Hello again readers! I am here talking to Julia Knight about her newly released fantasy romance Ilfayne’s Bane. So please sit back and relax with your favorite coffee as I quiz the fantasy author about her work and life in general.
Thank you so much Julia for taking the time to answer my questions. Why don’t you start off by giving us a brief description of what Ilfayne’s Bane is about?
It’s a pleasure. Ilfayne’s Bane is mostly about a young girl just trying to find somewhere she can fit in and also about friendship and how it works. Sadly, what makes her so different, and therefore makes it so hard to fit in, also makes her a target – and a way for someone to destroy Ilfayne.
Hilde is a very complicated girl. When we first meet her, she is working in a pub and not respected by the local people. How did you come up with such a unique character as Hilde?
I think many people have had that thing when they were young, feeling like they don’t fit, that they are weird, the oddball no one quite likes. I just thought ‘what if there was a reason for it?’ What if she really was very different? How would that affect her? She starts the book not even knowing what it’s like to have a friend – and that makes things tricky for her, because she doesn’t know how to tell who is a friend and who isn’t. She just wants people to be nice to her, and if they are, she calls them friend.
Ilfayne is one of those characters you love to hate. He starts off so nice to Hilde and further down the road, he changes in a very drastic way. (Readers, I don’t want to tell you why, it will be explained later in the story I promise). When you came up with Ilfayne, did you know he was going to be like this, almost a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality?
No, not really. I knew why he was like he was – just why he hates everyone so much. In fact people being nice makes him feel slightly ill. But he’s nice to Hilde; by accident to start with as he’s concussed, and then discovers that she’s nice back. He’s almost surprised into it, because he’s still vile to everyone else. When the other thing happens that changes him,( this is difficult isn’t it?) up to that point I didn’t realize it would affect him so much, and that’s when the whole direction of the book changed, for me and for him. Because when I was first writing it, he was only supposed to be a secondary character…he just got too much fun to write.
Another great character is Regin the Great. With his protection I felt as if what he offered was not something he wanted to do, almost as if he was forced to protect the wizard. Was this done deliberately on your part? Do you map out what your characters are going to be like and they end up being exactly as you want them to be?
I map out what has happened to them up to the point the book starts, how it has affected them and how it guides their actions and reactions. The why of whom they are if you like. Then they point the way to what happens from there really. With Regin, he and Ilfayne did used to be friends, at least in part because Regin felt sorry for him which annoyed Ilfayne to no end, although they did have fun too. But when he offered…well he did it because he felt it was his duty to return a favor, not what he wanted at all, but also because again he felt rather sorry for Ilfayne. By the point the story starts they are very much like an old married couple – they annoy the hell out of each other, but there is still a lot of affection.
One of the remaining characters is Hunter the White Wolf. I have to say I felt such remorse for all he had lost in the novel. He definitely takes his oath swearing seriously! When you wrote this tale, did you know there was going to be so many different personalities traveling together?
No, not at all! Ilfayne and Hilde were there from the start, the rest just kind of popped up. Hunter turned up almost fully formed. A stern man on the outside perhaps, but passionate about things on the inside. Oaths are a very serious thing for him, due to his upbringing. Where he is from, a man would rather die than break one. That’s what makes it all so rigid for him, that it is part of the religion of the area, and also that his oaths make him what he thinks he is. And that without them he is nothing. I suppose the series name Oathcursed might give something away there lol, though he’s not the only one who has trouble with them.
Even though much of the conflict was resolved in Ilfayne’s Bane, I felt as if there was still a cliffhanger. Can you tell the readers if you have more works coming out? Will there be stories for characters in this story?
Well I’m just finishing up book two…and book three is getting a rough outline also. I always had it in my head there would be three in the series, though they should all be stand alone stories that are linked rather than straight sequels. Hopefully Samhain will like them enough to put them out! Several of the characters will appear in both of the sequels and there are some new characters too. I’ve also got several other books outlined in the same world, some with some of the same characters, some with a different cast.
On your website, I saw a mention that you belong to a group called the T Party Writers’ Group. Can you tell us what this group is?
The T Party is a speculative fiction writers’ group. We meet in London once a month. It was quite scary at my first meeting last year. I’ve only been writing seriously for less than eighteen months, and these guys have been writing for years! There are some fabulous writers there, and I’ve learned a lot. Plus we all have a good giggle too.
I stopped by to check out your blog and I noticed something about all of your posts. You have one great big sense of humor. I love how you have a witty way of writing (boy try saying THAT five times fast). Do you find yourself using your sense of humor in life? Your writing?
In real life I can’t keep a straight face for longer than about five minutes – I like to say I’m genetically incapable of being serious for longer than that. In my writing, I think it leaks out sometimes. Ilfayne is my release valve for my snarky side! And of course, there are those turnips, and the games in the book I put in for my friends. (I.e. name the five wrestlers that appear in the book, and find the two Red Dwarf nods). Originally this was just a bit of fun between me and my friends, so there are little private jokes in there.
In your bio on your webpage I saw that you are married and have two kids. Can you tell us how long you have been married? What are the ages of your children? And your dog that you proclaimed is the World’s daftest dog, why is that?
I will have been married twelve years in July – I found someone batty enough to put up with me. My kids are ten and eight, a boy and a girl. Completely loopy, but they are great. And the dog! Well he’s the soppiest thing on the planet. You could probably pull his legs off and he’d still try and crawl after you for a cuddle. I don’t think he’s got two brain cells to rub together.
In the review I did for Ilfayne’s Bane I compare the novel to a classic fantasy movie, Willow. Can you tell us what some of your favorite movies are? What about favorite books?
Willow? Wow, that’s good. I love that film! My favorite books…well that depends on what day you ask me *laughs*. But all time, Lord of the Rings has to be up there (I have a Rohirrim flag tattoo on my shoulder.) I absolutely love CJ Cherryh’s mix of sci fi/ fantasy and romance. I always fall hard for her heroes. And of course as a Brit I have to say Terry Pratchett is both hilarious and a national institution. In films I love things that really make me think. For instance, The Brave (which I don’t think was released in America) with Johnny Depp. I watched it and couldn’t stop thinking about it. In fact, that character was probably the most direct influence on Ilfayne’s background. Once Were Warriors is a harsh film, but absolutely riveting. Other than that I love the silly and surreal – The Price of Milk (added bonus of Karl Urban. Yum) Big Trouble in Little China (Kurt Russell. Yum) and the Pirates films (Johnny Depp. Yum. Hmm I sense a theme here)
Now we are going to move on to some just for fun questions. Ilfayne’s Bane is primarily a fantasy romance novel. Do you have any other genre you would like to dabble in? Maybe a genre that you would not want to write in?
To be honest, the romance was an accident! It was supposed to be a standard adventure fantasy. I have since come to realize that I put at least some romance in almost everything. I’d love to be able to pull off a good sci fi, but I don’t think my physics is up to it…But it’d have to be speculative fiction all the way. I’m not sure I could write anything in this world. Other places always seem so much more fun.
In the land of fantasy, is there a particular character you would like to be and why?
Ooh probably a Valkyrie or something. My husband swears I was a Viking shield maiden in a previous life.
One last question that I love to ask all of my interviewees. In keeping with the Coffee Time Romance & More theme, what flavor of coffee would you be and why?
Ah, well as a Brit, it’d have to be tea really. A good strong cup of English breakfast tea. What you see is what you get, and that’s me all over! Maybe a biscuit to dunk in it.
Thank you again Julia for answering all of my quirky questions. I had a blast reading your novel and hope to see more of your work in the future.
Thank you. I had a blast doing this!