Today as part of the Blog Ring of Power I have Heidi Vlach. This is Part 4, About Your Current Work. You can find the other parts here:
Part 1: Terri
Part 2: Theresa
Part 3: Emily
Part 5 will appear on Dean's blog tomorrow (6/11/13)
Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?
Render, the latest Story of Aligare, just came out May 7th. It's the story of Rue, a young woman of the insect-like aemet race. She's coming of age in an isolated mountain community, trying to find a practical use for her family trade, tinctoring (using dye to pH test the soil). Life is already meagre in her village — and then fellow aemets start turning up dead, attacked by wolves that don't seem to have any regard for the natural order. Keeping quiet so she doesn't alarm her superstitious fellow aemets, Rue promises herself that she'll solve this village's problems. But she'll need help from the two other peoplekind species. Especially Felixi, a game hunter of the dragon-like korvi race — and a fellow who knows more about the wolf attacks than he's willing to share.
Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?
Non-human/anthropomorphic characters aren't rare in fantasy, but I haven't found any other authors who treat them quite the way I do. I try for a perspective similar to science fiction. We don't question why aliens are aliens. They just exist and they're different from us, and hey, maybe we can learn from that. I take the social attitudes of optimistic, utopian sci-fi, and I blend that with the rustic villages and elemental magics that are familiar to fantasy.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
I fiddled with the chronology a lot. Which meant that I kept having to rejigger the characters' reactions each time events came in a different order.
What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I enjoyed writing scenes with Denelend, one of the ferrin people (intelligent weasels). Denelend started out as a throwaway character in one scene. He barely had a name and he only existed to demonstrate a particular use for magic. But I found more and more places to use the mild-mannered little guy, and he became a solid plot character, and he even got to take heroic action. Every time he worked his way into another scene, I was kind of rooting for him!
Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
I learned that publishing deadlines are awful and I should never give myself a deadline again! There was some panic in late April. I always say that editing a novel is like renovating a house: everything that seems like a quick two-day fix ends up being an extensive tear-out-and-rebuild.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?
I think I'd just have more faith in it. All the rearranging and characterization-tweaking made me feel like this project was a hopeless mess. But I like how it all worked out, so on some level, I apparently knew what I was doing.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Render is about characters defining themselves, questioning their society, pushing their own abilities and surviving challenges. I'm not sure I want to push one overall message. I just hope that readers see something positive that they find personally meaningful.
Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?
The artwork is by Melanie Herring (a.k.a. PurpleKecleon). She also drew up the cover for Remedy and Render, and the subject matter is stuff she likes to draw anyway, so she doesn't need a lot of direction from me. I describe the scene I want and its colour scheme, and she basically comes back to me with gorgeous art!
As for the designs I have in mind? It took some thought to come up with a cover for my first book, Remedy. Literal artwork of the characters wouldn't work for my Stories of Aligare — because marketing has us trained to associate "animal people" with cute little children's stories. So the Stories of Aligare have more symbolic covers. The new book Render has a magical gemstone — a piece of golden beryl charged with firecasting magic — that looks like it's been dropped and forgotten in some isolated forest area. I wanted a sense of the strength and wonder we can find in unexpected places.
Heidi is a Canadian chef graduate who didn't care much for the high-stress kitchen life. Her knowledge of food and culture is now used for home cooking, being an overqualified waitress and fantasy world-building. Heidi currently shares an apartment with her (male) best friend, two cats and far too many video games.
Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorHeidiCVlach
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4687089.Heidi_C_Vlach
What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
My books are available in ebook and print-on-demand paperback. All the buying options are listed on the Books section of my blog: http://heidicvlach.wordpress.com/books/