Author Spotlight – Tora Moon
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Tora Moon!
Tora Moon loves to write stories which allow the reader to journey into worlds full of magic and escape their ordinary lives for a time. Ancient cultures and religions, mythology, and folklore fascinate her and find their way into her stories.
Like most fiction authors, she fell in love with the written word and stories when she was a child. Tora writes what she loves to read: fantasy, science fantasy, with a bit of science fiction thrown in.
After a career as a Certified Public Accountant, she’s living her dream of being a full-time author. She has written five novels in her Legends of Lairheim epic fantasy series, and one non-fiction, a business and accounting book for authors. She currently lives in Southern Utah with her cat.
Thanks for joining us, Tora. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Thank you so much for having me.
Oh, man, that is a hard one. I read several books a month. As an Indie author, I try to read other Indie authors as much as possible. And let me tell you, there are some great Indie authors out there!
I just finished Lindsay Buroker’s Heritage of Power series, an addition to her Dragon Blood series. If you love dragons and quirky ones at that, this is a great series. How can you not love a dragon who thinks he’s a god, loves belly rubs, and shapeshifts into a golden ferret?
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
A reality warp, and I end up in a monster-infested dungeon? What about another world, where dragons soar or people can shapeshift?
I’ve never played D&D. But if I were to find myself in a monster-infested dungeon, I would want to be a witch with powerful magic to fight the monsters and a sword. My character, Rizelya, in Ancient Enemies, uses a helbraught, a weapon similar to a naginata (a staff with a blade on the end). She feeds her fire magic into the blade to fight and kill the monsters that plague her world. The only way to kill the new monster is to drive her helbraught blade into its head and explode it with her fire magic. This isn’t the preferred method! Her fellow fighters don’t appreciate monster bits raining down on them.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
Some days, my basement office feels like a dungeon, especially when I’m writing about fighting monsters, or in my current WIP, demons.
I do both. I do morning pages nearly every morning. I swear by them! They are a great way to clear my mind of crud from the day before, and they prime my creative pump. I’ve solved plot problems, learned the names of my characters, and discovered the storyline during my morning pages. I also like to hand-write what needs to happen in the next scene I’m writing.
I’m a pretty fast typist. Once upon a time, I could type 120 wpm—but that was on an actual typewriter, not a computer (oh man, I just aged myself!). I’ve had to slow down so that the computer could keep up with me.
Writing by hand lets my mind flow with creative ideas more easily. Whereas, typing lets me transcribe what I’m seeing in my head faster.
I just bought dictation software, so I’m excited to talk my stories, returning to the old days of storytelling around the fire.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Definitely not by the strains of the damned souls of shrimps! Although, it might fit my current WIP. The Daemon King would love that serenade… hmm… do you have a playlist?
It depends. Sometimes I write in silence, other times, I open my iTunes and play music. Usually, I need to listen to music without words, so Yanni, Nicholas Gunn, Mythos, Enya, or Acoustic Alchemy. The current story I’m working on though seems to demand my playlist called, The Ladies. Music by Blackmore’s Night, Capercallie, Loreena McKeennit, Norah Jones, Sarah McLachlan, and Tori Amos.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? Do you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
To be a good gardener you have to do some planning. You don’t want your squash too close to your tomatoes.
I’m a hybrid. I can’t do too much planning or I lose the magic of the story. But I also can’t be a complete pantser, then I wander too much. For me, I’ve found I have to do enough plotting that I know the major plot points of the story, where it begins, and where it ends. I’ve found doing some planning of each scene before I write it, helps me to write faster. I’m not spending time wondering where the scene starts. Once I get the first sentence or two, the rest of the scene flows.
To start a new story, I can’t do any planning. I have to just sit and write, letting the characters show up on the page. After 1,000 words or so, I have a good idea of the story that wants to be told and I can do the planning and worldbuilding. Most of my stories end up have a shapeshifter of some kind in them. I love shapeshifters!
I work at home. In the morning, I usually sit on my bed, in my pajamas, to write. There are some days, I realize it’s 5:00 pm, and I’m still in my jammies and I haven’t eaten yet.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
I love fantasy and sci-fi movies. Star Wars is a great mix of the two. While it is a space opera, with starships and star troopers, the Jedi are pure magic. It weaves in metaphysical philosophy with its concept of The Force. I wanted to be a Jedi, fight evil guys with a light saber, and do magic. I’ve done something similar in my Legends of Lairheim series. The third book, The Scourge Incursion, is an alien invasion, and Rizelya and her people must fight aliens with superior technology using their magic and shapeshifting.
