Life Defined

Friday, September 14, 2012

Hydra Blog Hop, Day 5: Tricia Ballad

Greetings, Ladies and Gents:

My - what a special treat that Friday has in store for us! Fantasy and romance author Tricia Ballad is here to answer a few questions and introduce us to her work. It seems we share a penchant for similar genres, so I am quite excited to introduce her to everyone this lovely morn~

Interview with Tricia Ballad

Good day, Tricia!

Thank you for being here today. Would you mind telling us three things about yourself? It could be anything – anything at all: unique, mundane, unusual, etc… 

Thank you for having me, Rachel! 
Ok - Three things about me… 

1. I completely geek out over old architecture, and my dream home is a beautifully restored Victorian – or maybe an Irish castle. Modern McMansions might be comfortable, but they lack the amazing artistic detail you find in older architecture. (Now that I’ve said that, my next home is going to wind up being one of those anonymous boxes with eggshell-white walls and boring, carpet-covered stairs!)

2. I relax in the evening by watching hard-edged travel shows like Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, but when it comes to my own vacations I love the Walt Disney World Resort. Every once in a while, it’s ok to take the easy, safe option! We took our family to WDW in 2010 for the first time, and I completely fell in love with the atmosphere there – so much so that I started a weirdly successful blog about it, which led me down some fairly interesting rabbit holes. Besides, where else can you have breakfast with a Princess?

3. I met the love of my life two months into my Freshman year of college…after telling my mother that I had no intention of dating anyone until at least my Junior year. Whoops! She laughed at me at the time, I’m sure. My father didn’t take it so lightly. His response, which I’ll never forget, was “No way in hell my daughter is dating some long-haired Hippie freak!” to which I innocently responded, “Oh no, Daddy. He’s not a Hippie. He’s in a punk band!”
20 years and four children later, we’re still happily attached at the hip. 

Your website says you are an author of ‘Epic Fantasy’ and ‘Sweeping Romance.’ Now those are two genres I could read without tire! Would you mind telling us a bit about your work?

It all comes down to what I love to read, and the stories I see all around me. I grew up reading the great fantasy authors – David Eddings is my favorite! – and classic romances. The one thing that always disappointed me about fantasy was that most of it was written by men, who were overly interested describing exactly what a sword in the entrails would do to a man. Such detail leaves little room for developing the relationship between the hero and the fair maiden for whom he guts half the kingdom. 

On the other hand, the classic romances by Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte had all the relationship building a girl could ever want, but their heros rarely draw their swords even if they do happen to possess one! It’s a major failing in a hero, not carrying a sword.

I tried writing literary fiction (that didn’t go well, even I was bored by it), and mainstream romance, but I missed the epic quality of a great fantasy. Trying to write within the real world was too restrictive for me. So I threw caution to the winds and wrote the stories I wanted to curl up and read.

I understand that you are not only an author but a mother and a homeschool teacher as well! How do you go about balancing the various roles your lifestyle demands? 

Coffee, and lots of it! 

I write from 5-7am every day, so no matter how crazy the day gets I know I’ve gotten my writing done. My kids have grown up with me working from home, so they know that when Mom is frantically pounding the keyboard or scribbling notes on scraps of paper, not to interrupt – I may be killing someone off. 

One of the hardest things for me is leaving the story when my writing time is done. Transitioning from writer to Mom/Teacher is difficult sometimes, but those are the days when we start our school day with a story. I’m lucky, all of my kids are insanely creative, so they get it when Mom’s got her head in the clouds a bit and we rush through math to get to art time. 

Tell us about your recent promotion in Hydra Publication’s new gaming division. Are you an avid gamer – or do you prefer to create the worlds that players delve in?

Both! I started gaming back in college, thanks to that guy I met and married. He has always been a gamer geek, so if I wanted to hang out with him on Saturday nights I had to give the gaming thing a shot. I loved it, being able to immerse in the story was invigorating. 

I rarely run the games, but I often create the scenarios and adventures that the players explore. We sit down before the players arrive, and talk about the major villain, the events that thrust the players into the middle of the action, and any side quests we might throw in, and so on.

What spurs the Muse within you? Do you listen to music as your write? Do you record your dreams?

People-watching. When I’m stopped at a red light, I’ll glance over at the car next to me and imagine what circumstances might have led the great beloved Princess out of her castle and into the minivan in the next lane, or what quest the young hero on the steel horse might be thrust into just beyond the next curve. I love to peel away the layers of modernity and mundane life to find the larger-than-life hero(ine) lurking below.

What is your favorite quote?

I have two:

The first is from Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey, great Southwest American poet and novelist:

"Do not jump into your automobile next June and rush out to the canyon country hoping to see some of that which I have attempted to evoke in these pages. In the first place you can't see anything from a car; you've got to get out of the goddamned contraption and walk, better yet crawl, on hands and knees, over the sandstone and through the thornbush and cactus. When traces of blood begin to mark your trail you'll see something, maybe. Probably not. In the second place most of what I write about in this book is already gone or going under fast. This is not a travel guide but an elegy. A memorial. You're holding a tombstone in your hands. A bloody rock. Don't drop it on your foot - throw it at something big and glassy. What do you have to lose?"

This has been one of my guides through life – that sometimes you have to get dirty and bloodied in order to get to the good stuff, and that sometimes you have to chuck a bloody rock at something big and glassy!

The second is from T.S. Eliot, who needs no introduction:

    Turning and turning in the widening gyre

    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

This always seemed to describe my inner world – lots of anarchy and chaos!

Thank you for introducing yourself and your writing, Tricia. Do you have anything else you would like to say before we part? 

Thanks for having me! I can’t think of anything else – so I’ll open it up to the readers: Feel free to leave questions in the comments section, and I’ll stop by to answer as many as I can. If you’d rather contact me directly, you can check out my author page on Facebook or my website.
Thanks again!

Tricia Ballad


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