Henrietta, the Dragon Slayer, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Henrietta, the Dragon Slayer?
BETH BARANY: She lost her father at an early age; her mother doesn't understand her, wishing for her daughter to be more like Henrietta’s much older sisters, all girly and feminine and such. All Henrietta wants is to run and play outdoors. She runs away from home when her mother puts her into an apprenticeship that requires her to sit indoors for hours at a time. All this happens long before the opening of the novel, Henrietta, the Dragon Slayer.
Henrietta essentially gets raised by the master smith, Master Chen, and learns fighting skills from him too, because she wants to be a hero just like in the tales her father read to her when she was little.
At the opening of the story, she's done the hero thing, killed a handful of dragons, and even fought in the King's Army, all things she wanted. But now at seventeen years old, she's had it, and is leaving her kingdom for sunny locales when someone stops her and demands she kill a dragon, even though, clearly, in his eyes, she's all talk and no action.
Okay, that's all I'm going to say. You just gotta read the book to see what happens. That's fair enough to say!
And here's the book blurb:
Henrietta, the legendary Dragon Slayer of the Kingdom of Bleuve, can’t stomach the thought of one more kill. Yet, in order to save her dying mentor, she must go on one last quest. But will the quest for the healing stone be derailed by misfit companions, seasickness, and an ego maniacal king? And will she be able to cut past her conscience and kill the dragon?
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
BETH BARANY: I develop my characters organically. They usually come to me pretty strongly fully formed, at least their voice is. Then I do back-story on them, interviewing them, finding out their weakness, strengths and secrets. I also sometimes figure out for each one what archetype they are, and do a tarot reading on them to get insight into their character.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
BETH BARANY: She loves to read, and is hungry for adventure stories featuring young women.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
BETH BARANY: I started writing very young. Recently my dad gave me a book I made with my three younger siblings. I was probably about seven years old. I joked that it was my first anthology! I've since produced two other anthologies as editor and project manager. In eighth grade, my teacher, Mrs. Maffei had us writing all kinds of stories. That’s when I knew I would be a writer! I started journaling my dreams at that time, and kept what would be the first of many journals over the years. I still keep a journal where I brain dump anything and everything in my famous 20-minute timed writing sessions, designed to get me (and all my authors) moving hand across the page.
Then I had an awful English teacher in ninth grade, who didn't foster our creativity at all. That's when I knew I'd also be a creative writing teacher someday! Something clicked when I was nineteen, not sure what it was. But I just knew then that I'd be a novelist. Unfortunately, I had no idea where to begin, and only dabbled with snippets and impressions. So I got into journalism for a while, until I got up the courage to start a novel and commit to its completion. That was over twelve years ago. And it took me five years to complete my first novel.
I did have a turning point about a year after I started that first novel. I was also trying to be a freelance journalist, specializing in book reviews and feature stories. It was tough! I had so much fear about it... A friend of mine, a hand analyst, told me that I needed to focus in on just one thing, didn't matter what. I searched my heart and found that I loved writing fiction above all. So I dropped freelancing, and devoted my creative time fiction. I am so glad that I did!
Fast forward some years later, and I've written six novels, and have started a seventh. I also write blog posts and articles and book reviews, but consider those just ways to stay writing when a novel is in the brewing stage, like they are now.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
BETH BARANY: My writing process seems to be constantly evolving, never the same from one year to the next. I think that's because I am constantly changing! Currently, I'm getting ready to complete the sequel to Henrietta, the Dragon Slayer, tentatively called The Dragon Stone. After I reread Book 1, I plan to gather all my notes and drafts on the book I worked on over two years ago. I have another novel, a paranormal teen romance I started last December, that I'd like to complete a first draft of by next year, so that story brews in the background. I'm not writing on it; just thinking about it.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
BETH BARANY: This changes with time. Right now, I'd have to say Elizabeth Moon, Sharon Shinn and Diane Duane.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
BETH BARANY: I feel like I would be cheating if I admitted to this one! No one actually comes to mind... though I'd love to have the powerful and archetypal writing of someone like Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
BETH BARANY: Blogging, guest blogging, Facebook, Twitter, requesting book reviews and an upcoming Summer 2011 blog tour and giveaway! And cross promoting via all those channels.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
BETH BARANY: Because I knew how, having indie published seven other authors. And because it was time to take my career in my own hands!
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
BETH BARANY: Three things are so important: an excellent and well-edited story; a great cover, and a great blurb.
Get your critique partners to help you scrub your story to a fine sheen; study successful covers in your genre, and go find your audience!
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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