Oh, so hard to answer! It’s like choosing between my children! (Uh, actually that’s easy because I only have one) I like different books for different reasons: the mad fun of The French Executioner, the cool adventures of Roxy in Chasing the Wind, the realized darkness of Vlad, the wild adventures of The Hunt of the Unicorn, the questions at the heart of Immortal’s Blood. And that’s only about one-quarter of my books. And then there are my four plays? Oh, don’t make me choose! I can’t!
Another hard one but I’ll try to choose for you.
It has to be Hamlet, by William Shakespeare. I was lucky enough to play him once, years ago. Changed my life. I revisit the play all the time, in my writing and thoughts. My novel, Shakespeare’s Rebel, is an attempt to go even deeper in. Again.
A project from the heart. I am writing a World War Two novel – Sonata at Midnight. Loosely based on my parents’ stories. My dad was an RAF fighter pilot – and my Mum was a spy! She was in the Norwegian Resistance, got out when they bust her cell. Made it to London – and met the dashing pilot. I was raised on the tales they told me, and it feels like a way to know them better, now they are gone.
I am such a creature of habit. Start at 7am with morning coffee and cereal. Write. Break at 11am for tea and toast. Lunch around 2pm. Coffee at 4pm. The one thing that’s indispensable: candies – I have a bowl of butter mints, licorice, toffees, etc. Well, it’s a long time between breaks, right?
I do like all kinds. Raised on 70’s rock, I have recently discovered jazz, which I always shunned before as my older brother loved it. But I have been listening to quite a lot of classical lately, as my protagonist in the WW2 saga is a classical flutist.
I live in a forest overlooking the ocean, which is a pretty sweet spot to write. I am, however, a city boy, raised in LA and London. Miss London especially, all the time. If I could just go back for a visit!
I know everyone says Casablanca. And I could as well. But I love film noir, and I am really fond of Robert Mitchum. They came together in ‘Out of the Past.’ Seen it so many times.
(Her: Did you miss me?
Him: No more than I would my eyes.)
Well, I am really a hybrid. I have a fantasy series out with Gollancz – Smoke in the Glass is the first book. And an Indie series, The Tapestry Trilogy. I would like people to know that there are advantages and disadvantages to each world. There’s a buzz to Indie that is very different – setting the price, making the sales. It’s fun.
The Unicorn Tapestries in New York are a medieval masterpiece—and a mystery. No one knows who wove them, who for, or when. Elayne knows . . . kinda. At least, she’s been told by her father that their ancestor wove them. Not only that, he left a doorway in the tapestries which open onto Goloth, the Land of the Fabulous Beasts. She doesn’t believe any of it—until, on a class trip to the museum, she is summoned through the tapestries by Moonspill. A real, live unicorn. Moonspill and her weaver-ancestor had made a pact: that if either of them were desperate, they (or their descendants) would come to the other’s aid. Moonspill’s mate is about to be slaughtered in the arena by a tyrant king. He needs a maiden to tame him so he can enter the world of man and free her. Elayne knows nothing about taming—she barely passed calculus! But through some extreme adventures in that magical land, she realizes something: if human myths are true in Goloth, why not the one where a unicorn can cure all poisons—including cancer in her father’s blood? Attacked by a griffin, befriended by a talking snake, pursued by a lecherous king, Elayne must somehow find the skills and the courage she needs to save the two beings she loves most in either world: her father and her unicorn.
It started as a Trad book, and my New York editor asked me what I’d like to write next (I’d written a trilogy for her, The Runestone Saga). I sat in my office, bereft of ideas, fiddling with the ring on my finger, an old ring with our family crest on it – A rampant unicorn. Why have I carried a unicorn around with me since I was 18? What does the symbol mean? I began the research… and three books later…
To disappear from this world, into one of adventure.
I love character in peril, so my books are always fast.
It’s kind of like sculpture, a gradual shaping. I won’t know too much about characters when I set out. I take them into action, into peril, and they show me who they are.
Unicorn is fantasy, of course. But like any thriller, there are questions at the heart of it. Readers like to be asked questions!
When Alice asks the King of Wonderland how she should tell a story, he replies: ‘Begin at the beginning, carry on till the end, then stop.’ That’s pretty much my process.
The magic as things that didn’t exist when you sat down come into being.
In the beginning. It is Like a pool you know you want to swim in, you dance around the edge for a while, thinking it might be too cold. Then you dive in – and the water’s wonderful!
Every book, all the time.