Monday, April 02, 2012

Interview with Anne Lyle and Giveaway - April 2, 2012

Please welcome Anne Lyle to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Anne's debut, The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque 1) was published on March 27, 2012 (US/Canada) and will be published on April 5, 2012 (UK/RoW).

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 Souls
Night'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 ]

About Anne

Author photo by Andy Fountain
Anne Lyle was born in what is popularly known as “Robin Hood Country”, and grew up fascinated by English history, folklore, and swashbuckling heroes. Unfortunately there was little demand in 1970s Nottinghamshire for diminutive swordswomen, so she studied sensible subjects like science and languages instead.

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.

Anne's Links:


The Giveaway


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.*


  1. Thank you for the interview and giveaway! I've been planning on reading this one since someone at my bookclub mentioned it. Loving the era in which it takes place and the whole plot seems exciting.

    +1 Entry
    +1 Follower


  2. Anne gets a +1 from me for quoting Shakespeare in Love :)

  3. Great interview. Love finding stuff about new to me authors. I love to read and always looking for new books to check out.
    +1 follower
    +1 shared
    +1 shared The Qwillery: Interview with Anne Lyle and Giveaway - April 2, 2...

  4. This book has been on my to read list since I saw the cover at bookspotcentral. I really like the cover! And then once I was drawn in I read the synopsis and I was sold.
    april dot vrugtman at gmail

  5. I've got this one added to my TBR list- it looks really interesting. I love books that have Viking legend in them! The cover is cool too- the guy kind of looks like a young Obi-Wan Kenobi. :)

    +1 comment
    +1 email follower

    debbie at burdeen dot com

  6. Great interview...the book sounds really interesting. Can't wait to read it. Thank-you for the giveaway.

    +1 comment, +1 email follower, +1 facebook post

  7. Sounds like a great book, in a time period I find fascinating. And I love the cover. Good luck with your book Anne.

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  8. I love the cover and the sound of this one, thank you very much for the chance to win! edysicecreamlover18@gmailDOTcom
    GFC Krystal Larson

  9. I am a follower and email subscriber. Please enter me in contest. I really want to read this book.

  10. This is interesting and I'd love to read it.

    Comment +1
    Follower +1

  11. Thanks for the great interview! This book sounds fantastic! I love the original concepts and I definitely would love to read this :)

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc: erin

  12. Sounds like you did your homework and I like the new twist. Bravo.

    A time when England was in flux and either them, Spain, Holland or France could have dominated

  13. The Alchemist of Souls sounds like such a fantastic story. I love history and when you throw in paranormal elements it's a match made in heaven for me. I can't wait to read this book.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com
    GFC follower: Barbara E.

  14. I would love to read this to see how you blended everything in. It sounds fantastic.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  15. THE ALCHEMIST OF SOULS looks amazing & I don't just means the AWESOME cover. A fabulous interview thank you.

    GFC: Mary Preston
    Email Subscriber:


  16. Great interview it is on my wishlist Thank-you for the giveaway.

    +1 comment
    Follower +1

  17. Great interview...the book sounds really interesting. Can't wait to read it. I will add in my wishlist. Thamks for giveaway!!

    +1 GFC as Filia Oktarina
    +1 Comment
    +1 facebook :

    filiafantasy at gmail dot com

  18. 1+ OMG!! I love the cover!! Thanks for the interview this is a new author and book for me! This books is going to my TBR pile!
    Thank you so much for the chance to win!
    1+ GFC follower
    1+ tweeted:!/Gisselle_Alv/status/187241979069988865


  19. This sounds like a really interesting read. I am loving the cover. Thanks for the chance.

    I am a follower
    sariahwalters at gmail dot com

  20. What a great idea, rewrite history. Fun to think about what might have been, so many options. Also I loved your Shakespear in Love quote! =)
    Your book has an amazing cover, I put it in my TBR list because of it but then realized that the story line sounds just as amazing.

    GFC follower Lexi
    eyesofblueice (at) gmail

  21. I enjoyed the interview; it was a great read.

    The Alchemist of Souls is on my must have list; I look forward in reading it.

    +1 comment
    +1 follower

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  22. Really looking forward to reading this. Picked it up on release day, but I have so many on my TBR, I don't know when I'll get to it. But between this interview and the buzz I've been hearing, I know I'll enjoy it when I do! :)

    **Don't enter me in the contest! I'm just here to give kudos!**


  23. I enjoyed the interview and reading about the inspiration for the book. The book sounds very good.

    I follow the blog.

    Thanks for the giveaway.


  24. Looks like a really interesting book :) I love fantasies set in Victorian England and alternate histories as well so it sounds like it's really up my alley :)

    thanks for the giveaway :)

    +1 comment
    +1 follower


  25. I like your blog post very much, because they always make me discover new books and authors! thanks so much, this one sounds great

    +1 comment
    +1 blog follower

    aliasgirl at libero dot it

  26. Thank you so much for the interview! The book sounds like a great hisotircal read...I haven't read one in awhile!

    +1 comment
    +1 gfc follower

    many thanks,
    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

  27. Sounds good!

    +1 comment
    +1 GFC follower Spaz

  28. Thanks for the interview! Sounds like a great historical read with some other fabulous elements thrown in.

    GFC: ML
    mljfoland AT hotmail DOT com