Ashana Lian's Blog is now Archived!

Thank you to everyone who supported this blog.
You will be redirected to the new and official Ashana Lian's FANTASY LAB in a moment.


Ashana Lian's Fantasy Lab

Fantasy and Fantasy Writing from every angle: fantasy and sci-fi novels, films, artwork, superhero cartoons, children's and YA books, manga, anime, video games and comics. Put the microscope on 'Geek Culture'.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Beautiful Books #1

I'm sometimes distracted from the true purpose of this blog, to share my love of fantasy, motivate other fantasy writers and share progress on my fantasy novel. :3 So I am taking part in the Beautiful Books meme hosted by Cait at The Notebook Sisters and Sky at Further Up and Further In.

What is the Beautiful Books meme?

It's a meme for writers to help them prepare for NaNoWriMo, where you write a 50,000 novel in 30 days. =D The meme asks 15 questions to help inspire and motivate you to write. To take part, click either blog link above, answer the questions and add your link. And don't forget to support the other writers!

Which novel?
I have a lot (last count was 75) of unfinished works on my computer. =/ But my primary focus is the novel I mentioned in my first post, which I sometimes call Karalan's Legacy for ease, but for the sake of clarity, I'll refer to it as OOTD as I did at the start.

The Questions

1. What came first: characters or plot idea? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Almost always the characters. For me, they are the core and drive the story. But OOTD was special - neither plot or character came first, setting came first. It's something I never do, so I had a feeling this story would be different to all of my other ideas.

2. Do you have a title and/or a “back-cover-blurb”? 
The original title was Out Of The Dust, and others have been She of Vengeance and The Daughter of The Man Who Defied Death (he really did O_O ). But when it's finished, the most important element will be clear and I can decide. I did write a 'fake blurb' to keep me focussed on what the story was meant to be about. (When I finally thought up some juicy and intriguing sub-plots it was tempting to get carried away. *sigh* I love fantasy.)

3. What word count are you aiming for when your novel is finished?
Apparently, many epic fantasy books are between 110,000 and 150,000 words. That's more than the 80k of general fiction but obviously less than the staggering 300k to 500k range of George R.R. Martin (!!!).
A pressing thought of mine is how so many people are turned off just by the size of fantasy books, which is why they don't bother. I shouldn't care, but I kinda don't want anybody to look at my novel and faint. Can I write this story in 100,000 words? I think so, but I have to stop adding chapters, dammit.

4. Sum up your novel in 3 sentences.
Three long sentences...? c:

After seven years, the corpse of a girl comes back to life with knowledge she didn't possess when she died - like how to prevent the threat of human extinction. But those powerful enough to help have their own worries; Nuor Priests are teaching dangerous sorcery to the masses, the fairies ignore politics while waiting for their princess to become a queen, the Pharaoh is trying to pacify a frantic empire, and the angels, by all measures, do not exist. And soon Karalan discovers that something murderous is on the loose, something that she pulled into existence because she defied death.

... thats the gist of it. Not to mention the martial arts, dysfunctional family, the Tea Lady (I lub her.), school drama and towers that touch the sky. Yay!

5. Sum up your characters in one word each.
(Oh my God why are you making me do this?!! You know it's not cool to fangirl over your own characters, right?!) Karalan - merciless. Jory - haunted. Cassie - electric. Dim - ...deviant. That's the core of what I call the Kaia Gang but then you have the tag-alongs later in the story; Prince Of Pearls - cunning. Enny - virtuous... or maybe altruistic. The Skull Princess - enduring.

6. Which character are you most excited to write? Tell us about them! 
All of them??! Okay, Karalan I used to dislike but we're okay now. The character I was excited to write was (out of the boys) Prince of Pearls, because he is by no means perfect but understands what he is supposed to do to get the result he wants. He understand how LIFE works (which makes him more informed than me). And (for the girls) the Maia, also called Saffron. Daughter of a goddess, the only immortal on earth, and emotionally tied to every life form. How is that not remotely exciting to write about!

7. What about your villain? Who is he, what is his goal?
I didn't actually create 'villains' but naturally some characters have goals directly in opposition with Karalan's. Because of that she has many 'opposers' but I don't think they are all bad people. I can't say what their goals are though because they're spoilers. =O

8. What is your protagonist’s goal? And what stands in the way?
Karalan is resurrected after seven years of what can't quite be called death or slumber, but something in between. Her goal is to create 'energy points' on earth, but they would need to be so big to stop human extinction, that she would need a powerful authority to order it done. What stands in her way is that she is a nobody from nowhere, with excellent anti-social skills and a body that isn't as strong as it used to be. In addition, some wraith-grievers-weeping angels-dementor-reavers-xenomorph-like creatures are coming to eff her life up, so, yeah.

