Wednesday, 23 February 2011

FABULOUS AUTHORS: KAREN MAHONEY

Hello, dear readers, and Happy Wednesday to you! Today I've got such a special treat that I'm bouncing up and down slightly as I write this (I apologise for any resulting typos).

I had been aware of the buzz surrounding The Iron Witch for some time before it came out, mostly as a result of the beautiful and evocative cover, but also because I had heard intriguing things about the storyline featuring a strong heroine and a scrumptious hero. I went out and snagged a copy on the day of publication and I loved it, finding it a beautifully written and unique YA treatment of ancient British folklore skillfully woven with more modern myths of Alchemy.

In a strange coincidence (or was it?) Karen was one of the very first people that I 'spoke' to when I signed up for Twitter, and I soon learned that under her smiley, innocent exterior there lurked a fiendish alter-ego, known to her friends as Kaz.

So what could I do, dear readers, but try and pin this elusive writer person down for your entertainment? Luckily Kaz agreed to find the time in her currently rather hectic schedule to do a mini-interview on The Zoë-Trope, and I think her answers are extremely illuminating, although I'm pretty sure she toned down her eeeevil for the sake of our delicate sensibilities (but it's there, guys. The eeeeevil is there).

Me: Hi Kaz, and welcome to my blog! Anything you'd like to say before we start?

Kaz: First of all, thank you very much for inviting me over to chat! :) 

Me: You are very welcome. We're honoured to have you. And now - let the interrogation begin!  

Question One: When writing The Iron Witch, who or what was the core of the story for you, the element you loved the most or which was most important?

Kaz: That’s such a great first question. I’d say that the core of the story, which only really came out as I was writing, is the question: ‘How far would you go to protect someone you love?’ That’s the question that Donna Underwood, my main character, has to answer for herself, and I wanted to get across to the reader the terrible decision that she has to make – will she betray the secret Order of alchemists she’s been brought up with, to save her best friend’s life? I think this is a big part of why I love the cover so much: the dilemma is clear to see, showing a girl torn by the decision she has to make.

Question Two: You are British, but your debut novel is set in Ironbridge, an American town. What was the reason for this, and did it present any specific challenges to write?

Kaz: I never even thought about setting The Iron Witch in the UK. That sounds strange, considering it’s where I was born and has been my home all my life, but I’ve always loved the US and it makes sense for me to write stories set there. I’m particularly fond of New England—specifically Boston—so I created my own city, Ironbridge, and set it in Massachusetts. It’s a combination of everything I love about Boston and London; Ironbridge Common is a badly disguised Boston Common. ;)

There were challenges, because I had to Americanise (Americanize!) all my spellings and make sure to pick US words over their British equivalents. But I have American and Canadian critique partners, so that helped a lot. Also, I love TV shows like Buffy and Veronica Mars and The Vampire Diaries, and I think that way of speaking is just embedded in my brain somewhere.

Question Three: What is your writing process like? (ie. Do you type straight onto a laptop or use pen and paper? Where do you normally work? Are you a planner or a pantser?)

Kaz: I work best in cafés. I know that’s a total cliché, but it’s true – I’m currently typing my answers to these questions while sitting in one of my favourite writing haunts. There’s something about the bustle of life and people around me that sort of helps me to focus. When I’m researching, planning and brainstorming I write in Moleskine notebooks. (Though, when I say “planning,” I don’t mean strict outlining.) Writing a first draft is usually done on my trusty Alphasmart. It’s perfect because it ensures I can’t go online while writing, and you can only see a few lines of text at a time – which stops you from editing too much as you go along. I then download the day’s writing onto my laptop and run through it quickly to fix formatting and typos, then don’t touch it again until the whole draft is done and I’m onto revisions. Revisions have to be done on the laptop, and that’s where I struggle most – I much prefer blasting out first drafts. Rewrites and edits take me aaages.

Question Four: Can you tell us something - any tiny little detail - about The Iron Witch sequel?

Kaz: In The Wood Queen you will find out what really happened to Donna in the Ironwood, back when she was seven years old. You’ll also meet some alchemists from the other Orders – specifically the Order of the Crow (which is based in London) – when they all travel to Ironbridge for Donna’s trial.

Question Five: If you had to pick a song to listen to right now, what would it be?

Kaz: Oooh… I would listen to ‘You’ll Be Mine’ by The Pierces. I absolutely love it, and keep playing it over and over. It’s very magical and speaks of folklore and fairytales – the video is pretty awesome, too.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Ach, weren't those amazing answers! And just to make today's blog post even more special, I'm going to give away my copy of The Iron Witch (so that's a UK paperback, obviously) to one lucky reader! I will also include various bits of Shadows on the Moon swag, just to make it more interesting.

That's right, folks, the awesome is unstoppable today.

The giveaway is open to everyone in the whole world. To enter you need to Tweet a link to this blog post, share it on Facebook or in some way spread the word - it doesn't matter how, but please pop a link into the comments.

If you decide to link to the blog in more than one place, make sure you put each link you provide in a SEPARATE COMMENT on this post, or my random-number-generator-fu may go awry. But you don't have to. One link each is fine. The competition is open until next Wednesday.

Go forth and natter, my lovelies!

