I’m excited to spend some time with fantasy novelist Marsha A. Moore in the forum today. She is not only talented, she is also quite busy, so before she runs off to a yoga class or to meet her editor, we better get startedJ.
Tim Greaton: Thanks so much for being here with us, Marsha. We’ve talked about doing an interview for a while, and I’m really excited that our schedules finally meshed. I’m willing to bet our readers would be surprised at your journey to become a novelist. Could you tell us a little about that?
Marsha A. Moore: I’ve followed a circuitous path to end up as a fiction writer. I graduated with a degree in Biology, minoring in English. I wanted to pursue Literature and Fine Art, but my parents encouraged me to study Biology, so I might eventually find a reliable job. That was fine, since I liked that subject also. I wrote essays as a fun break from my full load of Science. Yes, weird that I thought writing essays was fun…still do! Then, I headed into grad school studying Dentistry. Four years later, I decided although I was excelling, it just wasn’t my calling. I changed gears and taught high school Biology for seventeen years, getting my Masters in Secondary Education.
Along the way, I picked up a hobby of writing music reviews for record companies. During that time, I was inspired by some of those experiences and tinkered with fiction. Initially, I wrote fiction based on the world of rock music. Through a lucky happenstance, a man who worked for a major book publishing house read my first attempts at fiction, which were posted on a music forum. He repeatedly encouraged me to submit my creative writing. Over time, I came to believe him and did. After that, a new world opened up and it’s been a wonderful time.
Tim Greaton: Quite a few years ago, I read a series of biographies about Teddy Roosevelt, and one of the most memorable things about him was how he seemed to be torn equally and almost obsessively between physical and intellectual interests. You remind me a lot of him in that way. I’ll let you explain what I meanJ
Marsha A. Moore: I have many hobbies and they often shift into part-time careers. I’ve been a yoga addict for thirteen years and just recently registered for a 200-hour year-long yoga teacher certification course. I’m thrilled to embark on learning more about one of my interests that has slowly become a huge part of my life. I’m excited to see what journeys will come from that training.
My other active hobbies include kayaking and cycling, which I do weekly, year round. I live in Tampa, which makes that possible. I love the beach and do my best writing there. I have a host of creative hobbies: drawing, watercolor painting, knitting, jewelry making. I also manage to squeeze in reading time for books on fantasy, magical realism, and spiritual guidance.
I also make time to study Tibetan Buddhism. I took refuge in that faith many years ago and attend a wonderful local sangha.
Tim Greaton: I understand that meditation is sometimes like plugging into pure creativity but you started tapping a creative vein long before your journey toward Buddhism. What’s that like?
Marsha A. Moore: I get a lot of positive and amazed comments about my imagination, usually, “Where do you get these ideas?” or “You are talented storyteller,” or “How do you drive with all these wild ideas in your head?” I honestly have no idea—it’s just me and how I think. I see odd stuff in nature, like portals and strange creatures. I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. It does make for some great tales though!
Tim Greaton: I’ve heard rumors that you tap a strong well of reality when you write. Is that true?
Marsha A. Moore: Reality always forms the framework of how my characters interact in my stories. Actually, since my current work in progress is book three of a five-part series, the more I look at this story, the more of myself I see. My heroine, Lyra, is very much connected to me. Even in the first chapter of the first book, the childhood memories brought to her mind by Cullen’s magical tea are actually all mine. How Lyra interacts with her Aunt Jean has been a way for me to work through my own issues with my mother’s failing health. Some scenes intentionally connect to my own experiences, like those, and others surprise me much later when I’m polishing my draft to send to my editor. I shake my head and hope no one other than my crit partners can identify the similarities.
Tim Greaton: I know from experience that writing fantasy can be extremely time-consuming. Could you explain why that is and what your specific writing method is like?
