Where did the idea for Starborn come from? I’ve been asked this question rather a lot recently so I ought to have a glib answer to hand, but the truth is Starborn wasn’t birthed from any one idea, but a whole rambling tapestry of fantasy tropes, characters, settings… I spent my teenage years immersed in the genre, reading thousands of pages and picking up scraps of inspiration along the way. If I had to choose one stand-out influence, it would be Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time, especially his first book, The Eye of the World. Something about its scale excited me; it’s a coming of age narrative set against a vast backdrop of history, which binds the protagonist and his friends into intricate destinies they cannot escape. I enjoyed Jordan’s prose and his diverse cast of characters (too many in the end), and when I encountered it at 17, it seemed the height of epic storytelling. It made me want to snatch up a pen right there and then.
Have you always wanted to write that kind of genre? The short answer is yes. My love of writing is intertwined with my love of fantasy and I simply wouldn’t enjoy it if I had to write something ‘straight’. I’ve always suspected as much, but it was cemented for me when I began my Masters in Creative Writing. I’d promised to give general fiction a go and I did try, setting my first short story in an asylum. But fantasy crept in anyway and I ended up telling a story about an inmate who turned into a great golden hunting cat and carried his fellow patients to freedom. Ask any of my classmates and they’ll tell you it was hopeless from the start!
What advice do you have for people who want to become an author? It’s important to make a distinction between author and writer. I’ve been writing all my life, but it’s only recently that I’ve become an author. When I wrote my first book (I was 15 and it sucked), it was for fun, because I wanted to, because I couldn’t help writing it. Starborn was the same, except that I entertained the hopeful notion that someone would publish it when it was done. Even if it hadn’t found a publisher, I’d still have written Book Two – this is a story I feel I have to tell. What I mean to illustrate by the above is that it’s the writing itself that I love and though being published is the most amazing thing, I would still be writing even if I wasn’t. Write every day and write what you love, not what you think will sell / what publishers are looking for. If you feel real passion for your work, you can’t help but infuse that passion into your prose.
What are some of your favourite authors/books? It’ll come as no surprise when I say Tolkien – there’s something enduring about The Lord of the Rings that seeps into your soul and stays with you forever. More recently, I read Uprooted by Naomi Novik and I can’t recommend it enough. It’s everything I love about fantasy all rolled into one. Jen Williams is another recent favourite for the way she casts a modern eye over traditional fantasy without sacrificing the tropes that made it great. And Samantha Shannon’s Bone Season books are an example of phenomenal storytelling combined with a rich setting and characters you really want to meet.
What do you do when you're not writing? Reading and playing RPGs like Skyrim (I just bought Dragon Age: Inquisition as a tiny present for myself so you might not hear much from me over the next month). I also play the piano.
Who inspires you? I’m easily swayed by great literature and inspired by whatever I’m reading at the time. For example, I was bowled over by Uprooted and found some of its images creeping unerringly into my writing.
Are you working on anything at the moment? I’ve just handed the first draft of Book Two over to my editor (eep). Although the story is always in the back of my mind, the wait for edits is a great opportunity to put some much needed distance between myself and the book so that I might have a better critical eye when it’s time to work on it again.
Death and destruction will bar her way. . .
Kyndra’s fate holds betrayal and salvation, but the journey starts in her small village. On the day she comes of age, she accidentally disrupts an ancient ceremony, ending centuries of tradition. So when an unnatural storm targets her superstitious community, Kyndra is blamed. She fears for her life until two strangers save her, by wielding powers not seen for an age – powers fuelled by the sun and the moon.
Together, they flee to the hidden citadel of Naris. And here, Kyndra experiences disturbing visions of the past, showing war and one man’s terrifying response. She’ll learn more in the city’s subterranean chambers, amongst fanatics and rebels. But first Kyndra will be brutally tested in a bid to unlock her own magic.
If she survives the ordeal, she’ll discover a force greater than she could ever have imagined. But
could it create as well as destroy? And can she control it, to right an ancient wrong?