Howdy there folks.
Today to help us beat those Monday Blues, we have another fantastic guest in the Author Interviews Series. It is with the greatest of pleasure to introduce you all to fantasy author F.D. Lee, as she talks to us all about her writing influences and shares some brilliant writerly advice.
Take it away F.D, it’s time to get this party started.
Hey there Faith, thank you for being our distinguished guest here today.
Hi David! Thank you so much for having me!
Let’s start with your debut novel called “The Fairy’s Tale”. Can you tell us more about the genre of the book and the quirks of the lead character Bea (a cabbage fairy), along with her story arc and what sort of twists we will find in this particular tale as we delve deeper into the world behind stories, difficult choices and the path to true love?
The Fairy’s Tale has been described as “Cinderella meets 1984” in a reader’s review, which I think pretty neatly sums it up 🙂
It’s a fantasy novel. The Fairy’s Tale has elves, trolls and dwarves (all the classics!), but unlike Tolkienesque fantasy, they live together in Ænathlin, the last surviving city of the fae. Ænathlin is ruled by the sinister and shadowy General Administration, and while no-one is exactly happy about the GenAm’s methods of governance, most have learnt to accept it in exchange for stability. The city, unable to support itself, relies on the theft of food and resources from the human world via the use of Mirrors, ancient pathways between worlds. The Mirrors use belief in order to work, belief which the fae have learned to create and harvest by the telling of stories.
Only now the Mirrors are breaking, and no one knows why.
And so we meet Bea, a cabbage fairy and wannabe godmother. Bea lives in Ænathlin, where she is a second class citizen because she’s a fairy. Bea however refuses to be held back, to have her future written for her just because of someone else’s ideas of what a fairy can and can’t do. She is determined to become the first fairy to be an official Fiction Management Executive, and has convinced herself that this will be her happy ending. However, once she is actually given a plot to manage, she uncovers a horrible secret and is forced to make an impossible choice: in order to do what’s right, she must change the plot – a crime so serious she would face the full fury of the GenAm and its monstrous, three-headed Beast…
I’m not sure what twist and turns I can mention without giving away the ending! It’s one of those stories that has a couple of surprises in it. What I definitely can say is that The Fairy’s Tale is a story about stories. I’ve always been interested in fairy tales. They are almost universal, and yet in so many different cultures the basic premise stays the same: a poor girl briefly meets a man, falls in love, and lives ‘Happily Ever After’. And of course, in the older, darker versions, if someone has their eyes pulled out or their tongue cut off along the way, so much the better! The more I looked into it, the more I wanted to know who it was that decided what a happy ending should look like, why it has to happen just so, and why it was that these same plots seem to bury their way into so many of our cultures. Basically, I started to think that there had to be something very sinister going on behind the scenes, and thus arrived at the story of Bea and the General Administration.
You mentioned to me about your love of the legendary author Terry Pratchett (Terry died in March 2015). I wrote an Ode to Terry after his passing (Click here to read it – “An Ode To The Late, Great, Magnificent, Terry Pratchett”), as I feel that he had a significant impact on my own writing and how reading his books significantly enhanced my own writing capabilities. Please indulge us on how much he meant to you and how he has influenced your own writing philosophies and techniques.
This is such a good question! I completely agree with you when, in your poem, you write that you can’t think of anyone else who has such an impact, who is ‘adored, revered and will be sorely missed’.
I have read and reread the Discworld novels more times than anything else I can think of. Even just answering this question, my mind is awash with the characters, the stories, the emotions. Terry had the wonderful and truly rare gift of communicating huge, powerful ideas, of being frightening and funny, tender and harsh – usually all on the same page, sometimes in the same sentence. My whole family are huge fans.
My Mum and I, in particular, still spend hours discussing Vimes, Vetinari, Esme, the Wizards (and Wizzard), the world, the philosophy…When I think about Terry Pratchett, I smile and my head fills with ideas and questions. To me, that summarises everything that writing, that a story, should do.
