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Fantasy Faction Book Clubs => Fantasy Faction Book Club => [JUL 2016] The Copper Promise => Topic started by: JMack on June 25, 2016, 11:11:53 AM

Title: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: JMack on June 25, 2016, 11:11:53 AM
Hi, Jen (@sennydreadful (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3297)), and welcome to the July book club, just a few days early.  ;D

Some of our Bookclubbers probably haven't even woken up to the fact that we're moving on from Geof Matthews The Stone Road and into The Copper Promise, but I'm sure they'll be along soon.

Meanwhile, CP is a little unique, because IRC you self-published it in ebook form as a four part series and then it got picked up by a "real" publisher. How exactly does the story go?
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: Lanko on June 25, 2016, 10:00:59 PM
Oh, so Jmack is already one week ahead of us! I'm gonna join and ask about her nickname then.

What's the story behind sennydreadful?
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on June 25, 2016, 10:51:10 PM
Hi, Jen (@sennydreadful (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3297)), and welcome to the July book club, just a few days early.  ;D

Some of our Bookclubbers probably haven't even woken up to the fact that we're moving on from Geof Matthews The Stone Road and into The Copper Promise, but I'm sure they'll be along soon.

Meanwhile, CP is a little unique, because IRC you self-published it in ebook form as a four part series and then it got picked up by a "real" publisher. How exactly does the story go?

HI EVERYONE *waves madly*  ;D

So chuffed The Copper Promise is the new book club book. Always happy to hang out and answer questions, as ever.

With regards to the very beginnings of the book... It's a long and slightly twisty story, but essentially, I wrote the very first part of TCP with a mind to creating a sword & sorcery serial. I popped the first part, Ghosts of the Citadel, up on Amazon, mostly as a sort of experiment really. I had been spending a lot of time writing big ol' novels and then fiddling with them, but the Copper Promise project was something I wanted to do purely for fun. As it turned out, an editor purchased and read the first part (which works out to be the first 10-15% of the finished book, I think) and asked me if she could read the whole manuscript.

Well.

I hadn't actually written the thing yet.

So I put the whole 'serial' project on hold, and wrote the entirety of The Copper Promise (parts 2, 3 and 4). When that was done, I heard from a writer friend of mine that a really cool agent happened to be looking for epic fantasy. Figuring that it was worth a punt, I sent the full manuscript off to Juliet Mushens, who I had been admiring for some time anyway (thinking about this bit now gives me the fear. I was so green at that point, I didn't really worry about what my query email looked like. I just gave it a shot. WAS I OUT OF MY MIND??). Anyway, to my enormous and abiding shock, she picked it up. Long story short, she gave me a bunch of advice, I did another edit, and she sold it to Headline.

Picture if you will, me standing at a bus stop reading my emails and crying a bit, because that's where I was when I found out that my book was going to be a real thing, sold in actual bookshops. Dream come true. Still is.

So. The very first section of The Copper Promise was self-pubbed on Amazon, but the rest of it never made it that far. It still gives me the chills to think that a project I started for fun changed my life in such a huge and significant way. I owe it all to Wydrin and her wisecracks, and to Juliet and her frankly amazing taste in books.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on June 25, 2016, 10:57:02 PM
Oh, so Jmack is already one week ahead of us! I'm gonna join and ask about her nickname then.

What's the story behind sennydreadful?

Oh gosh, well.

Waaaay back in the early days of the internet (for me) I was a member of several internet forums (nothing changes) and I chose a username based on one of my favourite films - Spirited Away. So the main character Chihiro has to give part of her name to a witch, and is left with the name Sen. Sen became my name everywhere on the internet, and eventually, on a forum devoted to the Dark Tower series of books, Sen morphed into lots of different versions; one of which was sennydreadful, a play on the old Penny Dreadful comics. I became very fond of it, and it stuck. :)
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: tebakutis on June 25, 2016, 11:32:08 PM
So. The very first section of The Copper Promise was self-pubbed on Amazon, but the rest of it never made it that far. It still gives me the chills to think that a project I started for fun changed my life in such a huge and significant way. I owe it all to Wydrin and her wisecracks, and to Juliet and her frankly amazing taste in books.

