SPFBO Interview with Kay L. Ling


One of the goals of SPFBO is to give a chance to self-published authors to get more exposure. This year I’m taking part in the competition as an advisor for Fantasy Book Review’s judging team. I decided to offer a spot to the authors in our group and will post them throughout the year. To see all of our content regarding the competition, check out my SPFBO page!

Kay L. Ling

Kay L. Ling began writing fiction at an early age. In grade school, her stories evidenced a sense of wonder and love of adventure. In one, mythical creatures lived and traveled inside a rainbow, and in another, a bored sixth-grader turned her teacher into a maroon sofa and then teleported herself to London. As she grew up, Kay never lost her ability to imagine strange and wondrous people and places, and now she would like to share her unique fantasy adventures with others. Kay Lives in Stafford, N.Y. with her husband, Lowell, and two cats, Tornado and Crystal.

Welcome to the Asylum! Take a seat by the fire, have a glass of beverage of your choice and tell me something about yourself!

I have always preferred books to television, and I’ve been an avid reader since grade school. Back in the day (er, um, a few decades ago) I had a lot of short stories published in small press fantasy magazines, and I also wrote a few novels. Those were the days when you could send a manuscript directly to Tor or Daw, but you often waited a year to hear back from them. After waiting over a year and receiving a ”good but not quite good enough” letter from Daw, I wasn’t anxious to go through that again. I set the book aside, and eventually I became too busy with my career to write.        

Say you can live in the fantasy house/lair of your dreams. What would it look like?

I’d enjoy something small and cosy like Bilbo Baggins’s house, particularly if it was full of fascinating curiosities collected from many fantasy realms.  

What is your favorite fantasy creature and why?

I should say gnomes. My series features my own version of gnomes, and they’re nothing like garden gnomes, but I’ll say Treemen, which are described as gigantic tree-like creatures that protect the forests of old. We own several acres of woods, and I enjoy walking through forests. I would love to find Treemen during one of my hikes.  

Why did you decide to become an author and how did you end up choosing self-publishing?

I retired in my mid-fifties, and my sister talked me into resurrecting and rewriting Beyond the Forest. She pushed me toward self-publishing as she didn’t want to wait while I hunted for an agent and tried to land a conventional book deal. I resisted at first, but it made sense to take control of my book.     

Which author would you say is your greatest influence as a writer?

Probably JRR Tolkien. My librarian aunt sent me a copy of The Hobbit for Christmas one year, and that began my love of fantasy fiction. Truth be told, it took me years to wean my writing away from a Tolkienesque style and develop my own voice.

If you could go back in time and offer any advice to a younger Kay prior to releasing Wards and Wonders what would it be?

No advice, really. It’s a shame I gave up writing for decades, but I grew as a person in the meantime. Reviewers often comment on how much they like my characters. In the past, my stories were plot-driven. Characterization was a weak point. Not anymore.

What SPFBO means to you? What do you hope to gain (fame and wealth aside)?

I went into this year’s SPFBO with minimal expectations, having been through the process last year with Beyond the Forest. Like everyone else, I would like more exposure for my work. It’s hard to be noticed with so many books published per year. Mark Lawrence did a wonderful thing in creating a way for Indie authors to gain more attention and respect.

What inspires you/your world?

The setting for my first series, the Gem Powers Series, was loosely based on a local nature preserve. The main character, a young gemologist, encounters woodland gnomes there and eventually goes through a portal to their world. The story’s magic system is based on actual gem folklore from our world. The second series, The Gem Lore series (Wards and Wonders is book one) centers on gnome main characters and gems native to their world. Human characters from the first series appear in the book, but they play secondary roles. Main characters are gnomes and their unpredictable mutant counterparts, the breghlin.

Which character of your book do you identify with the most and why? Who would you like to live with in an asylum?

Tyla is the main character in Wards and Wonders, and I identify with her because she’s always pushing herself beyond the boundaries of her comfort zone, doing what she needs to in order to help her people. I admire that quality. Who would I like to live with in an asylum? I think I’m living in one now with my husband and two zany cats!  

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good or the bad ones?

I do read my reviews. Most are good, but no matter who you are, an author inevitably gets a few unfavorable reviews. I’ve learned from reading thousands of reviews on hundreds of books that what one reader dislikes about a book is exactly what the next reader loves. One person thinks a book  is slow, another calls it fast-paced. One says characters are flat, and another praises the excellent characterization. It’s almost as if these people weren’t reading the same book. So, I don’t take reviews too seriously, but I do consider criticism useful as long as it isn’t mean-spirited.  

Are there any books that have been/ are being released in 2018 that you are excited to read?

Not really. I plan to read a few more SPFBO books, but some weren’t released this year.

While you are locked in here for eternity, we will allow you one book – what would you choose?

The Bible. It’s outsold every book in history, and with good reason.

Well then, we hope you’ll enjoy your stay in the Asylum! Any last words? *locks door*

Crazy people have more fun. *grin*

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If you’d like to get in contact with Kay L. Ling, you can find her on social media:

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Get Wards and Wonders by clicking on the cover!

Wards and Wonders

For more SPFBO content from the whole Fantasy Book Review team, check out my page!