FQ: As a long-time fan of your series, I was wondering if you can tell our readers what it’s like to write a series; what it’s like to be with these characters for so long and find a way to continue to create such amazing paths for them to follow? Was the original concept and all of the books laid out in your mind beforehand; or, with time, have they just “appeared” in the story without being pre-planned?
CULBERTSON: It really is amazing and strange to spend so many years with the same characters. They feel so real to me, like they’re actual humans I created. It reminds me of that quote from the last Harry Potter where Harry asks Dumbledore if this is all real or it’s just happening inside his head, and Dumbledore responds, “Well of course it’s happening inside your head, Harry. Why should that mean it’s not real?”
It has been incredible to watch these characters grow and help them do that, Crisa in particular. As I write her journey I am continuously surprised by her and proud of how much she has changed. I don’t always know everything that’s going to happen to her or my other characters when I’m writing, and letting those internal arcs and external arcs develop—flow from my mind onto the page into existence—is wonderful and kind of surreal.
I always knew this was going to be a series and had many of the main plot points, character growth trajectories, and twists worked out from the beginning. However, filling in the areas between those events happens organically as I go on writing the story.
FQ: Throughout, is there one character in the series that found a larger part or took on a larger role than you first assumed they would? If so, who would that be?
CULBERTSON: There are some characters that may have started with smaller roles (like Chance and Girtha) that I always intended to make more important parts of the series. In terms of involvement most of my character arcs and roles have been in my head since the start. If I had to pick one example though . . . I suppose I would say Merlin. I always knew he would matter, but once I created him and saw his interactions with Crisa, I knew this was a relationship I wanted to continue to highlight and push because he brings out both bad and good in her and they have an interesting dynamic.
FQ: Have you thought of the day when the series comes to a close; how do you think it will be to let go of the characters you’ve been with for such a great length of time?
CULBERTSON: Honestly, I don’t know how I’ll react. It’ll definitely be weird. And sad. By the time the eighth book comes out in 2021, I’ll have basically spent 10 years with this world and these characters. I’m only in my twenties, so that’s a huge portion of my life so far LOL. But I have so many other stories I’m itching to write (ideas come to me constantly and I have to put them aside for later). So I’ll probably dive into another series immediately and devote my heart, mind, and soul to the creation of new fantastic worlds and fascinating characters.
FQ: Are you interested in one day creating standalone novels, or do you feel that another series is already stirring in the back of your mind?
CULBERTSON: Oh, I have a lot stirring back there. I currently have three other book series and a couple of standalones I intend to write. Who knows what else I’ll think of in the coming years in addition. So the real question is, which will I focus on next?!
FQ: Is there a genre that you’ve never written in before that you truly wish to tackle one day?
CULBERTSON: As mentioned in the previous answer, there are plenty of books I am eager to write and characters I can’t wait to give life to. These span across multiple genres and they’re going to be epic!
FQ: Can you speak a little about social media and how you believe it negatively or positively affects your marketing, promotion, etc.?
CULBERTSON: Social media is a finicky thing. I actively employ many platforms to publicize events and promote my series as best I can. A negative, I guess, would be the time that takes. But a positive is the ability to connect with people all over the world through more outlets. I’ve definitely had some great engagement with fans via social media in the past.
FQ: Can you give readers a sneak peek into what, perhaps, other famous locations will be seen before the series comes to an end?
CULBERTSON: Hmm. Well, I don’t like spoilers. But we’re definitely going back to Earth. We’ll return to some other places we’ve been before too, like Camelot. And (Sneak Peek Alert) – in Book Seven we’re going to spend some time in Chance Darling’s kingdom. But that’s all I’m saying.
FQ: Lastly, what do you hope readers will take away from this series?
I always intended for my series to connect with readers on a fundamental level—both relating to and inspiring them.
I want my readers to learn about things like the profound value of change, friendship, taking fate into your own hands, self-acceptance, and the power of choices. I hope this series will encourage people to think about the deeper questions, like in regards to the morality of taking life, what it means to be strong, tough choices about identity, and so forth. Additionally, at the core, I truly hope that as my readers grow with Crisanta, they are inspired by her hero-princess archetype to be the strongest, boldest, most honorable versions of themselves as they fight for the change they want to see in the world and in themselves.
And (of course) I want people to close the last book in my series with a smile—feeling good and feeling fulfilled with all that has come to pass.