As part of the blog tour for A Natural History of Dragons, which I thought was “fascinating, uncommon, and full of unexpected bits of alternate world society trivia,” I’m interviewing author Marie Brennan today and hosting a giveaway (courtesy of the kind folks at Tor).
A Star Shall Fall and With Fate Conspire (both from Tor Books), as well as Warrior, Witch, Midnight Never Come, In Ashes Lie, and Lies and Prophecy. You can find her online at SwanTower.com or follow her on twitter.
On to the interview!
1) A Natural History of Dragons is clearly a dragon book, but it's also a fictional memoir. Did both of those story elements occur to you at the same time?
Very nearly. I actually thought first about running it as a role-playing game; one of the inspirations was the D&D supplement Draconomicon, and I wondered what it would be like if you had D&D characters going around trying to study dragons, instead of killing them and taking their stuff. But within about half an hour, I was also thinking of it as a novel, and the novel ended up winning out. The memoir voice followed naturally from the setting.
2) Your books are always meticulously researched, and you have an academic background in history, archaeology, myth and folklore. What types of sources did you delve into for this (slightly) more scientific fantasy?
I tried to take it a bit easier this time, compared to the Onyx Court series . . . which means I only read, y’know, a small stack of books on Eastern Europe, Victorian fossil-hunters, Judaism, and so on. Plus random questions about chemistry, early rappelling techniques -- oh, and the climatology reading that went into figuring out the map and the weather.
I appear to be constitutionally incapable of taking it easy.
3) You've mentioned previously that you'd like to write YA. I think that A Natural History fits as a YA/adult 'crossover.' Do you have any projects in mind/coming to fruition that are purely YA?
Interesting you should say that; I actually wondered at one point whether this could work as a YA. The first book probably could, but since the series is going to continue on through Isabella’s life, it will move out of YA territory pretty fast, in terms of her age and what kinds of issues she’s dealing with.
As for your question, I tend to keep future projects under wraps until they become definite, but I do have several things potentially in the works. And Lies and Prophecy, my first novel with the Book View Cafe, is right on the YA border, too -- the protagonists of that one are in college.
|art by Todd Lockwood|
And now for a bit of fun...
4) Do you have any hidden (or not-so-hidden) superpowers?
I can find things. People will be looking for something they've dropped or mislaid, searching all over the place, and I'll find it in about five seconds.
5) If you could host a dinner party for fictional literary characters, who would you invite and what would you serve?
Oh, yikes. I could spend months wibbling over this -- there are so many great characters, but then the ones I find the most compelling aren’t necessarily the ones I’d want to have at dinner, and then of course I start wondering how they would get along . . . but I’ll say that Francis Crawford of Lymond, from Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles, could be relied upon to make lively dinner table conversation.
6) What books are on your nightstand (or wherever you keep your "to read" pile) right now?
I actively avoid keeping a pile or anything in that vein; the size of it would only depress me. My unread books are shelved with the ones I’ve read, and I just pull things out as they strike my fancy. But since I mentioned Dunnett above, I’ll say that I’ve started reading her House of Niccolo series, and am looking forward to the next book.
Thanks so much for answering those questions, Marie! I shall have to read the Lymond Chronicles and meet Francis for myself.
Finally… a GIVEAWAY! I have three hardcover copies of A Natural History of Dragons to offer to you, my lovely readers. To enter, simply fill out the FORM. One extra entry will be granted to those who leave a comment on this interview post. Giveaway open internationally, will end on March 3rd, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. Giveaway winners will be selected randomly and notified via email. Prizes are provided and shipped by the publisher. Good luck!
Fine print: giveaway prizes courtesy of Tor (Macmillan).