Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Willa Cather

Author Interview ~ Jamie Marchant


Let’s add to the over-50 Author Interviews on this blog by introducing Jamie Marchant:

Author Jamie Marchant Jamie, let’s start with the question, when did you first consider yourself a writer?

I think I have always considered myself a writer even when I wasn’t presently writing.  As a young child, I never remember wanting to be anything else. I started writing stories about the Man from Mars for my older sister when I was about six. I then wrote a fairy tale for her, starring her and her husband. Throughout my adolescence, I continued writing and finished my first novel in high school (not that it was publishable). Still, I had it pounded into me how hard (next to impossible) it is to make a living as a writer, so I decided to get my PhD and teach college English. In doing so, I lost my way and neglected my muse. What I’d begun as a means to support myself while writing became an aim in and of itself. I focused on writing literary criticism in order to further my career as a professor. One day while I was working on a piece of literary criticism on Willa Cather, I realized not only did I have no interest in writing the piece, but also that I hadn’t written fiction in years. I abandoned the piece on Cather and started what was to become my first novel, The Goddess’s Choice. That was about fourteen years ago. I may not be rich, but I’m a much happier person since I returned to my first passion. The Soul Stone is the sequel to The Goddess’s Choice, although it is not necessary to have read the first book to understand the second.

Who was your favorite character to write and why?

The Goddess's Choice Samantha, the crown princess and then queen of Korthlundia. She is the type of woman I aspire to be. I originally created her in The Goddess’s Choice to combat the gender bias in the fairy tale upon which that novel is based. “The Princess and the Glass Hill” was my favorite fairy tale as a child. (Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of it. No one else has either.) It didn’t occur to me until I was older just how negligible the princess  in the tale is. The hero tames magical horses of bronze, silver, and gold and rides them up the impossible sheer side of the glass hill. It is with him that I always identified as a child. The princess, on the other hand, does practically nothing. She has no name and no role other than being handed off as a prize to the victorious hero. Samantha remedies this defect. She is a strong and powerful heroine who needs no man to complete her. Still, she has her weaknesses and insecurities at being thrust onto the throne at the young age of nineteen. She is my gift to all the girls and women who long for a fairy tale princess who deserves the name of hero.

Tell us a bit about Korthlundia where your main tales are set. Your main characters seem neck-deep in royal intrigues, on their guard every minute. Is the world also at war all the time? Do regular folks suffer from whoever’s opposing the goddess? Basically, what kind of a world are we dealing with here?

Korthlundia had enjoyed over fifty years of unbroken peace because of its geographical isolation and the wise rule of Samantha’s father, King Solar. Both the nobles and common people prospered. The troubles in Korthlundia began when Duke Argblutal murdered the king and attempted to usurp the throne. Samantha was only nineteen years old, but she and Robrek put him in his place, six feet under, at the end of my first book, The Goddess’s Choice. However, the nobles aren’t too keen about a young woman and a common young man taking the throne, and the unrest is starting to affect regular folk as well. This is especially true when, in my second book, the Soul Stone breaks loose from its ancient bonds and begins to kill indiscriminately.

Why did you write your second novel?

When I came to the end of The Goddess’s Choice, my main characters—Samantha and Robrek—let me know that their story wasn’t over. They had so much more to say, so I let them say it in The Soul Stone. Too many stories end with the marriage of the hero and heroine, as does The Goddess’s Choice, but real life doesn’t end with marriage. Marriage is a beginning, not an ending, and our romantic relationships are only one aspect of our lives. Problems, difficulties, and complications often beset us even when our relationship with our significant other is going well. The Soul Stone lets me show this. Robrek and Samantha remain in love, but their lives are anything but soothe sailing. The Soul Stone

Jamie, what experiences from your past do you find yourself drawing on for inspiration in your work?

Reading and storytelling were a big part of my childhood. My mother read to us and took us to the library regularly to make sure we always had books. In addition, my older sister told me fairy tales and other stories. It is this heritage of stories that I draw most heavily upon when I write my own work. Other aspects of my experience come in from time to time. I drew on my grandmother to create Samantha’s father, King Solar. My fascination with the archaic nature of rodeo comes in with my current work in progress. However, it is the stories I was told as a child that provide a richer source of inspiration than my actual experiences.

Which element of book writing is most difficult for you?

Fight scenes. I’ve never particularly enjoyed reading fight scenes and often skim through them. That’s made them hard to write. My writers’ group makes fun of me because in the rough draft of my work, I’ll often have “Insert fight scene here” instead of the actual fight scene. Although I’ve gotten better at fighting, I don’t think I’ll ever be an action master. Character development is more my forte.

Who’s your favorite author?

