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An Interview with T.R. Slauf, author of the Legends of Lightning Saga

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T.R. Slauf was born and raised in Michigan, originally studying and working in the field of Biochemistry. After having open-heart surgery for congenital heart disease, Slauf changed career paths to pursue the passion of storytelling and published their debut novel, Hidden Realm, two years later. Slauf now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with their spouse and two cats.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

For years I’d been trying to be something I wasn’t. I set aside the various art, painting, drawing, reading, and writing that I loved. Why? because I grew up in a situation where money was very scarce and right off the bat, I had to focus on career ambitions and take care of myself. I couldn’t afford to spend time on things outside of school and work. I was miserable.

I chose a degree that had a lucrative outcome and by the time I got to the degree specific course work it was my last semester of school, I realized I hated it, and it was too late to change degrees. I decided it was the bed I made for myself, and I needed to work through it until I was in a position to change it.

Instead of getting the chance to wait, life clobbered me. See I was born with a serious heart defect, in 2018 I found out my pulmonary valve was failing, and a slew of other issues. I had to have another open-heart surgery. On top of having a miserable job in a sector I despised, I had to have my chest cracked open and undergo a very long recovery. I found myself wondering ‘why am I going through all of this just to continue being miserable?’ When I was well enough, I left my job and moved to a new city and worked in an office and started over. My day job was functional, and I had the evenings and weekends to myself to write. I told myself this time I was going to finish the book. And I did. Then I did it again and again.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

Honestly most of my novel ideas come from dreams. I’ve always been a vivid dreamer and they give me enough foundation to kick-start plots and world building. In Legends of Lightning, I also wanted a story where the MC is from a normal world and is suddenly dropped into the middle of a realm at war full of monsters and magic. I thought it would be a fun topic to explore their transition and how this unexpected change in reality would shape them.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

The tile for Legends of Lightning was the hardest! The other books I have published came very easy to me, but not LoL. I tossed around so many different ideas, I had to come up with a book title but also a series title. After a long time of time and a lot of brainstorming I used internet name generators to try and spark my creativity. I eventually came up with ‘The Crimson Shadow’ as the series name. Then, just to be sure, I googled the name. Well, turns out there was a very famous series from the 80s with that name. So that one got scrapped.

After talking it out with my best friend (who was the inspiration for parts of the MC’s character) we went through the lore of the magic realm, the different abilities of the MC, and the themes of the book. Legends of Lightning was decided because the characters in the magic realm refer to history as ‘Legends’ and because the MC has lightning magic. The saga was her legend.

If your book had a soundtrack, what are some songs that would be on it?

I actually made a Spotify list for this!

Some of the song on there are ‘Big Bad Wolf’, ‘River of Fire’, ‘Joan of Arc’ by In this Moment, ‘Wrong Side of Heaven’ and ‘Far From Home’ by Five Finger Death Punch, ‘Witches Burn’ by The Pretty Reckless.

Describe your dream book cover.

For my dark fantasy books, I prefer the ones that look hand painted and very custom. Show a scene from the book, think 80s throwback covers! My artist, Jeff Brown, really hit it out of the park with the Legends of Lightning covers!

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I have had a lot of jobs over the years working my way through school, everything from a dishwasher, maid, to a sales associate. After I graduated, I worked in a biochemistry research lab. Love science and learning new things, but the day to day of lab work (especially in the academic sector) is very.. different.

What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?

I watched a lot of author YouTube channels. They gave helpful hints and pointed me in the right direction for various websites and resources I needed. They also got me considering the path of indie publishing vs. traditional. While I didn’t necessarily take their words as gospel, they got me thinking and helped point me in the right direction.

I also had Lord of the Rings playing on repeat in the background while I was working. What can I say, those are my comfort movies.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

The Legends of Lightning Saga tackles a lot of themes. Self-Discovery is a big one as I was going through my own journey when I started writing it. I imagine my ideal reader has also gone through something similar. They did what they were ‘supposed to do,’ they got the job they were ‘supposed to get.’ Eventually they realized that was garbage and had to figure it all out on their own as an adult. It sucks and it’s isolating.

In addition to that, the novel shows the slow descent of the characters into villains, if not villains then different versions of themselves. It shows how terrible situations, while they can be overcome, they also alter you forever.

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