A Magical Conversation with Fantasy Maestro L. Bossi
The Enpirion Project is a trilogy of fully illustrated, LGBT+ fantasy novels. The first two books, Exordium and Nadir, are available for purchase. The third book is currently in the long, arduous illustration phase (it’s fully written). The books follow Enpirion/Piri, a young (by the age standards of his race) Seri soldier as he deals with everything from daily life, something that in and of itself is incredibly difficult for him, as well as the overarching, somewhat supernatural, plot-line that encompasses their entire world. The books handle everything from a m/m romance and trust issues to anxiety/depression, self-confidence and being an extreme introvert trying to deal with interpersonal relationships, just to name a few things.
Each book contains 3 full paintings and over 200 illustrations, bringing the world of The Enpirion Project to life in a new way not generally seen in standard novels.
HELLO L. BOSSI, WELCOME TO WORLDAUTHORS.ORG! WHAT IS THE PRIMARY BENEFIT, ABOVE ALL OTHERS, THAT YOUR POTENTIAL READER WILL GAIN FROM READING THIS BOOK?
It’s a good read. Haha, no I’m joking. I know that’s a horrible phrase (it IS a good read though). It’s worth reading, I think, for the characters themselves and the situations they’re forced to deal with, seeing them evolve as the books go on…how they come into their own. The characters in TEP are not static creations. They’re people. They can be petty and moody. They learn from their situations and change as the story progresses. Their connections deepen and force them to become more than they thought they were.
There’s also a lot going on, story-wise, that will keep readers hanging on. I know that the first half of Exordium can be a little on the slow side. That was intentional. This is a trilogy and knowing Piri is essential, as he’s both the main character and the narrator. It was extremely important to know him as a person before things really got going. There’s nothing I hate more than when a book throws you right into the action with no character development. And once you come to know Piri, the story itself has kicked into full swing with everything from romance to world-shattering adventures.
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF BOOKS COME OUT EVERY YEAR. WHY SHOULD SOMEONE BUY THIS BOOK?
This is an easy one: the art. The Enpirion Project is unique in the fact that the series consists of fairly large novels that contain over 200 illustrations per book. It’s not a graphic novel and it’s not an illustrated children’s book; it’s something unique that exists outside of your standard illustrated book. It’s incredibly unusual to see an adult novel that’s chock full of artwork (I’m sure they exist, but they’re definitely rare). And it’s one of the first things that my readers usually go on about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Why don’t more novels have illustrations?!” It creates a unique, immersive experience that, especially with a fantasy novel, can be a real boon to a lot of people. I’ve had many readers tell me how much they appreciated the art simply because it’s difficult for them to visualize when they read and the illustrations allowed them to really see what was happening and enjoy the story without having to create mental images to fit.
The artwork also allows me to bring home to my readers the true vision of The Enpirion Project. These characters are special to me. They’re family. I want people to see them as they’re meant to be seen. I like creating mental images of characters as much as the next person, but this story is a little different. “Project” isn’t just part of the title…this literally is a fully fleshed out project that is meant to be a visual, immersive experience.
WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
I get asked this question a lot and I never have a good answer for it simply because, with all the readers I’ve sold to/talked to, there’s no common ground across the board. I guess my target would be the LGBT+ community, ages 18-35 (like if I had to give a specific answer and, I’ll be honest, I don’t like giving that sort of answer because I have a real thing with pigeon-holing work), but my readers range from younger teens to older adults, fantasy and non-fantasy lovers, LGBT+ and not. I’ve had people who hate fantasy novels wax poetic about how much they loved Exordium. I’ve had members of both LGBT and not tell me how much they loved the normalizing of a male relationship with no stereotypes and how it was simply treated as normal with no stigma by the book’s society. I’ve had 14yr olds rave about it alongside 70yr olds.
Piri’s story covers a lot of topics from a m/m romance to mental health issues and interpersonal relationships. It touches on bullying and inclusivity and acceptance. The characters are both relatable and vulnerable. And because of all that, it appeals to and touches a wide audience that a fantasy novel wouldn’t ordinarily cover. It’s a bit unique in that regard.
DID YOUR ENVIRONMENT OR UPBRINGING PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN YOUR WRITING AND DID YOU USE IT TO YOUR ADVANTAGE?
