New SPFBO interview up, with Angela Boord!
First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?
Well, I’m the mother of nine kids, which is usually what people notice about me first. I write epic fantasy for the most part, although I tend to mix up sub-genres a little. Fortune’s Fool is set in a Renaissance-inspired world where guns and swords are both in use, so it’s epic, historical, and blackpowder fantasy, with some romance thrown in for good measure.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
I think they mostly develop me. Characters usually just show up in my head, carrying their stories with them, and my work is asking the questions that will allow me to uncover what’s going on. Over a period of time scenes and images involving the character will come to me, and I’ll write them down in as much detail as I’ve got. At some point I’ll have enough of a handle on the arc of the story to start writing. The story always changes in the writing, of course, but if I sit down before any seeds have germinated, I won’t get anywhere.
Then again, some characters just walk into the middle of a story like they own the place. Diana Gabaldon calls those characters “mushrooms” and that’s certainly what they feel like to me. They’re the side characters who pop up out of nowhere and try to take over.
Tell us about your current project.
Fortune’s Fool is a twisty, Renaissance-inspired epic fantasy about a woman who’s lost almost everything important to her – her family, the man she loves, even her right arm. When we meet her, she has a magical metal arm made for her by her old lover, who sent her into exile to keep her from dying in a war that people blame her for starting. But now she’s back, looking for him – though he’s almost surely dead – and ready to get revenge on the rival family that wreaked this havoc in the first place.
Is this your first entry into SPFBO? If not, how many times have you entered?
It’s my first entry – and also my first book. Fortune’s Fool is my debut novel.
Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!
Kyrra d’Aliente is the protagonist of Fortune’s Fool. It’s written in first person, so you get the whole story filtered through her point of view. She’s been hurt and she’s angry about it, but she also has a dry sense of humor that the other characters don’t always appreciate. She’s also very persistent, a little awkward, and she’s not the sort of protagonist who does everything right. Probably the opposite, in fact.
What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?
Write the story you want to read. Writing’s hard enough without making it a slog by writing what you think other people want. Readers can tell when you’re having fun and when you’re going through the motions. So you might as well enjoy yourself.
What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Fortune’s Fool is historical fantasy, so I drew on a lot of real-life inspiration. But I think there are two ways that authors often seem to go about worldbuilding for historical fantasy. One way is to take actual history and events and make fantasy analogues for them. And another way is to take an historical period and make up all your own world that just feels like that historical period.
I’m in the second camp. Fortune’s Fool was inspired by Renaissance Italy and in particular some historical fiction I read a long time ago involving silk production, but I was most concerned about getting the feel of the culture right. Actually, I should say cultures, because I really wanted the world to be very Mediterranean in feel. So I tried hard to make the world diverse and big — not oriented primarily toward Western Europe.
In order to get that feeling, I would often stop to research as I was doing my big revisions. I like to set a scene using as many senses as I can. So if I’m going along and somebody picks up a bar of soap, for instance, and I want to describe its smell, and then I think, “I wonder how people made soap in the Renaissance? What did it smell like?” – I’ll stop and google Renaissance soaps. (And probably hair ointments, lotions, etc. for good measure). I did that for a lot of things in the book. So the soap and clothes and silk looms and the bathhouse were all inspired by googling. Actually, I must have watched every Youtube video I could find about traditional silk making. (Of course since it’s fantasy I always feel free to add my own embellishments.)
What inspires you to write?
I generally sit down every day to write whether I’m inspired or not, but if you’re asking what inspires my ideas… then pretty much everything. Travel, books, music… stuff my kids do and say… weird articles on the Internet…
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Deciding that I was going to revise and publish it. I spent a lot of years unable to work up the momentum I needed to actually finish a project. Craftwise… The book is told in 1st person using two narratives – one in the past and one in the present. It was really hard to get the pacing right. I had to tear the book apart a couple of times.
What is your routine when writing, if any? If you don’t follow a routine, why not?
