I’d like to welcome B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree Loren Walker today. Loren is originally from Ontario, Canada, Loren Walker now works and lives in Rhode Island. She earned a Master of Arts in Literature, focus in poetry, from Rhode Island College. Her poems have appeared in QU Journal, the West
Texas Literary Review, and the anthologies Routes and Frequency Writers City and Sea. In 2016, she dove into the world of publishing through her company Octopus & Elephant Books. Her debut publication, the fantasy-sci-fi novel EKO, was a BRAG Medallion Honoree, shortlisted for the Half the World Global Literari Award, and was selected as a Shelf Unbound 2016 Notable Indie.
How did you discover indieBRAG?
I learned about indieBRAG online, while researching award competitions that were open to self-publishing work. It was one of the first competitions I submitted EKO to, and I’m glad I found it!
Please tell me about your book, EKO.
The story follows Sydel, a medical apprentice with psychic abilities (called EKO), and a trio of estranged siblings, Phaira, Cohen and Renzo, who are tasked with the girl’s protection, and then her rescue, from malevolent forces. EKO is what I call “tech fantasy,” in that it takes places on another world, Osha, but there’s flying ships and other technology, plus fast-paced action, a little detective work, sibling rivalry, and a touch of romance. As one of the six siblings, I’ve always been drawn to stories that delve into the natural drama between brothers and sisters. I’m also a big advocate for the promotion of complex female protagonists in genre fiction; I want to see strong women who aren’t just tough and serious, but also funny, sexy, silly, and human, and I strove to create then in EKO. Overall, EKP will appeal to fans of paranormal, fantasy, and science fiction, comic books and anime, world-building, fast-paced action, and psychic phenomena.
What was the inspiration of your premise and how did you come to write fantasy?
I’ve written stories since I was a little girl: fairies and space battles and superheroes, very fantastical. But when I went to university and started creative writing classes, genre fiction wasn’t considered to be “real writing,” and was deeply discouraged. I was young and impressionable; I felt ashamed of my love of SSF, and didn’t write anything but poetry for many years. I am happy to say, though, that I’ve since realized that I adore fantasy and science-fiction. I love to write it, and its’ not “lesser” to me or millions of others out there. As far as inspiration for EKO, while sifting through screenplays, stories and sketchbooks from high school and college, I began to pull out characters and ideas that still resonated. I thought it be interesting to mash all these different ideas together in a single setting and see what happened in the course of a short story. But the ideas kept coming, and I fell in love with these reborn characters, and a novel (and sequel) were developed over the course of a year.
Tell me about your main character’s strengths and weaknesses.
There are two main characters in EKO: Sydel and Phaira. Both appears as total opposites; Sydel is small, shy, naïve to the world, while Phaira is tall, powerful, and the warrior among her siblings. But Sydel is unwavering in her beliefs; she may look traditionally feminine and not so strong, but she holds herself to high morals, and she never, ever backs down from them. Ever! She’s a real pain at times, but she will always do what is good and what is right, no matter the cost, and in many ways, she’s the toughest of them all. And Phaira: I’m proud of her layers, how she’s this brash ex-soldier/special ops expert who bickers with her brothers, struggles with addictive behavior, but she can also be warm, joking, protective, and vulnerable.
How did you decide on the title for your book?
Originally, when this was going to be a standalone book, the tentative title was Mobius Loop, in reference to patterns repeating, same old mistakes, which is a major theme in the story. But everything changed as the story progressed, and it seemed natural to title the books after the “abilities” that characters in this story possess, instead. There are four ‘powers’ (and four books) in this series: Eko, Nadi, Insynn…and I’m not saying that the fourth is yet. That will be revealed soon!
Who designed your book cover?
Deranged Doctor Designs do all my book covers. They’re fast, inexpensive, and easy to work with. Special shout outs to my girls Kim and Darja!
How much time did you take to write this story and what was your process?
The first draft of EKO took a year; editing EKO took two more, because I was still sorting out this world I’d created, and solidifying details.
Now that I know the world and my people, the process is quicker. And my process is snippets of time at a computer, writing ideas in a notebook, thinking about story-lines while I’m driving. It’s whenever I can get a spare moment. I work several different jobs. I have a young son, and finding the time to do any of this is always a challenge. But I always try to do something to move forward every day, even if it’s just thinking about the storyline and where I want to go with it.
Have you written other books? What are you currently working on now?
EKO was the first book I ever finished. The sequel, NADI, was released in March 2017, and the third book in the series, INSYNN, will be out in September 2017. The fourth and final book of the series will be released in March 2018; I’m =finishing the final draft now. I’m also releasing a poetry chapbook, DISLOCATION, a compilation of poems and illustrations about traveling in Japan with my mother. I workshop actively on WATTpad.
Where can readers buy your book, EKO?
A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Loren Walker who is the author of, EKO, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, EKO, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.