Welcome to my stop on The Bitter Twins Blog Tour hosted by Headline. I had the amazing opportunity to put some questions to Jen Williams all about her latest release and Jen’s time as a fantasy author. Jen is halfway through another incredibly successful fantasy trilogy and I hope everyone who reads this post will consider adding The Ninth Rain and The Bitter Twins to their TBRs. This series is a lot of fun and I thoroughly enjoyed getting the chance to put some questions to Jen. I hope you like the Q&A and make sure you check out all the other blogs that are featuring The Bitter Twins this week for plenty of reviews. First a few details about Jen and The Bitter Twins, then on to the questions.
About Jen Williams
JEN WILLIAMS started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and hasn’t ever stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and her debut novel, The Copper Promise, was published in 2014 to huge acclaim. Jen was nominated in the Best Newcomer category at the 2015 British Fantasy Awards and her second novel, The Iron Ghost, was shortlisted for the 2016 British Fantasy Awards Novel of the Year award. All novels in the Copper Cat Trilogy, The Copper Promise, The Iron Ghost, and The Silver Tide, are available from Headline in the UK. The Ninth Rain is the first electrifying new novel of The Winnowing Flame Trilogy. Jen lives in London with her partner and their cat.
The Bitter Twins ~Synopsis~
The Ninth Rain has fallen. The Jure’lia are awake. Nothing can be the same again.
Tormalin the Oathless and the fell-witch Noon have their work cut out rallying the first war-beasts to be born in Ebora for three centuries. But these are not the great winged warriors of old. Hatched too soon and with no memory of their past incarnations, these onetime defenders of Sarn can barely stop bickering, let alone face an ancient enemy who grow stronger each day.
The key to uniting them, according to the scholar Vintage, may lie in a part of Sarn no one really believes exists – a distant island, mysteriously connected to the fate of two legendary Eborans who disappeared long ago.
But finding it will mean a perilous journey in a time of war, while new monsters lie in wait for those left behind.
Join the heroes of THE NINTH RAIN as they battle a terrible evil, the likes of which Sarn has never known.
Jen Williams Q&A
Thank you Jen for taking some time to answer some questions about your upcoming release The Bitter Twins which is book two in the Winnowing Flame trilogy. There was a brilliant response for The Ninth Rain and we are all excited for the return of the series. Could you give us your own personal overview of what we should expect in The Bitter Twins?
The end of The Ninth Rain saw some drastic changes for the world of Sarn, and now war with the Jure’lia is inevitable. The first war-beasts to be born in four hundred years are young and inexperienced, and our heroes have to assemble some sort of fighting force quickly, before all is lost… In short you can expect more snappy dialogue, more weird creatures, more sexy times and a lot more terrifying insectoid horror.
What was your initial inspiration for the Winnowing Flame trilogy?
As is often the case, it was an odd confluence of different inspirations. I knew that I wanted to write a series of books with a scholar at their heart, but I couldn’t picture them clearly in my head. I kept seeing them as young and male, which just wasn’t working – and then Vintage stepped into my head and her voice was as clear as it could be. At around the same time, I was reading a book on Chinese history and came across a description of an ancient city; once the most extraordinary city in the world, it had been abandoned, and overrun with weeds and wolves. This image, of a place completely forgotten and isolated, lodged itself in my head, and gradually became the heart of what is now Ebora.
How does it feel to be over halfway through your second trilogy?
Very weird! I swear we only just published The Copper Promise a few days ago… Time really has zipped by, and I’m not completely clear on where all these other books have come from, but I’m looking forward to writing the final chapter in this trilogy now. Completing two trilogies will require a massive party, I think.
What sort of challenges did you face when writing The Bitter Twins?
The second book in a sequence is hard for lots of reasons (I more or less sweated blood over The Iron Ghost). In The Bitter Twins, there are quite a few ‘point of view’ characters and a lot of personal stories happening concurrently, so there was a lot to keep track of. I used spreadsheets…
Did you always know you were going to become a fantasy author?
I always knew I wanted to be a writer, but I didn’t think I had the stamina to write books. Eventually though, after about two years of plugging away at it, I finally finished something. It was a terrible, terrible thing – written with no real idea who the main character was, or even really what genre it was – but it did have an ending, and once I knew I was capable of reaching the end, it was like a switch was flipped in my head. Now I know that writing books is exactly what I should be doing.
Do you have a particular character in the series that you especially enjoy writing about?
I love writing Vintage, because she takes no nonsense from anyone and does not suffer fools. In The Bitter Twins specifically, I really enjoyed writing Hestillion’s scenes, as she goes through a very intense and complicated experience, one that leaves her a very different person at the end of it.
Are there any authors that directly influence your fantasy writing?
Robin Hobb has always been a big influence, and I think it’s clearest in the Winnowing Flame books. I love the way she interweaves her world-building with her characters, and how she can take a character that is a complete nightmare (Malta, I’m looking at you) and make you love them so much by the end of a series that you would fight to the death for them. Guy Gavriel Kay’s books edged me towards writing epic fantasy, and Terry Pratchett was absolutely a formative influence.
How long does it take you on average to write a novel like The Bitter Twins?
Roughly a year, more or less – that’s including the first draft, the editing, the endless screaming and crying, the proof-reading etc.
If you had to pick another genre to write within, which would you pick?
I would love to write historical fiction, but I suspect I am just too lazy to do all that research…
Do you celebrate finishing your novels?
Yes absolutely. The nice thing is that there are generally several stages to finishing novels. So, there’s the time you finish your first draft, the time you finish the edit, the time you finish the proof read… and the final sign off. And the good news is you can get drunk for every single one of these!
Have you got a hobby/activity you do to wind down from all the writing?
I went to art college and studied illustration, so I do enjoy drawing whenever I get the chance to (which, sadly, is not often). My other relaxation of choice is playing complex and heart-rending RPG videogames by Bioware.
Finally, have you read a book/article recently that you would personally recommend to the readers of this post?
If you haven’t read it yet then I would certainly recommend R. J. Barker’s Age of Assassins – an unusual approach to fantasy with an unusual protagonist.
Thank you for stopping by to check out this interview with Jen Williams about her exciting new release The Bitter Twins. I am seriously enjoying watching the Winnowing Flame series unfold and I recommend everyone else jumping in too. I really appreciated the opportunity to do this Q&A so thank you to Jen and Headline for making it happen. Definitely check out the series and look out for all the recent and upcoming reviews that are happening all over this blog tour. 2018 fantasy is certainly off to a flying start.