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Elanor Kindred sits in her office, where she gains inspiration for her books and illustrations. Kindred is publishing a seven-part series about Etheria, a fantasy world she began creating when she was 8 years old.
Lask isn't just in Kindred's imagination these days. There are posters of him throughout her room.
Elanor Kindred says she writes and illustrates her novels because 'you see it the way I meant for you to see it.'
By CATHY DYSON
Elanor Kindred has had the same medieval characters in her head since she was 8.
Guess it's about time she published a book.
The Stafford County woman didn't just write one fantasy about the Somadàrsath, immortals sworn to protect the mythical kingdom of Etheria.
She wrote a seven-part series called "The Seven Wars." It's but a portion of the works she wrote about the noble family and its dealings with griffins and centaurs, phoenixes and assorted other talking creatures.
There are 18 novels in all.
Likewise, Kindred didn't just write about Lask, whose skin is fair as frost and eyes are the color of scarlet.
She created an entire civilization--with its own alphabet--along the lines of J.R.R. Tolkien and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
She learned the techniques of digital art so she could translate her doodles of dragons and swords into computer images.
She brought the image of Lask from her mind to a computer screen--and onto the cover of the first book, "The Immortal."
It came out July 7, and the next one, "Bound by Blood," debuts Oct. 7.
Starting Jan. 7, 2013, subsequent books will be released every six months, always on the seventh--a nod to the number in the series.
Kindred also created illustrations on her website for men, women and beasts.
And, she typeset every page, deciding where lines would break, how paragraphs would be indented and what style of big letter would start each chapter.
All along, the author has drawn inspiration from Lask, her main character and muse. He's the one who first appeared in her dreams when she was a child.
"He said, 'I have a story for you, do you want to write it?' The next day, I started writing it, and here I am 14 years later," Kindred said.
FROM STORIES TO NOVELS
As a self-published author, Kindred pays to have her books printed.
Part of the reason she does all the work herself is because, at 22, she doesn't want to pay for what she can easily do herself.
But the bigger reason has to do with control. She couldn't bear the thought of others making decisions about characters whose poster-size pictures grace the walls of her bedroom and studio.
"When I sat down and thought about the whole process, I thought I was going to barf," said Kindred, who normally speaks as properly as someone who just stepped out of a medieval castle.
The tale of Lask and the people of Etheria started in short stories she first wrote at age 8, shortly after the dream.
As a young teen, she revised them into novellas, then made them into full-blown books at 14.
After two years of studying medieval literature at the University of Mary Washington, she went back to her novels and rewrote them.
Reading the works of Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and other literary giants helped her develop characters and style, but she never changed the basic premise.
"The core of the story has always been the same, it's just that the characters have matured as I've matured," she said.
Kindred still has her original short stories and rudimentary drawings, locked in a suitcase, never to see the light of day again.
CHARACTERS WITH VALUES
Kindred works at England Run Library, where she handles hundreds of books.
She's even watched others check out her book. The Central Rappahannock Regional Library has 13 copies in various branches.
Kindred regularly tells people that her books are not like Harry Potter or other popular young-adult series.
"Everything is so saturated with vampires and werewolves and fallen angels," Kindred said. "Dear God."
Reviewers on Amazon.com said they liked her vivid imagery and were glad to read about characters who exalt "values and morals, kindness and decency," said one reviewer. "There are far too few books like this in our society."
Lynn Kern, the head of circulation at England Run, said Kindred's cover illustration perfectly matched her description of Lask in words.
"That doesn't usually happen," she said. "She's an excellent artist in addition to being such a good writer."
Sometimes, Kern has read books and could care less what happened to characters beyond the final pages.
It's a different story with "The Immortal." She's eager to find out what becomes of Lask and his cast of winged, scaled and human characters.
Kindred is happy to share details of her imagined kingdom.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425