Today is my absolute honor and pleasure to introduce an amazing writer and my dear friend, Angela B. Chrysler.
She is a kick ass person and even more kick ass author. Her imagination and her writing is like watching a master weaving thousand different colored yarns into a gorgeous and fluid canvas. Her imagery is so vivid, you can pretty much smell the fresh air of the Norwegian mountains and feel the brisk air whipping your hair around your face.
Her fantasy book, Dolor & Shadow, is a beautiful and rich fantasy saga ( reminds me a bit of LOTR, if Tolkien focused solely on elves, their songs and legends ).
Angela also just released her memoir, called Broken, which I was very fortunate to read as a beta reader. There were so many feelings and tears and emotions that rippled through me over and over and made me realize how much we have in common and how strong of a person she is for writing it all down and letting all the anguish out.
I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I have. Happy reading and make sure to check her books and catch up with her on social media below.
Thank you so much for having me, Stani.
1. When/where did you come up with the story for Dolor & Shadow?
I wasn’t anywhere spectacular. I had made up my mind to be a novelist, but wasn’t sure which genre to write in so, I read a number of books from all genres. It was romance that sparked my idea. I was so angry at a feeble heroine, that I created Kallan in retaliation. It was 2007 and I was standing in my living room. I declared it to the empty room.
Dolor and Shadow began as a badly written romance. I mean…it was bad. So bad that I re-wrote it (95,000 words). After I re-wrote it, I realized how much better it was despite how horrible it still was (105,000 words). The year was 2009. I re-wrote it again. By the end of the second re-write (150,000 words), I had carved out the beginnings of a pretty epic saga…but if Tales of the Drui was to live up to its full potential, I needed to drop the romance and embrace the fantasy genre.
That was the hardest decisions to make for Dolor and Shadow. I had a wonderful romance, but an epic fantasy. Both genres brought the other down, preventing it to be great in its own genre. I had to commit to one. In the end, I realized the kind of book I was writing would not appease romance fans.
By the end of the fourth edition, it was 2012 and my word count was up to 200,000 words. But I wasn’t done. Over seven years, I would write Dolor and Shadow five times. The final product would be 270,000 words.
In 2014, I cut the book in half and cleaned up the final edition of Dolor and Shadow, which you can now purchase at 160,000 words. The second book (Lorlenalin’s Lies) is really part #2 of the same book and has 120,000 words awaiting my red pen, who I fondly call “Bloody Mary.”
2. What inspired you to write this particular book/series?
You mean after my tantrum in which I created Kallan out of spite? It was Norway. The more research I did for Norse Mythology and the Norsemen who went a-viking, the more I fell in love with Scandinavia. Norway stole my heart, and more than I ever I wanted to revive her history and honor her culture.
It’s weird. In 2007 I didn’t wake up one morning seeing the whole series. I only saw Kallan in Norway. Then I saw Kallan in Norway with Seidr. A few weeks later, I saw Kallan in Norway with Seidr and Rune. Every few weeks, I saw a little bit more to the puzzle. As if I was an archeologist with a little brush, eroding a little piece at a time. So many times I said, “Whoa! Wouldn’t it be cool if—?” I shared the thought with my husband who went, “Whoa! Bodacious!” (We are so children of the ‘80’s). We approved the idea on a high five (seriously. We high fived a lot of things into initiation for the book) and then I wrote it in.
3. Can you tell us a little more about your main hero/heroine? Who they are, what drives them?
Kallan. Sweet Kallan. She is the adored princess of the elven race, the Dokkalfar of Lorlenalin. Readers watch her evolve into the queen she becomes. I see her as such a small child missing her mother and blaming herself for failing to save her. I see the small child vowing to be stronger. So strong she can stop death. So strong, she will never fail to save someone she loves ever again. But she fails to save the children…and her father. She fails to save Svenn and…I will say no more.
Kallan’s greatest weakness is accepting her own weakness.
Rune. I love Rune. He really came into his own only months ago! I mean really! It’s July. This last January, I was writing changes into Rune and shaping him. That was one of my moments with my husband where we high fived the idea into the book. Rune is the King of Gunir who has one enemy, one thing he vows to destroy and that is the Shadow. It plagues his family, haunts him across the centuries. It killed his mother, destroyed his father, and consumed his brother. Rune sees the Shadow inside Kallan and his only goal is to seek it out and destroy it…if only Kallan would let him.
Bergen isn’t a main character in Dolor and Shadow, but he is the main character for Tales of the Drui. He is the third to my trifecta. He is the Hans of my Luke and Leia. Bergen is driven by one thing…one main goal that I can’t share with you, but is hinted at in Chapter 30. Bergen’s story is truly my favorite and is told in a separate series in depth. That first book is due out this winter.
4. What is the craziest thing you had to research for a story?
LOL…Oh, this brought back such wonderful memories! I had to research how to torture someone. The history of Persia. Nepal! Researching the history of ancient Nepal! There was reindeer herding and the day I watched a man drink fresh reindeer blood on Youtube.
Grouse hunting and oh! The Dippers! Fat little round birds in the UK that jump into the water like little balls. So funny. They jump back out again as if they are “dipping” into the water. We don’t have anything like those here in the States.
