Author L.A. Thompson knew she wanted to be a writer at a young age. She longed to create worlds and characters that would draw people in and transport them to another time and place, which she achieves in her novel Isle of Dragons.
L.A. loves fantasy and witchcraft and by combining those elements in her stories with different historical periods, she creates a world that’s in an industrial era caught between technology and magic, exploring the two’s unique interplay.
Hi, L.A. Welcome to Reader Views. What is Isle of Dragons about?
Isle of Dragons is about Jade Sol, a sixteen-year-old girl who goes on a journey to find her father, who was banished by the corrupt royal court to a land of untamed magic that many only believe exists in myth.
What inspired you to write this story?
I wanted to write a story that discovers more about the wider world and herself in a fantastical land that would transport readers to another world. I’m a big lover of stories that take place in other worlds, while also having characters and themes that make it resonate with our own lives.
When did you start writing and what got you into the fantasy genre?
I’ve been writing for a few years now. I started off freelance writing while working on this novel. I loved the fantasy genre growing up and the worlds and fantastical creatures capturing my imagination. I really wanted to create something like that too.
What can you tell us about Jade, your lead character?
Jade is born into nobility and wants to be reunited with her banished father. She essentially wants her life to go back to the way it was, even though she knows deep down that’s impossible. She didn’t have much of a sense of identity in the royal court and people aren’t encouraged to have genuine connections because people are chiefly interested in their social standing. Upon living that strict environment, she’s able to explore her love of magic and make genuine connections with the Atkins family, who aren’t bound to the strict class structure of Vansh’s capital.
How do you develop your characters?
I go from a place of want vs. need. Jade wants to be reunited with her father, and essentially for her life to go back what it was. She also wants to protect people, mainly out of her own guilt and trauma around her mother’s death, someone she lost at a young age. She goes out of her way to protect others in sometimes very reckless ways. But what she needs is to form wider connections where she can rely on others and turn away from her old life to fulfill her full potential. Miria wants to carry on her family’s legacy out of a sense of pride and a need for control, but what she needs to do is let go of the pressure she puts on herself and her need to be in control. Dan wants to feel as though he’s not useless and a burden, but he needs to realize his own skills and resourcefulness that contribute to the group.
Our reviewer noted that she liked the elements of innovation you added to the story. Why the spin on the standard fantasy elements?
At first, it was the standard fantasy, with Jade escaping on horse rather than in a machine. But that brought about questions of how she was able to outrun for so long on just a horse, and I thought of other methods for her to escape her pursuers that just didn’t rely on magic. And then I thought about my love of steampunk, a genre that is still very underrepresented and my love of Star Wars growing up. And I thought that this would be a way to take the fantasy genre in a unique direction. I came up with the idea of animal themes machines because Vansh is trying to prove they’re superior to the natural world; that they can recreate beasts of equal power through technology. And then mechanical creatures became the standard model for everyone, with different creatures innovated for different nations and climates.
Was there a lot of research involved in this work or did it all come from your imagination?
I did a lot of research into the structure of medieval royal courts. I also looked into different periods of history, including the crusades, the renaissance and the industrial era. They all form the current period that Vansh is living in. The renaissance era scapegoated witches for all their problems, which is something the population is encouraged to do. And the minors and exploitation of children is based on the industrial era. The king’s crusade in another nation against dragons in the name of bringing peace is based on Richard the Lionheart being away on the crusades. Things like the hunter serpent are based on a creature that is half cat and half serpent from alpine folklore.
Did you let Jade dictate the story or did you map things out first?
I did map out the story using the snowflake method developed by Randy Ingermanson. I highly recommend checking out his books on the subject of plotting a novel.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?
I learned a lot about history that I mentioned before that I found interesting, especially about how heavily new eras in history are often built on the exploitation of people and groups. That as something that I wanted to emphasize with the “chosen king” meant to usher in a new era.
There are many stories in print about dragons. How does Isle of Dragons stand apart?
There’s an air of mystery about dragons and what’s going on with them. They all come from another realm originally, a realm of magic that’s gradually being corrupted and corrupting the land itself. And that forms a big part of the story.
What kind of feedback have you received on Isle of Dragons?
It’s been largely positive, with people enjoying the setting and characters. But I’ve felt that criticisms have helped to learn and grow as a writer.
What do you like to read? Which book has most influenced your life?
I love to read fantasy and science fiction. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle had a profound impact on me. I loved the unique take on the fantasy genre and myths in general. I loved Lord of the Rings and devoured the Harry Potter books growing up, and I wished to create a fantasy world as well.
Tell us about your writing schedule. What is a typical day like?
I try to get as much written in a designated few hours of the day. I admittedly am a procrastinator and find it hard to get words on the screen, but it’s easy once I get going.
What do you love most about being a writer?
Creating different worlds and characters, and transporting people to a somewhere else, while also creating characters that are hopefully captivating and relatable.
What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
I like to do Tai Chi, walk my dog, work with children, and help out at the local historical museum as a researcher.
What’s next? Are you writing another book? What can you share with us?
Isle of Dragons is the first in a trilogy of books and I’m currently working on the second book. Isle of Dragons: The Hidden Library. Jade will discover a way to stop King Jarrod. Meanwhile, Kaylen and the shapeshifter Drey continue to pursue Jade while questioning their alliance to the king and each other.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, about writing, or about life in general?
Just take things one step at a time. Focus on each chapter at a time, rather than rushing to complete the entire novel. It’s more satisfying that way and puts less pressure on you in the long run.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Keep going. I think persistence is the key success as an author, or anything really, more than any other attribute. Keep writing and reading about your craft and don’t up in the face of rejection.
Thank you joining us today at Reader Views, L.A. It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you and your work!