It would be nonsense to say I haven’t been hugely inspired by him – he is the standard to which I aim for in my own writing. Of course, my style isn’t the same as his (whose could be? He was a genius!), but I have learnt a lot from him, especially in terms of tone of voice. My writing style is light, which I think is necessary given some of the themes and topics I’m writing about, such as freedom, identity and control. There are moments of levity in amongst the drama! But I think that was Terry’s great skill, delivering a thoughtful message in an accessible way, and if I could learn that from him I would live the rest of my life very happily.
If your novel was to be made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles?
Ah, I’ve thought about this for ages! It’s actually really difficult, and I’m sure some readers will completely disagree with me, but here goes… 🙂
Bea is the one I find hardest to cast, perhaps because I’m too close to her. Sharon Rooney would be amazing. She’s a really great actress and I think would be able to balance Bea’s stubbornness and self-determination but also, underneath that, her insecurity.
Melly would be Helen Mirren. Melly has a lot of depth – still waters run deep – she has a history which affects her greatly. She’s frightened of the GenAm but can also see that it has brought order to Ænathlin, even if the cost is high. Nevertheless, she pushes her own misgivings aside to help her friends.
For Joan, I’d cast my friend Emelia! But if I couldn’t swing that, maybe Emilia Clarke (sticking with a name-theme 🙂 ). A blonde Christina Hendricks (think Saffron from Firefly) could play Sindy. I can see her embodying Sindy’s innocence and strength really well.
Ana is another tricky one, at least for me. Ana is the antithesis of Bea, they are two sides of the same coin in many ways. Both have suffered as a result of stereotyping and the expectations of others, but Ana is much more at home in her own skin than Bea is, and she doesn’t suffer so much self-doubt. Either Krysten Ritter or Natalia Tena would be awesome.
When I was writing Mistasinon, I had the actor Harry Lloyd in mind, although they don’t exactly resemble each other – Mistasinon has warm, suntanned skin, while Harry Lloyd is quite fair. He played a very conflicted character in a Channel Four drama called ‘The Fear’, and his performance was definitely a touch-stone when I was designing the character. Maybe the producers could send him to Corfu for a few weeks prior to filming.
Seven would have to be Aiden Turner. No question.
Who are some of the authors in general that inspire you?
I’ve already mentioned Terry Pratchett, who is my number one. I’m also a big fan of Max Brooks, Joss Whedon, Jim Butcher, Douglas Adams, Suzanne Collins, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Hugh Laurie, Seanan McGuire, Stephen Baxter, and Grant Naylor. Outside of fantasy and sci-fi, my tastes tend to run towards earlier authors, such as Margaret Mitchell, Harper Lee, George Orwell, Jerome K. Jerome, P. G. Wodehouse, Somerset Maugham, Kurt Vonnegut, and Joseph Heller. Going back even further, Jane Austen, Victor Hugo, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Poe, and Oscar Wilde. I also like political and popular science/philosophy books, especially Mark Thomas for the former and Marcus Chown for the latter.
Sorry – you asked for writers that inspire me in general, and I’m building a reading list. The thing is, I’m looking at my answers and I know I’ve forgotten loads! I think I’m a bit of a sponge, but there’s so many things that authors do well which as a writer you can learn from 🙂
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
Lol! Loads – sometimes really interesting things like herbalism, and other times very mundane things like what the specific parts of a roof are called. Thank God for the Internet! For The Fairy’s Tale, I was researching folk lore and all the different mythic and faery creatures, which was very cool. For The Academy, my second book, the last piece of research I did was to do with eyeballs.
Another aspect of my research comes specifically from the fact my novels are set ‘behind the scenes’ of stories, and so I play with a lot of traditional tropes and genre conventions. For example, The Fairy’s Tale deals with the concept of true love and happy endings, and there are shades and references to a lot of classic stories, such as Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and A Room with a View, but also nods to 1984 and even pantomime – Bea’s conversation with Melly as they prepare for the Ball still makes me laugh.
