Interview with Author Arie Farnam

My guest today is Arie Farnam.  Hello!  Welcome back to Writing in the Modern Age!  It’s a pleasure to have you here again.


So, can you tell us a little bit about your series? When did it come out? Where can we get it?

The first book in The Kyrennei Series is The Soul and the Seed (Book 1). It was published in August 2014. 

The most recent book is Path of the Betrayer (Book 5) and it was published on October 30, 2015. The others fall in between. It’s a cross between urban fantasy and dystopia with a frighteningly contemporary setting. It looks and feels like the contemporary world, except that a mind-control cult controls things from behind the scenes and they will stop at nothing to maintain absolute power. Through a genetic fluke, Aranka Miko carries the one thing that can truly threaten the cult, so she faces torture and death at their hands. 

The first book, The Soul and the Seed, is currently in Kindle Unlimited, which means it’s only available on Amazon. You can get it here:
Books 2 through 5 are available at Kindle, Apple, Barnes and Noble and other online stores. The best option for readers who don’t use a Kindle to get the first book to start out right now is to sign up for my hearth-side emails (which gets you a kind of virtual cup of tea and links to my blogs each week) at:

Everyone who subscribes is entitled to one free ebook in their chosen format, so that’s currently how readers without a Kindle can get the first ebook. Kindle readers can get it for free that way too.

All five books are also available as paperbacks from the Amazon link above.


So, tell us...

Is there anything that prompted The Kyrennei Series? Something that inspired you?

These are my first book-length works of fiction. I’d been daydreaming about the plot and characters of this series since I was about fifteen, probably earlier. The greatest inspirations for those fantasies were the social isolation I saw all around me, international and interracial conflicts and authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and David Eddings. If that sounds like an eclectic combination of influences, that might be why many reviewers say the series is truly unique fantasy, not entirely comparable to anything else.

I experienced a lot of social exclusion myself because of my disability and strange-looking eyes, but I also saw that social exclusion is rampant in all walks of life and that I was far from alone in my struggles. I was very aware of political and social issues even as a young teen. I angered clear-cut loggers with a critical letter to the editor of my town newspaper when I was thirteen (to the extent that Forest Service employees took me out in the woods and tried to scare me into being quiet) and then I ended up on the same NRA hit list as Michael Moore within a year of becoming a national journalist. I just wasn’t suited to keeping my mouth shut about issues that hurt people.

I have also lived on every continent except Australia in my twenties and experienced daily existence among Zimbabwean professors, Afghani refugees, Bangladeshi brick breakers and the new Russian elite, among many other communities. So, I have a very good idea of just how gripping, desperate and fantastic today’s world can be.

At the same time, I loved high fantasy. I wanted to bring those things together. I had a cast of very diverse characters that kept popping into my head for twenty years, and even though I actually tried not to daydream for most of that time, the story took shape and became so powerful that it was finally impossible to resist.

Interesting! Isn't it beautiful how the muse works?


So, when did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?


I can’t entirely see writing as a pastime, even though I did it for free for many years. While it is true that writing can be learned and improved, I think some of us are born with writing as a calling and a natural profession. My first writing that I have saved is a travelogue I wrote while traveling through Mexico on a shoestring with my family at the age of seven. I really never stopped writing after that. I couldn’t stay away from it because nothing else was quite that engaging.

I started writing fiction in high school, primarily short stories, but I wasn’t sure that fiction was for me. I became a stringer and freelance journalist, traveling throughout Central and Eastern Europe, Central and South Asia and a few other places. I wrote primarily for The Christian Science Monitor but also for other newspapers and magazines, including Business Week. I was known for the sensory detail and emotional impact of my work in a field that is usually pretty dry. I didn’t start to think of myself as primarily a fiction writer until about two years ago.

Wow! So, do you have any favorite authors?


I have eclectic but very picky tastes. My favorite fantasy authors are J.R.R. Tolkien, David Eddings, Robert Jordan, J.K. Rowling and Diana Gabaldon. But I read far beyond just fantasy, in anything where there are realistic characters, good suspense and an emotional punch. My favorite author of all time is probably the obscure memoirist Ann Pettitt. Some writing is just fantastic and I don’t care how small the advertising budget is. I also love Barbara Kingsolver, Alexander McCall Smith and Abraham Verghese. Very recently I’ve stumbled upon fantastic books by new authors who get added to the list, like Octavia Randolph and Enes Smith.


