Interview with Christine Rose

Welcome to Anniversary Week at Someone’s Read it Already! I can’t really guarantee that there will be many interesting things going on this week, pharmacy but I do have an interview with an up-and-coming author whose novel I reviewed last week.

Christine and Ethan Rose have just released their first novel, Rowan of the Wood, and are doing a blog tour. Today is here, obviously, and it should also be mentioned that any comments on this entry are counted as entries to win a limited-edition print of a painting by Christine, inspired by the novel! See here for more details.

My questions are in bold, and Christine’s answers are not.

1.) How did the collaboration thing work out between the two of you? I mean, sometimes collaborations are that one author has all the ideas, and the other does all the writing work; sometimes it’s pretty obvious who writes what, as in Armageddon Summer, by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville. Yours appeared fairly seamless, so who did what, and how did you come to that agreement?

Ethan and I thoroughly enjoyed writing together. The original story and character concepts were mine, but the plot and subplots were developed together. I started, being extremely goal-oriented, with writing a first draft of the novel in 30 days (after it swam around in my head for about a year). Then Ethan took it and embellished what I had written, introduced subplots, etc… I took it back for the 3rd draft, and so on. We finally sat down and read it cover to cover making detailed changes and ensuring the timeline worked. Overall, we worked extremely well together, and we’re looking forward to writing the rest of the five-book series.

2.) Assuming that there are more books going, what’s your writing schedule like? Do you write a certain number of hours a day, or only during the full moon, or what?

We write when we can find the time, which of late, hasn’t been very often; however, we’re going on a grand nationwide tour in the Spring, and we’ll have much more time to write then. Ethan must be in the woods to write, and I write in front of my computer with headphones to block out all distractions.

3.) What’s the process? Do you start with notes, and then an outline, and then a draft, and then more drafts, or do you write more organically, or what? And how long might it take you to complete a book?

For Rowan of the Wood, I started out with notes. I had the idea while on a flight from Texas to Oregon. I started scribbling down everything pouring out of my head on some airsick bags. Every inch is covered in thoughts and ideas. I didn’t know in what format I wanted to write they story (screenplay, novel, etc), so it just simmered in my brain for a year. When I finally decided on a novel, I bought the book First Draft in 30 Days, having never written a book before (and I’m very much about the structure), and I did just that: wrote a first draft in 30 days. Yes, there was an extensive outline and planning. I did something new in this writing venture, and that was fully develop the characters first. It was something Stephen King said in his book On Writing. Develop the characters, put them in a situation, and let your characters take you through. That’s also what I did, and it worked for me. It worked better than anything I had tried before.

It took us about 6 months to write it. After finding a publisher, it went into another phase of editing for several months. From concept to publication was 3 years.

4.) Christine, how much did your film career influence this book? i.e., did you conceive of the story cinematically?

I did, actually. It was going to be a movie first; but I’m not a great screenwriter. Besides, movies cost millions to make. Ultimately, I decided on writing a novel (which will hopefully be a movie in the near future!). I think my film career did influence many of the scenes. I learned a lot trying to write for the screen, and some of that was inevitably transferred to the book. I’ve had people tell me that it reads like a movie. It’s very visual, and I think that comes from my love of movies.

5.) That is a pretty awesome painting. Did you paint it first, or did the book come first? Also, seriously, what of the arts are you not talented in? You make the rest of us look bad. 🙂

My Green Man painting? Thank you! The book was written first. I actually used to be an art major, 20 years ago, and I hadn’t picked up a paintbrush since. It was while waiting for the book to be released… it had gotten pushed back for 3 months for marketing reasons, and I had to do something to keep me busy. We were planning on doing some events, like fantasy conventions, Renaissance faires, and Celtic festivals; and I wanted to have something else at our booth that just a pile of books. That’s too easy to walk past. So, with my extra time last summer, I started doing some Green Man art. I have always been drawn to the Green Man, which is why I decided to tie his mythology in with Rowan’s history.

6.) What’s your opinion on the cover art for your book? I like it quite a bit — it sort of looks like a hybrid of a woodcut and a cartoon to me,
and it’s certainly colorful and eyecatching. Did you have any input?

I LOVE the book cover. I’m glad you saw the woodcut in it, as that’s what I told
our amazing illustrator, Ia Layadi, that I wanted. I had a little input in the feeling I wanted, but the incredible artwork is all Ia. She also did a 4×8 painting of Rowan (you can see a print of it between the Prologue and Chapter One). For our Geekalicious Grand Book Tour next year, she’ll be painting the travel trailer we’ll be taking on the tour… and when a movie is made, she’ll be the production designer! She’s truly amazing.

