Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Author Interview: Angela Slatter

Following the release of Corpselight, the second book in the Verity Fassbinder trilogy, I got some time to send Angela Slatter a few questions about the book, and about writing and reading. Below are her answers! I'd like to thank Angela again for taking time out to answer my questions, and also Jessica Skipper for facilitating the interview. Enjoy!


Congratulations on the release of Corpselight! And thank you for taking some time to answer my questions!

Thank you so much, Bethwyn, and you’re more than welcome!

You’ve mentioned in other interviews that the Verity Fassbinder books started out as a short story, “Brisneyland by Night” – did Verity keep asking for more of her story to be told, or was it fans of the short story asking for more? Verity strikes me as someone who would be trying to nudge you to write more about her.

Haha! Several people kept at me about how it would make a good novel, and it didn’t take long for me to realise Verity’s voice was still in my head. That if I paid attention to her, she’d tell me more stories. Vigil actually started as a mix of short stories and three novellas! Not a process I’d recommend for anyone undertaking their first novel … or indeed any novel!

I have read that you like to plot your books, but also like to see where things go: have the characters in the Fassbinder books taken you in new directions that you didn’t expect?

Yes! I’m kind of partway between plotter and pantser – I work out a rough structure and know what my high points are going to be, where the story needs to turn. But that also gives me leeway; and I’m not averse to writing out of order. There’s a lot in Corpselight about Verity’s family that I did not expect at all!

I’m currently finishing off Restoration, the last Verity book, and the same sort of thing is happening, characters showing up and saying “Hey, more of my story, please! I’m really interesting.”

Verity often refers to books and libraries for information, and has had ‘itchy fingers’ to borrow books from others before: is this a reflection of you, too? (I love Verity’s library setup, by the way!)

Short answer: Yes!
Long answer: Yes, yes, yes!!!

You have really made your mark as someone very good at writing within short story and novella formats. How is it going writing novel-length work, not to mention a trilogy of them?

Challenging! It’s a different set of skills – and after I’d finished Vigil I felt as if I’d forgotten how to write a short story! But it’s just a matter of going back to first principles, reminding yourself of the shape of the different forms. I found it much easier after Corpselight to return to the short form because I think I’d been through the process before.

One of the reasons I do the plotting structure thing is to help me keep on track with the longer pieces. It’s like the Pirates’ Code, good guidelines.

Community and family come across as being incredibly important, particularly with the extra information we get about V’s family in Corpselight. It seems as if V has created her own family and community: was this something that was important to you in writing, or came about naturally?

I’ve always been fascinated by how we create our own families – not just the people we share blood with, but the friends we gather around ourselves. I’m fascinated by devotion between people, not necessarily the romantic kind, but the supportive friendship kind. How people find each other, gather, and take care of each other, especially in a time when so-called “traditional” family structures seem to breaking down, we’re taking the chance to make something different for ourselves. If there’s a vacuum, we try to fill it.

You have mentioned in another interview about maybe needing a Weyrd Bestiary to keep things straight – do you keep notes for this? (I imagine I would get them a bit confused!) Any plans to put something like this out as a companion book to the series?

Ha! No, not yet. If the series were to continue then I think I’d need a bestiary and a database to keep track of people and their powers! But, yes, it would be a cool little artefact!

What kind of reader are you? Serial reader (many at once), or one at a time? And do you mix up your fiction and nonfiction?

I’m the most appalling serial reader. I have about five or six books on the go at once. My nonfiction reading tends to be mostly for research for stories, though, so I’m not an habitual reader of non-fic!

And finally, some quick questions!
What are your current favourites?
... reading? 
Re-reading John Connolly’s A Game of Ghosts – he’s the author whose work I wait for every year. I say I’m going to pace myself, but I never do.
...drinking?
Black coffee for day-to-day, with intermittent peppermint tea to make sure I don’t start seeing through time and space.

Out and about: Whiskey, neat, single malt.
...eating?
Pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, or my housemate’s chicken coleslaw, or my Mum’s lemon meringue pie.
...loving about the current season?
That I’m not melting in summer!

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