I am honored to have Laura Popp as a guest on grooviebrooksie. She will be answering questions about her book "Treasure Traitor" which was released last November.
Well, here’s what’s on the back of the cover: In a universe torn by war, two governments vie for power: the elemental Kingdom and the telepathic Hierarchy. Hierarchy women with animal bonds think nothing of sacrificing their beasts’ lives to protect themselves.
Except sixteen-year-old Renagada. The bond with her carrion-eater bird Acha is two-sided, and she knows his mind as much as he knows hers. When Rena overhears her parents plotting to kill Acha because of superstition, she must leave her fiancé and home of sheltered luxury to flee with Acha into the desert. Peril awaits them at every turn, and someone is tracking them…
How long did you work on Treasure Traitor before it was completed?
That’s a little hard to answer! I started it when I was about twenty, in college. The first draft took six months, but it was only 55,000 words. Now it’s over 100,000 words! Suffice it to say, there were at least a dozen subsequent drafts, and each draft added a new layer to the plot, characters, and the universe they lived in. One draft focused entirely on fleshing out the setting. Another added depth to Rena and Acha’s relationship. The final focused on developing Rena’s religion and the faith of the Kingdom Seekers. So the editing and revising went all the way up to the publication date (about five years after I started it)! My editors at Written World Communications (my publisher) helped a lot with that.
But boy did it take a long time to find them! I submitted this manuscript to 34 publishers and agents and got nothing but rejections. I had about given up on it. Imagine my surprise when Written World contacted me. I’d never even heard of them! It turns out I had submitted it to an agent, and the agent’s assistant really liked it and believed in the story. Then she switched companies and pitched the novel to the head editor. It was a match made in heaven, totally a God thing!
How much of you is in your main character Renagada?
I like to think I’m not quite as rebellious! I’ve never been bonded to a vulture or flown in a spaceship, either. But there is a lot of me in her; I don’t think any writer can help that. Early in the book, she loses someone very close to her. I know what that’s like, and all of those emotions went into that scene. Her struggles with guilt, faith, and culture shock are also my own. And actually, the scene at the end with her fiance was almost prophetic, because the week after I wrote that scene I had a very similar fight with my fiance! You’ll have to read it to understand what I’m talking about.
How old whre you when you wrote your first fantasy and what was it?
I was ten. It was about a boy bonded to a horse. The boy got lost in the evil enchanted woods, and the horse rescued him and brought him safely home to his mother. I entered it into an animal story contest and won a gift certificate for pet food. Such a small thing, but I was hooked!
You’ve had a very eventful and accomplished life. How much of those experiences did you put into Treasure Traitor?
Thank you. Honestly, I’d have to say all of them! I’ve given entire presentations of how my world-travels played into Treasure Traitor. What are we but a culmination of our experiences? I’d have to say my faith journey and missionary adventures probably contribute the most. Whether it’s filming impoverished Africans dancing in dusty streets, delivering food and preaching hope to victims of the Tohoku Earthquake in Japan, teaching orphans in India, or helping Burmese refugees fulfill their dreams of becoming U.S. citizens, my path to trusting Jesus has been the biggest roller coaster ride of my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world, and I can only say it was all Him.
What accomplishments are you the most proud of?
Honestly, I’d have to say getting a book published and having a contract for a three book deal. It’s something I’ve felt called to do since I was fifteen, and I’ve been working hard for it since then, so after eleven years it feels like a long time in coming! I’ve had literally hundreds of stories from the Kingdom/Hierarchy universe swirling through my head since I was five. Just to give you an idea, I wrote about eight books before this, and despite dozens of submissions, I was never able to publish any of them. So this is a serious answer to prayer!
I’ve finished the rough draft for the sequel, An Honest Assassin, and am about a quarter finished with the next one. Hopefully there will be many more to come!
What advice would you give others on writing fantasy and creating your own fantasy?
Don’t try to imitate anyone else. Narnia, Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games may be best sellers, but they’ve already been done. Write from your own experiences, your own passions, your own hands-on research. Write what you would love to read if it existed, where there’s a gap you long to fill. Along those same lines, if you like your day job, don’t quit it. I find my best characters and situations arise from my daily life.
Thanks, Brooke, I enjoyed answering your questions. Readers, be sure to stop by my website, ljpopp.wordpress.com, to check out an excerpt from Treasure Traitor!