Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Interview with Jenna Burtenshaw, author of Wintercraft

I'm really pleased to welcome Jenna Burtenshaw here, it's an understatement to say Jenna's UK debut of Wintercraft in 2010 put her on my permanent top author list, so I was over the moon when Jenna agreed to be interviewed.  Welcome Jenna :-)

Hello, Michelle.  Thank you for inviting me to your blog!

Could you tell us more about yourself?

I live in the North East of England and I have been a bookworm for as long as I could read.  I’m at my happiest sitting with my nose in a book, and I can lose myself for hours in a bookshop.  I’ve always loved things that are a bit gothic or mysterious, and when I’m not writing you’ll find me wandering around my local graveyard, playing the flute or being bossed around by my three dogs.

When you're not writing, what genre and authors do you like reading?

My bookshelves are a bit of a mixed bag.  At the moment I’m reading lots of mysteries and crime novels, but normally I enjoy fantasy adventure stories, classic novels, and anything that takes my fancy really.  My favourite authors change quite often.  I always enjoy books by Jonathan Stroud, Frances Hardinge and Marcus Sedgwick and I am a big fan of the Septimus Heap series by Angie Sage.  I also have a stack of non-fiction books that I’m reading as research for a new story that I’m going to start working on very soon, so I have plenty to keep me going.    

How long did Wintercraft take to write?

It took around two years from having the first idea to having a finished story ready to send away to agents.  The characters, setting and main storyline went through many changes during that time, but that was part of the fun.  Writing Wintercraft was like discovering a new world, rather than creating one.  I really enjoyed exploring Fume and the rest of Albion, uncovering new aspects of it and seeing how they impact Kate and Silas’s lives.  

The characters are so vivid, where did you get your inspiration from for the main characters?

The very first image I had of the story was a girl standing in the middle of a burning bookshop holding an old book.  Kate Winters developed directly from that image.  I knew she had lived a very protected life and she was about to be thrown into a completely alien situation, but as terrible as her life had to become, I felt she had an inner strength within her, waiting to come out. 
Silas Dane is very different.  He is a tortured man with a complicated history and I wanted him to really straddle the line between the traditional ideas of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.  He is a very interesting character to write because he is unpredictable.  He walked into the story fully formed and really took charge. 
The councilwoman, Da’ru Marr, is based on what I thought would happen if a member of the Skilled managed to gain power.  Would she use it to help the people who shared her ability, or would she turn against them?  I see her as a very lonely and controlling person who reacts to events in her life out of fear, rather than true evil or malice.  She is desperate to maintain control and that is what makes her dangerous.               

Which character(s) is your favourite and why?

That is a very difficult question.  I like all of the characters for very different reasons.  If I had to choose just one, it would be Silas Dane.  I know a lot more about him, his history and his motivations than I included in Wintercraft, so I’m excited to see where his path takes him in the future, though I think he would be a very intimidating and terrifying man to meet face-to-face.

If Wintercraft was made into a movie, who would you like to see cast in the roles of Kate, Silas, Artemis, and Kalen?

Kate is a hard one to call, because I don’t know many actresses who are around her age.  Sarah Bolger from the Spiderwick Chronicles movie is quite close to how I saw Kate in the very beginning.  The others are much easier.  When I picture Silas I always see Michael Fassbender.  I think he would make a perfect Silas.  At a book signing just before Christmas, a reader told me that he pictured him as Silas too, which was quite spooky.  I would also love to see Jason Isaacs portray Artemis, and as for Kalen... anyone who wasn’t afraid to act vile and terrifying at the same time!  

How did you research for this book?  (I felt undertones of the Holocaust/WW evacuee trains when the Night Train was waiting, (with the level of terror/horror and myth around the Train -I'm wondering if it was just me?! Or if that's the time frame you used as a reference?) 

Those similarities were not a conscious decision, but you’re not the first to pick up on them.  I did read a lot about war when I was younger and the idea that those in power could abuse their people and cause so much suffering really stuck with me.  There was no specific time period I used as a reference point.  I wanted Albion to have its own timeline, where a society had been given the chance to go down a technological route and then abandoned it before technology really got started, which is why the Night Train, for example, is so old and has never been replaced.
Most of my major research for the story centred on the nature of death and the soul.  I read a lot about out-of-body experiences, death, and forms of divination, then added my own elements to develop the history of the Skilled and the world in which they exist.

Is this the end of the story for Silas...or do we get to see him in Wintercraft: Blackwatch also?

Silas will be back.  He plays a major role in Blackwatch.  His story is certainly not over yet.

Are you able to share an overview for Wintercraft: Blackwatch - and when will the book trailer be available to view?

Here is the book’s official synopsis from the publisher’s website.

Kate has escaped the clutches of the High Council and Silas has left Albion for the continent. But their lives are forever linked and as the veil weakens, causing Albion's Skilled to fear for everyone's safety, Silas and Kate find themselves drawn together by the mysterious and corrupt Dalliah Grey.

I really enjoyed writing the second book and I hope readers like it too.  Dalliah Grey is definitely a force for Silas and Kate to reckon with. 
I’m not sure if there is going be a book trailer for Blackwatch, but the trailer for Wintercraft would be a hard act to follow.  I loved every second of it.  If there is a new trailer it should be available a month or two before the publication day.  If I hear anything more, I will certainly let you and your readers know. 

Do you have any other plans for future books in the series, or any other books in the works?

The second book will be published in the UK in April this year and there is at least one more book to come after that, with the possibility of taking the series further if readers want to see more of Kate’s world.  I have started plans for what could be books four and five in the series, and I am working on another story set in a completely different world, which I am very excited about.  If all goes well, 2011 is going to be a very interesting year. 

Note from Michelle - Wintercraft: Blackwatch is due out April 2011, Wintercraft is titled Shadowcry (The Secrets of Wintercraft) in the US, and debuts June 2011 (as showning on Amazon).


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