I've read a lot of Kingsolver novels as well! :)


So, let's talk about your writing process. Do you write in a specific place? Time of day?


I do my heavy lifting first thing in the morning when I get the kids off to preschool and my husband off to work. I do fifteen minutes of spiritual contemplation and then head up to my room to write with a cup of tea. I have managed to have my own room with my own writing desk and a computer specially designed for my vision impairment. I have windows at either side that give a view of the rolling hills of central Bohemia and the changing light feels helpful. I am very fortunate to have this space and some little time several days a week to write. Like most writers these days, I have to do other things, including teaching, but writing is the priority. It means that there is little extra in our household in terms of time, energy or money. But I’ve tried not writing and the result is depression. My husband has given up on hoping I’ll change, and my kids need me fully functional more than they need a double income.

I see.


Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers? Any advice?


Write because you want to and write what you are passionate about. Yes, you need to work with genre expectations and markets, but figure out what will work with those issues AND inspire you. If you try to write just what you think will sell when it doesn’t really arouse your passion, it will never have the necessary emotional impact. And today, unless you are already industry-connected or a minor celebrity, you have to be spectacular and have the punch of an Olympic boxer to have a ghost of a chance in the market. Even incredibly talented writers are struggling today. There are a lot of people out there making money off of the myth that this is a wonderful time to make money writing, when the reality is that it is harder than ever to make money but it is easier to get your feet wet.

Yes, you will see a lot of lame, lackadaisical books out there and some are even traditionally published and moderately successful. And that makes you feel like really good writing should sell like hotcakes, but most of financially successful authors have connections, platform or finances that most of us never will. They may (sometimes) be able to get away with work that is less than spectacular, but for the bootstrapping author passion is mandatory.

Beyond that, my advice is practical. Write at least three novel-length books before trying to market one. (It might be one of them, but it might not.) There are things no book or writing class can teach you that only writing several long works can and these things are among the most important.

And get Scrivener. I know, I argued about it too. Just bite the bullet. Don’t spend your money on all the books, classes, marketing scams and so forth that are out there to suck you dry because almost none of them are worth a dime. (BookBub is the shining exception at the moment.)

Otherwise, get a real website. Don’t rely on a secondary-domain blog. This is crucial. Get a mailing list, even if you aren’t really ready to develop it. Start it and post interesting stuff even if you can only do so irregularly. Learn graphic design if you can. Even if you can’t, learn the rules of how to work with Creative Commons images legally and use them on your website and newsletter. Images matter in online content a lot. Read stuff about marketing and writing all the time. There’s plenty free online and I’ve read very close to all the books for sale on the subject and none of them have the special secrets unpublished anywhere else that they claim to. Online information is usually more up-to-date. Staying up-to-date with marketing strategies is a constant issue. You will have a good strategy and in one month you’ll have to change it because conditions, platforms or rules change.

Be generous and help other serious authors, post about them and share their links when you think your readers will truly enjoy it. You are competing with the vast noise of the internet and the millions of unedited documents on Amazon. Other serious authors are your allies, not your competition. 

All great advice! Thank you for offering those words of wisdom. 

And thank you so much for stopping by to visit us here today at Writing in the Modern Age.  It was so nice having you here!  :)
Readers, here is the blurb for the first book of The Kyrennei Series, The Soul and the Seed.

The facade of freedom is a thinly veiled lie. In present-day America, a power cult can usurp your will and turn you against your friends and family.

Once—more than a thousand years ago—there were people who were immune to Addin control of hearts and minds. Legends around the globe still speak of them—slight people with pointed ears, now relegated to fantasy stories. Their true name has been forgotten.

They were the Kyrennei.

A prophecy says they will one day return, but the Addin vow to exterminate them. The Meikans, the descendants of human allies of the Kyrennei, yet exist, though they live under a tyrannical treaty with the Addin that has bought their survival at the cost of centuries of silence. Now those who have kept faith with the ancient gods for a millennium stand at the cusp of a new era--the time of the Seed.

