Author’s note: Today marks a year since my fantasy mythology retelling The Soft Fall was released. Thank you to everyone who has supported me on this journey and my publisher, Ellysian Press — who also published the author featured in this interview!
This is the fourth installment of a series of writer to writer discussions I call Author Coffee Breaks.
With her YA fantasy debut A Forgotten Past, Canadian author Tiffany Lafleur spins an epic adventure of animal magic and shapeshifting, a smart heroine on the cusp of realizing the mysteries of these powers through memories revealed, and richly detailed worldbuilding (gorgeous market scenes; horseback quests; sparring!) — in short, all the hallmarks of what I enjoy in a fantasy.
This first installment of the Sapeiro Chronicles is deftly paced and caringly crafted, a fresh, modern story with all the charm of a classic fairy tale.
Fans of Sarah J. Maas or Tamora Pierce, as well as any fantasy reader who grew up wishing they could talk to animals, will be enthralled by Lafleur’s diverse characters and plot twists of royal intrigue.
Thanks for chatting with me here, Tiffany!
M: What’s your story about?
T: My story is about a kingdom, called Sapeiro, on the verge of collapse under the ambitions of a few powerful individuals. That’s the big, macro look at the story. But mainly, this story is about Lily, a young woman who has no recollection of her past. But after displaying a power believed to have been long forgotten, she suddenly finds herself at the center of a conflict she didn’t know existed. She’s going to have to go on a journey to uncover her past, find out who she truly is, and then decide for herself what part she wants to have in this conflict.
M: Why do you write?
T: I write because I have something to say, and I’ve chosen words as my medium. I’ve always viewed writing as a kind of putty that you try and shape into submission. After enough knocks and molding and tinkering, at the end, you might be lucky enough to have a misshapen mass of… something. That something is story. And that’s why I write. I’m not so fond of the “stitching words together” part as I am the “create new worlds” part. Writing allows me to reach deep inside my imagination and put to paper what goes on in my mind, so that others can experience it as well.
M: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
T: There are so many parts that I love, it’s so difficult to pick just one! I’d say that the planning phase is always a lot of fun, and is most likely my favourite. Once I’ve hammered out the plot, I know where the story is going and I have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen to my characters. This is the stage where the plot twists get decided, and the building blocks of the story are planned out.
Then, my second favourite part is after I’ve written the first draft, and I’m working on the second. This part is great, because it’s a way of delving deeper into the story and fleshing it out more and more. This is where I get to know my characters, and examine their reactions to the external events unfolding. I always feel that the second draft is when the writing finishes, and the editing begins. Because up until that point, you’re really focussing on the story and making sure everything follows a logical order.
Excerpt from A Forgotten Past:
She could sense the draft horses, glad for the rest the broken wheel provided them, as well as the mice scuttling in the grass. A hawk flew above, gazing on, uninterested in the scene below. The world was lit with the consciousnesses of the beings that surrounded her. She could sense them and feel their joy, fear, and determination to survive. Their emotions were her emotions.
Extending her reach further, Lily sought out the wolf pack. They were not difficult to find: seven large spirits clustered together, a few hundred meters behind the patrol. Their sharp, predatory minds were bright. They were forming a plan, intent on taking advantage of the broken wheel, which left her patrol stranded and weak. But their intentions changed suddenly, from focused planning to aggression – and finally fear.
Lily opened her eyes, suddenly on high alert. What could make the biggest predators in the fields feel such unrestrained fear? Closing her eyes again, she extended her consciousness, probing, searching for the cause of the fear that had overtaken the wolves so quickly. There didn’t seem to be anything that could—
Lily frowned and concentrated harder. Another consciousness had appeared. It was far away but approaching fast. It was too fast for a forest bear but too slow for a horse. Its mind was intelligent, smarter than the wolves, but she was still not able to identify whether or not it was a threat.
Pulling on her mare’s reins, she dashed over to where Cormick stood, on the other side of the cart. The spare wheel had been brought out, waiting for the rest of the patrol to pry the shattered wheel from its spoke. Brandon looked at her quizzically as she sprinted along, though Lily ignored him.
“Cormick,” she called as she approached him. He glared at her through hooded eyes.
“What, come to gloat about how powerful you are, orphan?” he spat.
“No, you twit,” she snapped, patience running thin. “Something’s coming our way. Can you sense it?”
Cormick was about to retort when his expression froze. He snapped his head eastward, towards where Lily had sensed the bright consciousness.
“What is that?” he asked incredulously, all animosity gone.
Lily had a feeling she knew. Though it shouldn’t be possible, she knew what was lurching their way. There was only one thing on this side of the continent that could be that big, that powerful, and that intelligent.
She quickly guided her horse over to the rest of her patrol, where Brandon had finally succeeded in taking off the broken wheel. Another two men were crouched near the spoke, trying to ease the new wheel on, while the others were straining at the frame, attempting to lift it high enough to latch on the new wheel.
“Something’s coming,” she blurted out, heart fluttering in her chest.
Brandon’s expression instantly darkened.
“What is it, thieves? The wolves? Rasara?” he asked, placing his hand instinctively on the pommel of his sword.
“No,” she replied. “It’s a berserker.”