Occupation/Aspiration (related website?)… I’m a stay-at-home mom and author. My website is www.meganhaskell.com.
Where do you currently reside? What’s your hometown/origin? I grew up in Washington State. The early years were spent in a small community on the south end of Whidbey Island. Then I went to high school at Holy Names Academy in Seattle. Yes, I went to the all-girls Catholic high school. And I’m proud of it! I would not be who I am or where I am today, if it wasn’t for that wonderful experience.
After that, I came to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California (Fight On!). That’s where I met my husband, which ultimately made the decision to stay in Southern California easy (he’s a native). We moved farther south a few years ago, after my first daughter was born, and now live in south Orange County.
You’ve just released a novel, Sanyare: The Last Descendant. Could you give us a synopsis? Where can interested readers get their copies, learn more, etc.? Congrats, by the way!!
Sanyare is the story of a human woman caught between two great faerie realms.
Trained to be an elite fighter and educated in the ways of the elves, Nuriel “Rie” Lhéthannien has worked decades to be accepted into the High Court messenger service. It’s a simple enough occupation, but in a realm where humans are treated as little better than slaves, it’s a position she’ll do anything to protect.
On a routine delivery in the Human Realm, Rie is attacked by assassins from the enemy Shadow Realm and framed as a traitor. Facing execution at the hand of an unmerciful king, she evades capture and crosses the portal into enemy lands to prove her innocence.
Surprising allies arise from the shadows, assisting her search and uncovering secrets she didn’t know she kept. With the risk of discovery lurking at every turn, Rie must use every weapon in her arsenal to uncover the truth behind the attack. If she fails, death will be the least of her worries.
Featuring a dark elf prince with unnatural fire magic, a blood sidhe merchant’s son with ambitions beyond business, and a mischievous swarm of pixies, Sanyare: The Last Descendant is a fast paced dark fantasy adventure with epic themes and a new adult tone.
The book is available at all major online retailers in both print and digital formats. Click here to buy your copy!
You can find out more about me and my books on my website at www.MeganHaskell.com, and if you subscribe to my newsletter, I’ll send you Pixie Tamer, the short story prequel to Sanyare: The Last Descendant, plus two free deleted scenes exclusively for subscribers.
How long did Sanyare take to write? How long to edit? When you finish one novel, do you move straight to the next?
I started the world-building and research for Sanyare around August 2012. I remember, because it was about six months after my first daughter was born and I was finally feeling ready (and itchy) to write again. However, the actual writing began during NaNoWriMo of that year. (In case you haven’t heard of it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it occurs every November. People all around the world pledge to write at least 50,000 words that month. I have never “won” NaNo, but it’s fun to try.)
Anyway, I spent over a year writing the first draft, finally getting to “The End” in December 2013. At the time, I thought I would quickly and easily edit the book and have it ready by that summer. Boy, was I wrong.
I traded chapters with a critique partner from January through about October 2014. We worked slowly and deliberately, but in the end I’m glad I did it that way. I learned a ton and produced a book that I’m really proud of.
Once I finished that round of drafts, I sent the book to beta readers, who gave me some great feedback. More changes later, I sent it off to a professional editor, finally finishing the edits in late December or early January. Then it took me about a month to figure out how to self-publish, and the book was “born” on February 16, 2015.
So all told, it took me about two and a half years!
I didn’t start writing the sequel to Sanyare until May 2015. For one thing, there’s a bit of a learning curve to self-publishing and I wanted to focus on getting it right. But more importantly, I gave birth to my second daughter in April, so that pretty much consumed everything for awhile.
In the future, I want to have a rolling schedule of writing and production, where I’m writing one story, editing another, and publishing a third. Not all novels, though. After I finish the draft of my current work in progress, I’m planning to start a novella for a side character, then I’ll start Book 3 after that.
When did you know you had Sanyare in you–and how did you know it was time to let her out?
I’ve been a reader my entire life. Specifically, I’ve been a fantasy reader. For a long time, I thought it would be fun to write a fantasy novel and create my own world, but I was too busy with school or work to really give it a shot. I finally started creative writing during my hour commute by train into the office. This was probably 2006 or 2007.
I started about a dozen different stories, and eventually finished a werewolf novel in 2011. It sucked. I didn’t want to edit it. Now it languishes in the virtual drawer of my computer.
