Author interview with Tora Moon of ‘Ancient Enemies: The Malvers War Book 1’

| July 27, 2017

Author Interview with Tora Moon

Rizelya is happy being just another Red, using her fire Talent to fight the monsters that plague her world, when a new monster appears in the nest that is harder to kill-and has strange mental powers. She is put in charge of a squad-pack–much to her consternation, she’s been avoiding being a leader for a long time–to learn more about the monsters. For some reason, she is the only one who can hear humming coming from the new monsters and catch glimpses of a strange woman. The visions point to a secret hidden for the past thousand years since the end of the Great War, and they could mean the end of her people. Rizelya must travel to the Sanctuary and confront the Supreme, her people’s spiritual leader, to find out the truth behind her visions.

 

 

What truths will Rizelya expose in her fight against the monsters plaguing her world? Tora Moon, author of ‘Ancient Enemies’ has kindly joined me today to expand this exposure of some of the secrets in the first installment in the Malvers War series. Tora, thanks for taking the time to partake in this tete-a-tete. To kick off the fun let’s turn our heads towards what inspired the creation of this novel and in turn the series in which it sits? And can you also share with us how did this inspiration evolve over time?

My series, The Malvers War, had its start while I was watching Syfy Channel’s Face Off TV series. The Season 1 finale challenge was “Twisted Tales” and one of the contestants had to come up with a scene of Little Red Riding Hood meets post-apocalyptic land. The scene blew me away (he didn’t win, darn—but I think I did with this story idea!). He envisioned Little Red Riding Hood as a kickass warrior, dressed in red leather, toting a big gun as she and her female companions fought off a werewolf incursion. I thought, “Wow, what a cool way to look at the well-known character of Little Red Riding Hood and turn it upside down.” I love strong female lead characters and believe I can help empower women by writing such women. This “Red” was exactly that. She was no timid little thing needing to be rescued from the big bad wolf by a hunter. She was the hunter. I kept thinking about this scene and this character, and soon Rizelya, taking the place of Little Red Riding Hood, was born. About the only thing she has in common with the original idea, is that she’s a kickass warrior dressed in red leather. Instead of a big gun, she carries a helbraught; a staff as tall as she is with an 18” curved blade attached to the end made of helstrim. This alloy allows her to feed her fire magic into it to easily penetrate the Malvers monster’s thick hide and withstand its acidic ichor. Instead of fighting werewolves, she fights a symbiont pair of monsters, a janack and brecha, collectively called Malvers monsters. She and the other Reds (women with fire magic Talent) are joined in the battle for survival by the men, who have traded their ability to do major magic for the gift of shapeshifting. They shift into a warrior form, which is a perfect meld of human and wolf that makes them a match for the monsters. In my story, instead of it set in a post-apocalyptic earth, Rizelya’s story is set on the world of Lairheim, and to quote the famous lines of Star Wars, “in a galaxy far, far away.” It takes place a thousand years after the Great War, which devastated the land and annihilated the majority of the population. The Posairs were just recovering from the war when the Malvers monsters showed up, threatening their fragile survival, and they’ve been fighting ever since.

 

 

Wow, that’s a fantastic journey of character transformation right there from the bones of Little Red Riding Hood to ‘Red’ and then finally to Rizelya. Was this journey easy?

Rizelya was pretty easy, I needed a kick-butt heroine to fill the role of “Little Red Riding Hood”, her side-kick Aistrun came in as the “wolf”. At first I thought they’d be a couple, but they are just best friends (her love interest shows up in book 2). The rest of the characters let themselves into the story as it was being written.

 

 

Oooh, a little taste of romance to be expected in the second installment. Rizelya’s life continues to transform! Returning to the beginnings of her transformation, you’ve ensured that she was going to be a kickass character by placing her and her friends into an enviroment which requires strength and resilance character to survive. Did you also find that it was intergral to match this streght of character by developing the demanding nature of Lairheim through research?

Even though it’s a fantasy, set on another world, you wouldn’t believe the types of research I’ve done! I can’t just make up everything. If I have the facts right, then it adds verisimilitude to the story, and it doesn’t pull the reader out of the story. Quite often, I find interesting facts and tidbits that enrich my life, whether they end up in the story or not. I like learning and this helps me keep my mind stretching. Some of the things I’ve looked up are: the workings of fire and the various types of fire, different types of plains grass, what a swamp looks like (I live in the Southwestern Desert, I’ve never seen a swamp before!), and a whole lot of information about horses since my society relies on horses to travel.

