TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Lou: I've got my fair share of quirks… I'm not sure how many of them are particularly interesting, though! I like to know character backstories, so I usually write a few of those before I do anything else: a couple of pages of a notebook, usually - nothing too big, but enough to give me a feel for who they are. I do keep a notebook where I try to put everything: plot points, notes, snippets of dialogue, an entire section for working through plot holes or things that need to be thrashed out in more detail… The notebook for Blood and Feathers is bright pink, which makes it pretty easy to find, at least!
I've also developed the terrible habit of coming up with dialogue (or solving problems) in the bath… and since the Great Soggy Notebook Episode of last November, now keep one of those slightly ludicrous "waterproof" notebooks by the bath. No doubt I'll be testing just how waterproof it really is before too long…
TQ: Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?
Lou: In terms of favourites, I've got a lot! I love Michael Marshall Smith's work in any of his assorted guises (including Michael Marshall and MM Smith), and he's certainly been a long-standing influence. Neil Gaiman is also influential for me - particularly with Sandman and American Gods. Those are probably two of the easiest to single out, although like all writers, I'm influenced to some degree by just about everything I've ever read. In terms of more general favourites, I love what Sarah Pinborough has been doing with her most recent books, and I'm a sucker for a short story by Ray Bradbury or Robert Bloch. I'm also a huge fan of Audrey Niffenegger - especially The Time Traveler's Wife - and Joanne Harris. I read quite a bit of YA, too, and I've got a lot of love for Will Hill's Department 19 series.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Lou: A bit of both, I suppose. I like to have a fairly good idea of where I'm going, and to have rough guide to what goes where, but beyond that I'm a fairly free-range writer. It's a bit like taking a road trip: as long as I've got the route sketched out, and a couple of hotel rooms booked along the way where I know I can take a bath and get a good night's sleep, I'm pretty relaxed about how I get from one to the next.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Lou: I'm not the most disciplined creature: it's incredibly easy to distrac…. Sorry. But you see my point. I get sidetracked very quickly. It takes me a while to feel my way back into writing at the start of a session: once I've got going, especially on a faster-paced bit, I'm usually alright, but until I've managed that, there's a terrible temptation to wander round the house and stare out of windows.
TQ: Describe Blood and Feathers in 140 characters or less.
Lou: Alice doesn't know it yet, but she's about to go through hell. The balance is tipping, and the angels are coming. Be afraid.
TQ: What inspired you to write Blood and Feathers?
Lou: It started off as a couple of ideas rattling round my head: there was a young woman who was in therapy, a disgraced angel, and the image which eventually became the prologue to the whole thing: teeth. Eventually, they all came together into one big idea, and that turned into Blood and Feathers. I've always been interested in angels and in the idea of portraying them as warriors, and somehow, all those things just fitted together to make a story.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for Blood and Feathers?
Lou: I did quite a lot of research on angels, although I knew I wanted to come up with my own mythology rather than build on too much of the existing angel lore. Even if you're going to completely throw what's gone before out of the window, you still need to know about it. So I read a lot of general background on angels and Enochian and things like that, as well as re-reading Paradise Lost and Dante's Inferno. There was a fair amount of research involved in Mallory's gun, too - even down to picking the one that felt right for him. (In the end, he wound up with a Colt .45 M1911 - which, interestingly enough, the Marines have just re-selected as their sidearm.)
There were also a few weird and wonderful things I looked into on a more minor level: the ones that stand out were how to clip birds' wings, cold-branding and electrical burns. Basically, my browser history is a mess.
TQ: Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?
Lou: They all had their own challenges! Vin was great to write, partly because I knew exactly how he should sound, and I always enjoyed it when Mallory was around - he probably became my favourite, along with Abbadona, one of the Fallen. The latter has absolutely no filter - he says pretty much whatever he wants - so he was a blast.
The hardest was almost certainly Lucifer, because… well, Lucifer. Talk about pressure.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Blood and Feathers?
Lou: I'm quite fond of the scene where Alice comes face to face with her first Archangel, because the angel in question has always been a favourite of mine, and being able to write my own version of him was both intimidating and a lot of fun.
There's also one set during and in the aftermath of a bar-fight, which I like because it tells you a lot about Mallory: it sort of sums up the contradiction at the heart of him.
TQ: What's next?
Lou: At the moment, I'm working on the follow-up to Blood and Feathers, which will be called Blood and Feathers: Rebellion and published next summer. I've also got a couple of short stories coming out over the next few months - one in the Solaris Magic anthology, which I'm particularly excited about because the line-up also includes two of those favourite authors of mine: Audrey Niffenegger and Will Hill - so I can't quite believe my luck at being involved! The other story is a slightly creepy circus story being published in a PS Publishing anthology called A Carnivale of Horror: Dark Tales from the Fairground, and that's another one with an amazing line-up of contributors. There's some other things going on in the background as well, which I can't talk about yet (because I'm annoying) so it looks like the rest of the year's going to be pretty busy… in a good way!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Lou: Thanks for having me!
Blood and Feathers
Blood and Feathers
Blood and Feathers 1
Solaris, July 31, 2012 (US and Canada)
August 2, 2012 (UK)
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages
"What's the first thing you think of when I say 'angel'?" asked Mallory. Alice shrugged. "I don't know... guns?"
Alice isn't having the best of days. She was late for work, she missed her bus, and now she's getting rained on. What she doesn't know is that her day's about to get worse: the epic, grand-scale kind of worse that comes from the arrival of two angels who claim everything about her life is a lie.
The war between the angels and the Fallen is escalating; the age-old balance is tipping, and innocent civilians are getting caught in the cross-fire. If the balance is to be restored, the angels must act - or risk the Fallen taking control. Forever.
That’s where Alice comes in. Hunted by the Fallen and guided by Mallory - a disgraced angel with a drinking problem and a whole load of secrets - Alice will learn the truth about her own history… and why the angels want to send her to hell.
What do the Fallen want from her? How does Mallory know so much about her past? What is it the angels are hiding - and can she trust either side?
Caught between the power plays of the angels and Lucifer himself, it isn't just hell's demons that Alice will have to defeat...
Blood and Feathers: Rebellion (Blood and Feathers 2) will be published in 2013!
Her first novel, BLOOD AND FEATHERS will be published by Solaris Books in August 2012 with the sequel, BLOOD AND FEATHERS: REBELLION to follow in 2013.
She wastes a lot of time on Twitter as @LouMorgan, and occasionally commits short fiction.
What: One commenter will win a signed (and personalized) copy of Blood and Feathers and a bookmark from Lou!!
How: Leave a comment answering ONE of the following question:
What is the most recent book you've read that you would recommend?
Favorite novel that features angels?
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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 Tuesday, August 7, 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.*