- Are your characters based on real people or are they all from your imagination?
- Why did you choose to write your book set in the 14th century?
- What is your favourite part of “The Poison Throne”?
- When is your next novel due to be released?
- What inspired you to write this trilogy?
- Who inspires you?
- Do you have a favourite character?
- If so, who would it be?
- Is there a character that you really hated creating?
- Do you enjoy writing?
- Do you ever find it stressful?
- Have you any hints or tips for young people who wish to become authors?
Well, I do mention an Arab inventor called Badi’ al-Zaman al-Jazari. He was a real person, as was his work The Book of Ingenious Mechanical Devices. ( I believe it was on tour in the Chester Beatty a few years ago, I deeply regret not having seen it.) But, of course, al-Jazari is not a character in the book. So the answer is no, the main characters are not based on real people.
I’ve kept everything grounded in the realities of everyday life at the turn of the fourteen hundreds, though. Even the fact that Wynter is a guild approved carpenter isn’t too off the wall, as records show that there were two female Blacksmiths practising in London only a few decades later. Though there is an element of fantasy to the books ( ghosts and talking cats and the like) I’ve kept the technology as accurate as possible. In regards to some things that come later in the series, I’m trying as much as possible, to make sure that Lorcan would actually have been able to succeed in building The Bloody Machine.
It just came out that way! It’s a time I’m interested in, a time of great change and innovation when the renaissance was beginning to ask questions about the nature of humanity and its place in the world.
Later in the trilogy, someone mentions Razi and Jonathon’s ‘scandalous humanism’ This refers to a renaissance way of thinking about human beings and how they relate to each other. The philosophy of humanism was a great step towards Europeans treating each other with respect and understanding regardless of their religion, and also a step towards understanding the physical properties of this world, instead of simply answering every question with ‘because God wills it.’
I also wanted to explore the consequences of living in a world where violence is an acceptable method of getting what you want. What kind of person would you become in that situation? How would you go about standing up for what you believe?
I think I can quite honestly say that my favourite part of the book is the characters. I love these characters, they are very real to me.
Autumn 2009. All the books are written and with my publishers, just waiting to go out!
Hee, I know I’ve told you this before, but it’s the truth – I have this thing, this kind of visual in my head? Of a dark room with lots of boxes in it. Each box has a story in it, and they sit there ’til I’m ready to work on them. Inside the box, while they’re waiting for my attention, they percolate, or they grow. Like coffee, or fungus.
Anyway, The MooreHawke trilogy began while on holiday to the South of France, it was a little story about a carpenter’s daughter, a missing prince, a ghost in an avenue and, perhaps, the mention of a talking cat. It was intended as a sun-soaked, bright, action adventure type thing. My kids like to tell me that it went into the box a happy, skipping child and shambled out the other end a drooling, blood-soaked monster. I suppose they’re not far wrong.
In terms of what writers inspire me? I have an abiding love of John Steinbeck. I love Neil Gaiman, Patrick O’Brien and the great Shirley Jackson. I also adored Stephen King’s early work, his early stuff is absolute genius.
I suppose, anyone who’s work moves or intrigues me is an inspiration!
In The Poison Throne? No, I don’t think so. They’re all so different, and they all have their own motivations and their own ideas on how to deal with this very trying and extreme situation they find themselves in. I may not agree with how some of them handle themselves, but I feel for and sympathise with them all.
Sorry, I genuinely can’t choose! I’d love to know who your favourite character is though! If anyone wants to let me know feel free!
Gosh no! Even my bad guys are fascinating to me. I think it would be impossible to create a character towards whom I had no sympathy at all. There are some characters that I hate to let go – Rory for example, I really wanted to put more of him into the story. But there was no place for him. Thankfully he plays a huge role in the prequel, so I get to hang out more with him then.
I love writing, always have.
Well, it’s extremely hard work and some days, particularly towards the end of last year, I had to really force myself to sit down and write my four pages a day because I was so tired. Also, at least once during every project I hit an almost insurmountable patch of self-doubt where I question whether anyone will ever want to read the story. At times like that I find the whole thing very stressful, but for some reason I keep going.
Write everyday, whether you want to or not. Try and get at least four pages done. It’s very important to have discipline in order to get anything finished because you will always hit that wall during a project where you feel you can’t or shouldn’t go on.
Write what you love or believe in, not what you think other people want to read. You need to be invested in your subject if you want other people to believe in it too.
Also, find someone you trust who will read your work and give you an honest opinion. It’s difficult at first, because it’s hard to separate the constructive criticism from the hot air, and you need to believe in yourself enough to know the difference. If you can’t talk to someone face-to-face there are many very good writing forums on-line. One of the best of them is, Absolutewrite It’s a great source of information for all stages of writing, and has a place where you can share your work and get comments. ( it’s also a great place to learn about the actual business of publishing, and what to expect if and when you ever get around to submitting a ms for publication.)