Zaya Feli talks about journeys

Zaya Feli is the author of the wonderful Stag’s Run fantasy-historical trilogy, the Icefjord duology and has an upcoming release, Wild Sky, which has dragons! Zaya is visiting today to talk about journeys in her work- both physical ones and mental ones. Plus, making world-maps!

Welcome, Zaya!

My name is Zaya Feli. I’m an illustrator and author living and working in Denmark, writing LGBT+ genre fiction, and journeys have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I rarely sit down with the intention of writing about a journey.

My one exception is my upcoming novel, WILD SKY, where I created an expansive world I knew I wanted my characters to explore. From the backs of dragons, they could cover large distances in little time, so I deliberately focused on creating a world that would allow my characters to, quite literally, stretch their wings.

But most often, the physical journey simply happens. I’ll finish plotting an outline and realise I’ve dragged countless lines all across my world map in the process.

Sometimes, the characters’ mental journeys reflect their physical ones.
In my fantasy trilogy, IRON BREAKERS, the main character, Ren, is forcefully ripped from the comfort of home within the first three chapters, and doesn’t get a chance to return until the very end of the final book. At the start of his journey, the world around him feels almost like an enemy in its own right. By the end of the third book, he’s been across the nation and back, as at home in the wild as he once was in his comfortable castle quarters.

My stories rarely take place in the real world.

Maybe it’s the result of being an illustrator as well as a writer, but one of the first things I do when I start working on a new story is to draw a world map. I create a world first, then place my characters in it. The world might change as I write, and then I’ll redraw the map, but it helps me to have markers, locations and a solid layout of geography.

I think most authors have their own writing-related quirks, and mine include keeping track of distance and time. It’s something I’ve always done, even way back when I wrote my very first original story about puppy dogs when I was 10 years old.

How long will it take the characters to get from this town to this inn? On horseback? Dragonback? How much time has passed since they left home, and how long a distance do they still need to cover? I’ll cover whole pages of notebooks with timetables and charts.

In my Norse-inspired fantasy duology, THE ICEFJORD SAGA, the story takes place in two distinct locations – one for each book.

The first book centers largely around one of the main characters’ home town, while the second book sees them leave the safety and comfort of home behind, and sail to a hostile and uncharted frozen woodland in the high north, in search of a magical runestone.

In a way, this split of locations paralleled my own life at the time: when I wrote the first book, I based the map of the characters’ home on my own home. And just like my characters, I was uprooted midway through writing the series, having to adjust to a whole new place.

And that is perhaps why physical journeys keep being such a strong, subconscious theme in the stories I write.

I haven’t gone on many holidays in my life. I’ve only ever left the country twice, and have never been outside Europe. My physical journeys are on a smaller scale, but no less impactful. Throughout my life, I’ve rarely lived in one place for more than three or four years at a time.

I started my life in the capital city of Copenhagen, moved within city borders before moving to the countryside across the island. There, I moved around even more, before making a big switch to the other end of the country two years ago. And within the coming year, I’ll move again, to a different place.

Like my characters, I’ve lost and gained things and people along the way. I’ve changed and grown as a person, not to the extend I often force my characters to, but in a way that still feels profound.

Maybe I simply enjoy writing about new places and varied scenery. Or maybe I keep searching for the various ways in which I can translate the same core idea that means so much to me: that home isn’t necessarily a place. Sometimes it’s a feeling. Or a person. Or a soft sweater on a cold day. It’s what you make of it.

You can connect with Zaya here:

Twitter : Instagram : Amazon: Website : Goodreads

You can read my own post talking about The Flowers of Time and Edie’s Journey today, at Love Bytes Reviews

release day! The Flowers of Time

Today is the book-birthday of The Flowers of Time!

You can find the buy-link and read all about the book here…there’s an excerpt and a clip of me reading it.

Plus, to celebrate the launch I am off on a blog-tour over the next ten days. You can see the schedule below and the things I’ll be talking about.

I’m also hosting some lovely people here on own site to talk about magic, gender and journeys (not necessarily all at once!) in their own books. I’ll be putting a post up introducing them tomorrow.

Today though, I am over at Queer Sci-Fi, answering questions about my writing process. And other things. Because otherwise that would make for a short interview! Thank you so much to the QSF guys for hosting me.

Finally…scroll down to enter the Rafflecopter draw for a universal e-reader cover and a leather-bound notebook, not at all unlike the book in the story!

This week you can find me at:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

interview with Amara Lynn

Hi Amara! What made you decide to subject yourself to my interview technique?

My newest release, on 2/22, Tundras, Travelers, and Other Travesties! It’s a queer sci-fi novelette set in a future earth that’s covered in snow.

What started you writing?

I’ve always had a huge imagination, thinking up stories and characters all my life. I didn’t really start writing them down until I was in college, though, after reading Twilight and thinking, “I could do this, only gay.” So I started writing all kinds of things, and it’s only gotten queerer from there!

Where are you most comfortable writing?

Usually in my office, which is filled to the brim with little trinkets and pieces of inspiration on my walls. I’m most proud of my corkboard of pretties.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I’ll read just about anything, from contemporary romance to fantasy. I most enjoy reading romance stories with fantasy element sprinkled in.

What are the three books you’d take to a desert island? Why would you choose them?

How to Love a Monster by Lyssa Dering (preferably in audio), because it’s my comfort listen. It’s an odd little story, but it’s somehow perfect to me. I’ve listened to it over 5 times now.

Into the Deep by yours truly. I guess it’s weird I’d choose one of my own books, haha. I hope it doesn’t seem to vain. I spent 10 years writing that story, and it’s so important to me. It’s the story of my heart, and I’ve worked in a little bit of everything I love into it, so I wouldn’t mind having it be one of the only things I could read over and over on a deserted island, which is ironic because it’s about a pirate getting deserted on an island!

