Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sarah Remy, Author of Stonehill Downs

Welcome, Sarah Remy, author of Stonehill Downs and Across the Long Sea (Harper Voyager 2014-2015) to It's All About Story.

Sarah's site: http://www.sarahremy.com/

1) Describe the Stonehill Downs series in one paragraph.

Stonehill is a forensic mystery in a fantasy setting. Ghosts and monsters and magic abound, but so do laboratories and autopsies and microscopes. It's also a story about relationships and loss; Mal's lost a wife, Avani's lost her entire civilization, Everin's lost a kingdom, and Liam's never had anything to claim his own. Each character deals with his or her deprivation in varied ways. It's dark fantasy, but the heart of the story is about moving forward no matter what life throws at you.

2) What inspired Stonehill Downs?

I like spooky stories and I love the fantasy genre. I'm also a huge Sherlock Holmes fan. I wanted to mix these things together and see what sprung forth. Each of the four books in the series deal with a different dark mystery set against the background of world politics, war, and magic.

3) Was Stonehill Downs your first work of fiction?

No. I've written several under my own imprint.

4) What song or music piece would you put on a soundtrack for Stonehill Downs?

I'm actually very much a writing soundtrack person. When I find music that works, I set it on loop, and that's what I listen to through an entire manuscript. I like to think it puts me in 'the zone'. My Manhattan Exiles series (an Irish urban fantasy) was all Mumford and Sons. I'm working on a Beauty and the Beast twist at the moment--it's Of Monsters and Men. Stonehill and its sequel, Across the Long Sea, were both The Killers, and I'll go back to that soundtrack when I continue with volumes three and four.

5) Which character in Stonehill Downs was easy to write? Which was the most difficult?

Mal's been the easiest so far, because he's on a downturn,and it's always easier to write a character coming apart at the seams than one growing and becoming. Avani's a very self-aware person, but at the same time she's learning that the things she thinks she understands about the world might just possibly be incorrect. She is growing. And that's much harder to write.

6) What is your writing space like? Or can you write anywhere?

I have an office in an upstairs enclosed porch where I write during warm months. When the snow starts falling I migrate down to a chair in front of our gas fireplace. I can write anywhere if a deadline presses--I've written in a folding chair at a horse show while I'm waiting to ride a course--but I prefer the quiet of my own space.

7) Any odd writing habits? Rituals?

I like to have a Diet Coke and a good internet connection, if at all possible. I sit down and answer emails and surf the web for half an hour or so before getting down to actual work. Sometimes this is a bad habit but most of the time scrolling through, say, Tumblr, really helps me disconnect from my real world, non-writing obligations, of which I have a ton.

8) George Martin describes two kinds of outliners, the Gardener (let it grow) or the Architect (plan it). Which are you?

Ah! The plotter or the pantser. I'm a pantser. I get into a story with a starting point and ending point and a general idea of what I want to say, but things happen and the old cliche of the character taking control is a cliche because it's true. The subconscious mind produces odd fancies. I surprise myself constantly, wondering: Where the hell did that plot bunny come from?

The difficulty with being a pantser of course, is that it all comes back to bite you during the editing process. There's a lot of crossing out or clarifying one has to do. I also jot down notes as I go along, which helps a lot.

9) What are some of your favorite world myths or fairy/folk tales? Why?

Irish fairy tales. I studied Irish lit in college; I love the old Tuatha De legends. There are so many layers, so much beauty and also horror in so many of them.

10) What is your favorite fictional world, one you'd want to visit?

Oh, I'd like to shadow Holmes and Watson in London in 1895. But I wouldn't want to live there. I enjoy my 21st century luxuries.

11) Who is your favorite fictional character?

Robin Hobb's FitzChivalry Farseer. If you haven't yet read Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings series, you should.

12) What is the best writing advice you've ever received?

Write what you like and don't let other people stop you.

13) In Stonehill Downs, are there any hidden acknowledgements to friends, places you've lived, favorite writers, etc;

Liam's the name of my nephew. When I started writing Stonehill I didn't realize the character was going to have a larger arc, I needed a placeholder moniker, so I used my (perfect) young nephew's name. Then my Liam became more important to the story (pantser, remember?) and somehow I just couldn't find a better fit. So it stuck. I usually try NOT to use the names of people I'm related to. My nephew's six. Maybe he'll never know.

14) Can you tell us what we have to look forward to after the Stonehill Downs series?

Magic-madness, a city-wide serial killer, sidhe uprising and a war between kingdoms. Also friendship, loyalty, and a wee bit of romance, but maybe not where you'd expect to find it. And a lot of character growth, which means I've my work set out for me.

Thank you, Sarah!

Sarah's books are available on Amazon.

The Manhatten Exiles series

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