Shadowfell/The Heir of Night Book Draw Result:
Thank you so much to everyone who read the interview and particularly to those who commented to enter the joint Shadowfell/The Heir of Night giveaway. Both Juliet and I appreciate your interest and participation.
The draw has now been made by Random Number Integer and the winner is [drum roll!]:
Congratulations Tyler-Rose! If you email me your posting details at contact[at]helenlowe[dot]info, Juliet and I will get the books in the mail to you asap.
Today I am delighted to be interviewing Juliet Marillier here on the Supernatural Underground, with a particular focus on her new YA novel, Shadowfell, which is released in North America this month and was published in Australia in July. But first, although she may in fact need no introduction, I would like to take a moment to introduce Juliet herself.
Introducing Juliet Marillier:
Juliet Marillier’s historical fantasy novels for adults and young adults, including the popular Sevenwaters series, have been translated into many languages and have won a number of awards including the Aurealis, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Sir Julius Vogel Award and the Prix Imaginales. Her lifelong love of folklore, fairy tales and mythology is a major influence on her writing. Juliet is currently working on the Shadowfell series, a story of tyranny and rebellion set in a magical version of ancient Scotland. When not busy writing, she tends to a small pack of waifs and strays.
In addition to this interview, you may find out more on Juliet’s website http://www.julietmarillier.com; she also blogs monthly on http://www.writerunboxed.com.
Interview: Juliet Marillier and Shadowfell
Juliet: YA stories feature a young adult protagonist or protagonists and usually focus on that character’s journey toward maturity ( the tradition of the Bildungsroman.) Learning about love / relationships is an important part of that stage in our lives, so it’s not surprising so many writers are building strong romantic elements into their YA stories. I don’t remember quite such an emphasis on romance in the books my children read as young adults, so I do think the approach has changed. Within my genre of fantasy, there’s been an upsurge of paranormal romance, partly generated by the Twilight books, but also reflecting the popularity of this sub-genre with adult readers. There are far more female fantasy writers (and female fantasy readers) than there were, say, twenty years ago, and perhaps female writers are more confident about including a good love story in a fantasy novel.
Helen: The tagline says that the heroine, Neryn, is “alone, afraid, hunted”—what do you feel are the important elements that make a distinctive heroine, in general terms, and particularly distinguish Neryn in this story, Shadowfell?
Helen: The hero is also vital to a successful romantic story, but Flint is perhaps more complex—or conflicted—than the usual romantic hero. Was he a difficult or easy character for you to write?
Juliet: Flint was a great character to write – he came to me fully-fledged, complete with a backstory that emerges gradually over the series. The nature of Flint’s profession means he’s constantly having to set aside his conscience, and as the story develops we see how much that is costing him. Flint is quite young, only in his early twenties, but is quite hardened by the terrible things he’s had to witness and (more importantly) to do in order to keep his identity secret. He’s quite enigmatic as a result of always clamping down tight on his emotions. This is not a standard ‘good girl falls for bad boy’ scenario. There are lots of moral grey areas in the Shadowfell series and some hard choices for both Flint and Neryn.
Helen: Shadowfell returns to the predominantly Celtic tradition that informs your adult books. Do you think Celtic traditions and worlds particularly lend themselves to romantic Fantasy? And/or are you drawn to it for other reasons?
Juliet: Celtic folklore and mythology is packed with intensely romantic stories – not only love stories, but big-R romances with sweeping themes of lovers parted and thwarted, gods sweeping in to reward or punish, kingdoms won or lost, honour and courage tested to breaking point. The Celts had a strong artistic tradition alongside their warrior tradition, and those two combined to create some grand stories that touch the heart and stir the spirit. For me, that tradition lends itself perfectly to romantic fantasy.
That’s certainly one reason why the Celtic tradition appeals to me, and why I chose to set my first novel, Daughter of the Forest, in Ireland even though it’s based on a Germanic fairy tale. An even stronger reason is that my ancestry is Scottish, with a touch of Irish, so I was brought up surrounded by Celtic culture, with parents who loved music and stories. When I was writing Shadowfell, the Scots dialect spoken by most of the uncanny characters flowed off the pen as a result of that early exposure to the tradition. I should add here for the benefit of potential readers that the country of Alban, where Shadowfell is set, is not actually Scotland, and the series doesn’t belong to any known period of Scots history. Alban is a magical variant of ancient Scotland.
Helen: Do you have a personal boundary between romantic and sexual content in your storytelling, particularly when writing YA?
Juliet: It’s a matter of writing what’s appropriate to those characters and that story. And to what fits the time and culture of the book, very important – what might be considered OK in this age of sexual freedom would be unthinkable in some historical or quasi-historical settings. I don’t include graphic sex scenes in YA novels, neither the ‘ insert tab B in slot A’ variety nor the kind full of heavy breathing and euphemisms for body parts. As a reader I prefer a ‘less is more’ approach to scenes of high emotion, including love scenes. I have a different approach when writing for adults – where the story requires it I do include sex scenes, both the romantic kind and, occasionally, the abusive kind. I am always aware of the likely readership for a particular book or series. I have once or twice had young adult readers who have gone on to read my adult fiction when they were not quite ready for it, and have been a bit shocked by some of the content. But other readers of the same age have been fine with my adult novels. The YA classification (approx. 12-17) covers such a huge range of maturity, as well as reading ability, that there can’t be a ‘one size fits all’ rule for what a writer should or should not include.
Helen: To finish, if Neryn and Flint each had their own theme music, what would it be?
Juliet: What a great question!
Flint: “On the Edge” by Scottish folk/rock band Runrig
Neryn: “Sol Invictus” written and performed by Thea Gilmore
Helen: I love both those themes! Thank you so much for agreeing to be my guest here on the Supernatural Underground today – I have very much enjoyed our conversation and look forward to the next instalment of Neryn and Flint's story.
|Gemmell Morninstar 2012|
The draw will remain open for a week so entries for the draw will close at midnight, US Eastern Standard Time on Friday 7. The draw will be amde using Random Number Integer and the result will be posted at the top of the interview on Saturday 8.
About the Interviewer:
Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012 for the first-in-series, The Heir of Night. Helen posts every day on her Helen Lowe on Anything, Really blog, on the first of every month here on the Supernatural Underground, and occasionally on SF Signal. You can also follow her on Twitter: @helenl0we