Marsha A. Moore: My process begins with a setting I find interesting, somewhere I’d like to spend some time. In writing fantasy, world-building is everything. Then, I create the main characters, appearance and personality. From there, how they will become involved goes hand-in-hand with developing the plot. I do outline a lot, since there are many interwoven subplots in this series. This series is epic in scope, and details would get lost if I didn’t plan. Outside of the key features on the outline, I do allow the in-between progress in each chapter to flow freely, which I enjoy a lot. Some of the most imaginative bits arise that way. In terms of evolution, I tend to write more now in extended spurts, immersing myself in the story. I find that works better for me than routine, short daily sessions. Perhaps because I’m writing a very involved epic tale, I need longer periods to keep the storylines straight. Regardless, it’s more enjoyable for me to feel like I’m in the world for several days, rather than popping in for an hour.
Tim Greaton: Whenever I hear you talk about your critique circle, I remember how much I miss the local groups I used to attend many years ago. What’s your circle like?
Marsha A. Moore: I love my critique group. My crit partners are my best friends. They keep me motivated, cheer with me for my successes, and support me when any hardships come along. My group is local, through the Florida Writers Association. I think it’s extremely important to find a local crit group rather than working only online. We benefit so much from collectively brainstorming how to solve everyone’s writing problems.
Tim Greaton: Though I’d love to talk about your background and methods a lot longer, I know our readers are equally anxious to hear about your latest novel and the series it’s based in. Could you enlighten us?
Marsha A. Moore: The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are about Lyra McCauley, a woman destined to become one of five strong women in her family who possess unique magical abilities and serve as Scribes in Dragonspeir. The Scribes span a long history, dating from 1200 to present day. Each Scribe is expected to journey through Dragonspeir, both the good and evil factions, then draft a written account. Each book contains magic with vast implications.
Lyra was first introduced to Dragonspeir as a young girl, when she met the high sorcerer, Cullen Drake, through a gift of one of those enchanted books. Using its magic, he escorted her into the parallel world of Dragonspeir. Years later, she lost that volume and forgot the world and Cullen. These legends begin where he finds her again—she is thirty-five, standing in his enchanted bookstore, and Dragonspeir needs her.
When Lyra reopens that enchanted book, she confronts a series of quests where she is expected to save the good Alliance from destruction by the evil Black Dragon. While learning about her role, Lyra and Cullen fall in love. He is 220 years old and kept alive by Dragonspeir magic. Cullen will die if Dragonspeir is taken over by the evil faction…Lyra becomes the Scribe.
In Heritage Avenged: Enchanted Bookstore Legend Two, Lyra McCauley receives an alarming letter from the coroner who evaluated her deceased aunt, originally thought to have died of cancer. The news causes Lyra to take leave from her job and travel from sunny Tampa to the frozen island community in northern Michigan. Questioning whether Dragonspeir magic was responsible for her aunt’s death, she resolves to learn the truth and accepts the Imperial Dragon’s appointment into the Alliance sorcery training.
Additionally, becoming proficient in magic craft is the only way she can bridge the gap between her mortal human world and her lover’s. Cullen, a 220-year-old wizard, is dependent upon his Dragonspeir magic for immortality. He is her only family now; she cannot lose him.
Evil forces block her and try to steal her inherited scribal aura. Riding a stealth dragon, a cloaked rider pursues Lyra. Both the Alliance and Dark Realm alchemists lay tricks and traps. Her aura equals that of the first and most powerful Scribe, but will Lyra’s novice training allow her to discover the truth…and find a life with Cullen? Or will the Dark Realm keep them apart?
Tim Greaton: What led you to tell this particular story?
Marsha A. Moore: The Enchanted Bookstore Legends are basically a fantasy lover’s dream, being able to step into a favorite book as a character. I know my initial inspiration came after watching the recent Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland movie. From that, I wanted to work with parallel worlds and have a heroine who must save the fantasy world from danger. But, I wanted it to be more adult in order to deal with more complex feelings. Beyond that, I just see fantasy stories all around me. It comes naturally.
