Friday, 18 January 2013

Interview with Jamie Marchant

Happy Friday, everyone! Today we're talking with author Jamie Marchant about her novel, THE GODDESS'S CHOICE.

Welcome to We Do Write! Tell us a bit about yourself.

From early childhood, I’ve been immersed in books. My mother, an avid reader herself, read to us, and my older sister filled my head with fairy tales. When I was about six, I started writing stories about the Man from Mars for my older sister. I devoured every book I could get my hands on, and I wrote my first fantasy novel while in high school—not that it was publishable. Taking into consideration my love for literature and the challenges of supporting myself as a writer, I pursued a Ph.D. in American literature, which I received in 1998. I started teaching writing and literature at Auburn University and discovered the excitement of teaching. But in doing so, I put my true passion on the backburner and neglected my muse. Instead, for a few years, I wrote literary criticism. Then one day, in the midst of writing a critical piece, I realized I had no interest in doing so. What I wanted to do was write novels. My muse thus revived, I began the book that was to become The Goddess’s Choice. I have an entire series planned.
I live in Auburn, Alabama, with my husband and son. I still teach writing and literature at Auburn University.

Tell us about THE GODDESS'S CHOICE. What’s the story about?

The Goddess’s Choice is an adult epic fantasy novel set in the kingdom of Korthlundia. The crown princess Samantha fears she’s mad; no one but she sees colors glowing around people. The peasant Robrek Angusstamm believes he’s a demon; animals speak to him, and his healing powers far outstrip those of his village’s priests. Despite their fears about themselves, their combined powers make them the goddess’s choice to rule the kingdom of Korthlundia.

Samantha’s ability enables her to discern a person’s character through their multi-colored aura, and Robrek’s makes him the strongest healer the kingdom has seen in centuries. But their gifts also endanger their lives. Royals scheme to usurp the throne by marrying or killing Samantha, and priests plot to burn Robrek at the stake. Robrek escapes the priests only to be captured by Samantha’s arch-enemy, Duke Argblutal; Argblutal intends to force the princess to marry him by exploiting Robrek’s powers. To save their own lives and stop Argblutal from plunging the realm into civil war, Robrek and Samantha must consolidate their powers and unite the people behind them.

The Goddess’s Choice is loosely based on a Norwegian fairy tale, “The Princess and the Glass Hill.” Though my favorite fairy tale as a child, it disturbed me that the female character has no name and no role other than being handed off as a prize. My novel remakes the crown princess of Korthlundia into a strong heroine who is every bit as likely to be the rescuer as the one rescued.

How did the idea of the story come to you?

The Goddess's Choice originates deep within my childhood. My sister Jalane--she is ten years older than me--told me stories, fairy tales mostly: "Midas and His Golden Touch," "Little Red Riding Hood," "Hansel and Gretel." But my favorite was always "The Princess and the Glass Hill" or "The Glass Mountain" as my sister titled it. I had her tell that story over and over again. I was captivated by the bold hero on his magical horses of bronze, silver, and gold.

When I had a child of my own, I wanted to pass that fairy tale on. My son, Jesse, loved it every bit as much as I had. One day after telling it to him, it came to me that the story could be so much more than five pages and sparse details. However, I didn’t want to write a children’s story but the type of epic fantasy I enjoy as an adult. I upped the dramatic tension, villainy, and sexuality of the piece to create something far different than the original fairy tale. The Goddess’s Choice is intended for an adult audience.

Do you have a critique group/partner or beta readers, or do you self-edit?

I have a critique group, and I would highly recommend having one. The Goddess’s Choice wouldn’t be half the book it is without them.

Are you a planner or a pantser?

Although it is an adult epic fantasy novel, The Goddess’s Choice is loosely based on a fairy tale, so I had some structure imposed on it to begin with. But the fairy tale is only five pages, and the book is nearly four hundred, so I added a lot! For instance, the story of Samantha—the crown princess and heroine of my novel—is almost completely absent from the fairy tale.

Other than the imposed structure of the original tale, I’m a more fly-by-the-seat-my-pants kind of writer. I never made a written outline or plotted a story arc. I had a basic idea of where I wanted to end up, although I didn’t know exactly how The Goddess’s Choice was going to end until I was nearly there. A lot of where the story goes depends on the characters. They tend to take on a life of their own.

What’s the hardest part of writing for you?

The final edits. By then, I just want the piece to be finished, and I get lazy and impatient. Fortunately, my critique group doesn’t let me get away with it.

What do you absolutely have to have nearby when writing?

I have to be leaning back on a couch with my laptop on my knees. I hate sitting at a desk. It also helps to have a cat around, and since I have four of them, one of them usually obliges me.

If you could have any super power, what would it be?

I’d like to fly. I’ve always wanted to soar with the birds.

What's the weirdest thing you've googled?

Celtic wedding rituals. I needed the information for my novel.

Quick writing test! Use the following words in a sentence: snakes, motorized, and prattle.

Motorized snakes slithered over the toddler while she prattled to them.

Finish this sentence: If I'm not writing, I'm probably ...

Reading or playing a computer game.

Here’s the part where you thank the people who are supporting you. Let's hear your shout outs.

I wish to express extreme gratitude to the members of the Robrek Steele Conspiracy Writers’ Group: Peg Daniels, Jim Elston, and Eve Harmon. Peg and Jim, especially, supported me through every stage of the novel and never let up on me until I got it right. I wish to thank my husband Tim and son Jesse for their love and patience throughout this process and their willingness to listen to parts of the novel read over and over again. I also owe a debt to my brothers and sisters for the stories they told me as a child and for their support and belief in me. I am grateful to my sensei, Travis Page, who taught me everything I know about fighting and didn’t look askance at me when I asked him the best way to kill someone with a staff. And lastly, I’d like to thank Derrick Eisenhardt and Reliquary Press for loving the novel.

And finally, where can people find you and your book online?

I can be found on my website:
Twitter: @RobrekSamantha

The book can be purchased at Amazon:
Barnes & Noble:
Reliquary Press:

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