I have previously reviewed ‘Draykon’ (You can find my review here). Today, I welcome Charlotte E. English, author of Draykon, who has agreed to answer some of my questions. Just a note: The second book in the Draykon series is out today. So be sure to check it out. Now, lets begin with the interview:
Charlotte E. English
Describe your book? What genre do you consider your book?
Draykon is a mixture of the fantasy and mystery genres. It’s a mystery/suspense story set in a high fantasy world; the events that occur include some traditional elements of the mystery genre (murders, thefts, investigations) and some fantasy elements (an alternative world, fantastic creatures, magic and dragons!).
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve enjoyed writing ever since school, when I wore out my teachers by submitting ten times as much fiction as I was asked to. I began writing more seriously when I was about eighteen; since then I’ve written a great deal of short fiction, play scripts and essays. Draykon is the first full novel that I’ve done, and I began that in 2010.
Why? I’ve asked myself that question before. I’ve always read a lot; it was my escape route when times were bad, and I still need to be able to lose myself in a story in order to keep from becoming overwhelmed with life. Writing is possibly an extension of that. I love to sink into the worlds of my imagination. And I love the thought that others can sink into my stories now too, and get away from their own problems for a while.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?
When I began writing Draykon, I was doing it very much part time, around other work. Sometimes it was hard to encourage myself to write, at the end of a long day when I was already tired. I had to hold on very hard to the dreams I had of being an author someday.
Research wasn’t so much of a difficulty. I based some elements of my fantasy worlds on various historical societies, but history has been a huge interest of mine for many years, so that part was entertaining.
One of the biggest challenges was the characters. I wanted the protagonists of the story to be the focus, more so than the plot; they needed to be believable, easy to relate to, people you could imagine talking to in real life. That meant I spent a lot of time thinking about the things that motivate people, the ways we are defined by our personal histories, the impact other people have on our lives and personalities. Tremendous fun, but quite demanding.
What was the hardest part of writing the book?
Writing a book feels like weaving an enormous tapestry. All those different threads that have to be present, and that have to match up and fit together in order to produce a smooth tale. A single miswoven thread can cause an enormous problem. It takes a lot of care and thought in the original draft, and then a great deal of re-reading, re-writing and editing to get everything in the right place.
Who designed the covers of the book?
The cover for Draykon and its sequel, Lokant, were designed by freelance artist Elsa Kroese. We’ve been working together for some time on a fantasy graphic novel called Spindrift, and she also does cover work for me. I’m tremendously lucky to have her for a cover artist, as her work is always stunning and really catches the eye.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It sounds pretty obvious but I learned that I can write a book. I’d written a lot of short stories and other work before, but that didn’t necessarily mean I could produce an enjoyable full-length novel. So I learned that about myself. It was a hugely important discovery because it’s always been my dream to be a fantasy novelist, but I had a lot of fear that I’d fail.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your book?
One of the difficult things about producing novels is knowing when to stop. There’s always some small detail left that I doubt and fret over and wonder if I should change. At a certain point I just have to step back and call it done, or I would edit forever. So I’m never going to be able to say there’s nothing at all I’d change. But there are no major alterations I’d make to Draykon. It’s the product of nine months of consistent effort and I’m very happy with it.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Was there somewhere in the book you felt stuck?
I had some trouble with the final chapters of the story. As you pointed out in your review, there are two main strands to the narrative and they intersect at the very end to form a resolution that all the main characters are involved in. That was very hard to orchestrate properly and required a number of rewrites to get it right. As such I’m particularly happy to hear that it’s working well for readers.
What are your current projects? When is the next book in the series coming out?
I have two current projects. The first is a novella, not related to the Draykon Series (though it is another fantasy/mystery cross). I’ve almost finished writing the first draft on that. The other is, of course, writing the third Draykon book.
The second one in the series has just come out, as it happens. It’s called Lokant and I have only just uploaded it to Amazon today. It should be available to purchase by Monday, 5th (and in fact it is already available on Smashwords).
Could you describe what happens in the next book in the series?
The next book continues the adventures of Llandry Sanfaer, Eva Glostrum and their friends and colleagues. While the first book focused a bit more on Llandry, the second focuses more on Eva. The fight isn’t over for Llandry; she’s still hunted, and she has to find out why. Eva meanwhile has some secrets about her own heritage to uncover. We’re seeing a lot more of Tren Warvel and Devary Kant, plus a few new characters are introduced.
Excerpt from Lokant:
Tren was staring vacantly at the pages of an open book when the woman appeared.
