Author interview time! Thanks so much to my twitter friend and fellow indie author, Valinora Troy (she/her), for participating in a Q&A! (Also as a reminder, if you’re interested in being featured in one of these author interviews, please feel free to reach out via email/social media/or carrier pigeon!)

Valinora Troy is a Children’s Fantasy writer, living in Ireland. She recently completed an MA in Creative Writing specialising in Children’s & Young Adult fiction. She has published short horror stories for adults. She has recently served as a round 1 judge in the CYBILS award, elementary/middlegrade speculative fiction.

Hayley: Hey Valinora! Thanks so much for letting me ask you a few questions! I read your debut middle-grade fantasy, The Lucky Diamond in spring, and absolutely loved it! It’s actually funny because one of my critique partners and I were just discussing the other day how hard middle-grade is to get right, so I actually have loads of questions for you. Prepare for an onslaught!

Valinora: Thanks so much, Hayley! I’m thrilled to be featured on your blog, and I have my defences ready so fire away!

Hayley: First of all, I loved how in The Lucky Diamond, your cast of kids felt both capable and yet they definitely still felt authentically children. For an age group transitioning between young childhood and teenage-dom, how did you find this balance? Any particular inspiration(s) you draw from?

Valinora: I’m so happy you found them convincing! I started writing The Lucky Diamond when I was about six. I kept re-starting the story every year until I finished a full draft when I was 14. The five siblings (and Lucky the Diamond) have been there from the start, so I was their age as I wrote the original story. Of course, I have rewritten and developed the story since then but the characters haven’t changed to any extent. Part of me hasn’t either, I am still a child at heart!    

Hayley: Aw I love the idea of your childhood story finally coming to the page! The second thing that totally stood out to me in The Lucky Diamond is how capably you handled a large cast on a big adventure. There are lots of characters in our band of heroes, and yet all of them had a unique voice and relationships to those around them, and I was never lost in who was who in the scene. This is something I feel like a lot of authors (including myself) struggle with. Any tips or advice on how to navigate a novel with large groups?

Valinora: I’m from a large family (5th of ten children) so it was natural for me to have lots of children in the story when I started writing. Rewriting the book as an adult, I seriously considered reducing the number of characters – but Yvonne would never forgive me if I got rid of her or any of her siblings, so they all had to stay! To get around the challenge of having so many characters, I split them up into separate adventures, which actually benefitted the revised story line. Multiple POVs also helped. I think it’s important to know your characters really well and be clear on the role each one plays in the story or scene so you, the author, don’t lose sight of them! 

Hayley: That’s so awesome that your own experiences brought authenticity to Yvonne’s big family! The Lucky Diamond also gave me *huge* Narnia vibes while I was reading it. Something about your style just totally screams classic, feel-good fantasy adventure, so I’m curious, what would you say are your biggest writing inspirations?

Valinora: I’m very flattered! I read as much fantasy as I could get hold of when I was a child, and of course I read the Narnia stories as well as lots of other fantasy books but reading The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit when I was 9 or 10 was hugely inspirational, especially when it came to creating a secondary world and setting high stakes. I’m very drawn to Tolkien’s idea that the humble and overlooked ‘ordinary folk’ can save the world, and children slot into that category! I’m also inspired by Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom stories (books 1 -5) as well, because the contrasting free and charter magic is a super depiction of good and evil. I love magic systems! (Can I mention certain spell rings or yanaa here??)

Hayley: Oh man. I LOVE the Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series. That probably explains why I liked The Lucky Diamond so much! (And your talk of spell rings and yanaa is totally going to make me blush! 🤣) I haven’t read The Lucky Diamond’s sequel, Revenge of Queen Rose yet, but how many books are you envisioning for this series? Is that something you plan out beforehand or do you play it by ear?

Valinora: The Lucky Diamond, Revenge of Queen Rose and The Great Forest (which I plan to publish next year) wrap up the Queen Rose trilogy. I have a follow on story with the children already drafted, and a second one with one of the side characters as protagonist also awaiting revision. I didn’t plan to write the series at all; the books were written as the ideas popped into my head. However I have a middle grade horror series with an over-arching story in mind so I am determined to plan that one out in advance (it will be a first for me!)

Hayley: OOooo! Middle-grade horror sounds right up my alley! So, do you have any other upcoming plans? Do you think you’ll stick with the middle-grade fantasy, or are you planning on jumping to other age groups or genres?

Valinora: I have a lot of characters in my head at the moment demanding I write their stories, and they are all kids so definitely planning to stick with middle grade for the moment! I want to start my horror series next year. I’ve another fantasy world that’s longing to get written too as well as a paranormal/monster tale that’s hanging around for a while. If only I could stop time for a bit or split myself in three so I could get them written. But then maybe that would mean three times the amount of reading, writing and sleeping to do!

Hayley: I can definitely relate to all the story ideas clamoring for attention, but all of that sounds like so much fun, I can’t wait to see what you come out with! Thanks so much again for participating in the lovely Q&A; now it’s time for a Lightning Round!

o    Favorite genre to read?

Fantasy, all ages

o    A favorite word?

Serendipity

o    Favorite character you’ve created?

Ches in book 2, he was such fun to write

o    Favorite winter tradition?

The three hour long present opening ceremony on Christmas day (accompanied by a few nice beverages) – there’s a lot of us and we open presents one at a time!

o    Advice for aspiring indie authors?

Never lose sight of why you’re doing this, and remember you are in control of the deadlines, so give yourself lots of time and don’t put yourself under pressure. Oh – and do the research and a marketing plan in advance, instead of playing catch up all the time like I do!


I really need to follow your advice about not putting myself under pressure! I always get so caught up in my arbitrary deadlines.😅 Thanks so much to Valinora for the fantastic interview! To read more from Valinora, you can check out her socials and books at the links below. Thanks so much for reading!

Read more from Valinora here: Twitter, Instagram, Website, The Lucky Diamond, & Revenge of Queen Rose

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