Welcome, one and all, to another author interview. Today, I’m welcoming Tay LaRoi to the site to talk about her fantasy series, The Faerie Court Chronicles.
Tay, can you give readers who may not be familiar with you a quick introduction?
Sure! I’m 25, recently relocated to South Carolina for work, and write on the side. I like to focus on queer protagonists because I never had any growing up. I feel like, if I had, I would have fit in my skin a lot sooner, so I want to give teenagers the chance to see people like them having awesome fantasy adventures.
Your current novel, The Tale of a Faerie Knight, is out now, and is the second book in your fantasy series, The Faerie Court Chronicles. Before we get into the details of the book itself, what can readers expect from the series? Does it follow a single narrative, or is it based around multiple tales set in a single world?
It’s one tale, but from multiple points of view, if that makes sense. I wanted to challenge myself by writing from multiple different points of view and I wanted a diverse plethora of characters since there’s so little LGBT+ representation across the board, so telling each section of the story from a different point of view seemed like a fun way to do it.
The Tale of a Faerie Knight follows DJ Suzuki and Talia, two young women living in the Faerie Realm, as they not only try to achieve their own goals, but avert a faerie civil war. From the blurb alone, it sounds like a beautifully complex story. What was your biggest influence in writing this piece?
Mainly an abundance of “What If?” questions. I spent about two years writing “Portraits of a Faerie Queen,” so I had a lot of time to get to know the supporting characters, which left me wondering what would happen to them after that story concluded. What would be the consequences be for their actions in that first book? The story was originally supposed to be far more disjointed, but I couldn’t bring myself to leave a lot of those supporting characters behind.
I was also living with my father at the time, whom I was not out to, so that had a huge influence on DJ as a character. We lived in Colorado, and it’s always been a place near and dear to my heart, so I wanted to pull it into the Faerie Realm as well.
Do you have a favourite scene or moment from the book?
I do, but I can’t tell you without giving anything away. Sorry! Just know it’s a scene that was very hard to write, but very important and I’m still incredibly proud of it. It’s the kind of scene that makes me love writing fantasy, urban fantasy in particular. Blending the fantastic with the real presents very unique opportunities to tell our truths and hopes, which is exactly what I tried to do with the scene in question. You’ll have to read the book and see if you can pick out what scene it is. 🙂
How important do you think it is for bisexual and pansexual characters to have a presence in genre fiction?
Incredibly so! There’s still a lot of misunderstanding and prejudice associated with both identities, both in the general population as well as withing LGBT+ circles and I think stories are one of the best tools to teach people about the human experience. Telling stories is one of my favorite things to do, so I figure I should try and use it for good.
With only six months between the release dates of both books, you’ve managed to keep fans in material with little break. Was it a challenge to keep with this schedule?
A bit. The biggest issue was not having my personal computer to work on edits at the time (long story).
Can readers expect a third book in the series? If so, can you tell us anything about the book?
Yes! There is a third book on the way. Like the first two, it’s going to follow a new set of characters in the Faerie Realm, and this time the danger looming is going to get a LOT closer. Gia, book three’s main character, is particularly close to my heart since a lot of her story comes from my story as a teenager. I’m excited for everyone to meet Oliver too. And nervous. He’s my first trans character and I did my best to research and get feedback on him, so I’m REALLY praying I wrote him right.
Both books in the series have been published by NineStar Press. What drew you to this publisher, and how have you found working with them thus far?
So far they’ve been great! They’ve been really accommodating and friendly. I was initially drawn to them because they’re a LGBT+ publisher and, at this point in my career, I really do need the help that comes with a publishing house (editing, covers, etc), so they’ve really been a blessing.
You also have a story in NineStar Press’s anthology, Into The Mystic Volume 1. This story, Smile Like You Mean It, tells the tale of Ingrid as she comes face to face with a Japanese legend. Have you always had an interest in Japanese culture and folklore?
I have! Growing up it was always a place that fascinated me and when I got a little older, Hayao Miyazaki’s work really inspired and influenced me as a creator. I was an English teacher over there for roughly two years after college and lived forty-five minutes outside of Sendai, where Ingrid’s story takes place. I wanted to take a little trip back there and show readers the slower day-to-day side of the country that we don’t get to see too often. That’s the side I really fell in love with, so I wanted to share a little glimpse of it.
Growing up, you were fed on a healthy diet of fairy tales and movies. What first got you interested in fantasy stories?
My earliest memories are of watching movies at my grandmother’s while my parents worked. I watched a lot of Disney, Don Bluth and forgotten straight-to-VHS specials and I’ve never been able to shake the pull. My best friend in middle school shared Holly Black’s Modern Fairy Tale series with me and I’ve been captivated by urban fantasy ever since.
Did you have any favourite stories or films growing up, and do they still sit among your favourites now?
Absolutely. Don Bluth’s Anastasia and Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame are still my go-to movies if I’m sick in bed or just having a bad day. They’re delightfully bright and fun, but also have a dark edge that I think had a direct influence on the kind of stories I tell now. Holly Black’s The Darkest Part of the Forestcame out when I was in college, but reading it makes me feel like a kid again, so I count it too.
What authors have you been enjoying recently?
I’m slowly but surely making my way through J.S. Field’s Ardulum: First Dawn. I don’t have the time to read like I used to, which is sad, but it’s a great read. I highly recommend it! I recently discovered H. L. Burke’s Nyssa Glass series as well and it’s an absolute blast. I can’t get back to it.
I am of the view that there’s always more to learn, especially when it comes to creative ventures. That being the case, is there any advice that you’d give to upcoming authors trying to get a footing in the industry?
Network, network, network. I found Ninestar by reaching out to a book blogger who just happened to be good friends with who is now my editor. Chances abound out there, especially in this age of social networking. You just have to get out there and take advantage of them.
You are a self-confessed drinker of way too much coffee. Do you tend to go for regular coffee, or do you prefer flavoured coffee?
If I’m brewing it myself, regular coffee. If I’m out and can splurge, I LOVE mochas.
Finally, do you have any final messages for readers? Where can they go to find out more about you and your work? Feel free to link to anything you want.
If you’ve already started reading the Faerie Court Chronicles, thank you so much! If you’re just discovering them for the first time, thank you as well! Email me, FB message me, anything. I love talking to people and I’d love to hear what you think! 🙂
FB: Tay LaRoi