It begins in a large round valley in the mountains of northeastern Oregon. One day Aranka Miko is a small-town student. The next, she's a prisoner, a reviled mutant and not even considered human.

At the same time, a young doctor code-named Kenyen fights with a band of international outlaws in a clandestine war with impossible odds. His mission is to infiltrate the Addin labs in Idaho where those who carry the genetic code of the Kyrennei are being studied... and murdered.

Kenyen is barely keeping his cover, when Aranka turns up in his lab. She is not like the other young people imprisoned there. For one thing, she can see that he isn’t Addin. A careless word from her could destroy the resistance and doom Kenyen’s soul. But she could also bring unimagined hope.

Can one girl hold “the seed,” the first flicker of hope in a millennium? Can she even survive one more day in the labs?

Cross urban fantasy with a contemporary dystopia and you get The Soul and the Seed, the opening book of an electrifying new series that you can’t put down. The Kyrennei Series is the story of a young woman who doesn’t fit the mold, a band of international freedom fighters in the heart of America and half-forgotten legends coming to life. Constant emotional tension and living, breathing characters make this an unforgettable saga.

Here is an excerpt.


(This is an excerpt from Chapter 5. The narrator is a young man named Thanh.)

I was born at the tail end of the twentieth century, in the age when technology and science trumped anything mystical and unexplained, and when I was a kid being Meikan was like a religion. The only difference between us and other religions was that we knew what the Addin was doing to people, how they controlled governments, commerce, schools and military forces.
And we were afraid of them. We knew that Addin control meant the subversion of a person’s natural will and that, if they decided to come after one of us, we were defenseless.
At twenty one, I had never seriously entertained the notion of the existence of the legendary Kyrennei, who had resisted Addin control two thousand years ago. But now we had the inside reports from Kenyen’s undercover identity that the Addin had forced genetic changes in the bodies of children who carried dormant Kyrennei genes. Whether or not they could really stand up to the Addin, Jace McCoy believed in throwing wrenches into Addin schemes whenever we could.
Kenyen’s claim that a Kyrennei girl was in the truck in the empty courtyard was irresistible for all those reasons, but that was what would make it a perfect trap. Kenyen might well have been taken and they could have planted an explosive to blow us to bits.
Still, the return of the Kyrennei would mean more than any one of us. If there was any chance, Kenyen was telling the truth... My palms itched with excitement. If it was Meikan bait, it was working.
“Listen, Rick,” I said, trying to head off his probable objections as temporary commander of the base. “What do we do now? Here’s the drill. If Jace doesn’t return within an hour, the protocol is that one of us Meikans, and it comes down to me tonight, goes down there to talk to Kenyen. Then I come back out and prove to the other Meikans that I haven’t been taken. That is how it works, right?”
He nodded, bare agreement.
“Well, what’s the difference? If I go down there and he tries to take me, I either get out of there with my mind free or I don’t. And if I don’t, you’ll know but you’ll have to kill both of us. If I go down there and the truck blows up or there is some other booby trap, you’ll also know the score and I’ll only be as dead as I would be the other way.”
“Except that you might make it out of that room unscathed,” he said.
“Yeah, well, there might be a Kyrennei kid down there who’s hurt. I’m willing to take that chance,” I said. Jace was not going to like my reasoning, but we had already broken the letter of our orders by not shooting Kenyen the instant he opened his mouth.
“Okay, go,” Rick said grudgingly and then raised his voice to call to whoever was on the other side. “Thanh is going down there. Cover him. Is Cho over there?”
“Here!” came her reply. Cho was a Japanese medical student, who like me had lost most of her family to the Addin and ended up first under the protection of people sympathetic to Jace and then part of his little band. Without Kenyen available, she was our best medic.
“Stand by,” Rick told her.
I jumped up and ran down the stairs, my weapon up and ready to fire. In that small space, I couldn’t hope to be a lesser target by crouching, so I just trained my gun on the truck and walked to it. From a distance, I peered underneath, behind the tires, then glanced in the back, although spotting an explosive that easily seemed unlikely.
