Monday, December 2, 2013

My interview with Sith Witch about Constant Tower

1. How would you describe your book? What kind of story are you trying to convey?

It's an anti-fantasy fantasy, I guess. Many fantasies are about "a boy going on a journey" --the Heroes' Journey, etc. But I've always wondered about stasis. What if the hero could not go on a journey? What if the warrior was stuck? What if the warrior did not have a warrior's heart? Heck, what if the warrior was sick and puny? So here we have Psal, the hero. He doesn't like his clan. But he can't escape it because the night prevents journeys. I suppose I want to convey the idea of children being controlled by their parent's, wives being caught in their husband's wake, people being stuck in their own tribe/clan and having no choice of escape.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from? What was it's inspiration?
I had a dream in which someone said to me, "But the towers are constant." In the dream, every morning people would wake to find the geography of their city moved about, as in a puzzle. So everyday on waking they had to discover the paths of their cities again. But there was always a tower which was constant and which didn't move. That would've been a fun story to write but I decided I would write a story where the world's regions stayed the same but the people in that world would be tossed around all over the planet.  Unless they had some control over how they were tossed. The idea of how it was controlled led to figuring out what kind of technology they had, and that's how the towers fit in.

3. How would you describe the main characters in your book? What is the nature of their relationship?
The main characters are relatives, friends, allies, adversaries. There are so many small and large wars going on in Constant Tower. It's a world of different clans and cultures and relationships. Very few of the relationships are smooth. They -- like we-- are fighting each other when all around them the world is falling apart. They are fighting each other when there are larger foes outside. 

4. When a reader finishes the book, what is it you hope they will walk away with?
Perhaps it will make the reader ponder what it is that keeps people chained or fearful of leaving. There is also the religious element. How do we forgive those inside our own clan -- whether it's those who are our own sex, our own race, our own religion? 

5. Do you have any current projects that you are working on? What can you share about any upcoming works?
I'm working on a YA book called "My Life as an Onion." I'll self-publish that because it's a bit odd --being very Christian, very sexual, very fantastical-- and I don't think a publishing company would allow me to do what I want to do with it. Most of my stories are about young people but this is my first contemporary story and it'll be somewhat semi-auto-biographical (but not really.) It'll have my own life's issues  and my might-have-been life. I've always wanted to have a rich flaky lover. 

6. Who are some of your inspirations as a writer? Which other authors do you look to for inspiration and motivation?
I read tons of poetry. I love Shakespeare. I love Henry James. The Bible. James Joyce. 

7. If they made a movie of your book, who would you cast in the lead roles?
 I still don't know who would be the lead. Psal is hard to cast. But his father, the king could be Julian Sand, Ben Cross, or Jason Statham. And weirdly, the bad guy, Cyrt, could be any of those actors as well. 

8. When not writing, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
I love anthropology, linguistics, learning languages, Korean Dramas, and Japanese Dramas.

My interview with Compulsiver Reader

Q: So, your second book has come out? Your first was Wind Follower, right? But. . .five years between your novels?

A: Yeah, I really am the queen of procrastination. Watching way too many videos on youtube, or playing solitaire. However, I often do some creative procrastination. So I managed to get some good stories written during that time.

Q: And were those stories published?
A: Most of them, yes. Here and there. In some very good and prestigious anthologies, and in smaller indie collections. I collected some of them and put them in a short story collection, Spirit Fruit: Collected Speculative Fiction by Carole McDonnell. 

Q:And they're mostly speculative fiction?
A: Pretty much. With all my concerns. Race. Religion. Politicis. Feminism. Fantasy. Steamfunk. Science fiction. Fairytales. Ghost stories. 

Q: You mentioned religion and race. Those matters concern you a lot? Do you think that might put off some people? Especially Christianity. And even with racial issues. Don't people read fantasy to escape the political stuff in the world?

A: My answer to the first question is that people often think they will be put off by my stories but when they finally sit down to read them they find the stories pretty inclusive. I'm pretty ambassadorial in my writing. White folks don't feel distanced, and non-religious people don't feel put off either. I guess if you really have an intense dislike of Christians or Black people you might find a reason to find something hateful in my stories. One reviewer on Amazon seemed to do just that. But most people see the stories as very accessible. The second answer is that people read fantasy for all kinds of reason and political or not they like seeing themselves reflected in the stories.

Q: So, your new novel is The Constant Tower? What's it about?
A: It's about a world where humans have no permanent dwelling. IF they are caught alone in the night outside of a dwelling, they are flung by the night to disparate parts of planet. In order to stay together, they live in longhouses..and these longhouses are called clans. In addition, there are towers that are somewhat sentient which gives them some power to steer their own course to their homelands. The towers are still somewht a mystery and the scientists of those clans -- called "studiers of worlds"-- are still discovering how the towers work. But the ultimate goal is to find a way to be able to stay rooted to one place. Some clans are more technologically advanced with their tower lore, some not. And there are people who were caught outside at night and who lost their home tower or home longhouse and awake every morning in a different place. That's the background. The story is about a young lame (and very petulant) prince, a war between two of the larger clans, and a prophecy about the time of the end of towers

Q: Wow, sounds interesting. How did you come up with the idea for The Constant Tower?
A: I dreamed of such a world. And the characters kept coming to me so I had to write it after a while.

Q: It's fantasy?
A: Yes, it's fantasy. Epic fantasy. Kings, battles, daggers, chieftains, men controlling women's lives. All that.

Q: Men controlling women's lives? So, is that one of the themes?
A: One of them, yes. But I hope it's not in your face feminist like that. The largest theme is infighting, how there are battles in the world against great enemies and yet people in certain groups often are fighting against each other. It's also about how the weak, the disabled, the powerless are often treated. The clan my main male character lives in is a very eugenistic warrior clan. But the hero is a lame prince with polio. Of course they don't call it polio but that's what it is. 

Q: You often write about warfare. Why? Because it's epic fantasy and epic fantasy always contains wars and warriors?
A: Well, maybe that's part of it. But if you look at my stories, although war is all around, I generally don't get into describing battles. Partly because I find battle scenes hard to write but mostly it's that they don't interest me. I seem to always write about people on the outskirts of war, the collateral damage, people who aren't warriors but who are somehow involved in war.  

Q: Your first book Wind Follower received much critical praise but didn't sell many copies. Why?

A: I was a first time author then, and I am published by Wildside which is a small publisher. In addition, there is an element of readership in fantasy who don't think books by women, minorities, or Christians are really good novels. It's still around. The warfare this year in the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) about nominating of minorities and women was really horrendous. Also Wind Follower was more overtly Christian. The Constant Tower isn't like that. 


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