Interview with Author Seven Jane

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Seven Jane.

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Hi Seven! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Seven Jane is an author of dark fantasy and speculative fiction. Her debut novel, The Isle of Gold, will be published by Black Spot Books in October 2018. She is largely nocturnal, has an affinity for black and white photography, and exists almost exclusively on chai tea and avocados. She lives in New England.

Seven is a member of The Author’s Guild and Women’s Fiction Writing Association.

Social Media Links:
http://www.sevenjane.com
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @sevenjanewrites

 

The Interview.

If you could pick one scene to change in The Isle of Gold, what would it be?

That is an interesting question! After giving it some thought, I don’t think I could go back and change a scene. They all came out the way they needed to. Now, the one scene in the book that always hurt me was (spoiler alert) when Merrin met her mother. I wanted her mother to be gracious and receive her daughter warmly, but unfortunately that wasn’t in the cards for Merrin or me. There are several characters from IOG that I would have liked to write more about, too, (especially Claudette and Winters) but there’s still plenty of time for that. Maybe in those stories we’ll see a different side of Melusine, too.

 

If one of your favorite dark fantasy worlds could gift you with something, be it a character or artifact, in real life, what would you want?

It would be the Dark Gift, of course, gifted by Lestat himself! I am a diehard Anne Rice fan, no pun intended. Interview with the Vampire was one of the first books I ever really sunk my teeth into, and Lestat holds a very dear place in my heart. I could very well see maintaining that position forever, which would very possibly be the case were I to be given the Dark Gift. (Apologies for the plethora of puns.)

 

You are thrown into your world in The Isle of Gold! What do you do first?

The Goodnight Mermaid, of course! There’s rum and ruckus, and it sounds like a lovely place to people watch from some dark corner. I happen to personally love dive bars, and so an 18th century quayside tavern sounds like a wonderful, lively place. (By the way, I don’t think we spent enough time at the tavern in The Isle of Gold. I plan to go back!)

 

Just reading The Isle of Gold summary drove me off the deep end into a world of fantastic pirates. What inspired you to write a sea-faring adventure?

I have always loved seafaring adventures and pirate folklore, from Treasure Island to Black Sails and everything in-between. While the story itself was quite literally based on a dream, the plot really came into place while I was sailing out in the Caribbean and traipsing around Nassau. It is impossible not to be inspired when you’re in such a wonderful place as that.

 

Share a pirate-y fact that both intrigued and maybe disgusted you.

One interesting fact of pirate life is that “walking the plank” was not as routine a punishment as we have been led to believe! In fact, there is only one recorded incident of this ever happening. In reality, if your crew (or the crew you sailed with) had a problem with you, disputes were generally settled on land—either by leaving you somewhere you didn’t want to be, or by leaving you there six feet under the sand, if you know what I mean. There were too many other things to contend with on board the ship while at sea, and superstition was rampant—death at sea was bad no matter how it came to be.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

Only that I hope everyone enjoys following allowing with Merrin’s adventure as much as I did writing it!

Thank you Seven!

Readers, Seven Jane’s The Isle of Gold is available now!

Interview With Author Heather Ezell

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Heather Ezell.

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A Southern California native, Heather Ezell was evacuated for a fire at the age of three and subsequently grew up with an obsessive fear of wildfires. She has been chasing reprieve from California’s heat ever since–from the Rocky Mountains to Interior Alaska. Heather graduated from Colorado College with a degree in English literature and creative writing, and she currently lives in the Pacific Northwest where she writes, practices amateur ballet in the forest, and obsesses over the weather.

Social media links:
Twitter – https://twitter.com/heatherezell
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/heathermezell/
Website – heatherezell.com

 

The Interview.

Hi Heather! Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little about yourself.

Hello! I was born and raised in Southern California, though I always amend that statement by insisting I spent a chunk of my teens in Colorado Springs. For some reason this always feels necessary to include in introductions. After dropping out of high school at sixteen and several years of being an accidental pseudo nomad, I ultimately earned my BA from Colorado College. I later spent some time as a grad student at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and discovered my love for -40 degrees and my terror of endless daylight. I now live in Washington State and spend my time freelance editing, copy writing, tutoring, reading college applications for a fancy school, book coaching, etc. and… of course writing. When I’m not at my desk I’m probably walking with my dog in the forest! Finally, Nothing Left to Burn is my debut and it released this past March with Razorbill-Penguin.

 

A fellow blogger! *cheers* How did those early, even sometimes darker, blogging rants shape you into who you today?

This is such an interesting question – not something I’ve ever given much thought! Plus, and this is bonkers to realize, I recently hit the ten-year mark of starting my blog (on that particular WordPress account that is…)! It’s hard to say how it shaped me, honestly. But I suspect it contributed to my being so pro-vulnerability and keeping it real; I’ve always been extremely open about my mental health and the like, even if it often was me blogging about something in retrospect.

