Today, we welcome author Juliet Marillier to our blog. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Juliet.
1. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A veterinarian, as I always loved animals. But later on I proved to be much better at arts subjects than sciences, so I gave up that ambition, though I still love animals and I am an active supporter of the animal welfare cause.
2. Can you define the moment when you first knew you wanted to write a book?
That is quite difficult as it crept up on me gradually, but after I went through a big challenge in my personal life I felt the urge to write a version of the Six Swans fairytale that would be a real life story. I had no ambition to be a published writer at that stage, just the desire to tell that particular tale. Of course, that ended up being Daughter of the Forest, my first novel.
3. What is your least favourite part of the creative process?
The need to sit down at the desk and write even on days when I don’t feel especially creative! I write novels for a living, so I can’t do everything in my own time – deadlines must be met.
4. Do you have any advice for writers?
To be a good writer, you must first be a reader. Read widely; don’t just focus on the genre you write in. Reading is an enjoyable and painless way to learn about writing.
Make sure you learn the basics of your craft: spelling, punctuation, grammar and syntax.
Don’t write hoping to get rich and famous or to be the next J K Rowling. Write because you have a story bursting to be told. Do it because you love it; because you can’t NOT do it.
5. What is your biggest regret?
I don’t spend time on regrets. It’s more important to get on with living life now.
6. Once you had completed writing your first book, share with us the steps you took to become a published author? Tell us about your publishing journey.
I sent my manuscript to a small local publishing house that had a policy (then) of providing feedback on manuscripts from local writers. I knew it wasn’t their kind of book; I just wanted the feedback, since I had no idea if my book was publishable or not. That publisher sent back an encouraging letter suggesting I submit the MS to one of the big commercial publishers. I did so, it was picked up from the slush pile, and I was offered a two-book contract. Timing played a part in my success, since at that point the bigger publisher was looking for a new fantasy author to add to its list.
7. How do you market your books?
My publishers in Australia and the US do most of the marketing. However, things have changed in the publishing business and there’s now more expectation that authors will do a lot of their own publicity and marketing even if they are published by the big houses. I use social media to spread the word. I have a website, a Goodreads page, and a Facebook fan page where I respond to readers’ posts, put up news and do giveaways. I’m also a regular contributor to a well-regarded blog on the craft and business of writing, Writer Unboxed (www.writerunboxed.com). When I have a new book coming out, I also take opportunities for guest blogging, Q&As and so on.
8. Who is your favourite author and why?
I have several favourite authors, mostly outside the fantasy genre. They’re favourites because they combine great storytelling with excellent writing and that little something extra. I love the work of British fantasy writer Joe Abercrombie, a master of characterisation and voice, but the late Scottish writer Iain Banks is probably my all-time favourite.
9. Pet hates?
Omniscient point of view and head-hopping (moving from one character’s thoughts to another’s within a scene). Poor editing. Endings that have no note of hope.
10. What has been the hardest book for you to write? Why?
They’re all hard. The craft of writing is challenging. But then the satisfaction of getting finished and knowing you’ve done it well is wonderful. Stories in which bad things happen to good people are difficult. The Well of Shades was probably the most gruelling. It’s also one of my favourites.
11. What is the most interesting lesson you’ve learnt about yourself through your writing?
That I can reach out to people through my writing; that storytelling builds bridges.
12. Which character did you most enjoy writing about?
That changes all the time. It’s always someone in the book I am currently writing. I did especially enjoy creating the uncanny characters in the Shadowfell books, in particular little wise woman Sage and the fearsome brollachan, Hollow.
13. Who is the first person to read your book when you feel it is complete?
14. Have you ever suffered from writer’s block and how did you overcome it?
On days when the writing is not flowing well, I do other related tasks such as editing, research, answering emails, accounting and so on – as a full time writer, I always need to get this stuff done. Other good circuit breakers are physical activity such as walking the dogs or gardening, and creative activity like cooking, sewing or knitting. They seem to put the mind back into the right zone fairly painlessly.
15. One thing you’ve always wanted to do, but never have? Why?
Learn to ride a horse. The timing was never right and I think I’m too old now.
16. Do you have any pets?
Currently, I share the house with five small dogs. Four are permanent residents; the fifth is a foster dog that has come from an abusive situation – I’m helping rehabilitate him so he can be adopted.
17. If you were given the opportunity to mentor a young writer, would you?
This is something I already do, through my local writers’ centre. My first mentee, whom I worked with about five years ago, was runner-up in a prestigious national writing competition and has now had her novel picked up for mainstream publication, which is very exciting.
Learn more about this author and her latest book:
Juliet Marillier was born and brought up in Dunedin, New Zealand, and now lives in Western Australia. Her historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults have been translated into many languages and have won a number of awards including the Aurealis, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Sir Julius Vogel Award and the Prix Imaginales. Among Juliet’s works are the Sevenwaters novels, the Bridei Chronicles and the Shadowfell series, of which the second novel, Raven Flight, was published in July 2013.
Juliet’s lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. When not busy writing, Juliet tends to a small pack of waifs and strays. Find out more at http://www.julietmarillier.com
After completing the long, weary journey to the rebel base at Shadowfell, Neryn is now a vital part of their plan to overthrow the tyrannical King Keldec. Every step she takes toward perfecting her skills as a powerful, once-in-a-generation Caller gets them closer to their goal. But first she must seek out the disparate leaders of the Good Folk to complete her training—and the time she has left to do so is wearing thin.
Meanwhile, Neryn’s beloved, the double agent Flint, is called away to Keldec’s court. There the king’s slipping confidence puts Flint in great danger. Yet his connection to Neryn is so strong that they reach each other in their dreams, sharing painful but precious glimpses into each other’s lives. Their love is regarded warily by the rebels, for placing any emotion above the cold logic of the cause puts the entire movement at risk. But their bond also reveals valuable information, for the tide of the war may soon be changing….