Last week saw the publication of fantasy novel Protector by Vanna Smythe. Vanna graciously agreed to an interview, allowing me to ask her about her process, why she chose to self-publish her work, and generally pick the brains of someone further along the tracks than I am!
First of all, congratulations on the publication of Protector. You must be very pleased!
Thank you! I am very pleased. It’s taken me awhile to get to this point, and it feels great to finally say I’m a published writer.
Where did Protector come from? What went into the making of this story?
I’ve always enjoyed reading fantasy fiction and have long dreamed of one day writing a fantasy book of my own. The idea behind Protector comes from my research into the new age Twin Souls, or Twin Flames theory, though it also encompasses my long time fascination with how religious teachings can be used to control the masses. The magic system in the novel is based on the theories of telepathy, and other psychic powers.
However, those things are only the backdrop for the story, as the plot itself is primarily driven by the main characters who suddenly realize that their world is not quite how they thought it was. In the course of the story, they each try to make sense of it all the best they can. In short, Protector, and the entire Anniversary of the Veil series is more their story than mine.
Is this your first novel or do you have other manuscripts in the drawer?
This is my first fantasy novel, though I do have a completed first draft of a mainstream, literary fiction manuscript in my drawer, as you put it. That one is on hold, though, while I concentrate on finishing this series.
How long has it taken to get from first draft to publication?
It took me more than two years all told, and just over one year of actual writing and revision. Though I’m sure the whole process has taught me enough to shorten that time considerably in producing the next book.
I believe you started Protector during NaNoWriMo? What effect, if any, did that have on the finished novel?
Yes, that’s right, Protector is a NaNo book. While the challenge of writing a book in one month helped me to actually complete a novel, I did spend over a year on the revision. The storyline is the same as the original, but I had to spend a lot of revision hours on deeper characterization, worldbuilding, and fixing the language and structure. In that regard, the final version of Protector is something completely different than the original first draft.
You’ve self-published Protector. What made you choose this over traditional publishing?
I considered traditional publishing in the beginning, but after I realized what a long and uncertain wait was associated with it, I decided to just go indie straight off. There are amazing opportunities opening up in the world of indie publishing, and, if you do it right, the rewards are actually greater.
What was the greatest challenge to self-publishing Protector?
I’d have to say that the greatest challenge was getting the actual manuscript into a publishable state. I’m not a natural talent for editing, being more of a seat-of-the-pants type of writer, but I took a class and read tons of books on editing and I think I’ve succeeded.
You must have learnt a lot on the way. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give yourself?
The most important thing I learned during this entire process is to always look for ways to improve. I had a few wonderful beta readers for Protector and it was only after I looked at their feedback honestly that I was able to produce the finished, published version of Protector. The one piece of advice I would offer my “younger” self right now is to completely immerse myself in the story and never let complacency lull me into accepting even a single second-rate passage. Easier said than done, perhaps, but I’ll do my best.
What can we expect to see from Vanna Smythe in the future?
In the next month or so I will finish the second book of the Anniversary of the Veil series, titled Decision Maker, which will conclude the story I started in Protector. After that, well, I do have an inkling of an idea for book three in the series. Though I might also start on a new project, a story that I thought of while revising Protector. Overall, I do have a few more stories to tell.
Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I look forward to reading Protector!
Thank you for having me. I do hope you enjoy Protector!