TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Anne: Gosh, that's hard to say! I don't think I have any, to be honest. I'm a bit obsessive about word count once I get to the second draft and start licking the book into shape, though I'm not sure that counts as interesting. I don't have any eccentric rituals associated with writing; as long as I have my project notebook, a smooth-writing pen and my laptop, I'm good to go.
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Anne: I would have to say Jane Austen, Ursula Le Guin, Terry Pratchett and Tim Powers. If there's any influence, it's mostly by way of giving me standards of writing to aspire to: great characters, great storytelling, and in the case of the latter three, some really cool, fun ideas.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Anne: A bit of both - I plan out a skeleton of the story, then pants my way between the major plot points. I tried pantsing it when I began writing and found I ran out of steam very quickly. On the other hand I can't outline in too much detail, because I find it hard to imagine how my characters are going to react to a given situation in the abstract. They're only real people to me when I'm writing them.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Anne: The second half of a book, between the midpoint and the climax. The first half is relatively easy, setting up all the obstacles, and I usually have a fairly clear idea of how I want it to end, but getting my characters there in a plausible and coherent way is still a huge challenge for me. There's generally a lot of flailing around and panicking to begin with, but I just have to force my way through and somehow it works itself out eventually. To quote the movie "Shakespeare in Love":
Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.
TQ: Describe The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque 1) in 140 characters or less.
Anne: An Elizabethan swordsman finds himself in way over his head when he is assigned as bodyguard to an ambassador from the New World.
TQ: What inspired you to write The Alchemist of Souls?
Anne: I wanted to write something a bit different from all the bog-standard medieval fantasy I'd been reading, and having read Charles Nicholls' "The Reckoning", about the murder of Christopher Marlowe and the beginnings of the English secret service, I thought the Elizabethan period would be a great setting for a fantasy novel full of political intrigue and derring-do, rather than the usual quests and battles.
Then I read "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond and got thinking about how history would have been different if the conquistadors had been prevented from conquering the Americas. Putting those two ideas together produced the scenario of an ambassador from the New World being assigned an English bodyguard on a visit to London, and from that point I just had to work out the link between these two characters and how their story would play out.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for The Alchemist of Souls?
Anne: Lots of non-fiction reading, obviously, but also visiting the real locations where possible. I reckon I know parts of the Tower of London almost as well as the official guides!
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Anne: I think Mal is both the easiest and the hardest to write. Easy because I've been developing his character for about five years now and know him inside-out, but hard because he's the main protagonist and has to carry the story. If readers don't believe in him and root for him, the whole thing falls apart.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Alchemist of Souls?
Anne: I would have to say the various scenes between Mal and Ambassador Kiiren; there's humour to be had from the culture clash, especially at the beginning, but also some pretty intense stuff when you find out what's really going on.
TQ: What's next?
Anne: I have two more Night's Masque books in the pipeline - The Merchant of Dreams has just been handed in to my editor and should be out early next year, with the final book in the trilogy, The Prince of Lies, some time after that.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Anne: Thank you for inviting me!
About The Alchemist of Souls
The Alchemist of SoulsNight's Masque 1
Angry Robot Books, March 27, 2012 (US/Canada), April 5, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback (US), 448 pages
When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?
Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally – and Mal Catlyn his soul.
File Under: Fantasy [ Midsummer Magic | Skraylings | Double Trouble | Comedy of Terrors ]
Amazon : Barnes and Noble : Book Depository (US edition) : Book Depository (UK Edition)
Books-A-Million : IndieBound
Books-A-Million : IndieBound
|Author photo by Andy Fountain|
It appears, however, that although you can take the girl out of Sherwood Forest, you can’t take Sherwood Forest out of the girl. She now spends practically every waking hour writing – or at least planning – fantasy fiction about dashing swordsmen and scheming spies, set in imaginary pasts or parallel worlds.
What: One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque 1) from The Qwillery.
How: Leave a comment.
You may receive additional entries by:
1) Being a Follower of The Qwillery.
2) Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.
3) Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.
There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.
Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.
Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Monday, April 9, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*