I remember being in Year Six and standing in my best friend’s room. I’d been left alone for some reason. Naturally, I started snooping, and it wasn’t long until my eyes fell on a book with a silver spine and a dragon on the cover sitting, with a bookmark splitting its side, on his nightstand. My friend was reading a fantasy book? I approached said book, I couldn’t believe my luck. Finally, I had something to return serve with during witty banter. When he mentioned my love for creative writing, I could reply with, ‘Yes, but you read fantasy books.’
Being 11, there was only one way to react to this discovery: to heap a inconceivable amount of insults on him when he returned. Return he did, and heap I did. I heaped for a good five minutes, gesturing periodically at the book on his nightstand.
He waited until I was finished. When I was content with the amount of heaping I’d done, I finished with, ‘I never thought you’d like fantasy books,’ to which he replied, ‘Kate Forsyth doesn’t write fantasy books, she writes great books. There’s a difference.’
A little corny, yes, but that’s my earliest memory of Kate Forsyth and her writing – and the book in question was Dragonclaw, the first book in her wildly successful The Witches of Eileanan series. I have to confess I haven’t read much of her work, and I was half-tempted to have my friend interview her, but then I figured, I wouldn’t be much of a blog helmer / media student if I didn’t conduct the first interview myself.
And so, without further ado, Kate Forsyth, Australia’s undisputed Queen of Fantasy…
Just how has your newest release, The Puzzle Ring, been influenced by your own Scottish heritage?
The Puzzle Ring was directly inspired by the stories by Scottish grandmother and great-aunts used to tell me when I was a little girl. They gave me a deep fascination with all things Scottish, plus a romantic imagination fed with tales of battles and feuds and brave deeds. I actually wrote a novel set in Scotland when I was 11 which was called ‘Far, Far Away’ and always longed to go there.
It has elements of historical fiction crammed in with the fantasy – how did you go about researching the novel?
I love to research. It’s reading for a purpose. I did a lot of research for this book – not just on Scottish history and folklore, but also on time travel theories and how to sleep in the snow without getting frostbite.
Who’s favourite character in The Puzzle Ring?
Apart from Hannah, my heroine, my favourite character is Linnet, the old, mysterious cook at the castle.
What are you working on now, if anything at all?
I’m writing a YA fantasy called The Wildkin’s Curse, the long-awaited sequel to The Starthorn Tree.
My godson is practically obsessed with I Am. Would you ever consider writing another picture book?
Oh yes, I’ve got lots of ideas! I just never get a chance to sit down and play with them.
Do you prefer writing for children or adults?
I like writing for both. Each age group has different problems and challenges, and gives you different rewards. It means you never get bored and your writing stays fresh and vivid (or so I hope).
Time to choose between your children… what’s your favourite book you’ve written?
Of course I love all the books I’ve written but I’m also most deeply connected to the book I’ve just written which is of course The Puzzle Ring.
What’s the most annoying question you’re asked in interviews?
My favourite book … 😛
… And the most frustrating thing about being a writer?
How long it takes to actually write a book! If only I could write as fast as I think …
If you could claim any other writer’s work as your own, whose would it be?
The Puzzle Ring by Kate Forsyth
Thirteen-year-old Hannah discovers her family was cursed long ago. The only way to break the curse is to find the four lost quarters of the mysterious puzzle ring… To do this, Hannah must go back in time to the last tumultuous days of Mary, Queen of Scots, a time when witches were burnt, queens were betrayed and wild magic still stalked the land…
The Puzzle Ring is part of May’s giveaway prize pack. Complete the entry form HERE for your chance to win. Entries close 31 May, 2009.