Teagan, blogger and author of the Delta Pearl a serialized steam-punk novel, is publishing a fantasy novel Dead of Winter on Saturday, January 2. This is an interview about her new book and her writing.
1) When and why did you make the switch from this type of fantasy to the lighter fantasy of the Delta Pearl?
I was an avid reader of fantasy, particular “high fantasy,” so that was the genre I chose when I first took writing seriously. I’m actually surprised that I ever wrote anything else.
When I made public, my “three things method of storytelling,” I let those reader things completely drive every aspect of that story. It turned out to be a 1920s mystery. My stories spontaneously evolved into the steampunk tales you’ve seen on my blog in recent years. (Universal link to The Three Things Serial Story relinks.me/B01MRRC0B2 )
2) The harsh religious elders that forbid the education of girls reminds me a bit of the Handmaid’s Tale. Did that influence this tale at all?
No. Back in 2014, I cut the cable cord with Comcast and network television. I never went back. I don’t know when “The Handmaid’s Tale” was published. Of course, I’ve seen some of the ads for the TV version. However, I’ve never read it or watched it, or even investigated it. You aren’t the only person to ask that question. I really should look into that story.
3) You must have wanted to scream when Game of Thrones came out with your title, Dead of Winter. You said you wrote 800 pages—have you edited the book back in the years since you wrote it? Did the break change what you wanted to do with the story?
I think I actually did scream. I try to describe it in a funny way, but it really was hugely demoralizing. I began to think I’d never finish the rest of the story… but I was determined.
No. I did some editing right after I typed “the end” on the final page, but in my disappointment, I shelved Dead of Winter. The story and the characters stayed with me, reminding me now and then that it was waiting. Naturally I’m editing the “journeys” (the novelette-sized installments) now. My writing style has evolved during the past decade. Plus, I’d never publish a work without intensive editing.
4) You really weave geography into your story. Do you draw maps of your world before or as you create them? Whereas the Delta Pearl seems Mississippi River and tributaries centric, this one seems like it is straight from the British Isles.
No. Although I’ve always wished I had one of those marvelous maps you find in high fantasy stories! I love those things. I tried, ten years ago to make one, but I didn’t get very far. Maybe that will be a new creative project for me.
The Delta Pearl, may or may not be on our earth. It may or may not be a parallel world. It just is. I’ve never specified where it is. Dead of Winter is pure fantasy. It is not set in our world. However, it looks and sounds a lot like parts of our world. Something I picked up from studying the work of Robert Jordan, David Eddings, and Terry Brooks is that making a place similar to one with which the reader is already familiar, causes the reader to automatically flesh-out the imagery. That way, the author doesn’t have to bog down the storytelling with excessive descriptions.
5) You have written a number of pieces, as listed on the front of Dead of Winter. Do you have a favorite among your writings?
Oh… I never really thought of it that way. Hmmm… (Ha! Can you imagine dozens of characters in my head right now, all clamoring for me to say their story is my favorite?) I definitely have some favorite characters. A couple of them are in novels that are still waiting for me to finalize them.
The Dead of Winter overall manuscript is filled with over 300 characters and places. All those names were from my research. I’ve put a list of them at the end of the first novelette – Journey 1, Forlorn Peak. That list will grow with each new journey. Anyhow, several of those characters are dear to me. I had quite a crush on one named Ta’jin. He won’t come into the story until later.
6) What is your favorite part of writing—first draft, editing, adding graphics, marketing? What do you dislike the most of the whole process?
My favorite part of writing is “world building,” developing the world of the story. That includes thorough research. Fantasy stories warrant dedicated research, just like any other genre. Unfortunately, world building has little to do with creating the plot. That’s probably my downfall. I make a world, fall in love with it, and then worry about the plot.
7) I am fascinated with your use of the white wolf.
“The wolf is an ongoing mystery in the overall story. However, that is as much as I can reveal about it right now. That would be a huge spoiler.”
8) You have an affinity for the whole punk genre from diesel to steam. Do you have a favorite era that you would prefer to write about or a favorite area of the world that you would like to explore with your writing? I don’t think this is a punk genre—is that an accurate guess?
That’s right, Dead of Winter is high fantasy, not any sort of punk. It’s a non-technology world, pre-industrial.
However, you’re also correct that I enjoy writing punk in its various forms. I’m a research geek. The retro-futuristic technologies that are a common element in punk stories give me hours and hours of research and exploration fun. As I learn about the tech, I’m inspired with more details for the stories.
9) You mention the Deae Matres, as being a society of women who travel the world, in search of knowledge. Could they really be… Are the Deae Matres actually…
Yes, Pat. The Society of Deae Matres are the librarians of Dead of Winter.
Universal Purchase Links
Dead of Winter: Journey 1, Forlorn Peak