Hail and hello, my friends! I know, I know, I said I wouldn’t be back until next month, but today happens to be a very important day. Do you know what today is? It’s Wednesday! Huzzah!
Now, most of you are thinking, “why is Wednesday so exciting? We have it every week, after all.” And you’d be right. But the reason this Wednesday is exciting is because tomorrow is the fourth Thursday in the month of November, which means Thanksgiving.
Ah, Thanksgiving. That most holy and precious of holidays. Where we gather together and give thanks to the Father for all that we have been given this year. Then we promptly stuff ourselves with turkey and pie and mashed potatoes and pie and corn and goose and pie and cookies and, most importantly, pie, like pigs that have been on a week-long diet.
It is truly glorious.
I have many things to be thankful for this year. My author, my brother and sister, my friends, this blog, not being dead, pie… and you guys! You are the very best readers any imaginary blogger could have. So thank you for taking the time to read this! Now before you go, I have two very special guests and an ANNOUNCEMENT. You see, my author volunteered me to help out in a very awesome event: the Indie Christian Books Black Friday Book Sale!
(Isn’t that cool looking?)
It’s that time of year. The time for buying presents, making wish lists, and planning New Year’s Resolutions. If any of those activities involve books for you, Indie Christian Books has a perfect event for you.
From Nov 24th through Nov 30th, a huge selection of independently published Christian books are on sale. You can find discounted paperbacks, dozens of books offered with free shipping, $0.99 ebooks, package deals and more. Even if your budget is depleted from Christmas shopping, we have some freebies for you! Need even more of a reason to support indie authors and fill your shelf with good stories? When you purchase a paperback book through indiechristianbooks.com you’ll be eligible to enter an exclusive giveaway including free books and an Amazon gift card! Blog posts have been going up since the 17th and will continue until the 24th, complete with book reviews and cool author interviews, so check out indiechristianbooks.com.
You can meet our authors by visiting the Author Database on the website. Want to get to know the authors better AND have the chance to win some fun prizes? We’d love to have you join our week long Facebook party which will feature 39 authors over 7 days.
What awesome reads of 2016 are you grateful for? What books are you looking forward to reading in 2017?
A note on the Ebooks Only page. Many of the books are listed as “Sold Out.” This is because we aren’t selling those directly through our site. Please click onto the product pages to find descriptions and links to discounted or free ebooks.
From November 24th-30th a huge selection of discounted books is available at indiechristianbooks.com. You can also join the Indie Christian Authors for a week long Facebook party during the same dates.”
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Leah E. Good and Kendra E. Ardnek for their work organizing this sale, and Hannah Mills for her fantastic design work on the website graphics. Hannah can be contacted at hmills(at)omorecollege(dot)edu for more information about her design services.
And for our guests, allow me to welcome back my Author to the blog! And today, she’s bringing in Suzannah Rowantree, author and Black Friday Sale participator, in as a guest for an interview. For those of you who don’t know Suzannah, she’s graciously provided this introduction:
When Suzannah Rowntree isn’t travelling the world to help out friends in need, she lives in a big house in rural Australia with her awesome parents and siblings, writing historical fantasy fiction informed by a covenantal Christian perspective on history.
If you like the fiction of CS Lewis, GK Chesterton, Stephen Lawhead, or ND Wilson, you’ll probably enjoy her stories too.
And now, without further ado…
*Nikken bows out*
Author: When did you decide you wanted to become an author, Suzannah? How long have you been writing?
Suzannah: I started my first story when I was 12, as a birthday present for a friend. It was the latest birthday present ever, because I didn’t finish it until I was 16! It was hard work, and I still remember finishing that story and thinking, “That’s it, I’m never doing this again.” About fifteen minutes later, I’d started another story. After that, I gave up pretending I could give it up.
A: Do you have a favorite genre to read or to write? Who’s your all-time favorite author?
S: I read just about everything, although I most enjoy speculative fiction (science fiction and fantasy) as well as historical. As a writer, I have ended up working in the wide field of historical fantasy, which provides me with plenty of inspiration! My all-time favourite author is JRR Tolkien, naturally. I re-read The Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time last year, and realised that without meaning to, I’ve ended up being greatly influenced by him.
A: According to the description, your book Pendragon’s Heir is about a Victorian girl that gets drawn into the Arthurian myths. What was your reason for inventing a story surrounding those tales?
S: So, when I was about 17, a lady at church loaned me a detective novel called The Daughter of Time. In that story, a bedridden detective starts studying the history of Richard III, trying to determine whether he really was a serial murderer and usurper, or whether the truth is something different. I finished the whole book that Sunday afternoon and was just so excited, I had to write a story of my own about exonerating some famous figure of history or legend. My excited teen self very quickly chose Queen Guinevere of Arthurian legend. I’d always been annoyed about her affair with Sir Lancelot. So, I started writing the story that very afternoon, and just like The Daughter of Time, it was about a girl living centuries later who suddenly has to figure out whether Guinevere was honest or not–in my story, because she suddenly finds out that she is Guinevere’s daughter, but there’s doubt about her father.
That was probably the most productive afternoon of my life!
