I’m always excited to meet other fantasy writers through blogging or social media. That’s how I found Angela B. Chrysler last fall, though I don’t quite remember how. I want to say it was on Twitter… But what I do recall is that when Angela shared the premise of her debut novel Dolor and Shadow with me, I knew the story would be up my alley. High fantasy combined with Norse mythology, a foreboding atmosphere, and a dynamic female protagonist – where are the checkboxes to tick off? Oh, and Angela’s a fellow Tolkienite. Yay!
Dolor and Shadow was released on Sunday, May 31st, and I’m honored to have Angela here today for our newest Author Interview. Learn more about her novel, why she chose to self-publish, and how many books she plans to release over the next year. (Holy cow, it’s staggering!) Let’s dive in, shall we?
Q&A with Angela B. Chrysler
Congratulations on the release of Dolor and Shadow!
Angela: Thank you! It has been a long seven years.
How do you feel now that’s it ready for other fantasy lovers to read?
Angela: I feel ecstatic! I cannot wait for readers to meet Kallan and sink their minds into my imagination. So very excited for everyone out there to meet everyone in my head.
For any readers who may not know much about Dolor and Shadow, could you tell us a little bit about the book and what we can expect?
Angela: Absolutely. Dolor and Shadow sinks the reader into a world of dark mythical fantasy and mystery. You are introduced to a princess whose unusual powers and memories are magically sealed by Aaric, her father’s high marshal. Aaric then then confronts a Fae goddess who has arrived to kill the child. From there, a vivid world of Norse and Celtic mythology merge as you witness the Viking Era through the elves’ point of view. There are Swann Maidens, Giants, Fae gods, war, murder mysteries, sword fights, enemies and romance, a chase across the ancient Norwegian tundra, and Bergen.
I’d love to hear about your novel’s leading lady, Kallan. How would you describe her? And, without giving much away, what do you think is the greatest obstacle she has to overcome during Dolor and Shadow?
Angela: Oh, my dear sweet Kallan. Kallan is so much fun to write. She is smart, witty, sharp, fun, and dangerous. She is as stubborn as she is intelligent and, in addition to being the queen of her Lorlenalin, she also mastered the Seidr Arts allowing Kallan to throw fire. And her greatest obstacle to overcome in Dolor and Shadow? I would have to say, accepting her own weaknesses. She is her own greatest enemy, but refuses to accept her weakness to see it. This holds her back.
Dolor and Shadow takes readers to ancient Scandinavia and old Norse mythology. Why did you choose this particular time and place? How much research did you need to do for your world-building?
Angela: Why did I choose this particular time and place. *laughing* It’s Kallan’s fault, really. I created Kallan first. I composed this strong woman, and I invented characteristics that I felt were the strongest. Warrior. Witch. Queen. Elf. It was the Elf that did it. I researched where elves came from and found myself looking at the 13th century Icelandic tome, The Prose Edda. It is The Prose Edda that launched my imagination. From The Prose Edda, I found more works by Snorri Sturluson, the 13th century Icelandic monk, and learned of the Viking Era. The heart of Scandinavia is Norway. So, using Snorri Sturluson, Wikipedia, and John Lindow, I journeyed back to 10th century Norway at the time that Olaf I, King of Norway Christianized Scandinavia. 995 C.E. to 1000 C.E.
From there, I studied the region, climate, culture, history, geography, religions…and where Vikings are, the Celts are sure to follow. I then studied Ireland, Celtic Myth, History, region, culture…through the research Kallan’s world was born and I used my story to link the 10th century world history with Celtic mythology and Norse Mythology.
Does this also mean we’ll get to see any Norse or Celtic gods and goddesses?
Angela: Oh, absolutely! Right off, you meet Fand from Celtic myth. Danann is also referenced a number of times. The Aesir and Vanir are mentioned. Loptr (Loki) and Sigyn make a number of appearances as well as Heimdallr and readers get to see the Bilrost (Bifrost). More to come as the series progresses.
