I’m an ex-pat Californian living in Scotland who likes to write, read, and travel when I can. I love nothing more than curling up in bed and reading a good book with cats cuddling me while I listen to rain lash the windows.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? And if not, what else did you want to be when you grew up?
Ever since I realised it was a job, yes, I have. At age 15 I definitely knew I wanted to be a professional writer though I wasn't sure when it would come to pass.
Are there any authors who particularly inspire you in your own writing?
My favourite author is Robin Hobb. I love how epic her world is yet how detailed her character arcs are. I also really admire Gene Wolfe, Kate Atkinson, Margaret Atwood, Laini Taylor, and many more. I love stumbling across new writers that teach me something new about the craft or spark a different way to try things.
What books did you enjoy reading when you were a child?
Robin Hobb again. Some of my first novels I started reading really voraciously in SFF were by Mercedes Lackey, Tamora Pierce, Anne Rice, Anne McCaffrey and Brian Jacques. From there I branched into all manner of fantasy and science fiction, but they were my gateway authors.
When you're working on a book, do you have a particular, or special place that you like to go? And do you keep any kind of writing schedule, or daily targets etc?
I used to have a favourite local café I went to every Saturday, but they’ve shut down, which is devastating. I write wherever I can—at home and at various cafes around the city. I am pretty busy as I have both a day job and am studying part-time at university, so I don’t keep to a schedule. I write whenever I can, wherever I can. When I’m drafting, if I hit 1000 words a day I’m very pleased. When I’m editing, a chapter a day is good going.
Pantomime was a really enjoyable, and seriously unique read. Where did the idea for the story originate from?
It gestated over a few years. I had the initial idea for Micah Grey in 2007, but I was too afraid to start because his circumstances are very different to mine. I researched the subject and then started writing a book with Micah as an adult. I was 19-20 and kept getting stuck on his 27-year-old voice. I figured maybe I didn’t know him well enough yet, so at the end of 2009, when I was 21, I started what I thought would be a short story about Micah’s teenage years. What I wrote is now the start of chapter 5 of Pantomime.
The circus environment that most of the book was set in was really rich and exciting, and definitely unique for this kind of novel. What made you want to write a book set in a circus?
When I was writing about older Micah, I knew he’d have joined the circus because it would give him strength and flexibility which would be good for his later career (which I won’t say). I’ve also always loved the circus but not come across it much in fantasy (this was before the Night Circus). I liked the idea of exploring this separate microcosm that sees itself as separate from society. The parallels of walking on a tightrope and being with a bunch of outsiders also fit well with the themes of Pantomime. Pantomime is set in a circus but also touches upon: Victorian social mores, gender & sexuality, a decaying empire, the line between magic and technology, and many other pet interests.
I loved so many of the characters in the book, but particularly Micah and Gene, the protagonists. Their characters are pretty complicated ... had you planned what was going to happen to them at the end of the book, before you started writing, or was it something you discovered as you went along?
Well, I know what Micah’s up to, somewhat, 11 years on from Pantomime, but Drystan, Aenea, and all the other characters were new. Pantomime came about as I wrote it, with only a vague outline. I now have a much clearer idea of various character’s futures.
The romances in the book were also pretty complicated - did you know who Micah would end up with in the end?
Sort of. It was more I had my suspicions, which were then confirmed. I hesitated putting in a love triangle because it’s so very dreaded in YA sometimes, but it really did make sense for the story and for Micah’s identity.
Obviously the story isn't yet finished ... what can we expect in the next book? Are any more secrets going to be revealed about Gene and Micah?
Many secrets are revealed, though not quite all of them. All I’ll say about the next book is that it focuses on magic of the illusionist variety, and there are shadows, clockwork hands, dreams and nightmares, grand stage magic, and a chance for redemption.
Who is your favourite character in the book, and why? And which character do you dislike the most (in terms of their personality)?
Micah’s probably my favourite, since I know him the best. He reacts to things like I would, except he’s braver. I don’t actually dislike any of my characters. Though the ringmaster does despicable things, I pity him rather than dislike him.
Aside from Pantomime (and the books coming after it... I hope there are going to be more!), do you have any other ideas for more stories that we may get to read in the future?
I’m hoping there will be at least 3 Pantomime books, but that depends on sales, as I only have a contract for the first two. I also hope to get back to older Micah at some point. In the meantime I am working on more YA projects that feature protagonists that are a little different to most. I’ve also been playing around with some short stories set in the world of Ellada, with each one centered around a Vestige artefact.
And finally, could you tell us a little quirky or interesting fact about yourself? :)
I have double-jointed elbows, which can freak people out.
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