Author Tales: Marissa Doyle
Marissa Doyle is the author for this Thursday’s Author Tales. Marissa is the author of Bewitching Season! You can check out my review of Bewitching Season, here. Betraying Season the sister novel to Bewitching Season will be coming out Spring of 09! Leave a comment here to sign up for the Monthly Contest!
What were you like as a teen? Did it have any influence over your characters in Bewitching Season?
Oh, you nailed me on this one! I was horribly shy and self-conscious and book-geekish and Miss Straight-A student in high school, and definitely channeled all that into Persy in Bewitching Season. My best friend, who doesn’t have a shy bone in her body, found Persy hard to sympathize with until I explained that this was what life had been like for me as a shy teen, and then she could understand Persy’s growth arc through the book.
What kind of research did you have to do for Bewitching Season?
Lots and lots of detail! I wanted to make this as real as possible, so I researched everything from clothes and exactly what was fashionable in spring 1837 to the details of being presented at Court to food and etiquette and all the little fiddly bits that would make this world seem real. I just had to be careful not to be too overwhelming with it, because there’s a wealth of information available.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Connie Willis probably heads the list—she’s an amazing science fiction writer who’s won more Hugo and Nebula awards than anyone…because while her research and settings are always impeccable, she writes about people. Suggested reads: To Say Nothing of the Dog, Doomsday Book, Impossible Things, Uncharted Territory. I also love the Moosepath League books of Van Reid, which read like Dickens set in 1890’s Maine, only funnier and less bloated than Dickens. And Susanna Clarke, whose Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is just brilliant. For YA, I love Caroline Stevermer (especially A College of Magics) and of course the Kate and Cecelia books she wrote with Patricia C. Wrede. There are lots of others who are auto-buys for me as well (Diana Wynne-Jones, Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde, and Charlaine Harris among others).
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I think the need to write has always been an intrinsic part of me. I was one of those kids who wrote (and illustrated—gack!) stories, wrote for and edited both the school newspaper and literary journal, wrote silly essays for my own amusement. I did other things for a while as an adult (started on then dropped a doctorate in archaeology, worked in fundraising and grant-writing) but even through that I still thought I’d like to write “some day”. It took me a while to get around to it, but I did.
What do you see as your strong points in writing? Your weaknesses?
Hmm. That’s a hard one. I think I’m relatively good at dialogue…or at least, I really love writing dialogue-heavy scenes because they just seem to flow and I feel as if I’m writing down an overheard conversation. Scene transitions tend to give me fits at times, and I’m always concerned about pacing.
How do you work on overcoming those weaknesses?
By being extra-vigilant. I always read chapters out loud to myself, which not only helps polish dialogue but also gives me a sense of flow and how the timing is working—whether scenes are dragging or not. Scene transitions…I just continue to muddle through them as best I can.
Any advice for aspiring writers out there?
Two things: read and write. Read books that you love and books that you don’t, then figure out what makes you love or hate them. Read books in areas that you might not ordinarily because you never know what might spark an idea. Write every day if you can, even a sentence or two. If you don’t feel ready to start a story, at least keep a journal and actually write in it—there’s no better way to learn to write with honesty, and it will train you to put words to paper accurately and unselfconsciously. I started keeping a journal after reading Harriet the Spy in fourth grade, and kept writing until my son was born and I had no time.
Are you working on anything now? Maybe a sequel to Bewitching Season?
Yes! Betraying Season, the sort-of sequel to Bewitching Season comes out next spring, and currently I’m at work on a prequel set 23 years before Bewitching Season, during the Napoleonic Wars, that I expect will be released in 2010.
If so, can you tell us a little about it?
Betraying Season is a stand-alone, so you don’t have to have read Bewitching Season first…it’s about Pen, Persy’s twin sister, and her adventures in Ireland where she goes to study magic and stumbles into both love and a plot against her beloved Queen Victoria, inextricably intertwined. The prequel is about Lady Sophie Rosier, a young witch in training who is trying to discover who is attempting to murder her father and other prominent politicians active in the war effort against Napoleon. Could it be a French spy? She and her new best friend, Lady Parthenope (yes, Persy and Pen’s mom) are determined to find out.
Do you see yourself branching out to any other genres or writing?
I already have. I have two completed adult contemporary fantasies, but am not actively pursuing publication for them just now as I’m happily busy just now. And I have one book completed of a YA duology that is set in a fantasy world but has only a whiff of magic in it. Beyond that, I have some ideas for some straight historical YA fiction and for more fantasy-history blends set in other times and places.
Do you have any television shows you watch obsessively or an all time favorite movie?
I’m not a TV watcher—ours isn’t even hooked up to an antenna, never mind cable—because in our house we’d rather read or play computer games or make things. But we do have a DVD player…I have a lot of favorites, mostly older—Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen top the list, but I also love Spirited Away and anything by Hayao Miyazaki. I rewatch the Pride and Prejudice mini-series every few months just because I never get tired of it. And Apollo 13 because I’m a closet space nut.
What are you currently reading?
Old stuff, actually. I’m reading Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, which I never did before…a shocking gap in my education. J I’m also re-reading all the Victoria Holt gothic romantic suspense novels that I devoured as a teen. It’s very interesting to re-read them both as an adult and with a writer’s eye. And besides, most of them are just plain fun.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Only that these were great questions that I enjoyed answering, and that I always love visitors to my website (www.marissadoyle.com) and blog (www.nineteenteen.blogspot.com)
Thanks Marissa for an awesome interview! I know that I already have Betraying Season on my wish list!