Author Interview – Terry Bartley

Another Thursday has come around, and that means another wonderful author has joined me for an author interview. This week I’m visited by Terry Bartley, Author of the novel Tyranny of the Fey, a collection of fantasy and LGBTQ+ stories.

You can learn more about Terry, his book, and his podcast on his website and through his social media.


Read the history of the original fantasy world of Galevyn told through the perspective of three women seeking adventure from three different points in time.

Tyranny of the Fey

Questions About Writing

What comes first, the plot or characters?

Characters always come first for me. I love creating people and figuring out where they fit into my fantasy world. However, once I create the characters, it is then really important for me to outline the story. I need to have an idea of where I’m going. Then, once I start actually writing, the characters drive the story. Sometimes characters will do things I don’t expect them to do, and that’s o.k. I may have to alter my outline a bit, but it serves the greater story and the character.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I have been a writer for a long time, and I never really thought of myself as one. I originally went to college for journalism, which led to lots of writing. When I went back to college several years later, I switched my major to English because I wanted to become a writer. So, even though I had been writing for years, sometimes professionally, I still didn’t think of myself as a writer. A few years ago, or five years, time is a weird soup, I started writing a novel seriously. I think when you start writing a large project with goals and deadlines, it starts to feel real. Somewhere during the writing process of my novel is when I started to think of myself as a writer.

How much do you research for your books?

Research is weird for fantasy. I don’t want to pull just about anything whole-cloth from mythology, history, or other published works. I want to try to create something more original. So much of my fantasy research is to get inspiration, and I may steal names or slightly switch them up from mythology. The vast majority of my research comes from the fact that I make an effort to write diverse characters as authentically as possible. Even though it’s a fantasy world, there are still BIPOC characters in my work, and some fantasy species are coded to specific nationalities. I remember I once had to spend hours researching the foods of different cultures to figure out how a character would react to eating something spicy. It was hours of research for two sentences, but I feel like that kind of research is really important.

What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?

I want to be a full-time writer. I currently work full-time as a high school ELA teacher. I enjoy teaching, but writing, editing, and promoting is a full-time job all on its own. It would be nice be able to pay the bills with my writing so I didn’t have to spend 40 hours a week doing a completely different job.

What were your favorite part and your least favorite part of the publishing journey?

The conceptualization of characters and a world is always really fun. I love the potential of what could be. I also love it when I write a line and think to myself, “That was good.” Self-validation is pretty great. The administrative stuff in the publishing process is a real pain. I hate having to check Amazon every day to see if they’ve listed my pre-order as “Available.”

Questions About Your Books

Who is your favorite character?

The initial inspiration for my writing came from a home D&D campaign. I began writing a novel around my character, Star Satar, and an NPC named Celeste Magister. I reinvented them and made them both my own new characters, but a few elements remained. I knew that Star was raised by a single mother and that she dropped him off with a group of adventurers whenever he started developing his powers as a teenager (it’s like a wild puberty side-effect). She remained in his life, but only in between her own adventures. I really wanted to know who this woman was, that loved her son but had no qualms about dropping him off with a group of near strangers. That was the starting point for my favorite character in my upcoming book, Tyranny of the Fey, Asha Alistar. It follows her 200-year journey as an Elf in a human world.

Can you share with us something about the book that isn’t in the blurb?

I conceived this world as an allegory for our own world, specifically the ways in which colonialism has impacted it. Using the Elven realm as my allegory for England, how would a wildly magical world develop once outsiders came in and disrupted their way of life? This is the impetus for the first character arc with Rowena Zarin and serves as the backdrop for the rest of the book.

What do you hope your readers take away from this book?

Because I’m putting a fantasy aesthetic on our own world, I would really love for people that don’t think about colonialism or systemic oppression to read my book. I hope that being so direct about it will help them see the way these concepts have touched our own world. I’d love to help them see the world from a different perspective.

Tell us about the process for coming up with the cover.

I really love my cover, and the process of creating it was one of the most fulfilling parts of putting everything together. The artist is Deryl Arrazaq, and it was really fun to collaborate with him on it. I had the initial concept, the three characters with lines dividing them. My vision was a bit more abstract, but honestly, I love what Deryl came up with so much more. It was so cool to communicate the image I had in my head to an artist and then give him the space to produce something incredible.

What is the future for the characters? Will there be a sequel?

As I mentioned, Asha is the mother of a character from my novel. That book will be coming out down the road, and I’m planning for that to become a series. Another character from this book, Karuk, does appear as a supporting character in the novel. If readers of Tyranny of the Fey fall in love with Karuk, they are going to be seeing a lot more of her. Finally, I’m going to be playing around in the short story space for a bit longer. I’m planning on releasing a series of light novels that explore a few other characters that populate the world of Galevyn to lead into the novel.

Questions About Reading

What famous author do you wish would be your mentor?

I’m a really big fan of Rainbow Rowell, especially the Simon Snow Trilogy. I’m also just a big fan of her career. It is so fascinating that she first introduced Simon Snow as a character from a famous book series that exists in her novel, Fangirl. Just the idea of latching onto an element from an unrelated story and turning it into its own thing really fits my style. I mean, that’s basically what Tyranny of the Fey is.

Do you listen to audiobooks?

I didn’t listen to audiobooks for a long time. I convinced myself that I needed the feel of a physical book and that was what I loved about them. Then, I realized that what I really love is the story. I already consumed stories through T.V. shows, movies, and podcasts. How were audiobooks any different? Now I am regularly listening to audiobooks whenever I’m out for a walk, while I have a physical book I’m reading at home. It’s a great way to maximize the number of stories making their way into my head!

Do you prefer stand-alone novels or series?

I have a real tendency to fall in love with characters I’m reading about, and that means I want to spend as much time as possible with them. So, I prefer a series. I do love a really solidly written standalone, but I know that I’ll be making thories about what happened next for the rest of my life.

Has a book ever made you cry?

As I’ve entered my 30s, I will cry at the mention of something that relates to my experience. I was once listening to “High Hopes” by Panic at the Disco! while I was jogging and started to tear up in the middle of a work out. To answer the question, yes. I have cried while reading a book. I’ve also cried while watching a T.V. show, the “Star Spangled Man With a Plan” musical number from Captain America, that video of the raccoon trying to wash it’s cotton candy, and just thinking about the opening scene from “Up”.

What genres do you prefer to read?

As a fantasy writer, I do love to read other fantasy books. There was a time in my life whenever I’d ask why would I read something if it didn’t have magic or aliens. Since that time, I have expanded my interests to include memoirs by funny women. Some of my favorites are “Yes, Please” by Amy Poehler and anything written by Mindy Kaling. I’ve also started reading political autobiographies, primarily to do my due diligence as an American voter. I especially loved “This is Our Fight” by Elizabeth Warren.

Personal Questions

Favorite artist and favorite song?

This past year I have become absolutely obsessed with this band called Sub-Radio. You may be familar with them because of their viral parody videos “Stacy’s Dad” and “I Don’t Want to Dance with Nobody,” but their original stuff is even better. I’ve recently been listening to their song “Waste Your Time” on repeat.

Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.

I have a TikTok channel and I have a podcast called Most Writers Are Fans, so there’s not much about me that I’ve not at least mentioned on one of those platforms. To dig really deep, I played baritone in marching band all through high school and college. I’m not into sports, but I do have some understanding of how football works because we had to know when first downs happened to play.

Do you prefer tea or coffee or something else?

I love both, but there is definitely a special place in my heart for coffee. I tend to write better whenever I take myself out of my normal environments and coffee shops are perfect for that.

Would you rather watch a movie or read a book?

Yes. I love stories and I love art and I understand that books and movies are two different mediums. I don’t need a movie to stay exactly true to the book, but I want it to be a good movie and be in the same spirit as the book. I like being able to live in a book for awhile and thinking about it as I’m going through my day. However, I also like being able to get fully pulled into a world through good filmmaking. Books and movies are different, but equally exciting things.

Do you have any pets?

I do! I have a five-year-old chihuahua/terrier mix named Etsy. I found her at a shelter when she was a puppy and we have been together ever since. She’s a great writing assistant, because she reminds me to take breaks when she wants to play or go outside.

Thank you to Terry for joining me this Thursday, and do remember to pick up your copy of his book, Tyranny of the Fey.

I love to hear from my readers, so leave a comment and brighten my day <3

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