Today, I’m once again welcoming one of my best friends, Becca Lusher, for an interview. Becca’s recently concluded two concurrent series in her Overworld setting as well as started a standalone sequel series, Misfits of Aquila, that is serialising on her website right now! So I thought it was high time that I poked her about talking about the series and the setting as a whole and sharing the world with all of you. October is also Overworld Takeover on Becca’s blog, so be sure to check out all the shiny Overworld things she’s got in the works!
Here’s the cover and description for the book that started the entire setting, Wingborn!
Lady Mhysra Kilpapan was blessed from birth with a distinguished family, a glorious home and a giant eagle miryhl of her own. Fully aware of her luck, she wants for nothing in life – except a chance to become a Rift Rider. The elite force of the Overworld has been closed to women for over one hundred years and not even the legendary Wingborn are allowed to join. Until now.
Women are being admitted to the Riders again and Mhysra wants to be first in line. Except her parents have other ideas, and there are plenty of others who are less than pleased about the change. Yet if Mhysra can find a way to reach Aquila, she will let nothing stop her.
But the Overworld is in trouble and the vicious kaz-naghkt are destroying Rift Rider bases one by one. The Riders need help. Can Mhysra and her friends really be the difference between survival and destruction? Or will they fail before their first year of training is through?
S.L.: Welcome back, Becca! It’s been, wow, quite a number of books since I’ve invited you over,but what a set of books they are! What made you decide to write the Wingborn and Dragonlands books concurrently?
BL: Honestly? Boredom. I had four Wingborn books already written and needed to do something else to keep my brain alive, so I started a new series. At least I managed to keep them on the same world. Normally I end up making up an entirely new one just to keep my imagination entertained.
S.L.: Your imagination is a fickle thing, true. This is the first time I’ve read any draft of the Wingborn book that started it all, but I know it’s gone through a variety of incarnations and your original plans were very different. What’s your favourite aspect of the original draft that’s remained the same?
BL: They weren’t so very different in the end. The main characters are the same, the big baddie is the same. The plot changed a little, but the base elements stayed the same – saving the world from people-eating monsters. Regardless of all that, I have always and will always love this world and the miryhls – my giant, talking eagles. They’re the reason I kept coming back to this story until I found a way to finish the series.
S.L.: Funny, I could swear you mentioned there was at least one significant personality change before. ^-~ Anyway, I won’t tease you too much with spoilery notes, so let’s move on. I know you were incredibly surprised by my reaction to Blazing Dawn, the first Dragonlands book, because the series is emphatically not a romance. Would you describe the series as having an exceptionally slow-burn romance aspect to the plot, though? Why (not)?
BL: It does have an exceptionally slow-burn romance, that is true. It’s not the overriding theme of the series though, I don’t think. Love more than romance is more important. It is about Nera and it is about Khennik, (which I suppose is why the blurb might seem misleading as that’s usually a romance set up). Sometimes it’s about both of them together. Mostly it’s about their relationships with those around them, and the love that forms between so many different characters.
It isn’t what I set out to do, it’s just what I ended up with. The original plan, way back when, was for a quick romance novella, but I don’t really write quick romances and all the characters in this series ended up too complicated for that. So six (eh, technically seven with the short novel) books later, I think I finally got somewhere. There’s an end, anyway.
S.L.: I hope readers will keep that in mind. It’s such an important distinction. I cannot stress enough that you wrote these two series at the same time. What’s been the most challenging part of working on a prequel at the same time as the main storyline?
BL: The challenge for me was knowing how something ended and trying to write my way to that point. I am not a writer who likes to plan. I don’t like having everything mapped out in advance. It makes things a lot harder for me, because I have to rein in my mad sideways tangents, which in other settings might end up taking the story in a wildly different but often better direction. I couldn’t do that this time.
Although there were still a few sideways veers that ended up answering questions I’ve had about the world forever. I solved a lot of mysteries and also made things a lot harder for myself. Fortunately, writing the two series at the same time still left me a little flexibility in how some things turned out, so I’m glad I did it this way round.
If I’d finished one series, then gone back for the prequel, I probably couldn’t have finished at all. I’m not good with restrictions.
S.L.: Oof, I’m very happy to hear that you didn’t do that then. We’d have missed out on a fabulous series and a greater understand of the dragon politics in Winborn that way. The whole setting is just so delightfully original. What are some of the inspirations for it?
BL: The original inspiration was a dream – a girl and a dog in a small rowing boat that’s being towed by a giant eagle over a sea of clouds. Things changed a fair bit, but that’s where it started. Other than that I love mountains, I love clouds and I am an unrepentant stealer of landscapes. So many beautiful places in the world. I see them. I steal them.
