Friday, 21 October 2011

Interview: Christy G. Thomas

I'm very pleased to welcome Christy G. Thomas, author of Sidhe's Call, to my blog today for a grilling. Christy sent me her book back in August and I thought it was just so good I just had to find out more! Here's the blurb:

Bound by duty, sixteen-year-old Morgan must begin forewarning human deaths. After all, that’s her job as a newly-appointed Ban Sidhe (banshee), a death caller. Conflicted when the Inner Ring—the elite group of ruling Sidhe—assigns a fifteen-year-old boy, Aidan Tanner, as her first death to keen on her road to adulthood, Morgan must make a critical decision. Will she help end such a young life or follow her instincts and refuse to make the call? And if that isn’t difficult enough, Morgan’s help is needed as the Sidhe and human worlds are about to face a crisis foretold in the Thousand-Year Sidhe Prophecy. With the lingering pain of her mother’s absence and the mystery of her father’s recent disappearance, the young Ban Sidhe feels lost. Aided only by her overly-critical twin sisters and an eccentric seer, Morgan must confront her weaknesses and make the hardest decision of her life. Alone.

Aidan, on the other hand, is a seemingly average human teen who has to deal with his parents’ inexplicable red-eye drive from the Salt Lake Valley to Northern Idaho. While being away from his friends for Spring Break seems like torture enough, it is the recent discovery of his father’s secret that leaves him troubled. While struggling to keep his anger in check, Aidan finds that no matter how hard he tries to hold himself together, his once-simple life is splitting apart. But the more he discovers about his father’s family and history, the quicker he comes to understand that appearances are deceiving. Beyond that, Aidan doesn’t realize that a young Ban Sidhe is seeking to call his death.

You can read my full review of Sidhe's Call here.



How would you describe Sidhe’s Call in a tweet (140 characters)?

Living hidden within rural Idaho, a young and shy banshee must call forth the death of a young boy. Will she do it? Or will she rebel against her ancient kind's mysterious traditions?

Where did the idea for Sidhe’s Call come from?

The idea of writing a book about a Ban Sidhe (banshee) came from my thoughts about supernatural and faery beings in general. I thought, I wonder what life would be like from the banshee's point of view? Since my primary exposure to Ban Sidhe was through Americanized versions like those found on Scooby Doo, I didn't know much about the myth surrounding the Sidhe. But once I began to explore the history, I was hooked. This led me to begin thinking like a Ban Sidhe, but I also put a human bend to her thoughts. If I had a socially conscious girl, who actually felt compassion, what would her responsibility to the Sidhe cause her to do and think?

But the overreaching theme of finding purpose in death came from my experiences of losing my brother eight years ago from cancer when he was in his early thirties and my father's death just a few years ago. The same questions Morgan asks herself are often the same ones I found that I asked myself. They were ideas that I simply could not let go.

Morgan and Aidan have very distinct voices, how did these characters come to you?

Morgan was the first character I thought of - in fact, her Incantation scene was something I thought up during a long trip home from Utah. I still remember the cliffs near King Hill in Idaho sending my mind racing with ideas. Everything for her seemed to come together.

However, I originally wrote Morgan's parts in third-person (except the final chapters—they were originally first-person). I made this change once a first draft was complete, but I have not regretted the decision for a moment. At that point, I felt like I knew her so well that I had to tell her story in her own voice. It was necessary, in my mind, because she was a part of me.

Aidan was a blend of many students who have walked through my door. I teach high school language arts, so I have a vast number of teens who inspire me to create and write. I must say, writing his chapters, even though they were in third-person, were always a delight. I wanted him to be a bit moody, but not too annoying. I wanted people to empathize, but not pity him.

What kind of research did you undertake to write Sidhe’s Call? Did you find out anything particularly interesting?

There was originally the research on banshee myth, which is not as large of a compendium as other mythologies with which I was familiar, but it took hours of reading and searching for information online to feel as though I knew enough to get started with building a Sidhe world. Most interesting to me was that once I started researching Sidhe in general, I opened up a whole pantheon of creatures and lore. Two of my favorite creatures I encountered and added to the novel(s) were kelpie and cu sith. I was intrigued with how both species operate—their "rules," as it were, to how they survive and roam the earth.

When and why did you decide to take the plunge and self publish your book? Did you always plan to publish it?

Ever since I wrote the final words of Sidhe's Call, I knew I had to publish. Somehow. I went the traditional route at first--querying agents, getting a couple of bites, and the typical rejections. This went on for a few months, and it was full of the highs and lows of which every author speaks. But I believed in my work, and I thought that if I really believed in its potential, why not promote it myself? I decided that rather than having an agent decide my future, I would let my audience decide. In July 2011 I decided to take the plunge, and here I am! If an agent comes along later, great. If not, I have my fans, and that's even better.

What kind of writer are you? Do you have any rituals? Do you plan a story from start to finish or just see what happens?

When I am not teaching, my most productive writing times are in the morning, usually before the family is up and about. Sometimes I just sit down and write whatever is on my mind—sometimes it's simply fleshing out an idea that has been percolating in my brain for a few days and will not give me rest. Sometimes if I write it down, the obsession is out of my system and I can continue on with the story or file away the idea. This is what kind of happened with Sidhe's Call. I had an idea, but this one would not let go.

Once I start an idea and decide to continue with the project, I typically write out a rough plot structure. But I add and subtract details as they come to me in the writing process. I also worked on character charts as I wrote the story, planning what to save for other books in the trilogy.

One of my odd writing rituals is that when I have writer's block, I take a shower. It relaxes me, gives me some think-time, and I can process as the white noise of the water blocks out other distractions. Plus, my husband is always grateful when after three or four hours of furious writing I finally get around to taking a shower at ten in the morning.

What is the story behind the cover?

My husband and I discovered Winchester Lake when we were dating, and it has been our go-to place for seclusion and beauty in the Idaho mountains. In fact, the first time we went camping there it was the middle of winter and we were the only ones crazy enough to freeze to death and tent camp with our two dogs. What has stayed with me all of these years is my first glimpse of the frozen lake and the ice-fishers. Winchester Lake, although slightly modified for my book, is on the cover. The photograph is one which I took during my summer visit, even though I did not know at the time that I would be using it for the cover of Sidhe's Call. When I was thinking of a design for the cover, I remembered the picture. I knew it was perfect. I know it's not a traditional-looking young adult book cover, but I don't have a very traditional young adult novel, either.

If you had room on your shelf for only 3 books, what would they be?

Unfair question! Right now it would have to be: Lord of the Rings, The Sun Also Rises, and 1984.


Apart from Sidhe’s Call, what is your top young adult fiction recommendation from 2011?

Sadly, I have not read any new releases from the current year, but I have read some amazing works released near the end of 2010. So, I'm going to cheat and recommend Scorch Trials by James Dashner, which has the third in the series coming out this year. For once I found a young adult book which I could not predict and kept me wondering. I would recommend the third one, but of course, it has not been released yet.


Do you have any hints for what we can expect from the next book?

Unsolved murders, a bit of humor, a trailer park, a green cloak, and more twists in Morgan's on-going tale!


A huge thanks to Christy for doing the interview, I hope everyone enjoyed it!

If you'd like to know more about Christy and her books then stop by her website at ampletimetowrite.wordpress.com or follow her on Twitter at @ChristyGThomas. Sidhe's Call is available to download now from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com or you can get it in paperback from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.

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