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I don't always do interviews, but when I do, it's for an awesome story. The Journey of Tala is no exception.
Going into this interview, I was worried I would lose track of the story, seeing as it is quite lengthy. But the truth is, there was no stopping to think, "hmm, this is a little long." I found myself clicking next chapter, and the next, and the next, until it was two in the morning and I had a lovely case of Panditis. The fact that this story is great, and Kuir had the dedication to finish it out... it deserves at least a round of applause. Seriously, this is one of those fanons that everyone needs to read. It is great- no, it is amazing. I am happy to be able to interview Kuir about his awesome creation.
You have some serious talent. Where did your skill in writing come from?
- I had really good schooling for writing when I was little but fell out after middle school. I still enjoy it and am now trying to revive it. I also read a lot, stuff like Aristotle and Plato, which is tough to read, let alone comprehend.
The opening book, "Sand and Steel", is filled with a wonderful beginning to this epic story. How did you come up with the name of this book?
- Book 1 like all the books had things related to war and elements. Book 1 was called sand and steel, relating to earth for the main reason that war between Earth Kingdom powers played its role and that steel is a big thing in war. Sand because it has a calling to the old days of war, where you imagine sand mixed with blood. For "Blood and Swamps" it has to do with her new element, the Foggy Swamp and what she learns.
Tala is strong, fierce, and keen - how did you develop her as a character?
- I looked at all the past Avatars, threw them away, and said, what would I want in an Avatar?
The Black Dragon is... Rishu?! Why did you choose this two-faced persona for him?
- Because personas don't define the depth of what Rishu is. He is gifted and cursed with something that makes him both unique and alone in the world. Rishu, the individual born before Sozin's Comet, is really just a nine year old boy, the trick is realizing that.
The last chapter closed up the first book very well. The cliff hanger is given at the end, and it leads into the next book. Overall, how did you feel about the first book as a whole?
- Looking back, my writing and grammar were so awful, but I still enjoyed writing it and making it so black and white compared to the grey of later chapters. In Book 1, Tala has these clear lines of good guys and bad guys, and she is certain of what she will do.
In the beginning of the second book, Tala masters airbending. In your opinion, why did it take her three years to master the element?
- Because it was her opposite element, but in the story, they expected Tala to take six years based on her first months. Tala cut that in half in a prodgious ascension that made her one of the greatest airbenders alive, certainly in the top four.
"Heritage" was one of my favorite chapters from "Blood and Swamps". In this chapter, we see into Tala's past; why was Tala separated from her parents?
- Because Urri wanted full control of the Avatar, in hopes to mold her into a servant with his interests in mind. Urri realizes the gift he had in hand and over-reached. What isn't written in the story is that Urri saw what Tala was like when she was with her family and didn't like it. Its like seeing a cold-blooded killer in a child's body, you want to get rid of it.
"The Black Dragon" was another of my favorites, as it lightened my view on Rishu. What caused Rishu to change in the beginning of the chapter?
- It wasn't a what but a who, and finishing the story gives you part of that answer, the rest, hopefully comes in Fates and Vows. Rishu saw something so terrible that it drove the boy into complete madness beyond the reason or limit of men, the fragments were reforged to make the man you see in the present. Also, realize that Rishu spent over five years in the place he went to in the chapter. Aang spent a day with the Sun Warriors, Rishu spent years with even more than that, it would drastically alter your perspective.
In the past, bloodbending has belonged to a powerful bloodline. As the Avatar, do you believe Tala is in the right by bloodbending?
- That is something that readers have to decide for themselves. I give it so that they can agree or disagree with it. The upside, Tala can fight back and do great things with people not expecting it. The downside, Tala only whets her appetite and lust for power with bloodbending and she knows it, as you see in "Things in the Night", she becomes sadistic and euphoric about torturing someone. In the end, its a power that can lead down dangerous roads for those who can't handle it.
The United Republic forms... a part of the Air Nation?! Where did this idea come from, and how does it play into the story?
- The majority of the URN becomes the Air Nation, minus the surrounding lands that are given back to the EK. Because the URN breaks the principle of the Four Nations that was so strongly stressed in ATLA, the Air Nation, however would fulfill it. It was one of Rishu main goals in the story, if not his primary.
How does "Pyres and Storms" relate to the book itself? This was my favorite in the series, by the way.
- Thanks. It actually relates less than it was going to. In my earliest drafts of the story, JoT and RoL (Rise of Lirin) were the same story and it was Korra as the Avatar. In it, Rishu was a much more minor character and one of the RoL villains was more dangerous. To him, the title of the book related, at least the storms part did. Pyres relates to funeral pyres, which marks death, which book 3 sees a lot of in comparison to the earlier chapters.
The story reaches its climax in book three, as Tala realizes her true power and destiny. As the author, how did you create Tala to be such a momentous character?
- Because Tala had to be aware of what she could do and what it cost to do it. Tala just can't afford to be less, and so she gives up everything to be what is needed for the world.
Tala is unsure about the outcome of the war in the end. Why is that?
- Because some of her still is influenced by Kuel and Urri who supported the United Nations-like era that had come. Some of her believes in unity, but some also believes that division and strife creates progress. Tala is split, and this again comes from the stark divides in her upbringing. Dai Li are very different from the Omashu elite. Also, because of what she learns from the Black Dragon about the destiny of the Avatar as a whole.
After writing this, do you believe war, in itself, is ever justified?
- War is mankind made manifest. At least in this story. The trick in writing is not writing in what you believe, it s writing what you don't believe and melding it with your own views to the point where the reader doesn't know which is your view or not.
Will the end of the Journey of Tala play directly into The Rise of Lirin?
- Yes, mostly. The short and upcoming fanon, Fates and Vows has important things that just didn't make it into JoT. They will help answer some questions about things that happened in between. Still, even then, one can skip most of F&V and go to RoL.
Just for Fun
Which of the characters in the Journey of Tala was your favorite to write about and why?
- Rishu is my favorite character. He is decidely inhuman and yet is undeniably human. Rishu understood the strength of many things and so sought them out. He is a swordmaster in a time where swords are declining, he is a scholar and a tactician. He realizes that he is not invincible, and so plans accordingly.
If you could be one character from your fanon, which would it be and why?
- I would actually be a character from my later fanons, but for JoT, I would prefer Rishu. Risu is a master and a cunning individual with potential for more. Also because he is political and controversial.
What advice do you have for fellow authors on finishing out a fanon?
- Have the story complete first in your mind, then keep writing. Have a decision for how its going to end. Even if the ending changes, which mine did at least three times, have an ending. Work at it on the way that works for you, but don't give up just because it may seem like something's wrong, just fix it and keep going. And don't worry about what others say or do, only you can decide how it ends.
The Journey of Tala is awesome. If you are intrested in anything Avatar- you know what, just do yourself a favor and check this out; you won't regret it. Until next time, this has been ByBray everyone!