Thrilled to have fantasy author Katherine Forrister on the Spotlight this week to discuss her novel, Lodestone
Author Name: Katherine Forrister
Book Title: Lodestone
Book Genre: Dark Fantasy
Release Date: April 20, 2021
Publisher: GenZ Publishing
Welcome, Katherine! How would you describe Lodestone?
Lodestone-peddler Melaine is desperate to stop hustling her raw magic for a tuppence. For a better life, she pledges her loyalty to the dark Overlord of Highstrong Keep, but the haunted castle holds far worse dangers than its reclusive ruler.
What sparked the idea for this book?
Lodestone grew from two seeds of ideas. First, I imagined what would happen if raw magic could be sold and how that might affect people who were willing to, or due to economic circumstances, had to deplete their own power to make ends meet. How would it feel to weaken yourself to make others stronger? The second seed was a question regarding the “evil dark lord” trope. What would a story be like if told from the point of view of someone who chose to serve the villain? Lodestone combines these two ideas and expands them into a full-fledged dark fantasy novel that explores the gray area between good and evil and the reasons why society leans into prejudices that create the two perceived extremes.
How long did it take for you to write it? Did you have to do any research?
The first draft of Lodestone took me two months to write. After that, I did several rounds of self-revision, which took several months, before querying it to agents and editors. After that, fifteen months of work passed from my publishing deal until publication day. Since Lodestone is high fantasy, I didn’t have to do as much research as I have for my science fiction or historical fiction novels, but I did base some of the clothing and architecture on real-world styles, so I researched those while writing.
What drew you to the fantasy genre?
I’ve been drawn to fantasy stories ever since I can remember, so I’m not sure why I’m so swept up by them aside from it being a personality quirk. I suppose a portion of it is due to a sense of escapism. I often thought “real life” was very dull growing up, and I was bullied for reading, so I escaped into books and daydreams. I do enjoy being present in the moment more as an adult, but I still love bringing other worlds to life. The more fantastical the world, the better, because that’s something I’ll never experience anywhere other than the page.
What’s your favorite part about being an author? What do you find challenging?
My favorite part about being an author is sharing my silly daydreams with other people, hoping that what brings me joy, entertainment, and inspiration will touch others in the same way. The most challenging aspect is how lonely writing can be. I’m an introvert, so it’s not agonizing, but I do spend so much time in my own head and sitting at my computer, it can be difficult.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Lodestone?
Lodestone would appeal to fans of A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, Uprooted by Naomi Novik, or Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. Readers who are drawn to “Beauty and the Beast”-style romances, but who wish Beauty had more agency and got to choose her path to the Beast, would love this book, as well as anyone who enjoys unique magic systems, tales of dark magic, and ghost stories.
What about the writing/editing/publishing process has been the most surprising to you so far?
How much I love collaborating with editors! I was intimidated at first whenever I imagined the critiques an editor would give to my drafts, and it does take some thick skin sometimes to accept those critiques. But overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoy the process. My editors from GenZ Publishing for Lodestone were fantastic, and I’m grateful for all the critiques and suggestions they gave to help me improve my manuscript and ready it for publication.
What advice would you give your pre-published writer self?
Don’t write a full series before the first one gets a publishing deal! I wrote a trilogy of science fiction novels and got a deal with the first book (Curio Citizen, forthcoming in 2022). However, throughout the editing process, several key components changed that made the majority of the second two books of my trilogy irrelevant. While writing them was certainly good practice, those drafts will now never see the light of day! If I do write sequels, I’ll be starting mostly from scratch. While some authors do get deals for an entire series at once, that is less likely for debut authors, which I was at the time when I signed the deal for Curio Citizen. When I started querying my debut fantasy novel Lodestone, I wrote it as a standalone with series potential, rather than a story that would take more than one book to tell. That has saved me a lot of time and heartache!
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I play video games and watch shows or movies to relax. I also enjoy spending time outdoors, and when I have time, I make woodburnings as a hobby. I love baking as well!
How are you adjusting to promoting your book during a pandemic?
Virtual events and online interviews have been amazing! I’m so glad that I’ve been able to connect with readers despite the pandemic. And to be honest, as a new author who is an introvert, they’ve been great practice for public speaking. While I wish I could have participated in in-person events, I found a silver lining in this situation–I can ease into public appearances and interacting with fans, so when the pandemic ends and my next books come out, I’ll be ready to take the next step!
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
I have several projects underway. Two of my books are releasing in 2022: a science fiction romance, Curio Citizen, from Inkshares, Inc., and The Hand-me-down Maiden, a historical fantasy romance from GenZ Publishing. I am also now starting a brand new project that is a paranormal historical novel.
