felt fresh. I think a lot of historical fantasy have male protagonists because they are active in the battles, which makes a lot of sense, however it just didn’t work for me to do it that way. I love both my characters in different ways. Gormflaith for her tenacity. Fódla for her gentle heart.
P.L.: Both are so different, and yes something to love in both these two great characters you have crafted. Your research for “The Children of Gods and Fighting Men” is clearly impeccable, and extremely thorough. Was the research of Irish folklore one of the most challenging parts of writing the book?
SHAUNA: Yes and no. No – because I’ve been reading Irish mythology for years. I know it quite well. In a way, I’d been researching and hadn’t realised! Yes – because there is such a large volume of it and I wanted to make sure I had the details right.
As a child I was fascinated by the Mythological cycle, which features all the battles between the Fomorians and Tuatha Dé Danann, but once I started writing this book, I read more stories from the Historical Cycle and took inspiration from those stories too.
The history and the culture was harder to research because we are going so far back in time when records are a little hazy and some sources biased towards certain provinces. I did enjoy being a detective though!
P.L.: Well you obviously are a great detective then, as well as a great writer! Who (which authors) would you consider to be your writing influences?
SHAUNA: “Game of Thrones” – G.R.R. Martin writes scheming and backstabbing so well. It was a big influence in helping me decide that I could write something complex and have an audience who might be willing to follow it.
“The Count of Monte Cristo” – I love the adventure/revenge plots of this story so much. The internal journey of Edmond Dantes is just so compelling and I think Dumas is able to have these huge plots but still keep the reader engaged in how Edmond develops as the story progresses.
“The White Queen Series” by Philippa Gregory – this is a story about three women during the war of the roses. She also combines French mythology into the story. It definitely showed me that female protagonists could take charge of a story that traditionally had been told from the male perspectives of Edward IV and Richard III.
P.L.: Those are all fabulous writers and books, I very much concur! Can you tell us a bit please, if possible, about what projects you have planned for the future? And, of course, can you please include us a bit about what’s in store for the remainder of the “Gael Song”? When can we expect the next installment in the series? Is “Gael Song” a trilogy?
SHAUNA: Ah – so this is interesting!!
I have finished working on “The Words of Kings and Prophets”. I’m also very nearly finished writing book 3 in the series – and will be handing it into my editor at the end of June.
Also I can say (as a bit of an exclusive) that I have signed a deal with Head of Zeus to write some novellas in this world – the first of which I have already finished and handed in. The “Gael Song” world is expanding and I’m very excited for people to read this novella.
I’ve plotted out another stand alone story that is set in a completely different world. I might have a little go at this over the summer once book 3 is handed in – maybe get up a little earlier than the kids and see what I can conjure up before they go back to school in September.
P.L.: Ohh that all sounds so exciting! Looks like we have a lot to look forward to from you! You appear to be very active, in a positive and supportive way, in the great writing community on social media, including reviewing the works of other authors. Can you please describe how these interactions on social media with other authors, bloggers, editors, readers, etc. have affected your overall experience as an author?
SHAUNA: It has been a HUGE part of my life for the past three years. I actually started blogging about books and Irish history/mythology before I had my book deal.
Prior to this, I read books and lamented the fact I didn’t have anyone to talk to about them.
Finding Book Twitter really changed all that for me. I know Twitter gets a bad rep sometimes. Now more than ever. I’ve really just found a way to carve out a little slice of SFF and book related content (including bloggers/authors/fans) that has made it a wonderful experience.
I’ve always read prolifically (as I said above) and this is really just my way of talking about it. I love reading new books, discovering new authors and ideas. I think many SFF authors are the same and therefore the community is very supportive and welcoming.
You are actually one of the first indie authors I noticed because you had an amazing book trailer. Honestly, before discovering twitter and following different authors, I had no idea that such things even existed. It’s been a sharp learning curve.
I’d also like to mention that bloggers/bootubers/booktokers make a HUGE difference to authors, especially for debut authors and midlist authors. I know when Nick Borrelli (from Out of this World SFF blog) reviewed my book, my engagement on Goodreads went through the roof. The same for when The Brother’s Gwynne reviewed “The Children of Gods and Fighting Men”.
If you are a book reader, do think about joining the conversations, writing about books you love and highlighting upcoming authors. The only downside will be finding yourself with a massive pile of books on your TBR list.
P.L. Thank you for the kind words about the book trailer! The social media community in terms of writing is indeed awesome, and no doubt you’ve been embraced by that community because you are awesome too! Shauna, I have truly enjoyed our chat and I really appreciate you joining me on Six Elementals Interviews! Thank you so much!
Shauna: Thank you for asking me!!
Connect with Shauna:
Website – Shauna Lawless is writing – Irish mythology, Irish history, and books
Twitter – Shauna Lawless (she/her) (@shaunaLwrites) / Twitter
Instagram – Shauna Lawless (@shauna_lawless_author) | Instagram
TikTok – Shauna Lawless Author (@shaunalawlessauthor) | TikTok
Buy Shauna’s books:
UK Amazon link for CoGaFM – The Children of Gods and Fighting Men: Volume 1 (Gael Song): Amazon.co.uk: Lawless, Shauna: 9781803282640: Books