Author Interview: Kay L. Ling

Q: How did you get into fantasy?

My librarian aunt gave me The Hobbit for Christmas when I was seven or eight, and that began my love for fantasy novels. I started writing my own fantasy stories during grade school. In one, mythical creatures lived and traveled inside a rainbow. In another, a bored sixth-grader turned her teacher into a maroon sofa and then teleported herself to London.

As a reader, I shy away from fantasy books that are mostly about wars and political intrigue. I prefer stories focused on adventure and a sense of wonder, so as an author, that’s what I write.

Q: What is your latest fantasy release?

Book 2 of the Gem Powers Series, Shadowglade, was published April 2017. The series opener, Beyond the Forest, is a standalone novel without loose or a cliffhanger ending, but the resolution opened the door to so many new adventures, I had to write Shadowglade to see what happened next! I’m currently editing Runes and Relics, due mid-October.

Q: What sub-genre of fantasy do your books fall under?

My books are portal stories. I didn’t realize portal novels were a sub-genre, much less how many existed, until I found a Goodreads list devoted to that category. The thing I like best about portal stories is that the world on the other side presents endless possibilities for the imaginative writer.

Q: What kind of reader typically picks up your books?

Readers who like upbeat stories and want to experience amazing and wondrous things. I don’t write gritty, dark fiction, and I’m not a fan of morally gray characters. I like characters who face tough choices but typically do the right thing. My books include adventure, humor, and a touch of romance, and since they’re G-rated, they appeal to a wide audience.

Q: What makes your series stand out?

It’s impossible to write a completely original book, but my series has a number of unusual elements. The magic system is based on actual gemstone folklore. My main character, Lana, is a young gemologist who delves into gem folklore and discovers she can draw arcane powers from gems. This ability eventually plunges her into adventures in a world inhabited by woodland gnomes, a world full of strange and powerful gems. The gnomes’ ruler, a gem master queen, has oppressed and enslaved the gnomes for centuries. I haven’t seen many books featuring gnomes, and most fantasy series have male villians. The gem master queen, Sheamathan, is a woodspirit, a being of my own invention who looks rather like a human, but there the similarities end. She’s centuries old and has some unusual characteristics. Sheamathan surrounds herself with a servant race of monstrous, deformed gnomes, and by the end of the first book Lana has become sympathetic toward them despite their appearance and behavior. Offhand, I can’t think of any novels where the monsters become sympathetic main characters later in the series. I think my books have quite a few original ideas that readers will enjoy.

Q: Do you have a favorite character from your books?

Definitely my main character Lana Grayson. She breaks all the fantasy heroine tropes. She’s not an orphan or a misfit. She’s a menopause baby whose two brothers are so much older they feel like uncles. She’s used to being around older folks, and sometimes prefers them to friends her own age. She develops powers, but doesn’t think of herself as a one-of-a-kind superhero. In the opening of Beyond the Forest, Lana is about to take over the family jewelry store, which has been owned by a Grayson for five generations. Lana is the sort of person you want as your best friend. She’s smart, loyal, and has a great sense of humor.

Q: Which character(s) have you enjoyed writing the most?

Oddly enough, my “monsters,” the breghlin. They’re crude, disgusting, and have little concept of right and wrong, but that’s part of their charm. As the series progresses, several of them show significant character development as they explore previously unimaginable concepts like self-restraint, generosity, and loyalty.

Thank you Kay L. Ling for participating in this author interview. You can buy Kay’s books and find her on social media as listed below: