Today, I’d like to welcome author and artist, Sam Dogra to my blog page. The first book in The Chronicles of Azaria, The Binding, is readily available and as part of the Bandit Book Bloggers Tours, the multi-talented Sam is here to answers some of my questions about her books and writing!
Author and Artist Sam Dogra
How did you become involved in writing? Can you give us a brief history of your own experiences as an author?
I’ve been writing for many years now, since my early teens. The first story I ever wrote was during my Common Entrance (13+) English exam. The essay question was ‘Write a story based on the following picture’. The picture was of a classroom door marked ‘Out of Bounds’. So I gathered all my creative powers and . . .
I wrote about 2 boys, Mark and Darren, who broke into the classroom. The door was actually a time portal, and the two got sent to Edward Jenner’s time, just before he was about to invent the vaccine. Jenner’s life was in danger, as the Duke of Manchester refused to believe a biological explanation to what he considered ‘God’s will’, and was trying to assassinate him. So Mark and Darren help Jenner lie low, and inadvertently help him discover the vaccination!
I still remember the feedback: while the idea was good, the writing itself wasn’t the best- too much dialogue and not enough setting! But in spite of this, I acquired a taste for writing.
When I started secondary school, I started writing fanfiction- mostly Sonic the Hedgehog and some old old animes, like Tekkaman Blade and Shinzo. How glad I am that those awful pieces of unoriginal scrap have faded into the shadows of time! I will say, though, that they did help me in developing my style, and I still to this day occasionally dabble in fanfiction to practice.
My original ideas actually originated in my other love: drawing. Usually, I tended to draw fanart of various series. Then one day I decided to draw my own character:
I named him Kaylen, after my friend’s boyfriend in America. He was a sorcerer (the character, not the boyfriend!), loosely based on the anime character ‘Sorcerer Stabber Orphen’, but with different hair. I did some more drawings of Kaylen, but I never really developed him much. I gave him a female companion, Ellia, and a male counterpart named Kester, though again neither had much development past my designs. These would later become the main characters for my first novel project, the Zodiac Hunters (with new names: Nick, Midnight and Seth).
Unfortunately this didn’t really go to plan. I wrote the novel but it had a lot of flaws and I kept changing my mind about certain parts, so I decided to leave it for a while and come back later.
In the meantime, I found another project to work on. I was in the middle of my final hospital placement (having just graduated from medical school). I was taking some blood samples to the pathology lab when this image came to me: a girl hiding in a forest because of a ‘vulnerable heart’.
So when I went home that day I tinkered with the idea and came up with The Binding- a spell that forced people to fall in love. And then the Chronicles of Azaria series was born . . .
What are The Chronicles of Azaria about?
The series itself is just what it says it is: it chronicles important historical events of a fantasy kingdom called Azaria, and follows the lives of four main protagonists—Eliza, Jessie, Raviel and Jason, who live in different times but share a connection. There will be four eras in total, and each ‘era’ is split into ‘sagas’. The first saga is the Goddess Saga (The Binding, The Parting, The Blessing), which follows Eliza’s adventures as she fights to break the Binding—a magic spell that compels strangers to fall in love should one be under its influence and have an act of kindness done to them.
Without giving too much away, the actions of the characters in one era have a direct impact on the characters in the next era. But I’m not telling the stories chronologically—in that regard Eliza’s time is actually the third era . . .
Where did the idea for the series come from?
The original idea for The Binding came when I was taking some blood samples to the lab at work. I just had a scene in my mind—a girl sitting alone in a forest, because she wanted to protect her heart. I can probably say the game Kingdom Hearts might have had an influence on this (as the name suggests there’s lot of stuff about heart in it). The game itself also isn’t told chronologically, so I guess I adapted that idea from there as well.
As for the other stories, originally they were all individual and set on different worlds (I’d had the ideas for them a long time ago and written down some rough outlines). But I noticed they shared a common theme about magic, so I was about to alter the geography and certain events so all the stories correlated.
The actual theme of the series is inspired by my medical knowledge and my interest in the biology of infectious disease (which will perhaps be more evident in Jason’s saga!).
What things in your everyday life inspire your writing?
My drawing was the initial motivator that started me off, and I do like to doodle ideas sometimes. Also my crazy Welsh friend (who I know from university) who I chat to on skype—we have the weirdest conversations and ideas do spring from them sometimes.
Video games are also a huge inspiration for me. My first project Zodiac Hunters was inspired by the game Eternal Darkness (a Lovecraftian survival horror on the Nintendo Gamecube), and some other story ideas I have planned take roots in games like Assassin’s Creed and Okami.
I’m also a big fan of ‘deconstruction’- I love to take traditional story/ character tropes and stereotypes and turn them upside down, especially in terms of things like gender roles and predictable elements.
What would be your favourite part of the writing process?
Making the plot outlines. I have 17 so far, and counting! I love plotting out ideas and making plans. Of course I’ve found I never actually stick to them directly, but I really enjoy knowing the milestones and thinking up scenarios for the characters. However I notice I do tend to get carried away and outlines for single ‘books’ have had to be split (My books Binding and Parting were the same outline originally!).
Would you be an author who plans their story in detail beforehand or would you ‘wing it’?
See above 🙂 I think this is important to establish consistency (which has become essential in adjusting my outlines for the Chronicle of Azaria series).
As a reader, who would influence the way you write, or who do you admire a great deal?
