What writers inspired you to take on the epic fantasy genre?
Till now, it hadn’t occurred to me I had written epic fantasy, and to be honest I’m not a great reader of the genre. I prefer horror and the paranormal. The idea for my book came to me in a day-dream when I was listening to music. I had recently read Lord of the Rings, and it had the kind of magical setting I thought my newly created characters would feel at home in, so I guess if any writer inspired me, it must have been Tolkien.
Can you tell us about the setting and time period of The Exile of Elindel? Did you do research on the historical details you used?
I completed an English degree the year before I wrote the book and I had studied Anglo-Saxon as part of the course. The early Anglo-Saxon period seems to me very well suited to the sword-and-sorcery genre. I chose the year 500CE hoping to give King Arthur a walk-on part at some point, but many rewrites later he ended up on the cutting-room floor, so to speak. I wish I had done more research but I wanted to get stuck into the writing! If the facts aren’t completely accurate I don’t think it matters, however; it’s the essential atmosphere and the interaction between the characters I hope I’ve got right so the reader can get drawn into the story. It’s pure fantasy, after all.
What is your writing day like? Every day? Favorite writing spot? Plotter or seat-of-your pants writer? Tea, coffee, or wine?
I’m forced to go out every morning to earn a living and I also work from home as a proofreader when I have the clients, but I try to do some form of authory stuff in the afternoons and at weekends. I write in longhand at my kitchen table and type it up once the first draft is finished.
I started as a pantser which is why in the early days Exile ended up as epic fail rather than epic fantasy: a huge rambling manuscript that needed interminable rewrites. I’ll never write that way again. I always have a plot outline before I write now.
Tea, coffee, and gin!
How long did it take you to write Exile and what are you working on now?
It took half a year to write the first draft of Exile, but more than thirty years before I found a publisher, by which time it had morphed into a trilogy. Books II and III will be published by Musa Publishing in 2015.
A manuscript I wrote before Exile came to light last year when I was clearing out some cupboards. This summer I sat down and reworked it. It’s a paranormal thriller entitled The Curse of Cankerfret Castle. Looks like it will be a novella. For this book I came forward in time to 1985.
Do you have other works published?
I have a self-published Kindle eBook called An Elf’s Lament upon Leaving & Other Tales. It’s a small anthology of poems and short stories. I published it just to see if I could do it.
What are your most and least favorite parts of writing? Plotting? First Draft? Editing? Promotion?
I mostly enjoy playing with words and trying to come up with unusual similes and metaphors. It’s great when you lose yourself in the process and your characters come alive. I don’t enjoy how time-consuming writing is.
I like plotting when I can engineer a twist or do something that will surprise the reader: at heart I think all writers are really entertainers. What I don’t like is not being able to get a plot to work. It can take days of frustration to get the machinery of the story to run smoothly rather than clank along in a contrived fashion.
The First Draft is the start of the adventure and writing in longhand I love the way the manuscript grows organically: the ever-deepening pile of paper with my jolly hieroglyphics dancing across the pages, weaving their magical spell. At least that’s the dream but very often the reality is the crumpled paper on the floor and writer’s cramp!
Editing is just hard, intense work and yet I have learnt a great deal about writing in the process.
Promotion? A wretched business, especially for shy, retiring folk like me! But I have also enjoyed the connections I have made with new and very interesting people and I get to help them with their self-promo too, which I prefer to blowing my own trumpet.
Thank you for having me on your blog, Susan. I enjoyed answering your questions and they certainly made me think!
Carol Browne first appeared on the planet in 1954. She regards Crewe, Cheshire, as her home town and graduated from Nottingham University in 1976 with an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living in the Cambridgeshire countryside with her dog, Harry, and cockatiel, Sparky, when she’s not writing fiction, Carol spends her time as a housekeeper, proofreader, and ghost writer in order to pay the bills. Pagan and vegan, Carol believes it is time for a paradigm shift in our attitude to Mother Nature and hopes the days of speciesism are numbered.
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