Where can readers find you?
Readers can find me at my website or on social media:
Thank you, Katherine! Lodestone is available NOW.
Lodestone-peddler Melaine is desperate to stop hustling her raw magic for a tuppence. Her rare gift of infusing her magic into a lodestone to sell for another’s use and never keeping any for herself is nothing but a degrading path to an early grave.
Yearning for a better life, Melaine turns to her unconventional childhood idol, the powerful but sinister Overlord, sorcerer-ruler of Centara. When she achieves an audience and arrives at his reclusive retreat of ancient Highstrong Keep, she finds that the compelling, handsome man who conquered a kingdom by the age of twenty is now a weak, shadowed husk, and he needs her lodestones to give him strength. In exchange, he will take her on as his apprentice.
Trapped in Highstrong with a half-crazed prisoner, a strict servant, and the Overlord, Melaine learns that they may all be prey to far more malevolent forces than the Overlord’s black-magic experiments. Faced with menacing apparitions, ancient curses, and an even greater horror that could threaten the entire kingdom if unleashed, Melaine’s penchant for survival is contested by her growing feelings for the Overlord and her path toward finding a deeper meaning to life than the pure power she once craved.
Katherine Forrister is an author of speculative fiction with a love of fantasy, history, science, and romance. Her dark fantasy romance novel, Lodestone, is now available from GenZ Publishing. Her historical fantasy romance, The Hand-me-down Maiden, is forthcoming from GenZ Publishing in 2022, and her science fiction romance novel, Curio Citizen, is forthcoming from Inkshares, Inc.
She lives near Kansas City with her family, where she enjoys local festivals and conventions, hiking, playing open-world video games, and curling up on the sofa to read on cold winter days.
Alison Cochrun joins the Spotlight to discuss her LBGTQIA romance, The Charm Offensive
Author Name: Alison Cochrun
Book Title: The Charm Offensive
Book Genre: Romance/LGBTQIA
Release Date: September 7th, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books
Welcome, Alison! How would you describe The Charm Offensive?
The Charm Offensive is a queer romantic comedy about the star of a heteronormative reality dating show who falls in love with his producer instead of one of the twenty women competing to win his heart. Come for the swoon, stay for the mental health and queer rep!
Great premise! What drew you to the romance genre?
I love contemporary romance because it’s both of this world and completely separate from it. With romance, there is a balance of both reality and escape, and in many ways, the romance genre consistently shows us what the world could be. It presents us with ideal healthy relationships, where communication and emotional vulnerability are valued. Romance is also based on the notion that everyone deserves a happily ever after, and that’s the theme I hope to convey with my book!
How are you adjusting to promoting your book during a pandemic?
It’s definitely an unusual situation! When you imagine being a published author, you envision in-person book events and signings at bookstores, which is not the reality for me right now. However, it has actually been really enriching connecting with readers online, especially readers I would never be able to meet at in-person events! It also helps that I don’t know any other way but this! I do really hope I will be able to host in-person events for my second book, though!
Are you working on a new project? Please tell us about it.
Yes! My second novel is called Kiss Her Once for Me, and it will be published by Atria Fall of 2022. It’s a sapphic Christmas romcom about a bisexual disaster in the midst of a quarter-life crisis and a butch lesbian bakery owner with a twist on the fake-dating trope. It also takes place in Portland, where I live, and I am so excited to introduce people to these girls!
Where can readers find you?
The best place to find me is on Instagram (@alisoncochrun) or on my website www.alisoncochrun.com! I also have an event with the romance-only bookstore The Ripped Bodice September 7th at 8ET/5PT with Hannah Orenstein (author of Head Over Heels), and I have another event at Third Place Books in Seattle on September 14th with Rachel Lynn Solomon (author of The Ex Talk). Register for these virtual events online! I hope to see you there!
Thank you, Alison! The Charm Offensive launches TODAY.
Dev Deshpande has always believed in fairy tales. So it’s no wonder then that he’s spent his career crafting them on the long-running reality dating show Ever After. As the most successful producer in the franchise’s history, Dev always scripts the perfect love story for his contestants, even as his own love life crashes and burns. But then the show casts disgraced tech wunderkind Charlie Winshaw as its star.
Charlie is far from the romantic Prince Charming Ever After expects. He doesn’t believe in true love, and only agreed to the show as a last-ditch effort to rehabilitate his image. In front of the cameras, he’s a stiff, anxious mess with no idea how to date twenty women on national television. Behind the scenes, he’s cold, awkward, and emotionally closed-off.
