I delight in authors who exhibit a command of the language, who can convey an idea or express a sentiment with one word that would require a paragraph from others. Donna Tartt, Dean Koontz, Martin Cruz Smith and George R. R. Martin are fully fledged masters. Every now and then, however, I stumble on a new author who evidences such a talent emerging. It was Robin Lythgoe’s vocabulary that drew me in from her opening page.
It has taken me half a year to persuade Robin to allow me to interview her, so I was pleased when she finally relented. Even though she has only produced one novel to date, there are passages within it that hint of her ultimate potential. I hope she will grace us with another some time soon.
This is how Robin describes herself:
I was born into a family of bookworms who happily introduced me to all kinds of books—and then I had terrific teachers who encouraged me not only to read, but to write. Books opened up entire new worlds for me, and when I was growing up (still working on that) I would rather read than do anything in the world. The Summer of Reading happened when our television broke and there was a family reading marathon. The best summer EVER. I read historical and modern romances, mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, historical fiction, and the occasional horror. Fantasy, with its wonderful worlds and creatures and magic, captured my heart. My love of words developed naturally into a desire to put my own on paper. I started with (bad) poetry, then leaped into novel-writing. There were quite a few unfinished beginnings lying around before raising a family distracted me. Writing took a back seat, but reading never stopped. Finishing my first (unpublished) novel proved to me that I could really do it and… here I am! I am published—and I have several more books in progress.
As the Crow Flies was the work that introduced me to you. How would you describe it to our visitors?
Meet Crow, an engaging but self-serving thief. He has spent his life perfecting the talents given to him by the gods, sharpening his razor wit, and planning for a comfortable future with the woman of his dreams.
And then there’s Tanris, dauntless servant of the empire, dedicated lawman. It’s a feather in his cap when he finally captures the miserable, thieving bird that’s been flitting about the Bahsyr Empire as if he owned it.
Neither man is prepared to become a cat’s paw for a wizard with even bigger plans.
In this tale of thieves and dragons, author Robin Lythgoe ventures into a world where the master thief Crow and the lawman Tanris must learn to weather each other as well as survive dangerous lands, a haunted cave, and a temple guarded by blade, sorcery—and a vengeful dragon. Their goal? Simple: take a journey across inhospitable land to fetch an incredible, mythical prize. Escape the dragon. Return before time runs out …
What are you working on now?
While I’m entertaining ideas for another story about Crow, I am juggling a series which has actually been in the works since before As the Crow Flies was published. In a nutshell, “An unwitting pawn in a contest where the prize is an empire must rely on the very magic used to alter him in order to escape slavery and prevent the mage who would be his master from gaining control of the throne.”
Why have you chosen this particular genre?
It is the genre that most excites me! I love the balance of creativity and reality involved in creating a fantasy story. It is a fantastic (pardon the pun!) exercise in imagination for both reader and writer. The writer weaves an entire new world, and the reader gets to interpret it with his or her own experience and imagination. What a wonderful partnership!
There are numerous works of fantasy on the market. Why should someone buy Crow?
As the Crow Flies delivers a particular stamp of adventure and humor (one that’s found in my short story, Dragonlace, as well). It’s fast-paced, but not too fast for some creative world-building. I have it on good authority that the novel can be read in one day, if you’re willing to let chores fall by the wayside on your day off. The characters are relatable and they grow. People care about them, and it’s great when readers choose one character as their favorite and fiercely defend their choice. My current project is more serious than As the Crow Flies, but it still maintains the solid core that readers so enjoyed with Crow: style and rhythm, characterization, adventure, world-building. And, in spite of my original intention to write Crow’s story as a single, stand-alone novel, I’ve also got another story for Crow simmering—thanks to the enthusiastic prompting and prodding of fans.
What else have you written?
I have two published short stories: In the Mirror, and Dragon Lace—as well as the afore-mentioned “first” novel (Which will probably never see the light of day!) Dragonlace once appeared in an online ezine.
Are there any awards or honors you’d like to share?
While they are modest, I am tickled pink that As the Crow Flies has been named a Five-Star Reader’s Favorite, a semi-finalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Kindle Book Awards, and is currently floating in Wattpad’s Write Awards 2014. Indie Book of the Day also spotlighted my book as an award winner.
Writing can tax the imagination, even cause a proven writer to doubt his/her ability. How do you overcome writer’s block?
Taking a leaf from the fictional Richard Castle’s writing:
“I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in writer’s embarrassment. That’s when you’re so embarrassed by the horrendous drivel you’re writing that you can’t bear to see it on the page. After all, you can always write something. I’ve discovered that giving yourself permission to write poorly is the gateway to writing well. It may not be good, it may not make sense, but that’s okay. After enough pages of meaningless drivel, your brain will uncover something interesting, and before you know it, you’re off and writing again.”
