Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Interview with Jenna Burtenshaw

Wooooooo! Blackwatch is released this week (14th April) and for those who have read Wintercraft you'll have been left dying to know what happens next. If you haven't read Wintercraft, where have you been? It's amazing!

As a huge fan of Wintercraft I decided to ask Jenna for an interview and she very kindly agreed to answer my (sometimes random) questions. So if your just curious about the series or whether, like me, your a big fan learn a bit more from an author who surely has a very bright future in writing :-)

1. I've always wondered this from the moment i finished Wintercraft, especially with regards to the sensitive and often taboo subject of death, was there any particular inspiration behind writing it?

The main inspiration came from a Victorian cemetery that is quite close to my house.  I used to walk through it every day when I was younger, and was always struck by how quiet it was.  When you walk through the gates, the rest of the world sinks away and you feel as if you are a visitor in a place filled with memories.  There is an abandoned chapel there with an archway you can walk through and that became the seed of an idea that eventually grew into Fume: a huge graveyard serving an entire country that had been occupied and built upon by the living.  

I didn’t want death to be a sinister or frightening experience in the story.  It’s one of the most natural aspects of life, but it is such a mystery.  No one knows what happens after we take our last breaths.  I found it a very interesting subject to write about.

2. The world building you've done is amazing and I loved how easy it was to imagine myself in Albion with very little effort on my part. Did any particular real life place give you ideas when you were creating Albion or was it mainly built purely from your imagination?

I didn’t have any specific places in mind when I described Albion, but I have always been interested in ancient sites and old buildings that are filled with history.  Places such as Durham Cathedral, Darlington Railway Station, the Tower of London and the Roman Colosseum have all helped to shape places within the story: even if it’s just a feeling I’ve taken from them, or a style of architecture. 

I chose the name Albion because it is an ancient name for Great Britain, and the Wild Counties are a partial reflection of how old England used to be.  I wanted Albion to feel like a country that could have gone down a technological route, but turned away from machinery etc. before true industrialisation took hold.  I have timelines and historical details reaching all the way back to Albion’s earliest days, but I don’t think much of it will make its way into the books!

3. With regards to my last question, which place in the vast world of Wintercraft was your favourite to write about and why?

I really enjoy writing about Fume.  The chapters that take place in the Museum of History were exciting sections to work on, and the locations within the City Below - particularly the tomb cavern and the ancient library – are always fun to spend time in.  I don’t like going underground in real life, but in stories, I find it fascinating.

4. My personal favourite character is Silas, closely followed by Kate and I can't help but wonder which of the Wintercraft characters is your favourite and why? 

There are aspects to all of the characters that I really like, but my favourite has to be Silas.  He is such an interesting character to write, and he keeps a lot to himself, which makes him unpredictable.  I know a lot more about his past than has been revealed so far, and I’m glad that lots of people like him too, even though he’s not a typically likeable character.

5. Each and every one of the characters play important roles throughout the novel, but was there anyone in particular that demanded more page time than you originally intended?

Definitely Edgar.  In the first few drafts, Edgar was mentioned briefly as someone who worked in Kate and Artemis’s bookshop.  He had no real part in the story at all.  Then, while I was rewriting the hoarding in chapter one, Edgar arrived at the bookshop door.  I loved his personality and his humour and he instantly found a place within the story.  Another draft later, he had become one of the main characters.  He wanted his story to be told too, so I let him in 

6. I know with some authors music does play a massive role in inspiration when writing and you do listen to a lot of bands that, when I was reading Wintercraft, I thought went well with the book. Did the music you listen to help you in any way when writing?

I think music is very personal and there are only certain bands and pieces of music that I can listen to when I’m writing, otherwise I get distracted.   If I know the songs well enough, I don’t even realise they are playing.  The music slips into the background and that is when I know my writing is going well.  Soundtracks are my favourite CDs to listen to when I’m writing.  No words, just music.  My favourites are anything by John Williams, Hans Zimmer or Alexandra Desplat.

7. Wintercraft: Blackwatch is due out very very soon and I for one can't wait to read it, what can myself and other readers expect from this instalment of the Wintercraft series?

More about Silas’s history, a journey to the Continent, and a new threat that will put even Da’ru in the shade. 

8. Following on from my previous question, do you have any more books planned after Blackwatch, or are you undecided as of yet?

The story was planned as a trilogy, and the third book in the series is almost finished.  If readers are still interested after that, there are more stories to come from Kate’s world.  I would love to write more books branching out from the original three.  In the meantime, I am in the middle of research for a new book set in a very different fantasy world, which I think people who like the Wintercraft series will really enjoy.   

9. I've always been interested in writing myself but have never really rested on a concrete idea in order to start writing properly. Do you have any advice for others like me who struggle to put pen to paper?

Don’t worry about writing badly in the beginning.  It’s easy to think that your writing is terrible, but you have to ignore that feeling and keep going.  Finish a full story.  Try not to be distracted by other ideas.  Keep writing one story right to the end and then play with it.  Cut out all the bad parts and rewrite them.  Write things that excite you.  Keep practicing, and if you really want to be a writer, don’t give up.  You’ll get there in the end. 

10. Finally I've always wanted to know, if you could live in the world you have written about for one day, would you?

Yes, I would!  I already spend lots of time in that world every day, but I’d love to actually walk down Fume’s streets.  I think I’d be wary of the wardens though and I’m not sure I’d want to meet Silas face to face.  Albion may be a broken country, but there are good people there who I’d like to spend time with, even just for a day.

Many thanks to Jenna for answering my questions and I wish her all the best for Blackwatch, which having now read, I can tell you is amazing.
If you would like to know more about Jenna you can visit her blog at:
Jenna's Blog

Or her Website at:
Wintercraft Website

You can also purchase Wintercraft which is available now and Blackwatch which is available from the 14th from lots of amazing bookish places like:
Stores such as: Waterstones, WHSmith etc (check availability though before venturing out!)

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