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Wild Heart Of The ATX

An interview with Austin, Texas author Erica Sebree

By Ashley McGeePublished 8 months ago 9 min read
From the blog of Erica Sebree,

Over on Dark Corners Blog, we're hosting a summer reading series devoted to staying sane in this Gawd awful Texas sun. With temperatures climbing into the low 100s, we're in desperate need of some relief!

Local author Erica Sebree released book 2 of the Wild Hearts saga, Wild Heart Of The Crown, in April. It was still cool in the mornings. I guess Erica decided we need to get cozy. And before I knew it, Summer was in full swing and I was neck deep into the Wild Hearts novels!

You can read the full review for Wild Heart Of The Crown here:

If you're into Celtic fantasy and love a diverse character cast and female lead, these are not to be missed! Book 3 is in the works.

Whether you've read the first two or are just now hearing about them, you're in for a treat because we sat down with our lovely neighbor and took a walk on the Wild side! Erica Sebree talks process and experience, takes a deep dive into the characters, and even offers a sneak peek at what we can expect in book 3, all in our exclusive Dark Corners Blog interview! I'll let Erica take it from here!

Wild Heart Of the Author

Q: I understand you’re a graphic designer in the non-profit space. Inquiring authors want to know: how long did it take to write the first two novels of the Wild Hearts Saga? What, if any, barriers did you face while working on your novels, and can you tell us anything about your process and how you balance working what is essentially a second job while holding a day job?

A: Including the time it took to outline, each novel took about a year. My outlines are very extensive, but all the time spent on the story ahead of time means I’m less likely to encounter writer’s block and makes editing quite a bit easier. Given that this is a side job, it can be difficult to find time to write. But I’ve found that there are many aspects to the writing/publishing process—some are creative, while others are more analytical—so I focus on the task that fits best with my energy level and/or creative drive in the moment.

Q: Your series is marketed as a Celtic Fantasy. Do you have any favorite Celtic Fantasy series that you would recommend?

Adjacent question: We can all name the contemporary white male authors of popular Fantasy Fiction, but are there any particular indie published authors, women, LGBTQIA+, or authors of color that you’ve read that you would recommend?

A: Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of romance (mostly queer). I blame the pandemic for my desire to escape into a story with a guaranteed HEA. But I still have my favorite fantasy/sci-fi authors, and their new releases will always be added to my TBR list. Here are a few: Karen Marie Moning, Naomi Novik, S.A. Chakraborty, Samantha Shannon, Elise Kova, Ann Aguirre.

Q: I know that we can all pinpoint the authors that made us want to become writers ourselves, but who we end up becoming as an author is shaped by more than our inspiration.

If you can recall them, which authors inspired you, and if you can put a finger on it, which author or authors, creatives, or other folks would you say actually had the most influence on your work, consciously or unconsciously?

A: I was, of course, influenced by the authors above. But the book that actually convinced me that I could write my own book was Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I also learned a great writing tip from Neil Gaiman in one of the corresponding Big Magic podcasts. He said that when he sits down to write, he can either write or look out the window. While I have animals that will demand my attention no matter what, I’ve found that my bedroom (at night) is the best location because there’s no TV, the kitchen isn’t within view, and the curtains are closed. So when I can’t come up with the next sentence, there’s only a wall with a few paintings to look at. As simple as that may seem, it really works for me. Also required: a comfortable chair or cushion.

Q: Rejection is part and parcel of a writing career. Has any of your work—not just your novels—ever been rejected and can you tell us how you dealt with it?

A: So much rejection! It’s hard to be an author—or an artist with any work that’s public-facing—without experiencing a fair amount of rejection. But I wasn’t prepared for how gutted I’d feel with every rejection I received. Even when responses aren’t personalized, they still hurt. So after I’d queried over a hundred agents and smaller publishers (with no offers), I decided it was time to move forward with indie publishing. And I’m really glad I did! I can’t even begin to describe how beneficial that decision was for my mental health. Plus, I have creative control over EVERYTHING. There are some less-than-ideal parts to indie publishing—like teaching myself coding for the ebooks and paying upfront for editing and cover design—but it’s definitely the best path for me.

Q: Representation and inclusivity creates a safe space not only for new authors but for under-represented readers as well, yet the Twitters remain abuzz with folks polling about the importance and use of queer and gender non-conforming characters in novels as a way to normalize non-traditional relationships. Without getting too personal (though you may if so choose), is there any statement to be inferred from your queer characters? Did you feel compelled by the market or any other third party to create queer or gender non-conforming characters, or did they emerge organically?