Craziest thing though? One thing comes to mind. I was researching the neighboring countries in the 10th century. While Denmark and Norway warred with England, I stumbled upon this Duke of Bohemia, who was loved by his people. For political reasons he was martyred in the 10th century…by his brother…on the feast of Saint Stephen. The Duke’s name was Wenceslaus.
I couldn’t stop singing the carol, “Good King Wenceslaus” for all the month of July 2014.
5. You are releasing a memoir pretty soon, called Broken. What was the major difference between writing Dolor & Shadow and writing Broken?
Wow. Comparing those two experiences is like comparing the similarities to eating an apple and a smashing a 1975 anniversary corvette.
Dolor and Shadow was a seven-year fictional realm I structured around historical accuracy in third person. My writing toggled between historical truth and fictional freedom. I could elaborate on the imagery and adored entering that realm to bring it to life. Dolor was a long, arduous journey that was all about endurance. I spent seven years jumping between Norway and Under Earth and adoring every moment.
But Broken…Broken I wrote in two weeks. It was emotionally taxing. There was no planning or plotting. I just sat down and wrote what I remembered. I recorded the conversations I was having with Angel, Erik, and Bergen (Ian) while I spoke to William. I wrote Broken with all the names, places, and relationships in all the right places then went back when it was finished and changed the names, places, and relationships to protect the identity of the characters.
With Dolor, there was no worry about the reception. With Broken, I worry about certain people and their response to Broken.
With Dolor, my imagination and creativity was pushed to their limits. With Broken, my mental health was pushed to the limit. With Dolor, I gleefully dove into the realms. With Broken, I lived in a two-week flashback that sent me spiraling into the abyss of my psyche. It’s a dramatic way of putting it, but it’s accurate.
How do I explain hell to those who have never seen it? Imagine your worst nightmare, only it is very real and you can’t get away not even if you wake. Imagine seeing and feeling that nightmare for two weeks straight, and its real. That is what it was like writing Broken.
6. How were you able to “distance” yourself as a writer in order to write Broken?
I didn’t distance myself to write Broken. That is part of my mental issues, my dissociation, my PTSD. In my mind, I relived every horror while writing Broken. I truly spiral down into my subconscious where I spoke to my ID. Under stress, I dissociate myself from the reality around me and relive the horror too well. I distance myself from the calm around me because in my head, the calm is dangerous. The calm is an illusion that will hurt me more than the pain. I know what to do with pain. I don my emotional armor and I go to war. But calm? I have no idea what to do with calm.
I did not write Broken from the distance view of a writer. I wrote Broken as if I was still laying, curled up on the floor of a bomb shelter in ‘Nam and you’re wondering if you’re going to be next.
7. Who/What inspired you to start writing?
A month ago, I would have avoided this question or tiptoed around it with a shallow half answer. Today, I can finally speak the truth. What inspired me to write was the trauma in my life. It feels so good being free to finally say that!
I wrote to escape the trauma and to cope with it. I started writing during the years I was beaten, and I wrote letters to Erik. Those letters really is what got me through the hardest of times. It made me feel a lot less alone. Through those letters, I could convince myself that someone loved me. Then I started writing poems, music, ballads, musicals…
By 1998 I was writing my first novel (not in print). I still have everything I ever wrote. Some of it is posted on my site. It reflects so much described in Broken. Writing was one of the few things I used to cope. There were days, it was all I had.
8.What was the hardest part about writing Broken for you?
Sharing it with others. Risking being called a liar…again…and not being believed all over again. Not being heard…again. Keeping these horrors a secret is easy. No. Not easy. A victim of abuse must choose to hold their secret and be alone with the horror of the trauma, or risk sharing it and being called a liar. In my case, it was easier to keep my secret and endure loneliness, than share my horrors with others and risk ridicule. There are some, who would look at me and call me a liar because they remember my life differently. It isn’t right having others look at your life and judge your perspective when they never once lived or experienced my view. They had no right to tell me my experiences were not as bad as I say they were.
Earlier you asked me why I started to write. Before Broken, my answer would have been a lie I told you to hide my past. Now? *smile* Now I can tell you the truth. I wrote to mentally survive the abuse I endured.
The hardest part of it all, the experience, the denial, the brainwashing, the therapy, the flashbacks…the hardest part truly is living with all my secrets buried deep inside of me where no one…not my mother, my father, not my sister…not even my husband (and best friend) knew. The hardest part, was being completely alone with such horror.
I am tired of the mask, the lies, and the façade. Mostly, I am tired of avoiding my past in daily conversations with people. By coming out and speaking the truth, I am now free to say yes, I was raped. I was beaten. I was tortured and I shared a part of my abuse with animals. I chose being raped to protect the animals who I loved from being tortured (The rapes were easier). It was the least I could do for them after everything they did for me. I was mentally imprisoned by a pedophile for five years. Where were you when the world World Trade Center fell? I was raped while 3,000 people died. I’m free to finally say that out loud.
