Megan Haskell is the award-winning author of The Sanyare Chronicles, a fast-paced dark fantasy adventure featuring a kick-ass heroine, snarky carnivorous pixies, and a quest across nine faerie realms. She lives in Southern California with her phenomenally supportive husband, wicked smart daughters, and a ridiculously energetic dog. You can find her online at MeganHaskell.com.
Megan: World-building is a huge part of being a fantasy author. Somehow, you have to make the magical seem real, and the mayhem make sense. I got the idea for The Sanyare Chronicles in the summer of 2012, but I didn’t start writing the actual story until September or October of that year. In other words, I spent about three months, maybe more, doing nothing but filling notebooks with ideas for the world that my character would inhabit.
For me, it always starts with a character, and then a question. In this case, I knew my character was a human woman living as a third class citizen amongst the high elves of the fae. So I asked: Who does she live with? Where do they live? What is her occupation? Why is that job important (or not)? Who does she interact with? What are her surroundings like? I wanted the world to influence the character as much—if not more than—the events in the plot.
As I went along in this process, I developed entire civilizations, including their customs and geographies. I wrote out the rules of the magic that is an inherent part of their world. I studied ancient myths and legends, taking their creatures and twisting them to my own designs.
It was a lot of fun!
The War of the Nine Faerie Realms actually takes place in the same universe as The Sanyare Chronicles, but several thousand years earlier. Because of that, in some ways it was easier to do the world-building, but in others it was harder. I had to make sure that everything remained consistent and believable between the two stories, while introducing new characters and new settings to make it interesting.
Megan: Forged in Shadow is an epic fantasy adventure that explores how the innocent can get caught up in the chaos and politics of war. I was working on the theme that no one is blameless in war, and no one can claim all the fault.
Curuthannor is a reluctant smith’s son who would rather wield a sword than a hammer. So when the family gets a commission from the king for a powerful enchanted sword, he jumps at the chance to journey to a foreign land to broker a deal for the materials his father needs for the crafting. Along the way, he falls afoul of the foreign king and gets caught up in political chess games that not only threaten his own life, but those of his entire family.
Meanwhile, Lhéwen is the princess’s most trusted handmaiden, and proud of it. She’s a seamstress who can perform minor enchantments on physical objects, but she mostly makes small baubles and trinkets. She’s honored when the princess selects her for a special delegation to the foreign king. Unfortunately, she doesn’t realize the princess has her own agenda. Lhéwen quickly becomes caught between allegiance to her home realm and her oaths to her princess, all while her skills are being used in a game she doesn’t fully understand.
Megan: Yes, Book Two is already in the works. In fact, as of right now, I have about 40k words written in the rough draft (Forged in Shadow is about 116k words). The War of the Nine Faerie Realms will be a trilogy, so this is really the second act of the overall story. It will continue to follow Curuthannor and Lhéwen as they navigate the harsh realities of their war-torn worlds, each trying to do what is right and honorable in the face of moral quandary and powerful foes.
Megan: The Sanyare Chronicles are action-adventure fantasy featuring a kick-ass heroine and her carnivorous pixie sidekicks.
Rie is a human raised by elves in the high court of faerie. Treated as a third-class citizen by everyone but her foster parents, she nevertheless rises to an honorable position in the messenger service. When assassins attack while she’s on a delivery, she’s framed for treason and sentenced to execution. To prove her innocence, she must forsake her oaths and flee into enemy lands, but the secrets she uncovers may threaten more than her honor or even her life…for war is looming in the nine faerie realms.
Thus begins The Last Descendant. The rest of the journey follows Rie as she uncovers the truth of her past to find her future.
Megan: Absolutely! Writing productivity is actually something I teach with my business partner, Greta Boris, over at The Author Wheel. I’m a firm believer that habits and schedules are key to moving forward with any story—any creative project, really—and avoiding writers’ block.
In my case, I’m a stay-at-home-mom with eight and five year-old girls. In a typical day (well, prior to COVID-19, anyway) I set aside work time from 9:30 to 11:30am when the five year-old is in preschool. I usually work either in my home office or my favorite local coffee shop (Patch Coffee off of Portola and El Toro) but location really doesn’t matter. For me to get into the writing headspace, I follow the same basic procedure:
1. Open the laptop and Scrivener (my writing application…I highly recommend it)
2. Put in my noise canceling headphones and turn the sound to Brain.FM, which plays white noise music that helps me focus
3. Re-read the last page or two of whatever I wrote in the previous writing session
4. Close my eyes and visualize the scene I want to write for a minute or two
5. Set a timer for 25 minutes
6. Write as much as I can without stopping
7. Take a five-ish minute break to stand up, go to the bathroom, get more coffee, answer an email, etc.
8. (Repeat steps 4-7 until I have to pick up the munchkin)
This small ritual tells my brain that it’s time to be creative. I don’t wait for the muse to bless me with her presence, I give her a call and invite her in for a cup of coffee.
After the girls go to bed, I’ll try to squeeze in another hour or two of working time, but usually my creative brain is pretty fried by that point so I focus more on marketing and other business activities rather than writing.
Megan: It’s not what she said, it’s what she did.
My mom lives in Colorado and she wanted me to come out and do a reading at a bookstore in Frisco (a mountain town). She set everything up and I publicized it on my website and social media and stuff, but I didn’t really expect anyone to come. I’m not famous (yet) and while I do have a strong fan base, they’re scattered all over the world. So I was shocked when one of my earliest fans and reviewers drove three hours up the mountain with her husband and sister just to meet me! It was amazing, and humbling, and inspiring all at the same time.
Megan: My website (www.meganhaskell.com) is the easiest place to keep up to date on everything that’s going on and buy signed paperbacks. You can sign up for my newsletter to get a free short story and approximately weekly newsletters that include everything from my latest goings-on to special sales and book recommendations.
I’m also frequently on Facebook . I don’t use other social media much, but I’m technically on Twitter and Instagram as well with the username @meganphaskell.
If you’re interested in learning more about the workshops I teach and want to take a fun five-minute Author Personality Quiz, you should check out The Author Wheel. We’re working on getting our courses available online soon!
As for my ebooks, Forged in Shadow will be released on April 6 to all major ebook distributors except Google. The Sanyare Chronicles are already out everywhere I can get them. You can use the universal links below to select your favorite digital book platform for download.
Jann: Megan, thank you so much for opening a window into your world. Your book covers are so engaging. Congratulations on the April 6th debut of Forged in Shadow. I can’t wait to read it.
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