Autumn (also known as Weifarer) is a travel and fantasy writer currently based in Maine where she lives in a small cottage lost in the woods, which she built with her husband along with the supervision, and approval of, two cairn terriers. She is an indie author, conservationist, & world traveler with plans for many more adventures both real and fantastical!
Time to chat with Autumn!
What is your latest book? Is your recent book part of a series?
I released Spirit of Life, book 3 of my epic fantasy trilogy the Rise of the Fifth Order this spring. I’m really excited to have the trilogy complete. It feels like such an accomplishment to have started such a long story (the books do not stand alone) and managed to wrap it up… even if it took me three years to publish all three!
What are the special challenges in writing a series?
I had lots of special problems, but that is because book 1, Born of Water, was also my first book to self publish! I knew when I wrote Born of Water that the story continued, but at the time I published it and faced with the immense learning curve of formats, editing, covers, and distribution, I really hadn’t thought out too much more of the story. But I had so much fun, I knew I had to keep writing. And that is when I ran into problems.
The stories I admired as a young reader were ones laced with clues that might not be fully understood until chapters, or books, later. I loved trying to see where things were going! And so that is the type of series I set out to write. BUT I hadn’t done all of the plotting and figuring out when I wrote book 1. I did that when I began to write book 2, Rule of Fire. Happily, there were nuggets from book 1 that I could play with and enlarge that really moved the story forward, but I also think I lost an opportunity to really tighten the plot threads. I would write book 1 a little differently now. But I do still love it and really love the series.
And lesson learned, I write differently now. If it is going to be a series (which I admittedly like writing), I have the overall arc planned out before I start. I’m a plotter but not down to every detail, letting the story develop as characters make choices. To accommodate the smaller plot threads that develop, and I might want to drop in hints earlier, I’m trying to write the entire series, or at least a book or two into it, before I release the first. That is a lot of writing, but should make the releases come a little faster (fingers crossed!).
I hear you have some very exciting news! Can you share it with us?
I do! At the beginning of August I signed on with Creativia. They are a small publisher and I can’t believe how phenomenal it has been meeting their other authors and working with the founder, Miika. My head is really spinning and I don’t think that I’ve fully realized yet that I’m not alone out there anymore. I suddenly have an editor, cover artist, marketer, and lots of other authors to ask questions of. My writing speed has ramped up and I have several releases coming up in the next year and I was honestly getting worried about how to afford an editor. My writing, as much as I love it, hasn’t paid for the first editor on book 1 yet! Just knowing all that is lined up and I just need to write and post to social media is a huge relief. Of course, hopefully they will like my new work as much as my released series! lol.
You live in a small cottage in the woods. That sounds like a wonderful place for a writer. Can you tell us about it?
I am an introvert, which shouldn’t be much of a surprise since I’m a writer. I live nature and quiet. So yeah, living in a little house in the woods is awesome. It is relaxing and I can go for walks when I’m stumped. I have a little sleeping porch (think of it as a room with one wall open to outside) where I write. Its on the second floor and shaded in the afternoon and just heaven!
The downside is that my husband and I built, and are still finishing, this little cottage. That has been a tremendous amount of work the last two years! I’m the finish carpenter and I have so many bookshelves, trim, nooks, and even kitchen cabinets that I need to construct yet. Ack! I joke that I’ll have the house paid off in four years and still will be putting in cabinetry. Hopefully this fall will get the brunt of the remaining work done (while still maintaining my writing time…). Having the house done for a winter of solitude and writing will be… amazing!
Over the years, many well-known authors have stated that they wished they’d written their characters or their plots differently. Have you ever had similar regrets?
I hinted in the above question that I would have written book 1 differently if I’d realized the direction the trilogy would take. And I would have tweaked the characters a little more, especially Ria and Ty. They both tend to have extremes of emotions, Ria having been very sheltered and frightened as a child and Ty just being very sensitive. They don’t always fit the “model” of how a character is expected to behave. As much as I think that is ok as there isn’t a script of how a person must react to certain situations, there are times when it is pointed out that I feel like answering “yup, I know.” I think I would have streamlined them a bit more if I could write Born of Water again. But maybe that would be a shame too!
How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?
For some reason character names, even place names, are a stumbling block to me. I can be writing a sentence and hit a blank name and I just can’t write any further. Sometimes, if I’m really desperate, I’ll put in a little _____ and try to keep writing. But it just drives me batty. I don’t tend to have writer’s block all that often, but if I need a name and nothing comes to mind, I’m stuck.
Do I ever change a name… sometimes but rarely. I’m usually at a standstill until the “right” name comes to me. But sometimes I’ll read through something and realize that two names are too similar. Then I have to change one… and hope it doesn’t take me all day!
How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?
