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On The Table Read Magazine, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author Paige E. Ewing shares what inspired the second book in her Liliana and the Fae of Fayetteville series, Explosive Chemistry.

the best creativity magazine in the UK, the best book magazine in the UK, the best arts magazine in the UK, the best entertainment magazine in the UK, the best celebrity magazine in the UK, book marketing UK, book promotion UK, music marketing UK, music promotion UK, film marketing UK, film promotion UK, arts and entertainment magazine, online magazine uk, creativity magazineWritten by JJ Barnes

I interviewed fantasy author Paige E. Ewing about her life and career, the story of her Liliana and the Fae of Fayetteville series, and what inspired the latest instalment, Explosive Chemistry.

Tell me a bit about who you are.

Paige E. Ewing on The Table Read Magazine
Paige E. Ewing

I’m Paige E. Ewing and I write books. For my day job, I do presentations and write articles on data management, machine learning, AI, that sort of thing. I write technical books for O’Reilly sometimes, but my joy is writing fiction.

When did you first WANT to write a book?

As a kid, I often found myself imagining different endings for some of my favorite books, movies, or TV shows. I also sometimes made up stories where my favorite characters went on new adventures, and sometimes I went with them. It was sort of like mental fanfiction I suppose, making up my own story from scratch was the next step.

When did you take a step to start writing?

I started writing my first novel when I was twelve. It was a science fiction romance. Even when I was little, I mixed genres. I’ve rarely ever written anything that only fits one genre. I’ve got a story coming out in January in the Learning to Be Human anthology that is pretty straightforward science fiction, but that’s one of the few.

The Liliana and the Fae of Fayetteville series is fantasy since it has creatures out of legend and creatures I flat invented. It’s futuristic fantasy since it’s set 30 years in the future, urban fantasy since it’s set in a real town, Fayetteville, North Carolina, slow-burn paranormal romance since there’s a romance with a Fae prince that builds and progresses as the series does. I’ve had a few reviewers call it cozy fantasy because of the emphasis on friendships, quirky characters, found family and tea parties, but it also has some intense action scenes that might get me an R rating if it was a movie. And, at its heart, the plot is a murder mystery, so I have to figure you’re going to have fun no matter what genre is your favorite.

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How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?

The first book I got published was a collection of my vampire stories way back in the day. It took less than a year from the time a publisher said they wanted a collection to the release date. I had a couple of stories I could reprint, and had started a novella. I finished that and added a couple of other shorts fairly quickly.

It only took a little over a year for my first novel, a superhero story, called the Damson Dragon Diary. The first anthology I edited, The Protectors, was made up of superhero stories by multiple authors set in the same universe. Some of that was overlapping, so it took about a year and a half for both books.

The anomaly is probably Precise Oaths, the first book in the Liliana and the Fae of Fayetteville series that just came out in June. The original draft was fan fiction written over a decade ago. I rewrote it multiple times, enriching the world building and creating more original characters and plots. It took several rewrites, and many edits before I was satisfied with it. Liliana was about the only thing that stayed constant throughout the process. She was the jewel in the rough that I pulled out of the original and polished over the years, giving her a setting where she could really shine.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0C4ZJH81L&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=jjbarnes 21&language=en GBir?t=jjbarnes 21&language=en GB&l=li3&o=2&a=B0C4ZJH81LIn the end, City Owl, the publisher, asked me to break it into two books. Before that, it was about 110k words, and had two huge climactic fight scenes. First, with the serial murderers, and second with the villain behind the scenes pulling their strings. So it made sense to split it in half. Both books became a more reasonable length, and there was a great climactic fight scene for each one.

Cue another complete rewrite. That made about six for that book.

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How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?

After spending over a decade on Precise Oaths, the first book in the Liliana and the Fae of Fayetteville series, I only had about six months to complete and publish Explosive Chemistry. I had a good two-thirds of it already created from when I split the first book in half, but it needed serious work to turn it into a standalone book – a new beginning, expanded character arcs, a lot of continuity work. I was pretty crazy there for a while. Between promoting the first book and finishing the second, I was struggling, but I hit all my deadlines.

I’m pretty proud of that.

Now, I just have to finish book 3. 😉

Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Explosive Chemistry?

My motivation is the simplest one you can imagine – I wrote the story I wanted to read.

What were your biggest challenges with writing Explosive Chemistry?

The biggest challenge with Explosive Chemistry was re-writing the beginning completely. Since it was originally the last half of a larger book, it started right after a big fight scene. That meant that in the original, this part of the story was a catch-your-breath-after-the-crazy-section lull. That is a terrible place to start a book.

Plus, every book in a series has to have a little catch up at the beginning, so if someone picked up the books out of order, they could still enjoy the story. Trying to fit in enough information for folks who haven’t read the first book without boring the folks who have is a tricky balancing act.

But the main thing the beginning of a book has to do is make folks want to turn the page and read more. The book needs to catch your interest right away. Folks are busy, and they have a hundred other things vying for their attention. If a book isn’t interesting right out of the gate, folks will put it down and go watch Netflix, or clean the kitchen.

Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?

Well, it’s rather cliched, but Liliana, the main character, is a little bit like me. Not a lot like me, as in, I only have two eyes, can’t see the future or the color of people’s souls, couldn’t walk a tightrope to save my life, and don’t have long knives that pop out of my wrists. But Liliana is neurodivergent, and I’m neurodivergent. I’ve just got ADHD, and she’s got issues more like someone on the autism spectrum because of how she has to process the massive amount of sensory input she gets, but still. Plus, Liliana is extremely socially awkward, constantly struggling to navigate the crazy web of social cues and etiquette rules that are often mysterious and confusing to her. And, well, let’s just say that I relate.

