P.L.: This is an incredible treat for me T.L. to be able to interview you! Thank you so much for joining Six Elementals Interviews! Congratulations on your recent debut novel, Of Us and Them! And kudos at having signed a publishing deal with Darkstroke Books! It has been quite the successful past few months for you! Can you tell us about how you became a published author, and what the process of publication was like with Darkstroke?
T.L.: I started my querying journey less than a year ago. I’ve been writing ever since I was young, but never thought much of it, creating stories for my little sister for bedtime and submitting creative writing for school. Finally, when you-know-what happened, I finally had time to find my passion. From there, and after speaking with you, I was fully invigorated with inspiration! I wrote my novel in a few months, edited it countless times, had my beta readers look it over and then I was off to the querying trenches!
It was a tumultuous journey, filled with lots of self-discovery and of course, imposter’s syndrome. I received many agent rejections saying they loved my writing and that it was a great premise, but that they couldn’t quite figure out where to put it in the market. I was honestly so close to shelving the project to wait until it would be “less niche”, but then I came across a small publisher who focuses on literature of the darker nature.
Within a few months of submitting to them, I received a full request and shortly after an offer of publication! OF US AND THEM had finally found its perfect home! From there, it’s been a whirlwind of edits, cover design preparation (they are wonderful when it comes to a truly collaborative process) and now my book is set for publication in November!
P.L.: I am so glad you persevered and published your book!! Kudos to your determination and hard work! We readers are all happier for it! I absolutely loved reading Of Us and Them! It was such a great book! For those readers who have not yet read your exciting novel, can you please tell us what it’s about?
T.L.: Thank you so much! I am thrilled you enjoyed it. OF US AND THEM is a Young Adult science fiction novel with historical fantasy and a murder mystery. You follow seventeen-year-old Evren who was born for a sole purpose: to serve as a vessel for the Leviathans, a saviour alien species hidden in global dragon lore. She longs to join the secret society who concealed them in history and as the last of the twelve prophesied Paladins, she needs to. With the world in ruin, their unification will signal the Leviathans’ return to Earth to protect humans from their worst enemy: themselves.
But Evren’s ambitions are dashed when a Paladin is found dead. The murder sets her world ablaze and now she must stop the saboteur or risk destroying a celestial plan millennia in the making. However, finding the truth—and the killer—in a society built on deceit won’t be easy, especially with Evren’s fierce and guarded mother as its leader.
OF US AND THEM features reinterpretations of global dragon mythology, a formidable multiracial cast of teenagers, saviour aliens, and a high-stakes whodunit all set in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
P.L.: It was a special significance for me, as another Canadian author, to see one of the settings for your book in such a beautiful part of our country! I truly believe all writers are motivated by reading some of their favourite authors. Who are your greatest writing influences? Which authors inspired you to write?
T.L.: My greatest writing influences are Anne McCaffrey and Marissa Meyer. They seem a bit on opposite ends, but this is where I draw most of my inspiration from. Anne McCaffrey is an epic world-builder that sets her characters off on adventures of self-discovery and high-stakes, not to mention she first had dragons as an alien species!
With Marissa Meyer, the way she writes young adult fiction is perfection and makes it incredibly relatable to the younger audience. The freshness and joviality, while also touching on more serious coming-of-age elements makes for a wonderful reading experience.
My favourite author, by far, though is Piers Anthony, an incredibly prolific writer who brings humour (and puns!) into everything he writes. I have been reading his Xanth Series since I was in my young teens and am entirely obsessed! I wish I could say I have his quick wit in my writing, but truly…it’s incomparable!
P.L.: Those are some fantastic authors you mention! I must say, I did find some wonderful little nuggets of humour too, in Of Us and Them, that made me chuckle. Moreover, your novel has some fantastic historical elements woven into its tapestry! Can you tell us about some of the research that you needed to complete to bring these elements to your work?
History truly wrote it for me, I just simply found the gold nuggets throughout and brought them into one book. I also researched heavily into the names of my characters. Each Paladin is a multiracial young adult who is from a mix of cultural background; however, there is one that they most identify with. From there, their weapons and their names were written to reflect that!
P.L.: I can attest having read your novel that all diligence in your research paid off! You have also been very successful at some of the marketing aspects of independent authorship including having your own merchandise! And boy does that swag look fantastic! Do you have any tips for your fellow authors about how to thrive in self-promotion?
T.L.: Thank you! I am a bit of a fan myself. The big tips would be, do your research, talk to other authors, and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance! (There’s no sense reinventing the wheel twice!) I searched through social media and various merchandise creators to see what type of promotions and marketing options were out there and then chose which suited my “brand” the best!
Also, don’t forget about buying the rights to images if you use them! I ended up doing a combination between purchasing an Adobe Stock extended licence that allows merchandising, and also created my own art! A huge element for me as well was having great friends like you, P. L., and the Darkstroke Author community. A lot of my resources were from these incredible networks!
P.L.: You have also been a huge inspiration for me and such a valuable resource and source of information and advice! Thank you so much! Co-incidentally, you are also now one of my favourite YA fantasy authors! Who are some of your favorite YA authors today?
T.L.: Goodness, always a hard question to narrow to a few. Currently, it would be Alechia Dow, author of The Sound of Stars (who I was lucky enough to get a cover endorsement from), Marissa Meyer, Neal Shusterman, Holly Black and Tracy Deonn!
P.L.: Again, some amazing choices! Holly Black in particular is an author whose books are on my TBR and I am really looking forward to reading them. Thank you so much. T.L., for joining me on Six Elementals Interviews! It was wonderful chatting with you!
Buy Of Us and Them here
Connect With The Author
E-Book Preorder: http://mybook.to/ofusandthem