Due to current events, Fantasy Basel was postponed from May to November (November 13-15): three days of cosplay, fantasy, games and adventure. Until you can meet authors, cosplayers, artists and geeks there, we will introduce you to some of those exciting people. Because many of you now have a lot more time to read, we begin with Severn A. Lee, the author of “The Chronicles of the Three Wars” .
Young authors have a difficult time in a world that no longer supports the distribution of printed books. Some luck is essential for authors to find a publisher and also one who supports them. Naturally, in addition to luck, you also need a large portion of skill and the courage to try something different. Severn A. Lee is one of very few Swiss authors in the fantasy novel industry. With her book series “The Chronicles of the Three Wars” (soon to be available in English language as well) she made her mark. Anyone who has read one of her books can hardly wait until the next one appears. Since her books are currently being reissued by xoxo-Verlag, we would like to introduce this aspiring author to you.
Hello and thank you for your time answering our questions. You are a young aspiring fantasy writer from Switzerland, just introduce yourself – who is Severn A. Lee?
A question I’ve been asking myself for many years. I think what best describes me is ‘whacky’. And mysterious. And great. ?
You use this name as a pseudonym, if I am correct, why don’t you use your real name?
Because I also teach at local schools and I think it is important that my writing and my teaching do not merge. An interview was recently published in a regional newspaper, which is also distributed in the city where I teach. Promptly some people arrived and asked me about it. That’s very nice, but I think it would be strange for my students if they knew that there was a fantasy author standing in front of them.
How did you get into writing and when did you start with it?
I rather think that the latter came to me. I can not do without writing and not much else. I’ve been writing since second grade, from wannabe comics to what I’m doing today.
It’s a long way from writing stories to publishing a novel, can you tell us how it happened to you?
Oh dear… long and rocky. Basically, the first step was to give my novel to someone to read. Accept feedback. To put together a kind of synopsis and then just send the damned thing to publishers. After that, wait, fear, hope and be terribly disappointed when a rejection arrives. And then – get up and try again.
I think it is very inspiring for young authors in Switzerland that you managed to become one of the few women to work as a fantasy writer for a publisher. Do you have advice for young talents how they could succeed?
Never give up. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. Swiss people tend to find that everything different is weird. You have to get over that. And if no-one believes in you, you have to do it yourself.
Your first books “The Chronicles of the Three Wars” Vol. 1 and 2 have just been published in a new edition, but six books are planned, is that correct? When can we expect the third?
The third and fourth books are also ready and should be published in the coming one to two months ?
But if I’m right, you also write other projects. Do they also tend to be fantasy stories or are you going into a completely different direction?
They are also fantasy projects. One of them – probably my next project – will play in our world and will be quite different from the ‘Chronicles’. A lot of black humor, a lot of the unexpected and unorthodox stuff. Let’s see ?
Your book is about the gripping story of Paradon, a former Great Kingdom that, after years of peace, faces an enemy who threatens to destroy the peace forever. An initially insignificant boy named Kirin is instrumentalized as a fighter and it only slowly emerges what it is about, so that in the end he no longer knows who he can and cannot trust. An interesting story that always takes new turns. What strikes me is that you don’t like happy endings, why?
The somewhat strange reason for a fantasy author: There is rarely a happy ending in life. Even though I love everything that is magical and supernatural, I still like to portray people as they are. And that also means their developments and the strokes of fate that happen to them.
I was a little disappointed that you stayed true to a cliché that many people see the same way. Not to give away too much, there is a character in your book, a boy who is described as short, fat and lazy, who prefers eating to exercise. First I had hoped that this character would be your main one, just to get away from this “only the pretty ones become heroes” cliché. Why didn’t it happen?
It should actually be him. But then I met a young man and I knew he had to be the hero. I couldn’t help it, there was simply no other way. Kirin is not pretty, mind you. Megan either. In fact, there is only one who is pretty, and that is the bad guy … I just noticed ? There is now the insidious thing at the beginning if you do not know whether Kirin or Òry will be the real hero of the story. Clever, huh
Besides being an author, you are also a teacher. How do your students find your stories and do you use the books in class?
I don’t tell them about it. One or two of them googled me and figured it out, but I don’t address it myself. I would never discuss my own books, I would find that very inappropriate. Students would never be able to speak their mind openly if they did not like the books, because they were all afraid of hurting the teacher and possibly getting bad grades. In addition, they would probably interpret too much into it, because of ‘you do these things too’, ‘this character reminds me of you’. Moreover, as a student, I have experienced how – sorry for the expression – how pitiful it can be when a German teacher tries to impose his own works on the students.
Can you imagine to make a living solely from writing novels, or is teaching just part of your life?
Of course it would be very cool if I could make a living from it. But I don’t think teaching would ever completely disappear from my life, that’s why I love doing it.
Besides writing, you also have numerous other hobbies such as riding, archery and cosplay. Tell us more about how you got into cosplay and are you part of this year’s Fantasy in Basel? And if so, are you giving us a little tip about what your cosplay will look like this year?
Well, I owe cosplay to a gifted cosplay couple from my circle of friends. I could never create such great costumes (yeah, I know you shouldn’t call them that). But I really enjoy dressing up, I also like to wear everything that is given to me. Of course I will be there again ? Hmmm … will probably be the same again. But I still don’t know if I come in cosplay every day; although it is very light, it is sometimes more comfortable in jeans and a shirt ? However, my stand helpers will dress up – last year the goddess Libra was there, I don’t know who will come this year 😀
When you are there, are you there as a cosplayer or as an author with your own stand?
Again with a stand – although I would very much like to go through the trade fair again as a cosplayer.
Have you ever considered giving an author workshop at Fantasy?
I honestly don’t know what I can teach other people. I don’t know what I’m doing and how.
Do you still read fantasy novels from other authors? And if so, what does a story need to grab you?
I read George R.R. Martin, J.K. Rowling and Neil Gaiman. A story has to be special, things that I don’t know yet – Gaiman has a way of alluding to things without completely revealing them, which attracts me a lot. I also love his sick sense of humor.
What is Severn A. Lee dreaming of and what are you dreaming of? Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
I don’t know what Severn A. Lee dreams of. Among us, I don’t feel very comfortable. What I dream of … being famous, of course. If my ultimate dreams come true, I would see myself as a bestselling author in 5-10 years. The coolest thing would be if my books were translated – and if there was a series. 😀
In your opinion, what does it take to become a good author?
I can not say that. ‘Good’ means something different for everyone. But I think it takes a certain spark deep inside. Without it, there can never be a fire.
Severn A. Lee’s books (in German language) are available in all major bookstores. More information at https://paradon.ch/severn-a-lee/ or at Instagram: severnlee_666