Interview: Anne Lyle, author of The Prince of Lies (Night’s Masque)

The final book in Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque series, THE PRINCE OF LIES, is out tomorrow, and Anne was kind enough to stop by and answer a few of my questions!

Please welcome her to the blog!


Photo by Andy Fountain

Photo by Andy Fountain

The Prince of Lies is the 3rd, and newest, installment, in your Night’s Masque series! What can we expect to see from your hero, Mal Catlyn, in this book?
Readers of the first two books will know that Mal found out a lot about his past and has learnt some new skills that he’s starting to put into practice. He’s also taking the fight to the enemy at last, and you can bet that they don’t take it lying down, so although there are still moments of fun it’s definitely a darker book than its predecessors.

Will you tell us a little about yourself and your background? Have you always hoped to be writer?
Hmm, where to start? I’ve been a voracious reader ever since I can remember, and I started writing (mostly science fiction) around the time we stopped being asked/encouraged to write fantastical stories in school, i.e. in my early teens. So I was never aware of wanted to become a writer, because I already was! However soon after I started writing for pleasure I realised I wanted to be published one day, though I really had no idea where to start. So I got on with my education, studying zoology at undergraduate level, got sidetracked by Real Life and treated writing as just a fun hobby. Then I reached a big milestone birthday and realised that if I didn’t start taking things seriously, I never would get published. So I started attending writing groups and workshops, knuckled down to finishing a book, and eventually made the contacts I needed to get my manuscript in front of an editor. The rest is history!

How do you think Mal has grown since The Alchemist of Souls? What do you like best about him as a character, and why should we root for him?
Mal’s world view has broadened enormously over the course of the first two books; as so often happens in SFF, he’s discovered that there’s a heck of a lot more out there than was dreamt of in his philosophy (to quote one of his contemporaries). In many ways, though, he’s still the same old Mal: fiercely loyal to his friends but overconfident of his abilities, which tends to get him into trouble.

princeofliesSetting is a very large, and important, part of your novels. What kind of research have you done for the series?
I use a combination of online research, books, and visiting real-world locations such as the Tower of London and the Globe Theatre – one advantage of writing books set in my own country in a fairly recent era. However this is layered on top of a lifetime of interest in history and the theatre, so it wasn’t as difficult as if I’d had to start from scratch.

What, or who, have been some of the biggest influences on your writing?
Being such a voracious reader it’s hard to point to any one writer, although given his output I think Terry Pratchett can hardly have failed to be an influence. Not because I write similar fiction–I don’t–but because that combination of love of language and love of rich, very British characters has probably seeped into my subconscious without me even noticing.

If you could experience one book again, for the very first time, which one would it be?
I don’t have an answer to that, as I find I get so much more out of a good book on re-reading. For example I just re-read “The Lies of Locke Lamora” by Scott Lynch, and enjoyed it far more the second time around. On a first read I tend to devour a book for the plot; on subsequent re-reads I can take my time and enjoy the prose and characters better.

The Alchemist of Souls debuted in 2012, so that will be 3 books out in a little under 2 years! That’s quite a whirlwind! What have you enjoyed most about being a published author? Any big surprises along the way?
I think the best, and most humbling, part is hearing from readers who say not just that they enjoyed your book, but that it helped them get through a tough period in their lives by taking their mind off their problems. Anyone who says that genre fiction is “mere entertainment” lives far too cozy an existence, I’m afraid.

Big surprises, though? None, really. I’ve hung out enough (both online and off) with other writers who are ahead of me on the career path to know roughly what it was going to be like. On the other hand nothing can really prepare you for the emotional rollercoaster of rejection, acceptance, deadlines, good reviews, bad reviews, good writing days, bad writing days…it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but also the most satisfying.

When you’re not working on your next project, how do you like to spend your free time?
Free time? What’s that? I have a full-time job to pay the bills, so most of my “free” time is spent either writing, doing book-related admin and promo work (like this interview), or attending/prepping for conventions (which is enormous fun but also counts as work these days)…What little time I can spare from all that I spend catching up on my reading or just flaked out watching TV – usually something SFF or a history documentary.

What’s next for you (and Mal!)?
What’s next for Mal? Well, that would be spoilers for Book 3! All I can say is that the trilogy is complete and I have no immediate plans to write more stories in that world. I’m currently working on a new fantasy series set in a secondary (i.e. invented) world, but I can’t say much more than that since it’s still in the planning stage – I don’t expect to have another book out until 2015 at the earliest.

Keep up with Anne: Website | Twitter

Elizabethan spy Mal Catlyn has everything he ever wanted – his twin brother Sandy restored to health, his family estate reclaimed and a son to inherit it – but his work is far from over. The renegade skraylings, the guisers, are still plotting – their leader, Jathekkil, has reincarnated as the young Prince Henry Tudor. But while he is still young, Mal has a slim chance of eliminating his enemies whilst they are at their weakest.

With Sandy’s help, Mal learns to harness his own magic in the fight against the guisers, but it may be too late to save England. Schemes set in motion decades ago are at last coming to fruition, and the barrier between the dreamlands and the waking world is wearing thin…

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