Annie and I are both members of a Facebook writers group. She has a fun weekly series on her blog where various authors talk about their fantasy worlds, and it’s worth checking out! I’ve yet to get to her novels, but they sound very interesting and hope to read them soon!
*Tell us a little bit about yourself/your novel:
My husband and I live in Taiwan, where I teach 5th grade in an international school. We very much enjoy life here! Though I love my job, I must admit I wish it left me with more time for writing. I usually get up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to get some writing in before work, since my brain works better then than in the evenings. I do a lot of my writing on weekends and school breaks, too. I first drafted The Gladiator and the Guard during National Novel Writing Month in 2014, and I’ve spent the last year and a half rewriting and polishing it. It’s the sequel to The Collar and the Cavvarach, alternate reality novels set in a world very similar to our own except that slavery is legal there. The main character, Bensin, is a slave and a martial artist, earning money for his owner as he competes in cavvara shil (a martial art I created). To read more about the culture of that
world, take a look at this post on my blog.
*What’s the funniest/weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?
Each of my novels has required different kinds of research. For both the ones in this series, I spent a long time studying martial arts and learning about fitness, training programs, and the healthy diets recommended by professional athletes. But probably my most unusual research was for my fantasy novel Prince of Malorn, in which teenage Korram has to survive in the wilderness and live off the land for a while. I learned a lot about edible wild plants, how to start a fire without matches, and what colors different animals’ eyes glow in reflected light at night. But the most unusual thing I had to find out is how raw beetle larva tastes! (Fortunately for Korram, it apparently isn’t bad – it’s been compared to cooked fat.)
*Where do you usually write? Can you show us a picture/describe it?
I don’t have just one writing spot. I use my desk in my bedroom, the kitchen table, or my classroom desk. For a while, I used to take my laptop and go write at a little table out in front of one of the many tea shops in my neighborhood. The tea shop ladies were always happy to see me and often gave me a free tea after I finished the one I’d paid for. Unfortunately, that tea shop has since shut down, and none of the others in the area have a convenient little table for me to write on.
*Do you have a strange quirk or habit while writing or preparing to write?
Not strange, really. But I have to have it quiet. Some people write to music. Not me.
*Can you give us a hint of where the story is going next?
Pretty much anything I tell you about the next book would give away the ending to this one. So I’ll just say that there will be at least one more book in the series, and it will follow the lives of all the main characters from The Gladiator and the Guard, as well as introducing some new ones.
HERE’S AN EXCERPT FROM ANNIE’s NEW RELEASE, The Gladiator and the Guard.
“What are you reading about?” Ellie wanted to know.
Steene turned another page. “I’m looking for stories about slaves getting away.”
“Do lots of them get away now?”
“I hope so. You probably have to know the right people, though, to get someone to risk sneaking you out on a boat past the Harbor Watch.”
“Yay, my strawberry swirl.” Ellie took her ice cream cone from the enslaved worker who handed it to her. “Thanks.”
“Here’s yours, sir.” The man handed him his cup of mango tango frozen yogurt. “Beg your pardon, sir, I heard what you said. There’s a big story on page 5 of today’s paper, sir. You should see. Group of slaverunners rescued twenty-three teenage girls working in Jarreon’s red light district. Got ’em all off to freedom at once.”
“Twenty-three at once? You’re kidding!”
The slave grinned at him and went off to serve a customer who had just walked in. Steene turned to page 5 to find the story, his mind spinning. That kind of organized rescue-and-escape operation implied that there were more people than he had thought who not only were willing to risk their own freedom to help others gain it, but who had the means to succeed.
Gladiators are slaves. The thought occurred to him with a suddenness that made him blink. If slaverunners can get those poor girls out, could they get a gladiator away?