Launch day for The Deadly Reckonings

The Tribes of Feralis is a gripping new fantasy adventure series we are very proud to be publishing! It’s a tale of hope and survival in an often-cruel world, with harsh terrain and primal instincts. Begin the adventure with Devlin as he strives to complete a deadly test and claim the seat of Alpha, his only option if he is to better the lives of those he loves and his fellow tribesmen.

To celebrate the start of an epic adventure, we asked the Heap Twins, Rebecca and Victoria, co-authors of The Deadly Reckonings, a few questions about their own epic writing adventure.

Feralis is a wild world filled with powerful shifters. Can you tell us what inspired you to choose the various animal forms and how you came to name them?

As children we loved reading myths about hybrid creatures such as the Minotaur and the Griffin. We have always loved the idea of metamorphosis and we both briefly studied the Classics at university and Ovid’s epic poem ‘Metamorphoses’. These are the inspirations behind the tribes and their ability to transform. We have read books about shifters, but we find that these often follow the same old tropes and we wanted a unique spin on this. We have always loved animals, especially cats, so we imagined a world where an animal aspect was a normal part of their being, with a cat tribe as the main focus. But we also liked the idea of conflict between the animal and human sides of their natures, which is a common theme in the story, and which is also why we came up with the idea of the Lost Ones (huge beasts who were previously men but who lost the battle with their animal spirit and so are unable to revert to human form).

We chose the various animal forms purely because they were the first main five well-known, predatory animals that came to mind! Cats were an obvious one for us and we just took it from there. We wanted the tribal names to have some basis in language and to sound pretty similar to make things a little easier for the reader. Many of them are derived from the word for the animal in a different language as follows:

Ulvaria –  The name Ulva in German means ‘wolf’ and derives from the Old Norse name ‘úlfr’.

Arturia – Art meant the ‘bear’ in Celtic languages. The name derives from Proto-Celtic artos (bear).

Reptilia – is pretty obvious, we think!

Khatoolia – Katu is ‘cat’ in Armenian and we extrapolated it from that.

Skylaria – ‘Bird’ in many languages begins with a vowel and we wanted a different first letter for this tribe. We thought of what is associated with birds instead – sky!

As twins, did you grow up telling stories together and finishing each other’s sentences?

Yes, we did finish each other’s sentences a lot and sometimes still do, though Victoria complains that Rebecca ‘hijacks her conversations’! Our mum did try to dress us in different clothes as she wanted to encourage our independence and did not want us being lumped together as ‘the twins’ all the time. However, people still got us mixed up and it did not stop us from wanting to do almost everything together! We have always loved books and we used to enjoy writing stories to each other in old exercise books from a young age. We loved reading and discussing each other’s writing even then!

How did you attack co-writing a book? Did you delegate different characters, scenes, or chapters?

Ha, not sure about the word attack! To us, bouncing ideas off each other, discussing plot and character, enjoying and editing each other’s writing, is all part of a very natural, creative process. We do tend to discuss different scenes and then one of us will volunteer to write it and the other to edit. Oddly, we don’t think we have ever argued about who is doing what! We both have different strengths that complement each other. For example, Victoria tends to be better at dialogue and fighting scenes and Rebecca tends to be better at description and romantic scenes. We don’t always write the story in a linear fashion. Sometimes a fabulous scene or part of the plot will come to one of us and we will write that first and then build in everything leading up to it! For example, the beginning of our heroine’s story, Kyra, in Book Two was actually written first! Then her brother, Devlin’s story, became this huge, amazing thing and we realised he needed and deserved a book of his own!

What are the best and most challenging things about co-authoring a book?

We don’t tend to get writer’s block, but we do get what we call ‘plot block’ and one of the best things about co-authoring a book is that you can brainstorm and get through any dilemmas together. We have often individually come up with a marvellous idea the other one would never have thought of. We are also at an advantage because, before we even present our work to anyone else, a different person has already critiqued it and edited it. It can be challenging to find the time in our busy lives to get together regularly, and Covid did not help matters! Google Docs has been a great discovery for us as, before, we used to end up emailing different versions back and forth and would sometimes forget which was the latest one (or forget to save it)! We feel the pros of co-authoring have always far outweighed the cons, loving the opportunity it brings to share the stories in our heads right from their infancy. 

Writing as siblings, were there any heated moments in the co-author process?

No, not really! We have had the very rare occasion of disagreeing on an aspect of the story, but any semi-conflict never lasts very long! Perhaps, we are giving away too much, but Rebecca did persuade Victoria to make the end of the third book a happy one. Perhaps this shows that Victoria is the ‘darker half’ as she was quite keen on a tragic ending!

Have you learned anything from the process of writing book one that you will change for the process of book two?

Book Two and Three are already written! We did find Book Two even easier to write, perhaps because the main character is female and perhaps because Kyra’s story was our original idea. Book Three was a little harder as it was not really pre-planned in any way. We just had to let our imaginations and the characters we had created lead us!

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