Saturday, 20 July 2013

Q&A with Hannah Blatchford

1-What were your favourite childhood reads/authors?
In early childhood I read a lot of adventure books, particularly by the author Willard Price. I loved to read about new places and exotic locations. In my teens I discovered Terry Pratchett and he was then, and always will be I suspect, my favourite author. I read his books to ragged shreds!
I am also a huge fan of Robin McKinley and Georgette Heyer.

2-Do you have any outstanding memories of reading as a child/teen?
Reading has always been an escape for me. As a child you don’t really have an awful lot of freedom to do what you want and often you find yourself being dragged around a lot in the wake of your family. With a good book though I could always wile away any boring times and escape from any difficult family moments. Books have certainly helped to ease some of the more challenging times in my childhood.

3-What genres do you enjoy?
I am a big fan of fantasy, sci fi and more recently paranormal romance. However I also read a lot of romance, adventure and historical books too.

4-Are there genres that you never read?
I have a very susceptible imagination and horror books give me nightmares so I stay away from them as much as possible.

5-Is there a book world that you would love to step into?
I am not a huge Harry Potter fan but I did enjoy the first few books, before it got so dark and intense.
Hogwarts is amazing and I would have loved to have stepped into this world and enjoyed my school years there learning wizarding.

6-What attracts you to buy/choose a book?
I tend to only buy books by authors I already know. I try out new authors and books at the library first and then if I enjoy them they will go on my buying list.

7-What do you enjoy seeing in a book?
I do like a happy ending. I also want to get to know the characters so I like to find out what they are thinking and feeling.

8-What puts you off a book?
Too much darkness and depression. I read to escape most of the time so I don’t want to be hit with too much hardship and suffering. On the other hand I don’t like things too mawkish and sentimental either so something in the middle is best.

9-What current authors do you enjoy?
Recently I have discovered Paul Magrs. His Brenda and Effie stories are just paranormal perfection – the Bride of Frankenstein opening a B&B in Whitby? Pure genius!

10-Have you been influenced by any authors?
If I read a good story it sparks my imagination and sets off new ideas and inspirations. Really good writers make me want to do better in my own work. Reading work from authors like Terry Pratchett and Robin McKinley is like attending a masterclass. I can’t hope to reproduce their talent, but it does give me an idea of what standard I want to aim for.

11-What made you decide to write a novel?
I have always enjoyed writing stories, even from a young age. When I ran out of the books I liked I would start making up my own stories. I get great ideas about characters or even whole scenes all the time and jot them down in notebooks.

Looking back through my notes one day I realised that one idea had really taken over and I had written enough material nearly four whole chapters. I started to work on this exclusively and found the story just flowing out of me. I didn’t set out to write a novel but once I started I couldn’t stop writing until I had found out what happened!

12-What are the most rewarding and frustrating things about being an author?
Writing seems to fulfil some basic part of me. It is a very cathartic experience and can help me work through bad experiences and difficult emotions. In my early career working in offices I never really created anything or saw the results of my labour. This was quite demoralising but once I had written and published my book I thought ‘Yes, I can achieve something!’

Writing can be tortuous as well. There is often a huge gap between how you imagine things in your head and how they appear on paper. Sometimes it feels almost impossible to write as well as you want to and this can be very frustrating. Criticism can be hard to deal with sometimes as well, but you have to accept this whenever you create something and put it out there in the world.

13-How difficult is it to promote your book?
Promotion is very difficult for self-published authors. I spent hours and hours writing letters and emails, sending out free samples and trying to get the book seen and heard. There are many useful online readers blogs/forums that can help you spread the word at little cost. Ultimately though really good promotion costs time and money, things which unfortunately many self-publishing authors do not have.

14-What do you like to see in a reader review?
I want to see an honest reaction. Writing should make you feel something, good or bad, and I want to know people have read my work and had some kind of emotional response.

15-What do you prefer not to see in reader reviews?
I hate to see spoilers! A review should not give away too much, just tell you the what the reader thought was good or bad.

16-How did you decide on the title Friend or Fae?
I agonised over the title. Finally I decided on a play on the saying ‘friend or foe’. Whenever you read about fae folk they are nearly always dangerous or bad (even the nicer ones) and therefore nearly always the ‘foe’. The idea is that the title gives you the hint that the book is in the paranormal genre and that things are going to be a bit dark. Although everyone always asks me what the title means so maybe I overthought this a bit!

17-How would you describe your book?
It’s dark and sometimes violent. I believe there is a message of hope there too, in that if things go wrong, if you do wrong, there are steps you can take to get your life back on track again.

18-Frankie's world seems dark and cruel. Why did you choose that kind of plot ? What do you think it adds to Frankie and the story?
When you are going through that difficult transition between being a child and adult the whole world can seem very cruel and uncaring. There can be lots of difficult decisions to make and it can be too easy to get it wrong. I wanted Frankie’s experiences and the cruelness of the world around her to reflect the darkness that many people do face when growing up. I wanted to show that even if you get it wrong at first, it is never too late to try and be a better person. This is central to book and a key drive behind my writing.

19-Tell us a bit about how and why you chose the paranormal creatures featured.
I love all things myths and legend. I wanted to include my favourite paranormal creatures but with a bit of a twist to try and bring something new. For example were creatures appear in the book, but they are very human still, and it is their nature rather than their bodies that revert to the animal.

20-What do like best about Friend or Fae? Anything you wish you had done differently?
The best bit about Friend or Fae is that it is the book I have always wanted to write. I think it does try to express the core feeling that I have that sometimes the world can be dark and hard to face, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try and do the right thing and make life better for you and those around you.

I learnt a lot from writing my first book. Looking back I wish I could have afforded to get the book professionally edited. Editing your own work is very difficult and little errors can really put readers off. A professional viewpoint would have been very helpful.

21-Will there be a sequel?
Yes I am working on it as we speak. A slow process as I write in my spare time (which there seems to be less of each month).

22-What can we expect from your next book?
A bit more action and character development from the next one, now all the ground work is out the way the plot can really get cracking.

Thanks Hannah!

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