Lily Anne Crow
Lily Anne Crow is a storyteller of dark fantasy and epic fantasy tales, where you never know what lurks in the shadows, and almost anyone can rise to the rank of hero. She has been writing stories of the fantastic since she could hold a quill. Her debut novel, If Light Above, is the first in the series titled A War of Whispers.
Though Lily has been training young Magisters for fifteen years, she desires a change of scenery and is aiming to make story-telling a full-time occupation. She is a lover of all things wild and magical, from sweet wine to exotic beasts, and from starry skies to snowy mountain-tops.
When she’s not writing, Lily enjoys spending time with her closest people and her most beloved creatures, delving deep into nature, or discovering new parts of her fantasy world, Erlahain.
1.- What made you choose self-publishing?
When I first considered writing to publish, I did a lot of research on the publishing industry. To put it simply, I didn’t want to take the time to search for an agent in the hopes of getting a contract. Self-publishing looked like a lot of work, but it would allow me to get my writing “out into the wild” in a much shorter time frame, which appealed to me. Being able to keep more of my royalties sounded pretty good, too! My husband is also a huge help, and acts as my developmental editor, along with several other roles. He was quite willing to help me get set up as a self-published author, and together, we started our own publishing company, Raven & Rum Press.
2.- Will of the Wayfinder is your third series if I’m not wrong. Could you tell us what inspired you to create this one?
It’s actually my second series. The first, A War of Whispers, takes place in the same fantasy world, but hundreds of years later. I initially wanted to write something city-based, involving political intrigue and multiple POV characters, inspired by Game of Thrones. That’s my debut series, A War of Whispers. But I also wanted to explore the more magical, mythic past of my world, where humans hadn’t yet spread through every land and there were still plenty of ancient mysteries to discover. That was where my Will of the Wayfinder series came in. I also liked the idea of following one character primarily, a young cartographer fresh from the city and eager to explore the world along with the reader. I love describing Erlahain this way, through Thaniel’s eyes.
3.- Let’s talk about the cover of Dreams of Dust. Could you tell us more about its design?
My cover artist, Jeff Brown, is amazing. I highly recommend everyone have a look at his site and his portfolio (https://www.jeffbrowngraphics.com), because his work is top notch! He mostly creates sci-fi covers, along with landscapes and creatures for fantasy covers (he’s told me he loves drawing dragons), but when I asked for a striking cover for Dreams of Dust, he immediately had some ideas. Originally, I asked for my main character, Thaniel, to be on the cover. But after some back and forth during our meeting (a live Google meet where he shares his screen and starts designing right there!) we agreed that having the Queen of Dust by herself was better. I’ve loved all the covers that Jeff has done for me (6 so far) but Dreams of Dust is definitely my favorite!
4.- How would you say your writing process has changed with time?
I’ve learned to work side-by-side with my husband. We have different strengths when it comes to world-building and storytelling, and we make a great team. With my debut, he helped me lay down the basic outline, and I wrote everything myself. Once the first draft was done, however, we realized we had to go back and re-write a good chunk, mostly to fix some inconsistencies and improve character arcs. Re-writing is not fun! Now, we have a more structured approach, including a detailed chapter-by-chapter outline. He works with me as I write so that by the time the first draft is done, it needs very little altering. I trust him with consistency and plot structure, and he trusts me with crafting the prose, describing the world, and bringing the characters to life.
5.- If I’m not wrong, all your series share the world. Could you tell us more about the idea behind this?
The world of Erlahain has been with me for a very long time, nearly 35 years! I wrote my first fantasy story when I was in high school, and I created the setting of Erlahain at the same time. I’ve run Dungeons & Dragons campaigns in it, drawn numerous maps of it, and written pages and pages of history and information about it. It only seemed natural to write all my fantasy stories with Erlahain as the setting. It’s large enough to have innumerable stories set in it, but small enough to have a sense of cohesiveness. I wanted to give my readers a chance to learn about the main human continent, Koranth, in two different timelines. I love sprinkling in details that astute readers will recognize and be able to connect between the two series, even hundreds of years apart.
6.- This is your second year in the SPFBO contest. How do you feel about it?
I enjoyed being in SPFBO last year, but it was disappointing that Dreams of Dust didn’t make it very far. I’ve gotten excellent reviews for it, but it just didn’t mesh well with the SPFBO judge that got it. I’m hoping for a different outcome with If Light Above this year! But even if I don’t make it very far in the competition, I’m glad to have a chance to meet other amazing self-published authors, along with fantastic book reviewers. And of course, a bit more exposure for my work is always a good thing. Being able to give my book to reviewers who are doing SPFBO9 read-alongs is wonderful, too!
7.- What can we expect from Lily Anne Crow in the future?
I’m working on getting books 3 and 4 of my series, A War of Whispers, published. From the Shrouded Heights and To the Gilded Depths continue the story three years after the events of If Light Above and Then Dark Below. They’re 99.9% ready, so I’m hoping to get them out within the next month or two.
After those are released, I’ll be going back to work on Will of the Wayfinder. Not to give anything away, but Thaniel’s story definitely doesn’t end with River of Stars!
I’ve also got a few short stories on the go, including one for an anthology coming out in the fall. There’s more to come from me – lots more!