Francesca Tyer's three books together

Photo of novelist Francesca Tyer at Book Signing
Image supplied by Francesca Tyer

My author friend and colleague at Authors Reach, Francesca Tyer, has been celebrating the release of her spellbinding new young adult fantasy The Earthstone. This is the third book in her series The Elemental Prophesy, featuring fourteen-year-old James Fynch, who doesn’t believe in magic until the discovery of a coexisting magical world changes his destiny. Together with his friends Will, Arthur and Aralia, he must set out on a dangerous quest to find four mythical crystals capable of defeating the rising darkness.

Francesca, tell me about your new book!

The Earthstone is the third and penultimate book in The Elemental Prophesy series. It continues on from my first two books, The Firestone and The Seastone. I thought I would share the blurb as a teaser of what the story involves:

Francesca Tyer's three books together
Image supplied by Francesca Tyer

Darkness spreads like a poison and the Belladonna’s influence grows ever stronger. The signs are increasingly evident but most people remain blind to the truth. Even in Arissel’s underground streets, there are stirrings of rebellion and rumours of war.

In times like these, few places are safe. Despite Albert’s best efforts to protect James and his friends, danger is never far away. Betrayed by those they trust, tested by the elements and hunted by Shadows, the companions battle on in their search for Arvad’s remaining crystals.

What was the inspiration behind the series?

I can never come up with a clear cut answer for this question. I had started three or four books without much success before coming up with the idea for The Firestone. I knew as soon as I had the idea for the book that it would be the one I would finish and eventually find a publisher for.

I distinctly remember one day waking up with this idea for a fantasy series based around the elements and crystals. I was an avid fantasy reader so this naturally inspired my decision to write fantasy. I was also interested in crystals and their mythical powers and I remember researching the elemental properties of certain crystals and trying to decide which one would be suitable as the firestone. I always knew The Firestone would be the first book but I’m not sure why.

The main inspiration behind the series was my absolute determination to write and finish a book that could be published. From the age of eight, I turned my whole focus onto writing and becoming an author. Despite several hiccups along the way, I always kept my dream of becoming an author at the forefront of my mind. Naturally, I had – and still have – many moments of self-doubt and despair but I knew that whatever challenges I had to face, I would one day be a published author.

As well as being a writer, you also work in other related fields. Please tell us a bit about that.

Unlock your imagination image
Image created with BookBrush

In February this year, I founded the Untold Stories Academy, a business through which I run creative writing workshops and offer editing/mentoring services to writers of all ages and abilities. I am passionate about helping writers of all ages unlock their imaginations and bring their stories to life on the page. My mission as an author, editor and writing mentor is to inspire readers and writers through stories.

The academy brings my experience as a freelance editor, writing mentor and English tutor together under one umbrella with the purpose of inspiring and supporting writers at all stages of their careers.

What, for you, is the worst thing about being a writer and/or publishing a book?

The online marketing. I love the writing process but I struggle with online promotion, particularly social media. I’m not naturally someone who enjoys sharing details about my life and work online. I much prefer in-person marketing – attending signing events and running workshops. The online world is certainly useful but it is so vast and complex that it can be tricky to navigate.

And the best thing?

The writing process. I love planning out my ideas, writing the first draft, editing later drafts and finally seeing the book come to life in my hands. There are so many wonderful moments. I think one of the best feelings however is meeting young readers who have enjoyed my books. Nothing can beat that.

Francesca Tyer at book signing
Image supplied by Francesca Tyer

What was your proudest moment?

There have been a few proud moments but holding The Firestone in my hands for the first time tops them all! That feeling of being a published author at last and seeing my debut novel ‘in the flesh’ for the first time was an experience I’ll never forget. There are many proud moments as an author – every new release is an amazing achievement and I’m proud to now be the author of three young adult books.  

What gives you the most release-day nerves?

Hoping that the book is the best it can be and that my readers will enjoy it. While each book goes through a rigorous process prior to release – a process that includes beta reads by family and friends – pitching a new story to a wider audience for the first time is nerve wracking. As you well know, when a story has been in your head for a long time, it is terrifying to think of people actually reading it!

You are so right! Waiting for those first opinions and reviews to come through can be such an anxious time, coming so soon after the excitement of publishing the novel. Have you always wanted to be a writer? Which careers might have suited you otherwise?

