Bio: Kay L. Ling began writing fiction at an early age. In grade school, her stories evidenced a sense of wonder and love of adventure. In one, mythical creatures lived and traveled inside a rainbow, and in another, a bored sixth-grader turned her teacher into a maroon sofa and then teleported herself to London. As she grew up, Kay never lost her ability to imagine strange and wondrous peoples and places, and now she would like to share her unique fantasy adventures with others.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to write?
Kay: Become a more observant reader. Study your favorite authors and note the writing skills that set their books apart. See if you need improvement in those areas.
How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person?
Kay: When I begin a novel I know the opening, the overall plot, and the resolution. From there, each chapter builds organically upon the last. As the story progresses, plot points often fit together in surprising ways. I’m motivated to keep writing to see what happens!
Of all your characters, do you have a favorite?
Kay: Lana, the lead character in Beyond the Forest is my favorite, but I enjoy some of my non-human characters almost as much.
How long did it take you to write your most recent book(s)? (Joy)
I spent at least two years rewriting and polishing Beyond the Forest, a novel I wrote and then abandoned in the 1980s due to my time-consuming career. So, I suppose I could say it took me three decades to write it!
What motivated you to write your novel?
Kay: The setting of my novel is loosely based on a local forest preserve. While hiking the trails and enjoying the solitude, I imagined strange beings hiding among the trees, watching me. Those beings became the woodland gnomes in my story, and I created a plot that involved our world and theirs.
Name three favorite authors and why they impress you.
Kay: 1: J. R. R. Tolkien. He created entire races with diverse cultures, and placed them in Middle Earth–a world that felt as real as our own.
2: J. K. Rowling. While reading the Harry Potter series I asked myself countless times, where does she come up with this stuff?!! Writing courses can’t give you a great imagination. Either you have one or you don’t.
3: Brandon Sanderson. His magic systems are always unique, and he provides enough details to make it all seem completely plausible.
Would you rather set your story in a place and time you are familiar with, or would you rather research a totally different setting?
Kay: Neither, actually. I like to take readers on an adventure and give them experiences they’d never have in real life. Fantasy novels allow me to do that. Creating a unique world has its own challenges, but minimal research is required.
Do you have any little writing rituals or quirks? E.g. an object you have to have on your desk, a particular drink or snack.
Kay: Generally, a cup of good, strong coffee is all I need, since I usually begin writing in the morning.
How do your own experiences influence what you write?
Kay: I’ve always loved to travel, so I like to invent new worlds to explore. Other interests, such as gems and their folklore, worked their way into my book as well. Writing that includes personal experiences or themes that touch the author can be very powerful.
If you had to throw something into Mount Doom to save the world, what would it be?
Kay: I wish an object could be thrown into Mount Doom to save the world. The ring, which was consumed by fire and destroyed, is a focal part of the story, but the ring bearer’s unwillingness to give up the ring and cast it into the fire teaches us an important lesson. It’s not easy to break evil’s hold on us.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
Kay: I rarely experience writer’s block. It helps to stop writing in the middle of a scene, or at a point where you know what happens next and you’re anxious to finish it. That makes it easy to pick up next time where you left off.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Kay: I enjoy writing the first draft and living the adventure as I write it. If I’m totally caught up in the story myself, there’s little chance the reader will be bored.
If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book, what would it be?
Kay: The Bible! Not only would I need God’s help to survive, the Bible is full of fascinating stories.