LL Nelson is a strong member of the Kindle Vella community. I suggest you check out her work and follow her on social media to make your own opinion, but read this interview and you’ll get a good idea of her voice. She’s so excited!
Let’s get ready to read!
How did you know you had this series in you?
When my characters from my current series wouldn’t stop talking about their world and their past adventures. Also when side characters were like ‘Hey! Have I got a story for YOU!’
I LOVE when the side characters put in their two cents, too!
But before that, it was because I spent waaay too many hours playing Skyrim over the Christmas/New Years break in 2018. I’ve always loved the Elder Scrolls games ever since I was introduced to them in high school with TES III: Morrowind. And after everything shut down in 2020, I started playing Elder Scrolls Online, which I absolutely love studying for the various story arcs.
Back in 2018 though, I had a crazy, *spicy* dream involving a character who gets transported from our world into a fantasy Nordic world. It wasn’t Skyrim, but it was like Skyrim. And when I woke up, I wrote down a couple of scenes and then shelved it. A few months later, I mentioned it to a writer friend who got super excited about it and started talking about stuff like LitRPG, etc. So I began fleshing out the story, taming down the spice for YA audiences (because that’s what I read mostly growing up), and exploring the world.
As I was fleshing out the world, I knew I was going to end up writing a bunch of novellas about the world of Lohikärra, but I didn’t know yet how they’d end up published.
Why did you choose to use a series format?
The artsy reason? The stories felt easier to write in that format and fantasy readers love series of all kinds. When I was younger, I’d write stories that never truly ended in my mind, but I knew they needed to end at some point on the page. So series just worked for some of my stories. And the novellas connected to my Lohikärra series were stories that I needed to write, but didn’t necessarily fit into the main series or big novels themselves.
Oh my gosh, I never want to end my stories or to find the end of a story I’m reading. Can’t it just go forever?
The practical reason? I saw people posting about how lucrative Vella currently was. It’s not a get rich quick scheme, but the bonuses from the stories help to fund my bigger fantasy stories and give more frequent content to my readers, as well acts as another gateway into my main series. One of the downsides to writing fantasy series is that readers want the whole series all at once (due to having to wait for ages with some of the bigger fantasy author names), so even releasing every six months meant it’d be 2.5 years before my series was complete and I could start marketing it in that way. But with Vella, I can post shorter side pieces more rapidly, to keep readers in the world and excited about the stories.
Let’s hear about how you write?
What is your greatest challenge in writing?
Writing without interruption. I have 3 kids who are 6 and under, a full time day job with a long commute, and a church calling within my ward/congregation. So I stay busy every day.
Sounds like writing fantasy might be your break from real life calling you constantly.
What surprised you in the writing process?
How much I enjoyed writing shorter scenes. I’m used to writing fantasy, which is conducive to longer stories and even when I was young, I wrote these long, bloated stories. So I always assumed that I just liked to write a lot. I didn’t think I’d enjoy writing shorter scenes.
Is there something that you found particularly helpful?
In general, ‘Save a Cat Writes a Novel’ really transformed the way that I write. Even though I minored in creative writing in college, my professors didn’t really focus on the art of writing a story. At least in regards to plotting. They focused more on the literary elements. So I could point out what allegories were in a story, but not where the inciting incident or climax should go. So for a long time, I was writing based on what felt like good writing, but if I needed to fix something, I had no idea how to fix it.
In a similar vein, I enjoy playing through story arcs on the Elder Scrolls Online. The main story arc in each of their zones is made of various quests and each of those quests could be compared to an episode in serial fiction. Something happens to the character that moves the plot forward and either positively or negatively affects the MC. So I’ve been studying how they create those quests and make open hooks that cause the player to keep going through the story.
That sounds like fun research/learning!
I know we tend to write what we know, but did you need to do research for this book?
If so, what was the coolest or most surprising thing you learned?
The reproductive physiology of various reptiles and sharks… When I was fleshing out my dragons, I realized that they could shift between dragon form and human or elf forms (though they usually shift into human forms). I started thinking about how would a dragon reproduce if they were in dragon form versus human form. (Several of my characters or their ancestors are literally part dragon.) So how would a male dragon mate with a female human? A female dragon with a male human? Dragon with dragon? Which led down a deep research hole of ovoviviparity. Basically some animals like certain reptiles, sharks, and frogs are able to give birth via eggs or live young. It’s super interesting and super complex, but yeah, that was probably the coolest thing I’ve had to research for this series/universe.
I just realized I only know a little about this. Enough for a draft to get ideas down, but not for a scene to really unfold.
What else can you describe in your writing process?