Yes, I have always wanted to be a writer. Even before I could properly write, I’d sit in my room scribbling nonsense in notebooks and ‘reading’ the stories back to myself. At eight years old, I wrote my first twenty page ‘book’ and decided I wanted to become an author. At fifteen, I started planning The Firestone and at twenty-two, I signed my publishing contract with Authors Reach. I can’t imagine a life where I’m not an author but as a child, I did also want to be an actress, ballerina or violinist, so creative performance might have suited me instead!

Image supplied by Francesca Tyer

What kind of things inspire you?

Places, people, events, emotions, history… all kinds of things inspire me! I am continually storing up facts, observations, visuals, quotes and descriptions ready to use in my writing. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go because there are usually too many ideas and inspirations to remember all at once. My mind is constantly thinking about plots. When I was growing up, I had to have a sheet of paper tacked to my bedside table so I could lie in bed and scribble notes in the dark.

Your covers are amazing. What is your process regarding cover design?

For The Firestone, I had quite a clear vision in my head for how I wanted the cover to look. I sent some rough sketches to Gina Dickerson, who designs all my covers, and she worked her magic to bring my vision to life. For The Seastone, I knew I needed similar elements – such as the crystal, for example – so that it would be clear the books belonged in a series just by looking at their covers. I found The Earthstone cover the hardest one to imagine but Gina worked to create the perfect design in the end.

Whatever people say, I think books are judged by their covers and having the right design is important. When I attend events, the most common comment from passers-by is, ‘Wow, your covers are so striking.’

Who are your biggest influences?

If you are referring to influences on my young adult writing, then I would have to say authors such as J. K. Rowling, J. R. R. Tolkien, Philip Pullman, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander and Caroline Wilkinson. I have no doubt that these authors influenced my desire to write fantasy. Authors who have influenced my passion for writing and literature more generally include Jane Austen, the Brontës, Daphne du Maurier, Ian McEwan, Paul Cooper and many, many more.

There is a brilliant quote from William Faulkner about the lessons writers can learn from reading: “Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

Another quote also springs to mind from Annie Proulx who says:

“Writing comes from reading, and reading is the finest teacher of how to write.”

Francesca's books in bookshop
Image supplied by Francesca Tyer

What will you be working on next?

‘To think that I just have one more book to write in The Elemental Prophesy series pulls at my heartstrings a little. It will be hard to say goodbye to the characters who have lived in my mind since I was fifteen years old. I am however excited to write the final instalment and a couple of backstories that I always knew I would write to accompany the main series. 

While I am planning the fourth and final book, I will actually be working on a standalone novel. Set in the real world, it is a coming of age story that departs slightly from my young adult style. It is a literary novel and the story explores the power of nature, music, literature and grief. I’ve already written 15,000 words, but I won’t say any more about it just yet!

There is another fantasy series brewing away at the back of my mind as well, ready for when The Elemental Prophesy series is finished, but the idea isn’t yet fully formed. So, as you can tell, my brain is working hard to plan the next five-ten years of my writing career.

I’m looking forward to finding out more and reading those books. Finally, what advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Don’t give up. Writing a novel takes a huge amount of motivation, dedication and courage. Being an author can be tricky but if you love it enough, every moment of hard work is worth it in the end. If you’re an aspiring author, finish that book inside you. The most common reason people don’t become authors is that they never finish their book. Get to the end of your first draft – that is the first and most challenging hurdle, in my opinion at least.

I totally agree with you, Francesca, and many thanks for making the time to talk to me!

Francesca’s books are available from Amazon or from bookshops, or you can buy signed and dedicated copies directly from our online shop at Authors Reach. The novels are available as ebook or paperback, and the first book in the series is also available as an audiobook, narrated by Clive Mantle.

I’ve read all three of the novels published so far, and it’s a super series for magic-loving readers of eight and above. Francesca’s books always strike a chord with me, partly because they’re aimed at younger readers, like my own, and are in a related genre. We also both have a fascination for crystals, though we feature them in totally different ways!

The Elemental Prophesy Series Amazon UK

The Elemental Prophesy Series Amazon US

An Interview with author Francesca Tyer

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