T. L. Shreffler is a noblewoman living in the sunny acres of San Fernando Valley, California. She enjoys frolicking through meadows, sipping iced tea, exploring the unknown reaches of her homeland and unearthing rare artifacts in thrift stores. She holds a Bachelors in Eloquence (English) and writes YA Fantasy, Paranormal Romance and poetry. She has previously been published in Eclipse: A Literary Anthology and The Northridge Review.
Me: Have you always been a writer, and do you remember some of the first stories you ever wrote?
Shreffler: I've always been a writer. My first story I wrote in about 4th grade. It was called Two Lives and it was about a girl who dies "too young to go to Heaven" and so she is reincarnated into a wolf. The story was 10 chapters long with each chapter about 1 page in length.
Me: That's impressive, especially considering how old you were. What inspiration helped you create The Cat’s Eye Chronicles?
Shreffler: The Cat's Eye Chronicles all started when I found a cats-eye marble necklace from a vending machine. The magical cats-eye marble became inspiration for the necklace in the books. I've always been a big fan of adventure stories, some of my early favorites being The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien and Redwall by Brian Jacques. Stemming from the cats-eye marble necklace, I began to imagine an entire world of exotic races, magic, and as much adventure as my young mind could hold. Before long, The Cat's Eye Chronicles were born.
Me: Talk to me about Sora and Crash. Did you know who they were before you started writing or did their development surprise you?
Shreffler: A bit of both, I'd say....Most authors have an idea of their main characters' "story arc"...primarily what their character learns by the end of the story. Crash and Sora surprised me the most at the end of Volcrian's Hunt. I thought the ending of VH would resolve their romance for sure, but quite the opposite happened.... They are inevitably drawn to each other, and yet because of Crash's closed-off nature and Sora's innocence, actually getting the two of them "together" is difficult. I feel like for their love to be genuine, they each have a lot more growth to do as characters.
Me: I, for one, am extremely glad you felt that way for several reasons. First of all, I am thrilled to have more books to read, but also I think Crash's development has almost been a labor of love as far as claiming his own humanity. With everything he has been through, I don't think allowing Crash and Sora to live happily ever after at the end of book three would have been realistic or even believable. What other books have you published, and what are they about?
Shreffler: Besides The Cat's Eye Chronicles, I have a paranormal romance series called The Wolves of Black River, which is a grittier take on the werewolf romance genre. I also have a soon-to-be released dragon hunter series called The Dragon Pearl. The first book is called The White. Find out more here: www.dragonpearlseries.com
Me: *Rubs hands together in excitement* I gotta get my hands on these other books. How did you develop the world in which The Cat’s Eye Chronicles takes place?
Shreffler: The Cat's Eye Chronicles has existed in various forms over the past 13 years, so the world itself has had plenty of time to grow and fully develop. It's been influenced by numerous video games, anime series, fantasy books, and anthropology classes taken at college. I modeled the human world loosely off of France in the 1700s (Rococo) period. The Sixth Race and their traditions are modeled somewhat after Chinese kung fu and Buddhism. All of the races in the books are based off of different cultures in the real world.
Me: Fascinating! That must have been interesting and possibly a bit overwhelming to research. What are the differences between writing fantasy and writing paranormal romance? Are there technical writing differences?
Shreffler: Huge differences exist between fantasy and paranormal romance. In fantasy, especially "high fantasy" where a brand new world is imagined, a lot of time and research goes into the world building, and it's easy to lose track of small details. Paranormal romance is often set in the real world, so the world building is not quite as involved. Also, in PR (or any kind of romance book) there is formula involved--boy meets girl, boy and girl experience strife, boy and girl overcome obstacles, boy and girl get together.
Fantasy is primarily based on hero stories that include the main character overcoming some great evil, and other themes such as romance, mystery or adventure are often secondary themes to the primary hero story.
Me: Many authors stick to only one genre of writing due to the various nuances each genre presents. I find it impressive that you've tackled both fantasy and paranormal romance and managed to navigate them both so successfully. It's not that easy folks! Not that easy! Take a page from your life and share with us what you are up to at any given moment.
Shreffler: At this exact moment, I am sitting in the lobby of a Best Western hotel. I wish I was somewhere exotic touring with my books, but alas, I work the front desk at the hotel 3 days a week. I am the only one on shift with about 60 guests occupying the floors above me. A large Jamaican family argues nearby about which Hollywood tourist attraction they are going to see. An old woman with a thick British accent stands near the elevator. A young French girl just asked me for change so she can run the laundry machine down the hall. Endless faces, most of them new, a few familiar, and everyone moving about in excitement for the day to come....
Me: I love asking authors that question. I always know that whatever the response, I could most likely start the first chapter of a book with it. I love learning that you work at a Best Western. Do you have any quirky obsessions that we all need to learn about, and then adopt as our own? Example: My obsessive need to discover new and enticing chocolate desserts.
Shreffler: I have a few quirks, but not as many obsessions...I hardly ever match my socks...I read the last page first of most paperback books...I don't have a sweet tooth and I don't like things that are too sugary...
Me: I should probably hang out with you then. If I associated with people who hardly ever consumed things that were too sugary, I'd probably fit into my pants with a little less grunting and wheezing. What steps did you take to improve your creative writing skills?
Shreffler: I hold a BA in Creative Writing. Over the course of my major I attended many, many writing workshops. I also read a lot of books about writing, and I write at least once a day, whether it's in a journal, a blog, a story, or a poem.
Me: What kind of marketing techniques do you feel are the most worthwhile and time efficient?
Shreffler: The perma-free marketing tactic (in which one puts the first book in a series up for free) has worked wonderfully for me. I've tried many other techniques such as sales and mailing lists, but putting an entire book up for free has made the most impact by far.
Me: Tell us about your own writing process. Are you a pantser or a planner?
Shreffler: I am definitely a planner. Everything from character arcs, plot outlines, world building and other details are usually pre-planned. However, that doesn't mean some spontaneity works its way into my work. Inevitably, the best ideas always seem to happen in the moment...and outlines can always be rewritten. ;)
Me: What is the most rewarding thing about being an author?
Shreffler: Sharing one's inner imagination with complete strangers from around the world...putting pen to paper on that first page...typing that last sentence before The End...Always living with one foot in reality, and the rest of me in a fantasy...are all incredibly rewarding parts of the author experience.
Me: What is the most challenging thing about being an author?
Shreffler: Deadlines, for sure....I can't count how many times I thought a book was almost finished, only to realize I had to rewrite something in the middle, or that I hated the ending, or that the plot wasn't as resolved as I thought. The creative process is hard to predict!
Me: To that I say, "Amen!" Are there any new releases, projects or events coming up that you would like to share with us? Tell us a bit about the fourth book in your series.
Shreffler: I just released Ferran's Map, Book 4 in my wonderfully popular The Cat's Eye Chronicles series. I'm also working on the first book in a dragon hunter series entitled The White. It can be found here on Goodreads. You can read an excerpt at www.dragonpearlseries.com.
Me: If you could have a nice hot cup of chocolate and a chat with anyone dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Shreffler: I would like to drink hot chocolate while picking the brain of Oscar Wilde. I always imagine him to be a very sarcastic and unpleasant fellow in person...though a marvelous writer, of course!
Thanks to T. L. Shreffler for a wonderful interview, and for allowing me to participate in her book tour. Don't hesitate to jump into this fun fantasy series. I promise you loads of adventure, plenty of escapism, new races, cultures and characters to either love or hate, and above all, a fantastic series to sink your teeth into.
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