7.) So, what with all the sexy, misunderstood vampires in YA these days, what made you decide to include vampires and make them completely evil and soulless?

Oh, but Fiana isn’t completely evil! She held onto her goodness at least 500 years after she lost her soul. I LOVE vampires! All vampires: the sexy, misunderstood ones and evil ones — but especially if they’re both (like Spike!!). I love complex characters, too.

8.) How much of your ‘real life’ did you throw into the story? I notice that Max’s cat is named Shadow and so is yours, and you have three dogs and there are three dogs in the story, in addition to the foster-kid situation.

There are certainly real-life experiences that inspired some of the story. After all, authors write what they know 😀

9.) Who are your fantasy and historical influences? What would you recommend to a reader who wanted to know more about Celtic history and

I was heavily influenced by the Arthurian Legend and the stories of the druids. My fantasy influences begin from early childhood with fairy tales & The Narnia Chronicles. The major fantasy influence from my college years was defintely Anne Rice (thus explaining the vampires). More recently, J.K. Rowling, Charles de Lint, and the first half of the Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton. I would recommend The Mabinogion, Cetic Myths and Legends by T.W. Rolleston, and The Blood Thirsty Celts 😀 for more information on Celtic Mythology/History.

10.) So what’s in store for the future? More books, obviously. Another series? Other single titles? More movies and paintings? For mine own part, I’d love to see one of your books illustrated along the lines of James A. Owen’s Imaginarium Geographica (each chapter has its own drawing by the first page).

There will be four more books in this series. Ethan has been working on a book for nearly a decade, so he’ll be publishing one title on his own when that’s complete. I hope to be working on either the movie and/or tv series for Rowan of the Wood soon! Other than that, I have a few more stories up my sleeve that will make their way out one way or another.

Jenna Starborn, by Sharon Shinn

[Uh, pills this review is actually from last week. Sorry.]

Sharon Shinn is an award-winning (the John W. Campbell Award for Best First Novel, for The Shape-Changer’s Wife) and best-selling author; she has written a handful of spec-fic series for adults, and one for children published by Firebird, the first volume of which I reviewed here. One of the series starts with Archangel; I recommend it, unless one hates cliffhangers. Another series starts with Mystic and Rider; that one is more recent. She lives in Missouri, to my knowledge, and attended Northwestern University in Evansville, Il. Most of her novels are popular with those who read romance novels as well as those who read science fiction and fantasy; she manages to blend elements of all three into her works.

Jenna Starborn is a retelling of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, set in the distant future, when humans have terraformed and colonized a good deal of other planets, apparently without meeting any aliens. The story will be familiar to most readers: a young woman, without friends and family, takes a job in a remote area in a Gothic-ly appropriate manor, with a fascinating owner who, unfortunately, is many social levels above the poor young woman. She falls in love with him, discovers something unfortunate, and leaves. The conceit in this novel is that Jenna Starborn was a child conceived in a tank for a childless woman, who eventually finds herself able to get pregnant and basically abandons Jenna, leaving her without official citizenship in a world highly stratified by citizenship classes. She gets a scholarship to a technical academy and becomes a nuclear technician, eventually landing a job at the mining operations of the erstwhile Mr. Rochester (Mr. Ravenbeck), and the story proceeds. Continue reading Jenna Starborn, by Sharon Shinn

Rowan of the Wood, by Christine and Ethan Rose

The authors of today’s novel were kind enough to give me an intro that has all the info that readers will need, visit this so here it is:

Someone’s Read it Already is excited to host Christine and Ethan Rose, authors of the new, award-winning YA fantasy novel Rowan of the Wood during their Geekalicious Yuletide Blog Book Tour! The authors are stopping by here on Monday, December 15th for an interview.

Rowan of the Wood: An ancient wizard possesses a young boy after a millennium of imprisonment in a magic wand. He emerges from the child in the face of danger and discovers Fiana, his new bride from the past, has somehow survived time and become something evil.

The authors are also hosting a contest on YouTube and giving away a digital camcorder just for following four simple steps. Check it out!

Come back and visit on Monday, read their interview, and post questions/comments. The authors will be available all day Monday and Tuesday to answer your questions. Every comment on this blog is an entry to win a signed, limited edition print of Christine’s Green Man II painting. The authors are also giving away autographed
books and over $600 in other prizes through their website.