I love asking speculative fiction writers this question, so I’m going to pose it to you, too, Angela. If you could visit the ancient Scandinavia you developed for Dolor and Shadow, what would you do – or avoid doing – while there? 😉
Angela: Oh! What a treat! I would most definitely avoid the disblot. That is a rumored human sacrifice held around the 1st full moon of every new year. Viewers of History Channel’s “Vikings” get to witness this ceremony. Not pleasant.
I would love to walk the King’s Road. It’s still there in Norway, so I actually plan to do this. The King’s Road was a road from Oslo to Trondheim that passed through the Jotunheim mountains. It was built by St. Olaf (not to confused with King Olaf I) in the 11th century. Cabins were built along this road and are still there today for skiers who get lost in the white out (severe snowstorms in Norway).
I would want to sail in the ships, celebrate the Jol (Viking Christmas), and I would love to walk the Lake Vanern (Lake Wanern in my book) in Sweden when it is frozen over in a sheet of ice. Beowulf refers to “a battle fought on the ice.” Lake Vanern in Sweden is where that ice battle hypothetically took place.
Let’s talk about your writer’s journey now. When did you realize how serious you were about writing and getting your work published?
Angela: I was serious a year before I began Dolor and Shadow. I started writing out of boredom, but was serious the moment I saw my name published in a vanity press.
I already know from past conversations with you that J.R.R. Tolkien was a huge inspiration. What do you admire about his work?
Angela: Tolkien was a linguist. So am I. I never go to the extent of creating a new language because…well, why reinvent the wheel? But I did put a lot of time into the languages in my book. I revived all Scandinavian names that were used 1,000 years ago. This is why Loki is Loptr in my book. I first was mesmerized by language and etymology from My Fair Lady and Professor Higgins. I wanted to be a linguistic as early as twelve. When I learned Tolkien was also a linguist, it inspired me to be just as thorough in my story as he.
Who are some of your other favorite or most influential authors?
Angela: Poe. Without a thought, I adore the works of Edgar Allan Poe. There isn’t a day I don’t get lost in The Raven or Annabel Lee. The Phantom of The Opera by Gaston Leroux and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein have also done so much to influence my style. I love the gothic dark romance and soft macabre mixed with fantasy. I think that is what Dolor and Shadow really is.
What influenced you to self-publish Dolor and Shadow instead of going the traditional route (agents, publishing houses)? How has your experience been so far, and what have you learned from it?
Angela: Self-publishing was not a decision I came to lightly. I assumed self-publishing was something only rejects pursued. I think a lot of people still feel this way. I am very active in my online community and noticed a lot of people were self-publishing, and I realized being close minded narrowed my options and my networking. I couldn’t afford to be biased or close minded.
I approached my writer’s group with a very sensitive topic and together, we explored the reality of what self-publishing is. I learned that I was wrong. Self-publishing was no longer for the rejects of traditional publishing. I learned that book publishing is a business and traditional publishers are only investors playing the author stock market, and investments are limited. So only a guaranteed best seller will land an investor.
That conversation changed my way of thinking. I realized I could spend two years trying to find an investor to endorse me, or I could just do it myself and spend those two years selling books instead. The experience has been phenomenal. I am surrounded by a professional group of indie authors. We attend cyber conferences, meetings, conversations, events of our own making, and book promos on a daily basis. We market, cry, and rejoice together. It really is a quite an extraordinary experience.
One of your other projects is Brains to Books, a website geared toward aspiring authors. What kinds of content do you feature on Brains to Books? What are some of your future plans for it?
Angela: Brain to Books is my brain baby. I conceived the idea shortly before deciding to go indie author. Finding answers about self and traditional publishing was not easy. Don’t get me wrong. The sites, books, and links are there, but I would spend hours weeding through sites that promised answers then offered the answers only if I spent $40.00 on a book I couldn’t afford. I was frustrated and so, created Brain to Books: an online beginner’s manual for the self-publishing author.
I blog articles that walk you through the step-by-step process of publishing. I collect and provide all the helpful links that do not end with a sales pitch. There is a list of recommended reading for aspiring authors. I interview authors—USA Bestselling authors of traditional publishing as well as indie authors—so you can see both sides of the publishing world and decide for yourself. I also host events like the Brain to Books Blog Tour going on now on Goodreads. Every day of August, for the 31 consecutive days, Brain to Books is featuring three authors on the tour. The Blog Tour will definitely be repeated next summer as well. Last April I hosted the first annual 2015 Author & Reader Cyber Convention, which is already in the planning for April 2016.
