Hello, and Happy Halloween, Samhain, Dia de los Muertos, and Fete Ghede. This is a fun season, indeed!
Recently, I contributed a story to a fantasy anthology called Midwinter Magic and Mayhem. The stories involve ghosts, supernatural entities, or magic. I will be interviewing authors from this anthology and posting said interviews on this blog. First up is Frances Evelyn, who edited and compiled the anthology.
Here is my interview with this wonderful author and editor….
1. What should the readers of my blog know about you?
I’m a British writer of real-world fantasy. I’ve published a standalone novel called The Bookseller’s Apprentice and, more recently, the fifth and final installment of The Changeling Tree series. I’m also really excited about Midwinter Magic & Mayhem, an anthology of fantasy short stories by all my favourite indie authors.
What I try to do in my writing is create characters that readers will care about, with convincing relationships and motivations. Then I put them into impossible situations to see how they cope. I love writing dialogue, and I enjoy giving my characters distinctive voices, but I don’t visualise (I have aphantasia), so I have to remind myself that other readers want descriptions of characters and places.
2. What supernatural forces or beings appear in your novels? Why have you chosen these forces/entities?
The Changeling Tree series grew out of the medieval idea of a Faerie world where human time doesn’t apply. The Faerie have to tell the truth and keep their promises, but they only care about their own pleasure, not the harm they cause others.
Having the Faerie characters move the humans through time meant I could mess with timelines and create a tangled family saga where a daughter, mother and grandmother meet up at different stages of their lives while they’re figuring out how to take back control.
I’m working on a new series at the moment called The Spirit of Agatha Drummond. Agatha, the spinster daughter of a Victorian vicar, is the spirit guide to a medium called Maria. Maria’s twin sister, Annie, is a sceptic who’s convinced (for good reason) that Maria’s faking it. When Annie starts receiving mysterious messages from beyond the grave, she refuses to believe they’re real.
The reason I wanted to write about spirits and mediums was that I find the idea of seances fascinating: there’s so much evidence of fakery, but people still believe. Out of curiosity, I went to a couple of spiritualist events with a friend and there was nothing to challenge my scepticism, but other members of the audience seemed convinced they’d been in touch with lost loved ones.
What really threw me was the mediums, who weren’t the slick fraudsters you see on TV, but very ordinary people (mostly middle-aged women) who seemed genuinely kind and caring. I thought it’d be fun to have a medium whose messages weren’t kind (Agatha is very judgey) and to challenge a sceptic by giving them concrete proof.
3. Do you believe in ghosts or spirits? Have you had any supernatural/creepy experiences?
I don’t and I haven’t. If a door slams in an empty house, it’s the wind. If something inexplicable happens, it’s a coincidence. If headless horsemen start jousting on my front lawn, I’m closing my eyes and going la la la.
I’m actually very easily spooked but refuse to admit it.
4. What are two of your favorite authors? What works do you recommend?
I love your books, of course, especially The Garden of Stone Houses, but I don’t want to sound like a creep, so I’ll go for Ash Fitzsimmons, who writes really fun contemporary fairy stories, and Shirley Gilmore, whose Lukefahr Ladies series is richly weird.
5. If you could be transported to a point in history, when would you choose?
That’s really difficult because the past was tough for women. I can’t think of any period when I’d have the freedoms I have now, and I wouldn’t be willing to give them up.
But, if you’re promising me that I can pop back and leave whenever I want to, I’d use the opportunity to solve a family mystery. My great-grandmother was adopted in Birmingham sometime in the 1880s, and never knew who her birth family were. Her first name was Christine and she adopted Cambridge as her last name (believing that was where she was born), but there’s no birth record to back any of that up.
I have managed to identify her father through DNA matches (stand by for the book, because that’s a bloody good story right there), but I’m still looking for her mother. If I could go back and fill in some of the gaps in Christine’s early history, I wouldn’t even mind putting a dress on. The trouble is, you get there, and you see this poor child all alone in the world, and you can’t just leave her there …
I want to thank Frances Evelyn for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog. I highly recommend you check out her Changeling Tree series, as well as her book, The Bookseller’s Apprentice. Here are the links to these works and my reviews!