Award winning author, James Moloney has 35 books published. Today he is visiting Kids’ Book Capers to talk about his brand new Silvermay Series.
I asked him how he became a writer.
Once I began to enjoy books and reading, (about 16 years old) I started to think about writing. Early dabbling went nowhere, but when I became a teacher librarian I focused on children’s stories and found I liked it. An additional prompt came when I moved to an all-boys school and found the boys reluctant to pick up novels. The challenge was to get them in with stories I’d written myself.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
Not having to work! Actually, writing is hard work, except you have no boss but yourself. You are also living in your imagination instead of doing things that others want you to do which can become tedious or don’t really interest you.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
The isolation is hard, at times. Making yourself do it, having the discipline and patience is a challenge. The first draft of a complicated and intensely emotional book is harder than climbing mountains.
What were you in a past life (if anything) before you became a writer?
I was a primary school teacher and teacher librarian.
What is your greatest writing achievement?
I am most proud of A Bridge to Wiseman’s Cove which won the Book of the Year Award, because it is a powerful story of loneliness and redemption.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am writing a story for 9 to 13 year olds called Only the Heart Knows about an Australian boy who discovers his great grandfather was an infamous stage magician who is thought to have committed a great crime.
Do you have any tips for new writers?
Read, read, read, first of all. It is the best training there is. Write, too. If you don’t actually sit down and do it out of personal drive and interest, you are probably fooling yourself that you want to be a writer.
On the technical side, plan the ending before you start a story – otherwise you are lost right from the beginning.
Do your books have any consistent themes/symbols/locations. If so, what are they?
My fantasy stories are all a struggle between good and evil, which is kind of expected. I like to find different ways to explore this, however. Eg. In the Silvermay sagas, the Wyrdborn act so despicably not because of any evil force inside them, but because they are born without any compassion for others and the ability to feel love.
All my fantasies are all set in a Tolkienesque medieval world because I love shining armour, swords and the rest.
Anything else of interest you might like to tell our blog readers?
I have already written the sequel to Silvermay, titled Tamlyn and it will be released in June 2012. I’ll start the third book soon but it won’t be out until June 2013.
After reading, Silvermay, I don’t think I’ll be the only one looking forward to that one.
What inspired you to write this book?
The idea of the Wyrdborn as a race who aren’t evil, as such, but act in evil ways because they have no human feelings that guide others to share, to trust, to love etc. I was also keen to try a female protagonist, since that is a challenge for a man. I find new challenges inspiring and without that you can go stale.
What’s it about?
Sixteen year-old Silvermay falls for Tamlyn, a handsome young refugee who comes to live with his ‘wife’ in the village. When the couple are forced to flee once more, Silvermay goes with them to care for the newborn child, named Lucien. But Lucien is more than he seems and soon Silvermay finds herself in sole charge of him while ruthless forces come searching. Whom should she trust? Tamlyn, her love, who has no wife after all, or an aging scholar who offers her escape. This is a rollicking adventure with moments of high romance and the final scene will have readers on the edge of their seats.
What age groups is it for?
As young as 10, but more for 13, 14, 15 and up to adults.
Why will kids like it?
The fast pace, the warm-hearted romance, the mystery, the dilemmas Silvermay faces, her courage and inventiveness. It is not a hard book to read and will get readers in from the first page.
Can you tell me about the main character and what you like/dislike about her?
It is a challenge to create characters that aren’t simply clichés and stereotypes. I also don’t like female heroines who have to be ‘saved’ or protected by males eg. Bella in Twilight. I think Silvermay is a good balance between a feminine girl who cares about how she looks, but doesn’t count it as the most important thing about her, who can ride a horse and shoot an arrow, even to kill a man if necessary. Yet she cannot take a life without great pain to herself. If there is anything I don’t like about her, it is the way she treats a character called Ryall, a boy her own age who only wants to help, but at first she is mean to him.
Is there something that sets this book apart from others?
The exploration of evil as the absence of humanity, perhaps.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I loved getting into Silvermay’s head and giving her lots to do. She takes the lead more often than not and comes through, despite her fears.
What was the hardest thing about writing this book?
Avoiding clichés that can crop up in fantasy – magical swords, the use of magic to get a character out of trouble as a kind of cop out.
Silvermay is a great read and I’ll be reviewing it tomorrow at Kids’ Book Capers.