9. What inciting incident begins your protagonist’s journey?
The Nuor Priests come a'knockin. Karalan believes wholeheartedly that if she gets taken, they'll kill her. So she makes a run for it, and it begins.

10. Where is your novel set?
In a fictional world that is called Aura Earth. There are six continents and five primary life forms, of which 'human' isn't really considered the highest. Karalan lives on the continent that is always depicted gold on a map, and her journey takes her all over it.

11. What are three big scenes in your novel that change the game completely?
... this is a hard one. I would say each time the creepy creatures catch up with the Kaia Gang. Every time they attack, everybody had to stop what they're doing and fight. Usually, in the aftermath, Karalan has to change her plan.

12. What is the most dynamic relationship your character has? Who else do they come in contact with or become close to during the story?
There are many, but the most dynamic I think would be with Karalan and the Prince of Pearls (tempting to say Cassie, but no). I hoped to use their loyal friendship to show that when you strip away the empty words, the facade of happiness and fancy titles, it's surprising and humbling (distressing?) to discover that everybody is just as damaged and as vulnerable as everybody else.
In different degrees, of course.

13. How does your protagonist change by the end of the novel?
Hm. I think the above realisation ^ humbling Karalan, and also the feeling of regret, makes her strive to make a difference before it's too late.

14. Do you have an ending in mind, or do you plan to see what happens?
I knew how this story would end before I knew anything else about it. It's the reason why I didn't like Karalan at the start; as a means to an end, she made a great character but a crappy person. (Kinda like Tedros from TSFGAE.)

15. What are your hopes and dreams for your book? What impressions are you hoping this novel will leave on your readers and yourself?
I'm not sure. I suppose portraying my culture in fantasy - I don't see many people of colour as protagonists in fantasy. But also about how a realistic hero or heroine is unlikely to be as physically/emotionally strong as many fantasy epics portray. Frodo doesn't mentally recover when he gets back to the Shire, and most people would crack under much less, but Harry Potter seemed to be A-okay, which is a bit dodgy to me. Now I'm a sufferer myself, I'm starting to realise how portraying mental conditions as comic relief only - because its the only way a reader can supposedly handle it - might be negative.

I guess I'd like my readers to consider possibilities beyond what we are regularly subjected to in fiction. Fiction provides an escape when we need it, but it also inadvertently gives us views on the world that don't exist, which leads to narrow-minded, stereotypes and all sorts of things. I want my novel to provide another view.

Image: Lingering in the Golden Gleam by ArthurBlue

Click to read more posts about Karalan's Legacy (OOTD)
or my writing progress; Writing Now.

Click the link to read Chapter 6 of this novel.

Now you can read BEAUTIFUL BOOKS #2,

and the last part, Beautiful Books #3Woot!

Ashana Lian .


  1. Hi! :D I came by after you commented on my post :P

    Your book sounds awesome! I like massive books, but maybe I'm part of a minority on that point XD

    I totally agree with your point on mental conditions of heroes, and Potter's...okay-ness was odd. I love a good, realistic hero instead.

    1. Thanks Roo! (wow, that was quick. XD ) I'm glad you like the concept, it definitely needs a little cleaning up. I love massive books too. When GRRM's Dance Of Dragons came out as one big hardback, my sister showed it to me and I was shrieking with glee.

      That's an interesting point. Sometimes heroes become heroes BECAUSE they have that... unbreakable inner core, like Link from The Legend Of Zelda. He NEVER gives up. (and if he did it would be game over for you, LOL.) But often, it's just some random person in the wrong(/right) place at the wrong(/right) time. And the average person usually isn't born to be a hero. =(

      Aww I didn't mean to make it depressing! Okay look, here's a cat. =^.^=

  2. I LOVE YOUR ANSWER TO #7. That's me too! My villains are usually actually the protagonists in the end, because they're using devious methods to get to their goal. I don't believe in old-fashioned-villains. Everyone has a purpose and characters who just wear black and act mean for no reason? Meh. Not my style.

    Dude, it BETTER be okay to fangirl about your own characters. OR ELSE I WILL GO TO WRITER JAIL.

    1. LMFAO writer jail. *dying* It's so much easier to write about characters you adore!

      Sometimes I like old-fashioned villains! It's a nice change once in a while. Not everybody has that whole 'I have been done a great wrong, so now I will be evil for everrr!'-type backstory. I think there's a minority of baddies who are just evil through and through, born to be bad and relish in other people's misery. Like fairy tales. XD Thanks for commenting, Cait!

  3. Sounds awesome! Especially your characters! My story has a villain, but my FMC ends up being her own antagonist as well. And if it's not ok to fangirl over your own characters than I am in serious troubleXD

    1. Hi Jordan, thanks for commenting! I'm glad you liked my characters. I like the idea of being your own worst enemy! Too true.