The Academy draws on gothic and ghost story traditions, so once again there are references to classics in those genres, such as Frankenstein, The Woman in White, Dracula, Jane Eyre, and Jekyll and Hyde, as well as Hammer Horror and old B-movies – especially the always wonderful ‘stranger in a local tavern’ moment (which was one of my favourite scenes to write).
I doesn’t matter if as a reader you miss these references, they’re threaded into the stories, not essential, but if you know what you’re looking for, you’ll probably see them. It’s the geek in me coming out, I think. Easter eggs and shout outs galore!
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
Because I like driving myself to my wit’s end, locked up in an imaginary world with people I’ve created who still won’t do what I want them to do!
Lol, no. Honestly, I think I’ve always written, though The Fairy’s Tale is my first full length novel. I write because I simply can’t imagine not, and I’m extremely conscious of how lucky I am to have the freedom to do so.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
I’ve been involved in academia for years, so researching and essay writing are pretty much second nature for me now. Creative writing is a different genre, but the discipline is the same: you have to just push through and get it finished.
But I think the biggest trick is to be kind to yourself and not give up. I’ve had some real slumps while writing, moments that have brought me to tears, when I’ve really questioned what it is I’m doing. “Who are you? Why would anybody want to read this?”, that kind of thing. The best advice I can give is to keep plugging away at it. A book doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s normal to get writer’s block. The trick is not to give up.
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Lol! Writing – I’m studying at the moment, and my friend Miranda and I have a few projects we’re working on. But aside from that, I enjoy playing computer games and I’m a member of an RPG group, which is a lot of fun. I have three cats and a husband, all of whom I love spending time with, and I enjoying talking to my Mum and my brother on the phone. I’m also lucky to have very good friends who are happy to rescue me from my imaginary ones! Reading, of course, and I adore the theatre and go whenever I can afford it. I also like walking and swimming, which gets me out the house and actually really helps with writer’s block (delayed answer to your last question!).
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
Well, The Fairy’s Tale is part of a series called The Pathways Tree. I’ve just finished writing The Academy, the second installment, which will be released Halloween this year (2016). They’ll be more in that series; I have the overall arc mapped, so it’s just a case of writing the books! I also have an idea for a completely different book which I’m keen to write.
I’m also giving a workshop on self-publishing at Hillingdon Literary Festival, and will have a stall at both Fantasticon 2016 and Eastercon 2017.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Keep plugging away at it, be prepared to have your ideas pulled apart (an honest, critical friend is essential, but equally you have to be ready to listen), and don’t be afraid to delete things that aren’t working. Nothing’s ever wasted – I’ve deleted tens of thousands of words, but although they didn’t make the finished books they helped me understand my characters and my world better.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for being a wonderful guest Faith.
Thank you! It’s been a lot of fun! 🙂 🙂 🙂
You can connect with Faith via the following Social Media platforms:-
Amazon Author Page:- Author F.D Lee – Amazon Author Page
Blog:- The Blog of Author F.D. Lee
Facebook:- F.D. Lee Author (FB)
Goodreads:- F.D. Lee – Goodreads Author
Instagram:- @faithdlee (Instagram)
Twitter:- @faithdlee (Twitter)
Wattpad:- First four chapters of The Fairy’s Tale are available for free
Website:- The Website of Author F.D. Lee
You can buy her books here via the links below (The Academy – Book Two of The Pathways Tree series will be available towards the end of October 2016):-
Canada:- Buy F.D.Lee’s books in Canada
UK/Europe:- Buy F.D. Lee’s books in UK/Europe
US/Rest of the World:- Buy F.D. Lee’s books in US/Rest of the World
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well as it so happens, there is a Daily Prompt over at The Daily Post that seems relevant, since we all like to enter a world of make believe when reading fiction books. For more articles relating to the theme of ‘Pretend’, check out the links below:-
1. Fool’s Paradise – Ruby 4 Inspiration. Motivation. Innovation. Collaboration.
2. Whole30, Days 12-14. Dare Me Chocolate, Dare Me. – Pursuing Balance in All Things
3. Greater Than Gravity – Lions And Tigers And Bears
4. For Much Deliberation – Pretend…
5. Pretend and bring your characters to life – writingboxblog
6. Done Pretending – Martha’s Daily Writing
7. The Great Pretender… – You and me song
8. Mainline_Matter – Let’s Pretend
9. The First Date – Making Sense of Complications
10. The Colour of Poetry – My eyes are tired.
11. Roberta Pimentel – Who I am
12. Pretend Artist Heartbreak – just a little magic
13. Pretend – thethoughtskeeper
14. Pretend 2 – Asleep At The Wheel
15. A Marriage – greyandgreyer
16. Let’s Pretend! – A Mile In My Shoes
17. Julienne & Diamond Back jacket by Sarah Janks – Sarah Janks
18. HOW TO WEAR METALLICS – Custom Shoes Blog
19. Pretend the Perfect Parent Exists – Excuse Me Linda….but….
20. long queues on Monday mornings – and the rain left off
21. A Momma’s View – The Thing With Dying
22. Giggles & Tales – The Daily Prompt – Pretend!
23. Travel Much? – Cabin fever?
24. Boat cruise Dubai marina – Private Cruises in Dubai – Yacht in Dubai
25. ExplorewithMafaza – Great British Bakeoff : Pastry week
26. Success Inspirers’ World – Don’t pretend!
27. Embraced by your presence on the frequency of love – Afterlife Love Story
28. logicaldreams – Drabble: Celebration for Two
29. PRETEND TO BE DARK – thepunkpenblog
30. My Wellbeing and Learning Journey – Pretend
31. Be you ,be beautiful – in her niche
32. Purposive Writer – Gretchen Rubin to the Rescue of My Urgh Day
33. The Last Lines from Gatsby – Dreamer’s Paradise
34. Haiku #1 – Drowned in Metaphors
35. Pretend – calliemm
36. Pretending love – Sana Thoughts
37. Pretentious is the new real – Being Pooja
38. Samantha Linda – On point!
39. Response to the Daily Post Prompt: Â Pretend – The Bag Lady
40. Tangled Webs – Let’s Play a Little Game
41. Doomsday Trail – Lost in Thought
42. The Great Literary Mash-up – TAwrites
43. MY ENDURING BONES – When Sleeper’s Dream
44. Unless you become like little children… – findingbreathless
45. pretend redux (smutty) – writemebad
46. Relax – Synthetic
47. cynthia go – Game of Pretend
48. Nit Bits of life – Let’s pretend
49. The Observation Post – Pretend – Wither Or Thrive
50. inspiration in progress – pretend – poetry
51. Margret’s Life Journey! – Pretend
52. wordsareallihavesite – Pretend
53. Stutter-Stepping Heart – Balm of Pretend
54. Eden of Knowledge – Don’t pretend
55. All in the perspective… – It Is Still Real
56. PRETEND – Micks Blog
57. Pretend – Leigha Robbins
58. WHY TO PRETEND? – breathingpark
59. Devil Doll Musings – What Was I Thinking
60. Introverted Blahs and Hurrahs – Pretend
61. Vivid Dreamer – Shamed Fantasy
62. Lost Property Repository – Wakey Wakey
63. Leanne Murphy – Ten words #29
64. Pretending – Asleep At The Wheel
65. Silent Declaration of a Secret Love – Fenix Verde
66. Standing Tall – Heaven’s Sunshine
67. Berning Along – Rubbled Landscape
68. helen meikle’s scribblefest – Daily prompt: The way we are – 2
69. KO Rural Mad As Hell Blog – Pretend….
70. 83 Unsung Heroes – Randy Ratty And His Fancy Pants
71. Zonnah – Pretend
72. I Fought the Treadmill, and I Won! – Sneakers on Pavement
73. The Hidden Chalkboard (The HC) – Playing Pretend
74. PRETEND – DON’T BE NAKLI – Wandering Soul
