Liz Steinworth Q&A
Mayli's world shattered when her mother, the queen of Ammos, was assassinated. The heir to the throne of Brimley—Mayli's fiancé at the time—was accused of the crime. The resulting war between the two kingdoms destroyed Brimley and refugees fled across Vatan. Now the grieving princess travels to court a new royal suitor, but her plans to secure a strong alliance go awry when her carriage is attacked. Alden, a Brimleyn loyalist, goes undercover in the Shadowen Thieves Guild hoping to find evidence that will clear his prince’s name. His efforts prove futile until their latest assignment: abducting the Ammosian princess. Completing the job could expose her mother's murderer, but at what cost?
The cover of Asunder is a 30x48 inch oil painting painted by author L. Steinworth March 2018. The Vatan Chronicles began March of 2014 when L. Steinworth had been living temporarily in an artist loft in Lowertown, Saint Paul, Minnesota. Originally from White Bear Lake, Minnesota, It had always been a goal of hers to participate in the bi-annual Lowertown Art Crawl since her father took her at the age of six. In 2009, L. Steinworth had money down on a loft, waiting for the counter offer when she decided to pack up and moved two thousand miles away from home to attend Laguna College of Art and Design. For three years she studied fine art and video game art.
Feeling the need to satisfy her childhood dream, L. Steinworth drove back to Minnesota with all her recent paintings and rented a 500 square foot artist loft back in Lowertown, Saint Paul for two months. While she was there, she networked with a photographer in the building named Patrick Clancy and asked her cousin Dominic Pitera to model for a shoot in her mother's antique woolen cloak to help express a mood. She can still remember the moment moving Dom’s arm in, telling him to tense his veins, and then smirk to get the reference photo that birthed her main character Alden. The next day L. Steinworth began painting it, desperate to express the passion. A week and a half later, with thirty hours invested, she had painted the 30x48 inch oil ‘Burden’. After that L. Steinworth was inspired to continue exploring this character and discover what his burden was.
For two years she played with the idea, let stories play in her mind, designed kingdoms, families, and enemies, all for fun. January 2016 L. Steinworth realized she had the makings of a novel and bought a laptop, Microsoft Word, and began laying out everything she had brewing in her head. She wrote for a year and edited for another. During this time Burden had been a working title of Asunder, using the original painting, Burden, as its cover. However, after completing the story L. Steinworth realized that book one was about the other main character Mayli and her experience. She found model Fran Nardone and hired her for a reference photo to paint from. 'Burden' is now the cover for Book Two of The King's Renegade, Burden.
1) Tell us a bit about yourself. Any personal tidbits you’d like to share?
I never intended to be a writer, but I did always have a passion to create. I grew up in Minnesota, surrounded by a land which in itself, was inspiring. In the summer, I’d adventure off into the woods imagining myself as some rogue from Robin Hood’s gang. Or while I was locked inside during the winter months, play castle LEGOS with my brother in a Dungeons & Dragons like story. I was always drawing or painting in-between playtime, looking up to my mother. As an artist herself, she always encouraged my talents, so much so that she let me move two thousand miles away from her at age nineteen to Orange County California to study at Laguna Beach College of Art and Design. This is where my real adventures began.
2) Tell us about your past and current works. Any future projects you’d like us to know about?
Currently, my only published work is Asunder, Book One of The King’s Renegade. It was my debut novel releasing May 11, 2018. This date was important because if put together the date spells out one of the main character’s names, Mayli. Just another example of the attention to detail I have.
3) What inspired you to write your current project?
The King’s Renegade series was inspired by my 30x48” oil painting, Burden, which I painted in the spring of 2014. It was then when I first painted my main character, Alden. Draped in an overpowering blue cloak, he strains to take hold the weight of responsibility. As I spent time painting him, who at the time had no name, I began to wonder who he was. Why was in despair? What’s with his smirk? So, for fun, I began daydreaming about these answers. For two years I developed him, Mayli, Briar, Kira, a funny boy named Squirrel, a new land called Vatan, and even creatures like the draclynn and the kanavaur. It wasn’t until 2016 when I said out loud, “I think I’m writing a book.” To witch my fiancée replied, “You are.”
4) Who are some of your favorite authors & why?
I’ve never been a reader due to some disabilities with taking in written words as well as school shoveling uninteresting themes at me. I hadn’t known the wonder of fantasy until I found a novel by Piers Anthony at a half-priced book store. Looking back on some of the stories I can’t say I would enjoy them now, but when I was thirteen, they were such an inspiration. Still, sticking to reading was a difficult task and It wasn’t until I was painting Burden, did I find a way to enjoy books; Audio. As I painted, I listened to The Crown Tower by Michael J Sullivan. And that was amazing. I had not only found a way to combat my disability, but an amazing story, and wonderful role model.
5) What do you think makes an author successful, and what makes their work resonate with people?
Passion and dedication to it. To me, a successful person sets aside the fear of failure and humbles themselves. Many writers seem to choke up at the idea of their work not being any good. Likely, it’s because they aren’t. And that is nothing to be ashamed of. I wasn’t good when I first started. Awful really. But I listened to the advice and feedback given, reflected, asked questions, and did something about my work to make it better. As a painter going though years of harsh critiques in art school, it was easy for me to take on that challenge. Best advice I could give to an up and coming writer is to not take the criticism personally and to understand that at anytime someone offers it to you, unwarranted or not, that they are trying to help you, not put you down. They want to see you succeed, and so do I.
6) What were the biggest hurdles you had to overcome as an author?
To me, since I have a thick skin as stated above, nothing seemed too difficult to me. Everything was just a unique challenge that was easily overcome. I suppose since publishing I’ve had a more business and marketing drive which has made the transition back to creative writing has been a slower process than I like.
7) This is a personal question so feel free to answer how you want or to not answer. A lot of people in the creative arts suffer from depression, self-doubt, and hopelessness. Can you share a moment in your writing career where you felt these emotions? How did you overcome it? Do you have any advice for those currently struggling?
I have always had a very positive outlook with my work. My family was always encouraging, and my schooling to the point. This built not only confidence but an ability to analyze myself, accept who I am in the moment, and improve upon my faults. Many seem to judge themselves to those better than them, which has a purpose and a place, but that is for inspiration, not comparison. Look up to others who have succeeded in their goals and understand that they were once in the same position as you. What steps did they take to rise above? What is it about them that you admire?
8) What do you feel is the biggest reward with writing?
Inspiring others and giving readers something they can enjoy long after the book has been closed. I’m humbled that Asunder has inspired art, cosplay, songs, fan fic, readings, and even a tattoo already in its short life. I have fans who have messaged me months later saying how they had seen someone wearing an orange scarf and how they were reminded of Mayli, or others who have taken beautiful pictures of my book and shared with their followers giving it love and praise. I’ve created something that others find genuine joy with, and that is all I hope to accomplish.
9) Is there any advice that you can offer new writers?
Write what you are passionate about and don’t let anyone tell you to stop, even yourself. There are many who offer advice that may go against what drives your creativity, ignore them. They may be from other writers, friends, or family. As loud or persuading as they may be, know that their opinion isn’t truth. The only thing true, is what makes you happy. Writing.
Author L. Steinworth