Rummanah Aasi
 Today I'm very happy to introduce to self published, YA fantasy writer Gena Naffin! Gena is a very busy and creative 17 years old. Her debut novel, Defiance, can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Gena loves nothing more than three very simple things: riding, running, and writing. Before we start the interview, take a look at the Defiance book trailer starring Gena!

 Welcome and thank you so much for stopping by today, Gena! With all the activities that you've got going on in your life, how do you make time to write?

If I need to write, the opportunity presents itself. I could go days or weeks without writing because I haven’t been inspired by anything but the second something catches my attention – a phone call, maybe – I’ll be at that laptop, typing away. And whenever I write, I always have music on. It’ll be the same song on repeat for hours until it becomes white noise. So sometimes, if I have no music that I like at the moment, I can’t write!

 From reading your bio on your website, you are very passionate about riding your house. What type of horse do you ride and what is his/her name?

I own a chestnut Quarter Horse named Dalton, as is mentioned in Defiance, however, around the barn everyone calls him “Munchkin”. Trust me, he’s not small!

Munchkin is such an adorable nickname! I don't know much about horses, but looking at his picture, he is beautiful. Do you participate in any riding competition or do you ride only for pure enjoyment?

We’ve done smaller, less recognized shows for fun since I’m not the type to collect ribbons and trophies. He is always up for anything and that’s the best thing about him. We have herded cattle, jumped, trained in a type of advanced riding called dressage, barrel raced, and last but not least, competed in timed trail rides known as hunter paces. Munchkin also starred in the Defiance trailer and cover – he’s a pro with the cameras!


Wow, that's fabulous! Let's talk a bit about Defiance. How would you describe the world and the characters of Defiance?

The world is slightly, but not overly, magical. The characters are strong-willed but also human and prone to mistakes.

For a fantasy-lite reader like myself, I can easily warm up to a book that eases my way into the magical world. The flawed characters make them approachable. What about you? As a fantasy reader, what is more important to you: world building or character development? What's more important to you as a writer?

I’m inclined to say world building as both writer and a reader. When I’m reading something, the world has to be believable, tangible enough that I forget I’m sitting in a chair and I can see, hear, and smell the things going on. If a book can transport me somewhere else, then I can forget a character that is dormant or uninteresting. In writing, as much as the world-building and character development should go hand-in-hand, they may not always. Character development is a very important part of a book and determines much of the plot, but sometimes having a good world can force the character into change.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? What is the easiest?

Deciding what direction to take the story in gives me trouble. I don’t write down anything that might help me organize, such as outlines or notes, because I believe it’s better to work it all out in my head. It’s like I’m writing on a blackboard and I can effortlessly erase something if I don’t like it. The easiest part, though, is creating characters. I get an image of how I want them to look or act in my mind – especially if they’ll have a certain, identifiable trait – and I’ll mold them around that. Characters are especially important because they are what brings the story to life.


Writing is a very personal experience. What did you discover about yourself as a person and as a writer while you wrote Defiance?

I learned that sometimes impatience isn’t the way to go. I can’t force the words. They have to be there, in my mind, playing out like a movie. I’ve tried writing uninspired and it’s gotten me nowhere – I had to cut out the sections afterwards. It’s better if I just wait out a dry spell until something comes along that leaves my head spinning.


If you had to give one piece of advice to other young aspiring writers like yourself, what would it be?
 Self-publishing is hard work – even harder if you want to be successful. Patience and determination will get you far but it’s important to realize that some people may have an important piece of information that you might not. Even if their advice isn't delivered in the nicest way, take it. The smallest bit can help you go a long way.

I know you are a big fantasy reader. So I have to know, who do you prefer: Legolas or Aragon?

Aragon. He had a certain drive to complete his destiny and took idiot risks to advance toward it, making him passionate and likeable.
   
 I also like Aragon for the same reasons. I think it was an added bonus that Viggo Mortenson played him in the movies. ;) I need some book advice I've never read any books by Tamora Pierce before but have heard great things about them, what book would recommend that I read first?

Her entire collection is based on the first quartet, The Lioness, featuring the character Alanna. References to Alanna and the other characters introduced in that series are made continually, so that would be your best place to start. I started reading Pierce’s work when I was young and I’m still pre-ordering her books!

Thank you so much for stopping by, Gena! Readers, you find more information about Gena by visiting her website, Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble.

With her nation at war and her parents lost on the front lines, 16-year-old Vivian must find the strength to leave home and become a spy among her own people. There is only one problem: her parents are the king and queen, and she their only heir. Vivian must find the strength to leave home and become a spy among her own people—in order to discover the fate of her parents and assume the throne in their stead. On the other hand, if Vivian falls victim to their fate, the throne of Iledora will pass to her detestable aunt, Jaileene. Unexpectedly thrust into a tempest of political and imperial intrigue, Vivian is left with only two options. She must find her parents and bring them home, or stand back and watch as her country falls into the hands of the enemy. Armed only with a new alias, two trusted guards, and her stolid determination, Vivian scours the country for any information leading to her parents. However simple her intentions of returning them to the throne may be, her journey is complicated by challenges she'd not foreseen: encountering love, trusting in the unknown, and being at the mercy of the Bulvan emperor she swore to conquer.
7 Responses
  1. Great interview and the book sounds good. Your horse is beautiful too. I am a big believer in world building. The best fantasy novels are those that I forget aren't real.


  2. Jenny Says:

    Look at Dalton!!!! He's beautiful:) I did a lot of riding growing up, I had a dark bay throughbred gelding named Alibi and we did a lot of smaller shows on the hunter/jumper circuit. There's something special about a horse/rider bond:) And Aragorn for sure, he was always my favorite!


  3. Lauren M Says:

    Oh, wow! It's so awesome that Munchkin was in the trailer and on the cover! And I'm totally with you--Aragon all the way! :)


  4. Missie Says:

    I'm not much of a fantasy reader, but this story sounds enchanting. And what an accomplished young author. I think it is so brave to write without an outline, and just let your words guide you. Thanks for the interview.


  5. What a beautiful cover! I really enjoy fantasy as well and this book sounds really good. I would love to have a horse and be able to ride. The one time I did, I fell off, LOL!

    I love Tamora Pierce. Her Bekka Cooper series is my favorite so far. I haven't fully jumped into The Lioness portion though, so I guess I'm partial. :D I really enjoyed this interview, Rummanah!


  6. Rummanah, you have a gift with Q and A - such an easy, fluid conversation! I just love the sound of this one, and the author's love for her horse is infectious :)


  7. I haven't read Tamora Pierce's other series but I loved The Song of the Lioness quartet. You have to read it Rummanah!

    The synopsis of this one sounds interesting and as a picky fantasy fan, I like that the author thinks world building is important because that's crucial for me in fantasies. Have you read itDefiance?


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