Monday, November 17, 2014

Pendragon's Heir: Q & A

It's been a little while since I posted an update on Pendragon's Heir, my upcoming epic fantasy novel! In the last couple of months, I've polished off the latest edit and sent the book to a few more beta readers. I hope to be able to announce a release date shortly after I hear back from them. In the meanwhile, I've put together a Pinterest board which to give you a visual tour of the book, and today I stole over to Fullness of Joy to snitch some of Joy's writer-interview questions (which I have slightly altered).

Enjoy! If you have any other questions about Pendragon's Heir, ask away in the comments! I'll look forward to answering them!

The Questions!

1. For how long have you been seriously novel-writing? What sparked you to move from simply writing in a "dabbling" fashion for fun to pursuing your writing to a higher-level?

I'm not sure. I remember the day my older brother found my first closely-guarded manuscript and immediately said, "You should publish this!" Without him, I'm not sure I would even have kept going back then, around age 13. I owe you, bruv.

Writing my first novel, which I finished at 16 (no, I have no intentions of ever letting it see the light), was exhausting enough that I decided I was never going to try it again. And yet, somehow, fifteen minutes later, I had already started my next story. That one remains unfinished to this day, but I think it was then that I realised I had a disease from which I would never fully recover...

2. Do you wish, ultimately, to entertain your readers and make them smile, or rather to inspire, challenge them and move them to tears? 

Both, really. And neither (go not to the Elves for counsel). Qualification number 1: I am much better at drama than I am at humour, so I'll err on the side of the serious. Qualification number 2: I don't so much see the divide as being between fun and serious, as being between mindless and mindful. I never intend to write mindless entertainment of the a-muse-ing kind. Qualification number 3: Nor do I ever intend to write anything that isn't thrilling, moving, and unputdownable. My hope is always to err on the side of cheese. We will see if I manage to fulfill this humble aim.

3. What are two of your favourite genres to write in?

I haven't tried enough genres to find out. I'd like to write science fiction, but I'm afraid I would be hopelessly lost unless I actually studied some science. The two genres I have the most interest in, paired with the greatest chance of not messing it up, would probably be fantasy and historical romance (of the Robert Louis Stevenson variety).

4. Will you please tell us a little about your current writing project (novel-in-progress, short story, novella, etc...)? 

Today I decided to lash out and try something new for a change. It'll be a novella, I hope, and the working title is The Rakshasa's Bride. So far I have 1,200 words and an outline. Wish me luck--I want to get the first draft finished before my beta readers get back to me on Pendragon's Heir in a week or two.

5. Besides Pendragon's Heir, have you written other stories/books (or currently writing others)? Do tell us a little about them, please! 

Well, I finished my first novel when I was around 16, as mentioned above. It was a fantasy strongly influenced by Jeri Massi's Bracken trilogy, which I should review sometime, because (unlike my own attempt) it's wonderful. I started a number of projects I've never finished, and then produced the first draft of what would become Pendragon's Heir in 2005. I think it was in 2006 that I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time, with an inexpertly-crafted high concept fantasy novel I titled Midnight War, which I wished would have been a little more like Dumas than it turned out. I did NaNoWriMo for the second time in 2009 on the strength of an ambitious science-fiction trilogy concept; my 50,000-word NaNo goal got me halfway through Book 1, which I never did another stroke of work on, partly because (despite all the fun ideas I had) I knew next to nothing about science, and partly because I was rethinking the wisdom of the book's concept. I still have the bare bones of the idea that inspired the novel, and I may turn it into a novella one day. After that, I sort of narrowed my focus onto Pendragon's Heir which (all this time) was going through a second, then a third, then a fourth draft. Over the last couple of years, I've played with a few ideas for more projects, but haven't actually started any (until today, ooooo). But, I have quite a number of ideas.  

6. Out of all the characters you've ever written, who is your favourite?

I think so far all my favourite characters are in Pendragon's Heir, because they're the most well-realised and highly-developed. And I love all of them very much, but I think my favourites are Perceval and Nerys. Perceval, my lead male character, was a bit of a challenge because (I admit it) I was trying not to write anything of which my three brothers would be embarrassed, while also fleshing out the character from the original legends, who is very naive, outgoing, and unencumbered by an overabundance of social skills. Somehow through this process I wound up with an extroverted, brash, irrepressible character whom everyone loves.

Nerys exists on the extreme remote opposite of the character spectrum from this: a fay and therefore immortal, withdrawn and weary and yearning after a gift which she believes is denied to all her people. I loved writing Nerys. It's her story that I find the most poignant and compelling.
Sir, I remember well the day I first opened my eyes on the young cosmos. I am old now, older even than the Hermit of Carbonek. And I have not forgotten. For centuries beyond count I have waited in silence to know if, beyond this world, there is hope for me.  
7. In your dreams, who would you cast for your main characters?/8. In one word each, how would you describe each of the main characters of your novel?

Myers-Briggs type: INFJ
Planet: Venus
One-word description: Meticulous

...Redheaded Sophia Myles

Myers-Briggs type: ESTP
Planet: Mars
One-word description: Brash

Jamie Bell

Myers-Briggs type: INFP
Planet: Luna
One-word description: Reserved
Rachel Weisz

Morgan le Fay
Myers-Briggs type: ESFP
Planet: Mercury
One-word description: Trickster
You cannot have a crazy witch not played by Helena Bonham Carter.

Myers-Briggs type: ESFP
Planet: Mars
One-word description: Idealist
Russell Crowe, maybe?