I am most definitely a plotter. Given that I’m a mom to little kids, I don’t always have a ton of time to sit down and write, but if I have an idea of what I’m supposed to be writing in a scene, it’s easier for me to get bits and pieces done when I have a spare moment. And because I’m not getting stressed by not knowing what I’m going to write, I’ve actually found that my creativity flows a lot better. I can jump into a scene much easier and more quickly.
Time to share, or is it?
How do you know your piece is ready to be shared/complete?
I have two things that I have to check off before I know something is ready: 1)Are there any unintentional plot holes or loose strings that I need to clean up? 2) Can I read/listen to it without stopping to tweak something? Obviously I have a more condensed version for my Vella episodes, but that’s the main gist right now.
Who is your expected audience?
For main series: Teens 16 and older
For Vella stories set in Lohikärra: Teens 13 and older
For Vella stories under my romance pen name (M. Victoria Vilandre): Women 21 and older (not because the story is spicy by any means, but the story lines are/will be focused around things that teens may not find as interesting)
I love this breakdown and explanation.
Who has been your strongest supporter?
My husband, hands down. He’s awesome and he supports my writing, not only as something that I enjoy, but as a business as well.
That’s awesome to live with such support!
If you could have any author (alive, dead, or fictional) read your book, who would you like to read it?
Hmm… that’s a hard one. Maybe Tamora Pierce or Madeleine L’Engle? Both women’s stories really impacted the way in which I write today, although I don’t think I’m anywhere close to the level that they wrote at.
Madeline L’Engle was one of the first authors who really made me consider what I was reading, not just enjoy the story.
What author, or book, or series most influenced you?
Where to start… lol. I was a voracious reader as a kid, so that’s a long list, but a few at the top of my head:
Invitation to the Game (Monica Hughes)
The American Girl book series
The Elder Scrolls video game series
OK, we need a little more…
Favorite cookies? I have a massive sweet tooth, so I love anything sweet, but snickerdoodles and anything with chocolate always come out on top.
Bucket list? I love to explore and experience the world. For example, I taught English in China for a couple of semesters while I was in college. So I had the opportunity to hike the Great Wall of China while there and that was amazing. I’d love to visit other places as well. The UK, Europe, other parts of Asia, etc.
I’m also a bit of a foodie and a genealogy nerd. I love to try new foods or variations on old favorites. Some of my favorite memories when I’ve traveled are trying foods that I’d never had before. As for genealogy, I love to create family histories for my characters to help flesh them out and I’ve done a lot of genealogy work for my own family. Before I decided to focus on writing as a career, I looked into becoming a professional genealogist and started a genealogy blog (that has since gone dormant).
Mmmm. Cookies, that sounds yummy right now. And I love traveling and feeling the energy of places like the Great Wall, or ruins of ancient cities. They are powerful and it brings (boring) history to life.
What else is important to share about your book?
This is for both my main series and for my Vella stories that take place in Lohikärra. If you’re a fan of tropes like: found families, chosen one, friends to lovers (in the main series), medieval fantasy settings, and dragon shifters, then you’ll enjoy them. They’re also not super violence or spicy, so they’re stories that I think teens will enjoy while their parents won’t feel too uncomfortable with them reading.
When can we expect more from you?
Soon… lol. With my Vella novellas within the Lohikärran universe, I try to publish episodes 3x a week and finish the stories in about two months throughout 2022 (so Book 1 during Jan/Feb, Book 2 during Mar/Apr, Book 3 during May/Jun, etc). With my main series, I plan to have Book 3 (Queen of Drattüjert) out on June 30th, 2022 and Book 4 (Lady of Lohikärra) out on December 30th, 2022.
I’m also exploring writing in a related genre (fantasy romance) under a different pen name (M. Victoria Vilandre) – that story gets updated once a week at the current moment.
Where can we find your book?
Amazon for the most part now. I’m in the process of going wide with the first two books of The Lohikärran Chronicles in the next few months, but they’ll still be available from Amazon as ebooks, paperbacks, etc.
My Vella stories are on Kindle Vella, just look for L. L. Nelson
Where can we find you?
Social Media wise? Facebook, Instagram, TikTok for the most part. I also have an author website and newsletter for those who want a sneak peek into the process behind my books or opportunities to beta read/ be an ARC reader for future books.
(Pen Name: L. L. Nelson)
Bjornulf: Dragon Heir – https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09P47BYH3
Son of Andrattür – https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09TD1SDNN
(Pen Name: M. Victoria Vilandre)
To Fulfill a Vow – https://www.amazon.com/kindle-vella/story/B09RZVQSM2
Everything else – https://linktr.ee/llnelsonauthor
(Main series, Social Media, Website, etc)