Monday, December 15th, is almost my one-year book-reviewing/blogging anniversary, so I’m glad to have a special treat for readers. Anyway, here’s my summary:

Cullen is a misfit boy: he’s a foster kid, he skipped a grade, he’s a bit of a nerd, and he’s shy. In addition to that, his foster brother, Rex, is in his grade, and makes a point of making Cullen’s life miserable. So when Cullen dreams of a wizard, a wand, and a tree, and wakes up to find a birthmark of sorts on his chest, it’s partially a fulfillment of his deepest fantasy, but mostly the scariest thing that’s ever happened to him. Rowan, the wizard, transfigured himself into a wand to escape an attack by the Holy Roman Empire; he has only sort of come back to life now that Cullen has found his wand (in the redwood forests in California, of all places), and now he’s possessing Cullen. He was separated from his wife on their wedding day; she has been searching for him for the last fourteen hundred years or so. Will they find each other? And will it be as they’re expecting? And, uh, what about Cullen, caught up in a story much older than he? Continue reading Rowan of the Wood, by Christine and Ethan Rose

The Search for the Red Dragon (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, vol. 2), by James A. Owen

A few months ago, more about I reviewed Here There Be Dragons, recipe by James A. Owen, of the Coppervale Studios. He self-published a very popular comic book series, among other works, and has been working as a magazine editor, novelist, and general creative sort for quite a few years. This series (the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica) has been optioned by Warner to be made into a movie, pretty much right after the first volume was released. He lives in the amusingly-named Snowflake, Arizona. The books themselves are a delight to read, having thick pages, nice fonts, lovely dust-jackets, and a good deal of interior illustrations, after the fashion of woodcuts, done by Mr. Owen himself. A third volume, The Indigo King, was released in October.

John, Charles, and Jack parted ways after the adventures in the last volume, to keep the secrets, and they avoided each other for a good nine years, until Jack started having a series of really weird dreams involving giants, children, and Aven, currently the queen of Paralon. He calls on the other two to visit him, and the next thing they know, a smallish girl-child, sporting a pair of mechanical wings, lands in Jack’s backyard. She has a message to deliver — that, yes, Jack’s dreams (which the other two have been having as well) are mostly true, and there is something very wrong afoot in the Archipelago of Dreams. Children and the dragonships are disappearing. Can the trio of caretakers fix things? Continue reading The Search for the Red Dragon (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica, vol. 2), by James A. Owen

Mississippi Jack (Jacky Faber Chronicles, book 5), by L. A. Meyer

L. A. Meyer and his Jacky Faber are back! I’ve read, denture reviewed, and enjoyed the previous four volumes in this series in these entries: Bloody Jack, Curse of the Blue Tattoo, Under the Jolly Roger, and In the Belly of the Bloodhound. Mr. Meyer is a former Navy person who lives near the shore; these appear to be his most popular books, and the sixth volume, My Bonny Light Horseman, was released a month or two ago. (I think I’ve behaved well enough for Santa to bring it for Christmas, no?) His inspiration for the novels in the first place was apparently a painting; anything else I know about the man I’ve rehashed four times prior to this.

Right after escaping the Bloodhound at the end of the previous book (seriously, was it a spoiler that they’d escape? I don’t think so!), Jacky Faber is nearly arrested by the British Navy, but some friends of hers come to her rescue and they (she, along with Jim Tanner and Higgins) make the decision to escape west with Katy Deere. They make it to Pittsburgh before they need an alternate form of transportation; fortunately, there they find a barge poleman named Mike Fink, and through a trick they make off with his boat. Soon, Jacky and her crew are a floating tavern and nightly musical act on the Mississippi River. However, after Jacky’s arrest (at which he was present), her Jaimy took off after her and got into his own adventures. Will they ever meet up again? Continue reading Mississippi Jack (Jacky Faber Chronicles, book 5), by L. A. Meyer

Solomon’s Seal: Discovery, by Leigh Bridger

Leigh Bridger is a pen name of Deborah Smith, pharmacy veteran author of a ton of novels (including the NYT best-seller A Place to Call Home) and mad genius from Belle Books. This novella of hers is the first in a series; it runs to 140 pages and is available primarily as an ebook. This was a conscious choice; Ms. Smith understands that with the economy the way it is, publishers (especially small ones) are going to have to rethink the way they do business in order to turn a profit. Therefore, this e-novella is available for the price of $2.95. I’m not entirely sure how that compares to the average 140-page ebook, but I do know that $2.95 is such a small amount of money that it’s worth taking a chance on a new author (or at least new to the reader). Later installments may or may not cost more, but they should start being available in the first part of next year.

