Gillian Welcome to Homeschool Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Glad to be here! I’m a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. During the day, I manage the equine program at a Christian youth camp, but at night, I kick off my boots and spurs, pull out my trusty laptop, brew a pot of coffee, and transform into a novelist.
Everyone’s homeshooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
My homeschooling experience enabled me to combine study with play and learning with life and fun. Scarcely a day went by where I didn’t complete my reading “assignment” up in the boughs of a tree or study history from the back of a grazing horse. Not a bad way to instill a love of learning!
How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
One of the nice things about homeschooling is that it allows you to tailor your studies to match your pursuits. I suffered through my due share of the required subjects, but I dove into history, creative writing, and reading with a passion.
All of the reading I did helped me understand what lies beneath a lasting story and within a memorable turn of phrase. My study of history endowed me with a love of cultures and countries and the events that shape the rise and fall of nations—something I draw heavily upon in writing fantasy. And writing, well, I experimented with dozens of stories and hundreds of thousands of words—practice makes perfect, right?
What caused you to start writing?
Honestly, I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t write. My first story, penned at the ripe age of seven, was a terrible blend of Lord of the Rings, cats, and a kid’s mystery solving club. Sounds like a bestseller, right?
It wasn’t until a friend invited sixteen-year-old me to participate in a NaNoWriMo type challenge that I started to take writing more seriously. I entered the challenge with only thirteen days to go and managed to pound out my fifty thousand words before midnight on the final day. That accomplishment and the joy I got from seeing a story take place and the words flow from my fingertips led me to keep writing and wonder if maybe—someday—I couldn’t be published.
What inspired Orphan's Song?
C.S. Lewis started with a picture of a lamppost and a faun in the snow. I started with a sticky note on which I’d scribbled something to the effect of “Birdie—an orphan girl who can hear snippets of a song that no one else can” and “Amos McElhenny—peddler friend, “Scottish,” likes insults.”
Not a plot, not a premise, not even complete characters, but I sat down with those two names and that smidgeon of an idea and began to write.
Four wild and meandering drafts later, Orphan’s Song was born.
Would you give us a synopsis?
Orphan’s Song is the first book in the Songkeeper Chronicles where every generation has a Songkeeper - one chosen to keep the memory of the Song alive. And in every generation, there are those who seek to destroy the chosen one.
When Birdie's song draws the attention of a dangerous Khelari soldier, she is kidnapped and thrust into a world of ancient secrets and betrayals. Rescued by her old friend, traveling peddler Amos McElhenny, Birdie flees the clutches of her enemies in pursuit of the truth behind the Song’s power.
Ky is a street-wise thief and a member of the Underground—a group of orphans banded together to survive . . . and to fight the Khelari. Haunted by a tragic raid, Ky joins Birdie and Amos in hopes of a new life beyond the reach of the soldiers. But the enemy is closing in, and when Amos’ shadowed past threatens to undo them all, Birdie is forced to face the destiny that awaits her as the Songkeeper of Leira.
Who will enjoy Orphan's Song?
I wish I could say everyone—the universal novel, as it were—but unfortunately, I don’t believe that exists! Orphan’s Song is aimed for readers of fantasy ages ten and beyond. Think fans of the Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson and the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander.
Fantasy, of course, is not for everyone, but if you enjoy a story with plenty of adventure, battles, heart, and characters you want to root for, then you may just want to give Orphan’s Song a chance. Try it and let me know what you think!
Do you plan to write more books?
Yes, I am currently in the middle of editing a novella, Out of Darkness Rising, set to come out in February of 2015, and writing book two out of three in the Songkeeper Chronicles! I’ve got another half dozen or so novel ideas simmering on the back burner, but they’ll have to stay there until I’ve made it through the next year and a half of deadlines!
Where can people connect with you online (social media, websites, blog)?
Best places to find me are my facebook page and my blog Of Battles Dragons and Swords of Adamant where I post about all things fantasy, bookish, adventuresome, and currently run what I call a “serial short-ish story” where the readers get to vote on what happens in the next installment. It’s loads of fun!
Do you have any final thoughts?
I’m currently hosting a fantabulously fun contest with awesome prizes on my blog to celebrate the launch of Orphan’s Song and also having a Facebook Launch Party on October 15th which you should definitely come to—prizes, giveaways, story snippets, and more! Stop by my blog to learn how to enter the contest and leave me a comment letting me know that you heard about it here on Homeschool Authors to earn an extra entry!
And “may the odds be ever in your favor!”