Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed author SG Blaise about her The Last Lumenian book series, what inspired her latest story, True Teryn, and her creative writing process.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I was born in a faraway land of castles, monarchies and fallen dictatorships, aka Hungary. During my childhood, Hollywood movies were largely forbidden under Soviet oppression. My dad smuggled them in anyway, risking his life so that his children could experience the magic and hope inherent in those stories. I watched rebellions unfold in real time. Journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean for love. I ended up in sunny California, where I am living my dream — writing stories and annoying family members.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Since I was a young girl, I found myself drawn toward writing. It started as creating stories in my head at night before going to bed. I learned the best way to explore them was by writing them down.
When did you take a step to start writing?
In 2012, I had a dream during a European cross-country trip that inspired me to create the Last Lumenian Series. The series starts with The Last Lumenian and continues with True Teryn.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
My first book, The Last Lumenian, took roughly six years to develop, write, edit, and release. When I first started to work on The Last Lumenian, I was also learning the writing craft simultaneously. Everything was new. I developed my craft, my writing habits, and took time off between versions.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
My second book, True Teryn, took 2 years to develop, write, edit, and release! It has been such a whirlwind of an experience. I started working on it as soon as The Last Lumenian was released. The first version of True Teryn took only a month to write. Writing my first book taught me so many skills that were beneficial with writing my newest release.
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write True Teryn?
As soon as I finished The Last Lumenian, I knew I wanted to write a sequel to the book and make it a series. I saw a growing storyline developing in my head and instantly began creating outlines and plot ideas for where Lilla’s journey would lead her next in the coming books.
What were your biggest challenges with writing True Teryn?
One of my biggest challenges with writing True Teryn was the agony of waiting for it to come back from editing. It was truly a pleasure writing this book, and I had so much fun doing so. At times, I found myself laughing the night away, thinking about the conversations my characters would have with me, knowing the circumstances I put them in. But waiting for it to come back from editing was the hardest part because of the anticipation and what changes might be needed.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
I wanted to create a protagonist that had many layers and stood for something much bigger. Lilla is a role model for female empowerment. She is a complex character at the cusp of becoming an adult, while still under pressure from many directions – family, duty, and even fate. I spent many days shaping her character, starting from her stubbornness, to her humor and finally to her loyalty.
I wanted to create a determined hero who struggles with claustrophobia-induced panic attacks and overcomes both inner and outer obstacles on her journey of self-discovery. She is a reluctant hero, but more realistic than I’ve ever seen because of her vulnerability when it comes to mental health and her perseverance that pushes her to keep fighting for what she believes in. She teaches us that we don’t have to be perfect to be a hero.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
The inspiration behind creating the Antagonist for True Teryn was the concept of meeting your future in-laws for the first time, in a galactic setting and coming from different cultures. Their disagreements have a mix of family and professional drama. Not only does her love for Callum drive her to want to feel accepted as his future bride, but she also must obtain his father’s army for their fight in the Era War.
What is the inciting incident in True Teryn?
The inciting incident in True Teryn revolves around Lilla fulfilling her duty to The Lady by recruiting the Teryn army under Emperor Caderyn a’ruun, when he rejects her role as Sybil and denies her bride’s choice claim on his son, Callum.
What is the main conflict of True Teryn?
The main conflict of my book, True Teryn, resides around Lilla’s efforts to be accepted and gain the support of Caderyn a’ruun, the Emperor of the Teryn empire. After agreeing to her role as Sybil to The Lady, the Goddess of Eternal Light and Order, Lilla is tasked with obtaining the Teryn Army to fight by her side in the Era war. However, Caderyn a’ruun, rejects Lilla as The Lady’s Sybil and her claim on Callum with her bride’s choice forcing her to prove herself and discover what it means to be a True Teryn.
Did you plot True Teryn in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I prefer to do an outline, planning out the scenes ahead of time but making sure to leave room for improvisation. I found that combining the two works really well for me.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did True Teryn need?
I have an incredible team from the NY Book Editors with line editing by Julie and proof editing by William. They’re wonderful to work with and have been tremendously supportive and helpful on each of my projects, going above and beyond.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
If you find inspiration to write a story, sit down and start writing now! When inspiration sparks, fan the fire and write for as long as you can. Sometimes the hardest part about a writing journey is the beginning, but it will be worth it in the end.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
All I can say is that there are more books to come in The Last Lumenian Series. Stay tuned for possible spin-offs and maybe even a brand new series!
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
I am overwhelmingly happy with how far I have come since I first began developing this book series. There is so much more I plan to explore! I can’t wait to see where it takes me next because every second is worth it.
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