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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Interview: Julia Phillips Smith

 How did you come up with the title?
 The series name of Dragonsfyre came from a brainstorming session in our hotel room at a writers’ conference in New York in 2011. Thanks to children’s fantasy author Daisy Piper (  for that one! ‘Dragonsfyre’ will be a part of each title in this series, and ‘Bound by’ refers to the chains of servitude experienced by everyone in the Eighth Dominion, whether the character truly lives in service to a noble, or whether the noble lives in fear of deadly political intrigue.
 Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
The biggest support for me has been my writers’ group, Romance Writers of Atlantic Canada--our Facebook page:
Although my Dragonsfyre and Dark Ages Vampire series are not romance but dark fantasy and horror, I have other historical romance projects to which I’ll be returning. My writers’ group is a driving force who have propelled one another through the hard times, celebrated the good times, information shared, networked and hauled each other from aspiring writer to professional author status. I wouldn’t be chatting with you now if not for them.
 Do you have to travel much concerning your books?
 So far I’ve travelled from my home base on Canada’s east coast—Nova Scotia—to New York for the conference I mentioned, and to Toronto to attend Fan Expo as an author. I really enjoy working events like Fan Expo as well as the local one here, Hal-Con. This year I’m looking forward to appearing at Halifax’s Word on the Street on September 22nd and Hal-Con from November 8th to 10th.
Let’s face it—every writer is a reader, and working a book festival surrounds me with other book lovers on every level. Taking that a bit further, every fantasy writer is a fantasy film/TV/superhero lover at heart. What could be more fun than doing promo for my book while surrounded by costumed fans?
 How do books get published?
 The publishing industry is currently splitting into three streams—traditionally published books sold by agents to major publishing houses, books sold by authors directly to editors of smaller publishing houses, or books self-published by authors. Identifying which publishing model suits your work best will help you to focus on whether you need to submit to agents, submit to editors directly, or learn how to pull together a publishing team made up of an editor/copy editor/formatter/cover designer.
The distribution of books has changed radically due to technological advances, and this is what has caused the shift in the publishing world. Traditional houses and self-published authors alike now offer e-book or paperback format, at brick-and-mortar stores or at online retailers who deliver the e-book directly to your e-reader or ship the print-on-demand paperback directly to your home.
 How many books have you written?
I’ve launched two separate series with Book 1 for each of them now published: SAINT SANGUINUS is Book 1 in my Dark Ages Vampire series, and BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE is Book 1 of my Dragonsfyre dark fantasy series. I have three other non-fantasy historical single title manuscripts waiting for me to finish both series before I get back to them.
Which is your favorite?
The hero of my Dragonsfyre series, Scorpius, is my favorite character, so I’d have to say BOUND BY DRAGONSFYRE is my favorite so far. I’m currently revising Book 2 in that series and I have to say I’m pretty infatuated with that story and those characters right now.
 Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
If you don’t currently have critique partners or belong to a writers’ group, I would reach out and find other writers to hang out with. Writing is a solitary occupation, yet you’re creating something that becomes a dialogue between yourself and the reader. That means feedback becomes your tool to refine your story and make it the best it can be.
If you’re in an area where that isn’t possible or if your schedule and obligations make groups impossible, look online for group support. Whichever group you discover, whether it’s an informal gathering meeting regularly at a coffee shop or an established organization with dues and an executive, it should make you feel like you’ve finally found your long-lost tribe, and should challenge and encourage you to develop as a writer.
 What are your current projects?
I’m currently revising Book 2 in the Dragonsfyre series, which continues to follow Scorpius as he navigates the dangers of the Eighth Dominion. Book 2 introduces several new characters to upset the current power plays at work among the nobles, as well as delving further into the forbidden magic of this realm. Let’s not forget the dragons, of course…
 Do you ever experience writer's block?
I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced not knowing what to write. I’ve experienced not knowing what to do with scenes that aren’t working. Learning how to tackle the revision process was the hardest part of writing for me. Mastering how to plot during this stage made many things come together for me.
 Do you write an outline before every book you write?
My outlines emerge after I’ve begun writing by the seat-of-the-pants, or pantser method. I just sit and start writing. I go as far as I can this way, and once I get stuck, or things start becoming a little too complicated, I take a step back from the manuscript and outline the plot. At that point, the snags that had been tripping me up smooth out.
 Have you ever hated something you wrote?
 I’ve been frustrated with certain scenes, but not to the point of hating my own work.

