Rachel Aubertin is a fantasy author who is currently attempting to fund raise for her novel Warden of the Unknown on Inkshares. The novel is intriguing with a darker setting than most high fantasy stories I’ve read, and I have never actually met any other authors who have used the Inkshares platform before. Rachel agreed to speak with me a little bit about her writing and her experience with crowdfunding for her novel.
For those who aren’t familiar with you, can you tell us a little bit about Warden of the Unknown.
Warden of the Unknown is the first of a four book series detailing the adventures of Killian, the Warden. He is the youngest such person to earn the title, and the first to come from the Ward of Venna, Demon of the Unknown. For this, most people feel wary or even fearful of Killian, as those with the mark of the unknown are generally feared or shunned by society.
Wardens are considered religious warriors who venture out to settle disputes between Wards, and if necessary, combat with the mythical creatures that inhabit the world alongside humans.
They have a counterpart within the Temple titled Tollgivers, who are best described as prophetic priests, who interpret signs to determine if people have angered their demon, and give advice on appeasements.
Every person is branded into a Ward based on the primary factor that motivates their behavior or decisions. The best example of this is those who fall in the Ward of Sinth, Demon of Anger. Sinth’s are easily angered and behave irrationally because of it. People can cover their brand if they wish, however, everyone has the worst thing about them burned into their skin and cannot hide from themselves who they are.
There is a demon for every Ward, who govern the people under their control and demand appeasement from. There is another ethereal figure in the court who is not a demon. This is the Tollkeeper. He is in essence the accountant who tracks every person in the world and reports misbehavior to the demons.
I noticed that the setting is pretty dark compared to the average high fantasy. Where did you get the inspiration for your world?
It would seem to be a dark setting, given that in this universe there has never been a living god. The inspiration for the world came after I began writing book two, which was originally intended to be a stand alone novel. There was a scene in which my husband discovered a discrepancy in dialogue. Specifically, a character referenced to there being no god, and later in the scene that same character made a reference to multiple hells. When my attention was brought to it, I made a sarcastic remark “Yes in this world there is no god, just many demons.” From that single statement my imagination sparked and explored the idea. I quickly came up with a court of demons and the laws they adhered to under the high demon. Subsequently, I explored the laws the demons enforced on the inhabitants of the world and how they interacted between Wards.
I was very drawn to the idea of a world where everyone had a more literal example of the term “We all have our demons.”
What do you enjoy about writing fantasy? Why fantasy over other genres?
Fantasy has been my favorite genre to read, so naturally I write it as well. There is something very freeing about the ability to drop a dragon in the middle of a scene and no one feels it is out of place. Each genre has an expected feel to it, fantasy simply feels right to me.
Which authors would you say are your inspirations?
Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Brent Weeks, Tolkien, J.K. Rowling, Gail Carson Levine, Edith Pattou, The Brothers Grimm, Tamara Pierce… this list could go on all day.
You told me you wrote the second book in your series before you wrote the first. Was this intentional or accidental? And how did it affect the way you told the story, if at all?
It was accidental. Once the world expanded to include a form of religion surrounding demons, it occurred to me there needed to be another book to establish the world and the rules people lived by to explain the second book. There was no real change in the way I was telling the story, though it did give me the opportunity to introduce the characters in a different light.
Warden of the Unknown is listed as a whopping 808 pages long, and you said you wrote the second book before this one. How long have you been working on this series?
I’ve been working on the series for six months. The second book was not completed when I began the first book, though the storyline start to finish is set. Once I realized the need for the first book, I started work on it immediately, and shaped the plot of book one to meet book two.
Can you explain what Inkshares is to those who don’t know.
Inkshares is a crowdfunding book publishing company. They work similarly to a mainstream publisher, with the primary difference being that readers pick which books are published by funding them. Authors can put their story line up for others to read and critique. Once they feel confident that there is interest, they put the book up for pre-orders and set a deadline. If enough pre-orders are made, the book is published and promoted through the company.
Why did you choose Inkshares as the platform to promote your book on?
I had never heard of Inkshares before I submitted my book. It was somewhat of a coincidence that I found the publishing competition being held by Geek and Sundry. After reading up on how Inkshares worked I submitted my book and began receiving feedback on the story.
Would you suggest it to other authors?
I would suggest it to others, yes. The format is helpful to reach out to the people who are your audience to get their feedback and suggestions for improving the story. Regardless of achieving publication of the book, knowing that there is interest is encouraging.
What is your writing process like? What are your daily (or regular) writing habits?
I try to write something every day whether it’s a word, a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire chapter. Something is better than nothing. Committing to a word count does not work for me. Working a full time job and two side businesses can be a bit of a strain, so I try not to spoil the joy of writing by forcing myself to grind out every word. When I sit down to write a scene, I talk it out. Pacing around and physically acting the part of each character helps flesh out the action. If the flow doesn’t feel right, I invite over a few friends and we role play it.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Read a lot. Read some more. Study your favorite book to find out what captivates you. Explore through writing. Play with it. Have fun. Everyone will do it differently and there is no wrong way to do it, as long as you end with a completed story.
I was raised in a homeschool environment, where I was not only allowed, but encouraged to explore, dream, and create on my own terms. This has led to my love of painting and storytelling, the ability to not only think outside the box, but question why the box is there in the first place. I would encourage others to do the same.
You can check out Rachel’s Inkshares page if you want to read excerpts of her work and help fund her debut novel. You can also connect with her on Twitter to keep up with the latest in her writing career.