 

 

*Laughs* I love that you’ve gone to the effort of researching the complexities of swamps! Many an author has dedication to their story, but I haven’t heard of swamp level research. I really hope that you took the opportunity for a field trip to a swamp too, because what’s the fun of writing if it doesn’t lead to field trips! What message do you hope that your joy of writing has impressed on the readers?

You can’t hide from your destiny and who you are. Rizelya has tried so hard to hide from her destiny of being a leader, and yet life has a way of throwing you into situations where you have to acknowledge the truth of who you are to yourself. Empowering women is important to me, and I believe as an author, I can help do this by showing strong, powerful women who don’t use sex to get what they want, but their brains and personal strength. Rizelya is a warrior, but she is also a caring, compassionate woman. Women today need that type of role model, just look at the response to the new Wonder Woman movie. I hope my books can provide that for the women–and men–who read my stories.

 

 

I totally agree that both men and women need to see more examples of a warrior who is caring and compassionate. If you were lucky enough to get a movie deal, like the recent Wonder Woman film, who would you like to cast?

Rizelya – Scarlett Johanson

Blazel – Steven Amell or Vin Diesl

Aistrun – Chris Platt

Naila – Helen Mirren

Histrun – Harrison Ford

The Supreme – Judi Dench

 

 

*Laughs* Judi Dench really is The Supreme isn’t she? She’d be one of my first picks too! Other than the joys of casting Judi Dench, at least in your mind, for your work what other rewards have you found following Rizelya journey to publication?

Discovering how much I love to write stories and that I can help make the world a better place through the stories I write. Even if a reader simply enjoys the story while they read, or it provides them an escape from their ordinary life for a little whole, or a who thinks because a character in the story is so strong it challenges them to be better in their life, then I’ve made the world better for that reader.

 

 

Providing that challenge for to people to become better in their own lives is a fantastic reward and motivation for writing. Are you contining to make the world a better place through your next writing projects?

I’m currently working on the conclusion of the series, Exile’s Vengeance (book 4). The next series I’m anxiously waiting to work is The Sentinels, an urban fantasy with witches guarding the portal onto our world from the demons who want to enslave it.

 

 

You’ve kinda kept yourself in the fantasy space for your next projects. How do you keep each of these projects and worlds sepearte before you get the time to sit down and really flesh out a world?           

I have a very LONG list of story ideas I’ve been keeping over the years. I usually write at least a scene to get to know my main character, do some world building, and maybe a character sketch or two. Then it’s a matter of which story is knocking (well pounding) on my mind wanting to be told.

 

 

*Laughs* Oh my goodness, it sounds like you’ve got some fierce competition there from each of your stories demanding to be choosen next. When you do choose the next noisiest idea for execution do you know where it will end up? Or does that come to life as you spend more time on the tale?

When I first started writing, I was a complete pantser — letting the story unfold as I wrote. Now, I’m a hybrid. I need to do some planning of the overall story arc and the major events, then I let the story unfold. I love seeing how the characters and the story take over the story and things come up I never even dreamed about, and I include them. Then later when things fall into place, sometimes two books later, I do an “oh, so that’s why that’s there!”

 

 

That is awesome that everything just falls into place to neatly! It’s like your subconcious has the overall plan in hand and gives you just enough information to contine writing at the time and you get to connect the dots later. Do you think that your day job has helped your subconcious develop these neat tricks of dripping down the revelvant information to you only as required?

In my past life, I was a Certified Public Accountant, and so I’m an “Excel queen”. I keep a spreadsheet of all my writing sessions: how long that session lasted, the number of words I wrote, what project I was working on, and what phase it was (writing, editing, researching, or planning). I’ve done this since June 2014 and it’s encouraging to see the progress I’ve made and just how many words I’ve put down on the page. Currently, my goal is 3,500 – 4,000 words a day. Some days I make it, and some I don’t.

 

 

Yep, that’s an Excel queen. Being a former Excel junkie myself I can understand the joy of seeing progress from spreadsheets! Those are ambitious word targets. Do you find that there’s any music that helps you get on track to hitting those numbers?

I like putting my iTunes on shuffle and listening to different types of music and artists. One minute it will be instrumental like Yanni or Nicholas Gunn, and the next Old Dominion or Hozier.

 

 

That’s an interesting technique. I would have thought that the jump in tempo might also knock your mind out of the writing groove but it hasn’t seemed to. Is your music the main technique that you use to keep your fingers at the keyboard, or are there other routinues that help get those fingers flexing?

For short-term writers block as in not sure where to start the next scene or where the scene is heading, I’ve recently found the joy of coloring books. My favorite is one has activities in it beside coloring like kids coloring books: dot-to-dot, word search, that kind of thing. It’s still creative, but lets my mind relax and wander. Another thing I like is to go for a drive and just absorb the beautiful land I’m lucky to live in. One thing I swear by is doing “morning pages” or journaling every morning. I first heard about the technique in Dorthea Brande’s book “Becoming a Writer”, then later in Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist Way”. Just writing about my day or what’s on my mind clears it so I can write fresh. And I’ve solved many a sticky plot point or figured out a character’s motivation while writing my morning pages.

 

 

*Laughs* That is totally awesome! I totally love the idea to get out those kids activity books to get the mind in motion. It’s different and I love it! Once all of dots in your story and the kids activity books are joined, how does the process of refinment through editing evolve?

I do several rounds of rewriting and self-editing before I send the manuscript to my editor. I’ve learned the value of a good editor. For book 3 in my series, I thought it was pretty good. My editor came back that the timeline was confusing and I completely rewrote the book. Her comments helped to make it a much stronger and better story.

 

 

Other than employing editors, what’s your best tips for self-published authors looking to strength their stories?

My biggest tip is READ. Read in the genre you are writing, not just a few books, but hundreds of them. This will subconsciously teach you the tropes in that genre that you need to hit, story structure, pacing, etc. Read all you can about the Indie publishing industry and about business, because this IS a business and you’ll be more likely to succeed if you treat it as one. And as much as you want to “just write”, you can’t. You have to market your books. There isn’t a magic “if I write it, they will find it” spell. You have to do the work to get your work visible.

 

 

Earlier you mentioned that you worked as a CPA. Do you feel that your exposure to business through that role introducted you to the world or marketing or helped in an overall sense to rise to the challenge of being an author?

I’ve been an accountant. This has helped me in setting up and running my publishing business. And I’ve had some unique travel opportunities that came from a prior job, like visiting Lahore, Pakistan. There’s a story I want to write that has its genesis from the places I saw while I was there. But, I don’t think I want to write a character who is an accountant.

 

 

*Laughs* I’m fairly sure that the love of Excel ingrained in the pyshce of accountants may not be the topic of the next bestseller, but you never know! As much fun as I’m sure we’d both have by accouting the amazingness of Excel, let’s turn our attention towards the quick fire question round which does bring more widespread fun. And we’ll start the merriment with what is your zodiac sign?

Taurus with Scorpio rising

 

 

Are you left or right handed?

Right-handed

 

 

What is your favourite Jellybean flavour/ colour?

Cinnamon (red)

 

 

Are the red ones cinnamon? I never noticed that before, I think that I was too overcome by the influx of sugar! If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?

A flying cat

 

 

Very cool. Now the big question is does it have feathers or can it fly with furry wings? I’ll let you ponder the furry wing problem. What is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?

Cherry Vanilla.

 

 

What is your favourite quote?

Energy goes where attention flows.

 

 

And finally, in your writing you’ve placed a decent amount of attention and enegery on monsters. If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?

Hahaha! I’ve invented quite a few monsters in writing The Malvers War. The Posair people have to fight a symbiotic pair, called janacks and brechas.

 

 

As much fun as they do sound, I think I might giving meeting these wonderful pair a miss! I’ll leave them to the Posair people to fight! Tora, that brings us to the end of our fun in your world of fiction. Thanks for sharing some secrets with the audience and I, and I wish you the best of luck working on the conclusion of this series.

