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...