I’d say it was a great inspiration, but The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells came out after I’d already written and rewritten my first couple of Liliana stories a few times. Murderbot is a lot like Liliana as far as being neurodivergent (for a whole different reason) and having difficulty navigating confusing aspects of social interactions, and generally preferring to just avoid most social situations.

q? encoding=UTF8&ASIN=B0CLMXW7W4&Format= SL250 &ID=AsinImage&MarketPlace=GB&ServiceVersion=20070822&WS=1&tag=jjbarnes 21&language=en GBir?t=jjbarnes 21&language=en GB&l=li3&o=2&a=B0CLMXW7W4Both main characters are also heroic and compassionate, and I think that’s one thing I wanted to make clear. A person who is neurodivergent, and no social butterfly, can also be brave and determined and come to the rescue.

Liliana is a hero, no question about that. She’s not big and strong, she’s not likely to give any inspiring speeches, but she will save lives, even if it means facing down monsters. Even if it means she has to, horror of horrors, go on social visits.

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Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?

The thing about villains is that a good villain is the hero of their own story. I’m reluctant to say much about my antagonist because there’s always an aspect of whodunnit or whowilldoit mystery in the Liliana books. I don’t want to give too much away.

But villains can be brilliant, and motivated by romantic desire, or by a belief that they can make the world better. The moment someone starts thinking that the ends justify the means, that’s when they’re highly likely to cross lines that shouldn’t be crossed.

What is the inciting incident of Explosive Chemistry?

Liliana sees the future with the fourth pair of her spider-kin eyes, the big swirly opalescent eyes on her forehead. She wakes up from a prophetic dream of murder of two women, soldiers she doesn’t even know, with no idea why she’s seeing them die. She thought that she and her friends, Pete, the wolf-kin scientist, and Siobhan, the flower sprite with a passion for machine guns, had defeated the monsters murdering soldiers at the nearby Army base, Fort Liberty in Precise Oaths, book 1.

But, when she looks ahead to see if only those two strangers are going to be murdered, she sees death waiting for Pete, for Siobhan, and for Doctor Nudd, the goblin healer who took care of Liliana when she was injured. She sees death coming in a wave for many of the people in her little town of Fayetteville, North Carolina.

Even Colonel Bennett, the handsome Fae prince who seems powerful enough to handle anything, is fated to die.

What is the main conflict of Explosive Chemistry?

If Liliana doesn’t figure out who the real enemy is, she might have to get used to living a lonely life again. But as hard as being alone was before, how much harder will it be after she found good friends for a short time only to lose them all?

Did you plot Explosive Chemistry in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?

I’m mostly a “write by the seat of your pants” kind of person. I’ve often imagined scenes and characters before I sit down and I just let them out to play. But writing a series has forced me to play around with a bit more planning. Old-fashioned 3 by 5 cards get some use in helping me decide what goes into the next book, and what needs to get moved to the one after. I think that makes me, not a planner, or a pantser, but a plantser. 😉

Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did Explosive Chemistry need?

I have a wonderful author critique group that includes some hugely talented writers and some dedicated, thoughtful readers. David R Watson just published the Aerorangers book, 1920 Tunguska Terror with dragons dogfighting biplanes. Sol Sharp has a dystopian future series with a traditional Jewish police officer, Shmuley Myers, chasing crimes. Elizabeth Moon has published so many great books I can’t count, but is putting out books of short stories set in the world of her Deeds of Paksenarrion series now. Victor Jiminez just published his very first story in Amazing Stories – Blue. That wide range of talented writers and a bunch of equally talented folks who haven’t published yet, but no doubt, will soon, have really helped my stories soar.

Add to that my own efforts to hunt down any flaws and hammer them out, my marvelous editor, Lisa Green at City Owl Press, and a good City Owl copy-editor as well, and this story has been thoroughly polished to a bright shine.

You’d think all those eyes would catch everything, but I just had a reviewer find a typo on like page 2. Sigh. I think that typos will hide from an army of editors right up until that book is published, then they jump out at you like hide and seek winners.

The #1 Writing Tool

What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?

Hone your craft.

Take classes. Savvy Authors online has some great classes for a reasonable price. But most of all, join a good critique group, and listen to their advice. You don’t have to take all of the advice you get. The story is still yours in the end. But you should at least listen and consider everything they tell you, and thank them for going to the effort. If multiple people see the same problem, no matter how much you don’t think it’s a problem, it probably is.

Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?

Absolutely, the Liliana and the Fae of Fayetteville series will continue. It’s a slow burn romance series, which means Lilly gets her first sweet kiss in Explosive Chemistry. Later books will have passionate kisses, and actual dating, and eventually, things will get a bit heated. There’s likely to be a long-term commitment in the future. But there are a lot of obstacles to overcome before then.

And, all of the other marvelously quirky characters like Lieutenant Runningwolf, the badger-kin soldier, and Sergeant Giovanni, the perfectly normal human military police officer, and Janice Willoughby, the rabbit-kin homemaker, will all get their time to shine.

One thing that’s just getting started in Explosive Chemistry is the clash between the legendary creatures of the world who came to America, and the native legendary creatures who were already here. That will get explored a lot more in future books.

And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?

Hah! Am I proud that I have beautiful new books being published? Am I proud that I’m getting reviews like Angela Knight calling Precise Oaths “a romp of a book” and nearly everyone else who reads it giving it five stars? Uh, yeah. I’m just a wee bit proud of that.

The effort of writing a good story is always worth it. If nothing else, I get to read the really good story that I wrote. 😉 But when you can get it published and bunches of other people read it and love it, that’s worth everything.

Pop all your book, website and social media links here so the readers can find you:

Precise Oaths



Explosive Chemistry



Universal buy link for Precise Oaths:

Universal buy link for Explosive Chemistry:

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