Author Spotlight: Interview with May Panayi

LL Thomsen and Leo

What made you start writing?

It was an odd combination of things.

I had some ideas that just kept spinning round in my head and they wouldn’t be quiet. I also felt at the time that I couldn’t find anything new or original within the Fantasy Genre. It was either epic battles all the way without a female character in sight or a swashbuckling adventure where the only female insight was cast as a dumb damsel in distress. I very much wanted the ladies to play a bigger role in the books. I also wanted to explore characters more (like in other genres) and I wanted the ladies to be able to save themselves if there was any saving needed. Then for some bizarre reason, after our daughter was born, I simply exploded with ideas and energy to put something down on paper. That was the true beginning of it – discounting of course the terrible ‘screen plays’ that I wrote when I was about 13 years of age.

What do you think of when you think about your readers? Do you have a constant reader like Stephen King or do you write for a friend/loved one?

The readers are super important to me. I want to make sure that they are intrigued, mystified, entertained, you-name-it…

When I first began to write, I had no readers, not even a beta, or a friend who fancied themselves in the role as feedback-monger/critique buddy, and since none of my family or loved ones seemed even remotely interested in epic fantasy, I pretty much didn’t really know what it would feel like to write for someone else. So I wrote for myself. I guess it might seem a little self-centred, but I just dabbled; it wasn’t really serious; who knew if ‘a reader’ would ever set eyes on anything I wrote.

Of course that is no longer so since I published my first book back in last March.

I love it when someone asks me when the next instalment is out because they cannot wait to see what happens to this or that character. It’s just wonderful to know that something I’ve created is able to capture the interest and imagination of someone I’ve never spoken to before. I’d love to say that that I still write for me – and in a sense perhaps I still do because my books have a whiff of concept about them, after all – but nevertheless, the readers are absolutely my greatest inspiration to carry on! I want to offer them something different; something fresh and strange to sink their eyes, minds and hearts into. They are my continuity.

Do you have a writing process/formula, or is it more random?

I am a terrible Pantser, but I also write down snippets of ideas and feelings, for later use. I have recently had to become a lot more organised in my approach because the hours of the day just seem to run out before I know it, and without some kind of structure, I simply waste too much time on what I call, ‘random fluff’. Once I’m on a roll I can crack on without stopping, but I typically work on one story line (POV) at a time, then once the construct of that is complete, I move on to the next and write this to tie in with the other, and so on. I commonly have quite a few POVs in my books, so continuity is important and I make notes on this constantly. In the past I have also worked chapter to chapter, swopping and changing between events and characters, but this – though fun – is extremely time consuming as I tend to get side-tracked. My goal for 2019 is to tidy up my approach further and do away with the random streak.

Who are your favourite mainstream authors?

I genuinely read across the genres. This may well be reflected in my writing as I like to mix up a bit of mystery with magic, and a bit of character reflection with knights and swords.

But to mention a few…

I love the work of Steven Erikson, Robin Hobb, Janny Wurts, Bernard Cornwell, Dan Brown, Deborah Harkness, C. J. Sansom, Anne Rice, Jussi Adler-Olsen, J. R. Ward, Elizabeth Chadwick.

Have you tried other formats like articles/screenplays/plays etc, or do you stick to novels?

I have written one article about the concept of ‘Hygge’ for the eMagazine ‘Mum’s Favorite Reads’ and I am also supplying a recipe for a cookbook that is being released later this year by the same magazine.

As a kid I used to write silly screen plays – but these days, I prefer to write books.

Do you consider writing a hobby or a profession?

Interesting question! I’d very much love to consider it a profession and I am working towards this goal to be sure, but in reality there are too many obstacles in the way (both on a private and a professional level).  The reality remains that I take the professional approach to the whole writing/publishing ‘thing’ (I want to be taken serious) – yet at the end of the day, I cannot really claim to label my undertakings as more than a hobby.

Where do your ideas come from?

Everywhere! From landscapes, the weather, names, town names, telly, magazines, books, life, death, the news, people, events… even dreams.

When it comes to marketing and promotion, how do you approach this area?

Sadly, this is my Achilles Heel. I plan to get far more savvy with the concept of marketing in 2019. As an indie author, I simply cannot afford not to get better at this, but since I have focussed on writing all last year and only tested a few little promos here and there, I have much to learn. I understand the whole process is a fine balancing act between spending and income. I am not sure if I can afford to be as bold in my approach as some, but I guess I’ll sit down and do some careful research and supplement this with a budget. Wow… being a writer entails so much more than most people think, lol.

What would you most like to sit down and discuss with your readers?

Just genuine feedback. What they like and don’t like about my writing. Where they think the books will go and why. I’d also really like to know about them and what inspires them. What are they like as people? What are their hopes and dreams? Who are we all? Do they like coffee or tea? Cats or dogs? (Lol, fyi… I like both coffee and tea – though maybe the coffee just holds the edge. Cats and dogs? Got two of the former and one of the latter – enough said ;-))

About what would you most like to chat with your favourite author?

How do they carry on when the odds are against them? Did they ever feel like giving up the writing and why? How do they fit life and writing into the normal 24 hour days? What do they do to relax? Who’s their favourite author? Who inspired them? Do they credit String Theory? Is there life on Mars? What’s their favourite drink? What’s their next project? I think the possibilities are endless…

Where do you see yourself in five years? What is coming up for you, new book/project wise?

In five years, I’d love to have swapped the ‘hobby’ label for the ‘profession’ label. I’d love to be able to reach readers and a have a connection beyond the author/reader status. I’d love someone to draw some art for my books just because they felt like it, or to drop me a line because they have a new kitten and just want to share the news. I’d certainly also love to have cracked the marketing ‘nut’ without making a grand fool of myself and my aspirations. And most of all I hope that my inspiration will keep flowing so that my series will grow as it is intended. A small part of me also dabble with the idea of finding someone to concert The Missing Shield into a graphic novel. I always felt that this would be awesome.

What are your greatest writing influences?

Other indie authors are a great inspiration. We have the same goals, the same dreams, the same fears. Writing can be a lonely business, and you sometimes wonder if you fuss unnecessarily over certain problems/sentences/issues… yet when in contact with other writers, it soon becomes clear that lots of people can relate to you  and that the thing you might be struggling with, is really nothing out of the ordinary. It’s reassuring and also kind of nice to be reminded that others are on the same path as I. Since I have started writing, I have gotten to know some fab self-published people and their books are second to none! They work themselves hard and carry themselves with a professional grace that cannot be taken lightly. They are all tomorrow’s stars.

Is there anything you’d like to add.

Only a huge ‘thank you’ for chatting to me.
Also, I am currently working on book/episode 8 of The Missing Shield (Epic High Fantasy) and hope it’ll be out on Amazon in Feb ’19.
I have also just commissioned a map of the City of Zanzier to be draw up by fellow author and friend, Doug Turner. I cannot wait to see how it turns out. I’ve been wanting to get it done myself for ages but have not had the time, but there is a space for it on my website, so it’ll be fab to finally fill it so that the readers can have a look.
If anyone would like to know more about me and/or my books, please  visit www.llthomsen.com or pop on over to either of my FB pages, https://www.facebook.com/linda.thomsen.12979 and https://www.facebook.com/themissingshield/