A couple of days ago I shared my reviews of Sun Catcher and Storm Chaser and now here’s an interview with 13 year old Maia – the series protagonist (Sheila Rance the author is here whispering from the silk too).
From the back of Sun Catcher
Maia dreams of being a Story Teller, or a Weaver, like her father, Tareth, but when the Watcher names her Sun Catcher, she must face a destiny that Tareth has kept hidden from her. For Maia is more powerful than she knows, and she is about to discover that though he sun’s fire may be dangerous… So is she.
Maia, in your world, the Watcher prophesies people to a number of roles, Sun Catcher, Storm Chaser, and so on. If you could go back to your Naming Day, what role would you want the Watcher to give you, and why?
I always wanted to fly an eagle like Tareth, the Warrior Weaver, so I hoped the Watcher would name me Sky Warrior or Eagle Hunter.
Razek and Kodo compete for your attention – what actions of theirs makes them worthy of it?
I’ve known Razek for as long as I can remember. We argue a lot and because he’s the Weed Master he always thinks he’s right. He’s not. And he did a terrible thing so I thought I’d never forgive him. He said I was the storm he chased. He risked losing everything when he followed me into the Vast because he thought I would be killed. Even when I said I hated him he tried to save me. It’s sometimes hard to be friends with Razek but I am.
Kodo is a loyal friend. He took the blame and kept Magnus, the eagle, safe from Ootey’s revenge when I broke the taboo and went to the lizard scrape to steal a baby lizard and Magnus killed a hatchling. And then he saved Tareth’s life twice, once from drowning and then from being discovered by the Wulf Kin. He tried to rescue me when he thought I was in mortal danger in Khandar.
Both of them are so different but both of them risked their lives for me. I don’t deserve such loyalty and friendship.
What is the most disturbing thing the silk has ever whispered to you?
It showed me the death of my sisters.
Being flame haired can draw negative attention to you in my culture too – what other things singles you out among the cliff dwellers?
Being different. Wanting different things. Not being afraid of the dark or scared of the lizards. Having a secret. Wanting to run free and not listen to the Cave Women when they told me what I should do. Having flame hair made it worse. I was often in trouble. How strange that red hair is considered bad in your culture too. Is your tribe very superstitious too?
Who do you consider to be more like family? Elin, Caspia and Xania or Tareth, Yanna and Zena?
Tareth. I thought I was his child and even though it wasn’t true he will always be my father. He is kind, wise, fierce and tried to keep me safe. I wish I’d known my sister Xania for longer. She was a warrior. I’d like to be strong like her.
What do you like about Khandar?
The mountains where the Eagle Hunters live.
Animals play important roles in your world, which animal is most important to you?
I love eagles. And I was given a beautiful horse called Fionn. But if I have to choose only one animal it would be Nefrar, the hunting cat, even though really he’s Yanna’s cheetah. He adopted me. Many of the Warrior Women have hunting cats. If Nefrar finds a mate I hope Yanna will give me one of the kits.
It is said the destiny of a Sun Catcher is to be blinded, what three things would you miss seeing most of all?
Everything. Too many things to count.
The flight of an eagle, Kodo riding his red-crested lizard, sunlight flung like a golden net across the sun-deeps, Tareth’s smile, Nefrar running free, a moon-moth dance, the hand-fast fires, stars and storm clouds.
I won’t think about a Sun Catcher’s fate. Perhaps I can change it.
The final book of the trilogy Story Singer is released on 7th May, if you haven’t read the first two books you’ve just got time.
I met Laure Eve (@LaureEve) briefly last summer at LeakyCon London when I got her to sign an early release copy of her first novel Fearsome Dreamer. On the 7th August the sequel and concluding book The Illusionists will be released. Thanks to Hot Key Books I have had the opportunity to read it already and luckily Laure was on hand at YALC to sign that too.
Before we get going I just have to give a moment over to the stunning covers.
Just to give you a bit of background here’s the blurb for Fearsome Dreamer (from amazon)
In the world of FEARSOME DREAMER, England has become Angle Tar – a technophobic and fiercely independent country holding its own against the mass of other nations that is World. Rue is an apprenticed hedgewitch in rural Angle Tar, but she knows she is destined for greater things. After being whisked off to the city by the enigmatic Frith, Rue becomes the student of White, a young Worlder with a Talent that is much in demand: White is no ordinary Dreamer – but then neither is Rue. Both can physically ‘jump’ to different places when they dream – and both have more power than they know.
Rue and White find themselves electrically attracted to each other – but who is the mysterious silver-eyed boy stalking Rue’s dreams? And why is he so interested in her relationship with White? Is Rue about to discover just how devastatingly real dreams can be…?