See you all on Friday, when hopefully I'll be posting about Writing Roadblocks...

25 comments:

Vivien said...

Fantastic review. I'm really eager for this book :)
Spread here:
http://www.goodreads.com/event/show/110070-iron-witch-by-karen-mahoney-giveaway

Vivien
deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

TheGirlOnFire said...

This book looks great. I can't wait to read it.
Spread here http://www.goodreads.com/event/show/110071-iron-witch-giveaway
Stephanie
thegirlonfire27 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Exciting, thanks for this Zolah!

I shared on my fb page:
http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/profile.php?id=706506276

Cheers, Hobbitlass

Isabel said...

OMG, I live in Boston!!! That was such a cool interview! I really want to read this book now!
A GIVEAWAY!!!!! EEP!!!!! Soooo exciting!!!!!! Okay, so I can just go to someone's blog and post a comment saying that you're having a giveaway and all that?? I'll go do that now...

Isabel said...

Here's where I spread the word:
http://thewordthief.blogspot.com/2011/02/when-time-is-btch.html#comments
Can't wait!! Thanks so much, Zoe!!

Isabel said...

And here:
http://enadream.blogspot.com/2011/02/slap-me.html#comments

Isabel said...

Does spreading the word more mean you get a better chance of winning?

Isabel said...

And here:
http://agirlandherbooksskm.blogspot.com/2011/02/snow-days.html#comments

Isabel said...

*Sobs*
Our Borders AND our Barnes & Noble that are nearest to us are closing down. Now there are no bookstores nearby that we can just walk to, and I don't know of any others in the area. I'm seriously sobbing all over the keyboard.
CURSE YOU KINDLES AND EBOOKS AND AMAZON!!!!!!!!!!!
I got The Charmed return, anyway. But I'm still not happy, because Borders is closing down. That Borders was one of my favorite places. And I at least thought Barnes & Noble would survive!
*Sobs some more*

Isabel said...

And I spread the word on Malinda Lo's blog, which I just found out about and bookmarked.
http://www.malindalo.com/2011/02/a-valentine-for-my-readers/#comments

Isabel said...

And I spread the word here:
http://hereiliereading.blogspot.com/2011/01/review-kenuskes-kingdom-by-michael.html#comments

Zoë Marriott said...

Isabel, it's great that you're wanting to spread the word, but putting links like that in the comments of so many blogs, especially ones where you're not well known, could be construed as spamming, and doesn't reflect very well on the giveaway. I think you should stop now. I'll make sure your points are entered.

Also, I can't answer anymore questions in this comment thread, because it's going to make it hard to use the random number generator. This comment trail needs to be for competition entries only, okay? Good luck.

Lady Kay said...

Fun interview! And the book looks nifty. What is it about UK covers anyway? Sometimes they're so much prettier than mine (US). Occasionally I order the UK version anyway, but that's because I'm special, of course.

Contest-wise: I spread the word on my Twitter.

http://twitter.com/#!/sadi_sei/status/40440419481423872

Thanks!
~Lady Kay
postedcontests (at) gmail (dot) com

Alex Mullarky said...

I tweeted! :)

http://twitter.com/ajmullarky

Alex Mullarky said...

Also I Facebooked it :)

http://www.facebook.com/ajmullarky

Alex Mullarky said...

Oh and I put it in a blog post :)

http://thewordthief.blogspot.com/2011/02/chapter-lengths.html

Erinberry said...

This sounds really good. I'd love to read it. Thanks for the giveaway!
tweet:
http://twitter.com/#!/Erinberry12/status/40518939477807104

erinberry12 at charter dot net

rachel said...

Eagerly awaiting this book! Thank you!
Spread here http://www.goodreads.com/event/show/110071-iron-witch-giveaway
Rachel
TheOneRing111 at gmail dot com

sadie said...

I spread the word on my blog: http://agirlandherbooksskm.blogspot.com/2011/02/iron-witch.html

Claire M said...

I've been wanting to read this for a long while now!

Here's the link: http://twitter.com/#!/autumnbutturfly I @mentioned you, just incase by the time you saw it I'd rabbited on and many more tweets were piled on top of it!

Thanks you :)

Claire M said...

I have also posted a link onto my tumblr: http://practicallyalice.tumblr.com/post/3564482308/the-iron-witch-karen-mahoney-giveaway

Thank you for running this giveaway -- good luck everyone!

Harriet said...

I've heard awesome things about this book.

I tweeted about it here:http://twitter.com/#!/harrietholmes/status/42278383618502656

belladonna[DOT]faeriecakes[AT]hotmail[DOT]co[DOT]uk
Good luck to everyone x

Anonymous said...

This sounds like an amazing read. Can't wait!

I shared the link here
http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/profile.php?id=677456156

-Katie-Lynn

Megha said...

I am SUPER-MEGA-HYPE to read this!!! I blogged about it:

http://enadream.blogspot.com/2011/02/giveaway-on-zoe-trope.html

I'mDifferentButMe said...

http://mymanybookreviews.blogspot.com/2011/03/go-to-check-out-zoe-marriott.html

Ok, this is mine, I hope it's ok, because it went a bit funny. I posted it on my blog which has book reviews.

Good luck everyone :)

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