Indie Author Interview With Lyra Shanti

Friday, 12 February 2016

Next up to be interviewed is indie author Lyra Shanti. Read on to discover what keeps this author motivated to write and learn more about her books.


Lyra is a novelist, songwriter, poet and playwright. Author of the epic sci-fi series, Shiva XIV, Lyra currently lives in Florida with partner and spouse, Timothy, and their two crazy cats. 

What have you written? 

I have published books 1 and 2 of my Shiva XIV series and I have a novella entitled The Rainbow Serpent. I also have a poetry collection called Sediments. 

If you use a Pen Name why did you choose it? 

Believe it or not, Lyra Shanti is my real name. All I can say is my mother was a hippy. 

Who did the cover art for your books? 

For book one of Shiva XIV, I used a very talented artist who lives in Japan named Julia Takagi. Her work is very mysterious and soft, and I love her nature-inspired art. For book two, I used a great friend of mine, Jennifer Juniper Varon. She also did the cover for my novella, The Rainbow Serpent. Her artwork is vibrant and passionate, and I love it!

Why do you write? 

Because if I didn’t, I’d probably lose my mind! Writing is like breathing for me, and I can’t imagine a life where I didn’t write. I think I’d explode.

When did you decide to become a writer? 

I didn’t really consciously decide. It just happened, and at a very young age. I think I was about seven years old when I wrote my first song and about nine when I wrote my first play. I started writing poetry later on, and then musicals with my co-writer and spouse, Timothy. I had plenty of ideas for novels, but didn’t really try until my later thirties. It was sort of a leap of faith to try, but once I got my teeth into the story, I couldn’t stop. 

What genre are your books? 

I tend to write sci-fi or fantasy, but I am just as interested in writing dramatic fiction. I love fantasy though, mainly because there is complete freedom in that genre. As a writer, and even as a reader, one can get lost in make-believe worlds, and it helps us deal with the harshness of reality. 

What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? 

Two things made me sit down to write the first book in the Shiva XIV series. One, I had a clear vision of the prologue for it, and I needed to write it down; I felt compelled. Two, I wanted to see if I could do it. I had always yearned to write a novel, and I had a few unfinished stories, but I had never fully committed myself to writing a book before. I was excited and nervous, and thoroughly terrified. But after two published books in the series, and the third one on its way this year, I’m no longer frightened.

Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? 

I just write whenever possible. No specific time or structure to it. It could be 4am or 4pm – doesn’t matter as long as I’m letting the words flow. Often, I don’t have the time, but I make time. Writing is my passion, and I won’t let it go. 

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively? 

I’ve evolved enormously from when I first began writing novels. I’ve learned to trust myself in a way I didn’t believe I could. I use a lot of instinct and subconscious, free-flowing imagery in my writing, but I have also learned to combine that ability with storyboarding and obsessive note-taking. For an epic work such as my Shiva series, it’s vital to keep track of everything from names to locations to backstory and mythos. I think I have become really good at the process, which probably would have shocked my younger self. 

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?

I do a combination of both, which works well for me. It’s not always easy to know which way should be in the driver’s seat, but I try to balance it. When it comes to a dream sequence, obviously there’s more freedom to let go, but when it’s a big battle scene, I need as much structure as possible. It just depends on what is needed.

How do you market your books? 

It can be quite challenging for an indie author, but I find that a mix of books reviews, blogger interviews, and word of mouth is what works best. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Never give up. No matter how hard it can be to get your ideas out or find the right words, or even finish the story, keep going! It’ll be worth it. Also, make sure you push yourself, even if you think you can’t do it or can’t find the time, make time. Too many aspiring writers wait for the right mood or when they can concentrate. If I had done that, I’d never have finished anything. It’s like that great quote by Patrick Stewart in the movie version of Dune: “Moods are for cattle and love-play!”

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?

My main character in my Shiva XIV series is Ayn. He starts off as a boy who is raised by priests in a very sheltered temple. The priests believe he is the reincarnation of their messiah, and they raise him with the idea that he must find out how to save their galaxy from war and disease. It’s a lot of pressure for Ayn, and as he grows up, he has to decide who he really is. What makes him special is that he has so much inner power, yet he often feels weak and scared. Even so, he doesn’t let his fears stop him from being strong for those he cares about. 

Where do your ideas come from? 

They seem to come to me from the deep recesses of my subconscious. Sometimes, I use dreams I’ve had… and sometimes I have an idea that’s more conscious-driven. Shiva came to me very organically, almost in a vision. I stared at the blank screen and saw a child being held up by a priest. I knew I had something and let my mind just go wherever it wanted. Once I had the prologue, I knew I had the seed of something big, and I had to hunker down and figure it all out. 

What is the hardest thing about writing? 

For me, it’s just finding the time. I try to devote myself to writing as much as possible. Some authors say you should write at least once a day. I don’t think it has to be as regimented as that, but if you want to actually finish a book, you have to dedicate yourself to doing it as often as you can. 

Which writers inspire you? 

I’ve been inspired by many, but mostly by Tolkien, Rowling, Shakespeare, and Hermann Hesse. 

What is the current book you are promoting? 

The Shiva XIV series. Book Two: The Veil of Truth just came out this last December. You can find all my books on Amazon in paperback and kindle. 

Who is your favorite character in your book and why? 

Hmm… it would be both Ayn and Axis. Ayn because of his true heart and vulnerability, which I think is rare in most messianic characters. With Axis, well, I probably shouldn’t say much, but he’s very… magical.

Who is your least favorite character and why? 

It’s hard to fully dislike any of my characters, but there are a few who are pretty despicable. However, I always want my villains to be three-dimensional, complex, and believable. You’ll never encounter a character in my books who is evil just because that’s the way it is. I like reasons… I like the “why.” I’m a big believer in understanding what made them evil. That’s far more compelling to me than a black and white villain. 

What is your next project? 

I’m gearing up for an autumn release for the third Shiva XIV book entitled The Riddle of the Gods. After that, the fourth, and maybe final, book will be released about a year later. I’m trying to decide if I want to do an entirely different series after Shiva or if I want to do a small, more dramatic fiction type of thing. Maybe both!

Who is your favorite fictional character and why? 

I have far too many to list, but I love Harry Potter and Frodo Baggins. 

Who inspires your writing? 

My other half, Timothy Casey, who is also a writer and composer. It’s not easy living with a genius, but I do, and it can be quite inspiring. 

Tell us something unique about you: 

Well, if my name wasn’t unique enough, I’d have to say my ability to write from a subconscious place. It’s almost like having a shamanistic vision, but then I can use my more logical senses and direct my visions to a place that it needs to go. I know a lot of authors probably do this as well, but I think I’m pretty good at it. Also, I have a heart-shaped birthmark on my right leg. It’s either a heart or a peanut. I think I’m going with heart. 

If there was one thing you could do to change the world, what would it be? 

People need to stop being so cynical. I mean, a healthy dose of critical thinking is fine, but there’s far too much anger and sarcasm in this world right now. I don’t think we should all be happy snappy, but all this unnecessary cynicism isn’t helping anything. We need hope and humor, not rage and doubt. 

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Are you an author? You can give your book a page of its own on this blog for just $5. Click here to learn more.

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