Monday, 8 August 2011
Author Spotlight - Q&A with Vijaya Schartz
Born in France, award-winning author Vijaya Schartz never conformed to anything and could never refuse a challenge. She likes action and exotic settings, in life and on the page. She traveled the world and claims she comes from the future. Her books collected many five star reviews and literary awards. She makes you believe you actually lived these extraordinary adventures among her characters. Her stories have been compared to Indiana Jones with sizzling romance. So, go ahead, dare to experience the magic, and she will keep you entranced, turning the pages until the last line. Find more at http://www.vijayaschartz.com
STEPH: I don't much about Blue Lioness. What's it about?
VIJAYA: It's about Ariela, a female Human warrior, a Black Sword Captain in the medieval Citadel of Kassouk. After the suspicious death of her king, she organizes a revolt against the abusive new regime of the Mutants (Half Human half Godd), but she needs help as her people have been deliberately barred from technological developments.
She hopes to find a powerful ally in the person of the very wise and handsome crown prince of the Star Children, Starro, who claims to have the technology to defeat the Mutants. But Ariela soon realizes the extent of the powers of Starro's people, and despite her attraction to him, she fears she might have traded one tyrant for another.
STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for it?
VIJAYA: This story came organically from the previous books in the series. First I want to say that each book is a complete story and can be enjoyed even if you didn't read the other books. Each romantic story involves a different couple, and the books are separated by decades, sometimes over a century. But if you are like me, you'll want to read the books in the right order, to see how the society progresses.
At the end of Book One, WHITE TIGER, the Mutants saved the Human race and started a fair government. In Book Two, RED LEOPARD and Book Three, BLACK JAGUAR, the civilizations and cultures evolve over the centuries, through conflicts, explorations, alien visitations, new knowledge. I also introduced in these books the seeds of corruption, and offered a glimpse of what might come next.
In my mind I subtitled Book Four, BLUE LIONESS, The Fall of the Mutants. Every culture flows and ebbs, and the people of Kassouk are no exception. This book marks the end of an era on that particular planet. Things will never be the same again.
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
VIJAYA: Right now I write Two novels and one novella a year. Although it took me three years to write my very first novel, after fifteen or so, the pace accelerates. And writing a series is easier, because you do not have to create a brand new world for each novel. You already have a complete history of your world as a foundation.
STEPH: How important is setting to the novel?
VIJAYA: I like to make the setting an integral part of the novel. In other words, the story I write could only happen in that particular setting, at that particular time. It's not specific to this series. Even when I write contemporary novels for other publishers, I make sure the setting is a very important part of the story. In Kassouk in particular, there is a recurring theme of large cats. The people of that culture keep large cats as pets and also train them to fight in battle. Most Human warriors choose feline names. All the titles in the series are names of Human warriors, sometimes the hero, sometimes the heroine.
STEPH: Did you have to do a lot of research for the novel?
VIJAYA: I did a lot of research at the beginning of this series, and for the subsequent books. As a history lover, I want my medieval Human society to be believable, then I incorporate the elements unique to my world, like the fascination with large felines. This society, although medieval, lives in the far future, on a planet where a Human vessel crashed centuries ago.
STEPH: Will there be anymore books in the Chronicles of Kassouk?
VIJAYA: Funny you ask. BLUE LIONESS marks the end of an era in the world of Kassouk, but as I was writing it, I realized that what happened before, the story of how the Human settlers happened to be stranded on that particular planet needed to be told. There is also the matter of how the large cats became part of the landscape, and how even then, the conflicts with alien races abunded.
VIJAYA: So the prequel to the series, NOAH'S ARK (the name of the vessel they all came on), is in the works, and will be released in April of 2012. You can get a glimpse on my website at: www.vijayaschartz.com
But before that happens, I also have a sci-fi romance novella coming out this October from Desert Breeze Publishing in the BOREALIS III anthology, titled BLACK DRAGON.
STEPH: What do you want people to take away from the novel?
VIJAYA: We all read for different reasons. Although this is science fiction and romance, an escape by definition, I like to think that my readers learn something in the process. Some may gain understanding and tolerance for vastly different cultures, others may realize that no one is perfect and it's all right. They will find in my books that standing up against tyranie and injustice is difficult, but true heroes are willing to do it and sacrifice a lot in the process... It's true on the page and in real life. Our soldiers do it every day.
STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?
VIJAYA: Like most writers, I started as a pantser, then I became a plotter. Now I do both, depending on the book, the mood, the inspiration. There are many ways to write a book, and varying the techniques keeps it fresh and exciting for the writer and for the reader.
STEPH: What's your writing space like?
Vijay's Writing Space
VIJAYA: My desk is cluttered. Bits of papers with notes on them, a print of my last chapter full of red marks. Sometimes a kitten or two playing with my computer mouse or jumping at the monitor. Red pens, post it notes, notepads, daytimer, glasses, paperweights, a picture of me jumping from a plane, a pot of green tea, bits of dark chocolate in a white rammekin.
Pictures of my characters hang on the walls with posters of my book covers. Promotion material semi-ready to be shipped in boxes on the free standing table behind me. The entire back wall of shelves is bulging under the weight of research and fiction books. Excuse the dust. I'm not exactly the domestic type.
STEPH: Tell us a little about the state you live in.
VIJAYA: I live in sunny Arizona and I love it. After traveling the world and living in exotic places like India and Hawaii, I am partial to the heat. The only thing I miss in Arizona is the ocean. There is much to discover in Arizona, though, from the Grand Canyon to the Anasazi ruins, and the rich western history... many things to inspire a writer.
Find out more at: http://www.vijayaschartz.com
Thanks you so much, Steph, for having me.