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An Interview with S. Victoria Nakamun

Escape with a magical cross-continental journey in this new interview with S. Victoria Nakamun, author of sapphic fantasy When Two Roads Meet. Learn all about the inspiration behind feuding kingdoms and what's in store for these strong-willed characters here!


 

Thank you for joining us! First of all, please tell us about yourself. 


Thank you for having me! My name is S. Victoria Nakamun and I’m an Edmonton based independent author who is obsessed with dark, fantastical settings and telling beautiful stories that celebrate both the best and worst parts of love. If I'm not lounging with my laptop and a tea at home, my favourite place to be is either exploring beautiful cities or the forests of my home province, British Columbia. I live with my partner, Halina, and my two cats, whom all of this is really for. 



Congratulations on publishing your debut novel in December 2023! What can we expect from When Two Roads Meet and what inspired the story? 


You can expect a cross continental journey through fantastical and dangerous regions of feuding kingdoms, including an illustrious festival in a city made of plants, majic-imbued fighting pits hidden in abandoned caves, a powerful steam train crawling with spies, and desolate craters where mad miscreants toy with wanderer’s minds. It follows two deeply complex women from opposite backgrounds and beliefs as they struggle with their predetermined fates bestowed by gods and men alike, where their growing feelings for each other begin to blur the line between heroism and morality. 





Your story is set between feuding kingdoms in a dark fantasy world featuring magic. What was the process behind building this strong setting and were there any challenges? Is this place inspired by any other fantasy worlds or stories? What made you want to include the conflict between two places? 


The world within the first novel is based around two kingdoms: Capasta and Pamania. Capasta is a theocratic kingdom built around the idea of predetermination dictated by powers similar to those found in astrology – and their majic was given to them by the Stars in different forms and with varying abilities. Pamania, on the other hand, has no religion – their culture is based entirely off of information and innovation on an individual level, where their only afterlife derives from the legacy you leave behind. The conflict between these diametrically opposed kingdoms illustrates the two radical ideologies regarding self identity and what gives life value: you can exist as a token of a higher power with a larger predetermined plan, or you can craft your own identity within a fixed state of superhuman expectations. 



Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? Which, if any, did you identify with most and why? 


Art shows two women grinning at one another, one with long red hair and the other cropped brown. The red-haired woman cradles the jaw of the other. A moon shines behind them.
Character art by Blue Moon

There are two primary characters that we follow throughout the journey to Bernin: Alisha Croesied (Ah-leesh-ah Crow-see-ed) and Johanna “Rian” Verayne (Yo-anna Rye-in Vurr-aine). Alisha is a reckless, cynical Capastian prostitute that has been “Blessed by The Stars,” which basically means she was born destined to fulfil a paramount purpose before “burning out” and dying horrifically. She is a woman who's been told she’s special since the day she was born, but unlike her missing husband, who shares the same fate, she wants nothing more than to live a life on her own terms – whatever that means. Rian, on the other hand, is a noble Pamanian runaway who fully adopted her purpose as a scholar, learning all she can about a new and mysterious strain of majic that appeared in Pamania decades ago. She is careful and meticulous, and has a heart too large for her own good. She wants nothing more than to prove herself worthy to her people, by any means necessary. 


Alisha is the embodiment of my desire to rediscover who I was beyond a highly toxic and tumultuous relationship I once had, and Rian is the embodiment of my perfectionism getting in the way of what truly makes me happy. Both represent parts of me and some very personal experiences I struggle with, but they also embody what I want to celebrate beyond that; their strength, determination, and love for each other are the parts of me that got me through it. 


But if I had to choose, I’m team Alisha through and through: she’s a woman who's been through the worst of it, but she’s one of the most powerful (and badass) women on the continent in more ways than one. 



The book features a sapphic romance (yay!). What are your favourite tropes to read and do any make an appearance in this story? 


My favourite tropes in romance are slow burn, diametrically opposed people coming together despite all odds (a sort of opposites-attract scenario) which do appear in When Two Roads Meet



What initially drew you to the dark fantasy genre and what do you enjoy about writing romance in this setting? 


I’ve always gravitated towards fantasy settings when it came to stories – I adore the ability to build a unique, fantastical world with magic and monsters and political and cultural systems outside of our own; because just like fantasy readers, authors want that escape too! Additionally, I love horror, and incorporating the dark, brutal and bloody in a beautiful story is one of my greatest challenges and most exciting rewards! And who doesn’t love a good romance between those from opposite sides? Who doesn’t love when the guarded character uses all powerful magic to protect the one they pretended to hate? 



When Two Roads Meet is the first book in the Cardinal series — can you give us any hints about what may be planned for future books? How long do you anticipate this series to be, and will it remain focused on the same characters/plotline? 