That is such an awesome story. Congrats!
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on June 26, 2016, 12:03:04 AM
So. The very first section of The Copper Promise was self-pubbed on Amazon, but the rest of it never made it that far. It still gives me the chills to think that a project I started for fun changed my life in such a huge and significant way. I owe it all to Wydrin and her wisecracks, and to Juliet and her frankly amazing taste in books.

That is such an awesome story. Congrats!

Thank you! ;D I still have trouble believing it happened, to be honest.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: JMack on June 26, 2016, 12:58:34 AM
If only one section was self-pubbed, then how is it that we have the cool covers for each section?
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: m3mnoch on June 26, 2016, 01:48:54 AM
oh.  weird.  i just went and looked for a kindle edition.

am i crazy?  or does one not exist?
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: JMack on June 26, 2016, 02:10:28 AM
Pre-order now. Available July 5.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: ScarletBea on June 26, 2016, 08:30:38 AM
oh.  weird.  i just went and looked for a kindle edition.

am i crazy?  or does one not exist?
You're american - you're late ;D
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on June 26, 2016, 11:26:16 AM
If only one section was self-pubbed, then how is it that we have the cool covers for each section?

That's because Headline decided to release the ebook in it's original parts, so they designed funky dragon covers for each one, alongside the bad-ass dragon cover for the full book. The original self-pubbed cover for Ghosts of the Citadel (made by me) looked very different indeed - it had a sort of giant tentacle on the front. 
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: SJBudd on June 30, 2016, 08:11:27 PM
Congratulations @sennydreadful (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3297) on your book deal. Great to know dreams can and do become reality  :)
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on June 30, 2016, 08:37:44 PM
Congratulations @sennydreadful (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3297) on your book deal. Great to know dreams can and do become reality  :)

Thank you! In many ways I have been enormously lucky :D
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: tebakutis on July 08, 2016, 04:37:26 AM
Less a question for @sennydreadful (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3297), and more a kudos. I'm very much enjoying your book so far. I'm up to Chapter 18, and expect I'll be finishing it either this weekend or a bit later. I'll probably be posting my thoughts at various points in spoiler tags so as not to spoil it for the other folks reading along. Good stuff!
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 08, 2016, 09:15:39 AM
Less a question for @sennydreadful (http://fantasy-faction.com/forum/index.php?action=profile;u=3297), and more a kudos. I'm very much enjoying your book so far. I'm up to Chapter 18, and expect I'll be finishing it either this weekend or a bit later. I'll probably be posting my thoughts at various points in spoiler tags so as not to spoil it for the other folks reading along. Good stuff!

Aw, thank you very much! :D I am very pleased you're enjoying it.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: m3mnoch on July 08, 2016, 06:13:44 PM
hey!  look what i just found!

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/jen-williams-talks-testing-her-writing-mettle-in-the-copper-promise/

Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 08, 2016, 08:13:45 PM
hey!  look what i just found!

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sci-fi-fantasy/jen-williams-talks-testing-her-writing-mettle-in-the-copper-promise/

Hey that's me! :D Feels quite surreal to be doing interviews on Barnes & Noble's website.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: SJBudd on July 12, 2016, 02:00:17 PM
I've wondered how authors write fight scenes. Is there a lot of research involved, especially with the gory bits?

Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 12, 2016, 02:27:00 PM
I've wondered how authors write fight scenes. Is there a lot of research involved, especially with the gory bits?

Well I suspect we all do a degree of research, with some writers going very in depth on things like tactics and weapons (I know a few who've taken up swordfighting or a martial art, which really informs their work). Personally as a reader, I'm always less interested in technical detail and more invested in how the character is experiencing the fight. The Copper Cat books are very character driven, so when I plan and write action sequences, my focus is always on what the character is thinking/feeling/experiencing. I ask myself a lot of questions: are they already wounded from a previous fight? What might be distracting them? Are they more worried about someone else right now? And: How does it feel to get punched in the stomach, really hard? What conditions are making it harder? (there's an action sequence in The Silver Tide that takes place in the middle of an incredibly violent storm, which impacted heavily on how the characters were able to fight, etc) How do they feel about who they're fighting? I research enough to get me through, but I don't like to get bogged down in it. Making the reader experience the action as though they are fighting right alongside the characters is usually my goal.