Required Question
 What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
My Kirkus review has definitely been the toughest:  A fantasy novel with an overdramatic hero, set in an overly vague fantasy world.” – Kirkus Reviews
What has been the best compliment?
“Scorpius is perhaps one of the most compelling characters I have ever read…The Eighth Dominion is a savage wonder, a place you will long to return to.” – Melissa’s Imaginarium book review

Today we are beginning an amazing tour with Julia Phillips Smith author of 

BOUND by Dragonsfyre.

Quick Facts
Release Date: May 30, 2012
Genre: Dark fantasy
Formats: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, Smashwords

Book Synopsis
No one is safe when the dragon glides low over the Eighth Dominion. Not the high born who plot and spill blood. Not the low born who serve with one eye to the sky and the other glancing back.
Young Scorpius is fetched from the estate nursery, once raised to live among the nobility – claimed finally not by his family, but by a falconer to serve as his apprentice.
Scorpius soon learns that a noble hides his monstrous appetites beneath velvet and jewels, while the leathery-winged dragon is honest about his own. His master does his best to shield Scorpius from the world outside their cottage, but the falconer is merely a servant who must obey his own masters.
An attempt on the life of a young lord while on a hunt sends the falconer’s apprentice on an abruptly different path, bringing Scorpius into the service of the House of Pruzhnino. Court intrigue sinks its talons into everyone, even Scorpius–especially a former falconer’s apprentice once raised to be a lord in his own right.
“Julia Phillips Smith’s voice is elegant, spare and powerful, her characters compelling. Smith has created a harsh world where commoners are bound by the whims of a corrupt nobility, nobles are ensnared in a web of intrigue and violence, and all live in fear of the shadow of the dragon. If you enjoy masterful world-building, a tightly-woven plot and characters that will capture your imagination, this book is for you.” – Jennie Marsland, Amazon

The Author
Julia Phiilips Smith has been telling stories since she figured out how to prop all of her dolls in a row, creating a wide-eyed and enraptured audience. A love of the arts led to passionate participation in dance, choir, musicals and plays. Her curiosity led to wearing as many hats as possible, from performing to stage managing and directing, from theatre to television and film.
After graduating from Ryerson Polytechnic University in Toronto with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Film, she discovered there were stories bubbling to the surface that wanted to be novels.

Julia spent the next decade and a half learning the craft of novel writing.
She lives with her husband, their dog and her mom on Canada’s east coast, where the rugged sea and misty forests feed her thirst for gothic tales.
Learn more about the author at:

