Author Spotlight – K. L. Kolarich (HOUSE OF BASTIION)
K.L. Kolarich is a new-adult fantasy fiction author, based out of Nashville, TN. Her breakout series, The Haidren Legacy, hit the epic fantasy scene in early 2021, winning hearts with its first installment, House of Bastiion. An individual plagued by sarcasm, conviction, and an ever-present distraction of fable and lore, K.L. Kolarich dreams in the day and writes through the night. With too many cats and not nearly enough wine, Kolarich resides in the woods away from the noise, happily married.
Welcome to the Hive, K. L. Kolarich. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
𝐇𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐢𝐨𝐧, the first instalment in my NA/upper YA epic fantasy series, The Haidren Legacy, ushers readers into the new and richly diverse world of Orynthia. Rooted in a realm unified by its division, HOB is packed with brutal adversities, political schemes, and the sinister shadow which lurks in between. The perfect read for fans of Brandon Sanderson, Morgan Rhodes, and Robin Hobb, 𝐇𝐨𝐮𝐬𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐁𝐚𝐬𝐭𝐢𝐢𝐨𝐧 is certainly not for the faint of heart.
𝗕𝗲𝘀𝘁 𝗦𝘂𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗙𝗼𝗿:
-Fans of epic / large-scale worldbuilding
-Multiple / overlapping plotlines
-Multi-instalment mystery / revelation
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?
My ultimate fantasy would be to wake up and discover I’d manifested hand-eye coordination. I love badass heroines, but the one element I can never relate to is their inherent athleticism. So, were I to be dropped in a D&D campaign, I would probably be a Rogue, wielding the same crescent wraiths adorning my Najjan in The Haidren Legacy. Weapons that require an extreme degree of control, you can understand my giddy excitement at the hypothetical ability to master them. A natural schemer, I would probably find myself at home among Rogues, melting into their obscurities, for one’s cunning, precision, and stealth prove far more deadly than any blade.
Relating hard to lack of athleticism…
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, how do you like to work? (For example, in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps? Do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Intense planner or is your system more organic?) Tell us a little bit about your writing method!
In relation to my aforementioned Rogue-esk conspirings, I often relate the inner chamber of my mind to a floor-to-ceiling maze of gears and pulleys, which somehow sustains an overarching mechanism so much grander than myself. Case in point, yes, I’m a plotter through and through. While some tidbits are locked away in that maze, other fragments are stored in digitally jotted notes categorized by each instalment, so as not to forget any critical components coming down the pipeline. Overall, I heavily rely on my timelines. When plotting the chapter-by-chapter rollout, I create physical timelines across the wall using multi-colored sticky notes. One shade for each POV, notating key events, revelations, etc. Once those milestones are established, I will then organize highlights into a tangible schedule (i.e. three separate timelines comprising a singular agenda toward the end of the novel). Each sticky note is assigned a chapter, and transferred to a master filing system. As I embark on each chapter, I’ll pull that reference and draft a corresponding outline for the scene / chapter at hand.
When actively writing, I sometimes have difficulty remaining fully present or mentally marinating in a particular scene. So to assist my wayward thoughts, I score my writing, like auditory blinders shielding my musings from distraction, anchoring me to the moment. For instance, there is a very emotional scene in House of Bastiion (book 1) which takes place in a garden at night. Writing that required focusing on agonized feelings not my own, and sitting in them. To help me do that, I scored my writing sessions with instrumental orchestrations by Sleeping at Last, even leaning into the song composed for Enneagram 9’s, the “type” shared by the character in question. Another easy example would be whenever I’m writing a scene in Marketown, I score my worksession to the Bombay Dub Orchestra or Beats Antique. Music is just as magical as the written word, and in tandem, can transport us to untapped places we’d otherwise never reach.
What (or who) are your most significant fantasy influences?
This is potentially the nerdiest confession of all, but my favorite video game of all time was KOA Reckoning. As silly as it sounds, the combat-style of that game stuck with me so much that I modelled Najjani warfare after it. Crescent wraiths, the Najjan’s most unique luxiron weaponry, is inspired by a pair of blades I would always choose in gameplay. I loved how my character would spin and rotate around each opponent, essentially dancing about her prey. It was beautifully dorky and now, is forever a part of THL.
Secondly, growing up in an extremely diverse community (in the outskirts of Metro Detroit) made an irrefutable impact on my characters. When I knowingly developed such a large cast, it only seemed right for them to mirror what felt like home: people who don’t always look like me. In cultivating their respective cultures, language inadvertently played a large role in my worldbuilding process. Where I’m from, adopting a few phrases from friends, neighbors, and business owners of other nationalities is not only customary, but offers this cherished opportunity to share an experience with someone whose culture is different than my own. It always allowed me to connect with people on a more personal, intentional level. I wanted to recreate that feeling, to an extent, with each POV. In Luscia’s chapters, you get snippets of her highlander dialect, seasoning her narrative with elegance and fluidity. In contrast, Zaethan’s chapters are peppered with syllables both warm and brash. This not only segregates them from each other in terms of voice, but let’s the reader (myself included) meet them where they are, wholly themselves.
