Author's Interview & Book Review: Introducing Lyra Shanti

I was given the opportunity to read and review Lyra's book The Rainbow Serpent. I honestly loved this book. It's based on the bible story of the snake in the garden of Eden, only with a twist. The snake is not illustrated as deceptive and manipulative, but instead misguided and often naive. On his quest to find understanding and bring understanding and wisdom to the human race, he makes mistakes that have costly consequences. 

In this story the snake doesn't try to lead Eve astray, rather they have a strong bond that is built through years of friendship and the inability of her husband, to relate to her in the way she needs. The twists to the original story are unique and powerful. In Lyra's retelling of the classic story, you will find yourself questioning the original tale. 

Her version of the story is so relatable . She humanizes the snake and as you watch him go through his process and try to make the best of his situation, you are reminded of what it is like to be human and not always being capable of doing the right thing in every situation. 

Lyra is an exceptional writer and you will find yourself drawn into the story because of her ability to tell a compelling and moving story. She is definitely a writer to pay attention to and The Rainbow Serpent is definitely a must read. I recommend this book for anyone who likes to read classic stories that have been revamped or who prefer controversial literature.

Scroll down to also read her author's interview!


Tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Lyra Shanti, and I am the author of the sci-fi epic series, Shiva XIV. Having grown up in the beautiful state of Washington, I was surrounded by trees, mountains, and lakes, which gave me a lifelong love of nature and animals. Currently, I live in South Florida with my play-writing partner and spouse, Timothy, and our two adorable, but completely insane cats.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I was very young when I began writing stories, songs, and small plays. I think I was about 7 when I wrote my first song and about 9 when I wrote my first play. I then started writing poetry in my twenties. It wasn’t until my 30s that I really went for writing novels. I was terrified, to be honest, but I felt drawn – as though I was fated to do so. 

Why do you write?

There is enormous freedom in expressing your ideas and thoughts, whether it be in story form or poetry or songs. I personally feel a great sense of release and healing when I write, even in an epic like my Shiva XIV series. Despite having to use a great deal of forethought and planning, there is still that sense of freedom when your characters express how you feel. 

What are your ambitions for your writing career?

Hmm… I suppose, like any other author, I would love to be known and recognized for my writing. Other than making a basic living from it, my real ambition is to inspire others. If any of my writing is an inspiration to another person, I’m happy. 

What has been the hardest part of building your career? 

Advertising and promotion. The marketing part of being an indie author is downright exhausting! It’s hard for an introverted writer to force themselves to talk about themselves so much. I do my best, but it’s definitely a test of courage and endurance.

Which writers inspire you?

First and foremost, I was inspired by Hermann Hesse, the author of classics like Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game. His writing took me to various locations around the world and spoke to my own yearning for truth, identity, and ultimately, balance of mind and heart. After Hesse, I was inspired by authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien, Jean. M. Auel, J.K. Rowling, Robert Pirsig, Richard Bach, and Philip Pullman. 

What have you written?

I have two books published of the Shiva XIV series, book 3 was just released in autumn. There will be a 4th book in the series as well with a possible prequel to follow. I also have a novella called The Rainbow Serpent, which is a re-imagined version of the Garden of Eden, told from the serpent’s point of view. Finally, I have a poetry collection entitled Sediments. 

Where can we buy or see them? 

All my books are available on Amazon. You can find them listed on my author bio here: http://www.amazon.com/Lyra-Shanti/e/B004RZZEXW

What genre are your books?

I tend to write sci-fi and fantasy, but I am able to branch out. In fact, with the finishing of the Shiva XIV series, the book I’m currently writing at the moment is called The Artist, and it is a dramatic fiction with moments of erotic romance and spurts of free-form poetry. It will be quite unique, I think!

Why did you pick that/those genre(s)?

I love the ultimate freedom one has when writing anything fantasy oriented! Other worlds are possible and anything goes!

What inspires your ideas?

It can be anything from a great piece of music to a romantic night with my other half to a gorgeous painting to a moving book or a wonderful movie. So much in life is inspiring!

Are there any correlations between the books you write and your life experiences? 

Oh, definitely. In one form or another, I’ve put in a vast amount of my own experiences into my stories. All my characters are bits and pieces of myself, except maybe a few of my really awful “bad guys.” But everything I’ve been through is thrown into the blender of my writing, though it’s changed and exaggerated to fit the story. 

Do you work from an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?

I tend to do a mix of both. I usually start out letting myself work with the blank canvas of a white screen, allowing my subconscious to take me where it will. I started Shiva XIV that way – no idea where it would go and then BAM, I saw a baby held by a priest who was anointing the child as their messiah. It all flowed from there, though at a certain point, I had to stop and figure out where it was going. After a few chapters, I hunkered down and began plotting out everything with endless notes and bullet lists. Every story I’ve written has been a similar experience. I start with a vision or a free-form idea, and then I wrestle that beast until the story is tamed. 

Tell me about your most recent release. 

My most recent releases are book 2 of Shiva XIV: The Veil of Truth and book 3: Riddle of the Gods, out now!

Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?

There is a recurring theme in my books about the symbiotic relationship between humanity and nature. I hope readers will be moved by it, and come out of my stories with a deeper sense of that connection. 

Any new projects we should look out for?

The Artist will hopefully be out in 2017! I’ve also begun a YA fantasy about a boy who is bonded to dragons. I’m not sure when I’ll be finished with it, but I’m excited to start another series!

Do you think it’s hard to build and maintain a writing career? Why or why not? 

I think it’s quite hard, to be honest. It’s hard enough to actually finish your book, but the real work comes when you have to promote and keep people interested. An indie author has challenges, for certain, but it’s well worth it to have complete creative control. 

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?

I had dreams of being a rock star when I was young, but I don’t think I’d want that crazy life. If I wasn’t an author, I’d like to be known as a musical and theatrical playwright. If I had to pick a more “normal” career, I suppose I would do alright as a teacher – maybe a mythology teacher who rambles a lot.   

What is your favourite motivational phrase?

I love a quote I gave my main character, Ayn, from Shiva XIV: The Veil of Truth. He is forced into a survival situation that tests his very soul, and he says, “In the mind, everyone is free.” Basically, it means that, even if someone thinks they can control you, they can’t. Our minds are our own and no one can take that from you. That line came from the core of my own soul, and I have often told it to myself through the tough times. 

Any advice for dealing with writer’s block? 

Walk away from the project for a while and take a break to recharge the energies. Sometimes I watch a movie, some anime, or hang out with my cats. Just do something that brings you inspiration. After a bit, you’ll find that you can come back to the writing with fresh eyes.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Never give up. No matter how hard it can seem, don’t stop until that story is finished! 

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, that keeps you motivated? 

Timothy, my soul-mate and long-time play-writing partner, once said to me to always add the element of fun. If a story isn’t working for me, it’s usually because I’ve not added the fun or passion. For example, in my first draft of Shiva XIV, I felt bogged down and didn’t know why. It turned out that I desperately needed a character who brought out the fun! I added said character, and he turned out to be my favorite character ever! It’s important to listen to your inner muse, even if it’s difficult to hear sometimes. 

Where can readers connect with you? 

Website: 
http://www.lyrashanti.com
http://www.shivaxiv.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/authorlyrashanti/
https://www.facebook.com/ShivaXIV/

Twitter:
 https://twitter.com/LyraShanti

Amazon Author Page: 
http://www.amazon.com/Lyra-Shanti/e/B004RZZEXW

Goodreads: 
https://www.goodreads.com/lyrashanti