Like every scene, I think action scenes are an opportunity to advance the story and reveal more of the characters - and you can learn a lot about them when they are under extreme stress of some kind.  ;D Stress like, fighting an evil dragon god and so on.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 25, 2016, 11:14:25 AM
As people are starting to finish the book now, I thought I'd pop in here and wave a bit, in case anyone wants to ask me a question.  :D
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: ScarletBea on July 25, 2016, 05:13:31 PM
They're all busy reading books 2 and 3 ;D

(by the way, I was in Waterstone's Leeds and did my usual round of putting the books from the FF authors cover out on the shelves ;D You actually had the whole trilogy there!)
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 25, 2016, 06:21:00 PM
They're all busy reading books 2 and 3 ;D

(by the way, I was in Waterstone's Leeds and did my usual round of putting the books from the FF authors cover out on the shelves ;D You actually had the whole trilogy there!)

Oh wow that's fab - good old Waterstones Leeds :D I have vaguely hoped that booksellers will notice how cute all three look together on the shelf now that the small paperback is out...
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: ScarletBea on July 26, 2016, 03:19:01 PM
I've got a question, but it's mostly about book 3, so I'll get it in spoilers

Did you get any inspiration for Xinian and Selsye in real life?
They are such super characters, and I love that despite being very different, you can sense that they have a very strong relationship, through good and bad times.
And of course treating disability like it should be, just another physical characteristic of the person.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: Hedin on July 26, 2016, 03:27:18 PM
I see The Iron Ghost has a US Kindle release date of Jan 3, 2017.  Any idea on when The Silver Tide will be released in the US?  If its too long I might just do my UK VPN trick to get it from Amazon UK (which I might do anyways as I like the UK covers better).
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 26, 2016, 05:06:43 PM
I've got a question, but it's mostly about book 3, so I'll get it in spoilers

Did you get any inspiration for Xinian and Selsye in real life?
They are such super characters, and I love that despite being very different, you can sense that they have a very strong relationship, through good and bad times.
And of course treating disability like it should be, just another physical characteristic of the person.

Ah! Well:

The slightly boring answer is 'not really'. I don't generally tend to get inspired by specific people when it comes to writing characters - they just seem to... happen. Which isn't a very satisfying answer. However, with Xinian I always imagine her to be a little like Michonne from The Walking Dead, particularly in the earlier series where she's grumpier. And I liked her so much in The Iron Ghost, I knew I had to find a way for her to come back.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 26, 2016, 05:09:44 PM
I see The Iron Ghost has a US Kindle release date of Jan 3, 2017.  Any idea on when The Silver Tide will be released in the US?  If its too long I might just do my UK VPN trick to get it from Amazon UK (which I might do anyways as I like the UK covers better).

Well, things have yet to be confirmed with The Silver Tide, so unfortunately I'm not able to give you a good answer for that. :s
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: ScarletBea on July 26, 2016, 05:23:52 PM
The slightly boring answer is 'not really'. I don't generally tend to get inspired by specific people when it comes to writing characters - they just seem to... happen. Which isn't a very satisfying answer. However, with Xinian I always imagine her to be a little like Michonne from The Walking Dead, particularly in the earlier series where she's grumpier. And I liked her so much in The Iron Ghost, I knew I had to find a way for her to come back.

Hmm, never watched the Walking Dead...
But yeah, then it's even better, because it all came from your amazing brain ;D perfectly satisfying answer, hehe

Yes, I was SO happy when I saw her again :D :D
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: tebakutis on July 26, 2016, 06:24:05 PM
Here's a question for Jen! I'm avoiding spoiler stuff until I finish reading the book (hopefully this weekend) so if this has already been asked, forgive me.

How much did RPGs and dungeon crawls (D&D or otherwise) influence your writing, in particular the first portion of The Copper Promise? I mean, at its core, eveything in the temple reads pretty much like a D&D adventure (but in a good way, not a bad one)! So I'm curious if that's intentional/an homage, or if it just read that way to me because of my gaming background.