S.L.: Reader, I am happy to report that the dog made it into the narrative. It sounds like it changed a great deal over time. Do you think you’ll ever explore the origins of the Curse in more detail?
BL: Funny you should ask. That mystery I mentioned solving earlier, well…
S.L.: That is just a cruel tease, Becca. T_T But I know that you’re not done telling stories in this setting and I know you’ve got a sequel series coming up. What are you most looking forward to with the upcoming Misfits of Aquila?
BL: New miryhls. I like having new characters emerging from all over the Overworld too, but I really love the new miryhls. When I finally reached the point of the book where the new students made their Choice, I was so happy. I love those foolish feather-heads.
S.L.: Ooooh, new miryhls! I won’t lie, I’m really looking forward to [redacted] because of the miryhls! They’re such fun. I’m glad you’re also content to let me jump from topic to topic like this. So let’s talk about something definitely not miryhls because I think we both would just go “Miryhls are awesome!” otherwise. If you could belong to any of the dragon clans in the Dragonlands, which clan would you pick and why?
BL: Oooh, tough. I love so many aspects of each of the Clans, but the ones I met in the Dragonlands series put me off most of them! I love Swiftwing for their libraries and Flowflight is all about family (just ignore some of the current elders), but I’m probably a Skystorm at heart, although I love the Boulderforce kin from Stoneheart too.
Honestly, though, Starshine is the best one to belong to. No one can tell me what to do there and I don’t have to put up with Goryal’s interfering unless I want to. (Plus Fhereo. I love Fhereo.)
S.L.: Good picks, all! I would probably be Swiftwing because library, but who knows. Speaking of libraries, something which has excited me for months now is dreaming of physical books I can put on my shelves and you’ve been hard at work on print editions for these series in particular. What’s been your favourite part of the process of creating them?
BL: Nothing XD I thought I’d feel so excited holding a book with my name on it, but nope. I’m finding the whole process so tedious, I just want it over and done. I’m not the least bit romantic that way.
S.L.: I have a sad. Designing the print books is probably my favourite aspect after polishing them up and going “I’m walking away now” at the manuscript. You are indeed a terrible romantic, but I love you anyway. Lastly! It wouldn’t be an interview between the two of us if we didn’t engage in at least some silliness, so… Dragonlands characters and their favourite our-world drinks. What would they pick? (Listen, I just want a fan artist to draw me an Esten holding the world’s daintiest cocktail because he can. Indulge me. T_T)
BL: Eh. I don’t know. I’m the world’s most boring drinker – I like water and I’m lucky enough to live somewhere with beautiful, clean tap water. Which I’m pretty sure would be Mastekh’s favourite too. No Flowflight wants anyone messing with their water. Unless it’s tea. Mastekh is, after all, good with tea. He finds the correct blend of leaves and herbs and the simmering water very soothing.
I have no doubt whatsoever that Esten would love something very fruity and highly alcoholic, probably in a ridiculous dainty glass. (S.L.: [squeal] I knew it!) With an umbrella. However, he’s also a Boulderforce, so the potency wouldn’t touch him until the moment he keeled over from alcohol poisoning.
Khennik wants the most fiery whisky you can find. The kind that evaporates right out of the glass if you don’t drink it fast enough. (Although there’s also types flavoured with cinnamon, which would suit him fine too.)
Nera is a coffee girl. Probably black.
Hardy and Vish would join Esten in his fruity cocktails and end up under the table after two shots.
Kalaha would join Nera with the coffee. Also black. Hot enough to scald.
Goryal is confused about the whole situation, but has made a befuddled request for red wine (they like the colour), while Reglian is currently head deep in the nearest river wondering why he thought he could challenge a Blazeborn to a whisky drinking competition.
Anyone else? Oh, yes, Gharrik has politely joined Mastekh at his tea ceremony, while they explore the perfect way to steep the leaves.
(Any other characters you’d like to know?)
S.L.: I mean we haven’t covered the Wingborn set of characters yet…
Becca Lusher hails from the wilds of the British Westcountry, where she runs around with her dogs, gets bossed about by cats and takes photos of views with rocks in them. She’s also been known to write occasionally to appease the rapacious appetite of her muse. Some of which she now self-publishes. You can find Becca at WordPress.
You can find the Wingborn and Dragonlands series ebooks at most large ebook retailers. You can also read the first book in the Wingborn series on Becca’s website for free and Misfits of Aquila (which fair warning has some major spoilers for the Wingborn series even if it’s a standalone series) is currently being serialised. Start with the prologue right now! Check out the series pages on her website for all the details: Dragonlands and Wingborn. (Personally I recommend reading them together by alternating titles.)