Interview with Victoria Torley
Author of Orb and Arrow: Exploration
VL Stuart holds a degree in English and has a long history of writing poetry, essays, and newspaper columns. Her column Life is a Tropical Garden, (as Victoria Torley) has been running in amcostarica.com for seven years and she edited the newspaper for two of those years before turning her attention of writing novels. Her Orb and Arrow Trilogy was available on Kindle where it had excellent reviews, but is now under contract with Pen It! Publications along with several other books. “Orb and Arrow: Exploration” is now available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.
As the administrator of the FB page, Marketing for Indies, (Marketing for Indies | Facebook), Victoria has earned a reputation for researching valid and scam publishers and providing open-handed information on independent publishing. Her promise read a promoted book weekly (Book Promo Friday on FB) and review it or comment to the author has been well received. Her website is under construction and should be available soon, but she can be reached on Facebook.
At present, Ms Stuart lives between two volcanoes in Costa Rica: “But don't worry, only one of them is active.”
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How would you describe Orb and Arrow to a new reader?
- The Orb and Arrow trilogy is worked in the genre of epic fantasy and has been described as 'Tolkienesque.' It follows themes involving the exploration of a world and the bonding of the main characters. Honor, duty, sacrifice, courage, family, are all themes that thread their way through the novels.
What was the inspiration behind Orb and Arrow?
- Oddly enough, the name Brillar was one I used while playing an MMORPG (for sixteen years) called Asheron's Call. I got used to the swords and sorcerers genre there, although I have been an avid reader of fantasy and scifi for years. My subconscious must have been working on the idea for years, because, when I sat down to write, the words flowed from mind to fingertips without pause and the book was finished in twenty-four days. Not bad for 90,000+ words.
Which authors do you admire? How have they influenced your writing style?
- I started reading Heinlein when I was a pre-teen. His novels often figured themes of honor and civic duty, something that I admired. I can write truly nasty villains, but they are faced with characters who will sacrifice everything, even their lives, to oppose and defeat them. Anne MacCaffrey's Dragonrider series is a great favorite of mine and has also been an influence, especially in her use of human/animal connections.
Can you tell us a little about the locations in your book?
- The action takes place on the world of Darae where magic is real and can be learned. The continent Dereff is divided, however, by a large area called the Wild - desolate and dangerous. Northern Dereff where the action begins, is widely settled and governed by a king. It is the location for the two great schools of magic, the School of Life called the Sisterhood and the School of War called the Brotherhood, although both schools take male and female students. Students also study Item and Creature magic at both schools. Towns are medieval in style, travel is by horse, wagon, or foot.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
- Read, read some more, then read again, then re-read your favorite books. Read in a variety of genres, books by a variety of authors. Make a conscious decision on which writing style works for you - I am a pantser, I have no outline or notes on what happens when. Other writers depend on an outline, even deciding what happens in each chapter before writing. Then there are writers who mix the styles. The closest I have come to outlining is making notes on what things need to happen on each date, especially when I am writing about a war.
What's your writing process?
- As I mentioned, I am a pantser. I have an idea of what will happen but the story seems to evolve as I write. Individual names pop up in my head with fully evolved characterization. I know who the person is and how he or she will behave. I've even had the experience of writing a scene and getting the weird feeling that the characters disapprove. When that happens, I rewrite the scene. It's an odd sensation.
Which character in Orb and Arrow has had the greatest impact on readers?
- People seem equally impressed by both main characters. Brillar was trained as a healer by the Sisterhood, but she loves the Way of the Bow and is a master archer. She struggles with her devotion to the healing arts, but doesn’t want to give up her travels, her love of the road, the fields, the forest, for a life as a Healer. Elden is twelve years her senior (she is twenty-two) and a Master of War Magic, but skilled in Item and Creature as well. His experience blends well with what is essentially her inexperience. She has traveled, but only in settled lands. People tell me they react strongly to the interplay between the characters, especially when Master Elden takes Brillar as an apprentice.
If Orb and Arrow were to be adapted for TV or film, who would you see in the lead role? Who did you have in your mind’s eye when you wrote him/her?
- Let me first explain that we live in Costa Rica and haven't seen a movie in years. Even new television shows are a rare find for us so I have no idea which new actors or actresses would fit my characters.
How have readers responded to Orb and Arrow?
- The response has been overwhelmingly positive even from people who don't usually read the genre! Every author hopes that will happen, but some books are just shoved aside. I think people are responding to the themes of honor and duty (behaviors sometimes lacking in real life) and to the interplay of the characters.
Where next? What are you working on now?
- Usually, I have several things in progress. At present, one novel is about Brillar's life before she meets Elden. The other is a sequel to 'Warriors of the Kalahn' which is searching for an agent or publisher. Funny to be writing a sequel to an unpublished novel, but 'Warriors' at 151,000 words is about 50% longer than most novels so it needs a specialty publisher. 'Warriors' is also in the epic fantasy/adventure genre. Then there are side stories that I add to involving both the Orb and Arrow books and 'Warriors.' Let's just say I'm busy.
Brillar was expected to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a healer but she was headstrong and impetuous; she had plans of her own. Now a highly skilled archer, she has been forced to kill to release a mage, bound in enchanted chains. It was self-defense, but that is no excuse for a healer.
Releasing a Master War Mage from bondage could get you killed . . . or apprenticed. When Master Elden insists on the latter, Brillar finds herself on a journey not of her making. When it doesn’t end well, she insists on directing a new journey where her healing skills will find newer and greater challenges.
Settled lands are one thing, but in the Wild, she will have to rely on her Master’s knowledge of the terrain and the people. And the Rovers are not always friendly.