Today I have a great pleasure to host Pauline M. Ross – an incredibly incisive reviewer and an author. Her first novel, The Plains of Kallanash, was self-published one month ago and reviewed by me yesterday. I’ve met Pauline online, on Goodreads, and admired her style ever since; I admit I was thrilled when she sent me her book and agreed to give an interview.
1. Welcome to Portable Pieces of Thoughts, Pauline, thank you for
accepting my invitation! First tell us a bit about yourself. What do
you enjoy reading? Who is/are your favourite author/s?
Thank you for inviting me. My first ever blog interview – so I’m
really excited! My favourite reading material is epic fantasy, but the
sort that focuses more on the characters than the battles with orcs.
If there’s a little romance in there too – hurray! I also read murder
mysteries, romances and the occasional literary fiction tome that my
book group forces on me. Favourite authors? Glenda Larke writes
wonderfully creative epic fantasy with fascinating characters. Andrea
K Host has the sort of quirky, intelligent style that twists and turns
– and doesn’t fall into the traditional gender stereotypes. Daniel
Abraham is another deeply intelligent writer, with an elegant writing
style. And I loved Mark Lawrence’s brilliant Broken Empire Trilogy.
2. What made you want to turn from a reader and a reviewer into a writer?
I was a writer long before I was a reviewer, and almost before I was a reader. I wrote little stories as a child, a form of (very bad) fanfic as a teenager, and in my twenties bashed out most of a Regency romance on a manual typewriter (which I’ve never dared to look at
since – it must be horrible). I’ve had stories in my head my whole life.
3. Please, tell us more about your first novel, The Plains of Kallanash. How long did it take to write it? Where did you find yourinspiration? What was, in your opinion, the most difficult part of the whole project?
The story started when it occurred to me one day that, no matter how outlandish fantasy worlds and creatures and characters might be, it’s almost invariably assumed that a one man/one woman marriage is the norm for humans. What, I wondered, would a society be like where marriage involved more than just two people? How on earth would that work? And once I started thinking about it, the story came together. It took a year to write the first draft, then it sat untouched for six months or so, and then another year to edit and polish and prepare it for publication. The most difficult part was pulling together all the threads at the end. The story had sprawled into a morass of meandering plotlines, which I didn’t have the nerve to prune. Fortunately, my beta readers made it clear what had to be done, and the final chapters are much, much better now.
4. Who is your personal favourite among all The Plains of Kallanash characters?
Dethin. To start with, he was intended to be an antagonist, but he wormed his way into my good books as the story progressed, and I found myself liking him more and more. I like Hurst, too, with his let’s-just-do-it approach to life, but Dethin is a more complicated,
and therefore more interesting, character, and I think he’s smarter than Hurst, too. Hurst gets himself into some terrible messes, but Dethin gets people out of messes in some creative ways. I like a character who surprises me (and yes, my own characters surprise me sometimes; it would be very dull if they always did what they were told).
5. You are a self-published author. Were you, at any point, tempted to contact traditional publishing houses and interest them in your book? If not – why?
No, never. I couldn’t see a traditional publisher ever being interested in something as different as ‘The Plains of Kallanash’, and I didn’t see the point in trying to get a deal and being repeatedly rejected. Nor did I want to get sucked into the glacial pace of mainstream publishing. The book was ready to go, why wait? I’m very happy I chose to self-publish. I have full control over the process, and I don’t feel I’m missing anything important.
6. The beta version of your book used to be freely available on your personal website, The Brightmoon Annals, a chapter a week (btw if you want to know more about Pauline and her book do visit that site, it’s so completely worth it); now it must be bought. What would you say to claims that once something is publicly available for free on the Internet it should stay so?
Interesting question. The internet is a strange beast, but it isn’t fundamentally different from any other marketplace (in the old-fashioned sense of a place where goods and information is exchanged). If a baked bean manufacturer has the right to set the
price of a tin of beans, and give some away as a loss-leader on a two-for-one offer or whatever, and then double the price a week later, I don’t see why an author or blogger shouldn’t have exactly the same right. Bloggers typically make their posts available for free, but many then take them down, repackage them into book form and sell them.
Many authors give away their books from time to time, as a way of enticing readers into a series or simply as a promotional tool. A book is a product, like any other, and can be priced however the author or publisher wishes. Giving away a product for a while is a goodwill
gesture; it isn’t a binding contract.
7. What’s your opinion about publishing stories clearly based on other authors’ novels but with different character names and plot tweaking (the so-called pulled-to-publish fanfiction) like Fifty Shades of Grey (based loosely on Twilight) or The Mortal Instruments series (based loosely on Harry Potter)?
Authors get their inspiration from many places, including other authors’ books. So long as there’s no actual breach of copyright or plagiarism, why not? I’d be very flattered if anyone ever wrote fanfiction based on my books.
8. What are your plans now? Another book? If yes, are you going to continue The Plains of Kallanash?
Another book, yes, but not a continuation of ‘The Plains of Kallanash’, and definitely no trilogy. The story of Mia and Hurst is now finished. The next book is ‘The Fire Mages’, set in another part of the same world. It features village girl Kyra, who sets off to be a
scribe and learn to write magic spellpages, and the two men who influence her journey. Along the way, there are adventures and secrets to be uncovered and a mysterious abandoned city and lots of magical things happening. It’s another epic fantasy with romance, and it should be published early in 2015.
Thank you for the interview, Pauline and all the best with your new project!