1) What inspired you to write "Soul of Smoke"?
This is hard for me to answer, because I'm not really sure. I've had the idea for a story about a college girl who falls in love with a shape shifting dragon since I was in college myself, meaning sometime around 2005. I'm a native of the Midwest, but I moved to Utah when I was 18. I can remember being astounded by how huge and wild the mountains were. Definitely large enough to hide a shapeshifting dragon king and his fun-loving best friend. The rest of the story grew from there.
2) How did you come up with the characters' names? Are their personalities based off your life?
Rhys and Kai are both names I wanted to name my kids but didn't use. Rhys, because I ended up with three daughters, and Kai because my husband didn't like it (though our third daughter ended up with a similar name). Everything else was Google. It felt more authentic to have dragons from all over the world, so I spent a lot of time scrolling through name websites looking for something that 1) Fit the character, 2) Gave an idea of which language/culture it was from, and 3) English speakers could maybe pronounce. I didn't realize I'd already given my male MC a name a lot of people were going to trip over, LOL. His name is pronounced REES, like Reese Witherspoon, but I've heard a lot of people call him RIS.
Some of my characters started off based on someone I've known, but as the story went on, they sort of became their own people. Juli's personality and Ffion's physical appearance were both pretty heavily influenced by two of my friends, though, and I'm sure there's a lot of me in both Kai and Rhys.
3) What power would you like to have as a dragon?
Huh. I've actually never thought about it before. I'd probably choose Azhdahā mind manipulation powers. Or maybe Deryn's water magic. I wasn't able to go into much detail about what she can do in the story, but I've always thought it would be awesome to be able to breathe underwater.
4) What have you learned from writing this book?
That writing books is hard, LOL. Maybe that sounds too simple, but I feel like everyone I meet either wants to write a book "in their spare time" or thinks writing isn't a real job. I guess the mentality is that anyone who can write a pretty sentence or a decent college paper can probably write a novel. That's just not true. You've got to be able to tell a story. Good storytelling is a rare gift, and not one I was born with. It took years of research and experimenting and a lifetime of avid reading to get where I am now. Except I still don't know what I'd doing. So...yeah.
5) What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I just finished a round of edits for book two, "Shadow of Flame," which comes out September 14th. After that, I've got to complete the third book, "Truth of Embers," which comes out November 9th. It's been so crazy trying to write both the second and third books in a year--not to mention live my real life--that I haven't been able to spend much time on side projects. However, I do have a few ideas I'm excited to pitch to my agent when I'm done with the trilogy!
Don't forget to check out my review for "Soul of Smoke" here.