Today on The Tattooed Book Geek as part of the Blog Tour for The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Book 2) by Jen Williams I am pleased to be bringing to you all an exclusive interview with the author. The previous book, The Ninth Rain was one of my top ten books from 2017 so this is an absolute privilege for me to be taking part in this tour and to have Jen appear on my blog.
Welcome, Jen and massive thanks for appearing on my blog.
1 – Would you please tell us about The Bitter Twins?
The Bitter Twins is the follow-up to The Ninth Rain, and the second book in the Winnowing Flame trilogy. In it, our heroes must deal with a world that has changed almost overnight. The legendary war-beasts, who have always protected Ebora from the invading threat of the Jure’lia, are young and inexperienced. War is inevitable, and the world hangs on the brink of total annihilation. So, Vintage, Tor and Noon have a lot on their plates, then.
2 – If you had to sum up The Bitter Twins in one sentence, what would it be?
SHIT JUST GOT REAL. Um, I mean, dark secrets and darker truths come to light as the protectors of Sarn attempt to save their world from an implacable threat.
3 – What was your favourite part of writing The Bitter Twins?
One of the characters has ended up on the wrong side – Hestillion is now a ‘guest’ of the Jure’lia, on board the corpse moon. Writing her complex reactions to her situation, and her complicated relationship with the Jure’lia queen, was both challenging and fun. The truth is, I really enjoy writing baddies.
4 – I have to say that you have some absolutely fantastic cover art for The Winnowing Flame trilogy (your Copper Cat trilogy does too, alas, I’m yet to read that) do you have a hand in the designs yourself?
Not so much, although my brilliant publisher always asks me for my thoughts. I usually write up a quick document, just going over which bits I think are interesting visually and what might be cool to have on the cover. With the Winnowing Flame books we had a slightly unusual outcome in that the magnificent blue griffin who appears on the front of The Ninth Rain doesn’t actually turn up until The Bitter Twins (although he is briefly referenced in a painting). I love that though – it’s like a little subversion of what you’re expecting as a reader.
OK, we’ve learned about The Bitter Twins. Now, I’d like to change tack for a different section of the interview. I think it would be fun to find out what type of character you would be if you were writing yourself as a character in a book.
5 – What would your character name be?
Jelanna the Accursed, Walker of the Path of Darkness and High Priestess of Lak’Nor, Consumer of Worlds. First of Her Name.
6 – What would your background be? Noble born? Royal Bastard? Farmer? Slave? Poor? Orphan? Mad God?
Jelanna was born of a conclave of druids, high in the Abyssal Mountains, most of whom were wiped out by a plague sent by Lak’Nor when she was seven.
7 – What type of character would you be? Good guy? Bad guy? Anti-hero?
I would describe Jelanna as ‘chaotic neutral’. She doesn’t have any personal grudges but she is quite happy to cause lots of trouble.
8 – What would your profession be? Warrior? Mage? Annalist? Assassin? Evil Overlord? Government official? Spy? Concubine?
Warrior-assassin-mage. Why not all the things?
9 – What would be your weapon of choice? Is the pen mightier than the sword or do you choose something to illicit visceral limb severing carnage?
Jelanna prefers the ‘lots of stabbing’ method of communication, and consequently keeps around 20 blades of various size on her at all times. Many of them are tainted with poisons that do all sorts of nasty things.
Last part of the interview. We’ve talked about The Bitter Twins and your fantasy character. Now, I think it would be interesting to find out more about you, a sort of uncovering the veil and seeing the person behind the book.
10 – When did you decide to become a writer?
I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a very small person. One of the first things I remember asking for at Christmas was a desk, and I followed that up with a typewriter for my birthday. I’ve always loved stories.
11 – Why do you write/What inspired you to become a writer?
I think this is one of the impossible questions – it’s just a part of who I am. I’ve wanted to tell stories for as long as I can remember and this is the natural outcome of that. For years I dabbled with short stories, convinced I didn’t have the stamina to write an entire book. And then after an especially bad day at work, I just started writing scenes, not sure how any of it fitted together – after about two years, I had a book (a really bad book, but still a book). No one was more surprised than me.
12 – What do you find to be the most rewarding part of writing?
Seeing my books on shelves is an incredible thrill that never gets old, and I love getting messages from people because they’ve grown to care about my characters and want to tell me about it. From the writing process itself, I really treasure the moment where a new plot point suddenly drops into your head and makes sense of the whole thing in an unexpected way. That is the best feeling.
13 – What is it about the genre that makes you want to be a fantasy author?
As a reader I always want to be completely transported – I want to go somewhere I’ve never been before, and meet entirely new people. Fantasy, with it’s strange and wondrous worlds, gives you that sensation more than any other genre.
14 – When writing are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m a mixture of the two. Usually I will have a rough plan and a detailed set of character notes when I start the first draft, but I always go in knowing that the plan will likely have to be thrown out and rewritten at about the 60,000 word mark. When a book is growing organically, that’s when you know it’s working.
15 – Have any authors influenced your work?
There are lots, but I suspect that Terry Pratchett, Robin Hobb and Stephen King are the three biggest influences. Stephen King teaches you readability, Hobb gives you exquisite character progression, and Terry… Terry taught me about human nature in general, really. And the value of humour in writing.
16 – What are your top five favourite books?
Impossible! Random choices right now? Ship of Destiny by Robin Hobb, Lords and Ladies by Terry Pratchett, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke, and Watership Down by Richard Adams.
Bonus question time!
17 – So, I have read that you are a huge fan of Thundercats?!? Are you sure Transformers wasn’t the better 1980’s cartoon? 😉
Oh goodness me no. To be fair, I didn’t watch Transformers when I was a kid (I did own a Transformer but broke it the first time I attempted to transform it, so…) but I have sat through the animated movie… Look, Thundercats has a giant fortress shaped like a cat, lots of alarming leotards, and an utterly badass theme tune. What more do you want?
18 – If you could change one thing about the state of the world, what would it be and why? – your answer can be serious, fun or both.
I would ban all raisins and currants from baked goods, and replace them with chocolate chips. No longer shall we live in shriveled fruit tyranny.
Well, that concludes the interview, many thanks to Phoebe at Headline for inviting me on to The Bitter twins Blog Tour and of course, to Jen for taking the time to visit my blog, it’s been a pleasure having you on The Tattooed Book Geek and I wish you all the best.
The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2).
The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again.
Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.
The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists – a distant island, mysteriously connected to the fate of two legendary Eborans who disappeared long ago.
But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.
Join the heroes of THE NINTH RAIN as they battle a terrible evil, the likes of which Sarn has never known.
Purchase The Bitter Twins (The Winnowing Flame Trilogy 2).
About Jen Williams.
JEN WILLIAMS started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and hasn’t ever stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and her debut novel, The Copper Promise, was published in 2014 to huge acclaim. Jen was nominated in the Best Newcomer category at the 2015 British Fantasy Awards and her second novel, The Iron Ghost, was shortlisted for the 2016 British Fantasy Awards Novel of the Year award. All novels in the Copper Cat Trilogy, The Copper Promise, The Iron Ghost, and The Silver Tide, are available from Headline in the UK. The Ninth Rain is the first electrifying new novel of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. Jen lives in London with her partner and their cat.
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