Questions from A.R. MacNeil Secondary Students (Part 1)

Okay, I finally have enough willpower to start answering questions from the students at A.R. MacNeil.  I gave an author talk to two classes (Ms. Phillips’ and Mr. McDowell’s) a few weeks back and was presented with an envelope full of questions.  Here are the first five along with my answers:

1. Why fantasy?  It’s what I read and still read.  I read other things, of course, but fantasy started me off.  I love it because you can let your imagination run – as long as your writing can keep up!  From mythology to Tolkien and Le Guin to comic books, fantasy is pure out lovely.

2. Why did you become an author and quit being a teacher?  Was it worth it?  Aha!  Two questions for the price of one.  Very sneaky.  I found that I couldn’t do the best job on either one when I was dividing my time.  Stephen King wrote in his excellent book, On Writing, that the one job that prevented him from writing was teaching English at a college.  I did all the writing I could on holidays and during the summer, but it was not enough.  The question I faced was, which do I want to do more?  After seventeen years of teaching, I wanted to write more.  Maybe after seventeen years of writing, I’ll want to drive a taxi.  Was it worth it?  You read the book (I hope).  You tell me.

3. Does Garet and Salick’s romance remind you of your own?  Yikes!  Personal space!  Personal space!  Not really.  Mine was much calmer and lacking in any homicidal attacks by sword-wielding assassins.  Same result though.  Love.

4. Where did you get the ideas for this book – from another book?  In a way, every reader who is an author gets ideas from other books.  I take the humanity of my characters from Andre Norton and Ursula Le Guin.  I borrow a sense  of horror from Robert E. Howard, Edgar Allen Poe, and Stephen King.  The landscapes come more from personal travel then books, but I’ve perused many a map of medieval cities in planning Shirath.  As for the basic ideas: demons using fear and how to fight them, that comes from my own childhood.  When I was five, I feared what might be in the dark spaces of my room.  The closet was the worst, until the day I opened it and found it empty of monsters.  That always made me wonder about fear, and that was the basis for the book.

5, Are you secretly a demon?  Which character are you most fond of?  Another two-for-one, eh?  In the first book, I was fondest of Marick, since his dialogue was so fun to write.  In the second book, I liked Trax the most.  He’s a complex fellow, and I enjoyed exploring his devious nature.  As for the other question, I am not a demon.  Sorry if that disappoints!  However, on the bright side, I seem capable of producing  them at will.  Muuwhaahaahaa!

I will try and answer more questions when my natural laziness takes a vacation.  And thanks to Ms. Phillips and Mr. McDowell for their kind invitation.

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