Saturday, February 22, 2014

Interview with Anna Redmond, author of The Golden Arrow - and Giveaway - February 22, 2014

Please welcome Anna Redmond to The Qwillery. Anna is the author of The Golden Arrow (Golden Arrow 1).

TQ:  Welcome to The Qwillery. When and why did you start writing?

Anna:  Thank you! It’s exciting to be here!

I’d been writing for ages – since I was a kid, really – but the intent to write “seriously” was always just around the corner. Next week, next month, next year. Anyone who is planning a career in writing can empathize. There’s a very sharp difference between wanting to do the work and actually being able to take your idea, pin it down, stare it in the face and decide to risk everything and jump in.

For me that decision came when my daughter was eight months old. I hit a point where I realized – I was turning thirty soon, I had a child, if I was waiting for the perfect set of circumstances for writing, I’d be waiting till my husband retired and my kids were in college. It was now or never.

Then I had a vision. I saw Patria (the land where Golden Arrow takes place) and suddenly I knew so many things about it. I sat down that night, hammered out a few early chapters, and understood that this was the book I was going to write.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Anna:  Oh, I was a terrible pantser. I love that description, by the way. I pantser’d my way through incomplete novels, unfinished plots, fragments of short stories. (My husband will tell you I also pantser my way through loading the dishwasher and paying parking tickets and hanging up my coats.)

Anyway, with my projects, I’d always get the same feedback (except like most creative people, I had a hard time listening):

You’re a great writer. But the plot just isn’t there. It’s too loose. It needs tightening and revision.

So when I sat down to write Golden Arrow, I decided I was going to do things differently. My fabulous writing group, who had supported me through multiple pantser’d attempts at other novels, told me in no uncertain terms that if I wanted to make this work (and they’d read the first few chapters and loved the story) I need to outline.

So I converted. To plotting.

It was so difficult went against every fiber of my being, but when I got to hold The Golden Arrow hardcover I realized it was the best decision I could have made.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Anna:  I still find plotting excruciating. I’m very driven by ideas, but I hate containing them and sequencing them. It makes me really anxious – which incidentally is the same way I feel about long term commitment, so I suspect there’s probably some psychoanalytical fodder there!

Anyway, when plotting I have to keep telling myself that I am just making a rough sketch and I can always change or add detail later.

That was actually my greatest surprise about plotting – that as a writer, I wasn’t bored when I was writing, in spite of following my plotted outline fairly closely. There are still enough room for surprise and exploration.

TQ:  Who are some of your literary influences? Favorite authors?

Anna:  Oh, so many. Oscar Wilde. Alexandre Dumas. D.H. Laurence. Anita Diamant. Margaret Atwood. But those are all big shoes to fill! I’m always nervous about listing such powerhouses because it implies aspiration… which I do have, of course – I just realize I have a long way to in developing my craft still!

TQ:  Describe The Golden Arrow in 140 characters or less.

Anna:  A royal family loses power, then tries to regain it twenty years later using magic, sex, (magical sex!) and alliances.

TQ:  Tell us something about The Golden Arrow that is not in the book description.

Anna:  Ooooo, such a good question! So, generally when people ask me this they want to hear about the girl on girl magical sex. But I’m going to tell you something most people don’t know – the food in The Golden Arrow is kind of my consolation prize for being a failed food blogger.

When I first started sending drafts to my writing group, they kept telling me my book was making them hungry. And I did kind of go all out on the food descriptions – that’s one of the elements I didn’t feel compelled to make “period” – instead I just wrote about food that I thought would taste good, or that didn’t exist but should.

I realize now I probably sublimated the desire to write about food. In fact – my Twitter handle, @actdelicious – was a leftover from when, in my early twenties, I did some food blogging. [What felled my food blogging career, by the way, was a lack of photography skills. I realized pretty quickly that all the best food bloggers also had insane photographs to match.]

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Golden Arrow?

Anna:  I wanted to write a fantasy novel with a period setting for a while – except something Renaissance or post-Renaissance as opposed to medieval. Brian McClellan addresses this nicely on a guest post for Dribble of Ink, but there seems to be a concentration of fantasy fiction all set in very low-tech, medieval environments. And I can understand the appeal of that – it’s very gritty, whimsical, all swords and dragons. But Alexandre Dumas, who wrote historical fiction, managed to create these very elegant, chivalrous, fantastic environments in a time period with both guns and swordplay. And I wanted to draw on that tradition for The Golden Arrow.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Golden Arrow?

