Ask the Author: K.J. Backer
What would you like readers to know about you?
I am a former high school History teacher. I love to travel, read, drink red wine, and sing. But most importantly, I am a wife, mother, and writer… oh yeah, and I’m obsessed with my Pomeranians.
K.J. Backer grew up on a Christmas Tree farm in Oregon, enjoying the fragrant scents of Blue Spruce and Douglas Fir, surrounded by animals, before moving to the Big Sky State in 1996. She credits her close family bonds, wild imagination, and love for books to her humble, country upbringing. She worked as a U.S. Capitol Intern in 2004, graduated from Montana State University-Billings with a History Education degree in 2009, and taught History at a local high school for five years. She has a huge love and appreciation for other cultures, adoption, travel, history, fantasy, and the written word.
K.J. Backer lives in Billings, MT with her amazing husband, wonderful daughter, and two adorable Pomeranians. Nav’Aria: The Marked Heir is her first novel.
Follow Backer on social media and at kjbacker.com to learn more!
What is Nav’Aria: The Marked Heir about for those who haven’t read it?
Nav’Aria is considered Adult Fantasy. It is set in rural Oregon and a parallel universe. It packs in a whole lot of action and emotion with epic unicorn warriors, adoption themes, and a sadistic tyrant.
Back Cover Content:
Labels and questions swirl in Darion’s troubled mind. Why did his birthparents abandon him? Why is he haunted by visions of mythical beasts, a captive, and her torturer? And why is his birthmark glowing?
Discovering his true-identity may cost Darion everything, as he is suddenly confronted with a war-ravaged Realm and the answers he has always sought. Rav’Arians wreak havoc at the command of a sadistic usurper who led a grisly coup against the Marked Royals. Unicorn, Centaur, Nymph, and man have joined forces to face the oncoming threat of evil, yet their forces are slipping, and hope seems lost.
Three generations interwoven throughout Nav’Arian history will reach as far as rural Oregon, to see the Kingdom unified once more.
The only question is, will the return of the Marked Heir help or hinder in the fight for Nav’Aria?
What has been your inspiration for writing Nav’Aria?
Nav’Aria initially began on a whim. I was a substitute teacher and ran out of reading material on a test day, so I created my own. It took off from there. From my years spent reading, teaching, and studying history, all those themes/experiences spilled out on the page creating Nav’Aria.
The story grew, but it was “just for fun”, or “just something I do when I’m bored or stressed”. I kinda brushed it off…. I didn’t realize until I had written half the book that I was writing an actual book. That realization hit me around the time my husband and I adopted our daughter. With adoption being a major theme, and then living it out, that entire experience transformed Darion’s story for me. I went all in and had the true inspiration to tell his tale. For readers to see him grappling with issues such as insecurity and depression from not knowing his identity, and then, also, seeing what the parents—both birth and adoptive— grappled with along the way, is a chance to really experience the duality of love.
One of the coolest experiences of my life was finishing this book, knowing fully how my characters had been shaped, and how they had, in turn, shaped me.
What was your favorite scene or part of Nav’Aria to write?
Ahhh tough question! There are so many scenes that I adore. I get goosebumps all throughout book one!
I LOVE writing any of the scenes involving the unicorns… especially Trinidad and Trixon.
The entire struggle and bond that grows between Lyrianna and Trinidad is powerful, and their resilience throughout inspires me.
I also thoroughly enjoyed writing a scene in which King Vikaris is trying to avoid a confrontation, and Trixon his bonded unicorn, who is a bit rash and sarcastic, just kinda blows it all up. Trixon is hilarious… and epic…and is a true treat to write.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
My Dad fostered my love for reading at a young age, and it has only grown since there. I often gravitated toward novels set in a fantasy realm as a child. If it had a dragon, unicorn, or mermaid, I was hooked (not much has changed, as you can see)! I loved reading The Chronicles of Narnia and Harry Potter, and I’m thoroughly enjoying reading them now with my daughter.
When I was twelve, my dad gave me Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. It was then, that my true love for fantasy took off, and I simply devoured The Wheel of Time series. It’s powerful magic, theme of good versus evil, strong females, badass fighting, well-developed characters and deep emotional ties to them, and a unique fantasy realm drew me in. Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (who completed the series after Jordan’s death) are on a whole other writing tier in my opinion. I love their work, and though I don’t presently have the desire—or ability—to create something as vast and intricate as the Wheel of Time, I do try to hold true to those tenants of Fantasy, by creating something that will hopefully draw people of all ages and backgrounds to the genre.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
GET STARTED. TODAY.
Quit researching the “how to’s”, brainstorming in another new notebook you picked up at B&N, and getting distracted on social media talking about writing a book. Just write the book.
I spent WAY too much time reading articles/blogs/interviews of other people’s writing journeys, and while they were interesting and I got some great tips, I wasted valuable writing time. For the first draft at least, all you need is YOU, and your imagination. So, let it flow onto the paper.
Once the words are written, you can clean them up, do your research, and transform that draft into a polished book. But by allowing so much time to pass, I think you can run the risk of losing your passion, your WHY, and let other people’s opinions/experiences cloud your writing perspective. I tried it for my sequel, and you know what? I did it!
In three months, I wrote the first draft of my sequel (Nav’Aria: The Pyre of Tarsin), whereas book one, took me eight years to complete. I haven’t let anyone read the sequel yet. I shut myself in my office and just typed. No one else’s judgment or ideas for how my story should play out impacted the creation of it. It is exhilarating to reach the end of that first draft knowing you did the whole damn thing entirely on your own!
So, my advice: Get writing… and don’t let anyone stifle your ideas, dreams, or goals. I can’t wait to watch you soar.
Nav’Aria: The Marked Heir is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/NavAria-Marked-Heir-K-J-Backer-ebook/dp/B07M6J5PN5/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=3RB8UQNXH1S85&keywords=nav%27aria+the+marked+heir&qid=1556401601&s=gateway&sprefix=Nav%27a%2Caps%2C293&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
For more information, please visit kjbacker.com! There, you can sign up for my newsletter, check out my latest blog posts, and learn more about the upcoming sequel.
And find me (K.J. Backer) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads! I’d love to connect!