That said, I have struggled with the drivel—to the point that I avoided doing any writing at all, but that made me feel frustrated and ever-further behind in my goals. There is nothing like having new bills to pay to inspire one! I’m also really lucky to have a fantastic writing partner who has enough patience to help me hose down the drivel to expose the gems lying beneath.
I’m still slogging through a lot of muck, and I get impatient. I don’t want muck, I want instant perfection! Patience and persistence are two qualities I need to rely on heavily. They should be perfected any time now…
To give us a peek at the person behind the book, I frequently ask the following questions:
Where would you live, if you could live anywhere?
I would love to live somewhere by the water—preferably a beach, but a lake or a stream would do nicely. (I often wonder what I’m doing in the desert…)
What is your dream job?
I’ve got it! I have dreamed about being an author since I was a little girl. It is fantastic to actually be in this place, in this time, doing exactly that.
What motivates or inspires you (not necessarily as regards your writing)?
I love listening to music, examining artwork, and admiring photography. In fact, I gave in to the siren call of Pinterest, and now I have a wonderful, easily accessible place to collect the things that inspire me. It amazes me how beautiful or formidable our world can be—and the countless unique ways the vision of it is interpreted.
Do you have a favorite quote?
“Writers write what they know best,
their passions, fears and dreams.
Writers never write about
what others call their ‘themes.’”
– Charles Ghigna
Do you have any pet projects?
I do! I really enjoy doing Family History. If I’m not careful, I can get sucked into research and discovery for weeks before I remember I have other things to do! I don’t just like finding out the names and places, although that is awesome; I think it’s important—and educational—to learn about the places and cultures our ancestors lived in. It makes the people more real to me (and it doesn’t hurt my history education or my writing at all!)
What are a few of your favorite authors?
I am not a dyed-in-the-wool, stalker-type fan of any particular author, but I have most enjoyed (and learned from) Robin Hobb, Tad Williams, C.J. Cherryh, Stephen Lawhead, Terry Goodkind, R.A. MacAvoy, Lindsay Buroker, and A.E. Marling.
Alright, Robin. Lightning Round.
The one thing I cannot do without is:
In one or two words, what is your defining trait?
Hard copy or ebook?
Yes. I like my options! 😉
Vice in fiction, virtue in life.
Only one? That is cruel. That’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child.
Hah! Favorite movie:
Ladyhawk. Or maybe Wolverine. Showboat? (I’m versatile AND indecisive! Which leads me to another quote: Indecision! It’s the key to flexibility!)
Do you have a parting thought you would like to leave us with?
First, I want to thank you for inviting me to visit you virtually. It is a pleasure—I so enjoy your humor and intelligence. The company and support of other authors like you is aMAZing—and so are the wonderful readers who take the time to support us and share their thoughts and pictures and ideas with us. You all make the journey more doable, more exciting. Thank you!
Alright. Since I’ve already told everybody how much I enjoyed your book, will you please grace us with a chapter from As the Crow Flies?
I had scarcely stepped out into the street with my handsome new acquisition when I was abruptly and rudely accosted. Two hulking pieces of manhood caught me by either arm, and I nearly lost both my hat and the burlap sack of supplies I carried. Lifting me right off my feet didn’t trouble either of them, and while they whisked me off down the street, I took a moment to recover my breath, my composure—more or less—and to study their identities. “Do I know the two of you?” I inquired politely while they plowed through puddles I would have chosen to go around. The first splash caught me rather by surprise, but I had the forethought to lift my feet for the second. No sense getting wetter when there was an alternative.
“Raza wants to have a chat with you,” the bruiser on my right informed me.
“Jolly for him. Would you be so good as to put me down? I think I remember how to walk.”
“You’re too kind. Really.” I looked from one to the other, but they showed no sign of responding to gentle persuasion and we were making good speed down the street in a direction I had no desire to go. So I held on tight to my belongings and stuck my foot between the legs of the less chatty fellow on the left. He went down in a heap, and I went with him, rolling half onto him. The other man swore and scrambled, trying not to fall, too. I helped him out as best I could by swinging my sack at his head. There were a pair of grappling hooks in there, a climbing rope, metal cleats, and other sorts of paraphernalia a thief might find handy on the job. It knocked him backside over teakettle, which was rather satisfying and alarming at the same time.
Both my delight and my worry at the damage a hook might have caused were arrested by an arm around my throat.
If you’re interested in purchasing a copy of As the Crow Flies, here are a few links to help you:
If you’d like to acquaint yourself better with Robin, you may do so here: