Robin Lythgoe - Fantasy Adventures with Spunk

Robin Lythgoe - Fantasy Adventures with Spunk
robin3

Robin Lythgoe was born in Maryland, but spent several years in Oregon and did a short stint in upstate New York before moving to Utah. She married an artist, and together they have four wonderful children. Reading and writing have always been a part of her life, and she is particularly drawn to fantasy. When she was growing up her mother often led expeditions to the library, from which the entire party invariably returned laden with a stack of books guaranteed to make the arms longer. Robin read everything voraciously, and when she finished her stack, she'd start on her mother's... and then her sisters'. Today she writes tales about wizards and magic, fantastical places and extraordinary journeys. As our Author of the Day, Lythgoe tells us all about her book, Blood and Shadow.

Please give us a short introduction to what Blood and Shadow is about.

He wanted nothing of war. Now he must face a ruthless enemy to save his family from ruin.

Sherakai dan Tameko would rather tend his horses than ride them into battle. As the fourth son of a famous soldier, he’s content to embrace his animal magic and let his siblings carry on his father’s warrior legacy. But Sherakai’s plans shatter when all his brothers go missing, and one is returned home dead.

Determined to bring the others back alive, he defies his father and follows his power down a trail of clues, only to be captured and escorted to his relative’s estate. But instead of a sanctuary, he discovers dark forces conspiring to twist his powers for their own treacherous gain.

Will Sherakai succumb to sorcery and torture, or can he awaken his inner-hero and prevent his family’s doom?

Blood and Shadow is the first book in the spellbinding Mage's Gift fantasy series.

bs2
My husband used to be a graphic designer. We collaborated on the covers for “The Mage’s Gift” series, and he designed the medallion, which is based on the tattoo Sherakai receives.

What inspired you to write this series?

I used to participate in a text-based RPG. The forum also included a place to post stories—though they weren’t polished by any means. A lot of the folks who read them kept telling me I should turn Sherakai’s tales into a series. So I am!

Tell us more about Sherakai - what makes him tick?

Sherakai is driven by honor, family, and by a firm sense of right and wrong. Faith colors his background, and it is sorely tested during his trials, perhaps even broken…

Have you always known you wanted to be a writer? What inspired your debut?

Always. My oldest sister took down my first “official” story before I could write. I was maybe four years old at the time? The first novel I published is actually a tale about a snarky thief and his noble-and-upright forced partner. Before I started it, I had an image come to me: a man perched in a window high above a roaring river, the wind blowing and snow stinging his skin. What was he doing? Where was he going? I had to find out, so “As the Crow Flies” was born.

Sherakai’s first book was a little trickier. Because of all the short stories I’d written about him in the RPG forum, I knew a lot about him. Choosing a starting place for the books was so hard (and I’m still second-guessing that choice!)

office3
This is my office on a “clean” day. My husband made the poster for me from the original book cover (it’s changed since then!). 

Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?

Ah, secrets. Now you’re asking for a lot… I come from a wonderfully artistic family, but I’m more a jack-of-all-crafts and master of none. I’m a pretty good cook, but I don’t often want to. I can sew (I’ve made clothes and quilts), I can do crochet, embroidery, decorative painting, dabbling in Photoshop, map-making, playing Scrabble, and puttering in the garden.

Among the wealth of characters in Blood and Shadow, who was the most difficult to create?

Bairith Mindar, the antagonist, was a real challenge for me. He’s one of those people who seem handsome, charming, and decent—until he’s not. He doesn’t value people very much except as tools to get what he wants. He will manipulate a person if he can, but if he’s thwarted, you don’t want to be in the same country with him. He’s driven. He plays a scary long game. (And no, I don’t know anyone like him! Thankfully…)

If you could choose one character from your book to spend a day with, who would it be? And where would you take them?

Oh, that would be Sherakai, easily, but I’m afraid that’s because I know him so well as an adult (in which case, I’d let him take me anywhere! Haha!).

If you could transport yourself into one of your series or stand-alone books, which one would you choose and why? What would your story be?

I don’t want to transport myself into any of them! Those are scary places! If I really had to make a choice, though, it would be the world of Tairenth where Sherakai’s story takes place. I’d love to visit his homeland and see for myself the rolling hills and the craggy mountains, the beautiful buildings and costumes—and see the magical horses his family raises (maybe even ride one!). As far as my story goes, I’d probably be a scribe or a storyteller. Those are fairly safe. Right? (Though I would not want to follow Sherakai around to write his biography!)

Do you have a set of rules for your world? Is there a process you go through that helps define these?

I have several sets of rules—magical ones, societal, cultural, geographical… A process, eh? With Crow’s story I made things up as I went along. That turned into trouble, so with Sherakai’s story, I’ve tucked things away in a huge-and-growing World Bible. I try to figure things out before I write about them, but sometimes I run full tilt into muck and have to do some serious cleaning and sorting.

When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?

Eat lots of chocolate.

I have a really basic plot formula that I try to start with covering all the important “beats” of structure. The real problem is that I have a hard time sticking with it! But the more I write, the easier it is. And the more fun it is. I hate doing re-writes, and the best way to avoid them is to follow the map. “Unless,” as Crow says, “I can think of a better plan."

Can this book be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?

“Blood and Shadow” can be read on its own, yes, but there’s so much more to the story! The second one (not a standalone) is available, the next one is still a work in progress.

Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?

I used to think so, but the more I read about other writers, the more boring my writing habits are. Right now my writing schedule is a mess. I take care of my terminally ill husband, so my prime writing time (in the middle of the night) is just not doable anymore. I snatch writing time when I can, but I’m one of those people who does better if I can sit down and write like mad for several hours. I have a hard time writing in short spurts, but I need to write, so short spurts are what I do now. It’s been a slow, difficult adjustment, but I’m learning!

swing
Two years ago (before my husband’s ALS diagnosis, we remodeled our back yard. “Blood & Shadow” is responsible for this swing, where I love to go sit and plot when it’s warm! The ground cover in the background has spread out a lot since then, so it doesn’t look so brand spankin’ NEW. My darling grand-babies call this the “story telling swing.” They pile on with me, and we tell each other stories!

What are you working on right now?

Most of my time is devoted to Crow right now. I’m doing a much-requested sequel and enjoying it because it’s much more light-hearted than Sherakai’s story. At the same time, I occasionally feel the need to flesh out bits of Sherakai’s world and jot down notes for the next book in the series. And I take a “break” now and then by writing short stories. I find them gratifying because they’re finished so quickly—but full-length novels will always be my favorite.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?

website: https://robinlythgoe.com
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobinLythgoeAuthor
twitter: https://twitter.com/RobinLythgoe
pinterest: http://pinterest.com/robinlythgoe/

Geoff Habiger - Magic and Mayhem, Sword and Sorcery, Science Fiction and Fantasy
FEATURED AUTHOR - Born in the frozen landscape of Toluca, Mexico, Ricardo dreamed of being a writer. But needing a job that could pay the rent while writing, he studied Industrial Design and later obtained a PhD in Sustainable Design, while living in the United Kingdom. There, he did a few things besides burning the midnight oil to get his degree: -Trained in archery near Nottingham -Worked in a comic book store to pay for his board game & toy addiction He is back now in Toluca, living with his wife and his… Read more