Bryony Pearce’s debut novel, THE WEIGHT OF SOULS, will be out on August 6th from Strange Chemistry, and Bryony answered a few of my questions about the book, and more! Please give her a warm welcome!
There’s also an extract of the book below the post, so enjoy!
Welcome to the blog, Bryony!
Thank you for having me!
Will you tell us a bit about your new book, The Weight of Souls, and what inspired you to write it?
My new book is about a teenaged girl who has inherited a terrible family curse. It is Taylor’s fate to help the ghosts of murder victims by sending their killers to the Egyptian god Anubis for judgment.
Taylor has a hard time at home where her father thinks her ‘power’ is all in her head, and at school where she is bullied by Justin Hargreaves and his cronies.
Then her life gets a whole lot more difficult. Justin is murdered and his ghost begins to haunt her … but he has no idea who killed him.
Taylor has to solve the mystery of Justin’s murder so that he can move on … and before Anubis comes for her instead.
I wanted to write a very modern, urban book that also used my interest in Egyptian mythology and the supernatural. In The Weight of Souls I deal with an issue that is important to me; bullying, without making Taylor a helpless victim and without making the whole book about that single subject.
How did you celebrate when you found out that The Weight of Souls had sold?
When I found out I was in the park with my two children and my in-laws. Maisie was on the monkey bars and Riley was on the rope bridge. I dragged them off the equipment and had a huge hug with everyone. Then there was wine and take away food later.
What do you love most about your heroine, Taylor Oh?
I love her backbone of steel. I love how loyal she is to people she considers her friends and how much she gives away of herself as the book progresses, but also how she learns to let her steel bend a little, to allow herself to lean on others and accept what they have to offer in return.
What kind of research did you do for the book?
The book is set in London and I lived their for six years, but I had to do some visits back to the Capital to make sure things hadn’t changed too much since I moved away (I wanted to write about London now, not London ten years ago). I visited places that are key in the book: the Science Museum, Angel Tube Station, Shepherds Bush, Hammersmith and so on.
I did plenty of research into Egyptian mythology and archaeology and made up a bit of Egyptian mythology of my own to add to the story (Anubis’ rivalry with Horus).
Will you give us a glimpse of your writing process?
I am a plotter. I don’t even put pen to paper until I have a full story click into place in my head. Once I’ve had that Eureka moment I will drop everything (unless I am literally holding a baby in which case I put down carefully) and write a one page synopsis of the story. This makes sure I don’t forget the key points. Then over the next week or so I will expand the synopsis and write a chapter by chapter outline. Literally one or two paragraphs for each chapter. Then I will start writing the book.
With two small children I tend to write whenever I have a moment and being able to have a fully realised plot means that I know what I need to write each time I sit down with only half an hour or so to work.
What do you enjoy most about writing fantasy?
I love how I can deal with ‘issues’ without writing serious ‘issue fiction’. I really enjoy being able to include proper epic mythologies, grand battles between good and evil. I like to shock readers with twists and turns specific to my individual world.
If The Weight of Souls were to hit the big screen, who would you choose to cast the main characters?
I have written a blog post called MovieMaker for Serendipity Reviews, in which I choose the setting, director, soundtrack and whole cast. This post will be published on 4th Aug, so I won’t give too much away here. I did, however, decide that Taylor would be played by Katie Leung (a Scottish actress who played Harry Potter’s girlfriend Cho Chang) and that Justin should be Andrew Garfield (the new Spiderman).
In your bio, you mention quite a few of your favorite books. Out of all of those, without thinking about it too much, if someone asked you for a fantasy recommendation, what would be the first title out of your mouth?
David Gemmell’s Drenai Tales, Waylander or Lion of Macedon
I love the way he writes wonderful, memorable anti-heroes and his books are so readable.
Other than reading voraciously, how do you like to spend your free time, when you’re not writing, that is?
Free time, what’s that?
Honestly, I have two small children, so when I’m not cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring, entertaining, yelling etc, I am working. I do, however, love a good TV show or film, and many evenings will be found curled up in front of the television with a glass of wine. Our local town has something called Cinemac, which shows one film every couple of weeks and is cheap and local enough for me to justify a babysitter every so often. I do karate on Thursday evenings with the children (worryingly my daughter is better at it than I am), and as a family we have recently discovered a love of camping. We’re hoping to go this weekend in fact, assuming the weather holds out.
What’s next for you?
After the launch of The Weight of Souls my agent is hoping to talk my editor into buying the sequel and hopefully another book that has been sitting quietly, awaiting its moment. I am also in the process of editing a book called Wavefunction, which is based on multi-universe theory and Homer’s Odyssey and is a departure for me in that the protagonist is male. While I’ve been waiting for edits to come back on Wavefunction, I have started writing a new superhero novel for young adults.
There is always something new for me on the writing front.
I also have a family holiday to look forward to and I need to prepare for my son to start school in September.
I hope I haven’t bored you. If it is possible that you want to know more about me or my work, my website is www.bryonypearce.co.uk, my Twitter is @BryonyPearce and my Facebook page is BryonyPearceAuthor.
About THE WEIGHT OF SOULS:
16 year old Taylor Oh is cursed: if she is touched by the ghost of a murder victim then they pass a mark beneath her skin. She has three weeks to find their murderer and pass the mark to them – letting justice take place and sending them into the Darkness. And if she doesn’t make it in time? The Darkness will come for her… She spends her life trying to avoid ghosts, make it through school where she’s bullied by popular Justin and his cronies, keep her one remaining friend, and persuade her father that this is real and that she’s not going crazy.
And then Justin is murdered and everything gets a whole lot worse. Justin doesn’t know who killed him, so there’s no obvious person for Taylor to go after. The clues she has lead her to the V Club, a vicious secret-society at her school where no one is allowed to leave… And where Justin was dared to do the stunt which led to his death. Can she find out who was responsible for his murder before the Darkness comes for her? Can she put aside her hatred for her former bully to truly help him? And what happens if she starts to fall for him?