Today at the Inkpot it’s my pleasure to interview fellow inkie, Lena Goldfinch, author of the novella Language of Souls. I adored Language of Souls. It is a novella jam packed with romance, mystery, adventure and suspense. And how gorgeous is that cover???
Hi Lena, thanks so much for taking the time to answer all of my questions! As you know, I loved The Language of Souls! It is such a unique story. How did you come up with the premise?
Thank you! I'm not entirely sure where ideas come from. It's a very mysterious process. (Not unlike cooking, at least for me. ;)) I know at some point I started thinking about the idea of two people who had no common language. Would it be possible, under those circumstances, to fall in love? So much of how we form bonds with others is through conversation (language), but with language stripped away, could someone still win your heart?
Later, I had this concept that came to me about the soul, which is also mysterious and fascinates me. What if it was a physical, visible thing, something we carried around with us always? What if we needed to consciously protect and watch over it? And what if it could be taken from us or we could choose to give it away? So, that was essentially the sci fi/fantasy element that drove me to create the votif. Otherwise, the only "magical element" in the story is Solena's gift of healing.
And over and above all that—which are just the mechanics of the plot—was Solena and Rundan, two characters who stole my heart and kept drawing me back to their story. They wouldn't let me go until I'd completed it. And even after that, the story went through many layers of revisions.
One of my favorite things about the book was the vivid and richly painted world that you created. What are your world building techniques?
At first, it's primarily intuitive, where a mish-mash of influences and images in my life spill over into each other and combine to make something new. The setting almost chooses itself, but then as the storyline develops, I start to questions things and do research. I'm heavily influenced by ancient Italy & Turkey, for example. I'm also absolutely passionate about culture and languages (with a title like The Language of Souls, perhaps that's obvious!). Art, religion, music, education, society, intriguing landscapes...all of these things collect as I'm researching. The differences between people sparks my imagination, and, maybe even more so, what we still have in common beyond those layers of differences.
Are their parts of you in any of the characters?
I wish! They're such amazing characters to me. I'd especially like to be more like Solena. She's so brave and so loyal, and she's extraordinarily kind too. She's driven by a genuine desire to save her beloved grandfather. And in her quest to save him, she gives too little thought to the risks to herself, which gets her into trouble. I wish I was more like that. I'm afraid I much less of a risk-taker!The Language of Souls has something for every reader – romance, suspense and plenty of action. Was it difficult to accomplish so much in a novella?
It's funny; I had rather naively set out to write a short story (along the lines of "I think I'll write a short story! Gee, won't that be fun?"). Then, come to find out, it's really hard to write short. I like writing novels and the long form suits me best as a writer, so writing shorter is a challenge for me. The earliest draft ended up sounding more like the first chapter of an epic series, and I simply didn't know how to fix it. So I set it aside and occasionally came back to it when I had some fresh vision. I really had to work hard to tighten the structure and to narrow my scope, but it still ended up being over 25,000 words! (Way too long for a short story, but perfectly okay for a novella.) I think because I'd set out to write a short story, it forced me to very economical and examine every word and sentence to make sure it contributed. The short answer though, is: yes, it was very difficult, and I actually failed at what I set out to do, which was write a short story :) , but I'm perfectly content with that. I really love this story.
What inspires you as an author?
People. People just intrigue me. I'll see someone in a store or I'll read a news article, and I'm just amazed at how many different types of people there are in this world. It provides me with endless inspiration. I'm also inspired by acts of faith or when I see someone who has a lot of personal drive, a mission, some personal passion....
And reading. I think being an avid reader from a very young age taught me a great respect for books and a deep love for stories.
What are you working on now?
I have a couple of young adult fantasy novels in the works. And also a "ghostly little short story," which is already threatening to become a novella.
Thanks so much, Erin!
Thank you Lena! I can’t wait to read what you come up with next!