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Lindsey Frantz - Creator of Worlds


Lindsey S. Frantz is a 30-something novelist,

mother, and teacher. Her debut novel, The Upworld, was released in 2017 and the sequel, The Wylden, is forthcoming. Lindsey also regularly writes stories for The Hidden Worlds anthology series, which titles include Ever After Again and Dragon Keeper’s Academy. She loves dragons, coffee, and the color yellow, and is a little obsessive about finding good ink pens.

  • When did you decide you wanted to become a published author?

    • I’ve wanted to write and have books out in the world for as long as I can remember. I started trying to write my first novel around 13 or 14, though. Before that, it was always stories and bits and pieces of things.

  • Ooh, the 13-14-year-old-novel! Heeheehee. Such fond memories of a clumsy time did you ever do anything with it?

    • I still have it on a floppy disk (yes, FLOPPY DISK) that I keep with my old writing stuff. It was so, so terrible. Maybe one day I’ll see if I can find a computer with a floppy disk drive and try to read it again.

  • So tell me about The Upworld. What is it about and what kind of book is it?

    • The Upworld is a YA dystopian novel that follows Erilyn, a telekinetic, telepathic, empathic teen as she navigates a broken world. She meets a boy, Finn, who has no special abilities but who heals something inside Erilyn that she hasn’t realized was broke. Together, they travel the Upworld and head back to Finn’s home of Sunnybrook where Erilyn is forced to face her biggest fears—being ostracized for being different and losing someone she loves.

  • Ooooh. That's riveting. And it's the start of a series?

    • It is! The second book is in its last stages of revision! And the third is roughly planned.

  • Do they follow the same characters or different characters in the same realm?

    • The same! Book two follows Erilyn as she, Lucy, and Aiyanna—her friends—set off to track the Wylden (the animal-like nomads) to their home.

  • What was your inspiration for this realm?

    • In college, I wrote a ton of short stories. One was about a girl who lived alone in the woods and was hunted for her powers. Another was about spelunking. Neither story ever felt quite right, and one day it struck me that they were supposed to be ONE story, and this novel was born. That being said, the protagonist has been with me since I was about 18. She starred in about 3 failed manuscripts before The Upworld.

  • Quite the comeback for her then! Are you self or traditionally published?

    • Both! The Upworld is traditionally published with a small press from Louisville, KY called Line by Lion Publications. Both anthologies that I, Michelle Wilson, and KD Reid and I wrote together (Ever After Again and Dragon Keeper’s Academy) are self-published.

  • Which do you prefer after having gone through both processes?

    • I feel like there are pros and cons to both. With traditional publishing, you’re out less money, which is nice, but you lose some artistic control. I was really fortunate that my publisher let me use a cover my sister-in-law created because I’d already fallen in love with it! But with self-publishing, you have the option of making all the choices, which is really nice.

  • What challenges have you run across along the way? It's not an easy feat either way!

    • Well, the biggest challenges have been marketing related. It’s so hard to get the word out, both with self-publishing and traditionally publishing with a small press!

  • I wouldn't have known about the small press bit! That's a little surprising. What have you done to circumvent that?

    • I try to join as many groups as I can and do as much self-promoting as possible!

  • How do you balance your time between teaching, parenting, and writing?

    • Not well. When school is in session, most of my work time goes toward that, and I try to keep mornings and evenings as free as possible for the kids (though after they’re in bed, I do a lot of school work), so writing is relegated to weekends. But in the summer, I try to schedule a few hours each day for writing!

  • How have you been fairing through the pandemic? How had that affected your job as a teacher?

    • The pandemic has been difficult, in both my teaching life and my personal life. As far as teaching is concerned, last year I lost the last couple of months with my students in person which was hard, and we’ve been in school five weeks now and I’ve never met my kids this year. We go back in person after our fall break, so I’m both excited and nervous about that. In my personal life, the pandemic has just brought up a lot of anxiety and depression issues that have plagued me for a long time but had sort of toned down over the years. But COVID-19 has brought them back full force.

  • How do you deal with your depression and anxiety these days, especially now that it's reared its ugly head again?

    • I don’t deal with it well, honestly. I’ve been looking into seeing a therapist!

  • That's a huge step! It's incredibly brave to ask for help. Have you found extra challenges getting that sorted out because of the world that we live in?

    • Not really, but I never really tried before the pandemic so I don’t know if it would have been easier then. It’s more just working up the nerve to really start.

  • That's fantastic though. Taking the reigns is HARD lol. Does any of your travels with anxiety and depression come through in your writing?

    • Oh yes. I try to explore those feelings a lot through character experiences.

  • Has it made you a better author? 

    • I hope so! My characters tend to have big feelings. Haha.

  • That just makes things more realistic IMO lol

    • Hopefully!

  • Does writing ever soothe your anxiety?