A: What kind of research did you need to conduct when writing Pendragon’s Heir, and how did you acquire that information? What sources were the most interesting or helpful?
S: You know, this is an excellent question. I’m very passionate about the need to conduct proper research when writing historical fiction. However, I actually didn’t do a lot of research for Pendragon’s Heir, except for all the medieval literature I was reading anyway. I’ve always loved medieval literature…from Beowulf to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to the Mabinogion. The most helpful resource I read for Pendragon’s Heir was Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur, which was actually incredibly challenging to me. I’d grown up believing the King Arthur legends were about these idealistic, good knights, but in Malory, they are very violent and lustful. It took years of struggling with this book, and a wonderful essay by CS Lewis in Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, before I really began to understand what Le Morte D’Arthur was trying to say about the difficulty of sinful men trying to build the kingdom of God on earth. So that also became the main theme of Pendragon’s Heir.
A: What is the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve ever done in the name of story research?
S: For me it often goes the other way around–I’ll do something interesting and then decide I have to write a story about it! One good example is during a trip I took to the South Island of New Zealand a couple of years ago. We were travelling through the mountains in May, which is late autumn here in the southern hemisphere, so there was snow on the mountains each morning. At Lake Wanaka, I was fascinated by the clear glacial waters and declared that I’d like to go for a swim. My hostess got worried about hypothermia, so I just snuck out one day and had a swim without telling anyone. The water was clear as glass and cold. When I got home, I wrote the whole experience into Death Be Not Proud, which is a fairytale retelling set in New Zealand during Prohibition in the 1930s.
A: Do you write by hand, by keyboard, or by some mix between the two? What are your reasons for your writing mode?
S: I pretty much just use keyboard. The only time I’ll write by hand is when I’m doing basic plotting or characterisation planning work. For some reason I find it helps to have pieces of paper spread out around me when I’m trying to do the most basic planning. Something about thinking spatially gets the plot kickstarted.
Using the keyboard, on the other hand, lets me get my thoughts onto the ‘page’ much quicker. I usually am trying to hold four or five thoughts in my head at once when I’m writing, so speed is important–I want to get everything down before I forget it.
A: Do you like to listen to music or snack while you write? If so, what do you enjoy listening to or snacking on the most?
S: I am very strange: I do not listen to music at all while I write. I find it distracts me from the work and takes up parts of my brain that I need for listening to the flow and cadence of the words. I suspect this might be because I’m a musician as well as a writer – music isn’t something I can just have on in the background.
I’m not a great snacker, but I almost always have a cup of tea on my desk. As a confirmed tea snob, it’s usually something pretty fancy–I love oolong, lapsang souchong, and this one particular chai I’ve found that tastes good without milk or honey. (Go Go Goa from T2 Tea, if anyone’s interested!)
A: Do you have a favorite character to write about? Why do you like writing about him/her the most?
S: It’s been years since I wrote him, but honestly, my favourite character of all my characters ever has to be Perceval from Pendragon’s Heir. I love how completely uninhibited he is. He’s the unsocialised homeschooler par excellence and the best part is, that’s pretty much how he was in the original legends. Perceval starts out slightly arrogant and winds up learning a lot about life, but he never, ever loses his zest for life, his curiosity, or his optimism. He was an unending source of fun to write.
A: What’s the hardest part of a story for you to write? Contrariwise, what’s your easiest or favorite part to write?
S: Beginnings are the hardest part for me. Whether it’s the opening scene or the opening chapter, I usually come back to them again and again and alter them significantly throughout the whole writing process. The second hardest part is definitely the ending scene, which is usually difficult for the same reason–you just have to sum up so much in a short space of time, so elegantly.
I’m not sure I would call anything the easiest part. But I’ll tell you what’s my favourite part. My favourite part is when the thing is finished and my beta or review readers are telling me how much they love the story. I write to make people think and to make them feel they can serve the kingdom of God, so hearing from readers who feel inspired, transported, thrilled and encouraged is an incredible sign that I’ve done my job properly.
A: What’s your favorite piece of writing advice that you’ve ever been given?
S: There is no such thing as Christian art or nonChristian art. There is only good art and bad art.
I know, I know, that’s kind of provocative. But hear me out. The fact is that God is the ultimate storyteller, and that all stories are based on God’s True Myth, as CS Lewis called the Gospel. Every story is a salvation story or a fall story, so every story retells redemptive history. After years of reading and watching different stories, I’ve come to the conclusion that every truly great story is great because it retells the gospel in some way. This has really given me the freedom to prioritise telling good stories over trying to tell Christian stories, not because Christian truth isn’t of paramount importance, but because I can have faith that the better my story is, the better it will communicate Christian truth.
A: Thank you for your time. Your answers are very interesting and I enjoyed interviewing you a lot. And thanks, Nikken, for allowing me to borrow your blog for a bit!
Nikken: No problem. My blog es su blog, or however that saying goes. Anyway, thanks to Suzannah for agreeing to be interviewed, and now why don’t you go check out her book, Pendragon’s Heir? I have to go now though–my Author needs her brain back! Until December, everyone!
(P.S. Also, before you go, here’s a quick giveaway. Have fun!)