I did a Q & A as part of the promo stuff supplied to blogs for the book blitz – here it is in its entirety, for your enjoyment. =) -Holly
Let’s start with telling us a little something about your book that might surprise us.
This is actually the tenth book I have published! It also puts me about 900 words shy of one million words written in just under four years. So great milestones, and I *think* this might be my favourite novel; I feel that despite her ups and downs and moments of weakness, Julianna really starts to come into her own.
What was your favourite scene to write?
I think the ending. Without spoiling anything… Julianna had to pull away from something, from a temptation that was great after she had suffered a lot. Even when she had a chance to enjoy things and get a respite she was restless, felt her duty tug on her, remembered her loyalties. She made a choice – a very definite choice and although she regretted the pain it would cause, she knew it was right. But to do all that she had to be honest with herself – about her feelings for various characters in the story, what she thought she owed others and herself. She wasn’t bitter about it either, although like I said there was some regret; I think that says it a lot about her, sums up her drive, her perseverance. She is not immune to fear or doubt, but she is very clear-minded when it comes to her principles and values and I was proud of her for doing what she did.
If you could hang out with one character in your book, who would it be and what would you do?
Hard choice! I love Julianna, and I think she is amazing – spending time chatting with her about how she has coped and adapted would be an incredible opportunity.
Tristan is also compelling – he’s achieved so much at a young age, is already one of the most respected leaders in Templar history, and is a heady combination of sensuality, intelligence and drive.
But I think I would have to go with Lucas. He is a complex character – motivated by intense passion and determination, with a dark and tragic history that has made him who he is. Lucas is an imposing figure, energetic and powerful, sort of like containing a thunderstorm in a spice bottle. If he would actually sit down and talk and share, I would pick him.
What was the most interesting part of your research for this novel? Is there something surprising or fascinating that you stumbled on?
First off, I tend to do a fair amount of research for my books. Even though I have a lot of interests across a broad spectrum of topics, I want to get it right and I don’t know everything, unfortunately! =) So researching herbs that are used in aromatherapy, types of weapons, the best treats for horses and the gaits they have… I look it all up. One thing that pulls me out of a book fast is reading something that I know is blatantly incorrect. I want my books to be accurate, as much as I can help it.
I love ruins and ancient fortifications and it was fascinating to look at layouts for castles and get a sense of the scale of them. They really were self contained, with things like bakeries, wells, halls and granaries surrounded by sometimes two layers of walls. The Cloisters layout is roughly based on the floor plan for Harlech Castle in Wales.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The death and destruction and in particular the Cloisters, which is a Julianna’s first large battle. The typical follower of the Void is ruthless, and up until this point you see the destruction they have wrought after the fact or watch as smaller battles like Hayden’s Gate unfold. Here I really wanted people to get a sense that the Templars are fighting a difficult war – that as much as you have seen them train and how they spar and prepare, they are battling terrible foes who have tireless servants. I wanted the weight of their responsibility and the near impossibility of their task to weigh on the reader.
What does your writing process look like? Do you outline the story or go with the flow?
I know the story from start to how it will end and I also know the big milestones or revelations that will occur, so it’s just a matter of weaving it all together and ensuring the flow of information works well. I don’t outline it, other than having it in my mind as I mentioned, although I do use OneNote to track everything related to the lore and story that is important, so I can refer to it easily.
So generally once I sit down I just start typing. =) I might add something or change around a scenario with another one or alter a little detail, but for the most part it’s a matter of following the track in my head and figuring out the specifics of dialogue and minutiae. I save my document at various points along the way, using an underscore and letter after it to show the order, so I can back track if I make some significant changes I decide to reverse. It’s only happened once, but I’m paranoid I might tear something up or change things around and then have to undo it all!
How do you go about creating your main character?
I was a geek when I as a kid, still am to a large degree, and got used to being alone or perhaps ostracized and that made me an observer. So I notice details, mannerisms and the like, and I know I weave them – or something like them – into every character. I want them to feel unique, for speech patterns to perhaps have a different cadence or vocabulary selection, so that is how I go about building up my characters, thinking about the little things that make someone an individual. I don’t try to do that just for my main, but for important supporting characters as well. I want them all to feel fleshed out, and although there are traits I admire or focus on for my main characters, I do try to differentiate them in some way.
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
I am in all of them to some degree, probably. I channel and recall the emotions I have had at various times – uncertainty, disappointment, passion, lust, surprise, et cetera – and try to conjure them with my writing when it is appropriate. Although I’ve never had to sword fight minions that want to kill me, when I am tackling a scene I might recall something difficult I have done and try to extrapolate that for Julianna’s character and set of circumstances.
With regard to Julianna, I sympathise with her determination and frustration, and then her acceptance of her situation and after that how she pushes forward to make the best of it. I moved across the country by myself when I was eighteen and had no idea how difficult it would be – there were no friends here just two acquaintances and some saved money but no job. It was a huge adjustment; Seattle is very different from the NJ/NY area where I spent my entire childhood, and I initially had these feelings of alienation and confusion whilst trying to learn the city and get my feet under me. I definitely think about that when I am highlighting Julianna’s uniqueness and pangs of loneliness.
Give us a brief description of “The Templars Falter” using only 2 sentences.
Juliann’s tryst with Lucas is a secret and soon she learns something unexpected about VoidCleaver; it all weighs on her, and she is not certain who to trust. The battle at the Cloisters gives Julianna a glimpse of the power inside her while at the same time showing her the terrible price that must be paid while fighting the Void.
Want to be daring and share some of your (writing-themed) confessions?
Despite this being my tenth book, I still get nervous when I publish! I’ve accidentally uploaded the wrong covers and old documents, had issues at one point with the cover not showing on the nook, periodically had readers email me with weird formatting problems I have a hard time replicating… I spend a great deal of time and energy trying to make the story compelling and consistent, and the moment of truth – ‘firing phasers’ as it were – still rattles me a bit. I want things to go smoothly, but fear they won’t! I also dread the post-publication depression I get. For a few weeks it is a little hard to focus on things, especially writing related, I get distracted… it’s because so much of my concentration and efforts have been on finishing and getting the novel ready for release. I wake up and go to sleep thinking about the bloody thing, so when I don’t have that task to focus on, it takes me a while to re-centre and move on. I’m still in publishing mode afterwards, even though it’s done… sort of novel empty-nest syndrome or something!
I absolutely need snacks when I read – what would you tell me to eat while reading this book?
Julianna misses the comforts and familiarity of the world she knew – even though there are analogues for a lot of the things in her new world, it’s not quite the same. I think she would want to enjoy something fairly pedestrian to us but missing from her life in Galea. Maybe veggies with onion dip, potato chips with Hidden Valley Ranch dip or just some salsa and chips; food you would nosh on easily while watching a movie, which is something she will never get to do again… unless she finds a way back. When we’re away from home it is the simple comforts that call to us the most, so I would suggest going with that. =)