Today it is my pleasure to welcome a new writer to my Spell Caster segment, Lyla Bardan. I read her story “On Par with a Fairy” while I was enjoying the last bit of sunshine of the year, before it got cold for the holidays. It was the perfect setting for reading a magical romance about young love. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I did conducting this interview. I hope you do, too.
KARA: Hi Lyla! Thank you so much much for chatting with us today. I just finished “On Par with a Fairy” and it was a refreshing experience. Travis and Lark are adorable.
LYLA: Thank you so much! I’m so glad you enjoyed the story.
KARA: Summer romance is a great theme. Do you feel young people can fall in love at first sight or in the span of a summer in the real world?
LYLA: I definitely feel that young people can fall in love at first sight. I remember I did! And there is something so special about falling in love during summer break when everything seems less hectic and more fun (unless you have summer school! LOL).
KARA: In this story you grapple with the problems of prejudice; namely, real life class prejudice and a fictional bigotry between Humans and Fairies. What made you to tackle this particular subject?
LYLA: Every story I write contains some aspect of prejudice (classism, racism, species-ism). I don’t know if I do that consciously or if it reflects a part of my personality to try to fight prejudice. I’ve noticed that almost all of my works contain characters of mixed race or ancestry or involve relationships between different races or species. I also try to present a bit from the opposing side of the “ism” in my writing, perhaps to explain the prejudice.
KARA: Today’s YA literature often focuses on post apocalyptic sitations, threatening landscapes, and even darker motifs. “On Par with a Fairy” presents very likeable characters, like Travis and Lark, who explore their relationship realistically, despite magic also playing a part, or obstacle, in their lives. There is a sweet innocence about it. Do you feel a need to return to a more light-hearted romance, or have you also explored those darker themes that we find right now in YA fantasy literature?
LYLA: I think we need both. Sometimes, we readers (and not just teens) need a touch of innocence. Yes, we are often drawn to darker, violent themes—works that shake us to our emotional core—but sometimes a more subtle, softer work leaves us feeling fresh and lightened. It is the difference between riding a scary roller coaster and the gentle, carefree merry-go-round.
KARA: Reading the first words of your story with its mentions of Door County and Lake Michigan brought back some really wonderful memories. Your descriptions rekindled some of the joys and pleasures I had as a young adult. How has living in Wisconsin with its many changing season influenced you as a writer?
LYLA: Wisconsin is a beautiful state, full of nature and wonder. I’ve lived here for 25 years. I’m originally from the suburbs of Chicago. While sometimes I miss the lights and bluster of the big city, I am grateful to be able to see more birds on any given day in my backyard than I did over a span of years back in the Chicago area.
KARA: Is there any one particular place in Wisconsin that you would like to write about next, and why?
LYLA: I have a paranormal novel I am hoping to publish where the bulk of the action takes place in a small Wisconsin town and draws upon Wisconsin lore and landscape. I won’t mention the town here since I am not sure whether I will be using the actual name or giving it a fictional name.
KARA: Walking in the forest of our back forty, I was inspired by this feeling that there is something magical about the woods and nature of such a beautiful place. Tell me, have you experienced some interesting magic–such as coming upon a fairy ring or other enchanting moments–that just grabbed hold of you?
LYLA: Every time I walk through the woods, I feel that magic too. I can’t put my finger on it, but I think there is much more out there than we understand.
KARA: What have you learned about yourself during the process of writing “On Par with a Fairy?”
LYLA: That I really enjoy writing young adult romance! And also that no matter what our age, we never forget our first love.
KARA: In the next five years, where do you see your writing going as far as themes? What are some different subjects that you want to explore?
LYLA: I enjoy writing both for teens and adults, but my stories will never simply be “normal”. No matter what story ideas I have, there has to be a paranormal or fantasy twist. I will continue to write romances though. To me, the romantic relationship is just so powerful.
KARA: “On Par with the Fairy” is short and sweet. Are you working on novels of longer length?
LYLA: I do have one completed paranormal novel and one completed paranormal novella. And I have three novels on my works-in-progress list (one paranormal romance and two sci-fi/fantasy romances). At the moment though, I am completing another short novella, a young adult paranormal fantasy about a bike-racing girl and a young man of Fae royalty.
KARA: Are you a plotter or a pants-er? Do you outline everything before writing, or do you go by the “seat of your pants?”
LYLA: Both! Depends on the work. Sometimes, I dream the plot of a story over several nights and write down what I dream. I have typed up notes for two of my next novels. Sometimes, I just start with a concept and let the characters tell me what happens next. Unfortunately, this does mean I have started works that I don’t think will go anywhere.
KARA: Which authors have touched you as a reader?
LYLA: So many! In the young adult genre, of course J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter) and Stephenie Meyer (Twilight), but also Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game series), Garth Nix (the Abhorsen Trilogy), K.A. Applegate (Animorph series), and on the contemporary side of young adult fiction Carolyn Mackler (Love and Other Four-Letter Words; The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things) and Cecily von Ziegesar (Gossip Girl series).
In terms of paranormal romance, I love the works of Jennifer Ashley, Nina Bangs, Jayne Castle, Lora Leigh, G.A. Aiken. My all-time favorite is a fantasy/sci-fi/romance series, the Gandalara Cycle, by Randall Garrett and Vicki Ann Heydron.
KARA: In what favorite genre do you like to write? What obstacles have you found in everyday life when you are working toward your goals?
LYLA: Paranormal and fantasy romance.
My biggest obstacle is me. I get distracted easily. Oh, look, did you see that?
KARA: From your experience do you have any words of wisdom that you would like to tell writers just starting out, or seeds of knowledge that you wish you had known when beginning your writing adventure?
LYLA: Everyone always tells aspiring writers to just write. I don’t like that advice. I suggest that you not keep writing book after book, story after story, without first working on learning how to edit. Once you’ve completed a work (whether a short story, novella, or novel), join writing groups and critique groups. Get others to read your work and brace yourself for the comments. Then edit. And edit some more.
I wished I had joined the Romance Writers of America sooner than I did! I’ve learned a great deal, in particular, from my local chapter of RWA and from authors online.
KARA: Anything new you would like to add? And also, where can we find your work and follow you?
LYLA: Thank you so much for taking the time to read On Par with a Fairy and interview me on your blog!
For readers interested in purchasing On Par with a Fairy, you can purchase it directly from Boroughs Publishing Group (for $0.75) http://boroughspublishinggroup.com/books/par-fairy
Or you can purchase it from several third-party publishing sites (for $0.99), including Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/On-Par-Fairy-ebook/dp/B009PNQ5YS/
I would love to have your readers visit me and follow me…
KARA: Thank you so much, Lyla for the interview. And readers, be sure to check out and follow Lyla’s adventures and stories!