Today we welcome our very first guest of honour, the incredibly talented Kirby Crow! She is the brilliant mind behind the fantasy series Scarlet and the White Wolf and many great iconic titles. It’s her unique voice that merges romance, humor, and dark elements together flawlessly that has drawn both Kaelin and myself to her writing. She has kindly dropped by to share the concepts and inspiration behind her work with us.
Visit her webpage to learn more and to stay updated!
Which of your characters are your personal favourites?
Published characters? Without a doubt, it’s Scarlet. Put him in any situation, and I always know what he’s going to do, what he’s going to say, which way he’ll turn the scene on its head. That makes me feel closer to him than the others. Liall is the question mark. Obviously, if you’ve read the books, you know what Liall is capable of. Same with Becket Merriday. Those are two characters with extreme capabilities. With Liall, you hear about those acts second-hand, because they happened in his past and the man Liall is now is much more cautious and subdued. He’s been tamed from his wild bandit years, to an extent. I’ve changed that up in Book 4, brought back the old Liall to cope with the challenges of Rshan, and there are surprises from Scarlet as well.
Did you listen to or get inspired by any particular songs while writing?
I don’t get inspired BY them, but sometimes I look for music with a melody that compliments the scene I’m writing, and use that for background mood. I have tinnitus and silence is more distracting to me than music or traffic or anything. I play a lot of nature sounds; seashores, forests, thunderstorms. I get more inspired by the sounds of rain than by music.
Are there any details you pulled from real life experiences?
The Hilurin cottage in Lysia was modeled after a mountain cabin that belonged to a friend’s grandmother, and every location in “Angels of the Deep” is modeled after a real place. When setting a scene, I’ll pull from memory or try to find a real place (or a picture of one) that resembles it. There’s a lot of outdoors in the Scarlet novels, so I spent many days walking in the woods, and there were several theological conversations in “Angels of the Deep” on the nature of good and evil that I took from memory.
For the rest, writing fiction is such an internal, personal process. You borrow from your past and friends and surroundings without even realizing it, and it goes into the book and when you’re done you cross your fingers and put it out there, all of it. So yes, in one form or another, much of it is my experience. How much? I couldn’t even guess.
Did you have to do any odd research during the writing process?
Fantasy writers have to research constantly. The street-lights of your underground Gwarg village are powered entirely by wind? Well, how does that work exactly?
And then you have to research converting kinetic energy to mechanical, turbines, generators, battery storage, all that. Your fantasy world should theoretically be able to function. Maybe not up to “Dune” levels of precision, but the mechanics of it should be able to withstand some examination.
I’ve done copious amounts of research for “Malachite”, how the city is engineered, communications, canals, sea walls, how the citizens obtain and cook their food, even the plumbing, which is a not-inconsiderable concern for an island city. I’ve probably spent days reading about heliographs, telegraphs, and galvanic cells, not to explain the details in the text, but just to make certain they could work in my world. It turns out the study-to-inclusion ratio of research is rather small; hours of reading for half a paragraph of detail.
Even so, it’s enjoyable. If you’re not having fun with your writing, you’re doing it wrong.
Is there any symbolism behind the names in your book(s)?
Liall is taken from Lyall, and means “wolf” in Old Norse. And to put to bed the question once and for all, it’s pronounced Lee-ALL, not Lyle or even Leel. I love that there’s controversy on how to pronounce his name!
Who would be your dream cast for your main characters if you ever landed a movie/show deal?
I wouldn’t have to worry about it for the Scarlet books, because I’ve always wanted to see an anime or a yaoi comic of it, rather than a live action film. Besides, the images in my head don’t match any actors that I know of. I did use a much younger Rutger Hauer (Roy Batty era and previous, because RAWR!) for Liall in the very beginning, but the image I had of him has morphed so much since then. All you really need to know about the physical Liall — or any character — are the broad strokes, because every reader has their own vision of a character they love. Personally, I don’t like to mess with that. I want the reader to develop the image that is most appealing for them, and I invite them to ignore certain physical characteristics if they don’t find those as attractive. I only put the words out there. The imagination is all theirs.
In “Malachite” and “The Flower Prince”, yes, I had some very specific actors in mind when I wrote those. I’d cast Mads Mikkelsen as Kon Sessane and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau for Marion Casterline. They’ve made films together before and have fantastic screen chemistry. Even though Marion and Kon are not exactly friends in the book, that would still be my fantasy casting.
Are there any special Easter eggs hidden away in your book(s) or little secrets that were never fully revealed?
Most of those secrets are coming out in Book 4 of “Scarlet and the White Wolf”, but I’ll give you one: the prostitute that Liall encounters in the alleyways of Volkovoi was never a random character. I’m keeping his identity secret for the moment, but he will figure prominently in “The Flower Prince”, which is another novel set in Nemerl. Can you guess who he is?
The other thing is that Liall is not gay. He’s bisexual, with a marked preference for men. That would be natural since Rshani attach little importance to gender when it comes to sexual partners. You’re attracted to whoever you’re attracted to, and they have few prejudices about it. Actually… I don’t even think that’s a secret, but I just wanted it out there. Not every character I write is either gay or straight, male or female. Life isn’t limited to gender binaries, so why should your writing be?
Tell us a bit about your cover(s) and how it/they came about.
All the “Scarlet” novel covers (with the exception of Book 4, which I created), “Prisoner of the Raven”, and “Angels of the Deep” were created by my buddy Analise Dubner, who is the most awesome artist ever. The cover for the upcoming “Hammer and Bone” was done by Roberto Quintero.
What are your current projects?
“Hammer and Bone” is finished and will be published in April of 2014. “Malachite” is in final stages at this time, as is “Scarlet and the White Wolf” Book 4.
Is there anything extra you would like to say to your readers?
I love you all! Thank you for being so patient with me. It’s true, I write about as fast as a snail crawls, but only because I’m so anxious not to disappoint my readers. Thanks for hanging in there!