I get questions all. the. time. And I love it! Below are some of the most often asked ones. Feel free to submit your own questions in the form at the bottom!

Where did the idea for Haelo’s story come from? How did you come up with the idea for “candeons?”

I went to college on the North Shore of Oahu (BYU-Hawai’i), just up the coast from the Byodo-In Buddhist Temple. There’s a koi pond in front of the temple, filled with these beautiful fish, covered with patchwork scales. A few days after one of our many visits to the temple’s gardens, I was trying to think through a compositional issue I was having (music major over here) and I couldn’t get an image of those scales, layered & slightly transparent, out of my head. One thought lead to another, lead to another, lead to another, and next thing I knew I was dreaming up this fantasy world of magical water people living among us humans. So instead of finishing that composition assignment, I wrote the first chapter. (Sorry, Dr. B.). In the book, Candeons have a patch of scales on their lower backs called mosaics. I picture these just like the koi fish: layered, variably transparent, organized chaos. Only on a smaller scale.

As for the name Candeon, I looked up a series of Greek words for “charcoal,” “gray,” etc. and found a word I could tweak it a bit. It seemed fitting for the dark grey scales that some of those koi fish have. In my first draft, Candeon mosaics were a patchwork of white and charcoal scales. It’s since evolved. Also, I’ve gone back to try to find out what that original word was, and I can’t for the life of me figure it out.

When and how do you write?

It’s tricky, I tell ya. I’ve written with babies in my lap, while stirring dinner, between home remodeling projects (dusty hands included), curled up in bed at two in the morning, and everything in between. I have a note-taking app on my phone, and whenever an idea hits me I quickly type it out and save it for later. I also have a fantastic husband who supports me (i.e. wrangles children) whenever he can to give me time. My favorite places to write are while on vacation. Writing during a Lake Powell sunrise or a breezy afternoon under the porch of a family cabin are the best. And if I’m being honest, I wrote a lot of the book because I was procrastinating other things. 🙂

The only hobby that seems to steal some of my novel writing time is music arrangement, mostly choral and orchestral arrangements of hymns. Like I mentioned on my About page, movie score composition would be so cool!

What has been your favorite part of the publishing journey? Your least favorite part?

Favorite: Interacting with readers. It seriously makes my day. To hear your stories and get to know you has been such a journey for me. I also love it when my husband and kids are proud of me.

Another favorite: when one aspect or set-up of Haelo’s world comes together with another aspect. That rush I get when a hint I mentioned chapters ago finally gets it’s day. I smirk to myself hoping that readers catch those.

Least favorite: Writing those dang blurbs. Spiels are not my forte, ladies & gentlemen. Every single book description I’ve written sounds so weird! This is not a weird book. I promise.

How did you come up with your characters’ names? Are they based on real people?

I love this question. Every single character name is very intentional. Even people only mentioned once. A lot of periphery characters (like Haelo’s friends at school) are named after some of my favorite musicians. Sam’s family are all jazzy classics or throwbacks (Amy Winehouse, Sammy Davis Jr., Bing Crosby, Ginger Rogers, Norah Jones, and John Legend).

A few characters are based on real people. Lauryn Locke is based on my real life best friend, and Trevor Allen is based off of her real life husband. An aunt and uncle of mine make their cameo, along with a mother and daughter duo of great family friends.

Most all of the ancient or Pankyran candeons are named from Greek words that allude to their personalities. Karchardeus is named after the Greek word for shark. Magari is named after the word for pearl. Pankyra is from the greek words for anchor and city. And so on.

Funny enough, the only name that I have no idea where I got it, was Haelo. Which serendipitously, means “having a blessed aura.”

Merch, Tara. I need merch.

For those that have asked, I do have a few shirt designs (that you can get on any style apparel in any color listed) here at Skreened. I don’t make any royalties from them, and they cost me just as much money to buy as they cost you. But they’re there if you want ’em! (I always wait for the sales.)

How long does book production take?

It’s a long process. Even after all the writing is done, there’s still weeks (or months!) of editing, cover design, typesetting, setting up with printers and distributors, social media, and you would not believe the red-tape. But in the end, it’s worth it.

Is Haelo going to end up with Dagger or Griffin!?

I can’t just give out all my secrets! What’s wrong with you people?