If you missed part 1 of our interview with Juliet Marillier, you can access it by clicking HERE. Marillier’s unique plotlines, strong characterizations, word painting and the scope of her world building set her apart from others in the historical fantasy genre. Below, we get a behind-the-scenes look at her complex storyweaving skills and learn more about her latest release, Blade of Fortriu, available in U.S. markets on October 31st.
Part 2: Interview with Juliet Marillier
Questions about Blade of Fortriu:
Q: Though all of your books are complex interwoven epics, the inner workings of Blade of Fortriu—with the huge cast of characters and the intense multiple storylines—seemed to me more intricate and thoughtful than your other novels. How was this book different for you? What new challenges did you face?
JM: The main challenge was maintaining continuity while jumping between sets of characters (for those who haven’t read it, the book begins with most of the major characters together, then separates them for a lengthy period while they go on their various journeys, and brings them back together near the end.) The major political story (Bridei’s march on Dalriada) had to be presented in a grand way as it deserved, yet include that personal element, because a thread that runs through all three books is what Bridei has to sacrifice every day to fulfill his destiny as a perfect king. The reader has to be able to juggle the big military and political events, the tangled love story, the ‘mystery and escape’ thread and Tuala’s journey towards discovering her true identity. There’s also Faolan’s back story in there. They all work on different levels of intensity.
Having said that, I didn’t find this book particularly difficult to write because I was so absorbed by the characters and their stories. It didn’t seem any more complex to write than, say, Wolfskin or The Dark Mirror. I do think I put into place some storytelling techniques I have learned over the course of writing my first six books.
Q: Blade of Fortriu is packed with short scenes and is more dialogue intensive than some of your other works. Is this a new trend for you?
JM: Probably yes, although this was not a conscious change of approach for me, it just suited that particular story. It was easier and more appropriate to structure Blade of Fortriu this way because it had multiple storylines – I had to keep moving around to maintain focus on each set of characters. The Well of Shades is structured in the same way.
Q: The wolf-attack scene in Blade of Fortriu is especially vivid and terrifying, and is a great example of make-it-worse storytelling, where each new element in the scene creates more demanding challenges and obstacles for the characters. First the characters face fear as wolves circle, then there is battling, injury and fatigue, then rain and loss of fire—weapon and light, and eventually a new possibility of death at the hands of an old enemy. Do you look for opportunities in the story to increase the tension this way, and at what stage of writing do you do this? [Read more…]