It’s been a minute since we’ve had an author interview on the site, as schedules don’t always align. And so we must adjust! As we approach the end of 2023, we have another Warren Publishing author—Lyndsey Garbee. Her debut novel, The Trials of Imperium, is out now, and readers are enjoying it. One reviewer wrote, “I loved this! Well written, complex characters, and an interesting world,” while another said, “This is an exciting, immersive story! The world . . . is so real that you can see, feel and smell it.” Fantasy fans are sure to enjoy it, as well as books that follow. Lyndsey is a bit busy: she’s “a student during the day, chases her cat, Edwin, around at night, and works on her second fantasy, the sequel to The Trials of Imperium, at every moment in between.” So, I’m thankful she had time to answer my questions.
Christina: The Trials of Imperium is your first book, and it’s part of a series. Did you always plan to write a series? What challenges do you find in writing a series?
Lyndsey: I would say writing a series was never the plan, but was more borne of necessity. Once I started hitting 100k words, I realized one book just wouldn’t be enough to tell the whole story. That said, it’s difficult to stretch a story across multiple books. The greatest challenge I find is making sure that each character’s growth arc is able to be charted across every book. Plot holes are easy to fill in, but it’s hard to write growth for people across so much time and still have it feel natural.
Christina: Where did the inspiration for the book and its characters come from?
Lyndsey: The inspiration for The Trials of Imperium came from a crucial conversation with one of my friends. We were sitting around on New Year’s Eve years ago and talking about love. We were musing over the fact that when one person tells another they love them, what that ‘love’ means is probably different for everyone. Even between romantic partners, ‘I love you’ may come to mean something totally different between giver and receiver. That was the catalyst. After that, the conversation expanded from love into things like wisdom, strength, honesty, etc. And those became the core themes of the book. What does it mean to emulate these values society says we should honor? How does that emulation look from person to person? The characters evolved from there, taking shape with these questions. The characters Liliana and Elle were designed to explore the different ways we interpret and demonstrate ‘power’. Aoran was developed around a different understanding of strength. The book and its characters all come back to those central questions.
Christina: The book is a fantasy. What about the genre is so compelling to write? Do you think fantasy can do something other genres can’t?
Lyndsey: The thing I love the most about fantasy is the way it repackages real-world issues into a non-real context. I think it can be grinding to read traditional fiction and think about how hard it is to be a woman in this world. It’s almost too real. On the flipside, you can approach those same feelings in fantasy but with the comforting distance of magic, dragons, and the like. Fantasy makes reality palatable.
Christina: Prior to heading to law school, your day job was as a consultant. Did your job inform your writing at all?
Lyndsey: It’s a fair question! In some ways, consulting informs world building. I probably think more about business, strategy, and financing than other authors. But holistically, my job remained relatively separate from my writing.
Christina: Knowing that books have always been important to you, did you ever consider majoring in English or creative writing in college? Do you have plans to pursue an MFA or masters in writing?
Lyndsey: I took one creative writing class in college and loved it. I absolutely had moments when I thought that might be the path for me. That said, my intellectual journey has always been characterized by a variety of interests. To fully devote myself to creative writing felt like a sacrifice, precluding me the opportunity of pursuing my passions in law and business. That’s why I entered consulting and why I’m in law school now—to open those doors, while knowing I can always write creatively on the side.
Christina: Many authors who work or study full time have to prioritize a routine. What does your writing routine look like?
Lyndsey: My writing routine is probably pretty pitiful relative to other authors. The only real structure to it is repetition. I don’t have a set time I write (my schedule changes every day). I don’t have a word count goal (that would make it feel too much like work). Instead, every day, my goal is to type a sentence down. Sometimes, that sentence turns into two pages. Other days, it just stays that one sentence. The consistency of the act is the closest thing I get to a routine.
Christina: Writing can be a solitary affair, but often, writers have communities they rely on for support. Do you prefer to write alone or with a group? Do you have a critique group?
Lyndsey: I tend to write alone but edit with peers. I recruit my closest friends to read the drafts that I create, knowing they’ll catch any glaring plot holes or character issues before I start revealing it to a more professional audience.
Christina: It sounds like you’re a cat person! Can you tell us a little more about Edwin? How long have you had him? Do you plan on acquiring any more cats in the future? Is he a good officemate?
Lyndsey: I am 1000% a cat person. I actually serve on the Board of Directors for a cat shelter in Atlanta: GoodMews Foundation. I adopted Edwin from GoodMews almost two years ago, and he is the love of my life. He’s a 6-year-old gray tuxedo that loves to follow me around, lay across the top of my office chair, and trap unsuspecting victims with his belly. Given that I just started law school, Edwin will remain my only feline for the near future, but in the meantime he’s the best officemate I could ask for!
Thanks to Lyndsey for agreeing to this interview! If you know of an artist, author, or podcaster who’d like to be featured in an interview (or you would like to be featured), feel free to leave a comment or email me via my contact page.