As Dev fights to get Charlie to connect with the contestants on a whirlwind, worldwide tour, they begin to open up to each other, and Charlie realizes he has better chemistry with Dev than with any of his female co-stars. But even reality TV has a script, and in order to find to happily ever after, they’ll have to reconsider whose love story gets told.
Alison Cochrun is a high school English teacher living outside Portland, Oregon. When she’s not reading and writing queer love stories, you can find her torturing teenagers with Shakespeare, crafting perfect travel itineraries, hate-watching reality dating shows, and searching for the best happy hour nachos. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alisoncochrun.
The Spotlight welcomes Jaye Viner this week, author of Jane of Battery Park
Author Name: Jaye Viner
Book Title: Jane of Battery Park
Book Genre: Romantic Thriller
Release Date: 8-31-21
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Congratulations on the launch of your new book! How would you describe Jane of Battery Park?
Jane of Battery Park is a romantic thriller in the vein of Romeo and Juliet where she comes from a family that puts celebrities on trial for their sins, and he is a has-been heartthrob from Hollywood royalty. Falling in love is easy, until their families find out.
What drew you to the romantic thriller genre?
I set out to write an empowering story about a woman learning to love herself after coming from an extreme faith culture. In fact, I specifically did not want to write a romance. But when I first offered the book to agents in New York, it was suggested that the story could be improved if it was also a romance. I thought about that for a while, and I decided this would be okay because part of learning to love yourself is figuring out how you are in a relationship with someone else. I think the love story aspect did a lot for the story.
For you, what’s the hardest thing about writing?
It’s easy for me to write a story I’m satisfied with. So, I think the hardest part is thinking about an audience and what they want, or what will be satisfying to them beyond just what I want. Lots of advice is always to write to your own passion, but at a certain point, you are writing for a publishing industry and reading audience and evaluating writing to see how it fits for those people is very hard.
If you were speaking to someone who hasn’t read your writing before, why should they want to read Jane of Battery Park?
There’s so much to love about Jane of Battery Park. I fall in love in new ways every time I read it. (Which is really amazing considering how many times I’ve had to read it.) I’m a literary writer who knows the value of a fast plot and tight scenes. The book goes quickly. It has the romantic side. It has the family drama side. And for people interested in thinking about our particular American political moment and the rise of Christian Nationalism, it gives a human face to the many people who are struggling to figure out who they are apart from families who either supported or participated in the coup attempt on January 6th. Jane as a main character is messy and human and so desperate to find a firm place to put her feet, I think that’s very compelling because so many people struggle with finding themselves at different stages in their lives.
I love that you see so many dynamics of today represented in this story. I’m in! So what’s next? Are you working on a new project?
I am currently working on a eco-fiction novel that takes place in far-future Nebraska. It’s about a murderer who tries for a new start in a dome city only to find out that her new boss might have secret motives for hiring a criminal. There are some carnivorous plants. It might be speculative horror, one of those burn down the broken world stories.
How are you adjusting to marketing a book during a pandemic?
This is the first time I’ve marketed a book, so there wasn’t much adjustment from something I had done before. I’ve enjoyed being creative on social media and making connections with people through those platforms. As a disabled writer with limited money, the shift to online has been really helpful and given me more opportunities than I would have had if I’d been expected to travel and figure out access in physical spaces.
Where can readers find you (website, blog, social media, etc.)? Feel free to include any upcoming, live/online events, workshops, too!
Launch event Tuesday 8-31 at 7 pm CT. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEC9kZgPO1c
Thank you, Jaye! Jane of Battery Park is out TODAY!
Jane is a Los Angeles nurse who grew up in a family that puts celebrities on trial for their sins.
Daniel is a has-been actor whose career ended when Jane’s family nearly killed him for flirting with her.
Eight years after a romantic meet-cute in Battery Park, both search for someone to fill the gap they imagine the other could’ve filled if given the chance. Jane compulsively goes on dates with every self-professed expert in art, music, and food hoping they will teach her the nuances of the culture she couldn’t access in her youth. Daniel looks for a girlfriend who will accept the disabilities left from the cult attack. A loving woman will prove to Daniel’s blockbuster star brother, Steve, that he’s capable of a supporting role in Steve’s upcoming movie and relaunching Daniel’s career.
When a chance encounter unexpectedly reunites them, Jane and Daniel not only see another chance at the love they lost, but an opportunity to create the lives they’ve always wanted. The only question is whether their families will let them.