Today I am thrilled to welcome Australian's own fantasy author Juliet Marillier to Misty's Mess! With more than ten books and countless awards under her belt, it is a great honour to be able to talk to Juliet about her life as an author.
1. Your books are set overseas, for example, Wildwood Dancing is set in Transylavania and in Cybele's Secret your characters visit Turkey. What is it like writing about countries and cultures outside your home in Australia?
For me, story and characters come first and setting second. But the setting can be integral to the story - this is so with all of my books, not just those with the more exotic settings such as Transylvania and Turkey. For any book, whether it's set in the author's homeland or somewhere far away, the author needs to know the setting thoroughly to make it real for the reader. That means thorough research including, if possible, spending some time in the country of the story to get an idea of climate, terrain, culture, language and so on. It's a pity a writer of historical fiction can't go back to the time of the story for research! Of course, only about ten percent of the research actually gets into the book, because you don't want to overload it with detail, but the ninety percent the author keeps to herself helps her to create a believable world for the reader.
2. What particular elements of the country or culture you are visiting do you try to take back with you to Australia to use in you novels?
I focus on whatever I need for that particular story. Folklore, music, cultural aspects are usually part of it. For Cybele's Secret I was especially interested in learning about Islamic culture, and it was important for me to visit some mosques and talk to some Muslim women about their daily lifes and religious observances. For Wildwood Dancing I wanted to find out about merchant life, the guilds, the goods, the transport, and also have a good look at the terrain in Transylvania, where the very long, hard winters would have a real impact on how families could work, travel and survive. For some of my other books, set in earlier times, there are fewer historical records and artefacts to look at. My new series for young adults, Shadowfell, is set in a very ancient version of Scotland, and for that I'm having to do some educated guesswork about what the characters' world might be like. I'm hoping readers will be pleased with the result! The first in that series will be out towards the end of 2012.
3. What are the main influences on your writing?
Traditional folklore, fairy tales, myths and legends. Also, good writing of all kinds - I grew up on Shakespeare and the classic novelists such as Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Bronte. I believe the key to learning good style is to read as widely as you can, far outside your own genre. I do have some favourite contemporary authors, but nobody I would list as a particular influence. I think my early love of traditional storytelling had by far the biggest impact on the way I write.
4) Is there any thing else you would like to add?
Just thank you for having me. If any reader visiting this blog has not yet tried my work, it's a blend of folkloric fantasy, historical fiction, romance and family drama. I write both adult and young adult books. My work often appeals to readers who don't usually venture into fantasy, as it's strongly character-based. I will be happy to send a signed book to one randomly chosen reader who comments on this interview.
A BIG thanks to Juliet! It was a pleasure interviewing you.
For the giveaway, the rules are as follow:
- International! YAY
- You must leave a comment at the end of this post and make sure to specify which book you would like. For Juliet's full list of published works see goodreads.
- All followers of Misty's Mess will receive a second entry
- The winner will be randomly chosen via random.org
- The winner will be announced on Misty’s Mess on the 31st August