Saturday, September 1, 2012

An Interview with Juliet Marillier Discussing "Shadowfell" — Plus A Giveaway!

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!]:

Tyler-Rose Counts

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; she also blogs monthly on


Interview: Juliet Marillier and Shadowfell

US Cover
Helen: Juliet, Shadowfell is your third specifically YA novel, following on from Wildwood Dancing and Cybele’s Secret, and all three have strong romantic elements. Do you feel this is an increasingly important part of writing YA stories, or part of a continuing tradition?

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?

Australian cov
Juliet: Ideally, the reader will be able to walk in the heroine's shoes during the novel. The heroine needs to be a true individual with her own strengths and weaknesses and her own quirks. She has to have room for growth, because we want to see her make some kind of journey as the novel progresses. So she shouldn’t be too perfect! When we first meet Neryn she’s at a very low point (hence the tagline.) She’s lost everyone who was important to her, and has no resources other than a talent that seems more curse than blessing. And she lives in a place of fear and distrust; a place where one wrong word can get you killed or enslaved. Neryn is no warrior girl. She’s vulnerable, as any fifteen-year-old would be out wandering on her own with nobody to turn to. As the story progresses we see her find strengths she didn’t know she had.

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.


New Out!
Gemmell Morninstar 2012
To celebrate release of Shadowfell in North America and thhe recent success of The Heir of Night in winning the Gemmell Morningstar Award, Juliet and I are doing a joint Shadowfell/The Heir of Night giveaway today. To enter, just post a comment on the interview – and don't forget to "add 1" for spreading the word via any of Facebook, Twitter et al, to increase your chance to win.

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:
Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, interviewer, and a 2012 Ursula Bethell Writer-in-Residence at the University of Canterbury. The Gathering of the Lost, the second novel in her The Wall of Night series, was published in April, and she has recently won the 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


Tyler-Rose Counts said...

Great interview! I loooove all of Juliet Marillier's work. I can't wait to shirk my homework so I can read the new ones.

SarahJane said...

I love Juliet's work, particularly the Sevenwaters series!

SandyG265 said...

I haven't read anything by Juliet yet.

Beth said...

Juliet Msrillier is one of my favorite authors. I was happy to see Daughter of the Forest get a mention as it is probably in my top 5 reads. I've read it numerous times since I first read it (nearly 10 years ago!) Thank you ladies for the lovely interview as well as the chance to win the two novels.


Beth said...

I tweeted here:


Anonymous said...

Just finished the "Blade of Fortriu" and can't wait to read more!


Wendy said...

I absolutely LOVE Juliet Marillier's books! Altough I like some more than others, none of them are below 8/10. Definitely my fav author.

Paige said...

Just finished the Bridei Chronicles. LOVE J.M.'s work, eecially Daughter of the Forest and the others of the Sevenwater Series. Thanks for the interview, can't wait for more of her books!

Pedaniel7(at)yahoo(dot) com

Bethany said...

Can't wait for 'Shadowfell'! Really enjoyed reading the interview too.


Helen Lowe said...

Great to see all your comments & glad you all enjoyed the interview.

June said...

I have read the Australian release of Shadowfell. It is a good read and I will be getting the sequel. I want to see what Neryn does next or more to the point how she does it.

It is YA but it cross-over very easily for adults. I am an adult reader.

The links to the theme music for the characters is worth a quick listen, as I think it does capture the general feeling for the characters.

Good interview - thanks.

bn100 said...

Very nice interview. Congrats on the news!


Diana said...

Enjoyed the interview. So excited for Shadowfell!!

Holly said...

I've already read the ARC for Shadowfell, and am continue to be a big fan of Ms Marillier's work. Always love her romances, where her attention to character really pays off. :)

Anonymous said...

I have recently read Juliet's books Wildwood Dancing, and Cybele's Secret. Is there a 3rd one in this series? Would love to win These 2 new a books.

Unknown said...

Nice interview, with questions I hadn't seen before! Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite authors and I've been wanting to read The Heir of Night for a while!

I tweeted about it here:

I also put a post on Facebook:

Unknown said...

Juliet Marillier writes beautifully crafted stories and is a must read author for all fantasy fans. Helen Lowe is one of the best writers to come out of NZ for a long time. Great to see writers interview each other.

Anonymous said...

I discovered Juliet Marillier's books when I was fifteen, the first one I read was Daughter of the Forest, and I became a fan ever since!
I cannot wait to read Shadowfell :)

-Rita M.

Unknown said...

OH! I can't wait to read it!!!

Tiffanie said...

Out of all of JM's work, the YAs are my favorites. Can't wait to read this one.

molly.frenzel said...

I really enjoyed the interview and can't wait for Shadowfell!

molly dot frenzel at gmail dot com

adriwiens said...

I always eagerly await Juliet's newest novels. I have all of her novels in hard copy as well as electronic - so that I may always have them on hand if I'm in the mood for some awesome romance and fantasy. Can't wait for her new series though!

Helen Lowe said...

I am having fun reading all your comments and am so glad you have enjoyed the interview.

Jane Hinrichs said...

OOooo, I can't wait to read this new book. I love Juliet's books and I love YA -- I think Wildwood Dancing is one of my very favorites. So this new one will be a delight to win!!!!

Anonymous said...

Juliet Marillier is definitely my favorite fantasy author. I've read all of her books and I'm so excited for Shadowfell! This was a great interview with some really insightful questions - loved the theme music :)

jin2-3 said...

Love the interview! Will there be a sequel to Heart's Blood?

Juliet Marillier said...

Sorry to be slow to reply, thanks all for your comments! Here are some answers to the questions: At this stage there won't be a third Wildwood book as my US publisher requested I start a new series instead (Shadowfell.) No, I don't think there will be a sequel to Heart's Blood, but I haven't ruled it out entirely. Heart's Blood was written as a stand-alone.

Janita said...

I can't wait to read Shadowfell. I love all the books by Juliet Marillier, but Daughter of the forest is my favorite! Thanks for the giveaway!

Ames said...

I really enjoyed this interview, especially since Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite authors. I can't wait to read Shadowfell soon! Thank you for the wonderful joint giveaway! :)


Midnyte Reader said...

I'm crazy about the folklore of the British Isles and Juliette is a wonderful contribution to historical fiction. I can't wait to read more of her books.

Sarah said...

I've already read The Heir of Night and have Shadowfell on order, I wish I had access to the Australian covers though.

I did however want to thank you for the link to the 'theme song' music. I've found some great new music.

Bonnie said...

I'm a very new Juliet Marillier fan. I'm reading Daughter of the Forest now. I am totally hooked. I have been searching the internet for interviews and reviews of her works so I'm very please to come across your interview.

audrey said...

Lovely interview, i'm a huge Juliet Marillier fan. I emailed her a year ago with a question about Wildwood Dancing and she replied!! My favorite book is Wildwood Dancing, she always does a great job with mixing romance and adventure. I'm really looking forward to the new book, the heir of night really looks interesting too! I would love it to win. Xoxo Audrey

Tiffany said...

I haven't read anything by Juliet, but I plan to change that in the near future :)

Thanks for the great interview and the giveaway!!!!