Please welcome Anne Lyle to The Qwillery. Anne is the author of the Night's Masque series. The Prince of Lies
(Night's Masque 3) is published in the US and Canada today. Please join The Qwillery in wishing Anne a Happy Publication Day!
Night's MasqueThe Prince of Lies
TQ: Welcome back to The Qwillery! Please tell us something about your newest book, The Prince of Lies (Night's Masque 3) that we won't find in the book description.
Anne: Unlike the previous two books, each of which takes place over the course of about six months each, The Prince of Lies spans approximately eight years. The reason for this is that I wanted to move events forward to the death of Queen Elizabeth and the subsequent struggle for control of the throne. Admittedly I could have invoked alternate history again and killed her off sooner, but I also had a character waiting in the wings who was born at the end of Book 1, The Alchemist of Souls, and whose fate I wanted to cover. Fast-forwarding to 1603 allowed me to combine both these storylines in what I hope is a satisfying conclusion to the series.
TQ: What sorts of research have you done for Night's Masque series and what is the oddest thing you've found so far?
Anne: I use a combination of books, online research and visits to historic locations—I’ve been to the Tower of London several times, and also visited Venice as part of my research for The Merchant of Dreams.
As for oddities, I’m struggling to think of anything at the moment—over the past seven years, I’ve spent so long in the sixteenth century, figuratively speaking, that it all seems perfectly normal to me! Though come to think of it, the oddest thing that occurred as a result of my research was when I visited the Globe Theatre and the Tower of London and found myself mentally projecting the historical map I’d been using onto the modern-day streets. The buildings may have changed over the centuries, but a lot of the streets in central London are in the exact same place as they were in Shakespeare’s day, so it’s possible to walk some of the routes my characters would have taken.
TQ: Please tell us about the magic system in the Night Masque's series.
Anne: I’d hesitate to call it a “magic system” - that implies something akin to an RPG rules set! My approach was to take a few simple principles and explore the consequences. So, there’s a parallel dimension or plane of existence where our minds go when we dream. For most people, their dreams exist as self-contained “bubbles” which they can never leave, but some individuals can move around the dreamlands and enter the dreaming minds of others. One’s connection to the dreamlands can be affected by contact with substantial quantities of iron (or other ferromagnetic substances such as nickel and cobalt); a property that can be used both to hamper the powers of a dreamwalker and to protect oneself from possible attack.
Most “magic” therefore occurs in people’s dreams, and has no effect on the physical world. The main exception is the ability of a few powerful individuals to physically transport themselves from one place to another via the dreamworld. This requires someone to act as the “anchor” at the desired destination. The other major magical effect outside of dreaming is that upon death, skilled dreamwalkers can use the dreamlands to locate an unborn child into which they may reincarnate.
These abilities have been developed by the skraylings through experimentation with meditation and psychotropic drugs—a secret they are careful not to share with humans, whom they do not trust to use such power safely.
TQ: Which character in the series has surprised you the most? Which character has been the hardest to write.
Anne: I was surprised to discover how important Gabriel Parrish became to the series. He was originally a fairly minor supporting character, one of several actors involved in the theatre storyline of Book 1, but by making him the lover of one of my PoV characters he became much more invested in the plot.
I think Coby has been trickiest to write. The role of women in Elizabethan society was very different to the present day, so creating a female character who was understandable to modern readers and yet didn’t feel like a 21st-century girl plonked down in 16th century London was a delicate balancing act. I suspect I still won’t have satisfied everyone, but I’m happy with the way she turned out.
TQ: What's next?
Anne: I’m just about to start writing the first draft of a new fantasy novel set in a secondary world. I don’t really want to say too much about it at this stage as it’s still very much under development, but I guess it’s fair to say that it won’t be a million miles from Night’s Masque in terms of tone. What I really enjoy writing is tales of action and intrigue in a pre-industrial urban setting, so that was the foundation I used when designing this series.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
Anne: Thank you for having me!
Night's Masque 3
Angry Robot Books, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
November 7, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages
Elizabethan spy Mal Catlyn has everything he ever wanted – his twin brother Sandy restored to health, his family estate reclaimed and a son to inherit it – but his work is far from over. The renegade skraylings, the guisers, are still plotting – their leader, Jathekkil, has reincarnated as the young Prince Henry Tudor. But while he is still young, Mal has a slim chance of eliminating his enemies whilst they are at their weakest.The Merchant of Dreams
With Sandy’s help, Mal learns to harness his own magic in the fight against the guisers, but it may be too late to save England. Schemes set in motion decades ago are at last coming to fruition, and the barrier between the dreamlands and the waking world is wearing thin…
File Under: Fantasy [ Princes in the Tower | Revenger's Tragedy | Much Ado | Boys Will Be Boys ]
Night's Masque 2
Angry Robot, December 18, 2012 (US/Canada)
January 3, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback (US) and eBook, 528 pages
Exiled from the court of Queen Elizabeth for accusing a powerful nobleman of treason, swordsman-turned-spy Mal Catlyn has been living in France with his young valet Coby Hendricks for the past year.
But Mal harbours a darker secret: he and his twin brother share a soul that once belonged to a skrayling, one of the mystical creatures from the New World.
When Mal’s dream about a skrayling shipwreck in the Mediterranean proves reality, it sets him on a path to the beautiful, treacherous city of Venice – and a conflict of loyalties that will place him and his friends in greater danger than ever.
File Under: Fantasy [ Skrayling Dreams | Pound of Flesh | Venice in Peril | The Dark Lady ]
The Alchemist of Souls
Night's Masque 1
Angry Robot Books, March 27, 2012 (US/Canada)
April 5, 2012 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback (US) and eBook, 528 pages
When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods – and a skrayling ambassador – to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?About Anne
Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador’s bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally – and Mal Catlyn his soul.
File Under: Fantasy [ Midsummer Magic | Skraylings | Double Trouble | Comedy of Terrors ]
|Author photo by Andy Fountain|
Anne Lyle was born in what is popularly known as “Robin Hood Country”, and grew up fascinated by English history, folklore, and swashbuckling heroes. Unfortunately there was little demand in 1970s Nottinghamshire for diminutive swordswomen, so she studied sensible subjects like science and languages instead.
It appears, however, that although you can take the girl out of Sherwood Forest, you can’t take Sherwood Forest out of the girl. She now spends practically every waking hour writing – or at least planning – fantasy fiction about dashing swordsmen and scheming spies, set in imaginary pasts or parallel worlds.Website