Thursday, December 12, 2013

Author Interview - Ciara Ballintyne

I am very please to be part of the Confronting The Demon Virtual Book Tour and to have the Author herself here at Pinky's Favorite Reads.

Hi Ciara, thanks for stopping by today, lets get straight into it !

Where are you from originally? 
How originally is originally? Sorry… that was cheeky. I was born in Sydney, Australia and I’ve never moved. Dad immigrated to Australia from Scotland when he was 2, so I’ve a strong connection with my Scottish history. Mum’s family are originally from England or Wales. For all I know they came on the First Fleet. I should look that up…

Tell us your latest news? 

I released my debut novel in September, Confronting the Demon. It’s a novella actually, a short story that was too big for its britches. It’s high fantasy, although it’s doing well with paranormal readers, with a splash of mystery and romance. When I say ‘debut’, I mean first published, too. Prior to this I’ve written eight novels over twenty years, but this is the first one I consider ‘up to scratch’. 

If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
Ooh, gosh, dinner party! Robert Jordan, because if I’m going to go fangirl on anyone it would be him. The Wheel of Time was such an ambitious project I would just love to talk to its creator. Terry Pratchett, because he’s just so hilariously funny, you’d never have a dinner guest to top it, and it’s the closest you’d ever get to having dinner on the Discworld. Brandon Sanderson, because he has the most polished prose I know, but he says it doesn’t come naturally, so I’d just love to suck his brain dry on how he makes that happen. Oh, and I’ve met him, and he’s a pretty cool guy!

What are your current projects? 
I’m kind of dual project-ing (if that’s not a word, it is now). I’m working on In the Company of the Dead, a full-length high-fantasy novel, in which our hero, Lyram, thinks things can’t possibly get any worse than his prince wanting him dead – until he falls in love with a woman sacred to the Death Goddess. I’m also working on a novella sequel to Confronting the Demon, entitled Stalking the Demon, in which Alloran must venture into the first circle of hell itself.

What books or authors have influenced your writing? 
Terry Goodkind – I would just love to write fantasy books that make readers think.

Brandon Sanderson – I’m always analysing his prose when I read him, not because I want to edit it to make it better, but because I can’t. I want to know how he does what he does so I can duplicate it.

Robert Jordan – I would love to create a grand sweeping epic, but I really don’t know how he keeps his cast of thousands straight. I’m a pretty organised person, but that’s a daunting task. But what he taught me was the importance of worldbuilding – how to make it feel real and not cookie-cutter bland with minimal effort – and that a plot outline is all very well, but don’t be afraid to follow a new idea.

Is there an Author that you would really like to meet? 
Terry Pratchett. I can’t hope to ever duplicate what he’s done (I’m not very comedic) but he’s an absolute genius.

What book are you reading now and in what format (ebook/paperback/hardcover)?
Sprung… Robert Jordan’s The Great Hunt in Kindle format. I still haven’t read the concluding novel to The Wheel of Time so this is my last hurrah.

Tell us a little about your background. When did you start writing?
I was eleven. I’d discovered books a few years earlier, and I was enjoying the creative writing exercises we did for school, when suddenly I realised I was good at this (well, good for eleven…). From that moment on I wrote for pleasure.

Where do you get your ideas?
Nowhere. Everywhere. They just…come to me. Some small to medium details come out of structured plotting, identifying character goals and motivations, and the conflicts that stop them in their tracks, but the seed… the seed just comes to me. Sometimes I even have a ‘plotstorm’, which is a new word I have just coined to explain those days when ideas just flood my brain. I had one a few weeks ago when I plotted out basic sketches of the three sequels to Confronting the Demon. What set it off? Idle speculation by a reviewer. Confronting the Demon itself came from a Terry Pratchett book The Last Hero, with additional inspiration from, K.E. Mills.

What is your writing process?
Plot, write, beta readers, rewrite, edit. I’d love to say rinse and repeat, but I’m afraid after that comes edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit, edit…. I write about eight drafts, usually. Confronting the Demon was a little light on because of the mixed up way I wrote it because of deadlines. It had about five, I think.

Can you tell us a little bit about Confronting The Demon?
Alloran’s a genius wizard down on his luck – betrayed by his so-called best friend and framed for forbidden magic and one step ahead of the executioner’s block. Now he’s skulking in the back alleys, posing as a stonemason, desperate to escape the city, and someone is murdering his past lovers and leaving gruesome tokens for him to discover. Can he face his own demons before hell comes for him?

How long did it take you to complete?
Four months, from start to finish, which is exceptional, but I was on maternity leave and had a lot more writing time than is normally the case. I busted my gut on that thing.

Are any of your characters based on real-life friends or acquaintances?
Hell no. I’m not much of a people-watcher… Most of my female characters might have some qualities of many of my friends just because they are all strong women, and I don’t know how to write anything else, unless the plot appropriately calls for a damsel in distress.

Do you ever incorporate yourself into your characters?
I have more problems getting myself out of my characters. I have a pretty clear idea of who I am, so submersing that sense of identity can be a problem sometimes.

Tell us about your cover. Did you design it yourself?
I am not that talented. I can do many things, but art isn’t really one of them.

Where did you get the inspiration for your cover?
I described the main characters and a key scene to the cover artist and she did the rest. Alloran is pretty cute, huh?

Does your reading inspire you and your work?
Absolutely. Anything I read might kick off an idea, as was the case with Confronting the Demon. A line from Terry Pratchett’s The Last Hero was the prompt for the whole story, and then Monk Markham in K.E. Mills’ Rogue Agent series helped me flesh out Alloran. Monk is a genius wizard who gets away with the most outrageous experimental magic. I asked ‘what if he didn’t?’ and we got Alloran.

Where can we find you online?
Book trailer: I don't have one for Confronting the Demon yet, but anyone who is interested is welcome to check out the trailer for Deathhawk's Betrayal, another project I am working on - 
Barnes & Noble:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for interviewing me. I loved your questions :-)