Welcome Chassily Wakefield, Romantic fantasy author writing a series spanning 1,000 years!
Chessily: Hi, Amber! Thank you so much for inviting me to do this interview, how fun.
Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Chassily: I didn’t actually set out to write fantasy, at first. I just had a story I wanted to tell. It happened to have a lot of fantasy elements in it, but if I’d thought about the genre, I would have said I was writing a romance. Then I had a heart-to-heart with the fabulous Mary Buckham (her book—co-written with the also fabulous Dianna Love—Break Into Fiction, is awesome!) Mary very kindly asked me about my writing and was the one who enlightened me on what I was doing. I knew each genre had it’s own conventions and “rules” but had not applied that knowledge to my own work. Mary helped me work out not only what I was doing, but what I wanted to do with it, how to market it and why.
Now I can say that I write fantasy because the genre is a perfect fit for me and my work. I love the freedom to dream outside the box, the variety that’s out there. I love the world building and exploring the characters moving through those worlds, following them through multiple books. Plus, I just love magic and myths, potions and spells, wands and cloaks, fantasy creatures and epic battles. Who wouldn’t want to spend time playing with all of that?
Probably the biggest reason I write fantasy is just so I can create a world I want to disappear into for a while, with characters I love. I hope readers will want to stay there with me, the way I enjoy staying in the worlds created by some of my favorite fantasy authors, like JK Rowling (I’m a HUGE Harry Potter nerd!), Juliet Marillier, Anne Bishop and Mercedes Lackey, and they’re just the very tip of the iceberg, there are so many amazing fantasy authors out there. I’ve barely scratched the surface in my own reading within the genre, but I’m so impressed with the scope of their work. My “Too Be Read” pile is enormous!
Amber: As a librarian I love to see how research is used in fantasy writing. What kind of research helped you write a story spanning 1,000 years?
Chassily: I’m not a natural researcher, so that part of writing has been difficult for me. I have a hard time figuring out what I need versus what’s just interesting, or what to include in the story versus what I need to know personally to make it authentic but won’t actually make it into the work. I want to use it all! I tend to flip around a lot online, following link chains willy-nilly until I’m so far away from the topic I originally looked up that I’ve forgotten what I was doing. Sometimes that works in my favor, if I end up coming across interesting bits of information I wouldn’t have otherwise, but often it turns into wasting time.
Cataloguing the information I find has also proven challenging. I have scraps of paper everywhere, with no retrieval system in place to find them again when I need them. I’m working now on setting up a story bible to organize it all, but that’s been a learning experience! I’m really grateful to other authors out there who are willing to share their systems and expertise, they’ve helped me tremendously. For example, Yasmine Galenorn has detailed information on how she organized her story notebooks available free on her website. She may have saved my life!
As for the actual research, I again have to thank my fellow writers. I’m a member of about thirty writing loops, so there is always someone around willing to answer questions or point me in the right direction. They share links or books they’ve found that are helpful, including both primary and secondary historical sources, movies that have a fair amount of accuracy, History Channel productions, and more.
This 1,000 year saga will take place over nine books, but it starts in early medieval Ireland (980 AD) and then moves into a fictional world. The majority of it plays out throughout the medieval period. Eventually it will move into renaissance England, and then there’s a big jump to modern day America. Because of that, I’ve had a lot of fun picking and choosing which historically significant events to use as anchors within the story, things I can play off of or add to. Then there’s all of the mythology. That’s my favorite part—finding less well-known myths or creatures to pull into the story and making them come alive, adding depth.
Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Chassily: I think readers love fantasy for the same reason I love writing it—the escape into a new world or the chance to explore different facets of our own, following the hero on his or her journey, experiencing it with the characters. The epic battle between good and evil, the myths, the creatures, the magic, the themes. When I’m engrossed in a really excellent fantasy, everything else just falls away. It takes me out of myself for hours or days at a time, it’s total immersion.
Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it?
Chassily: Absolutely. I write my stories first for myself. If I don’t enjoy them, why would anyone else? I do have readers in mind, and I hope they’ll enjoy them, too, but first and foremost, they’re for me. If we lived in a world where no one read fantasy, I’d be sad, but I’d still write them to entertain myself. Then I’d try to convince other people to give them a shot!
Chassily Wakefield loves heroic characters and stories full of magic, passionate romance, and epic battles between good and evil. She writes Mythic Romantic Fantasy and Paranormal Romance and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three kids and three crazy kittens.
When she's not writing, you can find her at local Renaissance Faires, rereading Harry Potter, scrapbooking, or hanging out with her various writing groups.
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