Thursday, April 16, 2009

Interview with Juliet Marillier!

Juliet Marillier is the author of Wildwood Dancing and Cybele's Secret,
as well as many other adult fiction novels. She has recieved
multiple awards for her books, and is visiting us today with a wonderful interview! Make sure to enter the contest to win signed copies of her books.
What is your favorite and least favorite part about being an author?
Several favourite parts: being able to earn a living doing what I love best; sharing my stories and ideas with readers; interacting with aspiring writers.

What was the inspiration for Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret?
Wildwood Dancing grew out of a favourite fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses. I wanted to get away from the Celtic settings of my adult books and try something darker, hence the choice of Romania as the location for the story (Romanian folklore has vampires and werewolves.) I love stories about sisters and about girls growing up, meeting challenges and finding their own strengths. I also wanted to write a Frog Prince story in which the strongest bond of love and friendship was between the girl and the frog, so she was sorry and angry when he turned into a man. Cybele’s Secret developed from the character of Paula as she appeared in the first book. As a scholar and an independent woman in a time and culture when women had limited choices, Paula breaks quite a few barriers during her adventures.

Where do you do the majority of your writing?
I work at home, mostly at the kitchen table. I do have a study, but the dogs like to be close to me and their beds are in the kitchen/ living room. They get anxious if I am not around. My living area opens onto the garden through French doors, so it’s a nice place to work.

Which book were you the most pleased with, Wildwood Dancing or Cybele’s Secret?
Wildwood Dancing ended up being harder to write, because my editor wanted lots of changes to the original manuscript. I was happy with the final versions of both books, so I think it’s a tie.

Who is your favorite character that you created in Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret?

I’m very attached to Stoyan, but if I had to choose only one character, I couldn’t go past Gogu. Every girl should have a frog like him!

Do any of your characters reflect yourself or anyone else you know?
There are bits of me in many of the female characters, especially in scholarly Paula. All authors use their day-to-day experience to build characters and stories, but everything gets mixed up and changed in the creative process, so it is often unrecognizable in the final book. That happens with characters, too. I never write characters who are exactly like anyone I know, but I’m sure some elements or traits of real people make their way into certain characters.

What are you working on now?
I’m writing an adult fantasy called Song of the Island, which is a sequel to Heir to Sevenwaters. My next book out will be Heart’s Blood, a stand-alone adult fantasy set in medieval Ireland, in which the central character is a female scribe called Caitrin. It’s a kind of ghost story, and will be published in November 2009. I will be writing another book in the Wildwood series, probably after Song of the Island.

What are some of your favorite YA writers?
Sarah Beth Durst, Margo Lanagan, Patricia McKillip, Margaret Mahy. And lots more!

What are your hobbies?
Looking after my animals; reading; knitting. I’m currently making a jacket for my youngest granddaughter in red, yellow, green and black stripes. I belong to a gym and enjoy exercise. And I like gardening.

Do your hobbies and the things you enjoy and love have an influence on your writing? If so, how?
Yes, they definitely do. For instance, there’s usually at least one dog in each book. If you meet a male character in one of my books who is good with dogs, he will probably turn out to be the hero! My love of gardens and plant lore and the fact that I belong to a druid order means there’s quite a bit about nature, landscape and plants in the stories. Fabrics and sewing come up quite often, too – I had fun creating the girls’ party dresses in Wildwood Dancing and the exotic clothing Paula wears in parts of Cybele’s Secret. As for things I love, I am very close to my family, especially now I have four granddaughters, and I think I build that theme of family love and loyalty into all my writing.

Would you like to tell us more about your home, the kelpie cross, miniature pinscher, and tricolored cat?
My home is a cottage built around 1900 (that’s old by Australian standards) and it’s in a narrow street in one of the older parts of Perth, Western Australia. I live at the conjunction of two rivers. It’s only a minute’s walk to a riverside area of trees and walking paths, great for exercising the dogs. This area has some wonderful, huge old trees called sugar gums, and a lot of historic buildings from the first European settlement in 1826.

The animals are a big part of my life, sort of substitute family, though I have real human family as well. The old kelpie cross, Outlaw, died last year – it was very sad for me. Some of my feelings about losing him have gone into the next book, Heart’s Blood. However, I do still have two dogs. Gretel, part miniature pinscher, part Tenterfield terrier (delicate little black and tan dog with huge ears) has lived with me for about 7 years, since I got her from a dog shelter. She has the sweetest nature of any dog you could imagine and is very loyal. Sara is an elderly, blind Maltese cross (white fluff-ball) who has been with us for less than a year. I took her in when she lost her previous owner. Sara is the Jekyll and Hyde of dogs – 90% sweet old lady, 10% hell hound. She thinks she is Empress of the house and everyone in it, even though she is the smallest. Sonia the cat, aged 15, has lived with me longest of all. A tri-coloured cat brings good fortune to any home. Sonia puts up with everything calmly. She likes to sleep on the table, spreading herself over as much of my work as she can.

What are some things that your readers probably don’t know about you?
I love watching World Cup soccer. I don’t read much fantasy. In Cybele’s Secret, I made Paula face three things I’m terrified of – swinging bridges, heights and being underground in the dark. Some of my favourite foods are mushrooms, broccoli and sweet potatoes (the Maori name for these is kumara.)

1 comment:

  1. Nice interview--I really enjoyed it. I haven't read any Juliet Marillier, but I'll try to soon!


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