BTW ... my own gaming experiences (RPG, tabletop, and video) influence my writing to a noticeable degree, which may be why I'm reading into this. :)
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 27, 2016, 09:38:10 AM
Here's a question for Jen! I'm avoiding spoiler stuff until I finish reading the book (hopefully this weekend) so if this has already been asked, forgive me.

How much did RPGs and dungeon crawls (D&D or otherwise) influence your writing, in particular the first portion of The Copper Promise? I mean, at its core, eveything in the temple reads pretty much like a D&D adventure (but in a good way, not a bad one)! So I'm curious if that's intentional/an homage, or if it just read that way to me because of my gaming background.

BTW ... my own gaming experiences (RPG, tabletop, and video) influence my writing to a noticeable degree, which may be why I'm reading into this. :)

Haha! I think a lot of people assume I have a deep history with D&D because of the opening section of the book. Sadly, I don't really, at least not with the traditional form of it - I was too shy as a kid to get involved in anything like that and I didn't really know anyone who played it. As a slightly older person, I did accompany my friend on a larping weekend, which I did enjoy very much, mainly because it was a quite novel way of getting drunk in the woods. :)

Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: tebakutis on July 27, 2016, 02:56:43 PM
Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.

Awesome! I actually work with a few of the writers that wrote for Dragon Age (people in the game industry tend to move around) so it's been fun picking their brains about the game. With the exception of some combat issues (like mage players pwning everything) it was a really well done, especially story-wise. Both Alastair and Anders (from DA: Awakening) remains some of my favorite characters, since I have a weakness for snark. And naturally, my Gray Warden sacrificed himself for the greater good at the end, because that's the type of character I play.

Also, I can totally see some similarities between the rampaging snake sisters and the darkspawn. :)
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: Lanko on July 27, 2016, 03:00:29 PM
Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.

I knew I felt some Skyrim in Part 1!

Meanwhile, preparing my own questionnaire for a while.

Because it really needs to have 33 questions  ::)
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 27, 2016, 03:06:49 PM
Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.

Awesome! I actually work with a few of the writers that wrote for Dragon Age (people in the game industry tend to move around) so it's been fun picking their brains about the game. With the exception of some combat issues (like mage players pwning everything) it was a really well done, especially story-wise. Both Alastair and Anders (from DA: Awakening) remains some of my favorite characters, since I have a weakness for snark. And naturally, my Gray Warden sacrificed himself for the greater good at the end, because that's the type of character I play.

Also, I can totally see some similarities between the rampaging snake sisters and the darkspawn. :)

Oh how cool! Alastair was absolutely my favourite (although to be fair I loved everyone in Origins). I married him and became Queen of Ferelden, so it was the dark ritual with Morrigan every time for me ;) I still want a t-shirt that says 'I'm the Queen of Ferelden...'

The bit where:

You and Alastair go to light the beacon at Ostagar and Logain totally shafts everyone... still one of my favourite shock moments in anything ever. God, I love that game so much.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on July 27, 2016, 03:08:02 PM
Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.

I knew I felt some Skyrim in Part 1!

Meanwhile, preparing my own questionnaire for a while.

Because it really needs to have 33 questions  ::)

I would live in Skyrim if I could. :D Looking forward to your 33 questions ;)
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: tebakutis on July 27, 2016, 04:29:03 PM
I would live in Skyrim if I could. :D Looking forward to your 33 questions ;)

Oh God no! Daedric Princes constantly trying to steal your soul or screw you over, constant cataclysms and end of the world scenarios, chances of getting slaughtered by a draugr, troll, or walking skeleton way too high, and lawless murderers slaughtering entire towns and/or placing buckets on people's heads. Buckets!

Some "hero" would walk into town, Fus Ro Dah me off a cliff, and steal my cabbages. No thank you.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: Lanko on August 02, 2016, 11:34:36 PM
Didn't get to 33 questions yet, but I guess I should divide it in three batches so it doesn't get too long! So here's the first:

1 - When did you first had the idea for the story?

2 - Do you know the word count of all the books?

3 - How long it took to write and finish the book?

4 - During dialogues I noticed that you rarely use “he said/she said” and variants. It made the text flow really well, and I think it’s pretty hard to do. Any special reason for this decision?

