"I love living in the unreality of fantasy" - Q&A with G.R. Thomas, author of urban fantasy novel, Awaken

From a small farm in Melbourne, Austrailia, comes Awaken. A story about a girl named Sophia Woodville, who finds herself in a dangerous new world she was always destined to be a part of. Author and animal lover, G.R. Thomas, talks about her characters and experiences, and gives us a sneaky-peak into much anticipated sequel, Surrender.

Q. Describe your journey into the indie author world.

A. It kind of crept up on me. I wanted to write for years but only thought about it, I never followed through. One day, about a year after giving up nursing I sat down and wrote a prologue. It had been on my mind for quite a while. The rest of Awaken flowed from there. I didn't think of actually publishing until I got to a certain point where I knew I would finish. That was an exciting moment.

Q. How did you come up with the idea of Awaken? Did you always know where the story was going, or were there surprises along the way?

A. Awaken was inspired by two things. I have very vivid dreams. Usually quite dark.  I once dreamt of being saved from a flood by an angel, which has stuck with me. Also, this probably sounds strange, but I was listening to the Guy Sebastian song, Battlescars, and it gave me visions of battle-weary, scarred angels. I often listened to that as I wrote as it kept my mind focused. With this, I have always known very clearly how it would end. The one surprise I have had however is with one particular character who insists on being a potty mouth! It's weird, every time I try to clean up her language I truly feel that she is screaming up at me telling me to let her be herself!

Q. Is there a book(s) which inspired you to become an author?

A.There is no particular book that inspired me to be an author, however I am very much inspired by the genres I read. I love urban fantasy, high fantasy and mystery.

Q. Why do you write?

A. I write because I am now brave enough to. I write because there are stories banging about my head that have been begging to come out. I write because I love living in the unreality of fantasy. I write because it is fun and challenging. I write because it helps me avoid housework!

Q. Is Awaken your first novel or just your first published novel?

A. Awaken is my first novel

Q. Awaken is very dark. Even your opening prologue made me gasp - what interests you about the dark fantasy genre?

A. It is a little dark at times. I have very dark dreams for reasons I can't explain, and writing gets those dreams out of my head . I like the moral and ethical challenges of dark fantasy where you read unpleasant things about unpleasant people but sometimes you find yourself kind of liking the bad guys. I like to see characters challenged where they have to make both good and bad decisions and the fallout that they then have to deal with . I think dark stories make the reader question how they would behave I those situations.

Q. Which genre do you feel best describes Awaken?

A. Paranormal, urban fantasy with a historical fantasy twist.

Q. In your dedication, you mention a lady called Rochelle and if it was not for her you would not have put pen to paper. What is the story behind that?

A. Oh, my gorgeous darling Rochelle. A couple of years ago I picked up a free e-book from Rochelle Maya Callen, and I checked out her bio which was very similar to mine. That day, her story, her bio, inspired me to sit down and write the prologue for Awaken. I emailed her to tell her how inspired I was by her. Surprisingly I received the most amazing email back from her. Since that day, she has remained a dear friend across the seas who has supported me all the way. She lives in the US, and I've never met her but I feel that she is a one of those unique 'I got your back' friends who, but for her story, I may never have started the writing process. She is a truly amazing author and now a fabulous writing coach.

Q. Do you enjoy being able to connect with reader's on social media? Does it come with any pressures?

A. I LOVE connecting with readers. As a reader, I am thrilled if one of my favourite authors chats to me. I nearly died of excitement once when Cassandra Clare tweeted me! I think its very important to be available, especially as an indie author, to chat to readers when they show me the kindness of reading Awaken. They have taken their time and money to support me so I'm more than thrilled to offer my time to talk with them. I absolutely love Instagram. It is a fabulous and positive community for booklovers and authors. The only pressure is keeping up with all the social platforms.

Q. Your book is on sale in several book stores. How does it feel seeing your own novel in a store?

A.  I am speechless seeing my book on a real shelf in a real bookstore. Its surreal. It's not inaccurate to suggest there has been a lot of squealing and jumping up and down! I'm honoured that these three book shops have taken Awaken on. Its is no easy thing to get an indie book into a bookstore so I am forever grateful to them for giving me a chance.

Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

A.  I would urge anyone who would like to write to have a go, don't underestimate yourself. If you have a story to tell, let it out there. There is a wonderfully supporting community out there to help you.

Q. Surrender, the sequel to Awaken, is due for release soon. Can you give the reader's a sneak peak of what to expect?

A. It quite possibly could be a little darker than the first. Sophia will face lots of challenges both within herself and from others. She's on a continual self discovery journey, learning to balance her softness with the strength that she needs to survive and succeed.  New places and characters will emerge and there will be a death - one of my favourites too. Traitors will also be revealed. Jaz has my heart in this one. Surrender is what I call my bridge - it takes the reader from the discovery of the world in Awaken all the way to the precipice, ready for climactic ending I have planned for book three.

Q. Any last thoughts for the reader's?

A. I would like to thank all those who have supported me by purchasing and reading Awaken. This is most definitely the best reward I can receive. I would especially like to thank those who leave a review. Reviews are invaluable for authors, especially Indies. I enjoy all aspects of them, even constructive criticism as it galvanises me into focusing ever harder to write better.

For any Australian readers, Thomas will be signing at the Sydney Book Expo, October 8/9, and then at Books by the Bridge in Sydney next February 18th 2017.

Follow G.R. Thomas on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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