One of the best things about being an indie author is the author community, a group of creative and talented people who are always willing to support one another. I’ve been lucky enough to recently connect with A.D. Faylinn, who wrote her novel The Dark Pilgrim with her co-author C.J. Taylor. I had to know more about her experience writing with a co-author, so she graciously agreed to give me an author interview! Read her story below, and check out The Dark Pilgrim on Amazon.
You wrote The Dark Pilgrim as a collaboration with a fellow author, C. J. Taylor. That sounds like a fascinating journey. Can you describe how you two started writing together, and what that process was like? For example, did you know each other as friends first, and then decide to write together? Did you trade chapters or work side-by-side?
Writing The Dark Pilgrim with my co-author was quite an adventure. We began writing as freshman in high school. I had known C.J. Taylor since 7th grade, and we had grown quiet close over our mutual love of horses, reading, and fantasy. I’ll never forget the hot summer day in August 2003 when I got the strangest phone call from Taylor.
“I would like to write a novel,” she told me.
“Me too. It is definitely on my bucket list,” I replied, having no idea where she was going with this seemingly random information.
“No,” she said forcefully, “I want to do it now, like today.”
“Oh!” I was shocked. “I am free today. I guess I could come over now.”
So I told my mom I was meeting with Taylor and we were going to write a book. And the rest, as they say, was history. At first, I am not sure our parents knew what to think. I’m sure they figured it was a phase, but we spent 8-10 hours on Saturdays or Sundays writing together, as well as working on chapters during the week. We had to work around homework, jobs, sports, etc.
Writing together was so much easier then than it is now. Taylor and I were just discussing this very topic the other day. We used to sit side by side and plan our outlines and we’d write chapters together with one of us grabbing the keyboard from the other then inspiration struck. It was such an interesting dynamic. I do not think I could work that way with anyone else. We also would discuss chapters and each write our own then decide whose we liked better, or we’d merge our two takes on chapters, or one person ran with a chapter that particularly spoke to them. If you can guess it, we have done it. Some chapters I have only contributed a sentence to, and Taylor has done likewise. It is a crazy process, but it works for us. Often, one of us writes until we get stuck, then the other person, having read it, gets inspired and takes over. It is great to have someone to feed off of when you get stuck. We inspire each other’s creativity and imagination.
…And did you have any major disagreements? 🙂
That is a question we get asked all the time. The honest answer is no. If we have creative differences on where a character should go, or what a scene should look like, we always talk it out. Often one of us will be swayed by the other and embrace the idea wholeheartedly. If one of us is so passionate about an idea, we can usually find some way to make it work, maybe not in the original context, but it makes its way into the book.
Your book is part one in a series called “Flight of the Lionheart.” Did you plot out the entire series before beginning part one? If so, I am in awe of you.
Yes we did. We know where each book begins and ends, and what roughly happens in each book. Of course, things change while you write, and our original storyline has undergone many revisions. And I am sure it will continue to evolve as the characters show us how the story should go. We like to believe we are in charge, but our characters often surprise us.
I found that your character names help to set the mood and tone of the book very well. I might describe them as “Tolkienesque.” Was it difficult to create the character names? And a bonus question: how do you pronounce your main character Gilaon’s name?
It actually wasn’t too difficult to create character names. Honestly, I feel like a lot of the characters name themselves. I just follow my fingers and when I look up, I am always surprised by what I find. Of course, characters names have changed either in their entirety or in just the way their name is spelled. Mirenor, for example, only became Mirenor in 2012. She had been someone entirely different since 2003!
Gilaon’s name is pronounced gull-ay-on. Luckily, we have a pronunciation guide in the back of the book, for any names that might be confusing.
Characters are known for developing their own personalities in spite of the author’s intentions. Did you let your characters push you around?
Characters definitely develop their own personalities. Taylor and I gossip about them like friends frequently. I have found it is the character you least expect that ends up pushing you around and changing your whole idea for a chapter or plot point. I wouldn’t like to admit that I’ve had a character push me around, but I think some of our characters are so good at it, I don’t realize it is happening until it is too late.
Was there one particular character in your book that you especially enjoyed writing about or coming up with lines for?
Taylor will laugh when she reads this. There is no hiding the fact that I openly gush over Senbi. I am in love with him. I loved him from the moment I met him. Mirenor is a close second, let us not forget her. Senbi though, is so fun. He is witty, charming (in his own way), dangerous, and just a mysterious guy. He is someone you want to hate, but then find yourself trusting him. He is complex. I am so excited to continue to explore his character as the story goes on.
Following in the Tolkien tradition, sometimes characters speak in another language. Did you create a grammar and a dictionary for the language you created in the book?
We do have a dictionary for Sërillian. Without our list of translations we wouldn’t be able to remember what words we’d already created, how to spell things, or the meanings of names. I wouldn’t say our rules are very strict when it comes to the grammar of the Ardunese tongue, but there is some semblance of order there. We took inspiration from Latin, Spanish, English, and Italian when creating the grammatical rules.
I am also a first time author, and I felt a great amount of anxiety about releasing my book into the world. Were you afraid that people would judge you for writing a fantasy novel? How did you deal with it?
Actually, I wasn’t afraid. I am an avid reader, and there are plently of books I fell in love with, and plenty of books I hated. I knew the readership of The Dark Pilgrim would experience the same thing. Maybe it has just come with age, but I know those who love it will really love it, and those who don’t can just move right on by. I have just wanted nothing more than to share Gilaon’s story with all who wish to read it. That is the ultimate goal.
Whenever someone heard that I have written a fantasy novel, the first thing they ask me is if there is magic and dragons in it. I love both of those elements, but I just giggle because fantasy is so much more than that. I have learned to just shrug off any judgements people have about the ‘fantasy’ genre. All I can do is continue to do what I love and write the story that needs to be told.
Any last thoughts or advice for new authors?
Just keep writing. I still stumble across things I wrote back in 2003 and I laugh hysterically at how terrible it is…and I thought it was pure magic. Every time you put your pen to paper (or your fingers to the keyboard), it is a learning experience. Write your heart out. Time will help you improve. Seek out mentors, hire editors, go to conferences, and never stop trying to improve at your craft. Every day I fall more in love with writing and am so blessed to have met such wonderful people throughout the process.
You can check out A.D. Faylinn and C.J. Taylor’s book The Dark Pilgrim (Flight of the Lionheart, Volume 1) on Amazon, and follow A.D. Faylinn on Twitter at @adfaylinn!
Here is a complete list of links for The Dark Pilgrim: