What is the link between your story and the Great War?
My story is set at the time of the Great War and halfway through there’s a flashback to an earlier event in the same war. The wartime backdrop is essential to the story, since the central character is on a wartime government mission to a remote part of England.
What concerns did you have while writing, and how did you plan to cover the subject matter? Were you worried the book would turn into a horror anthology?
I actually based my tale on a true story about a government inspection of a remote island and an earlier landing of a German Zeppelin on the same island during the First World War. My characters and locations are all fictional, however. Of course the fantasy/horror core of the story is invented too. I was a little worried it would be too obvious a genre twist but hoped that the unusual backdrop (which, as I said, I gleaned from a real event) would give the story a boost.
What’s the usual genre for your stories? Did your Silver Light story create difficulties because of its war genre?
I usually write classic fantasy based on mythology, whether set in our world or invented worlds. The Silver Light story was definitely darker than my usual stuff and also represented a foray into a different kind of fantasy. The war genre didn’t create difficulties – I did a fair amount of research about daily life during the First World War and the story flowed from that, as well as from the inspiration to have someone stuck somewhere remote for supernatural reasons.
What is your preferred reading matter? Do you read novels or short stories?
My preferred genre is classic fantasy and I usually read novels and novel-length material by writers including J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen R. Lawhead, Robert Jordan, Neil Gaiman and Robin Hobb. I also like medieval historical fiction and historical fantasy such as works by Kate Mosse and Elizabeth Chadwick. Occasionally I venture into science fiction.
Which writer would you invite to dinner, and why?
This isn’t a very original choice, but I think it would have to be J.R.R. Tolkien (if I’m allowed to invite a dead writer, that is). Although my inspiration has moved on more recently, the reason I’m writing at all is following my first reading of The Lord of the Ringsas a child, so I would want to ask him about all the things that moved me in that book and encouraged me to have a go at creating moving fiction myself.
Is anything interesting happening on your literary horizon at the moment?
I’m working on a Young Adult novella about a world that’s really a rose, as well as on the rewrite of a Young Adult novel set in a world based on medieval France. I’m also a freelance translator from French and Italian and am currently looking around for opportunities to jump into the fantasy genre as a translator. Given that I already write in that genre, it should be doable.