Are there any writers or creators whom you’d love to collaborate with?
Since music is so monumental in my writing process, and for the experience of some of my readers (as the HOB playlist scores each chapter with complimenting instrumentals), a dream would be to work with some of my favorite artists on a collaborated THL-inspired album. I adore Crywolf, Fleurie, Tommee Profitt, Thomas Bergersen, Ivan Torrent, Dsharp, Sleeping at Last, Ruelle, and so many more.
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?
Like many freshman authors, I manage the make-believe outside my hours locked in a cubicle. A cubicle I’m incredibly grateful for, by the way, as it provided the funds and resources to launch HOB so memorably. However, that being said, a large percentage of my mental bandwidth is therefore spent on unrelated projects, leaving what I often refer to as “the crumbs” for what’s dearest to my soul. Pushing creatively through a barren mindscape can be challenging, in squeezing everything possible from those precious crumbs just to make it to the other side.
I’ve not mastered this yet, but I do know my most productive writing sessions occur after pockets of designated rest. This directly defies the industry’s demand for the next big thing. Authors feel this crushing pressure to produce constantly, always attempting to keep up with the person running beside us, one lane over. While we do need other authors to urge us forward, I also need to pause and remember that it’s not about me, my success, or reputation. To an extent, it’s not even about the reader; it’s about the story. Their story. This whole endeavour is not for us, but rather for them – the characters. Whenever we birth characters, we consequently get burdened with our one shot at telling their story, and if that takes longer than we’d like to tell it well, so be it. I’ve found the most effective way (more often than not) to counteract that ever-present stress, is to grant myself grace to do the very thing I set out to do in the first place: Tell their story. And in that grace, reintroduce myself to a joy unspoiled by outside forces. We write best from joy, and our characters deserve nothing less.
We always appreciate a beautiful book cover! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped they’d portray?
My cover artist (Fiona Jayde Media) is an absolute boss. The only reason HOB garnered any attention at all was by the work that woman’s hands and her artistic wonders. Fiona interpreted my initial concept for a mask with antlers, or something resembling a stag, went away to “percolate” (her words), and returned with a jaw-dropping masterpiece.
The symbolism behind the mask motif is to reiterate the tagline for book 1, “no one is who they seem”, because when it comes to THL, this is universally true. There is not one character in the forefront of our story who has yet revealed all that they are. Aspects of their story, or personage, are hidden, intentionally or otherwise. It’s a political masquerade, if you will. In that respect, masks will become thematic, featured on the covers of every future THL instalment.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write. How do you choose to spend the day?
Well, considering how often I must neglect my spousal unit, I’d probably oblige and spend it with my husband. He is my best friend, after all, and the only one who exists in the real world. As a self-sustained introvert, investing in relationships outside the one-sided conversations in my head can be tedious, so whenever possible, I try to stop, take a temperature, and connect with him socially to ensure he knows I’m still alive and kicking.
We are predictable, boring little creatures who will either hike a waterfall in the area or conversely, spend the entire day sunken into the couch, pounding carbs during our umpteenth marathon of The Office.
Oh, and our four bengals would be there too. Just picture us sipping wine, covered in miniature leopards and pizza crumbs, and you’ll get a pretty accurate idea of how I live my life.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
I’m not really a fan of heights, so anything with wings is out. I really hope that doesn’t demote me cool-points from the Fantasy Hive… Imagining myself on a dragon, as majestic as it sounds, brings back a queasiness best left in Six Flags.
No judgement here!
Alternatively, I always felt that Thestrals got a bad rap; totally untapped potential. Like sure, they are bony and see-through, but with the proper training, how BA would it be to gallop that thing onto a battlefield? Innocent foot soldiers wouldn’t be able to see them, terrified by your floating form. And once when they can, your opponent’s sword would just pass right through and get stuck on its ribs, allowing you the chance to decapitate him and go on your merry way, mode of eerie transportation completely unaffected. (I’m not really supporting decapitations – just thoroughly trying to play this whole scenario out). Although come to think of it, Thestrals still fly, and that’s a hard pass.
Solution: My Thestral would be confined to the field cavalry, not the cavalry stationed in the skies. #problemsolved.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
It’s no secret that I fangirl Sarah M. Cradit all the time. Talk about plotting; she makes me look like a poser. The Kingless Crown, the first book in her epic series, Kingdom of the White Sea, has received absolutely rave reviews… I just don’t think many people have heard about it yet. If you like vast worlds, intricate cast dynamics, unrushed storylines, all locked and loaded into one meaty novel, then her work is definitely for you. The second instalment, Broken Realm, releases next month. So jump on that one soon to prepare for the sequel!
Finally, can you tell us a little something about your current work(s) in progress?
Book 2 of The Haidren Legacy series is thoroughly underway, slowly but surely. In the sequel, we will see Luscia, Zaethan, Dmitri and crew start to travel the map… which unsurprisingly sparks a politically-charged chain reaction throughout Orynthia. Also, as a bonus, we’ll dive into Zaethan’s origins, which will completely challenge how others see him, as well as how he chooses to see himself. In short, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Thank you so much for joining us today!
The House of Bastiion is available now.