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A blog about books and other things speculative

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Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013


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!



Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013




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

The Prince of Lies
Night's Masque 3
Angry Robot Books, October 29, 2013 (US/Canada)
     November 7, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 544 pages

Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013
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.

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 ]



The Merchant of Dreams
Night's Masque 2
Angry Robot, December 18, 2012  (US/Canada)
     January 3, 2013 (UK)
Mass Market Paperback (US) and eBook, 528 pages

Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013
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

Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013

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?

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 ]





About Anne

Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013
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  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter


Interview with Anne Lyle and Giveaway - April 2, 2012

Please welcome Anne Lyle to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Anne's debut, The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque 1) was published on March 27, 2012 (US/Canada) and will be published on April 5, 2012 (UK/RoW).


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Anne:  Gosh, that's hard to say! I don't think I have any, to be honest. I'm a bit obsessive about word count once I get to the second draft and start licking the book into shape, though I'm not sure that counts as interesting. I don't have any eccentric rituals associated with writing; as long as I have my project notebook, a smooth-writing pen and my laptop, I'm good to go.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Anne:  I would have to say Jane Austen, Ursula Le Guin, Terry Pratchett and Tim Powers. If there's any influence, it's mostly by way of giving me standards of writing to aspire to: great characters, great storytelling, and in the case of the latter three, some really cool, fun ideas.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Anne:  A bit of both - I plan out a skeleton of the story, then pants my way between the major plot points. I tried pantsing it when I began writing and found I ran out of steam very quickly. On the other hand I can't outline in too much detail, because I find it hard to imagine how my characters are going to react to a given situation in the abstract. They're only real people to me when I'm writing them.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Anne:  The second half of a book, between the midpoint and the climax. The first half is relatively easy, setting up all the obstacles, and I usually have a fairly clear idea of how I want it to end, but getting my characters there in a plausible and coherent way is still a huge challenge for me. There's generally a lot of flailing around and panicking to begin with, but I just have to force my way through and somehow it works itself out eventually. To quote the movie "Shakespeare in Love":
Philip Henslowe: Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.
Hugh Fennyman: So what do we do?
Philip Henslowe: Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well.
Hugh Fennyman: How?
Philip Henslowe: I don't know. It's a mystery.

TQ:  Describe The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque 1) in 140 characters or less.

Anne:  An Elizabethan swordsman finds himself in way over his head when he is assigned as bodyguard to an ambassador from the New World.

TQ:  What inspired you to write The Alchemist of Souls?

Anne:  I wanted to write something a bit different from all the bog-standard medieval fantasy I'd been reading, and having read Charles Nicholls' "The Reckoning", about the murder of Christopher Marlowe and the beginnings of the English secret service, I thought the Elizabethan period would be a great setting for a fantasy novel full of political intrigue and derring-do, rather than the usual quests and battles.

Then I read "Guns, Germs and Steel" by Jared Diamond and got thinking about how history would have been different if the conquistadors had been prevented from conquering the Americas. Putting those two ideas together produced the scenario of an ambassador from the New World being assigned an English bodyguard on a visit to London, and from that point I just had to work out the link between these two characters and how their story would play out.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for The Alchemist of Souls?

Anne:  Lots of non-fiction reading, obviously, but also visiting the real locations where possible. I reckon I know parts of the Tower of London almost as well as the official guides!

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Anne:  I think Mal is both the easiest and the hardest to write. Easy because I've been developing his character for about five years now and know him inside-out, but hard because he's the main protagonist and has to carry the story. If readers don't believe in him and root for him, the whole thing falls apart.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in The Alchemist of Souls?

Anne:  I would have to say the various scenes between Mal and Ambassador Kiiren; there's humour to be had from the culture clash, especially at the beginning, but also some pretty intense stuff when you find out what's really going on.

TQ:  What's next?

Anne:  I have two more Night's Masque books in the pipeline - The Merchant of Dreams has just been handed in to my editor and should be out early next year, with the final book in the trilogy, The Prince of Lies, some time after that.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Anne:  Thank you for inviting me!


About The Alchemist of Souls

The Alchemist of Souls
Night's Masque 1
Angry Robot Books, March 27, 2012 (US/Canada), April 5, 2012 (UK/RoW)
Mass Market Paperback (US), 448 pages

Interview with Anne Lyle and Giveaway - April 2, 2012
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?

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 ]


About Anne

Interview with Anne Lyle and Giveaway - April 2, 2012
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.

Anne's Links:

Website
Facebook
Twitter



The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a Mass Market Paperback copy of The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Monday, April 9, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*
Interview with Anne Lyle, author of the Night's Masque Series - October 29, 2013Interview with Anne Lyle and Giveaway - April 2, 2012

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