Research might not be the word for my epic fantasy series (though it fits with my current WIP!), but world building certainly is. And epic fantasy takes a lot of world building! I actually rewrote Born of Water because I didn’t like the world building in it. The first draft was “pantsed” a lot. The story went all over the world where the story is set, Myrrah, and it just felt flat to me. It felt typical. So I sat down and really thought about the world, the climate, the food, the culture, the governments. What would it be like to grow up in the archipelago where seasonal rains flood the cities versus the deep forests in the north. What sort of commerce would the wooded but mountainous coast on the south shore of the Sea of Sarketh have? Once I knew the answer to those questions, I started writing again. Now I try to have all of that figured out before I write the first draft. It speeds up the process quite a lot!
Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?
I am a fast typist! I can churn out over 80 wpm if you want to put me in a timed test. But you know, speed doesn’t seem to be THAT big of an impact on writing.
I see lots of posts about “if you can type 4000 words a day, you can write a novel a month.” Well, yeah, but that doesn’t mean it will be a good novel. Or that you won’t spend six months editing it. There is so much more to writing than putting words on a page. That is super important to, but that is only a piece to the puzzle!
If I know where the story is going and the scene is clicking as I follow the characters along, writing speed helps. Sometimes I can’t keep up! But if the plot or motivations aren’t clear or I just can’t get into a character’s head, speed doesn’t matter. I usually try to push things along, giving it about 15 minutes of thought or plugging away. If things still aren’t moving at that point, I switch to a different WIP (I tend to write two novels at the same time for this reason!) or edit my most recently completed WIP or read (gasp!) or go for a walk (which helps tons). Sometimes I break down and actually talk to my husband. lol.
The bottom line is speed is not everything and not that important really. Consistency is – writing a bit every day. Having a good story is very important. Editing is key too. If you end up cutting a horrible chapter (or two), how fast you typed it doesn’t matter.
Do you have complete control over your characters or do they ever control you?
I wouldn’t say control comes into play, but my characters are their own people. I don’t tell them what to do, but if they want to change the story too much, well they’ve got to make a good pitch as to why!
Though, saying that, I have one or two feisty individuals who aren’t very good at sharing. I tend to set up chapters with POV and a quick blurb on what is going to happen to make sure the novel keeps on pace. But, with a few of my characters, I know it is going to be in their POV but don’t have a clue what they are going to get up to. Sinika, my main “villain” in my epic fantasy series is this way. I usually don’t know what he is going to do, doing, or why until he decides to tell me. Sort of difficult trusting the most evil character in your book to run his own show… but, gosh darn it, he does such an awesome job!
Do you miss spending time with your characters when you finish writing them?
Yes! When I started writing the final book in the series, I dragged my feet a bit knowing this was it. After this book, I was done with this world and these characters. Maybe I’d write a short story… stop by in a few years. I got myself moving again by picking away at a new WIP and then as the final book built, I couldn’t stop writing. I felt satisfied when I finished and ready to focus on that side WIP I’d started.
But the characters weren’t ready to call it quits. Seriously, they would pop into my head with little protestations about how I ended things. Their lives go on. I didn’t think they needed me. They apparently thought they did. And they made a really good argument, eventually making me realize I might have missed the most important part of their story and world! So now I’m writing a new trilogy set in the same world with the same characters. I never meant to write this, but they were so convincing and the story is so good, that I had to. Of course, now this new epic fantasy trilogy is my side WIP while I finish up the one I started when I was writing Spirit of Life. Hopefully they’ll be happy when this new story arc is done!
Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?
Tardis, followed by sailboat, followed by dual-sport motorcycle. Definitely the Tardis first! I love to travel, I love history, and I love science, so how could I not want a time traveling spaceship? In everyday life, it is a dream of mine to sail the intercoastal waterway from the St. Lawrence down to the Caribbean. And I really want to see a meteor shower from a boat anchored somewhere dark and inspiring. Wouldn’t it be incredible to see shooting stars streak to the horizon?
I’d also love to ride my motorcycle from Alaska to Venezuela. That route is becoming more common each year, but I’d love to do it myself. Until then, I have to be content riding around Maine, the Canadian Maritimes, and to work while the weather is half way decent!
If I make it through all of that, I still want to hike the AT and the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. I guess you can say I just like to move. One method or another!
If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have, what would it be?
I would love to be a good singer. Not professional, just one of those people that can sing a tune and sound good enough to make people smile. I really love music and at the moment can’t play any instrument. Hopefully I’ll learn the guitar someday yet and really wish I could fiddle. But to not need anything but my voice… that would be awesome!
What simple pleasure makes you smile?
I’m a fairly happy person but one thing that always makes me smile is seeing some little everyday wonder… maybe something that most people would miss. I get outside as much as I can and love to be mesmerized by nature: a white spider hiding on the petals of a daisy, sparrows chasing off a bald eagle, bees finding the first pussy willows of spring. I’m one of those people that stops to watch ants, catches frogs, knows which flowers are in bloom in the meadow. They aren’t big events, but they make me feel connected to the world and happy.
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