    • Sometimes. It’s sort of an outlet that lets me work through things in my life. But sometimes it just makes the anxiety worse, because the solutions I find are unpleasant.

  • And yet you still push through. It's a tricky scenario to be in for sure. So what have you learned on your journey thus far?

    • My writing journey? Mainly to trust my gut, and to only ask for writing advice from people I trust. Everyone has an opinion, and not everyone’s opinion will line up with yours. But at least if you trust the people who are asking advice from, taking criticism is a little bit easier to swallow.

  • Do you have an editing team then?

    • I have a group of friends who I share my work with!
      Joe Stockton is a screenwriter who I trust 100%. He’s also my brother. :)
      Brittany Holland is a fiction writer who I shared the roughest of rough drafts with! And she’s the best. 
      Katrina Reid and Michelle Wilson are two writers that I write the Hidden Worlds Anthology series with and I value their advice!
      And on Instagram, I’ve met so many writers who have helped me along the way! Rose Fairchild and Rachel Stanley both gave me awesome feedback on my WIP!

  • Did you have "stage fright"  the first time you asked someone to read your WIP?

    • Well, my major in undergrad was English, and I took a boatload of creative writing workshops, so having someone read a draft doesn’t give me stage fright like it did 15 years ago. But I do always have more than a few moments where I believe with absolute certainty that whoever is reading is going to hate it!

  • Heeheehee how do you work past those few moments? And how do you deal with the devastating criticism when it comes up?

    • Whenever I start to feel insecure I usually vent to my husband. And when I do get criticism that hurts my feelings, I  close my computer and give myself time to calm down and then go back and reread it to see if it’s valid.

  • Have you ever gotten invalid criticism?

    • I’ve gotten criticism that I chose to ignore because it felt more like someone trying to change my story to what they wanted it to be instead of trying to help further the story I was trying to write. If that makes sense.

  • Entirely :)When are you hoping to have the next Upworld book out?

    • I’m working on the last revision now! Then my publisher (Line by Lion) will take it and the timeline will be in their hands. [The publisher should have it by now, this interview occurred in October 2020]

  • Oooh, the suspense. What do you do with your time while you wait?

    • Ideally, I’ll start plotting the final book in the trilogy!!

  • Whoop whoop! Do you have any ideas yet?

    • I have the whole last book really roughly plotted out. It’s all sort of been in my head since I started the first book but the more specific details aren’t figured out yet.

  • Do you prefer to write in a series?

    • So far, yes. I struggle with letting characters go when the story is done.

  • Heeheehee I know the feeling. How much work goes into your world and character-building?

    • In my opinion, it’s a lot. I typically don’t start writing until I have both the main characters and the world as a whole built as much as I can. I probably spend, collectively, a few months working on both!

  • What really got you into world-building? Have you always written in this way?

    • When I was in graduate school (I got my MFA in Creative Writing in my 20s) I spent a few weeks at a residency in San Miguel de Allende Mexico. I got to take a class with Jim Grimsley that was entirely focused on world-building. It was so enlightening, as he’s like a king of world-building. Ever since, I’ve made it a priority in my writing.

  • That makes sense! I love that so much. What is your favorite part of world-building?

    • Hmmm. Probably imagining the various ways that the world is different than the real world.

  • Heeheehee. Not at all what I was expecting you to say. Can you elaborate?

    • Well, in college I read a lot of realistic literary fiction, and it was awesome, but at the end of each story or novel, I was left feeling like something was missing. It was the same feeling I had as a kid when I wished the dragons and fairies in the storybooks I read were real. So when I work on world-building, I imagine the baseline for my setting (usually Appalachia, since that’s where I’m from) and I think about what I’d like to add to that setting to make it the beginning of the world I’m working in. After that, it’s like putting a puzzle together!

  • This made me super happy! What is your biggest piece of advice for world-building, writing in a series, and being an author?

    • For world-building, my biggest advice would be to start with the big stuff and work backwards. Start with your end goal, like a world with magic based on something specific, and then work backwards to figure out how, why, and where.

    • For writing a series, I think it’s important to know (in general) where you want it to end up. I definitely don’t mean have it totally plotted out before you start for an entire series, but if you don’t know at least a little bit where you want your character to end up then the story can quickly get away from you.

    • As for being an author, the biggest advice I have is to write and keep writing and write some more. Oh, and read all you can!

  • And to close out, what advice do you have for people about staying afloat on rocky waters? (Staying positive in dark times)

    • Hmmm. Well, in your writing, I say use it as an outlet, even if you’re only writing for yourself. In your personal life, always reach out to someone you trust. If you feel sad, even if you’re worried someone will think it’s silly (story of my life), talk to someone. It’s always easy to manage rocky waters with a friend!

  • Lindsey, thank you so much for your time. How can our readers keep up with your journey? And where can they find your books? :D

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