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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 get to interview the fabulous author and very popular booktuber Tori Tecken! Tori’s published works thus far: “Phased”.

P.L.: Tori, thanks so much for joining me for a Six Elementals Interviews chat!

So happy to be able to interview you! I loved “Phased”! Not only was it entertaining, but it truly touched me, and made me think. When a book does that, it is definitely a book worth reading!

For me, you are part of a rising group of young fantasy breakout stars in the Indie fantasy world, including ones such as Troy Knowlton, JCM Berne, K.E. Espinosa, John Palladino, K.E. Andrews, A.R. Witham, NC Koussis, Thiago Abdalla, and so many more! Most of these authors have less than one book published to their credit, but everyone I know buzzes about all your books, and the promise of what’s to come from this group! What’s your impression right now of the exploding Indie SFF scene, and where do you see you fit into the rise of self-published fantasy and sci-fi?

TORI: Well first of all, what a humbling intro! I’m so glad that you enjoyed “Phased,” there’s no better feeling as a writer than the one you get when your characters and story land with a reader!
 
I’m truly honored to be included amongst that list of talented authors. I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be in the Indie SFF community. I’ve learned so much, made so many new friends and gained resources I had no idea even existed a year ago. My confidence has grown exponentially because of it these past few months. I’m honestly just excited to see what’s possible in the next few years. It’s going to be so fun to watch everyone grow in their craft and keep producing more amazing work! If I’m honest, wearing the Booktuber/Reviewer hat and the Author hat at the same time has been a bit of a balancing act, but I love both of them and I think it offers me a unique chance to continue shining spotlights on my fellow authors while also growing the audience for my own work. It’s the best of both! 

P.L.: For those that are unfamiliar with your awesome writing, can you tell us a bit, please about your work, a bit of an elevator pitch if you will?

TORI: Of course! “Phased” is a dark supernatural YA novel about two werewolf sisters, Val and Lyla Blackwood. They are trueblood werewolves and considered a danger to society. Because of this, they’ve essentially been lab rats for the formative years of their lives, and they’re given a chance to prove they can handle being a part of human/domesticated werewolf society. If they fail, they could be locked away forever. Or worse. 

That’s the story pitch. But “Phased” is about overcoming trauma. It’s about having the spirit of a survivor. It’s about fighting for who you are. It’s about found family, bonds of sisterhood and friendship. It’s about learning to love people even when you’re afraid of being hurt. It’s a book that started as an experimental draft about werewolves, and ended up being something far more personal.

I lean heavily into the impact of emotional moments in my writing. Characters and the relationships between them are the axis of my stories. 

P.L.: I can definitely say “Phased” left an emotional impact on me that I am still feeling. It really hit me in the feels, in a good way! Can you speak a little bit about your writing journey please? How long have you been writing, what inspired you to write, and what made you elect to publish via self-publishing rather than seeking an agent and a book deal with a “Big Five” traditional house?

TORI: I’ll do my best to keep this in the “nutshell” version! I started writing at a very young age. I wrote a story about a family of dogs when I was six. My mom still has it in the archives. When I was twelve, I wrote my first chapter book about a horse in the American West and we self-published it when I was fourteen. Between 14-19, I wrote and published a total of nine books and traveled around the USA teaching at conventions and Young Writer’s Conferences. I sold around 10,000 copies in those years. Back then, it was all in person, word of mouth kind of thing. 

Today’s internet marketing is a whole new learning curve! I no longer market most of the books I wrote back then, I’m opening a new chapter to write in the genre that is my heart and soul now: epic fantasy. 

As far as self-publishing goes… I think the opportunities and control I have as the master of my own ship are things I can’t imagine giving up. I’ve been involved in indie publishing for so long that it’s just normal for me. And I love the freedom of making my own decisions, publishing books that aren’t necessarily burdened by the pressure of trends. It’s stressful for sure, and you have to wear a lot of hats. But it’s worth the trade off for me personally. To all my fellow indie authors, keep on rocking! I see all that incredibly hard work you put in for your stories to come to life!

P.L.: Wow Tori! To sell 10,000 copies of your books prior to age 20! What an accomplishment! At the time of this writing, you’ve entered “Phased” in the Self-Published Fantasy blog off (SPFBO)! Best of luck in the contest! Because of your already established following / your popularity / name recognition, do you feel extra pressure entering SPFBO? How is your SPFBO experience so far?

