C. L. Wilson is a New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author with her Tairen Soul series. (Except for the hero and heroine, who are Fey, the Tairen are a race of large, winged felines with shapeshifting capability. The hero, Rain, is called the Tairen Soul.) Publishers Weekly said of the fifth volume, Crown of Crystal Flame, “This series should have great appeal for fans of fantasy.” Kristin Smith, Borders’ romance expert, called the first volume, Lord of the Fading Lands, “a truly impressive debut,” describing Wilson as “an author to keep an eye on.” After participating in a Writer’s Track panel on gruesome ways to kill characters, Wilson sat down for a chat with the Daily Dragon.
Daily Dragon (DD): Welcome to Dragon*Con! For readers who aren’t familiar with the Tairen Soul series, please describe it.
C. L. Wilson (CLW): It’s sword and sorcery romance, like The Lord of the Rings with a strong romance. The first five books are Ellie’s coming of age story and show how she gets her Tairen wings.
DD: As you said, the strong romantic arc builds, with other story arcs, against the big canvas of an epic fantasy that has the fates of kingdoms at stake. Was this by design, or did it evolve as the story grew?
CLW: I realized very early that this would not be just one novel and planned it as a trilogy. But the books were all Tad Williams length, around 225,000 words. The publisher made me cut them. There are five novels in the series, but I had enough material for six. I had to condense and change things. For example, the death of Vadim Maur happens much faster than I originally planned.
The first two books, Lord of the Fading Lands and Lady of Light and Shadows, were originally one book. The publisher made me cut it into two.
DD: Where are the characters after the fifth book, Crown of Crystal Flame, and what’s next?
CLW: Ellie was key to saving the Tairen and the Fey and has done that. She and Rain have formed the truemate bond. In all the elemental magics, earth, air, fire, and water, he’s stronger than she is, but she is now stronger than he is in spirit and in Azrahn, or soul magic. Azrahn is a double-edged magic. Warriors use it aggressively, to destroy, while women use it to heal. You can’t have all the good it can do without some destruction to balance it. It’s a mixture of shadow and light, like yin and yang.
My next project is not set in the Fading Lands. It’s The Winter King, a stand-alone, marriage-of-convenience story about two clans of warring weather mages. The daughter of the summer king has to become the wife of the winter king. Romance readers will consider it more of a romance. I used a lot of Norse elements and a situation similar to Ragnarok.
After that, I’ll return to the Fading Lands for Bel’s story and then Gaelen’s.
DD: What was your path to publication?
CLW: I started shopping the first book to major houses, sending out proposals, before the book was finished. I also entered it in contests. It always finaled but never placed or won. It was always an honorable mention finalist.
The Lord of the Rings films were not yet out, and editors wanted vampires and werewolves. Then, around 2004, with the Lord of the Rings movies out and successful, the contest entries started to creep up in the standings, placing and then winning. At the same time, editors were getting tired of vampires.
I never changed my books, just waited for their time to come.
DD: What advice would you offer to aspiring writers at Dragon*Con?
CLW: Don’t give up. There are a lot of brilliant writers who don’t get published because they give up before they hit the right publisher at the right time with the right project.