I am so excited to share with you all an interview I recently done with Karen Mahoney, author of The Iron Witch and The Wood Queen. You can check out my reviews of both books by clicking on them.
BelleBooks: First of all I just want to say thank you for taking time out to stop by the blog for this interview!
I’ve just finished The Wood Queen and I loved it! I really don’t think I can wait another year for the third book, The Stone Demon! Anyway, on with the questions...
BelleBooks: As a UK based author, what made you decide to set the Iron Witch series in the US?
Karen: I’ve always loved the US – especially Boston – and so decided to base Ironbridge on a combination of London and Boston. I suppose I grew up on US television and comic books, and it became such a part of my consciousness I knew my first book would be set there.
BelleBooks: I’m assuming we will get to see Donna in London in The Stone Demon, what is it like
writing about a city that you actually know?
Karen: You will! It’s fun, though I’m realising how much harder it is – strangely – to write about the city I live in as opposed to an imaginary city that I made up. You have to get everything right, otherwise people will be able to say: “Hey, the British Museum isn’t on that street!” With Ironbridge, I can say whatever I want because it’s my creation. ;)
BelleBooks: Will we get to see everything wrapped up in The Stone Demon?
Karen: Yes. The first draft is done (but is a huge mess at the moment), and there’s a ton of work still to do. I want to make sure I don’t leave any annoying threads hanging. I’m not saying there won’t ever be the possibility of returning to Donna’s world, but it won’t be for a while so I want the end to be satisfying. The most important thing to me is that readers see Donna move forward and be strong in her decisions.
BelleBooks: I’ve read about your inspiration for Donna’s tattoos coming from The Armless Maiden folktales, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Karen: I am fascinated by folklore and fairy tales. The Armless Maiden or Handless Maiden stories have many different names and versions that come from all over the world. There’s a version called ‘The Girl with Silver Hands’ – because the point of the story is how the girl or maiden has her hands and arms cut off by an evil force (often the Devil), and later is given magical silver arms by a prince and his magician. The story is about women regaining their strength and identity after loss. I related to it so much, in all its many forms, and knew I wanted to create a female heroine for today’s YA market inspired by the tale.
BelleBooks: Who is your favourite male character in the Iron Witch series?
Karen: Ha! I’m tempted to say: “I don’t know,” just so I’m not playing favourites, but who am I trying to kid? It’s gotta be Navin. He’s fun to write.
BelleBooks: Why did you decide to write young adult books?
Karen: I didn’t, really. The first novel I seriously tried to write and finish was an ‘adult’ novel (urban fantasy). When I ran out of steam with that, I got obsessed with The Handless Maiden stories and it just made sense that the protagonist of my version would be a teenager. The original folklore is a coming of age story, so Donna’s story also needed to be a coming of age tale.
BelleBooks: I’m super excited for Falling to Ash to be released, do you have any idea when that will be out, or when we will get to see the cover for it?
Karen: It should be out in the UK this autumn. Hopefully September/October 2012. I heard from my editor that they are working on the cover now! I don’t know when we’ll see it though.
BelleBooks: How long does is generally take for you to write a book?
Karen: It varies. Also, you have to remember that sometimes writers will bash out a first draft really, really fast, and then spend months revising, rewriting and editing. In term of writing a quick first draft, the fastest I’ve ever written one so far is 6 weeks, but it took more like four months to write a rough draft of Falling to Ash. Then I spent months revising it, so all in all it would have taken something like a year to write!
BelleBooks: What are you currently reading?
Karen: So many things. I always read lots of stuff at once, but let’s see… The books by my bed right now are:
THE YEAR OF THE BEASTS by Cecil Castellucci
This is an ARC I ‘won’ – i.e. paid for by bidding on it – in a charity auction. It’s YA, a mixture of regular prose novel and graphic novel, and will be out in the US in May. I just finished it and it’s so, so good!
THE DEMON’S LEXICON by Sarah Rees Brennan
Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve already read this about three times. Four times is okay though, right? ;) One of my favourite YA books ever. I’m always trying to figure out how Sarah did it.
THE BRIDES OF ROLLROCK ISLAND by Margo Lanagan
I’ve just started this, so can’t tell you much about it. Apart from: selkies! What more do you need to know?
BelleBooks: Do you have a favourite book that you can read over and over again?
Karen: See above, re. Sarah Rees Brennan’s trilogy (all three books are great). But my biggest comfort read is JANE EYRE.
BelleBooks: Do you have some advice for any budding young authors out there?
Karen: People probably get fed up hearing this, but I’ll say it anyway: read, read and read some more. Then write as much as you possibly can. And then read even more! Also, don’t be afraid to write the things that are in your heart – tell the stories you really want to tell. You don’t have to listen to what other people say you ‘should’ write. There is no ‘should’ in fiction, just the stories you simply have to share.
BelleBooks: Thanks again for your time today Karen!
I also have a suprise for you all! I'm giving away a brand spanking new copy of The Wood Queen by Karen Mahoney courtesy of Random House Children's Books. This giveaway is open to UK residents only, sorry.
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