Rizelya is happy being just another Red, using her fire Talent to fight the monsters that plague her world, when a new monster appears in the nest that is harder to kill-and has strange mental powers. She is put in charge of a squad-pack–much to her consternation, she’s been avoiding being a leader for a long time–to learn more about the monsters. For some reason, she is the only one who can hear humming coming from the new monsters and catch glimpses of a strange woman. The visions point to a secret hidden for the past thousand years since the end of the Great War, and they could mean the end of her people. Rizelya must travel to the Sanctuary and confront the Supreme, her people’s spiritual leader, to find out the truth behind her visions.

 

 

What truths will Rizelya expose in her fight against the monsters plaguing her world? Tora Moon, author of ‘Ancient Enemies’ has kindly joined me today to expand this exposure towards some of the secrets in the first installment in the Malvers War series. Tora, thanks for taking the time to partake in this tete-a-tete. To kick off the fun let’s turn our heads towards what inspired the creation of this novel and in turn the series in which it sits? And can you also share with us how did this inspiration evolve over time?

My series, The Malvers War, had its start while I was watching Syfy Channel’s Face Off TV series. The Season 1 finale challenge was “Twisted Tales” and one of the contestants had to come up with a scene of Little Red Riding Hood meets post-apocalyptic land. The scene blew me away (he didn’t win, darn—but I think I did with this story idea!). He envisioned Little Red Riding Hood as a kickass warrior, dressed in red leather, toting a big gun as she and her female companions fought off a werewolf incursion. I thought, “Wow, what a cool way to look at the well-known character of Little Red Riding Hood and turn it upside down.” I love strong female lead characters and believe I can help empower women by writing such women. This “Red” was exactly that. She was no timid little thing needing to be rescued from the big bad wolf by a hunter. She was the hunter. I kept thinking about this scene and this character, and soon Rizelya, taking the place of Little Red Riding Hood, was born. About the only thing she has in common with the original idea, is that she’s a kickass warrior dressed in red leather. Instead of a big gun, she carries a helbraught; a staff as tall as she is with an 18” curved blade attached to the end made of helstrim. This alloy allows her to feed her fire magic into it to easily penetrate the Malvers monster’s thick hide and withstand its acidic ichor. Instead of fighting werewolves, she fights a symbiont pair of monsters, a janack and brecha, collectively called Malvers monsters. She and the other Reds (women with fire magic Talent) are joined in the battle for survival by the men, who have traded their ability to do major magic for the gift of shapeshifting. They shift into a warrior form, which is a perfect meld of human and wolf that makes them a match for the monsters. In my story, instead of it set in a post-apocalyptic earth, Rizelya’s story is set on the world of Lairheim, and to quote the famous lines of Star Wars, “in a galaxy far, far away.” It takes place a thousand years after the Great War, which devastated the land and annihilated the majority of the population. The Posairs were just recovering from the war when the Malvers monsters showed up, threatening their fragile survival, and they’ve been fighting ever since.

 

 

Wow, that’s a fantastic journey of character transformation right there from the bones of Little Red Riding Hood to ‘Red’ and then finally to Rizelya. Was this journey easy?

Rizelya was pretty easy, I needed a kick-butt heroine to fill the role of “Little Red Riding Hood”, her side-kick Aistrun came in as the “wolf”. At first I thought they’d be a couple, but they are just best friends (her love interest shows up in book 2). The rest of the characters let themselves into the story as it was being written.

 

 

Oooh, a little taste of romance to be expected in the second installment. Rizelya’s life continues to transform! Returning to the beginnings of her transformation, you’ve ensured that she was going to be a kickass character by placing her and her friends into an enviroment which requires strength and resilance character to survive. Did you also find that it was intergral to match this streght of character by developing the demanding nature of Lairheim through research?

Even though it’s a fantasy, set on another world, you wouldn’t believe the types of research I’ve done! I can’t just make up everything. If I have the facts right, then it adds verisimilitude to the story, and it doesn’t pull the reader out of the story. Quite often, I find interesting facts and tidbits that enrich my life, whether they end up in the story or not. I like learning and this helps me keep my mind stretching. Some of the things I’ve looked up are: the workings of fire and the various types of fire, different types of plains grass, what a swamp looks like (I live in the Southwestern Desert, I’ve never seen a swamp before!), and a whole lot of information about horses since my society relies on horses to travel.