Dr. Elisabeth Connell has suffered a great deal of tragedy in her life, especially recently: her husband and small daughter were killed by a madman, in their gated-community mansion. A friend of her husband’s, a Dr. Franklin Alton, has invited her up to his mountain, to stay in an isolated cabin for a while and hopefully heal. Unfortunately for her peace of mind, there’s someone that lives near the cabin — actually, someone that normally lives in the cabin — who may or may not be quite human. Between that, and the local legends of certain kinds of giants, also called Nightwalkers, who lived in the forest, is it any wonder that Elisabeth’s feeling a little bit freaked out? Continue reading Solomon’s Seal: Discovery, by Leigh Bridger

One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Gabriel Garcia Marquez won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He is considered one of the pioneers of the ‘magic realism’ movement, pathopsychology a subset of postmodernism that concerns itself chiefly with telling things that are true, treatment even if they aren’t necessarily ‘real.’ He writes epic stories; this novel spans at least a hundred years, and six generations. Other novels include Love in the Time of Cholera, which was recently made into a movie. He is of Latino heritage, and is also considered a leader of the current Central/South American Spanish-speaking writers movement. His books, while originally published in Spanish, are all available in very well-done English translations.

Macondo is a city somewhere in Central America, founded by Jose Arcadio Buendia and his wife Ursula; he and a good deal of other people hacked through the forest to find the proper place to build. Over the course of the next hundred years, the town, largely isolated, rises to a peak of activity and prosperity, and then gradually sinks until it just dries up and blows away in the dust. Some of the Buendia family members become famous throughout the area, for different reasons — military, craftsmanship, etc. — and the strength of Ursula ties it all together for longer than imagined. Through it all, the Buendia family continues to lead the town, even when the years of moderate craziness and even some inbreeding bring the family down to a level never imagined by the first generation or two. Continue reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

Today’s review, find unfortunately delayed by eminently foreseeable yet unavoidable conflicts (work), food is of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Michael Chabon is a champion of genre writing; he has made uncomplimentary remarks about the state of modern ‘literature.’ His first novels were detective thrillers; other ones are alternate histories or fantasies, and The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a historical novel about comic books. Yes, comic books. If there’s any one genre looked down on more than science fiction, it’s comic books. Obviously not all comic books are of the same quality, but for those who deny that there is any literary value to the art form, go find Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics. No, really.

In any case, Kavalier & Clay is about two Jewish cousins, Josef (Joe) Kavalier and Sammy Klayman (Clay), who, through a mutual love of art, become some of the most respected and famous comic-book artists of the early boom in comics. The book starts in about 1939, when Joe has just escaped Prague to come live in America with his cousin and his aunt; it ends in 1954, just after the heyday of the superhero comics. When they start in the biz, Joe is nineteen and Sam seventeen; they become celebrities over a very short period of time, and in many ways, revolutionize the comic-book world. However, each has his own personal issues: Joe desperately wants to get his family out of Nazi Europe, and Sam is struggling with his sexual identity. Can they find happiness? Continue reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, by Michael Chabon

The Fifth Child, by Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008. The Prize is given for the entire body of a person’s work over his or her lifetime. In Ms. Lessing’s case, pilule that includes a good deal of science-fiction novels. (The Nobel Prize committee can’t say, information pills “We’re only giving this to her because she wrote that one book.” It doesn’t work that way.) She’s not the first Nobel Laureate who didn’t write strictly realistic contemporary or historical fiction; see Friday’s review for more details. In any case, Ms. Lessing’s science fiction period was mostly in the 1970s, and it included dystopian as well as classic-style SF work. It was not well-received by critics who loved her straight fiction novels. I don’t know very much about them otherwise, but she wrote them, they exist, and she won the highest prize awarded in literature.

This novel, however, isn’t science fiction, in particular; it exists on the edges of Gothic horror and perhaps fantasy. Harriet and David meet at a party in the mid-1960s. Each is a bit of a throwback to an earlier time, in that during an era of sexual and personal liberty, they both have nonexistent or very small sexual histories and they both want a large family with a stay-at-home mother. They start this family nearly immediately after they get married, although not by choice; it’s a financial strain on both of them. Fortunately, David’s father has money, but even so, the fact that they produce five children in seven years is a problem. Unfortunately, the fifth child, Ben, is even more of a problem. Harriet had an entirely miserable pregnancy; she felt as if he were trying to kick his way out from the inside. Once he is born, it is obvious that he isn’t normal — as Harriet points out right away, he looks like a goblin or a troll. He is also violent, and a danger to himself and everyone around him. What can they do with him? Continue reading The Fifth Child, by Doris Lessing