Cover art: Arantza Sestayo
We’re so glad to have Juliet Marillier with us today to tell us a bit about her latest novel, Dreamer’s Pool — the first book in a new series for adult readers.
Juliet is also happy to be able to offer three codes for audiobook downloads of Dreamer’s Pool from audible.com. (This is an international offer; no restrictions.) To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Winners will be chosen in one week. Good luck!
Q: What’s the premise of Dreamer’s Pool?
JM: Dreamer’s Pool is the first novel in the Blackthorn & Grim series, set in early medieval Ireland. Each book in the series features the embittered healer, Blackthorn, and her hulking sidekick, Grim. As well as the historical, fantastic and romantic elements readers have come to expect in my novels, each Blackthorn & Grim story includes a mystery to be solved. Running through the whole series is the tangled, intense personal story of the two protagonists.
Q: What would you like people to know about the story itself?
JM: Dreamer’s Pool opens with Blackthorn incarcerated and awaiting execution. She’s given a lifeline by a mysterious fey benefactor, but only on the proviso that she adheres to certain codes of behavior for seven years. This includes not seeking vengeance against her arch enemy, the man responsible for destroying all she held dear. Blackthorn has little confidence in her ability to last that long, but she and Grim head north as instructed and settle in Dalriada, near the eerie Dreamer’s Wood, to make a new life.
Meanwhile Prince Oran of Dalriada is eagerly awaiting the arrival of his new bride, Flidais. On the strength of her portrait and letters, he believes he has found his perfect match. But letters can lie; and when Flidais arrives, Oran finds himself trapped in an impossible situation. To help him, Blackthorn and Grim will need courage, ingenuity and a patience that does not come easily to either. More than that: this tangle cannot be unravelled without a touch of magic.
Q: What do your characters have to overcome in this story? What challenge do you set before them?
JM: For Blackthorn, it’s a struggle with herself – she’s eaten up by anger, and the only thing she cares about is bringing her old enemy to justice. She gets a choice: either die, or suppress that fury for seven years while doing good in the community. She’s a clever, resourceful person, but the past has damaged her almost beyond repair, so she’s often a bit like a bomb waiting to go off. Grim is also a victim of past trauma and has lost faith in himself. The two of them must find a way to work together and get through those seven years without breaking the rules Blackthorn has been set. Oran, a hopeless romantic, must continue to be a good leader while facing what seems to be the loss of his dreams. There are plenty of plot challenges in Dreamer’s Pool, but the biggest challenge for each of these three protagonists lies within.
Q: What unique challenges did this book pose for you, if any?
JM: The Blackthorn & Grim series is a departure for me in several ways. I haven’t tackled a mystery before. Also, the protagonists are older and more damaged than those in my previous books. Blackthorn and Grim are not easy to love, though I love them all the more for their faults, and I hope readers will warm to them. Then there’s the technical challenge I set myself – to tell the story in three first person voices. Blackthorn, Grim and Oran take chapters in turn. It was an fascinating exercise finding just the right voice for each protagonist and keeping it consistent throughout the book. Blackthorn has a massive chip on her shoulder, can’t tolerate her fellow human beings, and has this constant anger simmering inside – it’s as if two parts of her nature are constantly at war. Grim is a man of immense physical strength, limited education and low self-esteem, but there is more to him than meets the eye. And Oran, who will one day be a king, is a scholarly young man, a poet and dreamer, who tries to do the right things but is sometimes a victim of his own nature.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of having written this book?
JM: Exploring new territory as a writer, and being happy with the results! Creating characters whose future journeys will be deeply satisfying to write.
You can learn more about Dreamer’s Pool on Juliet’s website.
And don’t forget there is an international giveaway offer for audiobook downloads of Dreamer’s Pool from audible.com. To enter, just leave a comment on this post. Good luck!