Author Spotlight: S M Boyce (WRAITHBLADE)
When S. M. Boyce graduated with a degree in creative writing, she realized that made her well-qualified for serving French fries. It would take years of writing hundreds of thousands of words of all kinds before she became the fantasy and horror novelist she is today.
Boyce is known for action-packed epic fantasy, powerful heroes, and riveting magical stories filled with twists and intrigue. And, of course, a bit of humor sprinkled through it all. Prepare to get lost in the journey.
Welcome to the Hive, S. M. Boyce. Let’s start with the basics: dazzle us with an elevator pitch! Why should readers check out your work?
I’m known for writing action-packed epic fantasy, powerful heroes, and riveting magical stories filled with twists and intrigue. And, of course, a bit of humor sprinkled through it all. Every book isn’t for everybody, but I’m always flattered when someone gives mine a try!
Tell us a little something about your writing process – do you have a certain method? Do you find music helps? Give us a glimpse into your world!
My friends joke that I write novels for outlines. They usually end up being about 50,000 words, just the outline, but that effort helps me write much faster. With a solid outline and good worldbuilding ahead of time, I can do 7,000 – 10,000 words per day pretty comfortably.
I also love to use music as a sort of auditory bridge to the story. Each series (and sometimes each book) has a song that I listen to each time I sit down to write, and that instantly takes me into the world. It’s one of my methods of overcoming writer’s block and always jazzes me up to write.
Speaking of worlds, what inspires your worldbuilding? Do you have a magic system/s? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?
Each of my series has a different magic system, and I like to get into the weeds when it comes to creating the magic in each world. The Grimoire Saga is moderate/soft magic, while the Wraithblade series is hard magic.
Fun fact: the Wraithblade series actually has two magic systems. This is revealed in more detail in book 2, but I planted a few seeds hinting at the nuances in book 1. Let me know if you find them while you read!
What (or who) are your most significant female fantasy influences? Are there any creators whom you dream of working with someday?
Though I’m not a huge fan of her anti-trans comments, I can’t deny that JK Rowling heavily inspired me to write. I was the same age as Harry when the books came out, and I felt like I grew up in the wizarding world. The wonder and whimsy of that series inspired much of my early writing.
Though not really fantasy, Margaret Atwood is also a large influence. I studied her work in depth in my writing classes and always liked the way she could effortlessly sweep me away into other lifetimes.
Similarly, Virginia Woolf’s quote that “every woman needs a room with a door” has done wonders not just for my writing, but also for my life. Taking space and time for me in the chaos of life has given me the inspiration and focus to keep going, even when things are rough. It may seem like an insignificant thing to many, but that personal space is everything to me.
As a mother I appreciate Virginia a lot more now than I did as a student…
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?
Oh, dude, good question.
If I don’t want to write, I follow the rule of “butt in chair.” It’s a crucial rule of writing, and perhaps the most important one. When you build the habit of doing a certain thing at a certain time each day, it becomes second nature. By following that rule — even when the words I write are crap and I ultimately throw them away — I kept the long-game in mind and eventually made it way easier to get over those humps when they do hit. (And they will, no matter what, hit you at some point no matter how strong the habit is.)
The other thing I do is ask myself why. Why don’t I want to do this? Am I frustrated with a chapter? With a character? With the story? With myself? By using this resistance as a teaching moment, I can usually get to the root of whatever’s bothering me and make the book (or myself) stronger for it.
We always appreciate a beautiful book cover! How involved in the process were you? Was there a particular aesthetic you hoped they’d portray?
For the Grimoire Saga, I spearheaded the design from start to finish. I had a clear idea not just of the pose, but also of the color scheme and how the eye would be drawn through the image. It was intentional down to the blurred twigs in the background.
Wraithblade, however, was a totally different experience. Wraithmarked Publishing took the lead on all of it. All I did was give them a shortlist of the action scenes and insist (loudly, probably in a bit of an annoying repetition) that the magic be green. Aside from that, I got to just sit back and watch the magic happen! Bryce O’Connor is a demi-god of cover design, I swear. Pretty much all of that is the result of his masterminding. (And no, he didn’t pay me to say that, but I should probably ask for a kickback now that I think about it.)
Who are your favourite female characters in literature or pop culture? And do you have a favourite type of female character you enjoy writing?
WONDER WOMAN. I love her archetype. Strong, compassionate, beautiful inside and out. A Warrior Woman who lets her heart and conscience guide her. That blend of power and femininity perfectly captures my favorite type of heroine to read and write.
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?
I got so excited at the prospect of an extra day, and my first thought was “I’d write!”… and then you added that last part of the sentence. Ha!
You’re not the first author to make that complaint, we know you guys far too well…
I would probably spend it meditating, reading, and taking care of myself and my family. Sometimes my home life (mainly, the dishes) is swept aside so that I can handle the many projects on my plate, and I’ve been trying to make more time to be at peace and be with the people I love most.
One of our favourite questions here on the Fantasy Hive: which fantastical creature would you ride into battle and why?
Oh, man. Making me pick between my children now, are you??
[Editor Note: we at the Hive do NOT condone riding children into battle.]
Jokes aside, I think I’d choose a dragon. Dragons are power personified, and I don’t care if it’s cliché. I love them, and they always seem to make it into my books somehow. What can I say? I’m hooked!
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
I know it got a movie, so maybe it’s not really underappreciated or obscure, but I feel this way about Coraline. It’s one of my favorite books, and I return to it any time I feel crummy. It’s one of those nostalgic adventures into childhood that just fills me right back up and sets me straight when things get wonky.
I feel like it’s obscure because I rarely hear someone go, “Oh yeah I love that book, too!” If people know about it, they usually know about the movie… and most of the time, they didn’t like it because it creeped them out or outright scared them.
Personally, I find it enchanting and well written. In fact, I think I’m going to go read that again.
Can you tell us anything about any upcoming projects? Or can you tell us a few teasers for your sequel?
Sure! I’m currently working on Wraithblade 2, though we don’t have a definite title for it yet. The plot for this book is insane, and I can’t wait to release this puppy. There’s horse-sized wolves, a fae-like trial through enchanted mists, a whole new magic system that emerges, and I’m fairly certain you won’t see the end coming. I hope it sweeps you away.
Are you planning anything fun to celebrate your new release? Do you have any upcoming virtual events our readers may be interested in?
The audiobook for Wraithblade came out June 15th! Though I don’t have any upcoming virtual events, I do post my writing progress each week in my Facebook group. If you want to learn more about the Wraithblade series and hear about teasers as I write it, that’s the place to be. You can find that HERE
Finally, what is the one thing you hope readers take away from your writing?
My first and most important job is to entertain you. Regardless of the story’s soul or what I’m trying to say with its themes, you should always be able to read one of my books and simply enjoy the story if that’s all you want to do. It’s my goal to immerse you in another world to the point where you have to blink away a daze when you come back to this one.
Underneath that, though, I like to plant seeds of thought. We’re all gardens, of sorts, and the lessons we’ve learned over the years are all the seeds planted in our soil by the people who have touched our lives. What we allow to thrive and grow in our dirt, though, is entirely up to us.
That’s my “why,” really: write legendary art that connects, heals, and inspires others. I’ll spend my life honing my craft and doing my best to achieve that. I sincerely hope I’m able to do that for you and anyone who stumbles across one of my novels.
Thank you for the chance to entertain you with my writing. It’s truly an honor to get to do what I do, and I am beyond grateful for the readers that make this life of mine possible.
Thank you so much for joining us today!
It’s been my pleasure! Thank you so much for having me
Wraithblade is available now from: