Long a fan of stories involving dragons and magic, Susan Leigh Noble was perhaps destined to become an author of her own fantasy novels. And in August of 2011, Noble began fulfilling that destiny with the publication of her first novel, Summoned. The first book in Noble’s The Elemental series, Summoned tells the story of a girl with remarkable powers who, along with an odd assortment of allies, embarks on a mystical adventure that will change her life forever.
Noble has since written two more books in the series — Quietus and Destiny — as well as a short story entitled “The Search” that focuses on Tosh, the telepathic cat featured in the series. Noble latest work, The Heir to Alexandria, was released in January of 2015.
When she isn’t writing, Susan is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and at her children’s schools. She lives with her husband, two children and three cats in Texas. To learn more about her and her work, visit susanleighnoble.wordpress.com.
What was your childhood like, and how did it shape who you are today?
I grew up with a father who was in the U.S. Air Force. This meant that until he retired when I was 12, we moved every few years to a new city. Some kids thrive with all that change, but I think it reinforced my shyness. Even today I am more likely to hang back and observe rather than jump into the conversation.
Who are your biggest creative influences?
I’ve been influenced by many authors, but I have to say that David Eddings stands out as the biggest influence. His writing is so rich. I loved The Belgariad and The Malloreon series. He wove in fantastic scenery descriptions along with believable characters. Everything they did was realistic. And he wrote strong parts for the women in his stories (thanks to his wife, Leigh).
What made you decide to finally sit down and write your first novel?
My first novel, Summoned, actually began many years ago. I always wanted to write a novel, so I set out to do that. But I really had no idea what I was doing. I did a lot of stumbling around and a lot of rewriting. But then life would get busy, and I would put my manuscript away and bring it out later. I did that on and off for quite a few years before trying to get it published. After receiving my fair share of rejection letters, I shelved it for a while. Then one day my husband suggested I self-publish it.
From your perspective, what are the pros and cons of self-publishing?
I think the biggest pro is that it has become easier to become published. No longer do you have to luck into getting your novel read by an agent or publishing house and perhaps published. You aren’t waiting for someone else to say your novel is good or desirable.
The con of course then is that anyone can publish a book — even those that don’t have the skill. There is a flood of poorly written books out there that give independent authors a bad name.
What inspired the story of The Elemental series?
I liked the idea of someone having control over the elements. And what is a fantasy novel without some sort of journey? So Lina is overwhelmed with a compulsion to leave her homeland. When I began writing Summoned, I didn’t plan to make it a trilogy. It was only when I was done with that first book that I realized Lina’s story wasn’t over.
How much of yourself is there in Lina, the protagonist from The Elemental series?
Well, there are some similarities. Lina is reserved and doesn’t like being the center of attention. I feel the same way. But Lina ends up in a leadership role which is something I certainly wouldn’t want to do.
How does The Heir to Alexandria differ from your earlier work?
There are lots of characters in The Elemental trilogy including telepathic cats and dragons. The Heir to Alexandria focuses more on a much smaller group traveling. I also added religion to The Heir to Alexandria, though it didn’t play as big of a part as I originally thought it would.
How have you evolved as a writer over the years?
As with anything, the more you do something, the better you become. This definitely applies to my writing. I am sure if I went back and looked at the first draft of my first book, Summoned, I would cringe. There were many drafts of Summoned (especially the opening chapters), while my latest book didn’t need as much rewritten.
If your cats were telepathic, what do you think they’d do with those powers?
I think they would annoy me by demanding food, petting or to be let out. I imagine them talking a lot when they are awake.
If you could offer one piece of advice to your 18-year-old self, what would it be?
I would tell myself to believe in my writing. I have always loved to write but at 18, I was more hesitant and worried about criticism to pursue writing as a career.
Aside from writing, what are you most passionate about?
Well, I am going to go ahead and take out my family and reading because those are obvious answers. My next big passion would be doing layout or design work. After college, I took a part time job designing ads for the local newspaper. Since then I have held other jobs what included that type of creative aspect. And I really do enjoy making flyers for the school or neighborhood association and my kids’ birthday invitations. In fact, I recently opened a shop on Etsy selling birthday invitations.
What are you working on next?
Since Heir to Alexandria just was released in January, I haven’t started on my next book. Based on fan feedback, I have been considering writing another trilogy using the characters from my The Elemental trilogy. But before I get to that, I am working on another fantasy book with a dragon as the main character.