Neither of those played a role, but my chronic health condition, which causes me both a lot of physical hardship and pain as well as hitting the mental aspects like depression and anxiety, both had a huge influence on my writing. Piri deals with a lot of both and, thanks to knowing first-hand what all of that is like, I can make it genuine when I write about it; it’s not something I have to make up. I know the little quirks and symptoms that come before a panic attack. I know what it feels like, internally, to have severe anxiety. I understand mental and physical pain and trust problems and betrayal. Nothing trains you for all that quite like having a severe, ongoing health problem. So, for better or worse, that situation has given a realism to my writing that I appreciate.
TELL US YOUR MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE SINCE PUBLISHING YOUR WORK?
Honestly, just the sheer act of doing it is my most rewarding experience. First and foremost, I consider myself an artist, not an author. And I have the artist creator mentality. There’s nothing quite so rewarding as spending countless hours, days, weeks, years of your time working on something and having it achieve completion. When you hit that point where you can step back and relax (sort of, I’m not sure artists ever actually relax) and look at what everything finally led up to and, in the case of a book, an actual physical, mass-produced item that you can share with other people…there’s something really special about that and seeing what you managed to accomplish. And it wouldn’t matter if one person read it or a thousand people; it’s all about that act of creativity.
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING STYLE?
I have a writing style?! I mean, I guess I do, but I genuinely have no idea how to answer this. It’s just…me. It’s how I interact with myself in my own head. If you could spend a day inside my mind (not something I would recommend), you’d see that how I write is also how I talk to myself. Is that weird? It sounds weird, haha. Someone once described my writing style as “charming and whimsical”. Take that as you will.
ARE YOUR CHARACTERS PURE FICTION, OR DID YOU DRAW FROM PEOPLE YOU KNOW?
This is kind of an odd question for me and people tend to think I’m a little strange when I answer it. The characters are definitely not drawn from people I know. But I also don’t consider them fiction. As far as I’m concerned, I didn’t make up any of the group that my readers have come to be familiar with. To me, they’re real people and they constantly surprise me with their quirks and the things they do. Writing their stories is a constant unknown as I can be working something up and it winds up heading in a completely different direction than the one I was expecting when I sat down. And if I try to force something, it never works out.
Piri’s story wasn’t something I planned out or intended to write. It actually began with about a week-long series of extremely realistic and intense dreams that stuck with me throughout the day. I didn’t even begin with writing it down; it started with the art. I was attending DigiPen at the time and it became my obsession when I wasn’t doing something school related. I would be doodling in class, in-between class, when I had down time, when I was waiting around in the hallways. There were scribbles in everything I worked on that related to Piri. I was introduced to Neph a little later. And that was one of those surprises I talked about. I had no idea their interactions would develop into a relationship. That wasn’t something I planned. It was something I learned from the characters. And that’s been how the entire Project has evolved. I listen to the crew I’ve been introduced to and I write down the story I’ve been given. They’re their own people, no different than a stranger you meet who winds up becoming your best friend.
ARE YOU MORE OF A CHARACTER ARTIST OR A PLOT-DRIVEN WRITER?
I suppose I consider this a bit of a loaded question because I don’t consider myself either. Both are equally important to a good story, but it really depends on the story itself as to which way this swings. I’ve written stories that have been far more plot-heavy because that was what was needed; it was about the story itself, not necessarily the characters. In the case of The Enpirion Project, the story is absolutely about the characters themselves, especially Piri, so the focus is much more heavily character driven. If the question is “Which do I prefer?”, then the answer is absolutely character. I would much rather have something that’s character-driven and really lets both myself and the readers learn and explore who they’re reading about.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH WITH YOUR BOOK OTHER THAN SELLING IT?
Honestly, I just would like to introduce people to Piri and his world and hope that they come to love it as much as I do. This Project is pretty special to me and I truly love being able to share it in the hope the it touches people in some way. Whatever others get out of the story, how they choose to relate to it, makes me happy.
WHERE CAN OUR READERS PURCHASE YOUR BOOK?
The books can be purchased from a number of locations, but here are the official ones. I recommend these over any third parties simply because you are guaranteed the retail price or cheaper. A number of third party sellers are listing it for far higher than retail. The price of the Hardback is $39.95 and the Paperback is $19.99. It should never be more than that.
Amazon (please ensure that the seller is Amazon and not a third party seller)
TEP: Exordium (Book 1) –a.co/d/jiqrNzM
TEP: Nadir (Book 2) – a.co/d/94Hp3QP
The Official Piri Project Store (signed books, special edition ebooks, art and unique merchandise): www.piriproject.com/shop
Your Local Bookstore
Have a favorite local seller you frequent? Ask them to order it in! They can easily order it via Ingram or whichever wholesaler they choose to use.