It’s hard to pick just one, so please forgive me if I mention two: Mercedes Lackey and Jim Butcher. Lackey’s Valdemar books showed me the true potential of creating an entire fantasy universe. Her world-building skill is exquisite, and her characters are so rich and vivid that it makes it seem you could actually know such people. I loved them or loved to hate them. I have attempted to recreate both of these aspects in my own, Kronicles of Korthlundia, of which The Soul Stone is the second book. Jim Butcher is also a master at both world building and character development. In addition, his novels add an element of humor that makes his novels that much more appealing.

What are you working on now and would you like to share anything about it?

I’m working on two projects at the moment. One is the third book in The Kronicles of Korthlundia series of which The Goddess’s Choice and The Soul Stone are a part. I don’t have a title for it yet, but let’s say it continues the adventures of Samantha and Robrek and involves dragons and a barbarian invasion. I’m also working on a novel, again unnamed, about Samantha’s true father, Darhour, and how he became the notorious assassin that he is.

Well, my goodness, Jamie, you’ve told us so much about your writing life and your books! Thanks, so much, for visiting—please let us know where we can find you on the ‘Net.

Here’s my WebSite.

My Facebook page.

And, me on Goodreads.

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Author Interview ~ Simone Benedict


Ever lived in Kansas?

Ever wondered how to escape from Kansas?

Our interview is with an author who can answer yes to both those questions :-)

Without further ado, here’s Simone Benedict.

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Let’s start with where you’re from, how old you are, and is Simone Benedict your real name?

I was born and raised in Kansas near the exact center of the continental United States. Currently, I’m living in the same place. I’m in my forties. Simone Benedict is one of my pen names. As happens with some fiction writers, I was categorized into a certain type of writing under other names. The new pen name has helped me to expand my writing into other areas.

When did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside back then?

I first began to write stories down when I learned cursive writing. I was telling tall tales long before then. I don’t remember feeling anything inside. It just seemed to be a part of who I was. A grade school teacher wrote on one of my papers, “You’re a great story teller!” Inside, I felt proud that she was impressed.

Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

After I learned to read, I thought I could be a writer like the authors of the books. After being published, it felt good to walk into bookstores and find my work on the shelves. I felt like a writer at that point because my book was with other writers’ books.

What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

At this stage in my life, I only hope to do my best. Like everyone, I would like to have one of my novels take off in an astonishing way. Yet, I think more than that I would feel a deep satisfaction if only one person was affected positively by my writing.

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

I didn’t pursue an M.F.A. The degrees I did pursue required a great deal of focused non-fiction writing. I always enrolled in creative writing classes as electives, but they were not of help to me other than requiring me to write. If I could do it over, I would take more care in selecting writing classes that were taught by good writers by reviewing their work before I enrolled in the class.

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

I believe there are two things that have taught me the most about how to write. Reading a lot of books is one. The other is my “hands on” and diverse life experiences. To most people it would seem my life has had no direction and I just hopped around like a vagabond. Of course I hopped around like that. I was busy gathering material. Over time I’ve worked and re-worked the material giving me the experience of how to write.

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

There are so many. My favorite authors include most of the well-known writers. Anais Nin’s Journals affected me because of her beautiful and open style. St. Teresa of Avila’s, The Interior Castle, also affected me because of her brilliant use of language (originally in Spanish) and imagery in describing that which can’t be seen and is not fully understood by anyone. Another author who comes to mind as a favorite is Willa Cather. I’ve always admired her strength in character development.

Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

Most of my ideas begin over some situation I see in the real world. Through my writing I imagine other outcomes of the situation I see. Other times, a character comes to mind so I place him or her in small plots which gives me more ideas.

What is your normal revision or editing routine?

After writing, I re-read several times, and at least once aloud to make sure the words “sound” true. I then set it aside for up to a week if I can restrain myself from returning to it for that long. Then, I re-read for grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors. As I do this, I check for balance in paragraph length, chapter length, and making sure it “looks” right. After that, I place it in my done cabinet and move on to the next project.

Are you published?

I’ve been published. I don’t know when I’ll be published again because I haven’t set any goals. It isn’t something that’s important to me at this point. Writing is.

Tell us about your blog: its purpose, how you go about deciding what to post, and what you want to do with it in the future?

My blog is silly and sometimes absurd. On occasion, I write posts about writing or my thoughts about a book. I just go by the seat of my pants when deciding what to post. I don’t have a method. As I wrote in a past post, my hope is to eventually narrow the focus of my blog. I hope to stop the silliness and be more serious. I believe this will happen very soon.

Thanks, so much, Simone for taking the time for this interview! And, I hope you keep a little of that silliness in the blog :-)

I hope our readers will put a few questions for you in the comments!!

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