 

 

*Laughs* I love that you’ve gone to the effort of researching the complexities of swamps! Many an author has dedication to their story, but I haven’t heard of swamp level research. I really hope that you took the opportunity for a field trip to a swamp too, because what’s the fun of writing if it doesn’t lead to field trips! What message do you hope that your joy of writing has impressed on the readers?

You can’t hide from your destiny and who you are. Rizelya has tried so hard to hide from her destiny of being a leader, and yet life has a way of throwing you into situations where you have to acknowledge the truth of who you are to yourself. Empowering women is important to me, and I believe as an author, I can help do this by showing strong, powerful women who don’t use sex to get what they want, but their brains and personal strength. Rizelya is a warrior, but she is also a caring, compassionate woman. Women today need that type of role model, just look at the response to the new Wonder Woman movie. I hope my books can provide that for the women–and men–who read my stories.

 

 

I totally agree that both men and women need to see more examples of a warrior who is caring and compassionate. If you were lucky enough to get a movie deal, like the recent Wonder Woman film, who would you like to cast?

Rizelya – Scarlett Johanson

Blazel – Steven Amell or Vin Diesl

Aistrun – Chris Platt

Naila – Helen Mirren

Histrun – Harrison Ford

The Supreme – Judi Dench

 

 

*Laughs* Judi Dench really is The Supreme isn’t she? She’d be one of my first picks too! Other than the joys of casting Judi Dench, at least in your mind, for your work what other rewards have you found following Rizelya journey to publication?

Discovering how much I love to write stories and that I can help make the world a better place through the stories I write. Even if a reader simply enjoys the story while they read, or it provides them an escape from their ordinary life for a little whole, or a who thinks because a character in the story is so strong it challenges them to be better in their life, then I’ve made the world better for that reader.

 

 

Providing that challenge for to people to become better in their own lives is a fantastic reward and motivation for writing. Are you contining to make the world a better place through your next writing projects?

I’m currently working on the conclusion of the series, Exile’s Vengeance (book 4). The next series I’m anxiously waiting to work is The Sentinels, an urban fantasy with witches guarding the portal onto our world from the demons who want to enslave it.

 

 

You’ve kinda kept yourself in the fantasy space for your next projects. How do you keep each of these projects and worlds sepearte before you get the time to sit down and really flesh out a world?           

I have a very LONG list of story ideas I’ve been keeping over the years. I usually write at least a scene to get to know my main character, do some world building, and maybe a character sketch or two. Then it’s a matter of which story is knocking (well pounding) on my mind wanting to be told.

 

 

*Laughs* Oh my goodness, it sounds like you’ve got some fierce competition there from each of your stories demanding to be choosen next. When you do choose the next noisiest idea for execution do you know where it will end up? Or does that come to life as you spend more time on the tale?

When I first started writing, I was a complete pantser — letting the story unfold as I wrote. Now, I’m a hybrid. I need to do some planning of the overall story arc and the major events, then I let the story unfold. I love seeing how the characters and the story take over the story and things come up I never even dreamed about, and I include them. Then later when things fall into place, sometimes two books later, I do an “oh, so that’s why that’s there!”

 

 

That is awesome that everything just falls into place to neatly! It’s like your subconcious has the overall plan in hand and gives you just enough information to contine writing at the time and you get to connect the dots later. Do you think that your day job has helped your subconcious develop these neat tricks of dripping down the revelvant information to you only as required?

In my past life, I was a Certified Public Accountant, and so I’m an “Excel queen”. I keep a spreadsheet of all my writing sessions: how long that session lasted, the number of words I wrote, what project I was working on, and what phase it was (writing, editing, researching, or planning). I’ve done this since June 2014 and it’s encouraging to see the progress I’ve made and just how many words I’ve put down on the page. Currently, my goal is 3,500 – 4,000 words a day. Some days I make it, and some I don’t.

 

 

Yep, that’s an Excel queen. Being a former Excel junkie myself I can understand the joy of seeing progress from spreadsheets! Those are ambitious word targets. Do you find that there’s any music that helps you get on track to hitting those numbers?

I like putting my iTunes on shuffle and listening to different types of music and artists. One minute it will be instrumental like Yanni or Nicholas Gunn, and the next Old Dominion or Hozier.

