Interview with author Kathryn Scannell

Tell us something about yourself
I’ve been an avid reader of science fiction and fantasy since about 4th grade when I picked up a copy of Space Cadet by Robert Heinlein from my school library. My current day job is data management for an environmental remediation and emergency response contractor. I’ve also worked as a Unix and network administrator, a programmer, a data entry clerk, and an administrative assistant. I’m a life-long resident of New Hampshire. My wife and I currently share a house with six cats, who let us live there in return for providing them with food and a comfy bed.

Your book, “Embracing the Dragon,” is being released on April 13th. Can you tell us a little about the book?
Embracing the Dragon is the story of Danny O’Riordan, a young man from Boston, in the not too distant future, and his romantic entanglements with two very powerful men, as he comes to terms with his sexuality. He’s sworn service to an Elf, King Aran of Avalon, and when he begins to consider the possibility that he’s attracted to men as well as women, he naturally turns to him. Of course nothing is simple in Danny’s life. He started exploring the idea that he might be interested in men because of a vision of a past life where he had a male lover. As you’re probably already suspecting, that old lover has been reborn too, and the fire between them has not gone out. Danny knows he shouldn’t restart that other old relationship. Elves don’t believe in monogamy, but it would be a political nightmare. But his heart is saying yes, even while his head is saying no. Will he succumb to the temptation of that second relationship, or lock his heart away and focus on his duty to Aran?

I understand the setting is a joint creation of yourself and B A Collins. How did that come about?
It started many years ago as a fantasy role playing game. I think we started around 1985. B A ran the game, and devised the original world background. We played weekly until the early 1990’s and the world background became deeper and more complex. B A and I were sharing an apartment, and so we passed a lot of ideas back and forth.
She moved off to the wilds of northern Vermont to get married, and the game stopped, with the major story line unresolved. One summer I spent much of a solo drive from New Hampshire to the western edge of Pennsylvania thinking about how the major plot arc would make a pretty good epic fantasy novel, but didn’t do anything with it. Eventually my new roommate, who had aspirations to be a writer, sold her first novel.. I was between jobs and decided to resurrect the old idea for the fantasy novel. I asked BA if she minded me using the setting, since even though it was my character, and I’d added a lot to it, it was ultimately her creation in the beginning. She got excited about the idea. Along with a couple of other friends we started a local writing group in 2004.
We’ve spent a lot of time working out the changes we need to make to move the setting from being a successful game world to one suited for writing about. You can’t just write up what happened in a game and have it work. We did keep major events from the game, but pruned a lot of dead wood. And no, in case you’re wondering, the game was nowhere near as x-rated as the novel.

Can you tell us a little about Avalon and the Tengri Empire?
It’s another world, reached by magical Gates, where the energies which support magic are stronger than in this one. It’s peopled by a variety of races. There are fairly traditional Elves – tall, fair people with magic and pointed ears. There are Tengri – closely related to the Elves, but with more oriental features. There are Kennakriz barbarians, who started out as humans, but were improved physically by their god Glaive thousands of years ago. There are ordinary humans of various ethnic flavors. There are some other races such as Dwarves, but they haven’t come on stage much. And then there is Hell, which is still another world, with odd physical and magical properties, peopled by demons. The Tengri have a lot of ties with Hell, politically and magically.
The major plot arc is that there is a race of very alien beings, commonly referred to as the Devourers, who are moving from world to world like a horde of locusts, devouring the life energy of worlds, leaving them as frozen husks before moving on to the next target. The Elves and Tengri held them back for a long time, but eventually the Gates were breached and Avalon was invaded. The Elves were pushed back over the course of several years, and in 2017 opened the Gates from Avalon to Earth, which had been sealed for centuries, seeking allies. The Elves have lost much of their territory on Avalon, and are maintaining a government in exile on Earth. The Tengri are holding their own, barely.
On Earth it’s a time of re-awakening magic, returning gods, and desperate heroes. The current novel is set midway through the war. The Devourers will be turned back, but only at a terrible cost. By the time it’s over casualties on both Earth and Avalon will be reckoned in millions.
Are you planning more work in this setting?
Absolutely. I have two other short stories featuring Danny already available from Torquere Books, and a g-rated, non-romantic short story featuring a different set of characters coming out in December in Spells and Swashbucklers, a collection of stories featuring pirates and magic, coming from Dragon Moon Press.
I have a sequel to Embracing the Dragon in progress. There’s another novel which needs a complete rewrite before it sees the light of day sitting on my hard drive – it was my actual first, and as you might expect, the first draft is crap. I also have a skeleton plot for a spin-off novella featuring a couple of minor characters from Embracing the Dragon.

