Thursday, 23 July 2015

Guest Post: Christina Ochs

I'm pleased to have author Christina Ochs, a fantasy writer who frequents the WeWriWa blog hop, as today's guest! Christina is the author of Rise of the Storm, the first in an epic new fantasy series. The review will be coming on Saturday, so be sure to check back for it. I'll tell you now– if you like fantasy, military, politics, and conspiracies, this is the book for you. If not... it's still probably the book for you.

Without further adieu, welcome Christina!

What inspired you to start writing?

I've always wanted to write novels, and made my first attempt in high school. After that, life got in the way, and even though I kept a journal and thought about writing quite often, I never took it very seriously. A few years ago, I met my husband and got into his truck. He set me up with a laptop and told me to do what I'd always wanted to. We co-wrote a non-fiction book, and then I discovered NaNoWriMo. I tried writing a romance novel, and it was terrible, but the experience gave me the confidence to write more. I needed to build up my courage to start this series because I'd been thinking about it for a long time, but it seemed like such a vast and scary project.

Where did you get the idea/inspiration for Rise of the Storm?

It's a long story. Years ago, I was visiting family in Germany and my uncle took me to Heidelberg Castle. It's most famous inhabitants were Elector Frederick V and his English wife, Elizabeth Stuart. They were a very romantic couple and he remodeled a whole wing of the castle to seem more English, so she would feel at home. He also designed a gorgeous garden for her, although nearly all of that is in ruins today. Between the two of them, they managed to help start the Thirty Years War (1618-48), and their ambitions ended rather tragically, in disgrace and exile. I was captivated and always thought their story would make a great novel.

I did some reading about the Thirty Years War after my visit to Heidelberg.  It's a difficult war to follow, with a lot of confusing and boring parts, but some very interesting characters came out of it. One of them was Bernard of Weimar, a mercenary general who worked for the Swedish and the French and also met a tragic end. I thought his life would make a great historical novel too, but never felt brave enough or qualified enough to pursue it.

I had a breakthrough of sorts when I realized I could write it all as a kind of alternative history, rather than attempting to follow the convoluted course of the real war. Even that has been a challenge, though an enjoyable one. I get to do lots of historical research "for work," and I can give my imagination free rein. It's the best of all worlds.

How many books are you planning for the Desolate Empire series?

I had initially planned on four, to roughly mirror the four "official" phases of the war, but it's already looking like there will be at least five.  I'm trying to control myself and not let it get longer than that. If necessary, I'll consider writing some spin-off series about related conflicts like the English Civil War and the Franco-Spanish wars. Lately, I've been making googly eyes at the Duke of Marlborough and Peter the Great, so there's no telling where this will end.  On the plus side, I'm in no danger of running out of ideas!

Who is your favorite character in the Desolate Empire and why?

Isn't that like asking a parent to choose a favorite child? I love them all, even the bad ones, but if you're forcing me to choose, I'll have to go with Braeden. Not only is he cuddly, but he's been a joy for me to write from the very beginning. His voice comes to me so easily I once considered trying to write the whole story from just his POV. It occurs to me that I might have unconsciously modeled him on my husband, so that's another reason for me to love him.

What do you like about the fantasy genre?

I love the endless possibilities. You're not limited by anything, and in my personal case, I love being able to play fast and loose with historical figures and events. I also like that there are so many facets to the genre. It's not all elves and magic (although I like those too). Since I'm a voracious reader, I can always find something I enjoy.

What are you currently working on?

I just finished the first draft of Valley of the Shadow, the second book in this series. I'm going to dive right into editing and hope to have it ready for publication in January.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your career?

I have a lot of time, but don't make good use of it. Part of it is being in a moving truck with no set routine. It's hard to work at the same time every day, which typically has worked best for me. And sometimes, the conditions make writing impossible. It's hard to type when you're in Chicago rush-hour traffic, or winding through the mountains of West Virginia. And pretty scenery can be distracting as well as inspiring though I really can't complain.

What do you love most about writing?

It's the way I'm most comfortable expressing myself. I dearly love to talk as well, but it's nice to be able to edit your words before they go out into the world. I love finding ways to bring characters and events to life after they've spent months or years in my head.

Do you have any advice for new authors?

Hey, I'm a new author. :-) I would say, just write and don't worry about it being perfect right away. I think it was that need for perfection that kept me from writing seriously for years. The only way you'll get better is to practice, and practice comes from writing. NaNoWriMo was a game-changer for me. Not only did it show me I could write a book from beginning to end, it put me in touch with other writers. I think getting that support and encouragement is key when you're on the long, solitary journey of writing a novel.


A former banker and non-fiction author, Christina accompanies her truck driver husband all over the lower 48 states, writing in the passenger seat, on a laptop strapped to the dashboard, whenever the keyboard is not occupied by one of her two cats.

Find Christina online:

Blog: The Rolling Writer

Thanks Christina!


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