Rebecca, congratulations on Faery Rebels: Spell Hunter! What was it like being one of the debut authors of 2009?
It was a joy and a privilege! Not only was it wonderful to be working with great agents, editors and publishers to see my first novel through to print, but I had such fun being part of the Debut 2009 community (www.feastofawesome.com). Over the course of the year I met many other talented, funny, and insightful fellow authors who encouraged me and shared their experiences and insights. I not only made new friends, but discovered some new favourite writers in the process, which was great.
Your book has two different titles, Spell Hunter here in North America and Knife in the United Kingdom. Are the books themselves substantially different?
No, there’s really no difference at all. My UK publisher changed a few words that were too North American for them and my North American publisher changed a few words that were too British for them, but nothing of any real substance.
Spell Hunter has a love story, but it is far from a typical romance. How do you see Knife and Paul’s characters being affected by love?
Well, both of them are rather selfish to start out with — Knife because she’s a faery with no experience of family or even friendship, and Paul because he’s so wrapped up in his own disappointment and pain that he can’t see anyone else’s. It’s only through connecting with each other that they both start to look beyond themselves. Knife discovers depths of feeling and attachment she’s never felt before and didn’t know she had in her, and Paul (who is a fairly emotional and dramatic sort of person to begin with) begins to realize he has to master his personal feelings or even put them aside in order to help Knife. In a way, they’re coming from opposite directions and they meet in the middle; though in other ways, they’re very much alike. They both have to get past their own pride.
Did you have to cut out many, if any, of the scenes with Paul and Knife?
During the revision process I cut one rather long and boring scene (no, really, it was) which was basically Paul taking Knife out on a date for reasons not very well explained by the plot, and replaced it with a much more dynamic and action-oriented scene which accomplished all the same things in a much more interesting way. There were also some longer conversations about art and the works of various artists that got dropped in the revision process, but again, I don’t think anybody would really miss them!
What do you consider your strengths as a storyteller? Your weaknesses?
I used to think I was weak at plotting and strong on character, but I’ve had people tell me they think my plotting is just fine, so I honestly don’t know any more! I have been told that my prose is good and I hope it’s true, because I work very hard to get the rhythm and flow of each sentence right, and to choose the right words for the story. My weakness is anything involving dates or numbers — I used to read posts on the Harry Potter forums where people would complain about J.K. Rowling’s inconsistent timelines or the confusing number of students at Hogwarts and think to myself, “Jo, we are kindred spirits.” I must have rewritten the timeline for SPELL HUNTER a hundred times as I was working on the book, and I won’t be a bit surprised if someone tells me it’s still wrong somewhere!
What is the worst thing that you have ever been told about your writing? What is the best?
The worst thing I’ve ever been told is that my action scenes were slow and dull — this after I’d written a story with what was supposed to be a very action-packed and dramatic climax. Ouch! So I really worked hard on getting my action scenes right after that. The best came from an editor who regretfully declined one of my manuscripts for market reasons, but said “Her prose is so darn smooth! She’s every editor’s dream.”
How does your faith impact your writing? Do you see it affecting your subject matter or stories?
There are some kinds of stories that I won’t write because of my faith — anything that directly contradicts or trivializes the Bible’s teachings, for instance. I think there’s plenty of room to write fantastic and speculative stories in between the lines, and to explore all the facets of human life and nature as well — it’s all in the way in which it’s done, and the intent behind it. In my case, my Christian beliefs definitely influence the kinds of stories and themes I find compelling and the way in which they play out, even though I am not writing “Christian fiction” as most people would recognize it.
So, what do you have in the works now?
Well, my second book’s just been published in the UK (as REBEL) and while I wait for it to be published on this side of the pond (as WAYFARER, in June 2010) I’m working on the third book in the series, called ARROW — that one’s scheduled for January 2011. After that I hope to do some revisions on a YA paranormal thriller, totally separate from my faery books, called TOUCHING INDIGO.
What is your favorite “fairy” tale?
A story specifically about faeries, you mean? I think I’m going to have to go with Maggie Stiefvater’s BALLAD, which is a darkly compelling, smart, wittily narrated tale of faerie for older teens. For younger readers, Laini Taylor’s DREAMDARK books (BLACKBRINGER and the just-released SILKSINGER) are delightful epic adventures about small faeries battling big scary forces of darkness, and would probably appeal to the younger part of my own audience.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk! Wishing you all the best for 2010 and eagerly looking forward to Wayfarer!
Thank you, Aubrey!
There were many other questions I had, but it turns out many of them had already been answered. Be sure to check out Rebecca’s other interviews!