75. 43 Prayers to Election Day – Why Pretend?Â – Sisters of Christ
76. Pretend – Vermont Book Works
77. Write Now – Fun Now, A Chore Later
78. Pretending I’m Not Depressed (Daily Prompt) – MJ Cobra
79. Prompt: Pretend – An Angel Takes Her Wings – LMTP Journey
80. Wild Verbs – Playing House
81. By Reason Of Sanity – Pretend
82. The Night of Smooth Saxophone Jazz – Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored
83. Eyes that Pretend to Know Her Well, A Poem – Sumyanna Writes
84. Lakeland Musings by Irwin – Pretend – Should we or shouldn’t we?
85. Pretend ~ Web of Lies – Word Adventures
86. Joyously Hopeful – Let’s pretend tomorrow is today
87. Imposter Syndrome: An Orientation Recap – Chloe Hawker
88. False Truths: Pretend – Words of the Wise
89. Theo Herbots TV Top 25 prettiest natural places on Earth – Theo Herbots TV
90. Sara Ackerman, author – Pretend
91. The Sleeping Reading Beauty – Superheroes
92. I wrote a book. Now what? – The joy of pretend world
93. Pretend; Life is Like a Movie – THE SKY’S THE LIMIT
94. Confidence or Looks? – That Girl called C
95. Pretend Love – Opinionated Head
96. Hard Work of a Musical Actor – Meg’s Magical Musings
97. Daily Post Prompt: Pretend – Lillith’s Landing
98. the miscellaneous journal – The New Meaning of Pretend| One-Word Prompt
99. A Glimpse into My Journey – Fairy tale
100. Pretend – emotionsoflife2016
101. Musings of a Random Mind – An Unexpected Call
102. Chris Writes – I’m An Imposter
103. Pretend – Inner Whispers
104. Birthday birth-death ponderings – Afterlife Love Story
105. JonahzSong – Poser
106. Zombie Flamingos – I want some!!
107. Jackie’s Forget Me Nots – Figoro
108. Pretending Then & Now!! – zenyswords
109. Riley Central – The Music of ‘Star Trek’ Blogathon: Theme From ‘Star Trek’ (1966-1969)
110. Love: What Is Love? – Why Pretend?
111. B_ up to date – The great Pretender
112. Shail’s Nest – Do we know?
113. FYI: What is the Electoral College? How does it work? – The Mono-Economy of the New Millennium
114. Hurtafew – Pretend
115. Me Otherwise – Parenting Alone? It’s No Easy Job
116. I Pretend – Scribbled by M
117. Life Is Like That – …anyway. One tough act to follow.
118. Pretend – Postcard from a Pigeon
119. I Pretend – Leaking Ink
120. Surviving Clergy Abuse – Why Pretend?
121. Pretending to be Human – passiondesignerblog
122. Pretend – aYoKa
123. Pretending to Live – Ellies Little Adventure
124. REVERENCE TO THE BOUNDLESS – rhymeagination
125. Michael J. Fite – How Can You Turn Pretend Into Reality Now?
126. the microatoll – Sunday Afternoon of a Wastrel in the English Garden
127. Don’t Pretend to care – Cooking with the DeGroffs
128. The dilemma of Happiness. – My valiant soul
129. From the cape to the pipe – Caving Writing
130. Pretend play – citySonnet
131. Pretend – A Joy To Write
132. The happy Quitter! – Oh yes, I am the great Pretender
133. Let’s Play Pretend – THE COFFEE CHRONICLE BLOG
134. Theo Herbots TV 7 Wonders of the World – Theo Herbots TV
135. Great Pretenders – Occasional Dreams
136. Meet Me in Nevada – A (Real) Nightmare
137. juantetcts – Pretend:The Daily Post
138. Sacrificial Chain Breaker – PRETEND
139. LadyLebz – I HAD IT ALL AT ONE TIME, MY DARLING
140. Jibber Jabber with Sue – Close Your Eyes…
141. Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 YNN – Using a Walter Mitty approach to life