I tell you this not to avoid the question, but to say…it’s not that I had Sanyare in me. I had/have stories in me. Actually, if I’m being really honest, I have characters in me.
All my stories begin with characters. I’m not sure when or how I came up with Rie, but I knew I wanted to tell the story of a human woman, looked down upon by the elves, who proves them all wrong and becomes a power unto herself.
After that, it was a matter of building a unique world and finding a conflict that only she could solve. When I finished that first draft, I knew I had the bones of a really good story. When I took it to a writers’ conference and received positive feedback from professional writers and editors, I knew it was good enough to publish.
Are you a plotter, pantser, or a “plantser”?
Definitely a “plantser”. I create outlines that hit the major plot points, but once I start writing, anything goes. I think I’ve completely changed the outline on my current work in progress (the sequel to Sanyare) at least half a dozen times.
You’re a self-published author–another need for congratulations! Could you share with us what encouraged you to go this route? (Did you ever consider representation?)
Although I did a lot of research into the traditional publishing path, I never sought representation.
I graduated from USC with B.S. in Business Administration, and I worked for a major accounting firm for seven and a half years. I’ve always wanted to run my own business and be my own boss. I didn’t see how it made sense in the modern era for someone like me — who not only loves to write, but loves to crunch numbers and manage projects — to give away the majority of the profits of my books to a publishing company that would take over all of the fun business stuff and leave me totally out of the loop.
So, when I realized that self-publishing was a viable option, that not only could a writer earn more per copy of their book, but the production timeline was faster and more streamlined, I knew that was the way I wanted to go.
Besides, I’m Type A. I wanted the control.
What, in your opinion, is the MOST FUN about being an authorpreneur? What is the MOST DIFFICULT?
Most Fun: Seeing everything come together; every decision about my book was my own, from the final cover design to the formatting and the final edits, I am responsible for everything.
Most Difficult: Managing and prioritizing time. I can’t just write, I have to market and promote, write newsletters, manage my website, and network with readers and other writers. I don’t have the funds to hire a virtual assistant (yet) so every little thing takes time away from writing the next book. It can be really challenging to stay focused.
I’m an aspiring author who’s juggling her writing with a day job and other commitments. You’ve mentioned a husband and children–so I know you have your hands full! What’s your secret?
Sacrifices must be made. My husband and I have an agreement: we don’t watch TV Sunday through Thursday nights. As soon as both of my girls are asleep in bed, I’m on my computer writing (or working) until my fingers bleed or my eyes slide shut against my will. (Yes, I’ve fallen asleep with my head on the desk…or kitchen table, which is where I often write.)
What do you do when you’re not writing?
Um…take care of my kids. Exercise. Sleep. Read. In that order, but not mutually exclusive.
Like, I rarely get a full night’s sleep without a child in my bed. And even my exercise mostly comes in the form of Stroller Strides, a circuit training class with other moms and their kids. (We run with the kids in strollers, stopping every so often for strength stations, like squats or pushups or whatever. It’s a REALLY good workout.)
I used to garden, but that pretty much went out the window after my oldest was born. We tried to plant a vegetable garden when she was about two, but I think I managed to grow three green beans.
Recent project/accomplishment you would like to highlight. Are you working on anything (or learning something) that’s fascinating to you?
By the time this is published, I will have finished the first draft of the sequel to Sanyare: The Last Descendant, tentatively titled Heir & Apprentice! I’ve been working on it since May, so I’ll have cut my first draft time almost in half! If all goes well, I’ll have it published and out the door by Halloween.
Coffee or Tea? Coffee. Definitely coffee. I take it with a good-sized splash of milk and a teaspoon of organic maple sugar (at home) or Sugar in the Raw (everywhere else).
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change right now?
I don’t know, there’s not much in my life I want to change. I guess I’d want a magic clean-up wand, where I could do the dishes and clean the kitchen, or better yet do all the laundry, with just a flick of my wrist. Yeah, that’d be nice.
WANT TO BE A PART OF LIVINGINCYN’S E-INTERVIEW SERIES FOR ASPIRING AUTHORS?
If you’re an aspiring author — that is, you are actively working on your debut book, which you plan on publishing — or you recently published your debut work, you qualify for this e-interview series. Submit your comment below or send an email to cynthia [at] livingincyn [dot] com if you wish to participate in an e-interview. This series is slated for the 3rd Wednesday of each month.