Tuesday, July 10, 2018

0 Erin Beaty, author of THE TRAITOR'S RUIN, on the difficulties of the second book

THE TRAITOR'S RUIN is the second book in the Traitor's Trilogy, and we're excited to have Erin Beaty here to share more about it.

Erin, what was your inspiration for writing THE TRAITOR'S RUIN?

Having experienced both sides of many military issues gave me a lot of material to draw from. I’ve had knowledge that couldn’t be shared and not been allowed know the real story or the details. I’ve been deployed to a combat area, and I’ve been the one left behind. Setting-wise, there’s a lot of influence from the novels I embraced as a teen, notably books by Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley.

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

There wasn’t any particularly difficult scene to write. Often the ones I struggle to squeeze one line out at a time (usually dialogue) and I hate once I’ve finished I come back to later and realize are just about perfect. Other times I come back and realize what was wrong and the re-write becomes easy. Still other times what came easily I realize was completely the wrong direction. I feel like Thomas Edison going through 2000 ways not to make a working lightbulb, but it’s not overly discouraging if I can diagnose the problem.

I love the scenes that made me an emotional wreck while writing them. Kissing scenes, too, are fun, though I agonize over them and revise them the most. I have fear of being over-cheesy (a little bit of cheese is okay). In this particular book, while researching injuries and post-traumatic stress, I came across a common issue that I felt had to be addressed, even at the expense of the characters. That was difficult, but it was real. People don’t come through trauma unscathed, and they often emerge with new weaknesses. I felt that was important to show, even briefly. Hopefully I got it right.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

I get compared a lot to Mary Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles and Marie Rutkoski Winner’s Trilogy, which are huge compliments, though I had read neither series until The Traitor’s Kiss was pretty much finalized. Readers who enjoy fantasy that is a little lighter on magic (or completely without) would probably like my books, while those that need dragons and sorcerers might be disappointed. My stories are also a little old fashioned, in a sense, so people who like the more classic fantasies of the 80s and 90s tend to enjoy my books, which probably explains why I have a fair amount of cross-over appeal to adult readers, too. It’s what they grew up reading. It’s what I grew up reading.

How long did you work on THE TRAITOR'S RUIN?

I started writing bits in the fall of 2014, while querying (the first time) what became The Traitor’s Kiss, but very little of that made it into the final version of RUIN, mostly because the first book changed significantly and I grew a lot as a writer. The bones of the plot were pretty much there, though. Getting Kiss ready for publication was so fully absorbing that I set RUIN aside for nine straight months. I didn’t buckle down and work on it until September of 2016, after I knew it would be a reality, but it was more just being busy that kept me from it than anything else, though maybe there was some fear that I couldn’t repeat my success with the first. It took about 14 months after that. So kind of 3 years, but there were huge gaps in there.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

I struggled a lot with this book, and pretty much all the authors I know have said the second book is the hardest, so I’m in good company. If it’s a series, it seems most of us start out writing what amounts to fan fiction of the first book. With a deadline, I didn’t have the time to go over and over every scene like before, and I feel like I misunderstood what made the first book work. Once I took a hard look at myself and what truly makes a good story, it became both easier and harder--easier because I knew what I had to do, and harder because I then had to do it. I went into writing the third book much stronger, but I still make mistakes. That’s why we have editors, though, and thank heaven for them.

What do you hope readers will take away from THE TRAITOR'S RUIN?

Sage and Alex’s conflict in this story is much deeper than any simple conversation could have solved, though open communication would certainly have helped. This book is very much about how loving someone makes us vulnerable at the deepest levels and changes our sense of self. But it’s not weakness, and by helping each other deal with that vulnerability, we come out stronger.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

I hate to say I woke up one day and decided to write a book, but that’s kind of what it was. The Traitor’s Kiss was almost exactly three years from start to publication, yet it was far more complicated than that sounds. By the time I started writing it, I’d amassed a large set of helpful skills and knowledge. My engineering degree gave me a sense of cause and effect, as well as analysis. My time in the navy showed me how to be a leader, how to recognize and recover from mistakes, and introduced me to people of very diverse backgrounds and personality, plus I learned all the military structure and tactics and day to day details. When I taught leadership, I went into great depth in the study of personality. As a mother of five, all those skills were put to use in a different environment, and I started a family blog to record goofy things the kids did and said, which improved my storytelling. And all the while I was reading tons and watching world events and solidifying my values and my sense of who I was. I also made up elaborate stories in my head that I never told anyone about. When you consider how much I had in my “writer’s toolbox,” it doesn’t seem quite so amazing that I got an agent and publishing contract on the first try. (It still amazes me, though.)

