A Conversation with K.S. Villoso
Originally from Manila, and now living in Canada, K.S. Villoso always wanted to write. She writes in the Fantasy genre. Book One of her trilogy The Agartes Epilogues is out now and the next two books will be released in April!
Purchase on Amazon
It has been years since his brother’s accident. Kefier was only just beginning to live a normal life–at least, as normal as it could get for a mercenary from a run-down town. And then an errand goes wrong and he finds himself holding his friend’s bloody corpse.
Already once branded a murderer, he is pursued by men he once considered friends and stumbles into the midst of a war between two mages. One bears a name long forgotten in legend; the other is young, arrogant Ylir, who takes special interest in making sure Kefier is not killed by his associates. The apex of their rivalry: a terrible creature with one eye, cast from the womb of a witch, with powers so immense whoever possesses it holds the power to bring the continent to its knees.
Now begins a tale with roots reaching beyond the end of another. Here, a father swears vengeance for his slain children; there, a peasant girl struggles to feed her family. A wayward prince finds his way home and a continent is about to be torn asunder. And Kefier is only beginning to understand how it all began the moment he stood on that cliff and watched his brother fall…
JRR (Jessica’s Reading Room): Tell us a little about yourself.
I had a colourful childhood, most of which I spent in the slums in Manila, up until we immigrated to Canada in my early teens. The only daughter of two civil engineers, I followed my parents’ footsteps and pursued an education in civil engineering myself; however, I’ve always been a writer first. I now live in a village near Vancouver, Canada, where I can walk out of my backyard straight into the forest. I share my life with my husband, children, dogs, and the occasional garbage-stealing bear.
JRR: Children, dogs, and bears: Oh my! 😉 It does sound like you have had an interesting life. Did you always want to become an author?
Yes. It was one of my first answers to the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” When we lived in the slums, I was not really allowed to go and play outside with the other kids, and there was no Internet or cable TV or libraries, so I spent a lot of time re-reading the same old classic novels and writing on a 1 gb hard drive computer my dad built for me out of old/spare parts.
JRR: A 1 gb hard drive computer! Wow! But you had to work with what you had. What inspires you to write?
All of my writing revolves around character exploration, no matter what the genre. I like digging deep, discovering complex relationships, motivations, backgrounds, all of which culminate into character growth.
I also really like world-building, and have a large world in which most of my epic fantasy stories are set in. I love creating new cities and then exploring them; I also like getting my characters to travel through all sorts of natural and magic-made wonders.
JRR: What does your writing process consist of?
Once I have an idea, I type a lot of outlines or summaries for it. I want to have a clear picture in my head of what this story is going to be about and what facets of the main characters I want to explore. I also want to have a clear picture of the main scenes—particularly the beginning, turning points, and the end. This means it may take years for a novel (or series) to “bake” in my mind. Afterwards, I’ll generally write a deeper outline (lately I’ve been doing chapter-by-chapter outline) before I start writing.
I follow an organic process when I write: a lot of things change during the actual writing process, and I allow my outlines to evolve. This means I could be creating new outlines for every change that happens in the manuscript itself, which is labour-intensive, but I love the results so far. Characters I’ve doomed to die in the outlines may end up living after all, or the other way around; actions change as the manuscript delves deeper into their motivations.
JRR: You have quite the process! Things can always change while you are writing and characters could ‘take over’ with what you plan to do for them. What kind of advice can you give to aspiring authors?
Always question the quality of your writing, and always aspire to do better than you did yesterday. Keep writing and don’t compare yourself to other writers. Everyone had a unique voice, and you can only be “better” than yourself, not better than anyone else. Also, writing is hard—it’s supposed to be hard. It’s one of the most worthwhile things in the world you can do, so don’t let thoughts of money or fame distract you from what’s truly important, which is to give life to stories that only you can tell.
JRR: That is great advice! Who was your favorite author as a child and who is your favorite author as an adult?
I loved Jack London when I was little. I still do, but I’ve added to the list: Guy Gavriel Kay, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Ursula Le Guin, Robin Hobb, G.R.R. Martin, and I’m sure there’s others I’ve missed.
JRR: What can you tell us about your series The Agartes Epilogues? Book one is out now and the other two will be out soon.
The Agartes Epilogues is an epic fantasy series brought down to a “human level”. It consists of an epic plotline that is told from the point-of-view of three minor characters, who have their own selfish motivations. These POVs are contrasted with Interludes from both side characters and the actual “heroes” of the stories (people who carry out heroic deeds and represent traits like duty, everlasting love, honour, and sacrifice). In the series, I explore themes of love, redemption, legacy (specifically as it pertains to children), and purpose.
The entire series spans a whole ten years or so, but the books themselves are actually fairly light and quick reads (for this genre). There is a lot of focus on character interactions and dialogue, as opposed to descriptions.
Jaeth’s Eye, which is Book One, is currently out now, while the last two books, Aina’s Breath and Sapphire’s Flight will be out this April 2017.
JRR: Good luck with the upcoming releases! Who is the target audience for The Agartes Epilogues?
The Agartes Epilogues is for fantasy lovers who enjoy characters, particularly those who enjoy full immersion in characters’ lives, their problems, and their eventual growth. You don’t even have to necessarily like the “epic” aspect of fantasy (or even like fantasy at all—I’ve had a few of these readers), although that will certainly help you appreciate the politics, wars, and the scale of the worldbuilding.
JRR: Where did you get the idea for The Agartes Epilogues? Was there anything that influenced you to write it?
It actually started out as a JRPG my boyfriend and I were designing back in high school, using RPG Maker (I forgot which version). I had the main plot consisting of a disgruntled hero and what he did to the world and an entire cast of characters all ready, and ended up getting to the second town before I realized I wanted to do more than the medium allowed. I ended up writing the first novel right after high school graduation, but I did it from the point of view of a side character, one who wasn’t featured in the game, and instead pushed the heroes (the main cast) to the background.
I would later rewrite that same novel several times before it finally became Jaeth’s Eye.
JRPG stands for “Japanese Role Playing Game”, which is a genre of video game that usually involves linear gameplay, a party of characters, and levelling up by defeating enemies through random encounters while walking around dungeons. RPG Maker is a software for developing video games–you can find out more here.
JRR: If you could have dinner with three people (living or dead) who would they be and why?
Also supposing I don’t have social anxiety…probably Ursula K. Le Guin, Guy Gavriel Kay, and Robin Hobb, who are some of my most admired authors in the fantasy genre. And I just want to sit there and listen to what they say to each other and absorb that information.
JRR: Maybe they could give you ideas on future novels! 😉 Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Thank you for this opportunity for an interview, and don’t forget to visit my website at http://www.ksvilloso.com.
***Thank you for your time K.S.!