There are many fresh voices in fantasy today who are creating interesting characters and highly imaginative worlds. And perhaps because women read more books than men, female main characters have finally become common, particularly in the urban fantasy subgenre.
Although I prize originality, no fantasy novel is completely original, including my own. My books center around one common fantasy trope—a portal to another world. The nice thing about portal stories is that, for the imaginative writer, there are endless possibilities of what lies on the other side. My standalone novel became a series when ideas about the world I created and its cultures continued to evolve.
In book one, Beyond the Forest, Lana's adventures take place in a small part of the gnome world, Shadow, and whatever we know about Shadow is based on what little she's seen. We learn that Shadow's geology and gemstones differ from ours. Their gems have stronger, more impressive powers and some are harmful. For the most part, Lana concentrates on gems from her own world and has limited interaction with Shadow gems. We also learn that Shadow has everything from diseased forests to deserts within a small area. Sheamathan, the gnomes' ruler, purposely destroyed the ecology and created monstrous creatures that could survive in these new habitats.
In book two, Lana wants to learn more about Shadow, but the gnomes have lived in hiding for generations, and know little about their history or what lies beyond the areas they've occupied for generations. They hope to rediscover their heritage and explore their world, but that will be difficult unless they subdue the breghlin and form a government. As the human characters continue to help the gnomes and breghlin, we learn more about Shadows' fascinating array of gemstones.
Books two and three explore in greater depth a subject touched upon in book one: something about Shadow inexplicably affects human and gnome biology. Evil behavior results in physical mutations, which partially explains the breghlin's deformities. Sheamathan capitalized on this and through genetic manipulation created mutations that permanently disfigured her servant race. The gnomes must shun evil or they'll become like the breghlin, and that influences every aspect of their lives.
My goal in this series is to transport readers to a world that feels as real as our own but surprises them at every turn with differences that are sometimes delightful and sometimes creepy. The races the reader meets prove thought-provoking as well as entertaining. Each book in the series reveals more about gnome and breghlin cultures and explores more of their world. While the human characters continue to play important roles, the story becomes increasingly centered on the inhabitants of Shadow, and by book four gnomes and breghlin are the main characters.
Writing this series becomes more challenging as the plot and themes grow more complex, but I find it exciting to watch the story unfold, and I hope readers will too.