THE STORY BEHIND THE WILDKIN’S CURSE

Today, we welcome Kate Forsyth back to Kids’ Book Capers to talk about the inspiration behind her compelling new book, The Wildkin’s Curse.

Morning, Kate. Can you tell us what inspired you to write this book?

With some books, you know exactly where you were when the first seed of a novel takes root in your imagination. For The Wildkin’s Curse, this moment of inspiration or epiphany happened during the writing of The Starthorn Tree, which was my first children’s book. What I wanted to do with The Starthorn Tree was write the kind of book that had so enchanted me as a child, a book filled with a sense of wonder and beauty and peril.

I wanted a fairytale quality, that sense that anything can happen. I deliberately set out to write a book that used fairytale motifs, like the sleeping princess, the poisoned apple, the dark and perilous forest …. yet I turned those motifs upside-down and inside-out. So, in The Starthorn Tree, it is the young count of Estelliana who lies in an enchanted sleep and his sister who sets out on a quest to find the way to waken him.

As anyone who has read any of my work knows, I love puzzles and prophecies and so, in The Starthorn Tree, I have a boy character called Durrik who ‘hears’ voices in his head and is compelled to speak what they tell him, no matter the consequences. Towards the end of The Starthorn Tree Durrik utters a prophecy of the future that begins ‘three times a babe shall be born, between star-crowned and iron-bound …’ which intimated that there would be other children born in the future who would carry on the fight begun by the heroes of The Starthorn Tree.

Well, I had never planned this prophecy. I had never planned for there to be two more books set in the world of Estelliana. I had thought I was writing a stand-alone novel.  Yet Durrik just opened his mouth one day and spoke the prophecy, nearly exactly as it appears in the book, and all I did was write it down. It was one of those magical writing days when it feels like you are just a scribe, writing down the story as it is told to you by some higher power.
In that moment I knew that I needed to write two more books set in this world. I scribbled a note to myself that day – ‘a quest to save a wildkin princess held captive in a crystal tower’ – then went on writing my chapter. That’s all I had – a single sentence – but it is the very first seed of the book that became The Wildkin’s Curse. A companion book to The Starthorn Tree, it takes place about twenty years later and features the children of the heroes of The Starthorn Tree.

Who are your main characters in The Wildkin’s Curse?

I have three main characters. Zedrin is a starkin lord and heir to the Castle of Estelliana. He is tall, handsome, strong and destined for great things (or so he thinks).

Merry is his best friend, and the son of the hearthkin’s rebel leader. He has been brought up to fight, even though all he wants to do is write music and play his lute.

Liliana is a wildkin and has her own uncanny magical gifts. Time-honoured enemies, these three must somehow overcome their differences if they are to succeed on their mission …

Is there something that sets this book apart from others?

I like to think it’ll be a breath of fresh air after the preponderance of gloomy, angsty paranormal romances clogging the bookshelves at the moment.


What did you enjoy most about writing this book?

It was wonderful to return to the world of Estelliana! I felt like I was returning home. The Starthorn Tree is one of my all-time favourites of my own books and so I was glad to be back in its world, seeing what happened to the people who lived there and exploring new lands and  new adventures.

What was the hardest thing about writing this book?

The final climactic scenes were hard to write, but then they usually are – I want to tie all the threads together; I want to make sure all my villains are justly dealt with;  I want some cost to my heroes’ triumph;  I want to leave my reader with that sigh and the sting of tears that comes at the end of a really satisfying book. Big ambitions, hard to do!

The Wildkin’s Curse is a story of magic, adventure and suspense for readers aged 12 and older.

Thanks so much Kate for taking time out of your very busy schedule to visit us at Kids’ Book Capers.

Dee

BORN STORYTELLER – KATE FORSYTH

Author Kate Forsyth is visiting Kids’ Book Capers today to talk about her writing journey.

As Kate explains, she comes from a long line of storytellers.

My great-great-great-great-great-grandmother wrote the first children’s book published in Australia. Called ‘A Mother’s Offering to Her Children by a Lady Long Resident in New South Wales’, first editions are now worth $50,000 and no, I don’t have one! Maybe one day … Her daughter, Louise Atkinson, and my great-great-great-great-aunt, was Australia’s first Australian-born novelist. There have been all kinds of writers in the family since, and both my sister, Belinda Murrell, and my brother, Nick Humphrey, are published authors.

How did you become a writer?

I’ve wanted to be a writer, for as long as I can remember. I wrote poems and stories from the time I first held a pencil, then wrote my first novel when I was seven. I haven’t stopped since. As soon as I finish one book, I’m already daydreaming about the next. My first novel Dragonclaw was published when I was 30 so it seemed to me to take a very long time to get published, though everyone kept exclaiming how young I was!

I was lucky enough that Dragonclaw went on to become a bestseller both here and overseas, and so I’ve been able to write full-time ever since (13 years now!) I’ve written more than 20 books, ranging from picture books to books for children and young adults to adult novels, plus a collection of poetry. I feel so blessed that my lifelong dream has come true!

Do your books have any consistent themes/symbols/locations. If so, what are they?

Absolutely! I’ve come to realise that the deep, underlying theme to my books is nearly always the importance of connection between people – the importance of human love in all its forms. One of my all-time favourite epigraphs is ‘only connect” from E.M. Forster’s ‘Howard’s End’ – I want to paint it above my desk.

How many books have you had published?

The Wildkin’s Curse is my 23rd book.

What are you working on now?

The third book in the Chronicles of Estelliana, to be called ‘The Starkin Crown’. In that book, my hero Peregrine is the grandson of two of the main characters in ‘The Starthorn Tree’. It is the culmination of that day, during the writing of ‘The Starthorn Tree’ when Durrik opened his mouth and made a prophecy and all I could do was write down what he said in amazement and wonder.

Kate’s coming back to Kids’ Book Capers on Wednesday to talk about her beautiful new book, The Wildkin’s Curse.

So what’s your new book about, Kate?

The Wildkin’s Curse is a tale of true love and high adventure, set in a world of magic and monsters, valiant heroes and wicked villains. It tells the story of two boys and a girl who undertake the impossible task of rescuing a wildkin princess imprisoned in a crystal tower. Princess Rozalina has the power to enchant with words. She can conjure up a plague of rats, wish the dead out of their graves, and change people’s hearts and minds with her stories. As much a curse as a gift, her magic will be used for evil by the ruling starkin if she is not set free and taught to use her powers wisely.

On Wednesday Kate’s going to talk at Kids’ Book Capers about the inspiration behind her new book and how it all came together.

Kate is also appearing at Tuesday Writing Tips http://deescribewriting.wordpress.com  tomorrow where she’ll be discussing To Plot or Not to Plot.

Interview With KATE FORSYTH

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?

Philip Pullman’s.

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.