Emma Newman is the author of 20 Years Later and From Dark Places, and her brand new book,the first in the Split Worlds series, Between Two Thorns, just came out from Angry Robot Books. Emma was kind enough to answer a few questions about the book, and keep an eye out tomorrow for a short story in the Split Worlds universe!
Your brand new novel, Between Two Thorns, just came out from Angry Robot Books! Will you tell us a bit about it and what inspired the story?
It’s an urban fantasy novel which could be described as the aristocratic side of Downton Abbey but with mad sorcerers and evil faeries. I was recently asked to describe it in 140 characters and came up with this: Urban fantasy – and a dash of noir – with feuding dynastic families, supernatural patrons, mad sorcerers, evil faeries and nice cups of tea.
Of course, being the author, I find it excruciatingly difficult to sum up Between Two Thorns neatly. I’m always seized with the urge to wave my hands around and say “It’s about this secret world called the Nether that’s hidden between the real one, Mundanus and the Fae prison, Exilium and there are these families and etc, etc” to finish five minutes later.
It all grew out of a short story I wrote about a Shopkeeper, a faerie trapped in a bell jar and a clueless customer.
Was there one character in Between Two Thorns that you particularly enjoyed bringing to life?
I enjoyed all of them, but one in particular stands out; Lord Poppy, who is the Fae patron of one of the main characters. It was fun writing a character who is so powerful and so inhuman that dealing with him is horribly nerve wracking and very risky.
Did you do any sort of research for the novel?
I did a lot of location research as I’m rather obsessive about getting places right in stories and I like to find detail about what a place looks like and its history to weave into the world. I also read a lot about manners and etiquette of various time periods.
A lot of research went into the backstory about how the Split Worlds, the Sorcerers and the Great Families came into existence, but very little of it is laid out in the first novel – I just needed to make sure it all fit in with historical events. More of it will be revealed as the series goes on.
Do you already have in mind how many books you’d like to write in this series?
I do… and that’s all I’m going to say. (Sorry!)
What do you love most about writing fantasy?
Urban fantasy is a wonderful way to bring magic into mundanity. When I walk around towns and cities I see them completely differently, thanks to writing the Split Worlds novels. It’s my hope that readers will experience something like that too. I like to live in a world where it feels like something magical and unexpected could happen in a completely normal, boring place. I think that’s why I prefer urban fantasy to any other flavor of the fantasy genre.
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
I read a lot of books, mostly science-fiction and a bit of urban fantasy too – though I’m very, very picky when it comes to the latter. I’d like to think that everything I’ve read has influenced me in one way or another. Amongst my favourites are Ray Bradbury’s short stories, Murakami, Orwell and John Wyndham.
If you could experience one book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
That’s a tough question! It would either by Shogun by James Clavell (I am *still* in love with Blackthorne) or A Fraction of the Whole by Steve Toltz. No – the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. No! 1984. What am I thinking? It’s definitely Day of the Triffids… or The Kraken Wakes. Damn… can I have more than one?
If I could experience a short story again for the very first time it would be “A Sound of Thunder” by Ray Bradbury.
How do you like to spend your free time (when you manage to find some!)?
I love to roleplay but now all my RPG friends and I are living so far apart with families and busy lives there’s less of that than I’d like. Recently I’ve been playing Borderlands 2 to unwind in the evening. I also like designing and making my own clothes. I make them in the run up to big conventions to help keep the nerves in check and then I have something a bit different to wear which often helps to break the ice when meeting new people.
What’s next for you this year (and beyond!)?
Well, the second and third books in the Split Worlds series are coming out this year so it’s very busy in terms of promotion and recording the audio book versions (I’m an audio book narrator too). I have a book that I’m just desperate to write that I can’t talk about yet. Oh and another one. Then when they’re done there are two ideas for trilogies that I’m dying to get stuck into. And I’m going to nine conventions this year, two of which are in the States. Oh yeah, I’m thinking about starting a podcast too.
About BETWEEN TWO THORNS:
Something is wrong in Aquae Sulis, Bath’s secret mirror city.
The new season is starting and the Master of Ceremonies is missing. Max, an Arbiter of the Split Worlds Treaty, is assigned with the task of finding him with no one to help but a dislocated soul and a mad sorcerer.
There is a witness but his memories have been bound by magical chains only the enemy can break. A rebellious woman trying to escape her family may prove to be the ally Max needs.
But can she be trusted? And why does she want to give up eternal youth and the life of privilege she’s been born into?