We are almost there! JordanCon, the convention dedicated to Robert Jordan and The Wheel of Time series, takes place April 20th through the 22nd in Atlanta, Georgia. Just two weeks away! Today’s interview is with Paige L. Christie, author of the acclaimed The Legacies of Arnan series.
Q: Welcome, Paige! How does your love of other cultures—specifically Middle Eastern and North African—shape The Legacies of Arnan series?
This is such a great question! In this series, most of influence from ELTAM (Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco) is subtle – mostly in the dances and music mentioned. However, there is a good deal of influence from a different part of the world in the 2nd novel – specifically Eastern Tibet, where I had the good fortune to be able to visit in the fall of 2016 as part of a women’s pilgrimage tour. Place, and how people relate to it, is a large part of how these influences come through.
Q: Draígon Weather, the first novel in the series, begins with Leiel’s mother being sacrificed to the monstrous Draígon. How do you take this classic element and put a fresh spin on it?
The basic idea for Draigon Weather began with the question, “What if the woman tied to the rock waiting for the dragon to eat her, wanted to be there?” Why would that be? What would happen? Answering a question that flipped a trope, led to a trope-flipped story. More than that answer will spoil the book.
Q: This series is planned to be four books long. Once completed, do you have another project you plan to work on?
Yes – I have a couple ideas rattling around. One is a rural urban fantasy, which sounds weird, but I’m a small-town woman and I know rural areas far better than I do cities. I don’t usually write in the ‘real world,’ so this one would be a departure for me, a new challenge.
Q: You’ve started each of your novels by participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). How has this helped or hindered your writing journey?
Oh NaNoWriMo! Yes! I have been writing stories since I was 7 years old, but I never thought I really had any stories that people would be interested in reading. So, I just wrote in the closet. Only a couple people in my life even knew it was a passion of mine. Then my friend, Ellen – also a closet writer – found out, and in 2014 she talked me into NaNoWriMo.
I had heard about it for years, but I never thought I could do it. But she insisted, and I caved, and I spent most of that November sleepless and in a daze, between fulltime work in retail and writing like I never had before. But come November 30th, I had 50 thousand words of something that I thought had a lot of potential. Ellen and I made a pact -- and we both kept writing and finished our first drafts. Then the real work began: editing and re-writing and repeat until the work is not crap any more.
I am SO grateful to NaNoWriMo for the charts and community and tools that it gave me to encourage me to write every day, no matter how I was feeling. It taught me how to write no matter my mood, or how tired I was, or whether or not I thought what I was typing was crap. It taught me how to finish a long work. Ever since, I use it for a jumping off point to get a draft started. I have found I work best with deadlines and charts to keep me accountable, and NaNoWriMo is great for that. I am old enough to know that nothing I produce straight out of the event is worth a damn without a lot of follow up work, but I love the challenge. Plus NaNoWriMo is fun to say.
Q: For your writing habits, you say you never write in linear order. How can you keep track of what you’ve already written and what is still left in your brain?
I love this question! Honestly, my brain is a pretty wacky, non-linear place. According to every ‘personality test’ I have ever taken, my personality and the way I process information is shared by about 1% of the world population. I really can’t have a direct thought for trying. Everything I do on my life, as my mother would say, “I go around Robin Hood’s Barn” to get to. So, I’ll be working on a scene and have an idea of how that connects to something I already wrote – go back to that scene and type a note – or an idea for a new scene – open a folder and make a note – then back to what I am working on and keep writing. Often, I’ll just change font size in the middle of writing a scene and leave notes to myself in the middle of what I am working on. Then I keep going once the new thought clears itself. It’s messy and convoluted and it works beautifully for my brain.
And truly, discovering Scrivener software was the greatest thing to ever happen to my writing. I can have all my scene written in whatever order works for me, color coded, keyworded, cross noted, and move them anywhere in the book on the fly, so the order I write them doesn’t matter at all.
I also use Aeon Timeline to keep my events and character ages organized, and that helps keep the story making sense.
Q: What is your biggest struggle with being an author? Or more specifically, what part of the writing process do you find requires the most effort?
Starting. Just putting the first sentence of any new scene on the page is the most difficult thing for me. Even when I know what needs to happen, finding those first few words, the corner to peel back to access what needs to go into the scene – that’s what I struggle most with.
The thing that makes so many writers crazy, namely editing the raw draft, is my favorite thing. It’s also why I love to do in-depth beta reads for my writing partners.
Q: Writing is just one of the many jobs you currently have. Do you wish you could write full time?
More than anything! I’ve been working-poor, with multiple jobs, for my whole life. I would love to write novels and stories and edit for a living. It’s the big dream, and I believe my books will get me there eventually. I don’t want to be a one-hit-wonder. I want my books to find their audience and endure. That’s a slower path, but I think it can unfold if I keep producing quality work. Having great writing partners, and a fabulous/dedicated editor/publisher is a huge part of that. I am extremely lucky!
Q: This is your first JordanCon. What drew you to this convention?
I’ve attended DragonCon (and other cons in the region) for a couple decades as just a happy participant. I’ve wanted to get to JordanCon for years, but life never worked out to allow me the time. Then I met Richard Fife at DragonCon in 2017, and the more he talked about JordanCon, the more I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer. I love classic fantasy and sci-fi writing and the idea of being at convention where that was deeply appreciated was extremely appealing. I’m so excited!
Q: Can you give us a sneak peek of what panels you’ll be on?
I’ll be on 3 panels and doing a reading this year! I have lots of great thoughts about for all of them, and I can’t wait to meet my fellow panelists and share with the audience.
Friday April 20th
* 2:30pm - Writing in a Sub-Culture: Be it sea-faring, military, or nihlist punk-rock bands, it can be difficult writing in a sub-culture. Come get tips! (Conference Center)
* 4:00pm - Author Reading (Dogwood)
Saturday April 21st
* 10:00am - Myth and Monsters: The bump in the night is just the beginning! How mixing magic, mythology, monsters, and scenery create more than just a Friday night fright! (Maplewood A)
Sunday April 22nd
* 2:30pm - What SHOULD we be reading?: Come listen to some book suggestions from our Staff and Guests! (Maplewood A)
Q: Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or your works?
I’m an opinionated, cat loving, scotch-drinking, over-educated, belly dancer, Yankee redneck lover of chocolates who writes books my publisher classifies as “High Fantasy Meets High Noon.” If any of that sounds interesting, come meet me and check out my books!
Q: Thank you so much for talking with me! I’m anxiously awaiting JordanCon, and the chance to meet you in person!