Hi, Sherry. She's another of my friends on Obscure YA authors, and another fantasy author.
1. What's your genre or do you write in more than one?
Hi, Janet! Thanks for interviewing me!
Aside from the very occasional short story, I write YA fantasy. Nearly everything I write is set on Narenta—a planet that may or may not be in our galaxy. The planet has its own three intelligent peoples and, in some ways, a radically different ecology than Earth’s. Narenta’s culture has superficial resemblances to medieval Earth—but magic, both good and evil forms, are very real. Occasionally young people from Earth—chiefly high school kids—are mysteriously taken to Narenta where they find that they have a specific and usually dangerous Outworlder task to perform. Not all are pleased when this is revealed to them.
2. Did you choose your genre or did it choose you?
Funny thing is when I was a kid, my friends and I used to come up with SF and time travel stories. Reading The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings changed my focus in early college. From then on, fantasy glommed on to me and couldn’t be shaken.
3. Is there any genre you'd like to try? Or is there one you wouldn't?
I’ve played around with mild horror in short stories but writing short really isn’t my thing. I don’t know enough science to make a go of SF, as my one SF story made clear. So fantasy is it.
4. What fiction do you read for pleasure?
Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Madeleine l’Engle, Susan Cooper, Jane Louise Curry, Lloyd Alexander, Diana Wynne Jones, Barbara Hambly, Charles Williams. Many others.
5. Tell me a bit about yourself and how long you've been writing,
Well, I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid, which was a long long time ago. I’m 63 years old now. I began writing the first draft of “Seabird” in 1979, when I was in my early 30’s. Once I started writing drafts of fantasy novels, I couldn’t seem to stop. However, I only found a publisher for the first book two years ago.
6. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Eew, not sure if I want to say this, because all of the other characters are going to get jealous. And I’ll probably disconcert some readers.
Most “Seabird” readers (all two of them) would probably choose Cara Marshall as their favorite. Cara is at the beach for her summer vacation between her 11th and 12th year of high school when she is “world-napped” to Narenta. She’s not pleased. For one thing, she had an arcade date for that evening. My loyal two readers were surprised and disappointed when their favorite character didn’t reappear in the next book, “Earthbow”.
If you have room, here’s the blurb for “Seabird”:
“When Cara Marshall is transported to Narenta, she is proclaimed champion of its people against the sorcerous daemagos. Amid the grateful welcomes, Cara protests that she has been "world-napped," and wants neither her title nor her mission. "They've got the wrong person and they're going to get me killed because they won't admit it." With no knowledge of weapons or magic, can she save the Narentans and find her way home?”
7. Are there villains in your books and how were they created?
Yes, all of my books have villains. Some are obvious and some are a surprise. I create them like I do all of my characters—by writing down their role in the story, adding a few bare facts about them, and then spending a –very- long time getting to know them inside and out. I enjoy developing all characters even more fully than needed for their roles in my stories.
8. What are you working on now?
Funny you should ask that. Dave, my publisher at Gryphonwood Press, asked me the same question in an email earlier today. I haven’t answered him yet because I’m torn between two different directions.
I have an incomplete and relatively short novel where the events take place between “Seabird” (1st published book) and “Earthbow” (2nd published book). On the other hand, I should be working to complete the very long series, tentatively titled “The Gryphon and the Basilisk”. (I frequently call that “the behemoth” or “the book that intends to eat Delaware”.) G&B follows the events that take place during “Earthbow”, which makes it the third in the Narenta series.
9. What's your latest release and how did the idea arrive?
“Earthbow Vol.1” (http://amzn.to/cTsAxM ) was released in late March. Volume 2 should be out in about a month. Together, they tell the story of Cara’s younger brother’s adventure on Narenta. However, other characters share the story with him:
1. Coris is a young fighter who was just made knight and who has come to realize that his lord is a cruel usurper. What to do?
2. Harone reprises his role from “Seabird”. A Narentan friend of Cara’s, he is now an enchanter apprentice. He begins by serving as escort and guide to Xander, Cara’s brother, but discovers that he has a –much- more dangerous role to play.
If you have room, here’s the blurb for “Earthbow”:
“Cenoc, the self-styled Lord of Latimus, learns of hidden treasures that can make him even more powerful. Few dare oppose his will, even as they witness his growing madness. However, a remnant stand in his way: a newly knighted young man who is torn between his mission and an overwhelming desire for revenge; an enchanter-initiate who finds himself facing terrors even greater than the danger of opposing Cenoc; a teen Outworlder from Earth who has been gifted with the Earthbow and told he will learn its purpose- just before his mentor abandons him. Return to the world of Narenta in the first installment Sherry Thompson's Earthbow.”
10. Tell me about your latest book and how it came about. Enclose the opening of the book around 400 words.
Here’s an extract from “Earthbow”
Note: Coris is climbing the walls of a keep so that he can sneak into Sevris the keep-master’s bedchamber. Coris needs to retrieve a medical remedy called werebane. The herb is needed to heal a stricken servant condemned to death by Cenoc, Lord of Latimus.
The last room was lit only by two guttering candles sitting on a tray next to the low, broad rectangle of the bed. He scrabbled his way up along one edge of the window, until his hips were even with the sill. He started to lever himself through—only to find himself restrained. His belts strained against his waist and hip.
What the Shadow? Panic clenched in his throat, as he envisioned some legendary warding spell.
Ah. The bottom edge of the sill was lined with small upright shafts of wood, bolted together with hammered curls of iron. The sill’s decoration must be stained some dark color that made it nearly invisible. Not daring to loose the grip of either hand, Coris lifted his body and twisted first one way and then the other, until the belts unsnagged themselves.
Lifting himself higher with protesting muscles, he slipped over the sill. First, he took off his sodden sweatband and tried to wring it out. Combing his hair back with his fingers, he replaced the band. He arched his back, and swung his arms about. …
His search proved unexpectedly easy—a small handful of werebane leaves sat half-hidden in a silken cloth by the bedside, close by one of the candles. Coris knotted the top of the cloth together and stuffed it away.
Footsteps coming from beyond the door!
Options flashed before him, mixed with images of his imminent death. He stood across the room from the window, too far away to reach it without a risk of being seen, and that possibility he couldn’t afford. If Cenoc or Sevris saw someone slip from the keep-master’s room, a thorough search of the keep would begin at once. The only alternative was to hide in the room and hope he could sneak out later.
Coris scanned the room. Cushions, a table. The hearth. Tapestries. He settled on a set of woven standing screens. Behind them, he found a littered alcove of cubbyhole-like shelves made for the storage of scrolls. He slid the left screen out a few inches, slipped behind it, and then dragged its inner edge a bit closer to its mate. Coris peeked through the tiny openings afforded by the close-woven vines. He held his breath and waited to see who would enter…