TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Theodora: I'm not sure this is a quirk, but I tend to use very specific things to write: notebooks from Bob Slate Stationer in Harvard Square, specific kinds of pens. I also use a word processing program that almost no one uses anymore: Word Perfect. But it does exactly what I want it to. Wait -- I tend to think of things to write in the shower, and then sometimes I have to run and get a notebook and pen, wrapped in a towel, with dripping hair. I don't know if that's quirky. It's certainly messy!
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Theodora: I tend to be both. I'll usually have a sense of where the plot is going, and if a plot is intricate, I'll need to write it out. But often, I just sit there and sort of go. I let the story and the characters guide me. Of course, that often means I have to go back and revise, so plotting ahead of time is probably more efficient. But it really depends on where I am in the story, and where the story is going. If it is going -- if my hand keeps moving across the page (I write first drafts longhand) -- I don't stop to plot things out. When I can't write anymore, when the details are too tangled in my head, that's when I need to stop and untangle the plot.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Theodora: Finding the time! I teach writing and literature at Boston University, and until recently I was also finishing a PhD in English literature. So I have to fit writing in where I can. Often I'll write at night or on the weekends, when everything is quiet and no one can disturb me. I need that intense focus . . .
TQ: What inspired you to write The Thorn and the Blossom?
Theodora: The initial inspiration came from my editor, Stephen Segal, who asked me to write a book in an accordion format. I was so intrigued by the idea that I started working on it right away. I knew it had to be a love story -- that's the sort of story in which seeing events from two different perspectives matters the most. And Brendan and Evelyn came to me shortly after that. Once I had the characters, they started talking to me, telling me their stories -- that's the way it usually happens. The format inspired me, and the story of the Green Knight, the mythical background of the story, inspired me. But finally, it was the characters and the story they had to tell.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Thorn and the Blossom?
Theodora: I like the scene in the forest! That's *one* of my favorite scenes, at any rate, and it was actually the first one I wrote, part of the proposal I sent my editor. It was interesting writing it twice, from two different perspectives, because Brendan and Evelyn experience it in very different ways. And they have different emotional reactions to it.
TQ: In The Thorn and the Blossom, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?
Theodora: Brendan was easier to write, but I'm not sure why. Perhaps because he's more reasonable, more sensible, at least for most of the story. Evelyn is more complicated in some ways -- she's more damaged, for one thing. More afraid. I remember my editor telling me that she needed to be more sympathetic. And we did work on that, but in the end, I wanted her to be herself, whether she was sympathetic or not. I wanted her to be Evelyn.
TQ: What's next?
Theodora: I always seem to have stories coming out. In 2012, I have a story called "Woola's Song" coming out in Under the Moons of Mars, an anthology of stories about Edgar Rice Burroughs' world of Barsoom. "Lessons with Miss Gray" will be in an anthology called Witches: Wicked, Wild and Wonderful, "The Mad Scientist's Daughter" will be in The Mad Scientist's Guide to World Domination, and "Beautiful Boys" will be in Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. I'm also working on a poetry collection that will probably come out next summer. The big project now is a novel based on "The Mad Scientist's Daughter" about the daughters of all the mad scientists: Justine Frankenstein, Beatrice Rappaccini, Catherine Moreau, Mary Jekyll, and Diana Hyde. They get together in London and form a club!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery
Theodora: Thank you! It's been a pleasure.
About The Thorn and the Blossom
The Thorn and the Blossom
Quirk Books (January 17, 2012)
Slip-cased Hardcover, 82 pages
One enchanting romance. Two lovers keeping secrets. And a uniquely crafted book that binds their stories forever.
When Evelyn Morgan walked into the village bookstore, she didn’t know she would meet the love of her life. When Brendan Thorne handed her a medieval romance, he didn’t know it would change the course of his future. It was almost as if they were the cursed lovers in the old book itself...
The Thorn and the Blossom is a remarkable literary artifact: You can open the book in either direction to decide whether you’ll first read Brendan’s, or Evelyn’s account of the mysterious love affair. Choose a side, read it like a regular novel—and when you get to the end, you’ll find yourself at a whole new beginning.
Read The Qwillery's 5 Qwill review of The Thorn and the Blossom here.
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