Nia Rose and Octavia J. Riley are co-authors of Spellbound and Hellhounds and Secrets of the Sanctuary, the first two novels in the Coven Chronicles.
About Spellbound and Hellhounds, book one in the Coven Chronicles.
Enter the world of Raen, turn left at the land of dragons, and you’ll find yourself in the country of Aeristria. A place overflowing with magic and creatures that were once only heard of in fairy-tales. In the heart of Aeristria is the capital city, Tolvade. Here you will find shops and taverns, laughter and fun, runesmiths looking for their next job and sneaky pickpocketing imps. Steer clear of the galloping gang of centaurs and you will see the headquarters of the prestigious Coven.
Within the Coven’s lower ranks, you’ll find Vanessa, a third-year Hunter itching to become a Spellweaver. Her and her trusted demon partner, Botobolbilian, must investigate an explosion at the academy and bring the culprit responsible in. Easy job, right?
Vanessa and her partner find that this investigation runs deep in black magic and sprinkled with feral demon summonings. With countless lives on the line, Vanessa struggles with self-doubt and following her heart (and laws) as she tries to right the wrongs of these heinous criminals and bring them to justice before they do any more harm.
But, with an oncoming yearly blizzard just days away, is it too late? Even with all the magic, spells, and power on Raen, this job might be the last that this duo ever faces…
About Secrets of the Sanctuary, book two in the Coven Chronicles.
Thea Bauer has earned her way to being a highly skilled member of the Coven. Ranked as a Spellweaver, she’s assigned the more dangerous missions. Corralling a herd of wild unicorns? No problem. Taking down a witch riding the high of black magic? Piece of cake. Finding out why magic-based creatures are suddenly flooding the local sanctuary, protected by a powerful sorceress with a hatred for the Coven? Thea might need more than her tethered demonic partner to see this mission through.
She calls upon Summoner Rafe MacBain, a trusted colleague she’s known for years whose dreamy eyes might keep her up at night—but she’s not admitting that to anyone. He’s got his own demonic companion, and altogether they’re a force to be reckoned with. But, even with their combined strength, it might not be enough against feral demons escaping some of the farthest reaches of Hell.
As if that weren’t bad enough, Thea must conquer her own demons residing within herself that conjure up a painful past. Will she be able to overcome herself, or will the memories she’s tried to stray from keep her from fighting enemies in the physical realm? Thea is starting to wonder if the sorceress may be one of those enemies too. What secret is she hiding at the bottom of the sanctuary, and how will it affect everything Thea has come to know?
Octavia has joined me today to talk about duel writing and the challenges both she and Nia face. Thank you for joining me. Over to you.
Nia and I get asked quite frequently how we go about writing a dual-trilogy of the same world in the same timeline. We always look at each other and agree: challenging. Not in the “Oh, this is so hard“ or “You can’t do that, it doesn’t work with MY story” sort of way (not to say we haven’t said that once or twice…). It’s challenging in a way that forces us to think, adapt, grow, and roll with what we’re given. It challenges us as authors and puts our imaginations to the test, which is invaluable when delving into fantasy.
There’s definitely flaws and loopholes when writing in a world shared by another author, but the beauty of that is that there’s two set of eyes to catch these loopholes. I remember we were so engrossed in our stories that we kind of got carried away, and Nia came up to me and was like, “Uh…hold on, was I at the Grim Bean the same time you were talking to the imp?” We realized that our characters did, in deed, come into close contact with each other, and this gave birth to our first cameo appearance in Spellbound & Hellhounds. We were able to sneak one more cameo appearance in when both of our characters were in Tasgall’s at the same time (something that we both realized later when we read over the story, because we clearly didn’t learn about paying attention to the timeline the first time). We’re those authors who don’t know exactly where the story’s going when we write it. We just write it however it comes to us. Neil Gaiman once said “Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”
We live by that motto.
