Let’s start with an introduction: Who is K.S. Villoso?
I’m a Filipino-Canadian living in BC, Canada. When I’m not writing, I’m enjoying my time with family and friends, getting lost in the woods or running around with my dogs. My background is in civil engineering technology, but I foolishly gave all of that up so I could write more books…
Your debut novel, The Wolf of Oren-Yaro, will be published by Orbit in February. It looks really intriguing: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?
Let’s take an epic story with high stakes and complex politics like Game of Thrones, and then throw everything but one point-of-view away. Now, let’s make it unfold like a sword-and-sorcery with thriller-like pacing from the perspective of a woman haunted by her failed marriage and her father’s crimes. It is a book of contrasts, all done in a manner to serve this woman’s character arc; love it or hate it, it’s going to make you think.
It is definitely book one of a completed trilogy, aptly titled Chronicles of the Bitch Queen. The sequels will all be released a little over six months from each other.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
It’s my take on the hero’s journey with a strong female character at the helm. I tend to become inspired by people and what makes us tick, why we do the things we do. So I’ll often start with character archetypes, place them in specific situations, and then go deep — as deep as the story will let me. It’s taken me to some fantastic places.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
Watership Down, probably. It’s a bit like a gateway drug… although the story is about rabbits, it’s got all the elements of an epic story in there. That went on to Redwall. Later, I picked up Earthsea, and then I started consuming whatever fantasy was in the library at the time (being in Canada, that included an entire shelf of Guy Gavriel Kay books).
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
The publishing industry as its ups and downs, but generally speaking, I am enjoying being able to create my stories and then occasionally having someone read them cover to cover. There’s a certain madness that comes with writing stories, and so getting the chance to share them with people makes me feel a little less insane.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Does “method writing” exist? I can’t just research from a book. So I tend to go to a lot of places that resemble what I’m trying to write about, and then write from memory — this means every street corner, every mountain climb, every tromp through the forest is lifted straight from an experience I’ve had, and I can picture everything that’s going on. It’s easier for me to go a museum, preferably if there’s a fort or a ship I can explore, so I can “remember” them for when I’m writing. I want to know the feel of an environment first, how things look in relation to another, the smell of the air or the texture of a piece of wood or how the sun looks when it’s shining on a bead of melting snow.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I’ve been writing since I was in grade school. I wrote for years without ever really thinking about becoming an author. I was pretty convinced I wasn’t going to be published. In my late teens, after reading Earthsea, I tried writing fantasy and going through the query process. I was rejected so much I went back to not thinking about becoming an author at all.
But I love stories, and I’ve always loved the process of exploring new worlds and discovering stories. I just really never stopped.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I think it’s fantastic that there’s now opportunities within the genre for underrepresented voices to be heard.
For my work, I’ve always been an epic fantasy fan in my heart and I would like to continue writing my own spin on it.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
The Wolf of Oren-Yaro‘s sequels aren’t far behind. The Ikerssar Falcon, Book 2, will be out the fall of this same year, while Book 3 will be in spring of next year.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I’m finishing up A Little Hatred by Joe Abercrombie and am just about starting Imaro, by Charles Saunders.
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
You know, I might have had an answer to this years ago, but now I don’t. People look for different things in novels and I’m very sensitive to the fact that there is no one book for everyone.
That said, a book I’ve read recently that I really urge people to give a try is Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I play the guitar in my spare time. I am terrible at it.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
I’m very much looking forward to some rest whenever I can get it…