My upcoming debut, Fourth World, is a young adult sci-fi adventure set on Mars. It follows Isaak, a high school junior who’s part of the first generation of people born and raised on Mars after its colonization in the mid-21st century. Isaak is struggling to fit in after the disappearance of his dad two years ago, but when he happens to come across a mysterious coin among his dad’s belongings, he gets caught up in a mystery that involves him with government conspiracies, crazed scientists and an ancient door that leads him to another world. There he meets a girl named Nadin, who is looking for a way to save her dying planet. Nadin realizes that Isaak may hold the key to saving her homeworld – and the journey they embark on together just might solve the mysteries Isaak thought he’d left behind on Mars.
Though Fourth World is my debut novel, I’ve actually published several pieces of short fiction over the past couple of years. I even edited a YA anthology of Shakespeare retellings called Perchance to Dream, which released in June of this year. I’m enjoying finding a balance between writing short stories and longer projects as well!
2. Is your book part of a series or can it be read as a stand-alone?
Fourth World is the first book in the Iamos trilogy. Even though it’s three books, I think of it as one continuous story in three parts, so I definitely recommend looking at the series as a whole, single story.
3. When does your book release?
Fourth World is due out by the end of 2015!
4. Which character of your book was the hardest to write?
Nadin has definitely thrown me for a loop. She’s someone who wants to do what’s best for her people, but she’s not really sure how to go about it. As the daughter of the geroi, the rulers of her planet’s city-states, she’s grown up with a lot of privilege but also a huge amount of responsibility. She struggles with following in the geroi’s footsteps because she has strong opinions on how she believes things should be, but her society is very rigidly traditional and doesn’t allow for much “thinking outside the box.” That leads to a lot of internal conflict for Nadin, because she’s not sure how she can be a good leader, or if she’s cut out for it at all. It was difficult for me to find a good balance and really portray everything she’s got going through her mind, but I’m hopeful that I’ll have been successful there when it’s all said and done.
5. If you’re not writing, what do you love to do?
I’m a huge Nintendo fan, so my favorite de-stressor is playing the latest Mario or Donkey Kong game. Recently I’ve been loving Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker. It’s fun and relaxing, but also full of puzzles that are great brain exercise!
6. Did anyone inspire you to start writing or did you always knew you just had to write?
Growing up, I always loved writing stories. In school we always had to keep a journal and the teacher would give us daily prompts. I usually would write short stories rather than talking about myself, haha. Even though I loved writing – I even got placed in a GATE program for it – somewhere around high school I managed to talk myself out of it. Somehow I convinced myself that it wouldn’t be a viable career option. I started working on a few novels here and there during and after college, but I didn’t think they would go anywhere. It wasn’t until last summer when I had some health problems that kept me from working full-time that it occurred to me to really try to make a go of the writing thing as a job rather than a hobby. I’ve loved it so far and it’s worked out really well for me, so I’m glad that I got that kick in the pants!
7. Any advice/tips for newbies?
Keep at it until you find what works for you. There are lots of “writing advice” websites out there, but what works for some (or even most) people is not going to work for everybody. People will tell you to write every single day, or write early in the morning, or to spit things out as quickly as possible and revise later – all of those things are good advice, but they don’t work for everyone. And they don’t have to! You need to find the pace, the style and the method that works best for you. It doesn’t matter if you’re not doing it the “right” way, because there’s no such thing as “right” or “wrong” when it comes to creative work like this.
Right now I’m in the editing phase for a short story in an anthology called Wings of Renewal that’s coming out this October from Incandescent Phoenix Books. It’s a solarpunk collection (solarpunk is a cool new subgenre of science fiction that focuses on green energy) with a twist – every story features dragons! My story is a retelling of Marigo of the Forty Dragons, a variant on the Snow White fairytale where the princess is taken in by dragons instead of dwarfs. The anthology is being edited by Claudie Arseneault and Brenda J. Pierson, and I’m really excited for its release and to read the other stories in the book.
Apart from that, my next project is the second book in the Iamos trilogy, as well as a spin-off novella that is threatening to turn into a novel all its own… eep!
9. A word that you use way too often? (Mine are “quite” and “probably”)
“Then” is my pet word. I have to go through and cut it out all the time, because it will probably be in every paragraph if I don’t!
10. Last but not least: What’s your favourite type of candy, if you don’t mind me asking?
How am I supposed to choose?! I’ve been in a very Twix mood recently. I tend to rotate between Twix, Reese’s and Butterfingers. 😀
Lyssa Chiavari is an author of speculative fiction for young adults, including the upcoming Fourth World, a YA sci-fi adventure set on Mars. She has also written several pieces of short fiction, and is the editor of Perchance to Dream, a young adult collection of Shakespeare retellings. Lyssa lives with her family and way too many animals in the woods of Northwest Oregon, which suits her just fine; except it actually doesn’t rain there as much as you’ve been told, and she really could do with more rain, thanks.