Q. Where do you live?
Second star to the right, and straight on till morning. Or, at the back of the north wind.... Either will do. But more truly I live in a small, quaint New England town, with half a foot and part of my heart still in New York City.
Q. Who is your agent?
Jenny Bent of The Bent Agency.
Q. Is Lark Rising your first book?
It's my second, but the first to be published.
Q. Do you only write high fantasy?
Oh I hope not! That would be like saying I only eat one type of dessert.
Q. Tell me five random things about yourself.
- Throw me into whatever mud-slogging, hair-raising torture trek during the day and I will excel. But I have to reach safe haven (i.e. clean sheets and hot water) by dark.
- I love going to sleep because I have the most amazing dreams.
- My favorite writing utensil is an ultra fine point Sharpie (ALL the colors).
- I come from a line of highwaymen and at least one philandering earl.
- My galactic signature is Blue Resonant Hand.
Q. Who are your favorite authors? Books?
Shakespeare, Austen, the Bronte sisters, Dickens, Tolkien, Mary Stewart, Susan Cooper are just the first few that hit me—oldies but ever so good. Favorite books? Yikes. My go-to book is Pride and Prejudice
for the sheer joy of its language and happy ending. And then maybe one of Mary Stewart's thrillers (The Moon Spinners
, This Rough Magic
...) to wallow in delicious romance. The Dark Is Rising
is a favorite fantasy series, and a novel that made me sob for its beauty and storytelling is The Book Thief
. I'll kick myself for not including others I'll soon remember are also favorites, so if you're curious, please visit Goodreads
Q. Did you always want to be a writer?
No, but I always needed to express myself through stories. It just took me a while to figure out which way I was going to do that.
Q. You mentioned Nia in your bio. What is it?
Formally, it's a sensory-based movement practice, which you can check out here
. Informally, it is my de-stressing dance fix. I am a Nia black belt. I also teach it—otherwise I'd have to stalk other instructors to get said fix.
Q. Where do you get your story inspirations?
I gather images. A hawk alit on my porch railing one morning, which was the impetus for Lark Rising
. But I would also say that most images are squirreled away for future use, becoming inspirations when I'm not
trying to find them. If I go outside, wander, weed a garden, read a book, stare at clouds or stars and stop thinking
, they find me.
Q. Will you read my work? Tell your agent about me?
Alas, no, but if you write much and often, and if you read lots and lots, then you're already halfway there.
Q. Where do you write?
In certain comfy chairs, in my house or the coffee shops I frequent. I have my favorites and am very cross if they are otherwise occupied.
Q. Is there something you have to have with you when you write?
Tea—strong black tea with two or three splashes of whole milk. And it has to be hot, so I dump most after a few sips. I go through many, many cups a day, I'm afraid to say.
Q. Do you listen to music when you write? What sort?
Yes! Music draws out all sorts of feelings to work with. If I am in high fantasy mode, then the music is instrumental, sometimes portions of amazing soundtracks—Jocelyn Pook, Rachel Portman, Ramin Djawadi, for example. If I'm writing contemporary stuff then it's a huge mixed bag—I make playlists for certain moods. Cary Brothers seems to have found his way onto many of them.
Q. Do you have a favorite quote?
It depends on my mood. There are so many beautiful, powerful, whimsical things that have been said over the centuries and so many emotions to connect to—how could it ever be possible to narrow it down? But here, this bit stands the test of time (and mood):
"I say there is no darkness but ignorance..." Twelfth Night, IV ii
Q. Words of advice?
Slay your demons. And be merciless about it, as you will contrive such monsters only to hold yourself back. I know this well.