5 - Why Thirty-Third didn’t have a single chapter in Parts III and IV? *cries*

6 - Speaking of her, any particular inspiration for her chapters? I kinda like the theme “I just wanted to create a weapon, but now I realized I actually created a person”. Hm, that’s actually a nice page 1 sentence I might use!

7 - I’m almost sure Ynnsmouth is a reference to Lovecraft. If it is, are there others in the book? Was the Citadel some cyclopean inspired ruin?

8 - Sebastian. Very good arc. One of his themes was the prejudice of his order because he is gay. What I found interesting is that you didn’t paint the situation in extreme black and white. Sebastian doesn’t let his expulsion overwhelm him and doesn’t hold a grudge against his order, not to mention he also makes mistakes (working for the devil, pretty much) and isn’t perfect.
And then when he returns to it, there is even an officer who sympathizes and recognizes his ability but can’t do anything due to hierarchy. And not to mention his own squad that supported him in the backstory, which made the organization a bit more nuanced and balanced, because while it did  something wrong, there were quite a bunch of people on it that disagreed, instead of turning the knights into some faceless organization with a mind hive.
Also later when Isu kinda of calls to him again to rid him of Bezcavar’s influence, meaning despite everything, Sebastian didn’t drop his religion. It was like the god/goddess saying “Hey, we are all people. I never said anything to this organization about X or Y, you humans made that up and stickied it on me.” I think the theme was subtly well explored, with both sides balanced.
Not sure how to make a question on this… so just talk about it!

9 - Wydrin. I liked how she was portrayed. Could fight and drink, but also never had any qualms about her feelings and love (I’m so grateful there wasn’t a love triangle). And while fighting she could deliver the pain, but also suffer it, threaten and feel threatened, instead of being an untouchable killing machine isolated with anger as emotion. Also, your thoughts on this!

10 - Frith. It was actually pretty funny when I first saw him idealizing a hot young redhead probably in bikini armor in the beginning, then seeing Wydrin the first time and slowly both approaching each other through conviviality. I’m wondering if Frith’s attitude was inspired by someone real. I guess you wouldn’t tell me if it was, though!

11 - O’rin was the god who wasn’t imprisoned. At one point he mentions the family. Res'ni, Res'na and Y’gia. He had assistants called Muggin, Luggin and Dobs. I’m wondering if the resemblance in the twins names was because he actually felt lonely and missed them, and kinda of recreated the family with those assistants. Y’Ruen, who he didn’t like and feared, didn’t get a “clone”.
I’m wondering if my thoughts are correct or if it was just coincidence.
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: sennydreadful on August 03, 2016, 11:09:52 AM
Didn't get to 33 questions yet, but I guess I should divide it in three batches so it doesn't get too long! So here's the first:

1 - When did you first had the idea for the story?

2 - Do you know the word count of all the books?

3 - How long it took to write and finish the book?

4 - During dialogues I noticed that you rarely use “he said/she said” and variants. It made the text flow really well, and I think it’s pretty hard to do. Any special reason for this decision?

5 - Why Thirty-Third didn’t have a single chapter in Parts III and IV? *cries*

6 - Speaking of her, any particular inspiration for her chapters? I kinda like the theme “I just wanted to create a weapon, but now I realized I actually created a person”. Hm, that’s actually a nice page 1 sentence I might use!

7 - I’m almost sure Ynnsmouth is a reference to Lovecraft. If it is, are there others in the book? Was the Citadel some cyclopean inspired ruin?

8 - Sebastian. Very good arc. One of his themes was the prejudice of his order because he is gay. What I found interesting is that you didn’t paint the situation in extreme black and white. Sebastian doesn’t let his expulsion overwhelm him and doesn’t hold a grudge against his order, not to mention he also makes mistakes (working for the devil, pretty much) and isn’t perfect.
And then when he returns to it, there is even an officer who sympathizes and recognizes his ability but can’t do anything due to hierarchy. And not to mention his own squad that supported him in the backstory, which made the organization a bit more nuanced and balanced, because while it did  something wrong, there were quite a bunch of people on it that disagreed, instead of turning the knights into some faceless organization with a mind hive.
Also later when Isu kinda of calls to him again to rid him of Bezcavar’s influence, meaning despite everything, Sebastian didn’t drop his religion. It was like the god/goddess saying “Hey, we are all people. I never said anything to this organization about X or Y, you humans made that up and stickied it on me.” I think the theme was subtly well explored, with both sides balanced.
Not sure how to make a question on this… so just talk about it!

