Ravenheart, by K.A. Thomas: I saw before me a Raven with a broken wing and yet it flew. It flew to the temple of the Creator God and its wing was healed. It sang in the temple with a mighty voice and all who heard it wept. "Woe to the war-makers!" cried the Raven. "For now is the time of their end."
A voice spoke in the heavens and it said, "Look for the Raven when four meets four minus one. She will restore all that has been lost."
"Great Lord!" I cried. "Show me the meaning of the bird if I am worthy to be your servant."
The voice answered, "Adorn your walls with the Raven. Speak of it often. Engrave it on your shields when you go into battle. Swear by it and paint it on the banner you hang from your towers. The meaning of the bird is good fortune."
The power of the Creator God is dead. His pendant lies dormant, forgotten inside the altar of a heathen temple dedicated to worshiping statues and demons. Few know of a prophecy and a girl who might not only awaken the blessed pendant, but a power so evil and deadly, it could destroy the world. Ayla, a human child raised by dwarves, must solve the mystery of the pendant before a spoiled prince and devious priestess crush a kingdom's hopes forever.
Tell us a little about yourself as a writer. Do you outline, or wing it? Do you write daily, or in snatches?
I outline almost everything I write. I really believe strongly in having a plan. It eliminates a lot of writers block and makes getting the rough draft down of paper a lot easier. However, there is something to be said about spontaneous story-telling! Sometimes my best ideas come from just writing off the top of my head. If I like what I'm doing, I can draw up an outline for a complete story. If I don't like it, I can scrap it and count it as practice. Speaking of which, I do write every day. Pro-Athletes practice to get as good as they are. Writers have to practice, too. It's important to give your brain a mental work out each day.
When – and why - did you begin writing?
I am dyslexic so writing didn't come naturally for me. I really struggled when I was younger. I was lucky enough to have some wonderful teachers who saw lots of potential in me and encouraged me to work through my difficulties. With their support and the support of my parents, I was writing "books" by junior high. Of course, everything I was writing was pretty terrible. But this was all practice. I was getting better. By the time I was in college, I was a published author and by the time I finished college, I had seen Absence with Pictures (my play) fully produced. I like to write because I am fascinated by the idea of creation. With writing, you can create anything from absolutely nothing but a jumble of lines. You start with lines, then letters, then words, and by the time you are finished, you have a work of art. It's beautiful.
Tell us about your process writing Ravenheart. What inspired you, and what did you struggle with?
I started writing Ravenheart in college and got stuck a lot of times. I can't begin to count the number of re-writes I did. Once the story was on paper and I was happy with it, I had several people read it. These people ranged from teenagers to my mother to a professional editor. After that, I took all of the feedback I received and wrote yet another draft. Up to this point, I had received a lot of generic rejections, but after the last rewrite, I got a lot of positive feedback from different publishers until it was eventually accepted by Comfort.
I have always been inspired by teenagers. All of my leading characters are either young or are teens. Teenagers are not weighed down by life like adults but they can speak and make decisions almost on an adult level. It's quite an interesting time in life. It's fun to write with characters like that.
What's one thing I wouldn't know about Ravenheart just by the description?
Ravenheart has a lot of real world parallels. It's not just about the magic and the fantasy, it is about power, control, growing up, and being everything you can be. . .just by being yourself. There is no greater power than that. I think that is something many people find hard to grasp. I know I did. For a long time I did not embrace my dyslexia, I denied it. Now I feel as though I can use it to show others with the same difficulties that learning disabilities don't have to hold you down.
What was it liked getting published? What was your publishing journey?
Surreal. When Comfort first made an offer to publish my book, I didn't tell anyone for a week or so. I had to fully come to terms with the idea that it was really happening. From there, it was just a waiting game of finalizing the galley and the cover and then finally seeing the book in print. We had book release party and a book tour about a month after publication. That was when it really hit me that I wasn't dreaming!
Here on Headdesk, I have a minor obsession with the rules of writing. Is there any particular rule you write by?
Rule #1 – If you really want to get any writing done, turn off the TV, uninstall your games, block out writers block, and start typing. There are no good excuses for putting it off.
How do you handle writer's block?
I simply don't believe in it. Nothing beats a good plan. Follow the plan and write something. If the something you write is terrible, that's okay! Get over it. You can always go back and fix it later. The important thing is to keep writing.
What's next for you?
The sequel to Ravenheart (Sorrowheart) is taking up a lot of my writing time. I am also working on a series of short stories and a screenplay. I try to limit my projects so that I don't spread myself too thin. It is easy to get overwhelmed!
If knew you a teenager who aspired to be a novelist, what would you say to them?
Write. Write. Write. Submit. Submit. Submit. You are not too young to be published and you are not too young to be good at what you do. I would also say milk your teachers for all they are worth! Most English teachers are willing to act as a free editing service for anything you submit. Take advantage of that and any advice they can give you. They are smart and it's their job to help you!
How have you grown as a writer?
I've grown from a dyslexic child with ADD and no sense of language to a published author. I continue to struggle with dyslexia, but I continue to grow with each new piece I write. I plan on keeping that pattern up. I also would like to pursue my MFA in Creative Writing, but we'll see.
Kendra Ann Thomas has been writing stories since she was in Mrs. Jewell's second grade class for dyslexic learners. After overcoming her disability, she went on to become a Middle School Language Arts teacher. She is also the author on Absence with Pictures, an award winning play produced at Verser Theater in Arkansas and has been published in numerous journals including most recently Conclave: A Journal of Character. Kendra Thomas now lives in Raleigh with her husband, Chris, who is and will always be her knight in shining armor.