Tim Greaton: You’ve already mentioned that there will be five books in this series. What else can we expect on the Marsha A. Moore horizonJ?
Marsha A. Moore: I’m currently finishing up writing the third Enchanted Bookstore Legen: Lost Volumes. I’m expecting a September release for that book. I’ve also been planning a new series. I like to think about my plans for a new book or series over several months, fitting the pieces together.
I write epic fantasy with romantic elements and will likely do more in that subgenre. I also enjoy reading magical realism, mythpunk, and mythic fiction—all subgenres that sit on the border between fantasy and literary fiction. I expect my writing will shift in that direction over time.
I like the complexity of fantasy, the feeling of being transported into another world. However, most fantasy books are written for young adults. In my reading, I longed to find more fantasies written for adults. The element of romance I include is far less about adding sex than about adding deeper connections between the hero and heroine, allowing them to be more three-dimensional and work with more complex issues.
Tim Greaton: Knowing you as the avid reader you are, I wonder which authors have influenced your work and why?
Marsha A. Moore: I loved Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. The symbolism is amazing; the more you read, the more layers you find. Inspired by that, I like to hide things in my stories.
From the present, picking one book is too hard. The Harry Potter series is one of my all-time favorites. Again, the layering of hidden plots, which spin to completion later in the series, really captures my imagination. The last few books that really pulled me in were Natasha Mostert’s Season of the Witch and Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus. In both of those, magic caused mental effects for both the giver and receiver. I enjoy the complexity of that theme and employ it myself in a very different way. My heroine, Lyra, must learn to mentally control her vast inherited powers as the new Scribe. That is something she struggles to master through the series.
Tim Greaton: For most of us, getting the initial foundation of a story down is the biggest challenge. That hasn’t been quite true for you, though, has it?
Marsha A. Moore: You’re right. I didn’t struggle with the first two books of these Enchanted Bookstore Legends, but had a difficult time finding what internal conflict my heroine needed to deal with in the third book. I actually had to live it, pass through a difficult experience in my own life with the recent passing of my mother, in order to see what the character needed to do. That was a real moment of discovery for me since I’d been too close to the forest to see the trees, so-to-speak.
Tim Greaton: I understand if you could start breeding a certain species from your book series, you would have a very successful pet store. Could you explain to our readers what I meanJ?
Marsha A. Moore: The Enchanted Bookstore Legends make a truly epic tale with a large and wonderful cast of otherworldly characters, including many talking animals. My main characters, Lyra and Cullen, must attempt difficulties that stretch their abilities over numerous quests. But, my secondary characters often bring laughter and lighten their loads, or encourage their strengths to persevere. I’m in the middle of writing the third book, Lost Volumes, so by now the personalities of my secondary animal characters really shine and they feel very real to me. I’m especially fond of my dragons, but one type stands out as a favorite—pseudodragons.
Pseudodragons are not true dragons. They are much smaller, being only three feet long, including their tails. In my legends, we get to know the pseudodragon Cullen keeps as his wizard’s familiar—a typical role for this species. His name is Noba, and he’s a tiny burgundy-colored pseudodragon who has a heart of gold that makes people melt. He always manages to find some mischief. I smile thinking about him. He helped Lyra raise a dragon hatchling. She had no idea what to do with a baby dragon. Noba was great and made every minute fun! Lots of readers tell me they want a pseudodragon of their own now!
Tim Greaton: It would be great if you could share your website/blogsite and links to where our audience could directly communicate with you and purchase your stories.
Marsha A. Moore:
Fantasy Faction staff page: http://fantasy-faction.com/staff-members?uid=38
Goodreads author page http://www.goodreads.com/marshaamoore
Tim Greaton: Thanks, Marsha, for fitting us in your schedule today. I really had a great time.
Marsha A. Moore: Thank you so much for taking time to chat with me about all things writing. It’s fun to share what inspires my creativity, and being here with you and your readers has been wonderful.