Summer vacation time is nearing and what better way to spend it than to binge read an epic fantasy series… that is why we are bringing an interview with one such author to you! We sat down and talked to the incredible Jenn Lyons about her series A Chorus of Dragons and about her experiences as a writer in the publishing industry. All five books of the series are out so we do encourage you to grab them all for a binge read. This is a tale that is honestly best read in quick succession as you’re going to be hooked with this cast of characters and their lives. Perfect for fans of Patrick Rothfuss and George R. Martin.
When destiny calls, there's no fighting back.
Kihrin grew up in the slums of Quur, a thief and a minstrel's son raised on tales of long-lost princes and magnificent quests. When he is claimed against his will as the missing son of a treasonous prince, Kihrin finds himself at the mercy of his new family's ruthless power plays and political ambitions.
Practically a prisoner, Kihrin discovers that being a long-lost prince is nothing like what the storybooks promised. The storybooks have lied about a lot of other things, too: dragons, demons, gods, prophecies, and how the hero always wins.
Then again, maybe he isn't the hero after all. For Kihrin is not destined to save the world.
He's destined to destroy it.
Jenn Lyons begins the Chorus of Dragons series with The Ruin of Kings, an epic fantasy novel about a man who discovers his fate is tied to the future of an empire.
Jenn Lyons is very well known in the fantasy novel world for her series “A Chorus of Dragons”. She started telling stories pretty much as soon as she learned to write with her first “book” when she was twelve years old. Her talents had always pushed her towards the arts as her career path, but it wasn’t until her late twenties that she really thought about writing books for a career. The push came from her ex-husband when he dared her to write a book. She’d been writing these epic backstories for her Dungeons & Dragons characters, but she quickly realised that even if you write a book, it doesn’t mean that it is always a good book.
“It was a lot of fun and then I tried to get that book published which was a lot less fun. But I still enjoyed the process of doing it so I kept writing.”
When she moved to Atlanta, Georgia about ten years ago, she found herself with a lot more time to write so she decided to try it again. This is when Chorus of Dragons began. Tabletop roleplaying games have influenced a lot of her work as she takes inspiration from the worlds that are created and the characters that she has played for her stories. In fact, almost all of the characters in A Chorus of Dragons started off in some way shape or form as a player character before morphing into who they are in the books.
“In the divorce, he (my ex-husband) got the books and I got the IP on some of the stuff that we were working on. In most cases, I changed so much that not even the name is the same.”
Jenn admits that getting an agent was a nightmare for herself. She had almost given up as she had years of rejections before she finally found her right agent through a friend who pushed her to query him. When she did query the agent, she decided to take her own route and wrote a very honest query letter. In fact, she broke the fourth wall during the letter.
“I don’t recommend what I did to everyone. Querying is a very personal thing. You need to find that person who is a compatible soul.”
Five minutes after sending the letter, Jenn received an email from him requesting the rest of the manuscript. Weeks later, she talked to him on the phone for four hours as he talked her through the manuscript and what changes he thought should be made before he’d sign her.
“I looked at it in two different ways. One, I didn’t disagree with anything he said. I could see it and get what he was talking about. Two, this was invaluable stuff! People usually pay a lot for stuff like this and I was getting it for free.”
It took Jenn eighteen months to get the changes made and he signed her right away. A week after the signing, he sent information about publishers who were interested in the series. They went into a bidding war that ended on the dream side for Jenn.
“I was really happy that Tor ended up being the winner of the auction. I’ve always loved Tor and they have a special place in my heart. Even before, when I thought I was going to be an artist, I wanted to do the covers for Tor.”
Tor put Jenn on a ten-month publishing cycle which she did do but it was harder than she expected it to be. While she was trying to write each book, she also had to be doing press, tours, and edits for the previous book while also living a life outside of the story world and promoting herself as an author. One thing that she didn’t realise is that the time that you write isn’t the same as the time that you plot. When she went from working full time with writing in the evening to writing full time, she actually found that she only gained about 1000 words a day.
As she worked on the Chorus of Dragons storyline, her cast of characters kept growing as she knew that they would each have a special part of the story to tell. When talking to her, Jenn admitted that keeping up with each character and each voice wasn’t a problem for her during the writing process. It is another benefit of role playing games as she had the previous experience of keeping up with various characters over time through the multitude of games that she’s played over the years.
One piece of advice that Jenn had for future writers is to just keep writing and experiment.
“If you have to write 25,000 words just to figure out that it doesn’t work, that isn’t a waste of time. Don’t throw anything out, but when somebody tells you that something is wrong and to fix it, they are almost always wrong about how to fix it. But they are right that something is wrong and needs to be fixed.”