On the flip side, blogging for so long and in often really exposing manners (the manic musings of 2011, my gosh!) also helped me learn the beauty of being a bit more reserved and forever conscious about what I put out there. When I was seventeen and eighteen and nineteen, I spilled it all. Obviously it’s a bit different when you’re twenty-seven and a published author with a job but even still! It was (and is) so easy to forget there are people actually reading and it’s always shocking when some random friend of a friend mentions it. I don’t at all regret sharing what I did but there are days where I consider taking down the old posts and saying a forever farewell to blogging, especially since I’m now a once every few months poster. We’ll see!

But, to circle back to your question, blogging like that (off and on) for ten years – it’s certainly shaped me into being something of an open book. Even if it’s at times to a fault, I’m grateful for it. Plus, I now have a catalogue of all my moves from 2008 to 2016. So many “surprise! I’m moving!” posts…

Tell us about being a part of Pitch Wars. How did you grow from the experience?

Oh gosh. I love Pitch Wars and feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to be both a mentee (2014) and a mentor (2016, 2017, and again this year!). PW really helped push me out of my comfort zones in terms of both finding and embracing the online writing community. Working as Rachel Lynn Solomon’s mentee gave me the tools and support to revise Nothing Left to Burn during an extremely tough time in my life (I ~blogged~ about it, for anyone who is curious) and her support not only helped shape my writing but also my ability to have perspective in this industry. And, of course, working as a mentor is being in a constant place of growing and learning from your mentee. I’m outrageously lucky to co-mentor with Rachel Griffin (who was my mentee in 2016) – it’s such a joy to collaborate and learn how to improve as a mentor alongside her. I’m honestly not sure what my writing life and community would look like without Pitch Wars! Probably quite bleak and quiet…

 

Does Nothing Left to Burn reflect any personal experiences in your own life? That you are comfortable sharing that is.

Oh, yes, very much so! Nothing Left to Burn is set in my hometown—every location referenced is real except for the ballet academy—and while I didn’t live in Coto de Caza, I grew up in the community on the other side of the trails Audrey and Brooks walk, as well as attended Tesoro High School. So on that simple level, the story reflects my experiences and perspective of growing up in “The OC”, which I did not enjoy at the time.

Then, of course, there’s the fire. Wildfires defined my adolescence. I’m so lucky in that I never faced a fire like the one Audrey’s evacuated from, and I’ve only been evacuated once when I was young. But, even still, writing Nothing Left to Burn was my chance to let loose my wildfire phobia and anxieties, and an ever so slight obsession.

And, finally, perhaps the most personal – Audrey and Brooks’ relationship, which is the core of NLTB, certainly reflects my romantic experiences as a teen. I was in an extremely fraught, co-dependent relationship that started as something quite sweet and tender. We were ultimately intense, obsessive, volatile, in love and painfully young, and we both seemingly built our identities around the idea of us. It definitely influenced the dynamic between Audrey and Brooks took years post-break up to truly cut the threads. My finally coming to terms with the realities of that relationship is what fed Brooks and Audrey’s story.

…So, ha, it seems Nothing Left to Burn is very much influenced by teen years. I swear it’s not autobiographical though!

What is your favorite part of writing YA contemporary with romance? On the flip side, what is your least favorite part too?

The obvious answer for me is that contemporary romance is fun! So much of what I write is heavy and sad. I veer toward the dark naturally and, because of that, the romances that pop up in my contemporaries allow relief and play, a balance to shine some light in. I guess that’s what I love about writing contemporary with romance: I love playing with opposites and the lushness of romance allows me to highlight the grisly stuff even further.

My least favorite part of writing YA contemporary (romance or not) is that, well, I’m always tempted to veer off into the speculative and supernatural. I’m working on three different projects at various stages and only one is contemporary…and it may ultimately have the potential to be construed as not entirely so. Also, if we’re talking romance specifically—as much as I love them, romance arcs are often tricky for me! Writing family relationships is much more intuitive… or lonely protagonists meandering alone in the forests! Sadly the meandering is usually not all that interesting to read about.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?

If you desire a signed and personalized copy of Nothing Left to Burn you can acquire one through my local indie Browsers Books: https://www.browsersolympia.com/nothing-left-burn-heather-ezell-signed-edition  Always want to give them a shout out. J And thank you so much for having me, Rae!

 

What a great interview!

Nothing Left to Burn is available now!

Check out the buy links below to grab your copy.

 

Browsers Bookshop: https://www.browsersolympia.com/nothing-left-burn-heather-ezell-signed-edition

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Nothing-Left-Burn-Heather-Ezell/dp/0448494264/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498288199&sr=8-1&keywords=nothing+left+to+burn+ezell

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nothing-left-to-burn-heather-ezell/1126606286?ean=9780448494265#/

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9780448494265

 

Interview With Author Nicholas Bowling

Author Interview, Misc.

Meet Nicholas Bowling.