I always intended to have queer characters in my books, specifically Cora (Tearlach’s former betrothed) and Cahir (mentioned in the Altan war room scene). The reasons that neither were identified that way in book one are two-fold. 1. Esme needed to have other assumptions about Cora. 2. When I wrote book one, I didn’t feel (as an ally) that I could represent those characters fully. But as I became more confident in my writing ability, and realized that my role as an ally means I NEED to make sure people (especially those in LGBTQ+ community) know that the world I’ve created is a safe space for all.

The Wild Hearts Saga--Spoilers Ahead!

By Anna Gru on Unsplash

Q: To get into the novels a little more, I knew the moment he burst onto the scene that Tearlach was going to have a huge role to play in Esme’s future. I admit I shipped them very hard while reading the first novel. Does Tearlach resemble anyone in real life, or is he merely the hero of our dreams?

A: I’m sad to say that Tearlach is completely fictional. His character is based on qualities I find intriguing and frustrating. In book one, specifically, he needed to be unapproachable enough that no one would think it odd that he always kept to himself in such a small town. And you may have noticed: he’s a man of few words. In real life, I find that quality incredibly frustrating. Esme does too! But because he only reveals what’s necessary, conversations between them bring about delightful tension and force Esme to decide whether she can trust him with her life. Or her heart.

Q: Has anyone else ever told you they feel bad for Carrick?

A: I love Carrick! He definitely got a tough break in book one. I’ll admit, that wasn’t what I’d originally intended for his storyline. And…he might show up again.

Q: The Priestesses of the Order are care-givers for the land. They remind me of Druids, but are all female. Is the natural order maintained by the sacred feminine a purposeful detail, or am I reading too much into it?

A: Feminism is vitally important to me. Really, it’s just another word for equality, so it should be important to every human. Because of the struggles that persist, I want to make sure that the women in my stories are powerful both in mind and in magic. And despite the underlying patriarchy of the kingdom’s government, women really do hold most of the power in Tremaene.

Q: The characters all have some aspect of elemental magic that they can call on, either to ease their toil in day-to-day routine, or to aid them in combat. Yet actual manifestation of the elements is not each individual’s only power. Each element imbues the character with other latent talents (what we call passive talents in the tabletop gaming world). Do these have their roots in Celtic myth, or were these inspired by something else?

A: For the individual magic that seems non-elemental, I drew on lore, mysticism, astrology, and other fantasy worlds. All of the “extra” abilities stem from the element that the character has a relationship with. For example: mental abilities (like detecting lies) is a variation of air magic.

Q: I gravitate immediately to Captain Sullivan and I imagine he has a kindly nature and wisdom about him. I thought the question of Esme’s parentage to be a bit overt, but it also brought up another point. Esme’s mother is pivotal to the unfolding secrets of Tremaene’s past, but we get almost nothing of Esme’s father, who I always assumed was King, and who took Esme’s mother as wife after the war. Will we be hearing more about Esme’s father in the coming novel?

A: I always saw Sully as a guardian figure to Esme, that became more fatherly after her parents were killed. Esme’s father was a good parent and a good king (whose name readers will finally learn in book three), but it was Erena who made him a great king. As I mentioned, the females in this world hold the real power, even if they don’t hold the highest positions or titles. After all, it was Erena (before she became queen) who managed to trap Lord Luxovious and end the dark war.

Q: Is there anything else you can tell us at all about what to expect in the third novel?

A: The main quest to restore magic to the land reaches its conclusion in the third book. But expectations and plans are upended as Esme enlists the help of the unordained priestesses to stave off further barrenness while she seeks the missing pieces of the orbs that gave rise—and, quite literally, power—to the Order. The trust she has in her guards and her councilors continues to be tested as new characters arrive to shake up her relationships. Lord Luxovious makes a few unsettling appearances…in one form or another. And he’s not the only one thwarting her plans, and her vision for the future of Tremaene.

Wild Heart Of The Journey

We have so much mad respect for Erica Sebree and we are so thankful and grateful to her for both the advanced reader copy of Wild Heart Of The Crown and for chatting with us about her journey as a writer, the novels, and the excitement to come. The city of Austin couldn't be more proud of its local authors, especially our authors working hard in genre fiction. Erica deserves a wide readership and we have no doubt great things are still to come.

And in case anyone thought I was joking, I really did name my Diablo IV sorcerer after one of her characters.

My lvl 25 sorcerer, Tearlach

I don't remember giving him a scraggly beard. I think life on the road is taking its toll on him.

You can order the Wild Hearts saga here!


About the Creator

Ashley McGee

Austin, TX | GrimDark, Fantasy, Horror, Western, and nonfiction | Amazon affiliate and Vocal Ambassador | Tips and hearts appreciated! | Want to see more from me? Consider dropping me a pledge! | RIP Jason David Frank!

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  • Jen W.8 months ago

    Oh I love these books and I loved this article! Such thoughtful questions and answers!

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