Interview with Ahava Trivedi – Author of
Peter: Ahava, your Young Adult Urban Fantasy books are a wonderfully entertaining series that really captures this genre and are full of excitement. I would like to congratulate you on writing them and I am delighted that we have the opportunity to conduct this interview. Many thanks for making the time available.
Peter: What was your inspiration and encouragement to write your Bloodline Academy fantasy series?
Ahava: Thank you so much, Peter – it’s truly an honour to be interviewed and especially by someone as widely read as yourself! I have always been very fascinated with vampires and love to pick up pieces of vampire lore wherever I go. The series begins in New Orleans because I visited the city a few years ago and learned how it’s crawling with supernatural legends that include both vampires and witches. For about a decade I’ve also wanted to explore the less talked about characters in European history and one in particular – Elizabeth Bathory – who was classed by historians as such a brutally prolific serial killer, that she came to be known as ‘the Blood Countess’. The series is built around her, speculating how things would have gone if she had a secret legion of vampires working towards resurrecting her.
Peter: You have developed a diverse group of characters that bring unique capabilities and perspectives. How difficult was it to build a connection between your characters and the reader? Are the personalities of the characters based on people you know?
Ahava: I believe that whether one means to or not, as authors we always end up drawing on the people around us for inspiration in creating a character’s personality. Having said that, it’s a very natural process, where for me the characters spring to life and take on personas of their own, building organic relationships with one another and also with the reader.
Peter: The characters within your story are creatures such as vampires, witches and werewolves with an expected behaviour and characteristics. What background did you specifically draw on and how did you uniquely approach the appearance, abilities and limitations of these beings, considering the fantasy tropes that already exist in this genre?
Ahava: I honestly just let the characters take root in my mind and then I do brief interviews with them to get to know their personalities. I actually ask the main and supporting characters in my story how they feel about important issues as well as about things like their own dreams, strengths and weaknesses. Indirectly, this also greatly helped with world-building because getting to know the people in my world told me a lot about their world too (e.g. how oppressed the werewolves feel by the vampires).
Peter: You have an amazing storytelling ability and I noticed that you curtailed the soppy romance aspect. How mindful were you that you wanted to achieve a focus on entertainment and action, rather than a fantasy romance?
Ahava: In this series and a couple of others I’m working on, I decided at the conceptual stage that I wanted readers to get to know my characters through their magic, struggles, politics and adventures rather than have a heavy focus on romance. I did this not only because that was the organic evolution of the series arc but also because I wanted people to have a wider relationship with the characters and world rather than primarily through the way they relate through a romantic relationship.
Peter: How much market research did you undertake to determine the demand and opportunity this series would have within a very crowded genre?
Ahava: A fair bit and it was geared towards finding out what readers enjoy as well as learning more about the various (often very interesting) ways in which the supernatural beings were already being represented. It does seem to me that vampires and witches are pretty immortal in a sense because even if they go away for a while, they come back with a vengeance.
Peter: What do you hope readers take away from this fantasy series? How would you like it to be remembered?
Ahava: I would love it if readers get an immersive experience through my series – as in, they feel they could actually be friends with my characters, both because magic is awesome and also because they relate to the struggles and triumphs of the main character.
Peter: What influenced you to become an author?
Ahava: I think firstly, the love of reading. I’m going to say something hugely unpopular: I did not love creative writing at school until I was way into my teens and there was more freedom to write what came instead of what was dictated by the curriculum. Also, using story-writing as a way to assess handwriting, completely shut off my creativity for many years. Most writers probably don’t say that but it’s my truth. 🙂
Peter: Do you use story boarding or mapping processes to develop your plots and interactions, or do you go with the flow and follow your instinct and gut feeling? Would you therefore describe yourself as a plotter, pantser or plantser?
Ahava: Definitely a plantser! When I get an idea I do plan it out very broadly, both as a series and for each book but they quickly take on a life of their own. I will sometimes use those little recipe cards to map out scenes and then piece them together but recently my characters have been running off with the details of the plot and they decide whether they like or dislike each other. I kind of channel them and let them tell the story and go with it with the very broad strokes in mind for certain things that have to happen for a satisfying story and ending etc.
Peter: Do you use particular software applications or utilities to support your writing activity? For example, Scrivener or Grammarly.
Ahava: I do use Grammarly quite a bit and I’m now getting into ‘My Write Club’, which is great for word sprints, especially for someone with a 4-year-old who’s not able to sit for many hours at a stretch, undisturbed to write until 10 pm. Otherwise, I basically do my writing in a Word document.