Some future plans with Brain to Books include a blog hop I’m thinking about for this fall, and I am putting together a huge giveaway this November from Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Honestly, the best way to stay informed is by joining my Goodreads Group “Angela B. Chrysler”. I post all my updates and news there as well as my books.
What’s next for you writing-wise? Dolor and Shadow marks the beginning of your Tales of the Drui series. Are you planning other novels to follow this one?
Angela: Absolutely! Dolor and Shadow is Book #1 of 7…or 8. Not sure yet if it will go to Book #8. Lorlenalin’s Lies is Book #2 of the Drui series and is mostly written. I hope to release in 2016. I also have the novella mini-series “Bergen” that I am working on. Bane, Bound, and Bergen: Broken are the three Bergen books I will be writing. That concludes my immediate fantasy plans.
This summer I am releasing Broken, a macabre memoir based on a true story. And just today I adopted a new project. I will be contributing a gothic romance for an anthology my editor is putting together. All proceeds of the anthology will go toward cancer. Over all, I am looking at twelve books to release over the next ten years, four of which will release by Winter 2016.
What one piece of advice do you have for writers who are working on their first drafts?
Angela: Persevere and endure. My answer will never change on this question. There will be days where you want to quit or burn your manuscript. Persevere through those times and endure the heartache. You’ll get there. Just persevere and endure.
Thanks very much for being here today, Angela! I know you’ve been super-busy with finalizing Dolor and Shadow, so I appreciate you taking the time to answer these questions.
Angela: Thank you for having me. I truly enjoyed your questions.
Angela B. Chrysler’s Final Fast Five
- Last Book She Read: Last Light Falling by J.E. Plemons
- Literary Character She Wouldn’t Want to Meet in a Dark Alley: Iago from Shakespeare’s Othello and the Fae princes from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series
- Literary Pet She Wishes She Could Own: Smaug from The Hobbit and a tribble
- Random Objects We’d Find at Her Writing Desk / Space: A slinkie, a rubiks cube, the 8-Ball to help me on those really hard plot decisions and my cat, Cookie. She sleeps on my desk while I write.
- Three Things She Can’t Live Without: Felines, books, music, and I’ll sneak coffee in there too.
About Angela B. Chrysler
Angela B. Chrysler is a writer, logician, and die-hard nerd who studies philosophy, theology, historical linguistics, music composition, and medieval European history in New York with a dry sense of humor and an unusual sense of sarcasm.
In 2009, after completing two courses from Long Ridge Writer’s Group, her articles appeared in Kritter Kronickles Pet Magazine, and she began work on Dolor and Shadow, a dark mythological fantasy that depicts the Viking era from the elves’ point of view. Despite her smile and passion for laughter, Ms. Chrysler survived a number of unique hardships that fueled her darker side and love of macabre.
While writing, Ms. Chrysler fuzzies her cats and survives on coffee, Guinness, and the writings of Edgar Allan Poe. When she is not writing, she enables her addictions to all things nerdy, and reads everything she can get her hands on no matter the genre. Occasionally, she finds time to garden, mother her three children, and debate with her life-long friend who she eventually married to simplify things.
Find Angela B. Chrysler:
DOLOR AND SHADOW
As the elven city burns, Princess Kallan is taken to Alfheim while a great power begins to awaken within her. Desperate to keep the child hidden, her abilities are suppressed and her memory erased. But the gods have powers as well, and it is only a matter of time before they find the child again.
When Kallan, the elven witch, Queen of Lorlenalin, fails to save her dying father, she inherits her father’s war and vows revenge on the one man she believes is responsible: Rune, King of Gunir. But nothing is as it seems, and the gods are relentless. A twist of fate puts Kallan into the protection of the man she has sworn to kill, and Rune into possession of power he does not understand.
From Alfheim, to Jotunheim, and then lost in the world of Men, these two must form an alliance to make their way home, and try to solve the lies of the past and of the Shadow that hunts them all.