by Suzanne Rogerson
The idea for Visions of Zarua started when I had an image of a woman
hunting in the woods with her hounds.
The prey had disappeared and she was scared, but I didn’t know why or what she was hunting.
I loved Varnia from the first moment she appeared in my head. She’s a strong character, determined to do things her way, but her best friend Paddren always seems to thwart her, even when he doesn’t mean to.
Writing to Discover “Why”
Because of Paddren’s background, he became the major focus for the story. The visions he’s suffered since childhood, and cautioned to hide, drive the plot.
I wrote the story because I wanted to find out how and why Paddren suffered these terrible visions of death and destruction. And I wanted to know what the visions were about and what they meant to the future of my characters.
Sorry, But This Idea Just Isn’t Working
The biggest challenge I had was the dual timeline I wanted to use in the book.
I also wanted to write a more in-depth account of the past events and planned to write a prequel. After many drafts, I sent the novel for a professional critique and was devastated when she said the idea just wasn’t working.
But she also gave me hope when she suggested merging the two book ideas into one. That was a real turning point for me and I’m so glad I took that advice.
At Times I’ve Craved a Normal Life
My biggest emotional challenge was staying strong enough not to give up.
When you rewrite something so many times and have numerous critiques and beta reads, it’s easy to get jaded with the idea. I also sent the book out in various forms to competitions and agents, each time believing it was ready.
Every time that proved to be wrong it would have been simpler to give up on writing altogether.
At times I’ve even craved a normal life with a 9-5 job. I’ve imagined all the free hours I could fill with other things. I wonder what it would be like not to have book ideas and characters constantly bustling around in my head.
I wouldn’t suffer the constant feeling of guilt that I should be writing, or when I am writing thinking I should be doing the housework or doing things with the children.
In the end I know I could never stop; writing is as important to me as breathing. And because I’ve stubbornly refused to give up on my writing dream, I can now hold my published book in my hands and know I have achieved something special.
When Characters Become Real to Readers
My biggest triumph was when one of my beta readers read the final draft—the book as it stands now—and said she loved it. She told me having the two interlinking stories made it complete and was so much more powerful as a story than it had been before.
We were sitting in a coffee shopping discussing it, and I just welled up hearing her talk so passionately about my book. As she described how she loved the character development, I realized that the characters were as real to her as they were to me.
Now every time I read a review where the reader says they love one of my characters, it makes me feel good inside.
As a Self-Publisher, You Have to Become More Self-Reliant
Self-publishing forces you to be more self-reliant. I’ve had to learn to take chances and trust my own judgement.
I’ve also had to put myself out there; contacting reviewers, etc. One of the scariest things was announcing on Facebook to friends and family that I was an author and about to self-publish my debut novel.
People were supportive and still often ask me how the book sales are going. I still find it daunting to talk about it. Someone on the phone asked me the other day what my book was about and I clammed up. All coherent thought left my head and I couldn’t even blurt out my tag line!
So although writing this book has forced me to become more extroverted, I still have a very long way to go. I tremble at the idea of author talks and book signings, but I suppose if I want to get anywhere as an author these things will feature in my life one day.
Is Writing Spiritual or a Form of Madness?
I’m not a spiritual person, but it does sometimes feel that the stories come from somewhere else.
I write without direction but it seems as though I am being led. Everything somehow falls into place as though it was meant to be.
Sometimes I write something and then read it back a few days later and don’t remember writing it, as though something else wrote it through me.
I don’t know if that’s a spiritual thing or a touch of madness.
I’m Not Prepared for What’s Next
I am editing The Lost Sentinel, which is the first book of my fantasy trilogy Bloodlines.
The major challenge for me with this is that I am entering unknown territory. I’ll be publishing Book 1 when Book 2 is only written in draft, and Book 3 is barely more than a gathering of notes and ideas. They don’t even have titles.
The idea of not being prepared terrifies me.
* * *
She attempted her first novel at the age of twelve. She discovered the fantasy genre in her late teens and has never looked back. Giving up work to raise a family gave her the impetus to take her attempts at novel writing beyond the first draft, and she is lucky enough to have a husband who supports her dream—even if he does occasionally hint that she might think about getting a proper job one day.
Suzanne is soon to publish her first fantasy novel, Visions of Zarua, a character-driven standalone novel. For more information on her and her work, please see her website, or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Intagram.
Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate.
Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer.
The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago—a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua.
Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?
Available at Amazon.