That doesn’t mean it was all sunshine and rainbows. It was hard work, and I got plenty of rejections and had some very low points.

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Honestly, no. Every time I made it to the next step--finishing the manuscript, signing with an agent, selling the first book, selling the second and third books and then writing them--I’ve been surprised and amazed. I know I am actually and factually an author, but I still don’t feel it yet. The idea is gradually creeping into my psyche. I have some expertise now, though not a whole lot, and helping others and telling them what it’s like to be published makes it feel more real. I don’t like the uncertainty of not knowing whether I have the key to writing an(other) novel, but I never want to completely lose that sense of wonder when it’s done, either. Maybe holding on to that sense of wonder throughout the process is the key.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I’m still figuring that out. There are so many distractions in with kids and military life (I’ve moved across the country twice just since I started writing, and we’re already looking at our next move). If I’m in a slump, I try to change my environment, usually by going to a coffee shop. With all these kids around it’s not quite that simple to leave the house, so carrying my laptop from my office to the bedroom sometimes has to suffice. I have music I like to listen to in setting the mood, but as often as not I forget and end up writing in silence. One thing I have learned, however, is that I cannot revise or edit if the background music has lyrics. Something about the extra words flying around, maybe. When I have a lot of work to do in a short time, I stock up on Diet Dr Pepper, peanut M&Ms, beef jerky, and chocolate graham crackers and cloister myself, at least as much as I’m able until dinnertime. I make sure to work out at least four days a week, and really only let myself off the hook on the other three when there are more than just deadlines in the way.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Take all writing advice with a grain of salt, because not everything will work for you. As for what to write, I say fill your pitcher (brain) with what you love, let it mix, and then pour it back out. It will be unique, I promise, if you have enough unrelated ingredients. My mind is full of engineering and sciences and militaries and history, as well as personality types and relationships and Jane Austen novels, with a dash of sarcastic humor and sword fights. I think all of that shows in my writing. Start by filling your pitcher.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m revising and polishing the third and final book in the Traitor Series, and I’m so in love with it. Even in its current imperfect form I love it, because I can see how good it can be. Beyond that I have a list of projects and ideas, some of which I’m pretty sure I can sell and some of which I’m not so sure but I love anyway. They range from historical fantasy to retellings to science fiction. While I never intended Traitor to go beyond a trilogy, as I wrap it up, I’ve found I’ve set the stage for a conflict in the future of that world. Maybe I’ll go back and check on it someday.


The Traitor's Ruin
by Erin Beaty
Released 7/10/2018

A captain with a secret.
A spy with a mission.
A kingdom on the verge of ruin.

After proving her worth as a deft spy and strategic matchmaker, Sage Fowler is now comfortably positioned in high society as the royal tutor. When she learns of a secret mission, she jumps at the chance to serve her kingdom once more―and to be reunited with her fiancĂ©, Captain Alex Quinn.

However, Sage’s headstrong insistence clashes with Alex’s gruff military exterior. And after a skirmish with a bordering kingdom, they're separated when tragedy strikes. Now in enemy territory, Sage desperately scrambles to complete Alex’s reconnaissance mission. Can she save her kingdom once more?

Purchase The Traitor's Ruin at Amazon
Purchase The Traitor's Ruin at IndieBound
View The Traitor's Ruin on Goodreads


Erin Beaty was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, which means she can't drive a tractor, but she won't eat veggies that come from a can. She graduated from the US Naval Academy with a degree in rocket science and somehow always ended up writing her study group's lab reports. After serving in the fleet as a weapons officer and a leadership instructor, she resigned to pursue her side hobby of populating the Church of Rome. It still amazes her when other people want to hear the stories that come out of her head.

She and her husband have five children, two cats, and a vegetable garden and live wherever the navy tells them to go.


Have you had a chance to read THE TRAITOR'S RUIN yet? What did you have in your "writer's toolbox" before you actually started writing? Are you filling your pitcher with what you love? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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