Lucy Hounsom and Genevieve Cogman are debut authors published by Tor (an imprint of Pan Macmillan which specialises in science fiction, fantasy and horror). Lucy's novel, Starborn, was released on 23rd April, and comprises Book 1 in the Worldmaker Trilogy. Genevieve's novel, The Invisible Library, was released on 15th January. It is also the first of three novels. Both describe themselves as writing in the fantasy genre.
The story of Starborn begins with Kyndra, a girl who accidentally disrupts her coming of age ceremony by destroying an ancient relic, forcing her to flee her village in the company of two powerful strangers. In the hidden citadel of Naris, Kyndra seeks to unlock her magic and explore the disturbing visions she has of the past. Brutally tested, can Kyndra survive and use her powers to right an ancient wrong?
The Invisible Library follows the adventures of Irene, a professional spy for a mysterious library which harvests books from different dimensions. In an alternative London she becomes embroiled in a dangerous hunt for a stolen book which pits her against supernatural creatures, unpredictable magic and secret societies.
I should mention that I haven't read either novel, although I am very much looking forward to them both. I knew that the event was coming up and decided that I would purchase the books there and have them signed. Reviews will follow on the blog in due course.
The format for the evening involved each author reading an extract from their work before answering questions raised by the host who then invited additional questions from the audience. Both authors read well and responded to the queries put to them at length and with enthusiasm. I suspect that the majority of those in attendance were unpublished writers and the topics discussed were particularly suited to this type of audience.
Both Lucy and Genevieve have day jobs around which they have to manage their writing but the discussion revealed how each has taken a different path to publication. Lucy, for example, has a B.A. in English and Creative Writing and an M.A. in Creative Writing. Genevieve has an M.SC. in Statistics with Medical Applications and cited her experience writing for roleplaying games as helpful when it came to coherent world building. Lucy spoke about approaching many agents and how she dealt with those early rejections whereas Genevieve was taken on by the first agent she approached. Both, however, admitted to having at least one unpublished novel at home, agreeing that they needed to get those first books written as part of their learning curve for the works which were subsequently taken on by agents and then published.
It was no surprise to learn that both are avid readers. When asked about their influences, Lucy referenced the works of David Eddings and The Wheel of Time series penned by Robert Jordan while Genevieve lit up as she remembered discovering Sherlock Holmes for the first time. The swamp adder/bell rope in Conan Doyle's 'The Adventure of the Speckled Band' was recalled with particular affection. Genevieve explained that when writing The Invisible Library she took all her favourite elements of literature and pulled them together into one fantastical adventure.
Each was generous when it came to answering the many questions which came from the floor. How long are your chapters? (No rules. Make them as long as you need. Average is probably between 3,000 and 6,000 words for them.) With your novels featuring fairly young protagonists, what makes your books 'adult' rather than 'young adult'? (Complexity, less emphasis on romantic attachments.) Do you do much research? (Not research intensive but world building does require some knowledge across a wide and often unanticipated spectrum, such as how far can a horse travel in a day? What equipment would be needed?) Did you ever go back to the same literary agent following a rejection? (No.) Did you get much input into your cover? (Lucy-yes, GC-didn't need it. Their proposal was gorgeous!)
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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