Fearsome Dreamer is told from the viewpoints of Rue, White and Frith who are joined in The Illusionists by Wren and Cho. I asked Laure about this and other aspects of writing the series.
Why the decision to add in new POV characters?
I felt Cho was needed to give us an understanding of World from a Worlder point of view – from someone so completely, fundamentally caught up in technology. Rue is an outsider to that culture, and she’ll never understand it. But to someone like Cho, it’s hard to even contemplate living without it. It’s the attraction to technology, how incredible it is, how it shapes and warps entire cultures, that I wanted to explore.
Wren was interesting. I never set out to say things from his point of view, he just sort of happened. I’m constantly fascinated by villains – especially their motivations. I wanted to understand him better, and I wanted the reader to understand him too.
Any advice on handing multiple narrators?
I guess the thing you have to watch out for is how you intersperse them. It’s difficult to keep a reader’s attention if you have two similar kinds of chapters following each other, from different characters. It’s good to play around with pace – have a character development or dialogue-heavy kind of chapter from one character, but then follow it with a choppier action kind of chapter from another.
Direct influences are hard to pinpoint with this one, but I wanted to explore the effect dreams can have on us, as well as the lure I often feel between a love of nature and simplicity, and the thrill of technology. Which one would you choose, if you had to? Can one ever be better than the other? A lot of science fiction writers tackle this subject, and I grew up on a diet of that kind of fiction.
No. I’m toying with the idea of writing some short stories that tie in. It’s difficult to leave the worlds you’ve created completely behind, and there’s always that attraction of getting to play in them a bit more.
Why do you write?
I guess writing is my way of making sense of the world around me, and trying to formulate coherent opinions on life, existence, death, love, the important stuff. If I didn’t write, I’d feel like I was drifting aimlessly through life. I think everyone finds their own way of making sense of our lives. This is mine.
Huge thanks to Laure for her time, I for one am excited we might get some more stories from this world.
I also interviewed the five point of view characters and here’s what they had to say.
No. I’d have regretted not taking those chances. You only have one life, so it’s best to live it as hard as you can.
Stuck up his own behind. Oh, that’s five already. Wait, alright. So, arrogant. Annoying. Beautiful.
I believe the Talent is simply a natural evolution of the human self. We are all dreamers. Some of us dream harder than others. Perhaps one day we will evolve to a point where we move through both space and time as easily as breathing.
What does it feel like? It feels like that moment when you decide to do something frightening and exhilarating for the first time, just to see what will happen. It feels like that every time. It feels like taking a risk.
Arrogant. Annoying. Beautiful.
Why is she those things? Who knows. The girl is like a force of nature. I cannot pretend to understand her. I simply love her.
Oh, it’s hard to describe what she really is until you’ve met her yourself. Let’s just say that she likes secrets. Let’s say she’s quite different to how she chooses to appear.
God, no. What an awful power to have, and how clever you would have to be to stay one step ahead of the people who would use you for their own ends. Quite a lonely existence, I should think.
Your point of view.
One day, I might.
Doesn’t mean I’ll ever forgive him for being a selfish git, though.
So you can never quite understand what I’m thinking, my dear. Eyes are the windows to the soul, don’t they say?
About as much as I’d wish to be eaten alive by a bear. At least being eaten alive wouldn’t be so bloody dull. It’s a dreary country, I shouldn’t bother visiting.
But I can show you around World, if you’d like? I can show you things you couldn’t even imagine. That sounds like fun, doesn’t it?
That’s it folks – If this has intrigued you you might like to know that Laure and Hot Key are currently serialising Fearsome Dreamer over on Wattpad. So far the first 9 chapters are live and you can start at the very beginning here.
Please do leave your comments and questions below. *apologies for the formatting – I had issues.
Firstly huge thanks go to Jim Dean at YAYeahYeah for organising this Countdown to 5th June blog tour and for allowing me to be a part of it. You can find links to all of the previous posts and the posts to come on the Countdown Blog.
Next I’d like to thank Matt Whyman for taking the time to answer my questions about War Girls (UK Amazon Link). I’ve added a couple of comments in red – mainly as a private joke with Matt – I promise none of them are “Must Try Harder” though ;o)
War Girls is a collection of short stories told from the perspective of women during the period surrounding WW1 and Matt is one of the contributing authors. His story Ghost Story was particularly powerful.
At the end of June this year it will have been 100 years since the start of WW1. Why do you think it was important to consider the experience of women in the war and why now in particular?
