A little bit about H.A....
H. A. Titus is usually found with her nose in a book or spinning story-worlds in her head. She first fell in love with speculative fiction when she was twelve and her dad handed her The Lord of the Rings. She lives on the shores of Lake Superior with her meteorologist husband and young sons, who do their best to ensure she occasionally emerges into the real world, usually for some kind of adventure. When she's not writing, she can be found rock-climbing, mountain biking, or skiing.
Connect with H.A....
Get to know H.A. Titus...
You and Writing
How did you start writing?
I've always told myself stories. From as early as I can remember, I would make up bedtime stories at night. My mom suggested I write them down, so around the age of eight, I started to. Around the age of twelve, I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time, and the fantasy bug bit me hard. I couldn't get enough of it, so I started writing my own.
What has kept you writing?
I'm stubborn. ;) Actually, it's a combination of that and my family pushing me to keep working at it. Sometimes, they understand better than I do how much being creative is ingrained in who I am as a person, and so they push me to continue when I'm ready to throw in the towel.
Emilie here: Ha!Love it - yes I'm stubborn too but having those around you who pester (in the nicest way) you to finish things also helps, doesn't it?
What or who is the biggest influence in your writing?
Music and the novels I'm reading all play a huge part in influencing and inspiring me, but lately, I've found a lot of my new story ideas are sprouted in the make-believe games I hear my three year old playing. Consequently, I expect I'll be writing a lot of middle-grade novels here in the next few years. ;)
Why do you write?
I believe I've been created in order to create. I can't not write because it's so entwined into the fiber of who I am.
Emilie here: Amen!
Tell us a little bit about your book....
Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
Oh yes, definitely Eliaster Tyrone. He's snarky, angsty, and most of the time an all-around grouch, but I do love him. He has such a fantastic story and I'm excited to be able to elaborate on it in further books.
What was a challenge you faced while writing it?
I kind of had two…the book came together over a period of about four years. In that time, it exploded from a novella to an entire series, and I was left scrambling, putting together the pieces of a much larger storyworld, and trying to figure out how to manage my first-ever series. The second challenge was that during the third year of working on Forged Steel, I had my first kid, and that threw my entire world for a loop. It was totally worth it, but it was definitely a rough few months shortly after he was born!
Did you get to do any fun research for the book?
Celtic mythology! I've always been of a fairytale/mythology buff, so getting to dig deep into Celtic legends and put my own little twist on them for my book was so much fun!
What made you choose the setting for the book?
I grew up close by Springfield, Missouri, so when I chose to begin the book in a Midwestern setting, I automatically started filling in Springfield, intending to change it later. That never happened, because using a city I was familiar with was too convenient. ;) (I've never been to Chicago, though…which explains why they don't spend much time in the city.)
What’s your favorite snack while writing?
Crunchy things. I've been on a recent chocolate-covered pretzel kick.
Emilie here: Yum! I love pretzel's of any kind. I also enjoy air popped popcorn. Perfect writing snacks!
Let’s talk about your writing life...
How long did you write before you got published?
Fourteen years since I'd begun writing "seriously". If you count all the way back when I first started writing stories, then it would have been eighteen years.
You have to understand what kind of writer you are, first. Are you more of a hobbyist, or could you seriously see yourself doing this as a business? Do you have an indefinable itch that can only be scratched by writing? There's not really a "wrong" way and a million "right" ways to "keep writing", and you have to figure out what that looks like for your life.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of the writing process?
My favorite is the first draft, because I'm discovering all these new characters and new places and a new magic system or political system…basically anything new. My least favorite is the rewrite phase, where I have to go into my scrambled first draft and assemble it into some kind of order. I actually kind of like the final edit drafts, because I'm making everything pretty, but that rewrite phase… *makes face*
Emilie here: I feel like I line up with you on this too. The first draft is so exciting and new! Rewrites...not as new and not as fun hehe.
How long did it take to publish your first book?
From beginning to end, Forged Steel took four years.
Do you listen to music when you write? If so, have a favorite artist or playlist to share?
I listen to a ton of music and even create specific playlists for each book/series I write. The playlist for Forged Steel can be found here: https://open.spotify.com/user/1255335793/playlist/2xCGXognK0uWvUZjsSdP3x
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
Network, network, network. My writing didn't start growing until I began attending conferences, taking classes, and critiquing/being critiqued.
Emilie here: Agreed!
How do you grow in your writing craft?
I have to take intentional time nowadays, because my schedule is so busy. Podcasts have been a lifesaver since I've had kids. My favorites are Joanna Penn's The Creative Penn Podcast, Brandon Sanderson's Writing Excuses, Michael Hyatt's This Is Your Life, and (because I seriously can't handle nonfiction all the time), Cast of Wonders, PodCastle, and the Drabblecast. (Be warned, all of them besides Michael Hyatt's are secular so might contain things some folks might not like. I appreciate PodCastle because they include a rating system of all the stories they publish.)
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How did you like to celebrate the 4th of July?
We usually go to a parade in one of the small towns nearby, then head out to an inland lake with friends for a day of swimming, tubing, and jetskiing, topped off by fireworks over the lake.
What is your favorite activity during the summer?
It's a tie between mountain biking and tubing.
Share a personal freedom you’ve experienced.
I don't have to be it all. I don't have to be the perfect homeschooling mom, or housekeeper, or Pinterest crafter, or…whatever. I have different priorities and standards, and those should define what I'm striving to be, rather than trying to keep up with other people.
What are you currently reading?
I'm re-reading Steelheart for the third time. It's a fabulous twist on the superhero genre by Brandon Sanderson.
Emilie here: Thanks so much for being my guest H.A.!