“Are you troubled, my lord?”
The young noble glanced quickly at Scorpius, fixing him with an appraising stare . After a long moment, Lord Thibault chuckled. “I dare say I have a dominion’s worth of trouble.”
“We’re pleased to offer this small consolation, then.”
“You know, ever since our last conversation, well…frankly, I’ve been dreaming about what it would have been like to have never been collected up from the nursery, as you were not.”
Scorpius looked at Lord Thibault, trying to gauge the young man’s mood before looking away in time to avoid eye contact. The noble gazed out over the woods, lost in troubled thought.
“Surely not, my lord,” Scorpius said finally.
“Do you even know what’s brewing?” Lord Thibault asked. He turned and looked at Scorpius as though the lighthearted noble who had arrived earlier had been merely a front for the sake of his companions.
Wishing he could dart a glance at his master for any kind of sign or direction, Scorpius took a breath, gathered himself and made his choice. “Can’t say that I do, my lord.”
Nodding his head toward Richolf, the noble said, “Wonder if he knows, and he just hasn’t told you.”
It was Scorpius’ turn to chuckle. “That would be just like him, my lord.”
“Really. Perhaps our masters aren’t very different after all.”
Hearing this noble try to bridge the gap between them made Scorpius’ heart ache with such unexpected force that he took a step back.
“Well, I shall tell you a little something, then. Something your master should know, if he doesn’t already.”
“My lord.” Scorpius looked into Lord Thibault’s eyes, surprised to see the depth of weariness suddenly exposed.
“The Troubles have begun.” Lord Thibault’s voice caught as he said it. He blinked rapidly and looked away.
It all made sense now.
His master had not glared at him when Lord Thibault swept Scorpius to the hunt, leaving the rest of his retinue behind. That look had been a warning, the only kind permitted between a falconer and his apprentice.
Suddenly Scorpius’ hands shook. His master seemed so very far away across the field, rather than not far enough.
Lord Thibault swiped a hand across his face, turning to gaze at Scorpius. It no longer seemed possible that they were close in age, not with the weight that seemed to bear down upon the noble.
Memories tumbled forward, stopping Scorpius’ breath.
They jumbled through his mind–a noble’s rod slicing the back of Scorpius’ head, the lords fighting on the doorstep, the sword plunging into the royal brother. They were all part of The Troubles, weren’t they?
Across the field, Richolf appeared to be calmly collecting the braces of game, but he was staring over at Scorpius. Was he trying to tell him something, give him some further warning?
His master still carried the wounds from those days and nights of torture. He’d been put to the question because the royal brothers had decided the falconer’s cottage was tucked away enough to settle their score out here. Nothing to do with the falconer, and yet his body held the torment even now.
Of course, not even that could compare to the Hunt of Screams.
Scorpius met Lord Thibault’s gaze, suddenly angered by the noble’s tears. “The Troubles, my lord?” he said, his voice tight as he fought to control himself. “Yes they’ve made their presence known, even to those who try to live apart from them.”
Once again, instead of taking offense to such a tone from a falconer’s boy, Lord Thibault dropped his reserve even lower. “Am I in danger here?” he asked plainly, staring deeply into Scorpius’ eyes.
Glancing over at his master, he saw his attempts to gather the courtiers and head from the field. Yet there were two laggards.
Scorpius busied himself with his own braces of game. “My master warns of it, my lord.”
Lord Thibault started to turn, to look toward the others.
“Don’t!” Scorpius hissed.
The noble froze.
“Carry on as you would, my lord,” Scorpius ordered, not caring that he did so. He risked another glance as he crouched to tie the games hens together. Those two courtiers bent their heads together. More to the point, one glanced in Lord Thibault’s direction.
“We must run for it.” Scorpius stopped his work but remained in position. “Will you do it?”
He wished he could look at Lord Thibault, but doing so now would plunge the knife in.
“Where do we go?” the noble said, his voice calmer now that it had come to this.
“They are in my forest, my lord. I know these trees, I know the hills, and they do not. Just follow me.”
Scorpius rose, leaving the brace of game and catching Lord Thibault’s eye. At his nod, they bolted toward the treeline.


Tour Schedule 
April 1: Black Lion Tours Blog: Introduction.
April 2: Makayla's Book Reviews: Interview.
April 3: Bunny Reviews Blog: Interview.
April 4: Laurie's Non Paranormal Reviews: Interview.
April 5: Le Vannity Victorienne: Review and Interview.
April 6: Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer: Interview.
April 9: I Know That Book: Interview.
April 10: Pure Jonel: Review and Interview.
April 11Deal Sharing Aunt: Interview.
April 13: Bookworm Babblings: Review
April 14A Book Lover's Library: Review.
              A Novel Idea Live: Live Interview.
April 15: A Novel Idea Live: Promo Stop.
            Black Lion Tours Blog: Wrap-up.

3 winners. The Prizes will be: - An e-copy of Bound by Dragonsfyre. - A Paperback Copy of Bound by Dragonsfyre - A $20 Amazon gift Card Here is the code: a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Hi Makayla - I really enjoyed your interview. Thanks for hosting me today.

  2. Looks like a promising book.

    Damyanti @Daily(w)rite
    Co-host, A to Z Challenge 2013

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z

  3. Thank you for having Julia today!

  4. Great interview Julia and Makayla!! The excerpt was wonderful ... gives you a great view into that world. And here's to more travel in Julia's future for her bestsellers!! :)

  5. Love the interview - especially on the revision process which is what I'm into after a 9 month hiatus...

  6. Great interview! Julia is a very supportive person and RWAC is very lucky to have her. Best of luck!

  7. Great interview - RWAC is definitely better for having Julia. She is a very supportive person and it's great to see others discover her.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review/blog post. I love hearing from you.