Nick Bowling

Nick Bowling is an author, musician, occasional stand-up comedian and Latin teacher from London. He graduated from Oxford University in 2007 with a BA in Classics and English, and again in 2010 with a Masters in Greek and Latin Language and Literature, before moving to his first teaching job at Trinity School, Croydon. While writing Witchborn, he has also performed a solo show at the Edinburgh festival, and has co-written, recorded and released two albums and two EPs with soul-folk singer Mary Erskine, Me For Queen. He currently lives in East London with a lovely gentleman who plays the trumpet. Witch Born is his debut novel.

Social media link:
Twitter – @thenickbowling

 

The Interview.

How does your classical studies influence your music and your writing?
When it comes to writing, I really can’t overstate how much influence it has. I’ve always said that I learned more about the English language from my Latin teachers than I did from my English teachers, in terms of how to really understand the mechanics of a language, and how to craft a good sentence. And then there’s the texts themselves. I definitely draw from that treasure house of stories pretty much any time I write anything. There’s a great quote from Virginia Woolf about how a fragment broken off a Greek tragedy could “colour oceans” – like there’s some sort of intensity and sincerity and truth to all those stories that we just can’t replicate these days. I think that might be quite an old-fashioned view to hold these days, but I’m sticking to my guns on it.
Music… I don’t know. If you Google “Ancient Roman Music” you just get a lot of wailing and creepy atonal pipe-based stuff. I mean, I dig all of that, but mostly I play bass for other people and they generally don’t appreciate you bringing those influences to bear to their record.
Historical London + witchery + shady characters – heck yes! What is the origin story of your debut novel Witch Born?
I started out wanting to write a straight fantasy book for grown-ups (give me a minute and I will bore the hell out of you about my Pat Rothfuss epiphany), but I wanted it to be dark and earthy and rooted in something familiar. It’s also just incredibly difficult to do world-building in a way that’s believable and non-cliched (unless you’re Pat Rothfuss), so I looked around for a historical period that could scaffold a fantasy story. Elizabethan England is perfect for being a point in history when no one’s really sure what’s magic and what’s science and what’s religion (and the efforts to define them were pretty grim), and was a perfect fit for the dark and grimy thing I had in mind. I’ve also got a thing for reverse-engineering how stories start (cf. Pat Rothfuss), and I liked the idea of taking something like the witch-hunts and asking: what if there was something real behind people’s superstitions? Then I got really invested in the character of Alyce and it became a totally different book from the one I originally set out to write (which was: The Name of the Wind by Pat Rothfuss).

Without spoilers, what was the hardest moment to write for your main character Alyce?
In general I took pains to keep Alyce complex and a bit ambiguous in her motivations, because that’s true of pretty much everyone. I didn’t want her to be an archetype, and I didn’t want her to necessarily behave as you’d like her to behave – given what she has to endure in the book, she was never going to be a typical “hero”. But in particular, there’s a choice she has to make near the end about someone close to her that was redrafted about twenty times, and had as many different outcomes.
Do names have any power or significance in Witch Born?
Yes! Well, lots of them are real historical characters whose names you’ll recognize. But others are also taken from lesser known stories of that period. Matthew Hopkins was the “witchfinder general” of the 17th century witch hunts, so I made John Hopkins a forebear of his; Ellen Greenliefe really was executed for witchcraft (you can find her in Matthew Hopkins’ written report, in fact); Solomon is a nod to Solomon Pavy, an actor in the Children of the Chapel who was eulogized by Ben Jonson; there was a herbalist called Mrs Thomson who lived on Cheapside. I reckon you can work out the meaning behind Vitali. Alyce is actually the least (or most?) interesting of the lot – the name of the girl I was trying to impress at the time of writing the first draft… Eurgh.
Comparing all of your drafts, from the very first to your finished copy, what is one thing you never quite conveyed that you wished you had?
That’s such a good question. Sometimes I don’t think I really gave a broad or deep enough picture of the witchcraft itself – how it works, what people were doing with it. Half of me quite likes how oblique it all is – hinting at what’s beneath the surface – and the other half wants a really detailed schematic of how to curse your neighbour’s cattle. In particular I would have liked to show more of what was going on in the countryside, since the vast majority of witch trials were happening out in the sticks, far from the capital.
Share with us a little bit about your writing, querying, and editing processes.
I always try to write in the morning, first thing. 1,000 words minimum target, but I try to aim for about 1,500. I start at the beginning and just go – I usually have ideas for big scenes or set-pieces I want to get in there, but I don’t have a grand plan and I usually just let the characters do what they want. I like that bit. Just fresh tracks, all the way down the mountain. Editing is just endless wailing and gnashing of teeth and eventually, somehow, a half-decent book comes out the other side.
When someone says London – what is the first thing you think of or say?
I mean, the place just stinks.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the readers today?
Hope you enjoy the book! Currently working on something new – a 1st century Rome-based romp – which you should be able to read next year. In the meantime, read Pat Rothfuss. Oh, and download Me For Queen’s new album. I play bass on it, so if you all buy it I’ll get about £1.50 in 2025.

Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
An unmitigated pleasure!

 

Happy book birthday to Witch Born!

Click here to read my review.