We’re also the type of author who puts a lot of focus on the world building. I cannot count the number of nights we’ve stayed up until 2, 3, 5, 7AM sometimes with plenty of cups of coffee – Nia much more than I – as we came up with this world’s religion, government, ranks, creatures, spells, incantations, lore, history, ecosystems, etc. We have a huge binder full of notes…because I have a terrible memory. Sometimes the world building gives way to deeper plot points. We knew from the beginning that magic in the world was dying. How? We didn’t know. When I say we spent hours daily coming up with possibilities, different trails of thought (she’s ADHD, I’m ADD so…divulged conversations are the norm), and questioning how the decisions of one character group affects the other, I mean it. Sometimes we have to backtrack, delete a small scene, or rethink how we planned a particular scene going. But it’s not like either of our characters stick to the script they’re given anyway.
I think the most exciting part about this journey is exploring this world together. We discover what goes on almost at the same time the characters do. Sometimes the little things make us have to stop and think. We need an irrigation system. Uh, right, okay. Let me go research dams for three hours. Who takes care of the trash? Uh, giant…rat men who live under the city. Like Master Splinter from TMNT? Kind of. Less ninjutsu…more telepathy. On a more serious note, the world building really is the best part. My characters are going west and exploring the desert, and Nia’s characters have recently traveled to the north east into the Black Forest. In the last book in the series, Thea is breaking away from Rafe and heading toward the mountains…where the legendary dragons are supposed to reside. Our readers get to see so much of this large country, Aeristria, without getting overwhelmed because our characters never meet, so they’re always in different places seeing different things.
Writing a dual-trilogy with someone is, like I said, challenging. It’s fun; it’s exciting; it’s laughing at jokes our characters say because it’s jokes we’ve said to each other and remembering that moment in time; it’s helping each other when one’s stuck and it’s good advice because we actually care; it’s bouncing ideas off each other, dropping everything, running to our notebooks, and writing things down while we giggle about creating something new. But it’s also not for the faint of heart. It’s frustrating; it’s sometimes limiting; it’s being “that person” who tells the cold hard truth about what you don’t like; it’s sighing a million times as you re-write a scene because the timeline doesn’t work; it’s coming up with an awesome idea and the response you get is “Why would that work? How would that work? How would they know that information? What’s stopping them from being too powerful? What’s stopping others from doing the same?”
At the end of the day, it’s knowing the person you’re writing with almost as well as you know yourself. I’m not talking about length of time. I’ve only known Nia for four years, but we synced up with each other almost day one. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. After Coven Chronicles, we plan to go off and write our own novels and get all the stories out that are cramming up space in our heads. But, we’ve already sort of suggested the idea of, in the future, revisting the world of Raen and coming together to write something again.
But, nothing’s been confirmed. Just don’t be surprised if you see a dual-duology (is that a thing? It’s a thing now) with our names on it in the future.
About the authors:
Ever since I was a child, I’ve had a passion for story-telling.
I grew up in and around Nashville and the surrounding suburbs until I was old enough to co-sign on an RV with my mother. Together, we traveled the southeast searching for the next phase in our lives.
We found it next door in good ole South Carolina, though not in the ways we planned. This is where I first met Nia Rose. From there, Coven Chronicles was born. The world we helped create together strengthened our friendship, and our friendship spawned more ideas that bled into the early hours of the morning, broadening the boundaries we had placed on ourselves and our imaginations.
Currently, I’m pursuing my BA in English Language & Literature at Southern New Hampshire University, writing my second novel (book four in Coven Chronicles), brainstorming ideas for a standalone, learning a second language, and working part-time. I have plans to teach English overseas one day, maybe find Mr. Right, and expand on the world I’ve come to love so much.
Who knows, though. Life is unpredictable. Just ask my characters.
Say hi to Octavia on Facebook.
About Nia Rose:
Reading and writing are everything to me. But, I also have an unhealthy obsession with coffee, anime, video games, and lounging in bed for far longer than I should be.
I am a proud mother of four, beautiful children that light up my life and home with their laughter and tomfoolery. I have one fuzzy prince, Thor, the king of the hyper puppies, and one, handsome (if I do say so myself) husband.
Often times, I find myself battling my demons on paper and discovering pieces of myself through the adventures that I write. It is both my therapy and my joy. I couldn’t imagine a day without reading or writing, and I hope that I pen a world for you to get lost in.
Say hi to Nia on Facebook