Today, I am happy to interview my all time favorite author and friend Serena Chase, as a follow up to yesterday’s post, Names of E’veria- The Remedy. Enjoy!
Where did you first come up with the idea of E’veria and what motivated and inspired you?
Serena: My eldest daughter was in Elementary school and wanted to read Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Since it had been a long time since I’d read the book, I decided to pre-read it before giving her permission. When I finished (and gave her permission to read it) I thought, “I wonder if I could reinvent a fairy tale?”–and that’s where it began.
How long and how has your journey been from when you first had the idea?
Serena: It’s been a long journey! My eldest daughter, mentioned above? She’s a college freshman now! The Ryn started with that initial “reinvention” idea and turned into an epic (and epically messy!) first draft around a decade ago, but it wasn’t published until 3-½ years ago. A long road, but worth it.
Are any of the events from the books based on real life happenings?
Serena: Hmm… I wish! Sadly, no. Not that I’m aware of, at least.
Are any of the characters based on you and/or your family?
Serena: I think there is some Rynnaia in me, but there is also a lot of Erielle, some Cazien, maybe… a little Gerrias… but I think I most readily identify with Rowlen de Whittier–and I will never in a million years be as noble or serious as Julien. My older brother Tod is an awesome, gentle big brother, like Gerrias and Julien are to Erielle–minus the overbearing part!–and his wife Heather has shown Rynnaia’s compassion and understanding to me many times.
What music inspires to write and makes you think of Eachan Isle and E’veria?
Serena: I have a crazy number of playlists on Spotify with really diverse music, some labeled by the name of the writing project. When I’m writing, I usually listen to soundtracks from action, adventure, and fantasy films. But I listen–obsessively!–to my other, lyric-based playlists when I’m driving, cleaning house, etc. I pick songs that appeal to a character’s traits, heart, situation. Some are pop, some rock, some Christian, some far from it. When I was writing the scene at the fire bowl on Eachan Isle, when Erielle is first introduced to the Seahorse Pirates’ style of dancing, I listened to Calypso and island music with lots of marimba and steel drums. I smiled through that… a lot! If anyone wants to take a listen, I’m on Spotify as theauthorakaserenachase
How long did it take for you to write The Sunken Realm?
Serena: Sixteen months. It seems crazy to me now that I did it in that timespan. It seemed an eternity, because they were sixteen very difficult months, and the book is really two books, if going by size. So… wow. I basically wrote two books in sixteen months. Kind of bizarre.
Will there be any more books in the Eyes of E’veria series?
Serena: Right now, as far as epic-length novels… I’m going to say no. But I am leaving the door open to a next-generation Seahorse Pirates series someday. Not that they need me to leave the door open if they really want in, because… pirates. They’re a rather bold lot. *smirky wink* And I do hope to eventually write novellas for some favorite characters, like Kinley de Whittier, Gerrias de Gladiel, and, of course, Storyteller Rowlen de Whittier, who I’m sure all readers are curious to know more about after reading The Sunken Realm’s epilogue! Unfortunately, I have to put all-things-E’veria-and-Seahorse-Pirates on the back burner to work on other projects right now.
Do you have a favorite character? What is it that you like most about him/her?
Serena: Cazien. I just . . . can’t . . . even. Cazien.
Do you write by hand or type on a computer?
Is your writing inspired by other authors?
Serena: If there is an author out there who would say “no” to that question, they’re a liar, in my opinion. My LIFE is inspired by other authors, so of course that inspiration filters into my work. Every now and then, you will find a subtle homage to an author or fictional character through a bit of dialogue or some other element of a scene. For those who love Shakespeare, you may find quite a few *subtle* parallels, especially in The Seahorse Legacy and The Sunken Realm. From the beginning, Erielle and Cazien have been very like Beatrice and Benedick (Much Ado About Nothing) in my mind with some The Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It thrown into their personalities and interactions, too.
Did any inspiration come from movies? I know that Killian Jones from Once Upon a Time reminds me of Cazien. Did Will Turner from Pirates of the Caribbean give you any inspiration for Cazien?
Serena: Hmmm… probably? But nothing I can put my finger on for main characters. One minor character in The Remedy, Taef, was inspired by Michael Keaton’s portrayal of “Dogberry” in Kenneth Branagh’s production of Much Ado About Nothing.
Cazien and the Seahorse Pirates were fully created in my head (and on the page in an as of yet unpublished prequel story to The Ryn–at least in first draft form) before OUAT even premiered, so although readers have noted similarities, Hook, as lively and lovely as he is, was not my inspiration. Cazien simply allowed me to transcribe as he dictated his own piratical personality. *winks* I will say that the Seahorse Pirate ideology is based on the legends and stories of Robin Hood, and I adore the late 80s Kevin Costner film, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the Keira Knightley film Princess of Thieves, in which she plays an aging Robin Hood’s daughter.
I love action films–L.O.V.E–and I watched a LOT of them, especially those with sword combat, to try to get the tactics right for the Tournament of the Twelve in The Sunken Realm. I do enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean films (and those soundtracks! GAH!) but Will Turner played no part of my inspiration for Cazien. None. (But I agree he’s adorable–just not Caz.) Cazien developed, over time, from his first incarnation in an early draft of The Ryn… in which he was a bad guy–a true villain! I’m so glad he wouldn’t let me keep him that way!
Is there anything else you would like to say about this series?
Serena: I hope readers will give the Eyes of E’veria series a try… understanding that the first two books are a sweet, romantic, mostly PG adventure, but the second two books are rather snarky and violent–more PG-13 content. I’ve sometimes wondered if I should have made them two separate series, but… nah. Variety is the spice of life and all that. (There’s a little of that Caz-in-me, coming out!) Thanks for having me on your blog, Rebecca!