There is nothing I love more than this series and to see it rebooted again is possibly one of my very favourite things. If you're interested in taking part, contact me, for now I shall leave you with the wonderful Alys West and her questions!
1. How did you get started in writing?
I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to string a sentence together. My first attempt at a novel was written when I was eight and was a terrible rip-off of the Famous Five but I do still remember the fun I had planning what was going to happen in each chapter. I had a couple of abortive attempts to write a novel in my twenties which fizzled out after about three chapters. When I started writing BELTANE in 2010 I was determined that I wouldn’t give up before the end this time and I read all the books I could find on how to write a novel. Some of that advice helped but mainly this was a story that I really wanted to tell and I couldn’t stop until I’d finished it.
2. Where do you find your inspiration?
I’m hugely influenced by places and ideas seem to spring from places that I visit. The idea for BELTANE came from a visit to Glastonbury and the more I went back there the more I knew it couldn’t be set anywhere else. It’s not just the myth and legends associated with the place, it’s the fact that there are so many people living there who are druids or practice witchcraft and are entirely open about it. It’s a very different community to anywhere else I’ve ever been and I hope that comes through in the novel.
3. How do you generate story ideas?
I don’t think I have any one method and the more I thought about this question the more I realised that I’m not really sure where the ideas come from. Sometimes it’s from people that I’ve met or, as I’ve said, places that I’ve visited. I’m currently doing an MA in creative writing at York St John University and through that I’ve discovered I can get story ideas from I read as well. I’m getting more comfortable with the idea of drawing on my life experience for story ideas too but that could take me down a very different track.
4. What are three of your favourite books?
Thanks for asking for 3 favourites, rather than just one as that would be near impossible! I’m going for three favourites from different genres. ‘The Lions of Al-Rassan’ by Guy Gavriel Kay is my favourite fantasy novel. I absolutely love Guy Gavriel Kay’s writing and I think this is one of his best. ‘Persuasion’ by Jane Austen as I’ve loved it since I first read it when I was about 16 and it’s such a beautiful, restrained book about lost love and lost youth. ‘Gaudy Night’ by Dorothy L Sayers as I adore Golden Age detective fiction and this is the best of the best.
5. Why did you decide to publish through amazon?
I’d tried the traditional route and received many and various rejections and was feeling pretty disheartened about the whole thing when my agent suggested publishing through Amazon’s White Glove programme. This is a kind of ‘Kindle Direct Publishing deluxe’ which is available to authors who have an agent and means you get additional marketing support from Amazon. It was surprisingly easy to get the book up on Amazon as somebody at Amazon HQ did most of the hard work for me. Now I’ve done it I wish that I’d gone for it sooner and saved myself some of the rejection letters.
6. Who is your favourite Character in Beltane?
It’s got to be Finn. I love Zoe as well but as a writer you’ve got to fall for your hero or how can you can’t expect your readers to? Finn is a druid who is connect to awen, the earth’s energy. That gives him enormous power but he’s used that to do environmental conservation work and has no experience of using his magic as a weapon. Which becomes a huge problem when he encounters Maeve, who claims to be a healer but has a very dark side. Finn is determined, resilient and a genuinely nice guy who finds himself in a terrible situation. I love the fact that he doesn’t give up, tries to do the right thing but Zoe and can crack jokes even when things get really, really tough. He also looks pretty damned gorgeous in hearty walking gear and could be in an advert for Berghaus or North Face!
7. Do you have a new novel in the works?
I’ve recently finished a steampunk romance called THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER which is about pistols, propriety and second chances. It’s set in Whitby and York and was enormous fun to write. It also meant I could spend hours looking at pictures of Edwardian clothes and hats and call it research. THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER will be published on Amazon in the late Spring.
8. Will Beltane have a sequel?
Yes I’m about to get back to work on the sequel which is currently called Lughnasa (although I’m realising that may need to be changed that as a title that no one can spell isn’t a particularly good idea!). Winston, who makes a brief appearance in Beltane, is the main character in the sequel and it explores what happened to The Order of druids and spellworkers who all died mysteriously on the same day. It’s lovely to give Winston centre stage (which he’s really making the most of!) and to introduce some new characters as well.
9. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m definitely a plotter. I don’t think you can write suspense without doing a lot of plotting as otherwise you’d end up with all the clues in the wrong place and a terrible tangle. Although having said that I was more of a pantser with THE DIRIGIBLE KING’S DAUGHTER and that seemed to work out okay so maybe it depends what I’m writing. For Lughnasa and the other books in The Spellworker Chronicles I’m going to have to keep doing a lot of plotting.
10. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Go to writing groups, author events, read everything (not just the genre you want to write in but as much and as widely as you can) and just keep writing. It’s only by doing it that you’ll really find what works for you. But I’d definitely say don’t be afraid to experiment and try something new as you never know where it might take you and, most importantly, enjoy it.
Thanks so much for having me on your blog Rhianne and for asking such really interesting questions. I hope I haven’t waffled on too much!
You can find out more about Alys West here:
You can also check out her Beltane and steampunk boards on Pinterest at Alys West Writes