It's the final day of the Indie Author Spring Festival and we're all a little bit sad to see it end! Still, there are plenty of deals still running, and many of the books we've featured this month are available on KU, so there's always time to find your next indie read!
In the meantime, G.L. Preston is closing the event with Prince of the Ancients, a dark fantasy discounted to 99p/c. A percentage of the sales will go to the British Heart Foundation, so do grab this if you're able and support both the author and her charity!
Learn more about Preston's writing process and inspirations in our interview below!
What made you decide to self-publish rather than follow more traditional routes?
Ultimately, I decided that I wanted as much control as possible. Whose hands could I trust with my ‘baby’ more than my own? I had ideas for the cover and how the story was going to flow, and I didn’t want to have to ‘answer’ to anyone or give up anything. I also feel like I can connect to readers on a deeper level this way, and any opportunity to speak to readers is a blessing to me!
Publishing can be daunting! Do you have any tips for other indie authors set to release their debuts?
Take your time! During the process of publishing Prince of the Ancients I was so eager and excited to get it out that the last few weeks after getting my manuscript back from my editor was a manic rush of learning to properly format, tweaking the book cover for both Amazon and Ingramspark and marketing etc. It was stressful to say the least!
Tell us about your Prince of the Ancients and what inspired you to write it.
Like a lot of indie authors, the time really found me during COVID. I had to leave my job of 6 years due to a lack of childcare. I was at home with a 2-year-old and a new baby and was really feeling the lack of ‘me’ time. I kept seeing this scene in my head when I listened to a particular song. Eventually, I wrote it down, and then another scene popped up. Somehow, an entire world and ensemble cast appeared and I knew I had to write the story.
Your story is set in between a dragon kingdom and the mortal realm. What was the process behind building this strong fantasy setting and were there any challenges? Is this place inspired by any other fantasy worlds?
I was really focused on the characters as I started getting into the story. What their flaws were, their strengths, weaknesses etc. When it came to the world my book was set in, I have always loved high fantasy worlds—whether that’s in books, movies or video games. For my own world, I was heavily inspired by Final Fantasy, Skyrim, Lord of the Rings etc. Which is why it’s so mind-blowing when readers compare it to Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones!
Do you have a favourite character from the book? One you enjoyed spending time with most during the writing process, or maybe one that feels most personal/similar to you?
After finishing my draft and reading the story back through, I realised how I had put a part of myself in every character of the main ensemble. Roux is the magickal metaphor of my chronic illness and living with disability, and also a representation of my optimism in spite of it. Bastion is my humour, Vyn is my loyalty and Eliana is my stubborn tenacity. Dracho is my strength. And Antares… Antares is the one I feel closest to. He represents all those, like me, living with ADHD. The ones who always felt like a ‘freak’—the most misunderstood. He gets overstimulated, he’s pensive, he’s always thinking and gets socially exhausted. He’s the most real to me, and I’ll always love him—but maybe not as much as readers have haha!
What initially drew you to the fantasy genre?
I, unfortunately, was raised in a household with a very abusive parental figure. Fantasy worlds, be it video games, TV or books—these were a way for me to escape. To live in worlds where girls were badass and fought back. I was obsessed with Princess Leia, Hermione, and Aerith from Final Fantasy. Fantasy is and will always be the genre for me, and as soon as I began writing, I knew my debut would be a part of it.
How many books do you have planned for The Stag and Hollow Chronicles and can you give us any hints about what we might see in the sequel?
I’ve always planned for it to be a trilogy. Book two: Queen of the Exiled, is the book I always wanted to write. I LOVE this book and cannot wait for people to read it. Prince of the Ancients really focused on introducing people to the world of Ruvalon. Queen of the Exiled really focuses on the character relationships and their development. It’s got fantasy favourite tropes, more dragons, and twists that will make me hide from readers haha!
Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter or pantser? How do you combat writer’s block? Are there any tips you’d give to first-time fantasy authors?
I am either a bit of both or a complete pantser. I thrive in the chaos. My ADHD really prevents me from organising (as much as I would love to be able to organise my life, the piles of empty notebooks in my room show my attempts), so I thrive in being able to just feel the scenes and how they should develop.
Writer's block doesn’t hit me often, but when it does I take a break. I think it’s so important to step away. Listen to music, watch TV or read a book in your genre. It all helps! I also think I view the world in a very different way to a lot of people, whether that’s due to my experiences, my ADHD or disabilities etc, I just find it very easy to slip into the minds of my characters at any point and understand how they would react or how a scene should go.
Do you have a favourite movie, show, and/or book and has it influenced your own work at all?
I’ve mentioned it already, but Final Fantasy. Aion in my book is loosely based on the Lifa tree in Final Fantasy 9. I have always fallen in love with the worlds and characters in the Final Fantasy worlds and think I will always find inspiration in video games.
Our podcast focuses on media we’re currently loving. Are there any books, shows, or movies you’re enjoying at the moment? Any recommendations for our audience?
I’ve just finished and loved Bonded by Thorns by Elizabeth Helen. It’s a why choose Beauty and the Beast retelling with male/male relationships as well as male/female relationships. I could not put it down and cannot wait for the next one! TV-wise, I’m on a Supernatural rewatch. I just can’t get enough of the Winchester brothers.
Gem has tried many things in life, but writing has to have been the best! Gem lives with her husband, and two beautiful daughters. Before writing, she was a Law graduate, a designer, a photographer and an artist.
In 2015, Gemma was diagnosed with Intracranial Hypertension, a rare disease that involves a build up of pressure in the fluid surrounding her brain. She pushes for education on the various symptoms that accompany this disease, including potential blindness and severe headaches.