9. The best advice for people who want to (or thinking about ) writing a memoir?
Be honest. Just tell the truth. And do it for you. Not for the reader, the abuser, or the world. Write it for you because you need to. Don’t be afraid to censor the gruesome parts for virgin ears. Too many memoirs skip the “ugly” parts. And check with an attorney on memoir disclaimers. So very…very important.
10. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Finding the rhythm, and maintaining the flow once you find it. It’s such a beautiful thing to be taken away with your own heart, word, and world and then coming out of that trance to see what you’ve created.
11. What is the best part about being an author for you?
The people! The hours I keep! The freedom. My mental conditions prevent me from getting a normal job or holding one. Being a write allows me such freedoms.
10. What motivates you to write?
The muse. Calliope. That pesky urge that sits in your head filling up with ideas until you lose sleep and can’t eat.
12. What is your writing schedule like?
Of late? I am on sabbatical while I focus on my therapy as the release of Broken requires my attention. Releasing Broken has…brought up a lot of memories I forgot…memories that didn’t get added to Broken because I buried them too deep to remember at that time. I spend much of my time at appointments, in the garden and turning my home into a “spa.” Enya plays, candles are lit, and I surround myself with books and cats. The gardens surround the house and there is no screaming. Anything I can do to keep a quiet household. My husband and I both have PTSD and sound is one of my triggers.
Ideally, I prefer writing from 7 A.M. to 5 P.M. I will probably resume that work schedule in September when children return to school and Broken releases. Around that time, I plan to begin recording the Dolor and Shadow audio book.
13. Why did you choose the indie route ( in my humble opinion your writing is pretty awesome for being traditionally published )? What is the best part about being an indie author for you?
Thank you, Stanislava *grin* Time was my only reason. Assume I do find an agent/publisher right off, I still wouldn’t see my book release date for another two years after that. It roughly takes two years to find an agent, sign onto a publisher, build the book, edit, illustrate, and release. In two years, I can sell a lot of books. And, in some cases, after those two years, the deal could fall through and you could be back to square one having lost all that time. Furthermore, I would have to contend with the “death clock,” the three-week period an author has to turn their new release into a bestseller on the physical bookshelf before book sellers pull it from the shelves and return it to the publisher. If that happens, in most cases, the publisher destroys your book or ships it to a warehouse where it sits forgotten.
As an indie author, I’m the boss. I get right down to the business and I wallow in the print on demand feature! I also get to sell my books for less and earn more than if a publisher distributed for me.
I started writing Broken on 7 March 2015. It will release on 11 September 2015. In six months, I conceived an idea and turned it into a high quality paperback available on Amazon. Only indie authors can pull that off.
14. When did you realize you want to be a writer?
When I first saw my name in print through a vanity press back in 2007.
15. Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?
Singing. I love singing. So…so much. I was trained vocally and being able to sing opera, musicals, Sondheim…I love singing Bernstein. Such challenging melodies. Singing was an additional solace I had growing up.
16. Can you recommend a book that completely blew you away in recent months?
Yes! Odin’s Shadow by Erin Riley! Amazingly accurate! Loved it and the topic is right up my alley!
Ok, so this part is pick one or the other in the question. You can totally elaborate why, or just leave it at that.
Author’s interview game :
1. Writing in First person or third person?
Depends on my mood.
2. Killing your book darlings. Fun or No fun?
Fun until it’s over. Then I cry.
3. Twilight or Hunger games?
Jean Luc Picard.
– This really made me laugh out loud! –
4. Harry Potter or LOTR?
Harry Baggins. LOTR movies. Harry Potter books.
5. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Star Trek…but barely.
6. Favorite book?
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux published in 1911.
7. Favorite movie?
Twelve Angry Men. – I loooove this one –
8. Favorite TV show?
The Walking Dead (now) M*A*S*H (always)
9. Favorite Character (book, movie or TV show )?
Monkey D. Luffy from the anime One Piece! He makes me laugh when he’s silly. He leaves me speechless when he’s angry. He makes me cry when he cries. You meet that boy and you must cheer him on.
10. Possessing magic or futuristic science-fiction science?
11. Favorite place to live ( real or fictional)?
Under Earth. Tipperary, Ireland. Right where I am in New York.
12. Kill, Marry, Kiss ( If you could Kill, Marry or Kiss anyone (real, fictional, live or dead) who would they be? )
Kill Dolores Umbridge…over and over and over.
Marry Dorian Grey (I know…I’m sick)
Kiss Bergen. -Ohhhh, I want to kiss Bergen, too!! –
Thank you very much, Angela, for taking the time and answering my many questions. I had absolute blast reading them.
Amazon Author’s page & Books :
Angela’s Social Media :
Check out the beautifully haunting book trailer for Broken :
And a quick message from Angela at the end :
I am currently offering ARCS (Advanced Reader Copies) for “Broken” to the first six offers. Contact me to receive a free PDF, DOC, or DOCX.
I am offering the free eBook of Dolor and Shadow to anyone who is willing to leave a review. Contact me for details.
Again, thank you very much, Angela for your time and for this great interview!
Keep on reading, my friends and see you next time!
With the warmest Aloha,
Angela B. Chrysler