Star Trek, Stargate (both the film and the TV series) fed my imagination for far off places and alien races.
I loved Legend with Tim Curry, the Last Unicorn, Ladyhawke, Blade Runner, Flesh and Blood.
I also love watching Ancient Aliens… it makes me go, hmmm…
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
I’m currently watching Star Trek the Next Generation. Captain Piccard is awesome. He’s an excellent example of a good leader. Rizelya and Blazel in Legends of Lairheim are thrust into leadership positions, whether they want them or not, and learn what it takes to lead people, sometimes to their death.
Since my current series has a police homicide detective, I’m also watching Criminal Minds and NCIS. Those are great detective shows.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
One of the reasons I write, is because I’m a voracious reader. I’ve been known to read all day and far into the night to finish a book. I read whenever I can, eating breakfast or lunch, before bed, so it’s on top of the list of how I’d spend a day not working. I also like doing hand-crafts like sewing, crocheting, or knitting. I love going to the matinee movies and having the whole theatre to myself.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
All punctuation deserves to live!
Seriously, they all have their purpose to help us write with more clarity.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
An ancient organization of witches guard the portals on earth from the daemons who want to cross into earth, control and enslave humans, and use the portals to reach the higher dimensions and other worlds. Catlyn Hennessey, a tarot reader and sound healer, and Sean McLarkin, a homicide detective, start to see strange creatures and learn they are witches. Their lives collide when a serial killer abducts Catlyn to use as his final sacrifice to bring the daemon prince, Bho-Ahp, across the portal.
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
I’ve always wanted to write something with Anne McCaffrey, although now I’d have to write with her spirit. It was fun to listen to her son, Todd, speak last year about her writing the Dragonriders of Pern series.
An Indie author I admire and would love to co-create a series with is Lindsay Buroker. I love her quirky humor, great storytelling, and unique characters.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
The most helpful has been, “to be a writer you have to sit your butt in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write (or dictate).”
The least helpful, don’t edit while you write. As more of a discovery writer than a plotter, I do a rolling process where I edit the last bit I wrote, and by the time I’m done, I’m in the story and know where the next scene is going. By the time I’m done, my story is pretty clean.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
I’m an amateur social anthropologist. I love reading about ancient cultures. I’d love to go to Mesopotamia, pre-patriarchy, to see how life could be lived. Oh, and Atlantis or Lemuria! Imagine what we could learn from them if the rumors of their advanced technology were true.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
I don’t force it. There are enough things to do in my author business to keep me busy. Sometimes, I just need to take a break and come back to it fresh. The other thing that helps me, is to journal about it in my morning pages. It may take several days, but my subconscious will come up with the solution to my plot or character dilemma. I’ll also switch and write something else, an essay or blog article.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
Is this a non-fiction or fiction book?
For non-fiction and for writing it would be, Becoming a Writer by Dorthea Brande. It was one of the first books I read that encouraged me I could become a writer. She was the first one to talk about morning pages, which I read about again in Julia Cameron’s The Artist Way. I do morning pages most every day. A great book about being a writer is Take Joy: A Book for Writers by Jane Yolen. This is one of the first places I read the idea that to be a writer you have to sit your butt in the chair, put your fingers on the keyboard, and write.
For fiction, this is hard. I’ve read so many good books. On top of my list would be the Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop, followed closely by The Chanur Saga by C.J. Cherryh. The Black Jewels tosses current metaphysical thinking upside down. In it, the darker your magical jewel is, the more powerful you are. A young girl is born with ebony jewels, the most powerful of anyone born. Her mentor is the ruler of Hel. In the Chanur Saga, the space-faring felines encounter a strange furless creature, a human.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
I create unique magical systems, such as in Ancient Enemies, hair and eye color determine the type of elemental magic the women can do, and in my WIP, their spells use Sumerian words and sigils. I love to explore far off places and write about worlds where humans aren’t the only intelligent creatures, and how we can interact with those who are different than us with peace and harmony. I also throw in a bit of mythology, and in my worlds the ancient Gods and Goddesses are real and interact with the world and my characters.
Brilliant. Thanks again for joining us, Tora, and good luck with the new book!
Thank you so much! This has been fun.
Tora Moon is the author of the LEGENDS OF LAIRHEIM fantasy series, available now.