TORI: Thank you so much! I’m excited. I don’t feel any pressure, if I’m being totally honest. I’d love to see “Phased” do well, and I believe wholeheartedly in the story and the characters. I think it has a good chance! But either way, there are so many incredible books in this year’s pool of contestants, and I have so many friends and acquaintances alongside me in the running that it’s going to be a great year no matter what happens. I wanted to have the experience of being in SPFBO this year and so far it’s been wonderful! Everyone has been supporting and sharing each other’s books, we’re all getting new eyes on our work, and that’s already a big win. 

P.L.: Can you tell us a bit please, if possible, about what projects you are currently working on? What can we expect to see coming out from you in the future (especially an exciting project, highly anticipated, that you’ve spoken a little bit about on socials including your channel)?

TORI: My current work in progress is the first novel in a dark fantasy trilogy called Legends of the Bruhai. The first book is “The Blood Stones” and my goal is to release it in the last couple months of 2023. It takes place in a world I’ve been developing for over a decade now. If you sign up for my email list on my website, you can read the first few pages of the book (not final version). 

I don’t have an official elevator pitch for it yet, but I’m writing in a more ancient world setting. There are four POVs, three of them intertwined in a political struggle over the succession of a throne, and one tribal warrior whose actions endanger the people she loves. It’s dark, it’s emotionally character driven, and of course it wouldn’t be a book of mine without a motley crew. 

I’m pouring everything I’ve learned and love about fantasy storytelling into this trilogy. It’s bigger and better than anything I’ve written before, and I’m so excited to finally be able to release it to the community later this year!

And for the readers who have been loving Phased and the Blackwood sisters, the sequel novel “Trueblood” is on the docket for 2024, and it’s going to be a wild ride to the end of this duology! I’ve already begun work on the first draft. 

Finally, I have to give a shoutout to a short story anthology I’m going to be part of in December. It’s being run by the amazing Dom from Dominish Books on Booktube, and it’s following a winter theme. Keep an eye out for the Kickstarter opening in a couple months! The short story that I’ve written is something completely new and I had a blast with it.

P.L.: Will definitely be keeping an eye out for the Kickstarter! Tori, so many of us in the writing community admire you, how kind, thoughtful, intelligent, insightful you are, as a booktuber. All the things you’ve done to uplift us all. Thank you for what you do. Can you tell us a bit about how you became one of the most respected and popular booktubers in SFF? How did all that come about?

TORI: Thank you for all the kind words, PL. I genuinely don’t feel that I’ve done anything to deserve them! I just started my Youtube channel in 2020 as a way to find other people who were interested in talking about books that I loved. I floundered a bit in the beginning, trying to find my place, and then when I came back in 2022, I found the most wonderful community I could’ve ever asked for. Everyone has been so supportive, helpful, and kind, and I truly feel that I’ve been given a gift by being here. 

Last year as I delved further into the indie fantasy community, I knew I wanted to use my platform to bring attention to the hard working self-published authors who are writing incredible stories. I started doing author interviews and discovered that I absolutely loved it. I love meeting these creative artists and learning more about their process, their dreams, and where they started. 

Along the way, I became passionate about merging traditionally published and self-published fantasy under the same banner. We’re all writing in a genre we love. I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk to so many incredible writers this past year, including one of my writing heroes and role models, Steven Erikson. The community has been such a huge blessing in my life, and I want to give back however I can. 

To my fellow writers: keep telling your stories. You’re all amazing. And thank you so much PL for the opportunity to do this interview!

P.L.: And you are so amazing too, Tori, and a role model for many of us in the writing community!! I have truly enjoyed our chat and I really appreciate you joining me on Six Elementals Interviews! Thank you so much!

Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/@ToriTalks2/featured

Website: https://vteckennovels.com/

Twitter: @ToriTalks2

Buy “Phased” here

https://www.amazon.com/Phased-Victoria-Tecken-ebook/dp/B08LYLRWKY/ref=sr_1_1?crid=20QOV0EH2G6XR&keywords=phased+victoria+tecken&qid=1684956287&sprefix=phased%2Caps%2C868&sr=8-1

Buy “The Blood Stones” here

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