I wanted to follow up on our gorgeous Lost Gods anthology, a book of SFF short stories, by interviewing some of the authors (okay, whoever was willing). I hope you will find these interviews interesting, and enjoy their stories.
What’s your writing name?
Kerry Buchanan. Never felt a need to hide behind a pseudonym!
What’s your story called (in Lost Gods) and what was your inspiration behind it?
Shades of Perdition.
I’ve always been fascinated by mythology, and grew up reading the Odyssey and the Iliad as well as everything I could find about the Greek and Roman gods. Throw in a dash of C.S. Lewis, and you have the makings of a story. My main character breaks a few moulds (and not by sitting on them, although that would also be a possibility). Cassie (Cassandra) is not your usual slim, sylph-like hero with ninja skills – that would be way too easy – so instead I decided to make her middle-aged, overweight and I gave her creaky joints and bosoms that would go into orbit if she spun too fast. Once I had my scene set and my character larger than life (in every sense), all I had to do was make her life even harder.
Why do you write fantasy?
I don’t just write fantasy (Knife Edge, the first of my crime series set in Northern Ireland, was released in April 2021 by Joffe Books), but until recently fantasy was almost all I wrote. I guess it’s back to those legends again. Plus, I decided at a very early age that dragons were the coolest creature ever, except maybe unicorns (but I’d grown out of unicorns by around five years of age). Almost all my stories have a dragon in them somewhere. I love the freedom within fantasy to let your imagination really fly, and I love the idea of magic.
It’s not that there are no rules when writing fantasy. I think it’s important to design a magic system, or a world, that is consistent. I won’t let my characters escape peril by suddenly allowing them to discover a new and hitherto unsuspected talent for (as an example) chucking fireballs at their enemies. It’s just that I get to write the rules and police them myself. That’s not to say I don’t make mistakes, because who doesn’t, but at least I try for consistent world-building.
What’s your writing routine?
Until very recently, I didn’t have one. For many years, I’ve been a full-time carer for someone with dementia, and that led to unpredictable days and a lack of routine, as I had to fit in with someone else’s randomness. Just over a week ago, my father went into residential care, so now I have free time during the day, and I have no idea what to do with it! In theory, I work for a couple of hours every morning and another couple every afternoon, but sometimes my muse refuses to dance to my tune, so I end up being struck by inspiration at the exact moment when I should be starting to make dinner or feed the cats. Cue irritated husband foraging in the fridge for something easy to cook. Once I’m lost in my writing, time has no meaning.
How has coronavirus affected your creativity?
If anything, it has improved it. Under stress, I tend to write more not less, so I’ve been hammering away. During the first lockdown, I edited North Star, an all-female anthology by Northern Irish female writers, as well as contributing a story to it, and I’ve been editing another all-female anthology, Femmes Fae-Tales, for my wonderful friends from www.sffchronicles.com as well as writing my own fairy story for the anthology. This has brought home to me how much the pandemic has affected many other people’s creativity. So many people are finding it much harder to write these days. Some are trying to home-school children whilst also working from home (all on the same ageing laptop); others are just so disheartened by the sickness and death around them that they can’t get their minds on their writing at all. For myself, I run away into my fictional words. My safe space. I’ve completed another crime novel and almost finished a third one since last June.
Which three books would you recommend everyone reads?
Children of Time by Adrian Tchaikovsky. This is an epic read, and a real eye-opener. Apart from being a great book, it really makes you think about the future of species and how humans try to manipulate them.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, because it’s such a lesson in world building. Even down to the languages he’s created and the different races and customs. Many are nicked from the very mythologies I grew up with, but none the worse for that. It is, however, a story of its time. If you’re looking for a book that passes the Bechdel test, this is not it!
The Elderings Series by Robin Hobb. Yes, I’m cheating here because there are more than 15 books in this series, but they’re sooo good.
What’s next for you?
I still love writing fantasy, and will go on doing so, but currently I have a three-book contract with Joffe Books for my crime series, so that’s keeping me pretty busy at the moment. Knife Edge is doing well, and the second novel, Small Bones, should be released around June of this year. The third one, Close Hauled, won’t be too far behind. I’ve also been commissioned to write a story for another international anthology, and I run online writing classes, groups and sessions all the time. My Ulster Dedicated Writers meet four times a week, and these sessions are when I get most of my writing done.