It wasn’t that he’d given up, precisely. He had been hard at work since soon after moonrise and it was now long after moonset, but as he had nothing better to do and no company at all, he had every intention of continuing with his reading until he couldn’t stay awake anymore.
But some awkward part of his mind had had other ideas, ever since he’d learned that Lady Glostrum was spending the evening with Lord Angstrun instead of studying side-by-side with him as she usually did.
Particularly since he had realised that she wasn’t coming home until the next day. What that meant did not take a great deal of intellect to decipher. When he had heard light footsteps crossing the floor of the study, his grey misery had lifted with the brief hope that Eva had come back after all.
But when he looked up, he saw a complete stranger.
She wasn’t as tall as Eva, but she was larger in every other sense. Her hair was chestnut brown and her complexion was a shade of brown he’d never seen before. She smiled at him and paused before the desk.
‘Forgive my intrusion,’ she murmured. She had a lilting accent that was pleasing to the ear, though he couldn’t place it. ‘I wasn’t expecting anyone to be here so late.’
Tren stood up and bowed politely. ‘I probably shouldn’t be.’
‘Then that makes two of us, for I shouldn’t be here either.’
Tren smiled uncertainly. ‘Are you a friend of Lady Glostrum’s?’
‘I have never met her ladyship. I am looking for some lost property.’ The woman shifted her attention to the desk, still scattered with books, and she actually began searching through them. Feeling a flicker of alarm, Tren closed the book he was reading and stacked it up with a few others.
‘If you’ll grant me your name, I’ll tell Lady Glostrum you called. Perhaps she could help you another time?’
‘Oh, no, no,’ she replied mildly. ‘I don’t need to be helped. Ah, there it is.’ Her hand darted out; she grabbed a book from the middle of Tren’s pile and pulled it out. The rest collapsed and slithered to the floor.
‘Um – wait, those belong to Lady Glostrum, you can’t just –’ He quickly began picking up fallen books, stacking them out of her reach.
‘This one is mine,’ the woman said, leafing through the large book that she held. Then her brow furrowed. ‘Hm. Did you remove these?’
Tren realised she was holding Andraly Winnier’s memoirs. The torn stubs of the missing pages stuck forlornly out of the centre of the book.
‘I see,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’ She turned away and made for the door, but before she reached it her form became suddenly less solid. He could make out the outline of the door before her.
Then she vanished.
For an instant Tren sat frozen with confusion. Then, remembering that the study overlooked the street outside, he jumped out of his chair and hurried to the window. The streets were dark – the Night cloak reigned overhead, blotting out all sunlight – but the lamplighters had done their work diligently, and the streets were well illuminated with silvery-white light globes bobbing gently in the air. He could discern no sign of the chestnut-haired woman.
Tren drifted back to his chair and sat down, suddenly realising how tired he was. He had probably hallucinated the figure out of pure sleep deprivation.
But the book was certainly gone…
What book are you reading now? Which are your all-time favourite authors / books?
I’m currently reading a book by Sarah Zettel called “Sword of the Deceiver”. It’s part of her Isavalta series, and as usual it’s a great read. My all-time favourite authors include Jane Austen, Kage Baker, Elizabeth Gaskell, Tamora Pierce and Victoria Clayton.
Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you, something you could not read just about anywhere.
One: I’m a terrible geek. I’ve had an interest in computer games for years, especially the ones played all in text (that’s right, no pictures at all!). But I still need someone to help me when my computer dies.
Two: Many of my best friends are located in different (and often far-distant) countries and I’ve never met most of them in person. The modern age is amazing in the way it allows people to form friendships even without ever meeting in the physical sense.
Three: Alongside reading, cooking is one of my very favourite hobbies. I find it therapeutic. Whenever I get stressed (which is often), I retreat to the kitchen and bake something. Then I always need friends/colleagues/neighbours/family to help me eat the results!
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to readers?
I want to say thank you for reading this interview! If you decide to try Draykon, I very much hope that you enjoy it. If you’d like to get in touch with me, please feel free to visit me at my website http://www.charlotteenglish.com/
Charlotte E. English was born and raised in England, though she now lives in the Netherlands with her Dutch partner. An avid reader and writer of fantasy fiction, she also enjoys reading historical fiction, mysteries and the classics. When not reading or writing, she can be found either in the kitchen or in her sewing-room.
- Draykon by Charlotte E. English Review (riteshkala.wordpress.com)
- Lokant by Charlotte E. English Review (riteshkala.wordpress.com)