I do most of my writing during my three year old’s naptime and then again, after the little kids go to bed at night. I usually start out by getting something to drink. In the afternoon, that’s usually a cup of tea. At night, it might be a glass of wine or a cup of herbal tea. Then I put my ear buds in and set up my music and read back through the last thing I wrote so I can remember where I was.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I liked writing Chapter 6, and I’m not really sure I can tell you why. Sometimes I really like the small, quiet moments best. They may not be the ones that resonate most with readers or the most important for the plot, but I like watching the characters just be with each other. There are other pieces of that chapter that I liked writing a lot, too – there’s some action and a character popped up out of nowhere for me – but it’s the little, quiet pieces that always make me smile when I re-read them.
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned how to finish and revise a book and then publish it. It’s my debut novel, so in many ways it’s like a giant experiment. I’m just figuring things out as I go along.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? A gardener or an architect?
Neither and both. I fall somewhere in the middle. I make a lot of notes heading toward whatever point in the story I can see coming, but the story always changes as I write it. And I never, ever know the end until I get there. I always think I know – vaguely – what’s going to happen, but then when I get close, I usually have some revelation that what I thought was going to happen isn’t. Usually the story ends up better than I had envisioned it that way.
And I guess I’m a gardener. I certainly do my share of weeding, thinning, and pruning.
It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?
Well, my characters always feel like real people to me. I guess I try to put myself in their places, and I try to imagine how I would think or feel if I was that person with that background in whatever situation they’re in. I do write a certain amount of throwaway scenes longhand in my notebook when I’m trying to figure out voice. Writing in my notebook frees me up to play around, so I can experiment more.
. What are your future project(s)?
I just finished the rough draft of a long standalone novella (or a short novel) set in the Eterean Empire series that I plan to revise and offer to my mailing list in the fall before I release it. I’m 2/3 of the way through a rough draft of Book 1.5 in the Eterean Empire series, and am hoping to get that out in early 2020.
And I have a giant manuscript that was supposed to be the first book in a portal fantasy series that I need to revise. I really want to get that series out, too, but it will probably have to wait until after I have more books in the Eterean Empire series done.
What is your favorite book ever written? Who are your favorite authors?
I don’t think I have one favorite book. I’m a big fan of Robin Hobb’s Farseer books, and I really love the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Also Josiah Bancroft’s Books of Babel series, and anything written by K.S. Villoso… I’m reading my way through her backlist.
What makes a good villain?
I like villains who are convinced they’re the heroes. I don’t mind if they’re a little insane, because that can be fun to write, but I need a villain to have a reason for their villainy… and usually to be convinced that it’s justified.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
What is this thing called “spare time”? I do try to make myself sit down and read for a while every day, and I like to do things outside with my kids. I used to be more into gardening, photography, and drawing, but writing has a tendency to fill up all my off-the-clock time.
If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?
Well, I’ve been doing my ideal job for the past twenty years or so – I’m staying home with my kids. I enjoy being a mom, and I enjoy homeschooling. My husband and I have basically turned our home into a library and mostly our version of homeschooling is reading and talking about books. And honestly, even though I stopped writing fiction with publication in mind for a lot of years, I never actually stopped writing. I was going to say you’d have to cut off my hands to stop me from being a writer, but I just wrote a really long book about a woman who had her arm cut off and is a badass anyway, so I guess if you cut off my hands, I’d probably just figure out how to use speech recognition software.
You can travel to any planet or moon in the Solar System. Where would you go, why and what would you do there?
Europa. I’d crack through the ice, discover the first alien ecosystem, and… my transmission system would probably fail so nobody would believe me. But I would know, I guess.
Pick any three characters from a fiction novel. These are now your roadtrip crew. Where do you go and what do you do?
From the same novel? Hmm… I guess I’d pick Fitz, the Fool, and Night-Eyes, and we’d take a road trip to a cabin in the woods and I’d make them tea and a nice dinner, and then we’d all hide so nothing bad would happen to them for a couple of days.
That probably wasn’t the answer you were expecting.
Finally, what is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
You can find me at: