Interview with Author: Rachel Leigh Smith
Today it is my honor to interview Rachel Leigh Smith, author of My Name is A’yen, Book 1 of the A’yen’s Legacy series.
Welcome to The Adventures of the Everyday Fangirl Rachel, and thank you so much for agreeing to answer my questions today!
What does the title of this novel, series or set of stories signify?
The title of everything is very significant, for every book and the series as a whole. The first book, My Name Is A’yen, is all about the hero, A’yen. He’s a slave, as is the rest of his humanoid species. They’re not viewed as people, and he hates being referred to as it or slave. Several times in the novel he glares at someone and says “my name is A’yen, get it right.” Had I landed a traditional deal for this book, the title I chose is a hill I was willing to die on. It’s never been anything else, and never will be.
The series name, A’yen’s Legacy, took me awhile to find. I don’t want to spoil the first book too much, though, so I’m purposely keeping this vague. A’yen and Fae discover the man who surrendered to A’yen’s people being enslaved was named A’yen. This past A’yen’s legacy was one of slavery. My A’yen is destined to be part of the legacy of setting his people free. Legacy is a recurring theme in the series.
Do the names of the characters in your novel have some sort of significance or importance to you? If so, give a few examples…
They absolutely do! My parents were very intentional when they named me and my three siblings, so I carried that idea into naming my characters. Since I have a lot of aliens, I can make up my own names and give them the meaning I want. I pull on Welsh names for inspiration, and sometimes I’ll keep that meaning.
A’yen, for example, means strength in his language. A’yen is a very strong person and secure in who he is. No one can push him around, despite the fact he’s a slave. He lives to make his life difficult, basically. Farran, Fae’s full name, is Gaelic, and it means adventurous. She’s adventurous as a character. Funny thing is, when she told me her name, I had no idea it meant adventurous…
What prompted you to write in this genre and who or what inspired you to?
Well, that’s actually kinda funny. When I started writing My Name Is A’yen, I had no idea SFR was a genre. I had no clue what to call this thing spawning in my head. It was “the space opera” for several months. I found out about SFR when I was doing market research so I could put a proposal together for an agent.
As far as being inspired to write this genre, it was a dream. I dreamed A’yen on the night of what should have been my third wedding anniversary. Even though I grew up watching SF on TV, it’s something I’ve never read. Even now, I don’t read straight SF. I’m such a romance lover that if it’s not there in a major way, I have a hard time finishing something. It took me almost six months to read A Storm Of Swords, and I love those books and the show.
When I told my family I was writing about aliens, they all had the same reaction: total shock!
What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer and do your characters reflect some of these attributes?
Staying sane… This is a tough one. I live in a family where our philosophy is being a little insane is more fun. I think it’s important to have things to do other than writing, so you’re not consumed with it all the time. I like doing needle crafts and going to the movies. If I’m sitting on the couch watching TV or a movie, I’m doing counted cross-stitch, crochet, or knitting. Going to the movies gets this extreme introvert out of the house in a way that doesn’t exhaust me.
I live at home with my parents and sister, and as a family we like to sit outside in our breezeway and talk, and float in the pool during the summer. It’s always a nice break, and there’s lots of laughing that goes with it.
A’yen does like to swim and relax in water, for a multitude of reasons. He’s also an artist, he sketches and paints with watercolors. It was important to me to give him some kind of outlet for his emotions and frustrations.
What kind of research did you have to do for the novel, series or set of stories that was different from others?
To be honest, I did very little research for My Name Is A’yen. I double-checked electromagnetic field stuff to make sure my telepathy theory was plausible, but that was about it. The science of my setting, the mechanics of the ship they’re on in the first quarter of the book, and the atmospheric details of the planet they’re exploring, don’t factor into the story. So I spent zero time researching it.
I came to SFR from writing historicals. I really enjoy doing research, and can spend hours tracking stuff down in Google Books. The lack of research I did for My Name Is A’yen was a nice creative break, though. I never had to stop the flow of my writing to double-check something that impacted what happened next.
I’m all about the characters, and unless the science of something directly impacts a POV character, it’s not something I’m going to spend time on. I’m definitely a romance first SFR author.
What are you a fan of and is this reflected in your writing?
I’m a fan of tortured heroes, and absolutely this is reflected in my writing! I also prefer his POV in a romance, so I write hero-focused romance. Whenever you crack open a Rachel Leigh Smith novel, you’re getting a romance all about the hero.
I also love Farscape, and A’yen’s has a little bit of Crichton in him in regards to his snarky outlook on life. His best friend, Pete, looks like Ben Browder. I’m also a Star Trek: TNG fan, and in my head the transport ship they’re on for the first quarter of the book is very similar to the Enterprise-D.
My music tastes run to post-grunge rock. There are a couple of references in the novel to A’yen’s music preferences, which are modeled on mine. This was the first novel I ever wrote while listening to music, and my tastes carried into A’yen. It suited his character. In fact, his theme song is “When I’m Gone” by 3 Doors Down.
I’ve been fascinated with archaeology since my first Indiana Jones movie, so when Fae told me she was an archaeologist I wasn’t surprised.
As the series progresses, I start introducing another set of people known as the Marcasian Empire. This culture is built on my undying fascination with ancient Egypt. I’m having a blast building their culture and history and creating a futuristic version of the ancient Egyptian religion.
Thank you so much Rachel for agreeing to this interview!
My Name Is A’yen
A’yen’s Legacy, #1, available in ebook and paperback
They’ve taken everything from him. Except his name.
The Loks Mé have been slaves for so long, freedom is a distant myth A’yen Mesu no longer believes. A year in holding, because of his master’s murder, has sucked the life from him. Archaeologist Farran Hart buys him to protect her on an expedition to the Rim, the last unexplored quadrant of the galaxy.
Farran believes the Loks Mé once lived on the Rim and is determined to prove it. And win A’yen’s trust. But she’s a breeder’s daughter and can’t be trusted.
Hidden rooms, information caches, and messages from a long-dead king change A’yen’s mind about her importance. When she’s threatened, he offers himself in exchange, and lands on the Breeders Association’s radar. The truth must be told. Even if it costs him his heart.
About the author:
Rachel Leigh Smith writes romance for the hero lover. She lives in central Louisiana with her family and a half-crazed calico. When not writing, which isn’t often, she’s hanging with her family, doing counted cross-stitch, or yakking about life, the universe, and everything with her besties. There may also be Netflix binging…
She’s a member of the Science Fiction Romance Brigade and Romance Writers of America. She blogs sporadically at www.rachelleighsmith.com, hangs out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RachelLeighSmithAuthor, and can sometimes be found at Twitter, Pininterest, Google Plus.
You can learn more about Rachel and her stories by visiting her Goodreads and Amazon author pages.
Click on the link below to win an autographed copy of My Name Is A’yen. Contest ends 5/31/2015.
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