This week I bring to you a bonus interview from a good friend of mine. She’s been very busy as of late but managed to get her to sit still for just a few minutes to answers some questions!
Hello Ciara! Welcome to the Fifth Tower. It’s been a while since we last sat down and talked. How have you been?
Life’s been busy. Work. Kids. New books. What can I say except that there is so much buzzing around in my head right now I can’t keep track of it all. The biggest things going on are making sure I meet the release date for my new book, which is Sept 22, and at the same time I am also doing a complete website revamp and rebrand.
You’ve got a new novella coming out soon called Stalking the Demon. What can you tell us about that?
It’s the sequel to my novella, Confronting the Demon. Each book is a self-contained story about the same characters, but the second story springs out of the first. You could quite correctly say that the events in Stalking the Demon wouldn’t have happened but for the events in Confronting the Demon. So you can read the first one and quite happily stop with a story resolution – if you want to.
In Stalking the Demon, Alloran is struggling to find a cure for a mysterious illness threatening to kill the woman he loves, and stabilise the failing structure of the seven hells. Someone is sabotaging his every move, but even worse – all the answers he needs are locked away in hell.
While Stalking the Demon is still short, it’s quite a bit longer than the first book in the series. It’s probably technically moved into short novel length.
You’ve mentioned that this is going to be a series; Confronting and Stalking are the first two. How many are you planning on doing?
I have ideas for four books at the moment. I thought they would all be the same length as Confronting the Demon, which is 25,000 words, but since Stalking the Demon has just cracked 40,000 I am beginning to wonder if the third and fourth books will still be short or not…. I have seeds of ideas for them but I haven’t actually planned the books out at this stage. There is always potential for more, as well, but I do intend to keep it as a series of self-contained books. My full-length novels are the ones where the stories span multiple books.
On your blog, Flight of the Dragon, you have a feature called, “Monday Morsels”. Share with us that idea and what’s currently posted there.
It allows readers to see excerpts from the first drafts of my works in progress as I write. They excerpts are short, sometimes as little as ten sentences, and they are not contiguous – so while I generally post them in chronological order, there might be whole chapter between one excerpt and the next. This is really just about giving readers a taste of what’s coming next.
The excerpts available now include some from Stalking the Demon, which is the short novel to be released in September, and also from a full-length epic fantasy novel I’m working on called In the Company of the Dead.
What progress have you made on your full-length novel, In the Company of the Dead?
I’m 60% of the way through the first draft. I can’t see the plot needing nearly as much reworking and rewriting as Stalking the Demon (which I almost completely rewrote twice) so hopefully the revisions and edits stage won’t be so painful.
Share with us what that’s about and how soon we can see it available.
Lyram is third in line for the throne, but after an altercation with the crown prince (involving the murder of his wife and a right hook to the prince’s jaw) he’s been exiled to a remote castle on the border in disgrace. He’s intent on drowning his woes in whiskey when a mysterious army arrives to besiege the castle. He believes it’s an attempt to by the prince to remove him permanently; his men think he’s losing the plot. Things really get interesting when the Battle Priestess of the death goddess arrives to protect Lyram from a necromancer dedicated to the evil god of decay. She has a secret – and he’s on the brink of compounding his problems with the prince by crossing a goddess.
I’m hoping to finish the first draft this year and have it available next year.
During the day, you are a lawyer. Have any of your ideas come from work?
Um…. No. I wish I could say otherwise, but no. I practice corporate law in the financial services sector, so it’s a little dry. The only thing I can say is that there are some references to criminal conduct and gross negligence in Stalking the Demon and that knowledge comes from my legal background.
Besides work and homelife, what do you do to get out and away from everything?
Well…. There’s books. And writing. And sad to say not much else. There isn’t a lot of time left after work, commuting (which doubles as my writing time), home and kids. I love country music, and I enjoy singing, both of which I get to do to some extent in the car – except, of course, that now audiobooks are competing for that time. I enjoy horse-riding, but I gave up my horse after my first child. I love karaoke, but there’s not much time for that either. Probably the thing I do most after reading and writing is watch movies. My husband prefers a more visual medium so that’s our shared story time.
The world of publishing has come a long way. Where do you see it headed in the next five years?
That’s a good question. I think traditional publishers need to pick up their game. If they don’t, they’ll go the way of Kodak. They need to realise they are selling stories and information, not books, and stop protecting their paperbacks at the expense of ebooks.
At the same time, they are still offering deals to authors like they have a protected market. Authors are already starting to realise that there is no value in taking a deal with a publisher where they get little to zero marketing support and poor royalties so they basically have to market the book themselves, but without the control that allows self-pubbed authors to do so effectively e.g. the ability to run sales and give discounts.