I wrote WTRM in a way that the first novel can be satisfying to those who don’t particularly love reading massive series (me!), but it leaves much more to be discovered as well! As it stands now, there will be two more books in the main Cardinal series following Alisha and Rian, one intermediary novella (a Book 1 ½), and stories beyond the main storyline that follow different characters. 


Expect to see the other side of Androsaka! Nautical gods rule pirates in the South, who give powerful abilities to those they deem worthy. Up North, we’ll see how those without magic survive ethereal abilities through technological advancements, no matter the cost. Politics, secrets uncovered, and gods acting strangely, the next two Books are going to take Alisha and Rian to their very limits. It’s up to them to decide if it will break them or hold them closer together. 



Have you found any challenges while writing the series so far? How have you overcome them? 


Absolutely! There’s a massive amount of detail, worldbuilding, and themes that go into making a meaningful story, and it takes time and lots of patience to work through. The scope of the world has been widened immensely, and we’re seeing two worlds become one in the upcoming titles. 


The biggest challenge I face as of now is ensuring all the pieces fit where they should to tell the story I want, and not only in a way that makes sense – if I don’t find it interesting to write, I’m not going to write it! But it’s a labour of love, and the best way to combat that is being kind to yourself. I know I’ll figure it out eventually, I always have! I just tell myself to keep going, even when it feels impossible. 



Have any shows, movies, books, or games influenced your own work at all? 


Of course! I was inspired by the world of Game of Thrones, Assassin’s Creed: Odyssey, and The Hunger Games, the story of The Last Of Us, and the characters of Arcane and Tangled



Why did you take the self-publishing route as opposed to more traditional approaches, and what has the process been like for you? Do you have any advice for authors wanting to dive into indie publishing? 


As most new authors do, I began my process trying to query my work out to publishers. But the process takes a very long time and is extremely competitive (I’m technically still waiting on responses!) and the author doesn’t have much liberty when it comes to how the book looks. Additionally, it’s still up to you to market yourself for the most part, especially if you’re partnering with a smaller publishing house. So for a story that was so personal to me, I ultimately decided that I wanted full control over the marketing, distribution and design of my novel. And I’m so glad I did! The cover was designed by my best friend, partner, and myself, the marketing is exactly how I want it, and my book is only in the stores I want. 


As for advice, my first piece is to prepare for the workload! Self-publishing requires dedication to the max. You need to edit and design, order proof after proof, contact bookstores and organise events yourself, etc. etc. But if you’ve finished a story you’re passionate about, you’ve already proven yourself dedicated enough; there’s nothing stopping you! 


Additionally, no one can do this alone. Build your community within the writers circle and gather as many connections as you can – bookstagram and your school is often a great place to start. Lean on those who are in the same boat – you have a lot of learning to do! 

Lastly, don't be afraid to make mistakes. You’re going to. There’s nothing you can do to prevent it. But keep going anyways, imposter syndrome be damned. 



You are currently studying psychology and biological sciences, too — you must be super busy! Has knowledge in these subjects informed or influenced your writing, story, or characters in any way?


It’s definitely been a challenge to keep two jobs, school and a writing career organised, but I’m doing what I love which makes it that much easier. Due to my interest in psychology, I love character work in my stories the most. My degree has informed my development of the effects of different traumas, personality traits and disorders, and how to write healthy (or toxic) relationship and family dynamics. I’m studying molecular biology rather than ecology, which hasn’t done much to inform my writing as of yet. But I’ve got works beyond The Cardinal Series that have a much greater use for it (wink, wink)! 



Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, movies, or games you’re enjoying at the moment? Any recommendations for our audience? Bonus points if it includes sapphics! 


I’m thrilled to announce that the horror genre has officially rekindled my love of reading! I’ve been loving titles such as Manhunt by Gretchen Flecker Martin, Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder, as well as This Is How You Lose The Time War by Max Gladstone and Amal El-Mohtar. I’ve been loving shows like Blue Eye Samurai and yet another rewatch of Arcane and The Last Of Us, because of course. 


Give me well-written complex characters, queer representation, and gruesome gore, and I’m there! I seriously cannot recommend all of the above more. These are some of my favourite pieces of media (coming from someone who consumes media more often than I drink water). 



About S. Victoria Nakamun


Hello! My name is S. Victoria Nakamun and I'm an independent author based in Edmonton Alberta. I specialize in all things sapphic, creating dark fantasy stories for those who want a little light. If I'm not lounging with my laptop and a tea at home, my favourite place to be is either exploring beautiful cities or the forests of my home province, British Columbia. I live with my partner, Halina, and my two cats, whom all of this is really for.


To keep up with S. Victoria, visit https://svictorianakamun.com/




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