9 - Wydrin. I liked how she was portrayed. Could fight and drink, but also never had any qualms about her feelings and love (I’m so grateful there wasn’t a love triangle). And while fighting she could deliver the pain, but also suffer it, threaten and feel threatened, instead of being an untouchable killing machine isolated with anger as emotion. Also, your thoughts on this!

10 - Frith. It was actually pretty funny when I first saw him idealizing a hot young redhead probably in bikini armor in the beginning, then seeing Wydrin the first time and slowly both approaching each other through conviviality. I’m wondering if Frith’s attitude was inspired by someone real. I guess you wouldn’t tell me if it was, though!

11 - O’rin was the god who wasn’t imprisoned. At one point he mentions the family. Res'ni, Res'na and Y’gia. He had assistants called Muggin, Luggin and Dobs. I’m wondering if the resemblance in the twins names was because he actually felt lonely and missed them, and kinda of recreated the family with those assistants. Y’Ruen, who he didn’t like and feared, didn’t get a “clone”.
I’m wondering if my thoughts are correct or if it was just coincidence.

Crikey, you weren't kidding ;) Apologies now for the waffle.

1 - I believe I would have had the first inkling of the story back towards the end of 2011. I had just finished writing one quite long, reasonably serious book, which I had put to one side to brew before editing, and I decided I wanted to write something fast and fun - a sort of palate cleanser. This project, I thought, would be a short and sweet little novella, possibly with other novellas following it, as a sort of serial. I could whack them up on Amazon as a diversion from writing the long books I hoped to get published one day. Because I was playing a lot of Dragon Age at the time, I fancied trying my hand at some old school sword and sorcery, and it occurred to me that writing a female rogue with a male companion (who was not a love interest) could be hugely enjoyable. The whole thing grew from that central idea, really.

2 - Oooo. Um. The Copper Promise is, roughly, 149K words. The Iron Ghost was about 180K, I believe, and The Silver Tide was 200K. I couldn't avoid the old cliche of fantasy books getting bigger as they went along ;) Both the Copper Promise and the Silver Tide had roughly 20K cut out of them in my first big edit, whereas the Iron Ghost was always about that length.

3 - You know, honestly, I can't really remember. Particularly with The Copper Promise, which ended up having such an odd genesis. I wrote part one (Ghosts of the Citadel) in a couple of months, and then belatedly wrote the rest of it when an editor asked to read the whole manuscript - that took maybe another 7 or 8 months? Then when I was picked up by my agent, I edited it again, and when it was bought by Headline, that was another edit... I suppose that all together it might have been about a year's worth of work, with various gaps and breaks.

4 - If I'm honest, it's not something I think about an awful lot – that's just how I naturally write dialogue. I'm not a fan of pages full of endless back and forth, so I do like to break it up with the characters actually doing things. They might be making tea, or fiddling with their sword belt, or just looking away because they can't quite meet the eyes of the person they're talking too. Body language is a great way of conveying more than what's being said, and these little moments can give you small insights into character too. They also happen to be a handy way of avoiding the use of endless 'he said/she said'.

5 - Hahahaa! Well, the 33rd and the rest of her sisters were originally only meant to be a light* break from the rest of the action, but rather to my surprise they grew to become very significant to the story. I liked them very much, but the truth is the 33rd's story arc had a very natural, organic turn to it, and having more chapters from her POV in parts 3 and 4 would likely have been overkill. Plus, there was an awful lot going on in the later half of the book, and it's always been my intention that the Copper Cat books be fast-paced, speedy reads. More from the brood sisters would have slowed it down, so I left them to appear again at the very end. I would argue that having them arrive at the end, so clearly changed and fractured from when they first appeared, is a pleasing turn of events... But in my defence, Ephemeral and her sisters do appear in books 2 and 3 (at least partly because almost all my readers LOVED them).