Traditional publishers either need to learn to market ebooks better, or need to stop acquiring ebook rights, as I see a decline in authors accepting bad ebook deals just to get the deal for print.
Do you ever see the demise of “Brick and Mortar” bookstores with the rise of ebooks?
Not immediately…. Too many people still say they prefer the feel of a real book. But it won’t stay that way – more and more of the newer generations will grow up with ebooks accepted as the norm. Bookstores might disappear then.
If brick and mortar bookstores want to survive they need to start adapting too. I still like the idea of browsing aisles, and many other readers do too. Maybe there is scope for physical displays of virtual books. It would be difficult to sell ebooks and add a mark-up from Amazon, but maybe bookstores can offer book displays and book advice but sell something else – food and drink is the first idea. Offer free wi-fi, so people can come in wirth their kindle, browse the shelves, buy the ebook from the retailer of choice, and stay and read over unch or a coffee.
That wouldn’t be enough in itself – book stores would need to be offering other add-on products, and I’m afraid at this point my creativity fails me and I don’t know what they would be. Maybe merchandise from books. This might move the local bookstore more in the direction of comic book stores, where you can buy all the paraphernalia and merchandise to match. I still think there’d need to be more to it. But it would be nice to see bookstores survive as they are a good venue for author signings and other activities for readers.
If you had the chance to co-write a novel with any writer, who would it be and what would be the plot of the story?
Good question…. I would have loved to write a book with Terry Pratchett. He’s a total comedic genius and I’m not, so it would have been interesting to see what would have resulted. I really can’t guess at the plot – I think that’s something that would evolve from the collaboration of two authors.
If you were given full backing to make one of your stories into a major motion picture, which one would you choose, who would direct, and why to both?
Maybe Deathhawk’s Betrayal. It’s an assassin fantasy, so you could make it like a spy thriller fantasy, which makes it appealing to a wider audience. It’s also light on magic, so there’s less CGI needed – which means less room for bad special effects or totally botched CGI, which are areas where fantasy novels can fall down as movies. Magic and the like has to be done flawlessly for a fantasy movie to be believable. And it has a kick-arse female lead.
The director is harder. I really don’t pay that much attention to directors, and I’ll admit I’m really not all that clear as to how directors influence films – as in, I can’t look at two directors and say we’ll he’d do it this way, but he’d do it that way. I’m clueless. Maybe Ridley Scott.
What’s on the horizon for your writing?
Well there’s the next two books in the Seven Circles of Hell after Stalking the Demon, there’s two more books (at least) in Vows of Blood after In the Company of the Dead. A Magical Melody is a short story that appears as a bonus in confronting the Demon and that’s the first movement in the Symphony of Magic. There’ll be three more movements to complete the symphony, and then a full-length novel to link all the characters together.
Those are just the projects I have currently published something in. Apart from that I also have three other fantasy series – The Deathhawk Trilogy, which is the assassin one, The Nemesis Trilogy, which is a sequel trilogy but the protagonist in this one was only a minor character in The Deathhawk trilogy. I have another series of which the first book will be The Blood Infernal. It’s an epic fantasy with a strong angel/demon twist. There may also be a sequel series to Vows of Blood, and I have a prequel idea for the Nemesis Trilogy.
If you would like to obtain an ARC of Stalking the Demon, head over to Flight of the Dragon blog for details.
Ciara can be found at ciaraballintyne.com
Ciara on Twitter
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Ciara’s page on Amazon.com
BLURB for Stalking the Demon
Alloran lost his hand to thwart his renegade friend–but the world is still going to hell.
Six months after Ladanyon’s defeat, Gisayne is fading away from a baffling illness. Alloran is desperate for a cure, but he has a secret–the seven circles of hell are unstable. His worst fear is that the terrible mirror spell cast upon Gisayne has wrought some connection between her and the demon dimensions.
As everything Alloran loves races toward destruction, he does the unthinkable and refuses to obey the council of wizards. The only people who can help him are the two research assistants assigned by the council–but he knows he can’t trust them.
All the answers are locked away in the last place anyone wants to go: hell.
Ciara Ballintyne sings American country music with an Australian accent and is slave to two cats who believe they are gods – but who graciously permit her husband and two daughters to reside with them. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and for her sins has been a practising financial services lawyer since 2004. She is both an idealist and a cynic.
She started reading epic fantasy at the age of nine, when she kidnapped Castle of Wizardry by David Eddings from her father. Another two years passed before she began her first attempts at the craft of writing. Confronting the Demon is her debut book.
She enjoys reading, horse-riding, and speculation about taking over the world. If she could choose to be anything it would be a dragon, but instead she shares more in common with Dr. Gregory House of House. M.D. She is a stalwart defender of the Oxford comma.
This concludes this interview and post! Feel free to share any questions or comments that you might have. More interviews in the future!