Bristolian author Joanne Hall has chaired many BristolCons, Bristol’s premier science fiction and fantasy convention, and also runs the Bristol Fantasy and SF Society Facebook group. With editorial hat on she does occasion work for Dark Ocean Studios, a comics company based in San Jose, plus several anthologies published by Wizard’s Tower. Her New Kingdom fantasy trilogy, published by Epress Online, was a finalist in both the Pluto and Eppie awards. Her latest fantasy series The Art of Forgetting duology is published by Kristell Ink. Joanne’s latest novel, Spark and Carousel, which she describes as “Oliver Twist meets The Godfather, only with magic and demons”, is also due to be published by Kristell Ink in Summer 2015.
Tell us a little about yourself and your writing.
I live in Bristol with my partner and our super-lazy greyhound, and I’ve been making things up and writing them down since I first learned how to hold a pencil. I’ve dabbled in music journalism and I worked for eight years in a record shop before I finally gave in to the lure of being a full-time writer. My last two novels, which make up the Art of Forgetting duology, have been published by Kristell Ink, and I edited Colinthology and Airship Shape and Bristol Fashion with my splendid partner-in-crime Roz Clarke.
My next book, Spark and Carousel is due out around September and I’m currently working on a novel which is borderline flintlock fantasy and not quite like anything I’ve written before. More info at Joanne’s Blog, Heirath
What is at the root of your current book/story?
Spark and Carousel is set in the same world as my previously published novels. It’s a stand alone, but it does feature a couple of recurring characters and makes reference to events in previous books. It’s the story of Liathan, raised to be a mage, who is forced to kill his master and goes on the run in the mean streets of Cape Carey, where his untapped magical powers become the target for two rival criminal gangs and unleash a danger that threatens not only the city, but the whole world. It’s like Oliver Twist meets The Godfather, with magic and explosions…
Ebooks or Traditional?
I like both. I think there’s room for both. When I started out there was still a lot of resistance to the idea of Ebooks, at least in the UK. I prefer reading on paper, but if a generation of people who might not pick up a paper book are happy to read books on their Kindles or tablets, that can only be a good thing.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
You can’t edit a blank page.
Also (one that made me smile) – There are no publishers living in the bottom drawer of your desk.
What’s the most important thing you have learned about writing?
That you need to do it every day if you’re serious about it. The part of your brain that you write with is a muscle, and like any other muscles it needs a regular workout. It’s so easy – and I’ve done it myself – to fall into the trap of “I don’t feel like it today, I’m too busy, I’ll do it tomorrow.” Once you’ve fallen off that horse it’s bloody hard to get back on it again. It really is one of those things where the more you do it the easier it gets.
Which of your previous works are you most proud of, and are there any that you would like to forget about?
I’m proud of all my books – they’re like my babies! My first three novels were published by Epress Online, an American publisher, and I’m gradually re-editing them for new editions to be published by Kristell Ink at some point in the future, which has been interesting. Some of the actual writing has been a little shonky, but I think the story holds up very well. There’s nothing I’ve written that I’d like to forget about, because I think everything I’ve written, even the ropey stuff, has contributed to my growth as a writer. I’m incredibly proud that The Art of Forgetting : Rider has been listed for the Tiptree Award this year – that’s a big achievement!
What one genre/plot cliché would you get rid of?
The idea, which is thankfully becoming less prevalent in modern fantasy, that everyone in the world is white and heterosexual. I can’t believe in a world where everyone is white and straight, it’s just nonsense. If we can imagine dragons, or talking trees, or underground cities, surely it’s not a big stretch to imagine a diverse world?
What are you currently reading?
I’m currently about halfway through Nunslinger by Stark Holborn, which I’m thoroughly enjoying. It’s the story of Sister Thomas Josephine, a nun with a gun on the run in the Old West. It was originally written as a series, so there’s a cliff-hanger every few pages. It’s tremendous fun.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I still read some of the authors I grew up reading, Rosemary Sutcliff, Diana Wynne Jones, David Gemmell, Anne McCaffrey. These are the books I return to over and over. I love Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, Gareth L Powell, Emma Newman… loads of stuff. Recently I’ve been reading Jen Williams, who writes proper sword-and-sorcery with a modern twist. And Steven Poore, he’s new. His first novel, The Heir to the North comes out this summer – I’ve read it and it’s excellent, so looking forward to seeing that in print!
What are you up to next?
I’ll be at Microcon in Exeter on February 7th, hosting a workshop on world building and fantasy mapping, which should be fun – I’ve only done it with about six people before so doing it with a whole crowd might be a challenge! On Feb 27th Gareth L Powell and I are appearing at a BFS event at Bristol Central Library, reading and doing a Q and A. I’m writing my flintlock fantasy, and we’re about to start the final edits of Spark And Carousel for a late summer release. My cover artist Evelinn has shown me some designs for the cover and it’s beautiful. So lots of fun things happening!
To find out more about Joanne go to her blog at http://www.hierath.co.uk or find her on Twitter at @hierath77
The Art Of Forgetting
Book one: Rider (2013)
A young boy leaves his village to become a cavalryman with the famous King’s Third regiment; in doing so he discovers both his past and his destiny. Gifted and cursed with a unique memory, the foundling son of a notorious traitor, Rhodri joins an elite cavalry unit stationed in the harbour town of Northpoint. His training reveals his talents and brings him friendship, love and loss, and sexual awakening; struggling with his memories of his father who once ruled there, he begins to discover a sense of belonging. That is, until a face from the past reveals a secret that will change not only Rhodri’s life but the fate of a nation. Then, on his first campaign, he is forced to face the extremes of war and his own nature. This, the first part of The Art of Forgetting, is a gripping story about belonging and identity, set in a superbly imagined and complex world that is both harsh and beautiful.
Book Two: Nomad (2014)
Friendship dies in the face of cruelty; new loyalties are forged, blood merged into new life…
In a single moment of defiance, driven by a rash act of compassion for a stranger, Rhodri turns his back on his unit, his country and his comrades in arms. Taken in by the Plains Hawk tribe, he finds compassion, love, and a new purpose for his unique memory. But just as he is beginning to accept his decision, an invasion from the east throws the tribe into chaos, and threatens to destroy the new life he has built.
Rhodri must rally the tribes to take on his former comrades, his former friends, and fight the forces of the crown he swore to protect-and the sister he has never known. Thrust into the role of leader, he must use the very lessons he learned in the King’s Third against his closest friends, and his most bitter enemy.