B A has a romantic trilogy, involving mostly heterosexual relationships, and an occasional ménage for spice, complete in draft. She’ll probably be putting out queries for that one soon.
There are lots of ideas for this setting. We have a long timeline, and plenty of room to play. You can definitely expect more.

How long have you been writing? Do you write full time?
I started writing actually trying to write, as opposed to daydreaming story bits, in 2004. Unless I win megabucks I don’t think I’m going to be a full time writer before I hit retirement. While I like writing, I do actually like my day job too. I’d miss it. I might work less hours, but even if I hit the lottery I don’t think I’d quit completely.

How do you structure your writing time?
Structure? What’s that? Seriously, I don’t try to structure myself. I know a regimented schedule works well for many writers, but it’s not for me. I think if I tried to force myself to do that I’d eventually start resenting it, and that would be it. I’d stop. I do a lot of processing in the back of my head, a lot of daydreaming, before I sit down to write out a story. If I don’t give that time to happen, and try to just write for the sake of having a word count, the results are crap that I end up throwing out. Although it is true that deadlines are marvelously inspirational.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten as a writer? The worst?
The best advice is a line from Kipling:
“There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
“And every single one of them is right!”
(“In the Neolithic Age”, http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_neolithic.htm)
There’s no one true correct way to write. There are ways that work better than others for most people, and ways that are easier than others to execute well, but for every rule there are a dozen successful exceptions. The right answer is the one that produces a story that works for your readers.
The worst advice is a prize I’ll give jointly to everyone who has offered me the latest and greatest theory on how to write, or how to structure your book, as the One True Way, handed down from on high. I’ve seen aspiring writers spend so much time studying theories and trying to make their story fit them that they lose all touch with the story. You can make anything fit a model if you break enough bits off, but by the time you’ve made it fit you may not have anything left worth keeping.

Any favorite authors you’d care to recommend?
This is a list that could go one for pages. I’ll offer a few that I’ve been reading lately: Elizabeth Bear; Jacqueline Carey; C. J. Cherryh; Charles de Lint; C. S. Friedman; George R. R. Martin; Jane Yolen.

What are you working on now?
Aside from the sequel to Embracing the Dragon, I’ve been working on a thriller set in Israel featuring a special department of the Mossad which deals with magical problems. This one is a complete departure from my published work – it has no romance elements in it at all, although there may be a side plot in the sequel.
I’ve also got a historical fantasy set in early 1900’s Dublin on the drawing board. That will have a romance element, but only as a subplot. The focus of the book is an alternate history of the Easter Rebellion.

Where can readers buy your book?
The best way to buy it will be directly from the Torquere Books web site: http://www.torquerebooks.com . I won’t have a buy link available until it releases on the 13th, but once it’s out it will be on my author page, along with my other Torquere stories here: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?manufacturers_id=272&zenid=cb8fe5149023c93c1fd04d2623e53cdf&main_page=index
Torquere also offers books through All Romance Ebooks, Amazon, Fictionwise, Ingram Books/LightningSource, Mobipocket, and Rainbow Ebooks.

Where can readers find you on the web?
My main presence is my web site: http://www.kathrynscannell.com
I also have an infrequently updated blog: http://kathrynscannell.dreamwidth.org/

Any last words?
I love to hear from readers. You can contact me by email at kathryn.scannell@gmail.com

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12 thoughts on “Interview with author Kathryn Scannell

  1. Kathryn Scannell

    @Nancy

    Thanks! This is my first and I’m nervous. 🙂

    @Carolyn

    Couldn’t agree more. I cringe a little every time I see someone post a question on a writing list saying “I think I’ll try writing SF. What do I need to know?”

    @Suzanne

    We had a lot of fun with the alternate history. This barely scratched the surface. Since we started developing the timeline in detail in the late 80’s, there are quite a few things which have happened since in the real world that we haven’t gone back an integrated – 9/11, for example.

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  2. Kathryn Scannell

    Thanks, Magdalena. Sometimes it’s nice to know there are other people out there who work the same way, especially if you’re surrounded by people who are excessively organized about this kind of thing. Or maybe just obsessive. I respect that they may need to be, but it’s not the only answer.

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    Reply
  3. AJ Best

    What a great interview. It’s as if you’re in my own living room. I like you story plot and the idea and thought process of a man finding his way through his sexuality.

    Like

    Reply

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