It’s very easy to think of Tommy in the trenches when it comes to WW1, but the fact is women played a vital role in so many different ways. This centenary has certainly embraced wider aspects of the conflict, in terms of coverage in the media, and the anthology seemed like a fitting means of exploration.
We’ve also reached a point where most people with first-hand experience of the war have now passed. Without a direct link to that generation, handing down their stories, it falls to writers to bring the past into the present – and there is some responsibility that comes with that. (There certainly is, and one which I think this set of writers handles very well).
How did the collection come about and how did you get involved?
I’d like to tell you that my incisive knowledge of WW1 made me an obvious candidate to contribute, but that would be, well… lies. (Lies, like the dog ate my homework – tut). I’ve watched a lot of action movies, but I don’t think that counts. In fact, having just published a memoir about life with a sausage dog (riiiiiggghhhht?!) when the author approaches went out, I still think there might have been a mix up somewhere. On the upside, I’m always drawn to a writing challenge. The research was intense and enlightening. It involved reading history books, papers and journals, uncovering news cuttings and talking to historians in a bid to get a clear picture of the event I planned to write about. In the end I found myself doing the same amount of groundwork as I would for a novel. (Well then you definitely deserve an A for effort as well as execution).
Your story in particular considers an experience I don’t think I’ve come across before. What did you learn from writing this piece?
The story is set during the Gallipoli campaign – a disastrous attempt by the Allies to open a new front against the Ottoman Empire. Getting my head around the history took some time, but what compelled me to write about it was an account by a shell-shocked British soldier of an attack from a sniper he claimed to be female. It’s a convincing case, but also called into question by historians who doubt Turkish women took arms.
It left me with a dilemma. The last thing I wanted to do was make claims for the existence of a markswoman who was essentially the product of mistaken identity or a traumatised imagination. At the same time, the defence of the soldier’s account has a great deal of merit. As we’ll never know, given where we are in history, I decided to write the story from the point of view of a grieving mother and widow who picks up a gun by circumstance only to question her purpose. So, she’s there, looking down the sights of a sniper as our soldier claimed. It’s just things aren’t as they might appear. Ultimately, I know what it’s about in my mind, but never like to tell a reader what I’m trying to convey. That’s the role of the story and the pleasure that comes from reading. In other words, I’m terrible at summarising. (No, I think you’re right, it is good to allow readers to form their own views too).
Which other story in the collection do you think brings a new insight?
This is a powerful anthology. Every contributor has sought to shine light on aspects of the war effort that are often side lined. What strikes me above all is that nobody falls into portraying their characters based on our moral outlook today. It’s uncomfortable sometimes, but the only way to truly get under the skin of individuals who served their country one hundred years ago.
You start your story with a short factual piece, do you think this freed you up to then enter into the narrative without the need for explanation during the story itself?
The story was finished before I wrote the introduction. I just wanted to be transparent about the contention surrounding the origin of the story. You could say I was keen to show my workings. As you’re a teacher, I’m hoping this answer will earn me a big tick in the margin. √
In your story was it important that the woman remained nameless?
Yes. She has no name and no life ahead of her. Everything she loves has been taken away. She’s a lost soul, waiting to join her loved ones, and effectively dead from the moment we join the story.
At the end of the book are some adverts for other short story collections. How do you relate to short stories in comparison to novels, both as a reader and a writer?
As a writer, short stories are hard work. Every word feels like the compression of a sentence. What you leave out says more than what you keep in. You’re working with less but aiming to say more. I find it to be one of the more rewarding nightmares of the writing process. As a reader, I devoured short stories in my twenties by authors such as Angela Carter and Raymond Carver. I’ve written a lot over the years, but not by choice. I’ve always been approached, never learned to say no, and remain very glad of that whenever I see the finished anthology or collection.
And finally the question I always ask – Why do you write?
For the same reason that I was drawn to put pen to paper in the first place – because there’s nothing to hold back the imagination – no costs or crew to consider, or practical stuff to arrange. With some time and self-discipline, you can sit in a crappy bedsit creating a story that might cost millions to film, but won’t cost a penny. It inspired me as an impoverished 21 year old and I’m still mindful of that today.
Huge thanks to Matt for his excellent Grade A ‘Homework’. Matt has been working hard because he is also over at Winged Reviews talking about a solo project on Sunday 25th May.
Tomorrow’s stop on the tour is Nigel McDowell over at A Daydreamer’s Thoughts with Faye.
Faye is also the organiser of Kim Curran’s Glaze blog tour which I will be taking part in next Saturday, the 17th, with a character interview from Glaze.