Then I moved in a bit closer and looked in the windows on the driver’s side. No one in the front of the cab or on the floor. A blue balloon contraption that looked medical in purpose was lying on the passenger’s seat next to Kenyen’s pistol. Clearly, he was trying to convince us that he had disarmed.
The space behind the cab, where there was cramped room for an extra passenger or luggage was blocked from view by tinted glass. I stood well away from the truck and leaned in carefully to open the driver’s side door, turning my face away as I did, just to be on the safe side.
Nothing happened, so I leaned forward to peer into the rear compartment.
And there on the floor of the back was a girl, covered with a rough, bloodstained, yellow blanket and sprawled half inside an oversized gray duffle bag. She looked to be about the size of an eleven- or twelve-year-old. Her chest was partly visible, with a bandage and a short tube protruding that led nowhere but ended with an oddly shaped bit of blue plastic.
I caught my breath. The arm that lay across the blanket was just that bit different in shape and dimension than it should have been in an ordinary child. Beyond that, I could see the side of her face, an elongated pointed ear against dark brown curls. Could this be real? Her skin was a light tan color, but Kyrennei would come in many colors, as do Meikans... or Addin for that matter.
“There does appear to be a Kyrennei girl in there,” I called up to Rick. “There’s dried blood, bandages and some sort of tube in her chest. I can’t tell if she’s alive from here.”
“Permission to go down!” Cho squeaked with excitement.
“Wait,” Rick said. “Thanh, can you open the back?” The truck had a small secondary door to the rear compartment that could only be opened when the main door was open. I reached over and popped the latch, as I held my breath. No booby trap, so far.
“He should not move her. Permission to go down, please!” Cho was clearly agitated.
“Alright. Go down,” Rick conceded and Cho flew down the far stairs and raced across the courtyard, with her gun swinging on its strap at her side.
She came around to where I stood and stopped in her tracks. She let out a low, painful cry, practically threw her gun into my hands and sprang into the cab, carefully avoiding the child’s legs. I watched her feel for a pulse and breathing.
“She is alive, but she is barely conscious, not breathing well and her pulse is really fast,” she reported in a moment. “I am afraid to move her, unless we can find out what happened.”
I looked up toward Rick’s vantage point. “Permission to question the suspect?” I asked, without much hope that he would consent. The hour that we were supposed to wait for Jace was far from up.
But Rick’s answer came back in a string of curses and then, “Go on, you camel-brained dung collector.”
I felt the edge of a smile as I walked across to the garage door, where Kenyen was detained, and stood to one side, so as not to be an easy target, in case he turned out to be armed and hostile after all. If Rick could come up with insults like that, then the world was still mostly intact.
I came into the garage with my gun raised, but Kenyen was in position, as per the drill. He was lying face down on the floor of the room with his hands still raised above his head. For a moment, I worried that he might be injured, but no. I moved forward carefully and frisked him where he lay. No weapons, not even a pocket knife. I told him to turn over and frisked his front. He wasn’t talking anymore, and I could see the anxiety in his eyes.
He wanted desperately to ask and I took pity on him. “She’s alive,” I said and his body shuddered with apparent relief.
But was it really that? There is no way to see into a person’s soul.
When the search was complete, I told him to turn and face the wall. Only then, could I question him. Jace had a theory that the “taking” was most dependent on eye contact and conversation, so this was a means of prevention.
“What happened to her? That first. Tell me what Cho needs to know to keep the girl alive,” I said.
“She was severely beaten and nearly drowned,” he said, his voice tight with controlled emotion. “She’s got so many ribs broken that she can’t breathe right. She needs oxygen and probably help breathing with the bag-valve-mask in my truck. I kept having to stop to do that on the way here. We have an LMA in storage, which would be better, but Cho shouldn’t really put that in alone. Tell Cho, she had a tension pneumothorax but she’ll know what the valve is for. I don’t think her other organs are damaged, but she was horribly beaten. She has also lost a lot of blood. We… they… bled them.”
His voice choked and he drew in a shaky breath. “There could also be internal bleeding. There isn’t a hell of a lot we can do about that. But really, Cho will need my help. Kyrennei truly are different. Some anatomy, the physiology, biochemical stuff. Well, her body is really Kyrennei now. I’ve seen--”
