Saturday, 3 March 2018

Diana talks to Rowan Scot-Ryder

Hi Rowan. Pleased to meet you. Let us start straight away...
I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

What is the genre you are best known for?
Fantasy and women’s fiction. Some young adult. History and science fiction provide the backgrounds for my work.

If your latest book Daughter of Pendle; ( not currently available because my publisher has just retired  ) was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role? (Please see links below.)
Great question! My heroine, Jennet Devize, is a child for the first part of the book and an adult for the rest. As a child, I would love to see her played by Millie Bobby Brown, and as an adult by Olivia Colman.

What made you choose this genre?
I think that genres choose the writer. They’re an expression of our personalities, histories and the traditions we grew up with. In my case, I grew up with a family belief in magic, and the ‘more things in heaven and earth’ philosophy. Experiences in my personal life have only supported this.

As Daughter of Pendle is not currently available, I have chosen another of Rowan's books for this week's feature cover. Free Spirit is available from here

How do you get ideas for plots and characters?
I’m a character-driven writer, so I would say that characters occur to me, and become old friends before they emerge into action. It’s very important to me that they have an authentic voice. I find that an idea for a plot will tap me on the shoulder, and not let me rest until I’ve tried it out. But even if I think I know the plot, it will only take the shape that works for the characters. Specific incidents and events are often drawn from my own family history.

Favourite picture or work of art?
So many choices! When we lived in London, I would visit the National Gallery just to sit and gaze at the Leonardo  Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist. But I also fell in love with the Impressionists, especially Van Gogh and Monet, as a child. And I adore the Japanese masters, especially Hiroshige and Hokusai.

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
I often begin from an historical point, but natural magic creeps in! I celebrate the Talents that I think everyone has, and cannot imagine a world that is just ‘material fact’. I began to write a sequel to ‘Daughter of Pendle’, but personal issues have put this on hold. I’m pretty sure it will happen one day.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously?
Even as a child, I’ve always felt compelled to write, and to craft words into a shape that aims for another level. I was first published when I was twenty-one (in magazines) and have written consistently ever since. Only a long bout of serious ill-health seemed to dry me up. I think this was because I was so afraid of what lay ahead for me. My publisher retired last year, and after heart-searching I have made the decision to self-publish, so a couple of my books are currently unavailable. At the moment I am struggling to find enthusiasm for this!

Marmite? Love it or hate it?
Hate it as a spread! But I do add it to home-made soups and smoothies for added goodness.

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
My rituals and habits have varied over the years. That’s about making the most of the situations I find myself in. I live by the sea, and I do love to sit looking out at the waves, while I work. But for plot development, I swim length after length and let things develop.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters?
Characters! 90% of the time.

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
Artist (Painter or wood carver)

Coffee or tea? Red or white?
Coffee, white wine. The others make me ill. I like water.

How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way?
I develop the draft for a long long time. It’s complete before I start, but it’s not written in stone, and I do find that this allows me to adapt parts of it as necessary.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
Fonts should never intrude. That just annoys the reader. Don’t fix it if it’s not broken.

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
That would have to be the Voynich Manuscript. Or possibly Doctor Dee’s original writings. (Please, please solve the riddle of the Voynich for me! Diana.)

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!?
My characters do this, and unless I want migraine or an ugly misshapen manuscript, there’s no fighting it. They know their own personalities best, and the plot is theirs to develop, as they develop through it.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips?
I research for months. It would be unforgivable to have glaring errors. Readers who spot them (and I’ve done this myself!) never touch that author again. Research trips are great, but not just for facts. The atmosphere of a place or a time is important to me, and when I’m home again, I need to be able to recall that, to put my brain into the place that is right for my characters.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
Not really. The characters follow their own pattern, and it’s important to have unpleasant people in a tale. Heroes and heroines have flaws too, which is why we love them. If stories teach us anything, it is that unpleasant people/situations must sometimes be lived with – or survived, or escaped from.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
I would not deviate from known facts by altering them, but I do like to sometimes give an alternative explanation of how and why they happened.

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
Constantly. I think this is the beauty of good fiction. It can offer suggestions as to what really happened in history. Sometimes, reading non-fiction, I am struck by the story-telling possibilities in an historical fact. Imaging what was really happening for the people involved at the time is a great start for research and speculation. What if….?

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
Hatred would be too strong a word. I deal with people who cause me pain in real life by turning them into characters. I love all the characters, but again ‘in love’ is not really right. Thoughts and preoccupations with them take over my life, and I suppose that’s close to being in love.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
Historical fiction. And anything well written!

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
Whatever keeps you going and doesn’t make you drunk.

Last but not least... favourite authors?

Thank you Rowan. 😉

© Diana Milne January 2017 © Rowan Scot-Ryder January 2018

No comments:

Post a Comment