C. B. Lyall
Wilf Gilvary Series
The Virus of Beauty
What inspired your most recent book?
The Wilf Gilvary Series deals with a society being out of balance and therefore destroying their realm and magic. I think it reflexes our current situation.
What was the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Writing in three points of view and making each character their own unique person.
What was the hardest scene or character to write in your most recent book?
Katryna was/is the hardest character to write. I want her to be strong but she frequently wants to rely on others to help her. Myra is complicated and flawed, and keeps getting more interesting.
Do you remember the moment (or person who inspired it) in your life that you knew you were going to be a writer?
I've always written. My first long piece was at aged 10 when I wrote a play for my class to perform. It didn't happen, but I enjoyed the creative process.
Tell us your favourite character you’ve created.
Ermentrude. She's a no-nonscence, middle aged witch with attitude and a desire to see change.
What was the first thing you learnt as an indie author that has never failed you?
Keep looking for opportunities to publish. They are out there, but you have to be willing to put in the work.
How do your books differ from each other?
I currently have the second book of the Wilf Series with my editor. These are YA fantasy novels. I'm also working on a historical romance. In fantasy I can create my own world and laws, but with historical fiction you have to incorporate detials from research actual events and setting.
How has your life or work experience influenced your work?
I worked in Information Technology and this has been extremely helpful. I've also lived in many very different countries and experienced how we develop or fail in new demanding environments. Some meet this as a challenge, others end up being swamped.
Do you use a lot of personal experience in your books, or do you try to write objectively?
My view of life has been derived from my personal experiences so when I write it seems natural that they would surface in my characters.
Have you ever written a story from a dream?
I'm not sure. I've woken with ideas and jotted them down, but I've never received a full story in a dream.
What genre that you haven’t tried already would you like to?
Mystery. I love watching murder mysteries.
Do you base characters on people you know?
There will be tracts I've noticed in people that I'll add to characters, but no one character is fully a person I know.
Do you do a lot of research and why, or if not, why not?
I've spent a lot of time researching for my historical romance set at the turn of the 19th century. It's about Emigratin Associations who encouraged young women to leave Britain and populate the Colonies.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
On Novel Courses at The Writing Institute at Sarah Lawrence College. The Institute is very supportive to writers in the community.
What does literary success look like to you?
Being described by others in the industry as a talented author.
Did you ever consider a pseudonym?
I write under C. B. Lyall. That is probably as close as I'll come to using a pseudonym.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
No. It's never even occurred to me.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Yes I read reviews. I try not to take the bad ones too much to heart. Love good ones.
Do you prefer fiction, non-fiction or both?
I write fiction, but read both fiction and non-fiction.
Do you try more to be original or pander to readers’ wants?
I try to be original. Although I've been told that writing romance there has to be a happy ending.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
I like writing series. My YA fantansy is a trilogy. The historical romance will be stand alone, but I'm thinking there will be a thread to link four books.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Totally. I wouldn't be able to write without their support.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
When I first began reading series I loved how the characters developed and grew in fantasy.
Have you read anything that made you think differently about non-fiction?
I think everytime I read non-fiction I learn. I recently read "White Fragility, Leadership in Turbulent Times and Blowout". There were moments in each book when I had my thinking changed.
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Publishing my first book and seeing it on book shelves is a rush of emotion. Then you realize that you know nothing about marketing a book and need to learn quickly. I now have to more time on social media than I used to. I also learned to podcast, which has been useful since COVID cancelled all in-person readings.
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
I try to respond to reader requests quickly. I would like readers to post reviews, and will ask on social media, but otherwise I don't think I make demands on my readers.
How do you feel when you start a book, in the middle, and when you finish?
When I start a book I'm always excited and full of ideas. I love the discoveries about who the characters are and their relationships. In the middle of a first draft I'm usually trying to keep to the road map I've created and logging word count. Then end I'm back to excited to finish and let the characters rest for a while. They have usually been through quite an ordeal.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I research on-line and then write. If the name isn't working I'll change it.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My first novel took three years. My second has taken me a year.
How many hours a day do you write?
I like to write in the afternoon for about three or four hours.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I had undiagnosed dyslexia as a child. Receiving the intervention my son had would have made my writing life very different.
If you have a day job or family commitment, how do you work writing into it?
When my sons were at home I used to write in the early morning for a couple of hours before they woke.
Do you have a favourite literary magazine or website that’s excellent for indie authors?
Booktrip.com and Publishers Weekly.
What’s been your best experience navigating through indie authoring?
Finding the Alliance of Independent Authors. They have very active chat groups and resources.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I'm in a group of five writers. They are my first readers for stories and novels. We support each other.
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