  4. Wow. This sounds awesome. I really love the sound of your world and the way you want to make your hero, your whole point on heroes mental conditions. It sounds like you're really trying to write the opposite of a typical fantasy novel and I think that is really great. =)

    1. If I could live in my world, I would!! (If I could live in my head full time I'd do that too.) I'm glad you like the idea, fingers crossed that I can convey the message and create a great piece of work at the same time. Thanks for your support!

  5. Fantasy is awesome! (I need to read more of it!)'s interesting because the setting came to you first, I guess with fantasy you have a lot of scope with the setting and so towers that touch the sky seem pretty amazing.
    Also: the story line is freaking cool! The fights, the quest she has to go all sounds like it's built up to be a great fantasy book!
    Internet high-five for wanting to add diversity to the fantasy genre! It's inspiring to see a person so passionate about one genre, and your reasons for wanting to write this book (among the 75 - 75?! - others) are commendable. Seriously my eyes are stars right now, THAT'S how awesome I think this is! *_*

    1. I LUB FANTASYYYYY soo much. So much better than the real world e_e Well, welcome to MY world, fantasy fan =D Interestingly the idea for the towers came much later than everything else. I started this novel May 2013 but I only thought up the Towers of Spirihil earlier this year when expanding on one non-human race.

      I couldn't help but make it questlike! The Legend Of Zelda wasn't a direct inspiration, but it's influenced my love of fantasy so much that not mentioning it would be weird. Yeah, I dragged my mouse over everything in that folder and the count was 75. I'm pretty sure that some of the documents are one page of writing though! And some of them are hideously awful and should really be in the recycle bin.
      I'm so flattered! Thanks so much. :3

    2. P.S. - if you're interested in my past life. 75 unfinished works. ._.

  6. Wee, this sounds awesome! I love high fantasy and those huge books don't scare me one. single, bit. I'm a fast reader and love being able to get totally immersed in a book for a few days because it is so long. Also, 75 works? I'm rendered speechless.

    1. I love that too! That's how I got into ASOIAF. It's so weird, now I've finished the fantasy challenge, I'm reading shorter books but taking longer to get through them. During the challenge, I'd read a huge book in a week, a little every day, and then have a book hangover afterwards and get emotional about the characters. >.<

      Yup 75 - I just posted the screenshot! Yeahhh... I used to write a LOTT. Now, instead of always starting new things, I try to stay focused on the novel. It's working so far! I pour any new ideas into Fiction Fridays. But I'd better finish it quick! I've got this new novel idea that's really bugging me.

      Thanks for commenting!! I love finding fantasy fans. =D

  7. This sounds really good! Wow, you have a lot of works! 75?!?! I think I have one of my computer but I gave up when I realised I wasn't that good a writer. At all. I love the sound of this and your characters. This makes me sad though, because I can't actually go out and get it and read it.

    1. Aww yessss you like it! *sunglasses on* e_e I'm going to work reeeally hard so I can finish it this year! I would love to achieve something like that.

      Oh I was teeeerrible at the start. *shaking head* (-_-) It really helped to practice with other people who were practising, and read loads, especially writers I admired. I'm n e v e r going to read my old works again though, I might die cringing XD Here's the screenshot of my fiction folder. Ignore the cringey titles. I was 13, HAVE MERCY!

  8. This sounds like a fun story to write! The story concept and your characters are really intriguing. (I loved the answer to #12, too.) :)

    *whispers* Wait, it's not okay to fangirl over your own characters?

    1. We're gonna have to make it cool, Jameson. We'll say fangirling, unlike trolling, is an integral part of the writing process. There, I think I have us covered! =D

      It was so fun to write at the start! Now I'm getting to all the nitty grittys... not so much. Still fun, don't get me wrong! But... fun with tears.

      Thanks for commenting, much appreciated!

  9. Your book seems amazing! Just the fact that there's going to be people of colour and that you're heroine isn't your typical badass hero makes me want to read it. I'm also very intrigued by the world. I'm immediately going to check out the chapter your posted online. By the way for you, what's the hardest part in the process to write a novel?

    1. Hi Carla! Aw thanks so much. I hope when it finally gets out there that it'll be well received. I'm kinda going all out O_O I HOPE she isn't a typical badass hero (although if I do say so she is pretty badass. e_e ) I'm treading carefully to avoid Mary Sueism. c:

      Well, when I'm swept away in the initial excitement and inspiration it's fine, but it gets very challenging once I have to start setting the little details such as continuity issues, making sure the facts match up and that characters only know information they have access to. Because this story is on a global scale, that's what gets tricky for me! Thanks again for your supportive comment =]


Thanks for dropping by! Ashana Lian always replies to comments and if you leave a link, she'll visit your blog or website. Don't be shy!

Popular Posts