This weeks interview is with author Ciara Ballintyne. I’m excited about this because I’ve been trying to interview Ciara for a while. So, welcome to the blog!
Would you mind telling us something about yourself to introduce yourself to my readers?
Ciara: I’m a lawyer who writes epic fantasy. A lot of people think that’s an odd combination, but it’s actually not. I would really like the Iron Throne for my desk chair – imagine arriving to meet your lawyer, and she’s sitting in that? Sadly, all I actually have is dragon book-ends holding my lawbooks.
Michael: My sister’s a lawyer and I can totally see her writing epic fantasy as well. She’d love those book-ends.
What is your latest novel? Can you summarize it without giving away any plot twists?
Ciara: Stalking the Demon is my latest release, a short fantasy novel. Our hero, Alloran, is a disgraced wizard who thought that banishing the demon was a good idea – only in hindsight that might not be true…. Now he has to fix what he broke, while the woman he loves falls closer to the threshold of death in the grip of a mysterious illness, and the most powerful wizard in the land believes that he is working for the enemy rather than against him. To save the world, and everyone he loves, Alloran risks everything that he is.
Michael: That sounds dark, gritty and intriguing. And the cover, as my readers can see, is gorgeous. Great job with that.
What made you decide to write?
Ciara: I was eleven. I was writing a short story, fanfiction really, and thought ‘Hey, I can do this.’ So I did. Later I realised that pinning one’s hopes on a lucrative writing contract is on par with expecting to win the lottery, so I studied law. Now I write because I don’t know how to stop.
Michael: I think that should be my new promotion tag line. “I write because I don’t know how to stop.”
Ciara, If you look at the writing and publishing process, what was most difficult part for you?
Ciara: Marketing is the most difficult. I am seriously time-strapped. I have the time to do the marketing, but I don’t have the time for the try, fail, rinse, repeat approach to marketing which is how most of us find out what works these days.
Michael: Yes, I can definitely relate to that. I always say I have to look at writing as more than a hobby, it’s a job, but with a 7 month old, a marriage and full time job already, it’s tough.
Now, what about the most exciting?
Ciara: The most exciting part is the first draft. Even though all first drafts are rubbish, and the really excellent writing doesn’t happen until later, the first draft is where the magic happens. Writing a first draft is kind of like riding an out-of-control train – you race along at breakneck speed, not caring how many walls you knock down or people get squished, so long as you get to the end. Then you look back and realise you have to clean up that mess…. And that’s why revisions are not fun or exciting although I do find them very satisfying.
Michael: Yes, I’ve heard some people like the revisions, and some hate them. As you say though, almost everyone finds a certain amount of satisfaction from completing them.
If you think about all the characters you’ve ever created, do you have a favourite and why?
Ciara: Once I would have immediately said yes. Now I have to think about this… Alloran, from Stalking the Demon, is complicated, and I like him for that – someone described him as a thinking man’s wizard. But for all that, he’s not my favourite. I am very fond of Kain and Astarl from my as yet unpublished Deathhawk Trilogy – they are such broken people desperately trying to find a way to mend themselves even as the world crumbles around them. They are such stewpots of conflict, I guess I love them as a writer. I probably wouldn’t want to have dinner with them. Ellaeva, from my current WIP, In the Company of the Dead, is probably the most like me, and so that makes me like her a lot. I could have a good dinner debate with her, and walk away content – and alive!
Michael: A great answer. I love that there are so many aspects to consider.
What’s one of the favourite novels you’ve read? What made it such a good read?
Ciara: The Wheel of Time has been a favourite since 1992. Robert Jordan’s story is just on such a grand scale that I quail to think of matching it. Part of my love for it is sentimentality, as reading it was a 20 year journey I shared with Dad, but I do simply love the characters and their story. It is the definitive epic fantasy, and every time I read it I find another clue in the early books that I missed the previous times I read them. I was sad when I finished the fourteenth and last book this year, knowing there will be no more. More recently, I adore Patrick Rohfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles for the prose. Just listening to the opening prologue (I have the audiobook), where he talks about the sound of three silences, gives me chills. It was the patient cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die. God, don’t you just wish you’d written that? I know I do!
Michael: It’s definitely up there with close to perfect sentences. I haven’t read those chronicles yet, so I may have to add that to the list. The list is getting quite long.
Now, most importantly to me for this interview, where can people find your novel?
Ciara: It’s on Amazon, in ebook and paperback, B&N, Kobo, and iBooks. Links to all the outlets can be found on my website http://ciaraballintyne.com/books/stalking-the-demon/
And how can people contact you if they want to? Are you on social media?
Website – http://ciaraballintyne.com
Twitter – @CiaraBallintyne
Facebook – http://facebook.com/CiaraBallintyne
My final question is always the same. I ask authors for their writing tips, so that if we have any aspiring authors reading they can learn and improve their own craft. What tip would you like to share?
Ciara: Oh wow, just one? I am known on Twitter for tweeting a series of #writetips – I have hundreds! But if I had to choose just one I would say ‘Goal Motivation Conflict’. This is the foundation of a good story. What does our protagonist and antagonist want? Why do they want it? And what’s stopping them getting it? In fact, they should probably have multiple GMCs, and most secondary characters will have a GMC as well. The main character of every sub-plot absolutely needs one. These are the building blocks of believable stories and characters.
Michael: I just want to say here, Ciara’s tips are great. She inspired me to write my own series of blogs on them and I’ve learned alot from reading the tweets she sends out. So if you’re on twitter, go follow @CiaraBallintyne you won’t be sorry that you did.
Ciara, thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, maybe when this new series is released we can have you do another appearance. To my readers, remember to check out her social media.