It's the penultimate day of the Indie Author Spring Festival, and today is the turn of L.B. Benson, whose fantasy romance novels, The Bartered Soul and The City of New Aphros, are discounted to £1.99 and £2.99 respectively. Learn more about this wonderful author in the interview below!
What made you decide to self-publish rather than follow more traditional routes?
I can be a bit of a control freak and don’t have a ton of patience, so the idea that I might spend a long while in the query trenches, plus the likelihood of rejection and loss of final control of my work made me decide to dip my toes into the self-publishing world. One day I might query for a traditional deal, but for now I’m happy to be an indie author.
Publishing can be daunting! Do you have any tips for other indie authors set to release their debuts?
Don’t rush and don’t skimp on editing! Just because you don’t have to wait on a publishing company to release it doesn’t mean you should hurry through the steps. I published fairly quickly for my series, but I had a lot of excellent help and advice along the way. I know the upfront cost of publishing can make you think about where you can shave off expenses, but I truly believe a quality editor and great cover design are super important places to focus on to make sure your work is as polished as it can be.
What initially drew you to the fantasy genre? Would you ever consider writing other genres, and if so, which?
I love fantasy so much! It’s the perfect escape from “the real world”, and as an author you’re free to explore and create your own mythology and magic. I’ll probably always have some sort of magic in my books, but I never say never to branching out to other genres. I’d love to toy around with a Southern Gothic, but that won’t be for some time since I have a few other WIP ideas for now.
Tell us about your fantasy, The Bartered Soul, and what inspired you to write it.
The Bartered Soul is a blend of my love of the divine feminine, pirate stories, and goddess mythology. The FMC (Andromeda) is a displaced priestess we meet hiding from the past while working in a brothel. She’s procured by the MMC (Lennox), a notorious pirate, for a voyage, but nothing turns out like she expects once the journey begins.
Book 1 is really about the characters and their internal struggles as the story progresses. I like to say it's like the show Black Sails meets The Mists of Avalon. I was inspired by various goddess myths and my love of pirate stories, and blended them together to create Book 1.
Your story is set in a fictional world. What was the process behind building this strong fantasy setting and were there any challenges? Is this place inspired by any other fantasy worlds or stories?
Selennia is loosely based on a combo of Ireland/Scotland for the landscape. The mythology/takeover by the King was inspired by the takeover of male-dominated religions over goddess-worshiping religions across the world. I was inspired by Celtic and Greek mythology (The Morrigan, Maeve, Selene & Endymion amongst others) as well as historical tales of pirates and Nassau.
The City of New Aphros is Book Two in the series. Did you find anything surprising or challenging about writing a sequel? How does the story progress from The Bartered Soul and what is in store for the characters?
Ooof. Book 2 was tough. I originally intended for this to be a duology, but the amount of story that needed to be told had to be split into a trilogy, so New Aphros really took center stage for Book 2. I wanted it to be a place where Andromeda could learn more about her history and heal, and where the characters had a moment to relax (or so they think). New characters are introduced (Delphine seems to be a crowd favorite 🙂) and the city is inspired by New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities.
Book Three will be entitled Andromeda’s Vengeance. Can you give readers a teaser of what they can expect from these characters, and will it be the final book in the series, or is there still more to look forward to?
Book 3 is the end of the trilogy, but some additional side-character novellas are in the works.
Andromeda’s Vengeance is a return home. It revisits characters mentioned in previous books and finds everyone recovering from Book 2 using the knowledge they’ve gained to plan out how to create a future they want to be a part of. There’s a bit more action in this one and we get additional character POVs and a deeper look at a few new characters as well.
Your books include romance as well as fantasy. What is/are your favourite romance trope(s) and will we see any in this series? Are there any you prefer to read rather than write and vice versa?
I love the “guy falls first” and “touch her and you die” tropes, both of which can be found in my books. They also have a good helping of “found family”, a dash of “hurt/comfort”, and my FMC is definitely a woman with a dagger.
I personally love reading MMCs who aren’t afraid to show how much they care about their partners and I hope that comes through in my books. I’m not usually one who selects tropes to write ahead of time, they kind of flow with the story. In that same vein, I can read just about any trope as long as it makes sense to the storyline.
Do you have a favourite movie, show, and/or book and has it influenced your own work at all?
This is always the hardest question for me because I love so many and always draw a blank when asked! I love Leigh Bardugo’s work – the Six of Crows duology is my favorite. Outlander, both the books and show, are another that I will always recommend and Jamie and Claire are some of my favorite characters. Whether it influences my work is to be determined, although I have had a few people mention that Andromeda has little hints of Claire here and there (which is one of the nicest things I’ve heard!)
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 up edits for Andromeda’s Vengeance so I’m currently in that “my brain is mush” stage, so I’ve been rereading old favorites. I always recommend Black Sails if people love pirates because it was so underrated when it came out and can be found in its entirety on some streaming sites now.
I’m super excited for Pierce Brown’s Lightbringer later this year – the Red Rising series is another favorite, so if you haven’t checked them out yet, get to it!
L.B. Benson is a life long reader with eclectic taste. She even formally immortalized her love of books by earning a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas.
If a book has a good plot she will give it a chance, and you can find her engrossed in anything from Dickens to dark romance. But, she’s a fantasy girl at heart and always appreciates a dash of magic.
She spends her spare time dreaming up stories in the Texas countryside where she lives with her husband and daughter, growing veggies and snuggling with their animals.
The Bartered Soul marks Benson’s first foray to the other side of the page as her debut novel, and is the first book in the Andromeda’s Account series, which continues with The City of New Aphros and Andromeda's Vengeance (coming July 2023).
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