It is the end of the blog tour of the book Arcacia and I am back with a serious Q&A session with the esteemed author T. A. Barua. It is difficult to write a children’s fantasy, and I wanted to know how she achieved it.
Tell me something about yourself, who is T.A. Barua?
First, I’d like to say this is an amazing site, and to thank you for interviewing me. I’m a post-graduate, a teacher, a writer,; and a children’s novelist. I’m based in London, U.K where I completed my Masters in English literature. My early years were spent growing up in South Kensington, London SW7 in the U.K where Sophie, the main protagonist of Arcacia also lived. I later moved to Ealing borough in West London with my family, where I presently live. I’ve been in couple of professions including social researcher and lecturer in adult education. I have one adorable son and I’ve had three cats, which I adore, “Tabetha, Sophie and Tennersaw.’ I’m presently a children’s novelist,and my new book, “Arcacia: The Witch, The Warlock And The Children Of The Sorceress-Queen.” has just been newly released, published in paperback and in kindle on Amazon. It’s a children’s fantasy novel of magic and adventure. I enjoy creating books about magic, dragons, witches and exciting new worlds such as ‘Arcacia,’ which is a new fantasy series for children and adults. I also enjoy ghost stories, paranormal and science-fiction.
What inspired you to go on this literary journey? Who inspired you?
I completed an MA in English literature (Race and gender issues in 2Oth Century Literature). I’ve taught English and I’ve always been an avid reader since I first discovered fiction aged three. I grew up reading a variety of genres especially mythology, legends, magic, fantasy and science fiction. However, despite dabbling in writing and my passion for books and literature, I never considered a writing career. It was my sister who inspired me as she’d read my about my creative writing over the years. After some thought I began writing on a part-time basis. I’d written the first chapter of Arcacia years ago, and I just sat on it for ages. I gradually developed my creative writing skills, learned editing, formatting and gaphic design. I supported myself by working part-time; writing late into the early hours when I had spare-time. That’s how, ‘Arcacia,’ was written. The artwork for the cover came about using graphic design, experimenting with images of enchanted forests, castles and dragons.
How did you get the idea of the plot? And why the name ARCACIA
I had the idea in my head for a long-time, it’s the kind of classic fantasy story I would have loved reading as a child which is how it developed . I was inspired by stories such as Tolkeins, The Hobbit, Watership Down, Narnia chronicles, and stories by Eva Ibbotson and Joan Aitken. I’m not very good with titles ; the name,“ Arcacia,” just came to me as I was thinking of the name of a fanatsy world, and just stayed; it sounded like it could be a country, and it had a mystical sound.
Is any character in the book based on you in some way?
The only thing I have in common with one of the main characters, Sophie is that I was raised in South kensington, London where she lived. I’m independent and assertive. She is timid, sweet-natured, kind and trusting but that threatens to lead to her downfall. However, Sophie does grow in confidence into a stronger character; she takes the lead as others look up to her, and the story-line develops. In fact, the story is full of strong, dominant female characters. Sophie’s mother, the sorceress-queen, Selina who goes against convention, stands up to Setanor the warlock, and gives up her magical powers to marry a human who she loves. Her witch-aunts Lilith and Eleanor are both terrifying, feisty women, and the children, Sophie, Olivia and Rowen are all as strong as the boys in the story, fighting swamp dragons, serpents, daemon-trolls, and raising a small army.
Which is your favorite scene in the book (without giving away spoilers)?
My favourite scene is when Sophie discovers the identity of the first of her siblings. The truth is revealed in an amazing twist at a crucial point in the story by her enemy.
How long did it take for thoughts to become words? And did you have to do a lot research for getting it published? ‘
Arcacia,’ took a couple of years to create but then I was only writing part-time, and this was my first novel. As it’s about an imaginary world there wasn’t much heavy research required but even then I looked into aspects of writing about magic systems, names of characters and places, and other elements of the creative writing process itself as and when required.
Is this book part of a series? And are you working on your next book already?
Arcacia is a stand-alone book, the story is complete in itself. However, there are one or two open-endings that mean there is room for the plot to be developed. For example, Setanor, the warlock’s story could be followed as well as a young adult novel based on what happens to Sophie and her friends from age thirteen to adulthood. I have already written a pre-quel, novella to ‘Arcacia,’ which highlights the events leading up to the story. Book two is in the process and in the end Arcacia will be part of a trilogy. I am also writing a children’s book of short stories.
What advice can you give for budding authors?
My main advice is to have faith in your story, and never give up. Other tips include: Create an outstanding opening. A hook at the start, and at the end of every page to keep the reader guessing.
Show don’t tell.
Use all the senses and specific details to create the scene so it’s not, ‘generic,’ but let the reader work things out for themselves. Try not to be passive or spoon-feed the reader; let them use their imagination. They will be living that story in their minds; the better you create that image the more easily they can picture it.
A book can be more vivid and compelling than a film because the reader draws from his own imagination. Create menace, curiosity, suspense and intrigue and keep the reader interested and wanting to know more.
Write the first draft through, at one go, without editing. Writing is re-writing. You can always perfect, tweak and improve your writing in subsequent drafts. If you keep pausing to edit your writing you’ll take forever to complete the book. (As I’m a perfectionist, I certainly did this to start with, though I don’t anymore, avoid that. )
What are your interests other than writing? Your hobbies?
I enjoy reading all types of genres, music, politics and travelling.
Where do you see yourself in 5years in the literary world?
I’d like to be a full-time novelist, complete a long back-list of novels for people to enjoy and to remember for years to come.
What is the one fun thing about yourself that is a secret or hardly anyone knows?
When I realised there was no full-time affordable child-care for working mothers in my area I once set up and managed a successful full-time montessouri nursery-school, registered by the local authority for under-fives which my son, my niece and nephew were all able to attend. We had a waiting list and it became one of the most popular schools where I lived.
Any last words at the end of the interview?
I’m looking forward to hearing from all the readers out there who enjoy, ‘Arcacia,’ I’d love to hear from you, and to reply to you all. For those who enjoyed reading my book as much as I enjoyed writing it for you, I’d appreciate your time to write a review on Amazon, or Goodreads.
You can reach me on twitter @t_barua, @tabaruapage on facebook or instagram. You should be able to find more information about my book easily online if you google, ‘Arcacia,’ Children’s book author T.A. Barua . Arcacia is available in paperback and in kindle on Amazon now. Here is the link to buy the paperback online from Amazon.
● “Arcacia,” is free on kindle unlimited, and it can also be ordered from all libraries, and most bookstores if you give them the ISBN 13: 978-1985112841.. Happy reading. 🙂