To be honest, reading never inspired me to write, however there are many authors I enjoy. My all-time favourite author is Julia Golding. I adore her Companions Quartet (yes it’s middle grade, but a lot of fun) and her novel Dragonfly. I also like Cornelia Funke, Alison Croggon (about the only high fantasy I’ll ever read), Garth Nix, Philip Pullman and Herbie Brennan. I enjoyed JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books but I wouldn’t call myself a diehard fan.
Is there anything in your experience that would help other hopeful writers wanting to be published? What advice would you give them?
I suppose I’m in a slightly unusual situation in that writing was and still is a hobby to me (being a full time doctor, I can’t dedicate that much to it), but thanks to the advent of Amazon Kindle and ebooks, I thought it would be nice to see if others would read what I’ve written.
However, I would say think carefully about what you want from getting published. Do you want the prestige of having an agent and big publisher? Do you want creative freedom to do what you want? They are pros and cons to being traditionally or indie published, so research carefully, because many things aren’t what you think they are, so make sure you’ll well informed and make the right choice for yourself.
What is next for author Sam Dogra? Are there any other projects you are currently working on?
I’ve just started writing The Blessing (book 3 of the Chronicles of Azaria). I’ve also recently completed Fated Part 2: A Timeless Series Novella with author Lisa Wiedmeier, and I’ll be doing Parts 3 and 4 of that sometime this year as well. That will probably be it for now, as I have exams coming up next year . . .
Thank you, Sam, for dropping by and answering a few questions! Congratulations on the recent release of book two in the series, The Parting. Looking forward to seeing more about your artwork and writing in future!
Below Sam had kindly given me more information about her books, links to her webpage and purchase links to her book. Happy reading folks!
THE BINDING (Chronicles of Azaria #1)
What do you do when you can’t trust your heart?
All seventeen year-old Eliza Bryant wants is to avoid a Binding— the ancient spell that forces couples into a lifelong bond. It cursed her sister, and for the last two years it’s tried to claim her, too. Her monthly hiding ritual worked brilliantly, until the night she ran into Ryan, a mysterious bounty-hunter. Now Bound to him, Eliza must spend every moment at his side, else she’ll transform into an Unbound; a lifeless husk without mind or soul.
Unfortunately, Ryan’s not looking to settle, and Eliza is dragged into his crazy life on the run. Still, she’s not going to take this lying down. Between grappling with the false feelings conjured by the spell and fleeing an unseen enemy, she plans to find a way to break her Binding; a feat nobody’s achieved in two thousand years. The key to her freedom lies closer than she thinks, and it’s deeply connected to Ryan’s past.
What an interesting concept, just seeing someone by chance and then provided the timing is right, you find yourself bound to them forever. Sounds a bit like a “love at first sight” only the two people have no choice in the matter due to a “Binding Curse.” Eliza hoping to outwit the curse escaped into the forest only to be thwarted by a wild bear so was it fate or circumstance? I liked Eliza though I sometimes felt that honesty would have been the best policy. I did understand why she was reluctant to own up to the binding as she barely knew Ryan.
Ryan was actually a good guy and he seemed genuine though he was on the run himself and had secrets of his own that he was keeping from her. Desperate to hide the truth from her family, she flees her home with Ryan making up a sordid past for herself. A love triangle of sorts ensues when her childhood friend Adam finds out about the binding as he yearns for something more and sets out to find her.
When all the secrets have been revealed, will Eliza be able to distinguish how she really feels. If there is a chance that the curse can be reversed, who would Eliza pick if she was free to choose? Her childhood friend Adam that she shares a history with or Ryan who claims to love her now despite his binding to another. I can’t wait to read the next book to find out more about this triangle and will true love eventually prevail? – Nereid, Amazon
4.5 Stars. This exciting tale for New Adult/Older YA crosses genres making it difficult to categorise in any one area. Set in another world it has elements of sci-fi, fantasy and a just touch of steampunk. The characters are magnetic and quickly draw you into this exciting world where curses and magic become real. This passionate tale becomes unstoppable leaving you devastated that the second instalment is yet to be published – not a cliff-hanger, just totally addictive writing. – Tracie, Goodreads
Awesome! Can’t wait for the next one!!! – Molly Bonville, Goodreads
The Binding, by Sam Dogra, is an excellent read, with superb settings and characterisation. I really cared what happened to the main protagonist and the first person point of view, really helped me to become immersed in the story. Only one minor criticism. The, use of the word “to” instead of “at”. For example: “Ryan looked to the moon”, or “I looked to my lap”. This jarred me a little, but apart from this nitpick, this is an almost perfect story and one readers of all ages will enjoy. Highly recommended. –Kate Jack, Amazon
Sam Dogra is a junior doctor working in the UK, and is currently training to become a General Practitioner. Between reviewing drug charts and X-rays, taking blood, saving lives and getting grilled by consultants, she also writes fantasy fiction and is a fantasy artist. She has co-written ‘Fated: A Timeless Series Companion Novel’ with author Lisa Wiedmeier, and has also published her first novel The Binding, and its sequel, The Parting, with a third book in progress.
She’s widely traveled, and has enjoyed her visits to France, Germany, Norway, Greece, Egypt, Israel, Rhodes, Turkey, Cyprus, Lesvos, India, Dubai, Australia, Canada and Idaho, Washington, New York, Seattle and Alaska, USA. Her other main interest is fantasy art.
In what little spare time she has, Sam also enjoys reading, baking, shopping, watching movies and anime, astrology, video games, collecting cuddly toy animals, and photography.
Website/ blog: http://indigolightning.blogspot.co.uk
PURCHASE LINKS for BINDING