Myers-Briggs type: INFP
Planet: Saturn
One-word description: Pathetic
Jim Caviezel, who is good at looking pained and patrician

Myers-Briggs type: ISFJ
Planet: Luna
One-word description: Chilly
Michelle Pfeiffer, obviously

Simon Corbin
Myers-Briggs type: INTJ
Planet: Saturn
One-word description: Secretive
Richard Armitage, why not?

Myers-Briggs type: ESTP
Planet: Sol
One-word description: Valiant

Google Images tells me this actress is named Claire Holt

Arthur Pendragon
Myers-Briggs type: INTP
Planet: Jupiter
One-word description: Magnanimous
...but no, I'm drawing a blank!
I think that's all the main characters.

9. As a Christian, how does your faith affect your writing generally? Is your current novel overtly Christian or more subtly under-girded with your faith and worldview?

Generally, I am always trying to write stories that are Christian in form and function. This need not be explicit, but it is always deliberate. ...I try to use a subtle touch, but I also try to let the characters be true to themselves and to their setting, which means that sometimes they simply are going to discuss matters of faith and practice. I try not to let this overwhelm the book and its plot--I believe fiction functions on a fundamentally different level to sermonising! but if it would be more natural for my characters to discuss religious things, why, I let them.

10. Are there any aspects of your novel that have taken you by surprise?

My characters quite often have interesting reactions to one or another plot twists, which occasionally lead to quite unintended (but satisfactory) scenes. I usually keep everyone firmly under control--I have never completely understood other authors having trouble with misbehaving characters--but I'm always ready to let a character submit a request to have more complex emotions than I at first intended.

11. How do you think the main characters of your novel would react if he or she were introduced to you? 

Blanche would realise that I was responsible for putting her through a lot of pain, and she would be stiff and disapproving in consequence. Perceval would laugh at her and make friends at once.  Branwen would wonder if she needed to be standoffish because of Blanche, but most of the other characters, like Nerys, would probably have more important things to do and cooler people to hang out with.

12. Do you plan, Lord-willing, on pursuing the traditional mainstream route of finding an agent, etc, and waiting it out, or do you consider indie publishing (self-publishing) a healthy alternative? 

Yes, I mean to self-publish. I prefer to retain the rights to my work, I'm dubious about the worth of spending time chasing agents and publishers, and I've been concerned by some aspects of the publishing industry that I've heard of from traditionally-published authors. My hope is that traditional publishers will seriously consider the reasons why so many authors these days choose to self- or indie-publish, and will offer greater incentives to authors to choose the trad-pub route. In the meanwhile, I'm pretty thrilled to be able to self-publish, and very encouraged by the help and support given by other self-published authors.

13. Out of the many themes and messages, what would be the one closest to your heart that you should like to share through your writing? 

Ooh, interesting question. I think most authors end up with one major theme that characterises all or most of their work. John Buchan's was all about faithfulness in little things being the basis of faithfulness in big things. ND Wilson never gets tired of ruminating on fatherhood and death. Mine might, I think, be Providence: seeing the hand of God working in history, even in rather heartbreaking situations, and the courage it takes to have faith in the midst of darkness. But that isn't so much what I'd like to say, as what I've noticed I have a tendency to say.

Did I forget anything? Ask your questions about Pendragon's Heir in the comments!
And, for a visual tour of the book, pop over to the Pendragon's Heir Pinterest board.


Jeri said...

Thank you. I'm really honored by your reference. Good luck with the book!


Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

Ooo, your dream-casting is so good! You people who write mediaeval and fantasy have it so easy on Pinterest; it seems all the character-inspiration boards are awash in that kind of picture. I absolutely cannot find anything for the main characters of my novel, though I can easily cast minor characters out of the old Westerns I grew up on. :)

I'm excited about Pendragon's Heir! Can't wait for the official release.

Suzannah said...

Jeri! Ooh! I really, really loved your books--especially THE TWO COLLARS, which was the first time I realised a book could make one cry and yet be worth reading anyway :D.

Elisabeth, ha, that's a shame. I feel the same pain when I go looking for pictures of blokes in armour. Or blokes with Irish Wolfhounds. Or blokes doing anything. It's all armour-clad Irish-wolfhound-petting GIRLS. Come on! Aren't the guys allowed to be awesome? (or maybe they don't take so many pictures of themselves to post online :P).

Lady Bibliophile said...

This tag was great fun! Thanks so much for sharing all this delicious info. Even I didn't know all of it. :)
**Love Blanche's actress.** And Nerys and Morgan are perfect. Along with your Round Table knights.
I'm not sure if Richard Armitage could pull off Simon Corbin. Richard scowls and thunders every times he's in a scene, and I picture Simon as being more scholarly and self-controlled. But then, who am I to say nay to the author?! :)
Branwen is sweet. <3 And your question about her reaction to meeting you just made me go "Awww." She would like you.
A new novella! Hallelujah! It sounds absolutely dashing and fun. What is the plotline?
The one thing about having characters act independently of the author is that if you're not good at a particular element, they'll carry it through without you having to arrange it all. Humor, lying, plot twists, fights, what have you. Thus my fiery tongue-lashing scenes written by a hopeless peacemaker. They crack heads and see stars while I stand by and watch. It's really quite easy and fun. You should try it.
The theme of Providence in literature is a rich and worthy one. And I look forward to seeing how God will plant that in readers' hearts through your pen.
I have enjoyed this story immensely, and look forward to enjoying it again in its final form. :)


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