Thursday, December 6, 2007

Silk Palace by Colin Harvey

Tell us the book title and your author name.
The Silk Palace by Colin Harvey

What inspired the book?
At the risk of sounding mercenary, it was a call for submissions from a then editor at Tor, who subsequently left, but by then the damage was done. She was looking for work in a specific sub-genre; I’d never read any of the works that inspired the call, but I had just finished Lightning Days and was looking for the next project. But as with Lightning Days, my subconscious took over and we ended up somewhere completely different!

What makes this book special to you?
Well, in an odd sort of way, we’re like a father and daughter who are just getting reconciled. I got so far into the book and stopped enjoying writing. Agatha Christie had the same problem with The Mystery of the Blue Train, but she and it were never reconciled, whereas my ugly duckling and I seem to have forgiven each other.

What makes this a book that other people MUST read and WHY?
Um, I’m a Brit, and to be honest language like that makes me cringe. Sorry.
It’s got perhaps the most other-worldly setting in sword-and-sorcery in many years. And I wanted a heroine who wasn’t strong or brave, at least until she was backed into a corner.

What people NEED to read this book and WHY?
People who are interested in epic fantasy that has a brain should read it, and people who say that epic fantasy doesn’t have a brain should read it!

What sparks your creativity? Any tips to help others spark their own creativity?
Going to new places; doing new things; reading. Keep reading outside your own peer group, and do something new every day.

What has been the biggest stumbling block in your writing? Can you share some tips to help others get past similar problems?
My biggest problem was a catastrophic loss of confidence after attending a writing workshop. For the best of intentions the pro there demolished me, and I realized that I had nothing to say – and believed that for over twenty years. But everyone has a voice – they just have to find it.

What do you think motivates people to become authors? What motivated you to get into this unusual industry?
I found at age nine that I could write stories. For a kid who wasn’t sporty, and wasn’t musical, and had serious confidence issues, it was like finding a vocation. I’ve never wanted to do anything else, even during my two-decade block – that was what made it so painful.

Tell me about the most unusual things you have done to promote any books?
I’ve dispensed soup to promote my cookbook, and stood on a chair at a convention huckstering a book, but I think I’ve been fortunate – I haven’t had to do too many odd things.

FICTION - If there is a setting, tell us how you decided on that setting and what you did to create a complete and vivid setting for your readers?
I’ve written about this elsewhere, but I wanted a completely different world so that anything went. I mapped out the landscape and climatology and all kinds of stuff on the back of envelopes.

FICTION - What inspires you about the hero or heroine in your book? What makes them memorable for the reader? What motivates the hero and/or heroine? You can include information about both if you want.
Well, to really raise the bar, I not only decided to write a heroine (rather than a hero), but had her unexpectedly fall in love with another woman. But that love is central to the plot; together with her fear of heights, it’s what stops the heroine fleeing.
I wanted to avoid a lot of the fantasy conventions, so she relies on brains. She’s not easy to be around, she’s awkward, socially naïve, but in some ways that’s quite inspiring. I find flawed heroes / heroines far more interesting than unalloyed good / bad people.

FICTION - Is there a villain or something that causes friction in your story? Tell us about what or who it is and how that contributes to the story. Any details about conflict and friction is good information to know.
I have so much conflict its unreal! The prince lusts after the heroine, so his fiancée, one of the three princesses hates the heroine, but the heroine is there at the King’s request, so the princess has to lump it; a second princess believes the heroine guilty of blasphemy; there are plotters planning, two empires massing their ranks on the borders, and a killer wandering around bumping people off!

Thank you for visiting with me and in closing, give us your website address and a link to order your book.
It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thank you.
Novels from Swimming Kangaroo Books:
Lightning Days -- SF, Finalist for the USA Book News Awards
The Silk Palace -- "compelling" Library Journal
"Intrigues, betrayals, murders, love affairs, transformations, and
revelations," Bruce Boston, author of The Guardener's Tale

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