Anna:  I spent a lot of time making sure that historically my descriptions were a fit. I was aiming for a 16th century equivalent – sort of late Renaissance – and I wanted to make sure the fashion reflected that accurately. I included guns and cigarettes which made a few early readers question my judgement, so it was fun to pull up Wikipedia. I also got in an argument over the phrase “I’m in a pickle” which a few readers said felt too modern to them. I probably took a bit too much pleasure in disabusing them of the notion – the first recorded instance of the phrase in literature is in 1573.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why? Who is your favorite good character, bad character or ethically ambiguous character?

Anna:  Oooo another great question. I think I had trouble writing Nicola, actually – which is tough because she’s one of the main characters. And not so much because I didn’t understand her, but because I was really struggling with this notion of female characters needing to be likeable or relateable. (I write about this in more depth here.) I had a much easier time once I got out of my head and let go of that likeability complex.

As for favorite – Marcellus ended up surprising me. I really enjoyed writing his scenes, and you’ll see him really come into his own as a character in the second book. I think when I sketched the outline, he was a simply a prototype of a stern father – someone for Joseph to rebel against. But as I wrote, he really came alive and started to speak for himself. I realized that there was much more to him than met the eye – and that he was actually really interesting and multi-dimensional. And honestly, writing him kind of made me look at the dynamics between fathers and sons differently and when I started watching men, especially young men, interact with their fathers I felt like I was learning a lot.

TQ:  Give us one of your favorite lines from the The Golden Arrow.

Anna:  Everyone seems to like Marcellus’ one-liners, myself included.

“A man who can’t take a blow is worse than a man who can’t give one.”

TQ:  Why did you choose to write Epic Fantasy? Do you want to write in any other genres?

Anna:  There is something really freeing about fantasy – it was the genre that made me more capable of telling my story without being bound to some sort of context or structure. That said, I’ve written in other genres before, and probably will again. But for now, I’m enjoying Golden Arrow and working on the next book in the series.

TQ:  What's next?

Anna:  Book two of Golden Arrow! A hint: it’ll have a juicy flashback to pre-war Patria where you can see all your favorite characters as they once were.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Anna:  It has been my pleasure.

The Golden Arrow

The Golden Arrow
Golden Arrow 1
SFBC, January 13, 2014
Hardcover and Kindle eBook,  312 pages

Decades ago, in the nation of Patria, an attack from an enemy state killed the King and Queen and sent the Queen Mother into a coma. Since that tragic day Patria has been governed by the ruthless Archibald Mercer. But when the Queen Mother awakes from her coma, she and Mercer begin a desperate scramble for power—and a princess will be their pawn.

Joseph de Brull, heir of a once-powerful family now in ruins, has dedicated his life to winning a position on the ruling council. But his rising career is jeopardized when his sister Nicola is chosen to be bound to the young Princess Eloise in an ancient and erotic ritual, which would make them lifelong companions as well as lovers.

Now, as Joseph faces a life-threatening choice between family and power, Nicola must face a life turned upside-down—and new mystical powers that could require the ultimate sacrifice...

Set in a breathtaking world of intrigue and magic, The Golden Arrow is author Anna Redmond’s fantasy debut—a riveting tale that takes dead aim at the quest for absolute power.

About Anna

Anna Redmond lives in Southern California with her husband and daughter. In addition to writing fantasy fiction, she enjoys cooking and being outdoors. One day she would like to open a restaurant serving dishes featured in the Golden Arrow series. Her book is available on Amazon in ebook and via the Science Fiction Book Club in hardcopy.

Goodreads  ~  Twitter @actdelicious

The Giveaway

What:  One copy of The Golden Arrow (Golden Arrow 1) by Anna Redmond. US/CANADA  ONLY

How:  Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on March 2, 2014. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change without any notice.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Another great interview, Q! I read the blog through Feedly, and I keep meaning to pop over & comment, but good intentions don't actually get me very far... :p But I finally decided I should tell you. :)
    Also? Stop growing my TBR! LOL
    No, don't. I enjoy all the new books & authors you introduce me to.
    Thanks again. :)

  2. Golden Arrow sounds like atreat to me. I have always loved the Renaissance and the intrigue of Venice and the Italian states.

  3. Sounds really good, but I cannot wait... please do give an example of this food that does not exist but should....

  4. Don't have any fav settings

  5. I love the medieval times and the Regency Era.

  6. Always been a fan of the Regency and Renaissance eras. This book sounds incredible. I love these types of stories that feature political intrigue set in unique worlds and eras.

  7. congrats to Anna on the new release! It sounds fantastic :) I honestly don't have a fav time setting. I look for story and I trust the author to research and "know" the setting they choose.