142. What you pretend, becomes reality. – OaktownVibes
143. Sassyqueenn – Pretend to be okay
144. I cannot pretend – Love it Now
145. Misstery blog – Play pretend
146. Sometimes…Pretense… – SUCCESS STRATEGIES
147. Pretending something that isn’t -is lying to yourself. – trailingthoughtsblog
148. Sometimes It’s Just Better To Pretend – atrangizindagieksafar
149. Mind Palace – Can we just stop pretending for a second?
150. Lamont and Dude Meet in the Fall – I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!
151. PRETEND.. – floatingstories
152. PRET(ernaturally)(black)EN(e)D – Insidious Temptation
153. Pretend – Covert Novelist
154. Common Pursuit – Until You Make It
155. I’m sorry… – clumsyandsilly
156. Pretend or not… – Jk109
157. Friends – indisputably inconclusive
158. You can’t pretend forever! – Sasha’s Writings
159. Incredible Pie – Rules Priority Clash! – Episode 2
160. Pretender. The dumb-charade. – philosophicalpen
161. What Even Is Tomato? – Apparently I’m Funny
162. Insach – Pretend
163. Unsettled – november child
164. debooWORKS – The Problem With Our Masks
165. Musings of a Mediocre Mormon Mommy – I Could Have Had 15 Kids
166. Fiction or non-fiction? (Explicit) – Serendipitous Web Life
167. The Gad About Town – Pretending to Understand
168. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: The Feline Pretense
169. The Worst Pretend – mySestina
170. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Let’s Pretend
171. Travel Much? – Nordenskiold Glacier
172. Sonder – Bolognese’s Blog
173. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Pretend or not?
174. Le Drake Noir – Pretending gentlemen
175. Think About It – Angry Bones
176. The World of the Day! – Palpable Pennings
177. She Likes To Pretend That She Knows About Tomorrow. – LIVING AND LEARNING
178. Fear not – Elaine’s Bloggers Paradise
179. Self-deceit – Making it write
180. Please… Don’t – Wanderlust
181. The Chosen One/Leader/Ruler – themanbehindtheglass
182. Musings and My Two Cents – No Mask
183. Comcast My Muse… – A lot from Lydia
184. There Are More Poets than Stars in the Firmament – stiff upper lip is not stalking
185. That Unforgettable Winter – Desertedroad
186. Is your “antibacterial” soap really safe for daily use? – a brave new science
187. Despite Everything – Second Time Blogger
188. Southern By Design – Counterfeit Identity
189. How often do you pretend? – susiesopinions
190. Choice. – Grounded in Fantasy
191. Fingir – apserranoblog
192. Devil Doll Musings – The Great Pretender
193. thelonerose – TV Shows
194. Calculated Aesthetic Perfection – khetarpalblog
195. Duchess Xenon’s – Hidden in the Shadows
196. She Pretended, He Didn’t – Writer’s Blog
197. kStan(ly) kSays – to the sky
198. Jeff Cann – Seriously Happy
199. Not Always As It Seems – Dee-Vita
200. Who am I? – Reflections!!
201. Seven tips for improving self-esteem – art of being fabulous
202. Let’s Pretend… – Chronicles of an Orange-Haired Woman!
203. kristinakoti – Job Interview Part I
204. Liar – indisputably inconclusive
205. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Travels with Two Ducks (The Continuing Saga of Little Duck, Episode 5)
206. Pretend – Daily Prompt – ladyleemanila
207. My Big Fat Greek Holiday – mokita dreams
208. Qualia – Accidents
209. Game of Pretense – Random Thoughts and Musings
210. Lost Property Repository – Pretend
211. Lazy Mornings (smutty) – writemebad
212. Cheat? – Random Thoughts and Musings
213. Lost Another Day – poorhaiku
214. 79 days before – Painted in words
215. domestic diva – Preparing the child for Early Schooling
216. Ginormous Nature – Abode of clouds, Meghalaya, India
217. Designer Sophisticate – In a world of pure imagination.
218. kStan(ly) kSays – anti-hero
219. The Great Pretender – Espiritu en Fuego/A Fiery Spirit
220. Devil Doll Musings – The Unforgiven
221. Pretend – Bits of Poems
222. Frank Prem – of lying still and colour
223. Lantern Words – Not Pretend