Hi everyone! Today we have fantasy author Lauricia Matuska with us. Lauricia has taught high school literature and creative writing classes for more than ten years. She first discovered the realm of fantasy by traveling with Lucy through the wardrobe to Narnia. Since then, she has established dual-residency between that world and this one, and she currently serves as an ambassador to contemporary youth and young adults. The Healer’s Rune is the first novel in her Ceryn Roh trilogy.
1) What is your favorite part of speculative fiction?
There is so much about this genre that captivates me!
I love the wonder and mystique of both fantasy and science fiction. Each person is drawn, to a degree, by things that are mysterious. For me, speculative fiction amplifies that draw to a level that is irresistible. From my first trip with Lucy through the wardrobe to Narnia in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (my first fantasy experience) and my first experience accompanying a human as he fled one of the extra moons orbiting Earth in H.M. Hoover’s The Shepherd Moon (my first science fiction experience) to today, I have been consistently, inexorably addicted to the feeling of enchantment I experience through speculative fiction.
I am also highly enticed by the remarkably actionable nature of these stories. There are a lot of things in this life that I can’t control. However, stories in this genre hinge on the idea that goals are achievable. If a person has the desire and is willing to find the way, there’s no monster she can’t slay, no hostile terrain she can’t conquer. The protagonists who influenced me the most through my adolescence have made me want to be a person who is not satisfied with the determination that some thing can’t be done, that some wrong can’t be set right. Unfortunately, too often in life circumstances span beyond the scope of my ability. On those days when I feel defeated, escaping to the world of a speculative novel helps me regroup and encourages me to go back into the battle and fight until I win.
2) What is the one author, living or dead, who you would like to co-write a book with someday and why?
I would have loved the opportunity to co-write a book with Madeline L’Engle, the author of A Wrinkle in Time and many other speculative fiction stories. The reason is because when I was growing up, I WAS Meg Murray. I was shy, I had mousey-brown hair, I had thick glasses, I was socially awkward, my father had essentially disappeared. There’s so much about Meg that seemed a reflection of me that I feel working with Madeline L’Engle would be like working with someone who knows me well: very comfortable and a lot of fun.
3) If you could travel anywhere for book research (all expenses paid) where would you go and why?
I would go to Ireland because of the relationship the Irish have with literature and the fairy tale genre.
I am absolutely fascinated by mythology, folklore, and fairy tales, the way they reflect the cultures that produced them, and the similarities that exist across cultures in so many of them. I’m especially fascinated by the way their themes of warriors, leaders who are women, and perceptions of elves and all things fey influence how contemporary fans of fantasy envision the fairy world of speculative fiction. I have long desired to go to Ireland so that I could experience this rich literary tradition first hand, with the intent that I would become so immersed that characteristics of it naturally flow into my own stories.
4) What were some of the challenges for you writing your book?
My biggest challenge, by far, is finding the time to write. As a high school English teacher and a mother of two amazing teens, it’s hard to carve out a little bit of time each day specifically for writing, especially since it takes time to enter a productive state of flow. The good news is, this is not new. Lots of writers deal with this, so there is a plethora of time management techniques out there for me to experiment with.
For The Healer’s Rune and The Guardian Prince, specifically, the next major challenge came from learning how to flesh out the plot of a series. I originally intended for The Healer’s Rune to be a stand-alone, but there was no way I could contain all of it in one novel. Once I realized that, the task became discovering enough material to flesh out the whole series without resorting to fluff. I spent a lot of time thinking about what I should do, but finally realized that most of my best thinking occurs when I put pen to paper and actually do the writing. I can think about how to develop a scene or a plot element all I want, but nothing really happens until I sit down and engage in the act of writing. Learning this has helped me maximize my writing time, so I am able to produce quality work more consistently.
The other major challenge I face is simply the amount of stuff I don’t know about writing. I am very fortunate to live in a time when I can immerse myself in a technique book, a blog, a podcast, or an on-line writing course whenever I need to in order to learn or develop a new skill. Also, I cannot advocate enough for attending writer’s conferences! (Consider this a shameless plug for the annual Realm Maker’s Conference. If you write speculative fiction, you NEED this conference in your life.)
5) What is the strangest thing you’ve had to research for your novel?
In The Ceryn Roh saga, one of the secondary characters has a strong friendship bond with a raven. For The Guardian Prince, the second book in the series, I had to find out if ravens eat glow-worms, and if doing so makes their feces glow. That one sparked many interesting conversations.
6) What is the last book you read?
I recently finished an advanced reader copy of The Seven Seals. It’s the third book in Aaron Gansky’s Hand of Adonai series. It’s a role playing game crossover series about four average teens who have normal lives, until they get sucked into the fantasy world two of them created. If you enjoy fantasy RPGs, you will enjoy this book once it’s released.
7) How do you come up with your story ideas?
I want to sound very wise and mentor-ish here, but I honestly don’t know. The Healer’s Rune came from a 2:00 am barking incident with my dog, the idea that history is written by the victor, and the desire to discover what would happen if I put a different spin on an old fantasy trope. The Guardian Prince grew out of my obsession with ravens, labyrinths, and the traditional belief in some cultures that albino animals are actually spirits. A stand-alone novel that I’m about one-third of the way through came from a poster that I saw at the mall and a fear of what could happen if my son with high-functioning Autism was kidnapped. I also have plans for other stories that seem to center around spinning common fantasy elements in new ways, fears that I deal with, or some combination of the two.
I think the thing that connects all of these budding stories is the element of obsession. All of the ideas that I’ve fleshed out enough to build into novels to seem to have sprung from either my obsession with the fantasy genre or the constant hashing and rehashing of “what if” scenarios that occur in my life.
Thank you for joining us today, Lauricia! Here is where you can find her online: lauricia-matuska.com