Fall is a great time to crack open a new book. Shorter days, longer nights and the chill that is fast approaching makes it a lot easier to put on some slippers and pajama pants and sink into your favorite chair (the one by the lamp) and escape for a few hours with a good read. I devoured books when I was younger. Now I'm hoping to allocate more of my limited free time to some quality fiction.

I caught up with Billings author Tahani Nelson on my radio show today (you can listen to the interview below). Tahani grew up in Columbus, graduated from Rocky Mountain College and taught school on the Hi-Line before moving back to Billings, where she currently writes and teaches English. It's not every day that I get to chat with a published author from Billings, although the Billings Gazette reported a vibrant author scene around the Magic City in a 2016 article.

As a young adult, Nelson was inspired to write military fantasy books where the female characters were powerful lead's instead of damsel's that needed rescuing by the brave men. She says on her website,

 I wanted to write the heroines that younger me wanted to read. I wanted to finally have the representation in military fantasy that I craved so desperately in my youth. I wanted to feel empowered and heard by the women in my books, and I wanted them to have grander goals than simply marriage.

She added that it would be nice if the characters wore body armor that actually protects their breasts. Here's some of our conversation, lightly edited for clarity.

Me:  How tough is it to get a book published? Let alone two?

Tahani: Oh, it's so so difficult. There's thousands and thousands people trying to publish all the time now. Yeah. So being one of them is pretty cool.

Me: In your books, women are the lead characters. Tell me about the series and what inspired you?

Tahani: I've always loved fantasy, but like I never really felt represented growing up. And so I wanted to create matriarchal societies. And I was so done with bikini male and boob play and damsel in distress by the time I was 14. Yeah, so I created the Faoii Chronicles. The first book is called "The Last Faoii" and then the second book that just came out earlier this year is "Faoii Betrayer." And now I'm working on the third book, "Faoii Ascended."

Me: When writing a series, how far out do you plan the story line? Do you have a flowchart? 

Tahani: Um, I personally do it the wrong way where I don't have anything planned out before I write it. And then I'm usually just as surprised as my readers are when something exciting happens. So I know a lot of people plan out like books and books in advance, and I plan out nothing. I just kind of see where I go when I write and it's great and it's exciting, and it flows really well. And it works for me, but a lot of people aren't like that. But yeah, I love it. I love being as excited as my readers are every time something happens.

Me: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

Tahani: I've always loved writing for as long as I can remember, I've loved writing and my poor father has always been my first editor. He has like a stack of every book and every story I've ever written, including these new ones that are real now. Yeah, but I've always loved it. So it was really nice to actually follow through and finish something and then self publish it and then put it out into the world and now have like an actual legitimate fan base out there, like the amount of emails I get and just people talk to me and saying, "Hey, I love what you do. How can I do that? How can I write" and then being able to empower other people the way that people have empowered me, it's, it's amazing. It's fantastic.

We also talked video games, if she feels today's high school students are still interested in literature and more. Listen to the full interview below.

"The Last Faoii" and "Faoii Betrayer" are both available on Amazon in hard copy, digital and audio book formats. Or you can order directly from her website HERE.

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