Tuesday, 22 January 2013

An Interview With Melanie Rawn, Author of 'Touchstone'

Melanie Rawn, the three time Locus award nominated author, has kindly taken the time out of her busy schedule to talk to Pat Challis about her new novel, 'Touchstone', which is out now to buy.

PC: You've been a major part of the fantasy genre for quite a long time now and have released many books to critical acclaim.  Do you find it easier to write in the fantasy genre with each passing book or harder to keep things fresh? 
MR: This year will be the 25th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Dragon Prince. I'm still trying to get my head around that one!
I do try to make each world I write in distinct from the others in terms of magical system, slang, politics, societal quirks, buildings, landscape, food, clothes, just everything. In a way, that's why writing Spellbinder and Fire Raiser was kind of a relief--being contemporary novels, I could have the heroine wear Jimmy Choo heels and swig cappucino, drive a BMW and go to a Bonnie Raitt gig, and get on with the story without having to do background on everything. But it's more fun, really, to discover a fantasy world as I'm writing. The decisions are different. Dragons or no dragons? Magic worked with the aid of herbs and gemstones, or incantations, or what? Do women have an equal place in society, or are they third-class citizens? If the characters wear silk shirts, then somewhere there has to be an equivalent of China with gazillions of worms chowing down on mulberry leaves--that, or a different source and production of silk-like fabric. Decisions, decisions...this is the sort of life a control freak loves!
PC: When writing a new book, do you do a lot of research?
MR: Yes, and at the oddest moments. I can be in the middle of a scene and realize that I don't have the information I need (which is the nice way of saying that I realize I don't know what I'm talking about!), and spend the next four hours in a mad search through my reference books and the Internet Machine.

PC: Do you have any quirks or traditions when you start a new book?
MR: Actually, my tradition comes after the book has been published. I'm a firm believer in buying oneself presents. I like sparkly rocks, so I find a nice piece of jewelry--nothing spectacular, just something that reminds me of the book every time I wear it. I have a moonstone ring, for instance, that commemorates The Golden Key. But if you're asking whether or not I have a pair of lucky socks...umm, no.

PC: In 'Touchstone', you've created a whole new world and set of characters to the ones that your fans are used to.  Was that a daunting prospect?
MR: Not at all.
PC: 'Touchstone' is the first of the 'Glass Thorns' books isn't it?  What can we expect from this new series?
MR: 'Glass Thorns' is about four young men who on some days deserve cheers for being brilliant and on other days deserve to be throttled for being total twits. Sort of like the rest of us, I guess.

PC: Cayden Silversun is a superb new addition to your cast of characters.  Magical yet with a rock star attitude.  Did you have a template for him or base him on any certain people?
MR: Well, he got his nose from a guy I knew at summer camp when I was seventeen.
PC: Without giving anything away, how would you describe your book to a new fan?
MR: Theater performers use magic onstage to create a fully immersive experience: sight, sound, scent, touch, taste, and emotions. Complications ensue (see above description of the characters!).

PC: So, what's next for the prolific Melanie Rawn?
MR: Seventeen books in twenty-five years...is that prolific? Doesn't feel like it. Maybe if I totted up the word count it would sound more impressive?
What's next is finishing up this series. After that...who knows?

PC: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us here.

MR: Beholden to you for asking!

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