We’re very excited about today’s post! A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to interview debut author Joel Lawrence, author of the soon to be released Tears of Time, the first installment in the Atlantis Reborn series and I’m so excited to share it with you guys!
How did you think of the concept for your book?
That’s a cool question to think back on, since concept is probably my favorite part of all this. Tears of Time evolved as a side project I worked on as I completed a large fantasy manuscript a few years ago. I’d been getting into YA books like the Lux Series and the Mortal Instruments, and I thought it would be fun to try something contemporary myself. But I viewed fantasy as my strength, so I was trying to think of a two worlds style fantasy that would let me practice something contemporary while still having one foot in the genre I was more familiar with.
So the two worlds type of fantasy was where the idea started, but I wanted to do it in a way that felt fresh. So no magical wardrobes or intedimensional portals! Next was the decision to ground the fantasy world in a real place and time, though a highly fictionalized/mythological version. That’s where the Atlantis idea came from, and everything started clicking together and forming a really interesting outline.
As a Young Adult writer, what do you strive to get across to your readers?
I think YA, like all genres of fiction, is ultimately about entertainment and escape, but good stories are almost always wrapped in several ubiquitous themes by their very nature. So YA has a core audience centered around a younger demographic group, and there’s certain universal themes that emerge when writing about younger characters, such as new experiences and coming of age conflicts, so I strove to present those familiar themes underneath while weaving in some different ideas as well. Feeling lost in life is a familiar idea, for example, but feeling like a stranger in time felt fresh to me. Identity, destiny, regret, but played out on a much larger canvas. And at the very core, I strove to make the main character grounded and relatable, so the fantastic elements would mesh with the contemporary setting.
What’s your favorite part about writing YA?
The diversity of the audience. Many YA readers aren’t genre exclusive, but are open to and even eager for genre blurring stories that might not have been possible 15 years ago. If you look at something like Red Queen or Obsidian or Under the Never Sky, there’s a unique mix of elements in each case that might not have been considered marketable before YA rose to prominence.
Do you have a favorite line from Tears of Time?
Another cool question, and yes, many. Maybe for a fun teaser, “The temple gives way to a dark hotel room somewhere in another life.” And “Riadyna, my love, you’ve betrayed me.”
Do you like to outline the plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
I like an outline initially, but as George RR Martin says, it needs to be viewed as a roadmap subject to change as you’re trekking across the country and see something cool, get sidetracked, run into a detour or engine trouble. Once the writing starts, character motivation needs to drive everything. If a character isn’t trying to achieve one of their goals, a scene is spinning on wheels and needs to be scraped, regardless of outline. If that means changing a cool outline element or even the entire finale, so be it—it will read so much stronger in the end. This might be the most important writing lesson I’ve discovered, and yes, I’m also still learning it!
What books have influenced you as a writer?
Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, The Wheel of Time. The Lux series by Jennifer Armentrout was kind of my introduction into the world of more recent YA. I’ve enjoyed everything from Red Queen to the Twilight Saga to Alienated, and many many others.
What was the hardest part about writing Tears of Time?
Getting a somewhat complicated background story across in First Person POV. In a way I think it works out in the end, since it’s the first book in a trilogy, but I spent a lot of time during editing cutting and adding and moving around little clues and pieces of information so that the reader could hopefully piece together a sense of what’s going on in the same way Eden is. The sequels will expand on some of the unanswered and partially answered questions, but the first book in a series still needs to stand on it’s own, and that took me awhile to achieve.
What can readers expect when they pick up Tears of Time?
A fun, fast paced story that naturally blends a lot of fantasy genres together. Final Fantasy meets Outlander. X-Men meets Twilight. Atlantis mythology meets contemporary YA. There’s a lot of back-story and mystery beneath the surface, and some deeper themes going on, but hopefully the story can also be enjoyed as just a fun adventure fantasy with some romance, mystery, and epic magical duels!
Thank you so much to Joel for all of his wonderful answers and to Ben at Oftomes Publishing for setting our interview up.
Be sure to grab a copy of Tears of Time when it’s released September 13th!
About Tears of Time, book one in the Atlantis Reborn series
Cal State freshman Eden Ellis feels like a stranger in time, and her dreams are growing more dangerous each night. Is she really the reincarnation of a Bronze Age princess, or is that just the medication talking?
Eden’s new telekinetic powers feel real enough, the same abilities used to wage an apocalyptic war in the dream world, where an ancient kingdom struggles to survive the wrath of a fallen priest. When Eden’s friends start having similar nightmares and developing powers of their own, she realizes one of them may be the reborn soul of the villain from the dreams who nearly shattered the world—a madman, a traitor, and the lover of Eden’s past self.
When a government experiment using the same powers that started the ancient war goes disastrously wrong, Eden’s dreams hold the key to saving the future—if she can accept her dual identity and defeat the reincarnation of the man she used to love.