 

 

That’s an interesting technique. I would have thought that the jump in tempo might also knock your mind out of the writing groove but it hasn’t seemed to. Is your music the main technique that you use to keep your fingers at the keyboard, or are there other routinues that help get those fingers flexing?

For short-term writers block as in not sure where to start the next scene or where the scene is heading, I’ve recently found the joy of coloring books. My favorite is one has activities in it beside coloring like kids coloring books: dot-to-dot, word search, that kind of thing. It’s still creative, but lets my mind relax and wander. Another thing I like is to go for a drive and just absorb the beautiful land I’m lucky to live in. One thing I swear by is doing “morning pages” or journaling every morning. I first heard about the technique in Dorthea Brande’s book “Becoming a Writer”, then later in Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist Way”. Just writing about my day or what’s on my mind clears it so I can write fresh. And I’ve solved many a sticky plot point or figured out a character’s motivation while writing my morning pages.

 

 

*Laughs* That is totally awesome! I totally love the idea to get out those kids activity books to get the mind in motion. It’s different and I love it! Once all of dots in your story and the kids activity books are joined, how does the process of refinment through editing evolve?

I do several rounds of rewriting and self-editing before I send the manuscript to my editor. I’ve learned the value of a good editor. For book 3 in my series, I thought it was pretty good. My editor came back that the timeline was confusing and I completely rewrote the book. Her comments helped to make it a much stronger and better story.

 

 

Other than employing editors, what’s your best tips for self-published authors looking to strength their stories?

My biggest tip is READ. Read in the genre you are writing, not just a few books, but hundreds of them. This will subconsciously teach you the tropes in that genre that you need to hit, story structure, pacing, etc. Read all you can about the Indie publishing industry and about business, because this IS a business and you’ll be more likely to succeed if you treat it as one. And as much as you want to “just write”, you can’t. You have to market your books. There isn’t a magic “if I write it, they will find it” spell. You have to do the work to get your work visible.

 

 

Earlier you mentioned that you worked as a CPA. Do you feel that your exposure to business through that role introducted you to the world or marketing or helped in an overall sense to rise to the challenge of being an author?

I’ve been an accountant. This has helped me in setting up and running my publishing business. And I’ve had some unique travel opportunities that came from a prior job, like visiting Lahore, Pakistan. There’s a story I want to write that has its genesis from the places I saw while I was there. But, I don’t think I want to write a character who is an accountant.

 

 

*Laughs* I’m fairly sure that the love of Excel ingrained in the pyshce of accountants may not be the topic of the next bestseller, but you never know! As much fun as I’m sure we’d both have by accouting the amazingness of Excel, let’s turn our attention towards the quick fire question round which does bring more widespread fun. And we’ll start the merriment with what is your zodiac sign?

Taurus with Scorpio rising

 

 

Are you left or right handed?

Right-handed

 

 

What is your favourite Jellybean flavour/ colour?

Cinnamon (red)

 

 

Are the red ones cinnamon? I never noticed that before, I think that I was too overcome by the influx of sugar! If you could breed two animals together to defy the laws of nature what new animal would you create?

A flying cat

 

 

Very cool. Now the big question is does it have feathers or can it fly with furry wings? I’ll let you ponder the furry wing problem. What is your favourite flavor of ice-cream?

Cherry Vanilla.

 

 

What is your favourite quote?

Energy goes where attention flows.

 

 

And finally, in your writing you’ve placed a decent amount of attention and enegery on monsters. If you invented a monster what would it look like and what would you call it?

Hahaha! I’ve invented quite a few monsters in writing The Malvers War. The Posair people have to fight a symbiotic pair, called janacks and brechas.

 

 

As much fun as they do sound, I think I might giving meeting these wonderful pair a miss! I’ll leave them to the Posair people to fight! Tora, that brings us to the end of our fun in your world of fiction. Thanks for sharing some secrets with the audience and I, and I wish you the best of luck working on the conclusion of this series.

 

 

Excited to read the book we discussed today? Find it here on Amazon: ‘Ancient Enemies: The Malvers War Book 1 ( ASIN: B01M6XHXLN )‘.

Want to find out more about Tora Moon? Connect here!

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