Peter: As a self-published author can you give us some indication on the challenges with the non-writing aspects of the book, for example the cover design, editing, logistics and promotion?
Ahava: This is a big question and I think each element you mention is either a direct or indirect part of book promotion and it’s important!
I believe that one of the biggest barriers for newer authors who want to self-publish is to assume that writing is the only aspect to consider and everything else is secondary to getting words. A lot of authors find the business promotion part daunting – as did I. But there comes a point that with the right amount of immersion in the indie author world, one begins to learn the ropes little by little. I am by no means an expert but I’m at that point where I’m also equally excited by the business element of getting my books out into the world.
Peter: I believe you are heavily involved in author groups that help support each other and newcomers. What would be the main advice you would give to aspiring authors?
Ahava: For me, Facebook has been almost my entire world when it came to getting to know other authors, cover designers, editors, finding mentors and even actively learning the business part of being a self-published author. Based on my experience my advice would be to find a social media platform you’re comfortable with and don’t be shy to seek out indie groups and friendships. I will say that Facebook is at this point, a very rich platform for authors and groups, regardless of genre and it truly has been an amazing way for me to connect with people, including every group from ones that offer feedback to ones where authors share case studies of how they elevated their profits.
Peter: How much time do you spend on writing compared to promoting your books?
Ahava: The way I work, I find it happens in bursts and at first, both would severely compete for time. What I’m doing now, is that I’m automating as many processes as I can. From setting up newsletter swaps with other authors to recently starting to play around with setting up paid ads, I’m trying to do things in a streamlined way so that they’re quick and easy to tweak, update and implement going forward. There was quite a bit of ongoing groundwork in the first few months though.
Peter: What authors have you most admired and have had an influence on your writing?
Ahava: Off the top of my head, some of my faves include Suzanne Collins, Audrey Grey and A.L. Knorr. The last two are indies who are a total inspiration as authors and indies.
Peter: What is your favourite book you’ve read over the last 12 months?
Ahava: The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life Vol I & II by Drunvalo Melchizedek. This book written in two volumes is a work of non-fiction and has blown my mind in every sense. I would recommend it to everyone.
Peter: If you had a dinner party and could invite 3 personalities from any period in history, who would they be and why?
Ahava: I’d invite Elizabeth Bathory (she’s the main antagonist of the Bloodline Academy series), Marie Laveau (aka the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans) and Jim Henson.
There are many controversial accounts in history about who Elizabeth Bathory really was. Some say she was the female Dracula for her notorious serial killer tendencies while other sources say she was set up at a time where patriarchy failed to accept a woman of power, intelligence and standing in Europe. I would love to know her real story – at a safe distance.
Marie Laveau is a character who has intrigued me for many years since I visited New Orleans and walked the same streets in the French Quarter that she had roamed. Again, there are so many stories that have been told about her that have made her a complete legend and I would love to get to know the woman behind the voodoo and her experience of being a woman of Creole heritage who lived in the 1800s and a time that was so prominent in the history of the deep south.
Jim Henson would be my final choice because he made magic throughout my childhood with movies like The Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal and I would like to know what inspired him to go into such dark realms and make them appealing to audiences of all ages.
Peter: Can you give us any insights into any future books or projects that you’re working on?
Ahava: Absolutely! Apart from writing the fourth instalment of Bloodline Academy, I’m currently working on a series called Elemental Realm Keepers. The first book is called Fireforged and comes out in October. The series has four books that can be read as standalone novels or together. It follows the story of four teenagers; a dragon shifter, a mermaid, a faery and a dryad as they come into their powers and are forced to come up against the demons of the Underworld to defend the elemental and human world.
Within the next six months, I’m also working to release the first book of an edgy YA urban fantasy series called Brightvale Academy which is about Autumn Briar, a teen who finds herself unwittingly sent to school at an elite fae academy in a world where the fae basically rule over humans. This series will have also appeal to reverse harem fantasy fans who like slow-burn romantic tension with an adventure heavy plot.
Peter: How can readers learn more about you and your work?
Ahava: Many ways! I send out a newsletter every two weeks and you can just send me an email to say hi or be added to the newsletter. Below are some ways to get in touch with me.
My Facebook Page: Ahava Trivedi Author, Website: www.ahavatrivedi.com Twitter: Ahava_Tee Instagram: ahava_t Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Peter: Ahava, I appreciate you taking the time for this interview. If there are other snippets of information you wish to provide, please feel free. I would like to congratulate you on this wonderful book and I wish you massive success for the future.