Vicious by V.E. Schwab. If you like villains, read this book. It’s amazing. I love Victor and Eli so much, and I wouldn’t mind being stuck with this book at all.

Writing is an intrinsically solo occupation. Do you belong to any groups or associations, either online or in the ‘real’ world? How does that work for you?

I’m most active on Twitter, and I love the queer writing community there. It’s one of the most welcoming spaces I’ve found, and I love hosting my own hashtags to contribute to the community. If not for that community, I wouldn’t have been able to successfully win NaNoWriMo three years in a row, or even once for that matter!

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I watch way to much anime, and play a game or two here and there. My favourite foods are chilli and tacos or any Mexican dish. I have two cuddly cats who like to keep me company all around the house and try to trip me constantly.

Tell me a little bit about your most recent release, Tundras, Travelers and other Travesties. What gave you the idea for it? How long did it take to write? What did you enjoy about writing it? What did you hate?

Tundras, Travelers, and Other Travesties was inspired by a call for solarpunk winter stories, and I revived a long shelved wintery piece for it, made a couple changes, and did a little research to back up the story. It didn’t make it into the call, or another I submitted it to, so I decided to self publish it.

What I most enjoyed about it was making it queer, and writing about a character that shares my chronic pain. I don’t think there’s anything I really hated about this story. I’m excited for it to be out in the world! It’s a cute, hopeful piece, that’s unapologetically queer.


Tundras, Travelers and other Travesties

Eis has lived on a solar powered outpost in a tundra covered land all zir life.

After zir parents passing, Eis is left to maintain the outpost alone, struggling to do so between chronic pain flare ups, waiting for the day a traveler might come in need of a warm bed and a meal. A day Eis thinks might never come, until a mysterious craft crashes into one of the solar panels.

Eis never expected a traveler to come out of the craft, or for him to be so captivating and beautiful. Everything Eis knows could change with the coming of this traveler, and yet the greatest travesty would be never knowing what else is out there, beyond the tundra, beyond the skies.

Tundras, Travelers, and Other Travesties is a 5800 word solarpunk post-apocalyptic sci-fi short with a queer protagonist.

Buy Tundras, Travelers and Other Travesties : Add on Goodreads


Connect with Amara

Amara Lynn has always been a quiet daydreamer. Coming up with characters and worlds since childhood, Amara eventually found an outlet in writing. Amara loves anything to do with pirates, villains and superheroes, and angels and demons.

Amara is addicted to music and gets the most inspiration from moving songs and lyrics. When not writing, Amara usually reads, listens to podcasts, watches anime, plays a video game here and there (but mostly collects them), and takes way too many cat pictures.

Amara is non-binary/enby and queer and uses they/them pronouns.

:: Website : Goodreads : Twitter : Instagram : Facebook ::

booktrailer: the flowers of time

I’m quite proud of this, actually!

The Flowers of Time has been a long time coming. I first started mulling the idea of writing about plant-collectors a couple of years ago when I read a newspaper article about Europeans stomping round the world in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries ‘discovering’ new plants. I knew I wanted Ella Fortune (from Lost in Time) to have her own book and it seemed like the kind of thing she might do in the 1920s after she’d finished being an ambulance driver in France and started a newspaper. Initially I thought this might be it.

However…when I started writing, the characters didn’t want to be in the twentieth century at all, they wanted to be in the 1780s. This was a completely new era for me and cost me a lot of research-time. I relied heavily on ‘Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India‘ by Shashi Tharoor for background, plus ‘She-Merchants, Buccaneers and Gentlewomen: British women in India 1600 – 1900‘ by Katie Hickman about women in India and ‘The Honourable Company: a History of the English East India Company‘ by John Keay. I recommend these three as giving a reasonable overview of the pre-British Empire period. I also did a lot of reading about the Victorian flower-painter Marianne North ‘A Vision Of Eden: The Life And Work Of Marianne North‘ and found ‘Among the Tibetans‘ by Isabella Bird illuminating.

So then. Having dealt with the change in time-period, I started out with Jones, who I knew was non-binary and Edie, who’s sexuality can best be described as ‘pragmatic’. And as their journey over the mountains progressed it became clear that Jones was probably demi/gray asexual, as well. And then the paranormal intruded, which I find it often does once I start writing. And by the time I got to the end, I was in a real twist about how they were going to get their happy ending and be able to come back to England as a couple and both be settled in their own skin.

Anyway. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. You can buy it here.

the flowers of time

The Flowers of Time will be published by JMS Books at the end of February! Pre-order here! Or listen to me read an excerpt!

A non-binary explorer and a determined lady botanist make the long journey over the high Himalayan passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with dangers for both of them, not least those of the heart.

Jones is determined to find out what caused the unexpected death of her father whilst they were exploring ancient ruins in the Himalayas. She’s never been interested in the idea of the marriage bed, but along with a stack of books and coded journals he’s left her with the promise she’ll travel back to England for the first time since childhood and try being the lady she’s never been.

Edie and her brother are leaving soon on a journey to the Himalayas to document and collect plants for the new Kew Gardens when she befriends Miss Jones in London. She’s never left England before and is delighted to learn that the lady will be returning to the mountains she calls home at the same time they are planning their travels. When they meet again in Srinagar, Edie is surprised to find that here the Miss Jones of the London salons is ‘just Jones’ the explorer, clad in breeches and boots and unconcerned with the proprieties Edie has been brought up to respect.

A non-binary explorer and a determined botanist make the long journey over the high mountain passes to Little Tibet, collecting flowers and exploring ruins on the way. Will Jones discover the root of the mysterious deaths of her parents? Will she confide in Edie and allow her to help in the quest? It’s a trip fraught with perils for both of them, not least those of the heart.