6 - as I've hinted at in the previous answer, Ephemeral kind of just... happened. I needed the dragon to have some ground troops for our heroes to engage with, but the idea of just having mindless monster people didn't sit well with me. I thought to myself: what if they only started out as mindless? What would happen if they started to question who they were, and what they were doing? And that's how they happened. :)

7 - Ynnsmouth is a tiny nod, but it was mainly because I liked how the name sounded. I don't think there are any other Lovecraft references.

8 - Thank you, I'm really glad all that came across. Sebastian was the hardest character to write, and his arc the most complicated. I can't say much for fear of spoiling you of course, but his struggles continue into books 2 and 3. Dealing with his connection to the brood sisters and the consequences of his decisions mean that he has a tough time, but ultimately I feel like Seb is the emotional heart of the books, however hard he was to write.

9 - Female characters in fantasy books have often received, shall we say, less than kindly treatment. When they do exist (and I have read books where I have genuinely wondered if the author had forgotten about women entirely) they are often fulfilling one of a few fairly restrictive roles: love interest or 'reward' for the main character completing a quest, mother or sister (usually murdered to provide a catalyst for the male character), a damaged woman with a chip on her shoulder who ultimately softens under the charms of the male character, or whore (often dispensing magically healing sex, for some reason). Wydrin came very much from a desire to write a character who is entirely independent, who has her own drives and history, flaws and wants. My approach with all characters is that they should think they are starring in their own story, that they should be as real and fully formed as possible. No one is just a 'love interest' or a victim.

10 - Ha! Not as far as I'm aware. I very much enjoyed the slow burn of their relationship, going from a mutual antagonism to a grudging respect, to something more than that. And of course Wydrin enjoys winding him up.

11 - Hehe, I think you're the only person to have ever picked up on that. Truthfully, the relationship between the 'family' of gods is... complicated. I'm not sure O'rin missed them - I think his naming his assistants that way was a small expression of contempt for his lost brothers and sisters... while even he isn't quite brave enough to insult Y'Ruen directly. The Silver Tide reveals a bit more about how they all related to each other. :)


*light as in, um, actually quite bleak and scary
Title: Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
Post by: Lanko on August 31, 2016, 01:53:08 PM
Round 2 (let's assume Jen Williams is still around even after more than 1 month passed  ::))

12 - Was there any symbolism or meaning behind the numbers of the Brood Army that were shown? 33, 12, 2, 97, 842, etc. I actually thought of using those numbers in the lottery just for the heck of it. Of course I would share the prize with you  ;)

13 - What was/were your favorite part(s) of the first book?

14 - Looking back now, would there be any part you would have done differently (like adding more of this, reducing a little of that, changing a certain part)?
Hm, I'm gonna start asking around those two questions more often!

Book 2 questions

15 - At the end of the first book it's mentioned Sebastian moved to the mountains with 200 of the Brood Army, but when the second one starts, it says he only has 48 with him, that later even splits 23/17 (and 8 deaths). What happened to the other 150?

16 - Well, Joah. He and Frith passed a long time together, and later it was kinda of scary that he somehow was a distorted reflection of what Frith himself could become, and that almost became in the first book when striving for knowledge for revenge, (they both could be arrogant and insufferable) and later Frith makes that trap. It's actually curious that Bezcavar approached Sebastian and Wydrin, but (luckily?) left alone the only party member who probably would have reveled in power and killing, at least in the first book. Also, Joah's desire to have at least one human companion. Hm, talk about him.

17 - Noticed that you put references to events of the past book, but instead of two or three chapters full of summary disguises as dialogue banter , you just spread them out throughout the book. Good choice! Uh, that was not exactly a question, was it? Ah, there we go!

18 - Bezcavar's host doesn't gain any kind of power? Damn, Ip totally fooled me in book one. And Joah even killed half the city in his name. It was actually hilarious to see the big bad demon at certain situations, but a bit strange Ip could just walk through entire countries by herself like that without any kind of attention, or hunger, or shelter, or cold. He knows a lot of spells (Joah's tomb, that army in the first book, etc) but apparently can't use any of them in human form?

19 - What was your favorite part(s) of the second book?

20 - Again, anything you later though you should have added, cut or changed?