I interrupted him. He wasn’t allowed to try to convince me of anything. “I’ll tell Cho. Don’t move.”
I went back outside. Rick and Dasha, a Russian Meikan who was Jace’s second-in-command, were down in the courtyard by this time. I gave Dasha the sign and they let me pass and covered Kenyen from a distance, while I went to Cho and relayed the information, as precisely as I could remember.
She gritted her teeth and yelled to Kwasi and Radek, who had come in from the other side of the compound, to get a stretcher from the infirmary. They had been asleep when we sounded the alarm, since their watch started at six in the morning. At Cho’s call, they turned and raced back to the second courtyard.
I left the girl to them and went back in to Kenyen. There was protocol for this too. I was only allowed to stay in with him for a few minutes at a time and he was only allowed to answer direct questions, or I was supposed to leave immediately. “You know you have broken orders?” I asked him.
“Yes,” he said, not making any attempt to hedge it.
“First, because I felt like I was being sucked in. I just had a really bad feeling about it. I left a message for Jace. I told him I needed out. I couldn’t do it. They...” his voice broke again and I saw his shoulders shake with silent sobs. “Thanh, you can’t imagine what they did to those kids.”
“You aren’t supposed to use my name yet,” I reminded him, but this time I spoke gently.
He straightened a bit, still looking away from me. “They had five Kyrennei kids initially. They tortured them and killed them one by one. I can go over the details later but I just couldn’t do it. It was too much. I either had to participate or blow my cover. I know that was the assignment. But damn it, they were kids and I helped kill them.”
“You’re getting off the question. You sent a message, but why did you break orders?” I repeated.
“Because this girl could see that I wasn’t Addin,” he said flatly. He waited as if I should react. When I didn’t, he continued. “I really mean it. She could tell even before I spoke to her. She told me, she could see it, like a light around me. She said she could see a different color around the Addin and something else around the Kyrennei. The other Kyrennei didn’t seem to see it. Only she did.”
He shifted, almost turning to look at me, then obviously forcing himself to face the wall. “It was like she could see an aura, identifying who was what. But I had to assume it might be a unique talent because the others showed no sign of it,” he finished and waited.
There had been a Meikan woman when I was a child back in our town in Vietnam, who could see auras. She had done experiments, trying to establish some sort of pattern, so that she might be able to warn us about Addin, but she never could identify people as Addin or Meikan or uninvolved. She could see if a person was filled with hate and anger, but that wasn’t really a reliable indication.
Auras primarily show emotion, will and state of well-being. With the Addin, it isn’t that they take the will or emotions out of a person. They simply turn them to their own purposes. The Addin-controlled person still feels the same emotions other people do - happiness, disappointment, anger. They just feel them for Addin reasons. They still have will, but they desire what the Addin desires. Their core is changed but that woman had never been able to see to the core.
There have always been efforts by Meikans to find a way to identify Addin on sight. If we could do that, we could live in much greater safety. For one thing, all of this, what we were going through with Kenyen would be unnecessary. In fact, the ability to identify who was in what camp was a holy grail of sorts for Jace, what he had sought most before deciding to go after the Kyrennei.
“You think she can really tell at a glance?” I asked, incredulous. This was simply too much to believe.
“I don’t know exactly,” he admitted. “We couldn’t really talk. She had been nearly drowned and could barely speak and there wasn’t time. But I saw how she reacted to me from the beginning. I was constantly afraid she was going to blow my cover, because she knew I wasn’t Addin.”

Purchase Links:

Amazon Universal:  


Arie's Other Books:

Amazon Universal:

Barnes & Noble:



Sounds very interesting! 



Author Bio


Arie Farnam is a former war correspondent and urban documentary filmmaker turned fantasy writer living in Prague. She is the author of The Kyrennei Series (Book One is The Soul and the Seed). When not setting keyboards on fire with speed typing, Farnam practices urban homesteading, chases her two awesome children and concocts herbal medicines. 

Author Links:

Amazon Author Central page:

Coming Soon:



  1. Good write thank you for sharing

  2. The story of Arie Farnam's journey as a writer is one that deserves to be written! This is a great interview. Incredible books.


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