This week we're sitting down to chat with Elaina J Davidson, author of the macabre collection Latticework and such historical fantasies as the Lore of Arcana saga and, her latest, The Tinsal Deck.
Q: Thanks for taking the time to stop by today, Elaina. For those who haven't yet had a chance to enjoy your work, please tell us a little about yourself and what we can expect.
Thank you for having me! I’m the quiet one, people tell me, but my mind is always talking and I believe that reflects in my work. I’d like to tell you about a strange deck today, one able to manipulate destiny. While my preferred genre is Fantasy, I dip my pen in elsewhere also. Generally my work is on an epic scale, such as the Lore of Arcana series, but The Tinsal Deck is standalone. This is a book I absolutely loved writing, because I went off my beaten track and tried something entirely fresh while having the opportunity to commit murder and mayhem ;) It also allowed me to play around with a manipulative tarot deck and that was the best fun of all.
Q: Playing around with Tarot decks, eh? Sounds like asking for trouble! The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and what has the journey to publication been like?
I’ve often read that writers start in childhood, penning notes and poems and short stories. Yes, that’s when and how it began for me. Later I wrote children’s stories (never published!), but my real work began around the year 2000. Because I home-schooled my children we had a classroom set up for them, and that meant I spent much time there. With that space and the quiet after lessons, inspiration hit.
The journey to publishing has been a steep learning curve (all writers will identify, I’m sure) and I must say thank heaven for the digital age. Without it many of us would still be submitting via snail mail to agents and publishers and hoping, hoping. Instead I was able to connect with writers all over the world and we learned from each other. We pointed each other in the right direction and that has made all the difference. The Tinsal Deck, for instance. Because I knew Thorstruck Press was starting up, I was able to submit my manuscript upon the instigation of a friend and fellow author … and today The Tinsal Deck is published and gathering momentum. Isn't that simply fantastic?
Q: In terms of writing, what comes easiest for you, and where do you struggle the most? Is it the title? The first paragraph? The last chapter? The cover blurb?
All of it is easy and all of it is difficult! Press me, and I’ll tell you starting is the easiest, the idea is there, the will to go forth and multiply those words (although that first chapter may undergo many changes once the book is done!). The blurb is an absolute nightmare for me. At first it’s easy, you jot a few thoughts, this is what my book is about, and then it begins … and I’m never quite happy with it. Even now, even with the aid of my wonderful editor at Thorstruck Press, I question whether The Tinsal Deck’s blurb works. Feedback, readers, will be most welcome!
Q: Blurbs are a challenge - it's always hard to summarize so succinctly. Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated, especially when developing a series that touches on multiple genres. Were there any twists or turns in your writing that surprised you, or really challenged your original plans for the story?
Characters rule! It doesn’t matter how much one plans, the characters ignore everything! I have tried, really, honestly, to stick to a chapter by chapter layout, really, I promise, I have tried ;) but they take over, they rule. And that is how I like it. Yes, it becomes challenging to follow a new path, but the twists become the greater story. Perfection, in my opinion.
Q: When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?
I write the stories that fit me. It’s not about satisfaction; it’s about a story begging me to tell it. That is the first draft. Once the editing begins (mine!), how readers will react indeed begins to play a role. It doesn’t alter the story (much), but I realise ‘oh, I need to add something here, the reader won’t understand otherwise’ or ‘too much info, girl, you’ll bore your reader’ and so forth. That’s the second draft. And then the tweaking commences.
Q: I like that approach. In terms of reader reactions, what is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've encountered to -date?
The first time someone told me ‘wow, I simply could not stop reading’ entirely surprised me. Of course that is what writers aim for- entrancing work- and we hope to achieve it, but when it happens, it’s the best feeling ever! Another reader sent me these words, ‘Best book written for all time’. Those words continue to inspire me.
Q: To turn from pen to page for a moment, is there a particular author who has influenced or inspired your writing? Somebody who either made you want to write in the first place, or who just refreshes your literary batteries?
I began reading at an early age, thus every book served to inspire, and still does. As mentioned, I write Fantasy (throw a bit of history, a little sci-fi and some metaphysical into the mix, and then add a touch of horror and a tweak of contemorary) and many readers tell me my work can be quite daunting at first. One day I picked up Steven Erikson’s Gardens of the Moon (his Malazan series) to discover Fantasy can be seriously complicated and utterly fascinating and enjoyable. Yes, that inspired me. I love complicated! (and I’ve read every book in the Malazan series!)
The person who inspired me most to write was my English teacher in high school. When he returned my marked composition to me, he told me straight out I should be a writer. Ha. Guess what?
Q: Wow, talk about leaping right in - Malazan can be a challenge even for die-hard fans. Assuming you had total creative control over the production, who would you cast as the leading roles, were your work to be optioned for the big screen?
Ah, now that’s a mind bender! The Tinsal Deck is dark, pagan, historical, magical – who fits? Perhaps Tom Hiddleston (in his Loki guise) as Zanderin, or someone able to put that kind of persona out there. (That should give you an idea of the ‘feel’ of the tale!).
Q: Before we let you go, what can we look forward to from you next? Is there another story yet to be told in your latest world, or perhaps something completely different on the horizon?
Well, The Tinsal Deck ends on the kind of note that lends itself to more tales from that strange historical world and, yes, I do have a few up my sleeve to add! I have a few ‘otherworld’ tarot decks in mind also.
For the foreseeable future, my focus will be on the Lore of Reaume series (the first due out August), which will also be published by Thorstruck Press. On a final note, I have an entirely new series in the pipeline, but right now I’m keeping mum about it ;) Expect something wonderful!
Again, thank you so much for having me. HUGELY appreciated!
Thanks again for joining us, Elaina!
About the Author
Follow Elaina on Twitter, on Facebook, or check out her blog, Elaina's Writing World.
About the Book
The Tinsal Deck by Elaina J. Davidson
ebook, 310 pages
Published January 14th 2014 by Thorstruck Press
In a society that could be ours, or not, in a time that was, or not, there hunkers a stone castle.
Inside is Bronwyn, a woman ruined, a woman with a wooden leg. Before her lays a tarot deck able to manipulate destiny.
Somewhere in the cold dark halls another stalks in stealth, stripped of life, a man who waves crystals over a scarred table. Zanderin is a rogue, a cad, and a supreme sorcerer. He loves the ruthless witch, at least he did.
The cards are dealt, the conflict begins, karma rides towards them in a swift carriage.
This is Tinsal, and this is cosmic vengeance.