Author Interview: Leia Talon

There’s no doubt about it: the fantasy genre is saturated. There’s a lot of great authors doing great things. In some ways it’s hard to stand out or make a mark in a genre that attracts such modern giants as the traditional-minded Brandon Sanderson and innovative V.E. Schwab.

There is simply no more room for great writers. What we need is the innovative, the unusual, the standouts.

What Leia Talon is doing with their Roots and Stars series, and The World Tree Chronicles universe, tests the bounds of fantasy as a genre and format. We need writers like Talon to reinvent genres, and fiction as a whole, to bring back the excitement for literature that brought so many of us to the world.

I was excited to hear about Talon’s future plans, their process, and some of the inspiration around The World Tree Chronicles.

(You can also read my review of Shelta’s Songbook here.)

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a lifelong dreamer, musician, and poet living in the mountains of British Columbia, where nature soothes me and sparks my imagination. I adore my kids and my cats. Also, I believe in faeries. And dragons. And staying optimistic in the face of chaos.

Tell us about Shelta’s Songbook and the series.

Shelta’s Songbook gives an intimate glimpse into the mind of Shelta Raine, the main character in the Roots and Stars series of novels that are coming out next year. 

With poetry, short stories, and love letters from an immortal, Shelta’s Songbook is a delicious appetizer to the upcoming fantasy romance saga. I love the perspective of the Keeper of Lost Souls and Stories, and though he doesn’t come into the novels until book two of Roots and Stars, I’m so excited for people to find out who he is!

Here’s the summary for Falling Through the Weaving, book one of Roots and Stars:

A mother whose music bridges worlds has a child loved by three fathers.

A Scottish spymaster.

A mountain man hunted by outlaws.

A Viking demigod with the secrets of dragons.

To be a family they must pay Time’s price:

Love.

Grieve.

Surrender.

Fight.

What is your favorite novel, and has it inspired how you write? How?

So many favorites. The Fionavar Tapestry, by Guy Gavriel Kay, had a big impact on me because it took legends and pulled them into a new story, rewriting old myths into something new. Outlander was another that inspired me to write romance. The Roots and Stars series will appeal to fans of Diana Gabaldon, though the time travel comes with alternate histories and dragons.

My current favorite indie novel is Cambiare by Avery Ames, which is one of the best stories I’ve read set in the realm of faerie.

What are some key takeaways you’re hoping readers get from your book?

Hope. Inspiration. A sense of adventure without going anywhere, complete with longing and love and a reminder that even when we feel broken, our scars make us stronger.

What is different about your book?

One of the things that makes Shelta’s Songbook special is that the Keeper of Lost Souls and Stories collects poems and short stories that Shelta has lost as she’s traveled through time. He has this role of witness, but there’s something sacred about his duty. Her writing sets his immortal soul aflame in the best possible way.

What are your plans for future novels?

The World Tree Chronicles is the overarching universe for Shelta’s Songbook and the upcoming novels. I’m currently getting the Roots and Stars duology read for release early in 2021, starting with Falling Through the Weaving, where time-traveling musician Shelta must trust three men who share the same soul, and plunge so far into the past that dragons still exist.

The second duology set in the same world is called Dragons and Gods, and follows the adventures of Shelta’s children as they deal with the fallout of their mother’s actions, and ancient mistakes of the gods that have catastrophic consequences.

I also have two other fantasies and a sci-fi novel waiting in the wings. I can’t wait to get back to those, but the World Tree Chronicles are so much fun! I’m excited to have them published and coming to life in readers’ imaginations.

What inspires you to write?

I think stories are one of the greatest gifts in life. Whether it’s a book, a movie, a series—storytelling is a joy to me. Also, my characters demand their stories be written, so I’m not sure I have much of a choice in the matter. 😉

What do you enjoy about publishing, and what do you struggle with?

Hmmm… I love picking out cover art, and sharing my story with readers. It’s a lot of fun to connect with people who have enjoyed my books. 

The actual process of publishing has a lot of details that can be challenging, and take a lot of time that I’d rather spend writing, but such is the nature of the beast.

What has been your greatest struggle writing, and how would you inspire other writers to overcome it?

You know, sometimes words are hard. Whether I’m running into a wall in a first draft, or slogging through a difficult edit, there are definitely times where I have to push myself to keep going, or take a break and come back with fresh eyes. 

I think it’s important to give yourself permission to switch gears and do something else when you need to. And if you’re starting to burn out, rest. Binge watch a series if you want, or paint, or spend more time in nature. Maybe all of the above. I’ve learned how much it helps to ease off the pressure and come back to it with renewed energy.

How can we purchase your book?

Shelta’s Songbook eBook: https://books2read.com/sheltassongbook

Shelta’s Songbook paperback: https://books2read.com/sheltaspaper

Pre-order Falling Through the Weaving: https://bit.ly/fallingEB

Sign up to Leia Talon’s newsletter for exclusive poems and new releases: https://leiatalon.com/newsletter

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LeiaTalon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/leiatalon

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leiatalon/

Book Review: Shelta’s Songbook

Shelta’s Songbook by Leia Talon is a whimsical introduction to the Roots and Stars series of novels coming out in 2021. It’s comprised of short stories, love letters and songs, alongside illustrations (paperback version) all carefully knitted together into a constellation that spans the lifetimes of Shelta Raine, the main character in the story who travels through time.

On its own, Shelta’s Songbook weaves a web of disparate moments that need not be the purview of a time traveler to have impact. Love, loss, self-care, and self-doubt are all tackled at different moments, and it all connects in a deep, human way. 

The Good

What’s interesting about Shelta’s Songbook is that while It suits well as an introduction to a love story that promises to span time and immortality, it can also stand alone on it’s own merits as a book of poetry. Taken out of context from the canon of the series of romance novels, it says enough on it’s own that it need not be seen as just a companion piece.

I reviewed the paperback version, so my comments on the illustrations are going to be based on that. I don’t believe the e-book version has nearly as much visual content, so fair warning that if you want the full experience, I highly recommend investing in the paperback version. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did. 

Coming from an illustration background, I’m pretty critical about consistency of illustrations and their necessity. Sometimes poetry books include illustrations for the sake of it—I didn’t get that feeling from Shelta’s Songbook. They were all related to the content, well-executed on a technical level, and downright gorgeous. They are all black and white line illustrations, filled with swirls, outlines and silhouettes that are airy and bright alongside the text. It was a perfect combination.

Should You Read It

There are two audiences that I think would be a perfect fit for this book. First, if you plan on reading any of the Roots and Stars series, then absolutely this is a perfect addition and precursor to the stories. As far as if you should read Roots and Stars: If you’re a fan of fantasy elements, love stories that span time and unthinkable odds, and whimsical writing, then the series is something that would be up your alley.

Secondly, if you’re a fan of poetry anthologies that are whimsical with a hint of the fantastical, but above all that touch the parts of us that are so inherently human—this is a paperback that you would do well to have on your shelf.

Trigger Warnings None