Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.
I’m happy to welcome fellow Harper Voyager Impulse author Bishop O’Connell! He has a brand new book out in his American Faerie Tale series. You’ll want to start with The Stolen, then The Forgotten, Three Promises, and The Returned. If you love faerie stories (note the spelling), give his books a try!
- You’re well into your series now. Are the books getting harder or easier to write?
That’s a great question. One would assume, myself included, that as you get further into the series it would get easier to write, but that isn’t the case. It isn’t the stories that are hard though. I’ve got plans for several more books. The hard part is the foundation of the stories. Each is part of an overall series, and they do tell a larger tale, but I purposely set out to write each book so they could stand alone as well. I want readers to be able to pick up the series with any book and not be lost. This means that each book needs to summarize the events in the previous books, at least those relevant to the current story or character’s state of mind, without being a full on info dump. This is what is getting hard. I’m currently working on book four in the series, I count Three Promises as book 2.5, which means I have three novels, and at least a short story or two of events I need to include. True, I only need to include what the reader needs to know, but that gets increasingly more difficult as the series goes on. Much of who the characters are at this point is directly driven by events in previous books. It’s a fine line between exposition and info dump. I’m also learning that even if I did intend the series to be read in order, which does allow deeper understanding but isn’t required, that readers probably need to be reminded of events in books they might’ve read two years ago. The story ideas are getting easier though, and I’m really enjoying seeing the characters continue to grow and develop. Unfortunately, as I said, that’s part of why the background stuff is getting so hard to include in a succinct way. Thankfully I work with some really skilled editors who can help with this, and have done a great job. The Returned really is a tight, well-crafted story. In my eminently humble opinion.
- Which character of yours is your absolute favorite?
I’m sure like parents, writers aren’t supposed to favor one character over another…but I do. I just adore Wraith. I have so much fun writing her. She really came to life in The Returned. To the point that she almost seemed to write herself. I love her wit, her snark, and he determination. She’s also a badass, which is fun to write. I really have to say though, it’s her genuine “goodness” I really like. With her, I managed to create a character who has gone through some truly horrific things, but they didn’t break her. In fact, she came out the other end determined to help others, to do good, and try and counter the darkness she sees in the world. It can be hard to write a character like that without them coming off as unrealistic; a Pollyanna or Boy Scout. But Wraith just seems to take to this naturally. She is a genuinely good person. She’s caring, compassionate, but she has a temper and doesn’t suffer injustice lightly.
- This might delve into dangerous territory, but how should people spell “fairy?” Are you currently frothing because I spelled it like that?
*eye twitch, teeth grind* I’m fine.
Seriously, it’s not that big a deal to me. I spell it faerie, from the Irish spelling. For me, it breaks down like this. Fairys are the modern creatures from children’s stories. Think Tinkerbelle. In fact, many people hear the word fairy and think of her specifically. Disney has really done a number of the traditional faerie tale, softening it and making it more kid friendly for modern audiences. Faeries are the creatures from old lore and legends: elves, gnomes, sprites, pixies, dryads, red caps, giants, trolls. I’d even argue that Baba Yaga, and the witches from the old stories are actually faeries. To summarize, if you use fairy with me, I’m going to assume you’re talking about Disney characters and the like. If you use faerie, I’m assuming you’re talking about the real deal. Also, I reserve the right to correct you at every turn. Harry Heckel and I have a lot of fun correcting each other. I humor him even though he is spelling it wrong.
- Let’s talk you. Let’s talk beer. What are some of your favorite brews?
Yes, let’s! I really love beer. I’m long past my days of drinking to excess though. Now I enjoy beer because of the beer itself. The flavor and complexity of brews is a wonderful thing. Personally, I’m like my beers more malt forward over hop forward. I do not like IPAs. To me, it’s like getting hit in the face with a bouquet of flowers when I take a drink. But this is a great time to be a beer fan. There are so many great craft brews out there.
Over all, I love Cumbrian Real Ales. I found these while working in England a few years back. They’re brewed more traditionally, aren’t pasteurized, and are incredibly smooth. The bubbles are so small it’s like drinking water, they are truly refreshing. Sometimes you can find their like here in the states as “cask conditioned” ales. Theakston is my personal favorite and I’ve recently learned Old Peculiar is available in bottles here. Not the same as draught, but pretty good.
I also love me some Guinness, but I’d have my Irish heritage repossessed if I didn’t. The nice thing about Guinness is that it’s not just good to drink, but great for cooking. In fact, I shared my Beef and Guinness Vegetable soup recipe with you. It also mixes nicely with other beers. Most people know black and tans, though don’t ever call them that in Ireland. That’s Harp and Guinness. I prefer a Blacksmith, with is half Guinness, half Smithick’s ale. It also goes nicely with cider. Magners (or Bulmer’s as it’s called in Ireland) makes for a nicely balanced and refreshing summer drink. If you want something fancier, a black velvet is half Guinness, half champagne. They go so nicely with each other, though be warned, they can go to your head very quickly. I know many people who can put several pints of the dark stuff away before they get buzzed who are walking funny after just two or three black velvets.
Ciders are nice as well, I’m partial to Magners, Angry Orchard, and most recently I’ve grown fond of Bold Rock, a local Virginia brewer. Beer wise I like Newcastle Brown, Smithick’s, Boddington’s, Old Speckled Hen, Boulevard wheat, Tennet’s, Sam Adams (especially like their seasonal beers), Shiner Bock, and Harp.
All that said, while working in Indiana I discovered a local brewer called Iron Wood. They’re in Valparaiso and they make some truly amazing beers. Barb, the owner and brewmaster is really gifted. They have an Irish red that is great, and their dopplebock is to die for. She also makes her own mead, and even orange soda with cane sugar. In fact, a shandy of her wheat beer and the orange soda is a nice little treat.
- What writing projects are keeping you busy right now?
I have a couple of irons in the fire as it were. As I said above, I’m working on the next book in the American Faerie Tale series. It’s probably the biggest novel I’ve written, in terms of scope. It’s going to bring together a lot of threads laid out in earlier books and shift the story line pretty substantially. Some big changes are in store for Edward, Caitlin, and Fiona, not all good, and Wraith will find herself in a role, and at level of importance, she never saw coming. My hopes are that it will be released sometime early next year, but don’t hold me to that.
Additionally, I’m rewriting the first novel I finished. It’s a blend of high fantasy and urban fantasy. Meaning it starts in the modern age and then goes back to the middle ages. It’s a tie in to the American Faerie Tale series, and revolves around a character mentioned briefly in The Forgotten. It’s the first book of a trilogy. At first I thought I could get away with doing some edits and tweaks to get it ready for publication, but I learned that I’ve apparently grown quite a bit as a writer since them. This was both a source of pride, and dismay. Knowing I sent that book out to agents in the shape it was in is a little disconcerting, but I’m reworking it and I think it will make a great story.
On my to-do list, I also have a literary fiction piece I need to edit, and a fantasy-western short story I want to expand into a full novel, perhaps its own series. However I’m learning quickly that juggling multiple projects at ones isn’t easy, especially when you have a day job.
About The Returned:
Almost a year after their wedding, and two since their daughter Fiona was rescued from a kidnapping by dark faeries, life has finally settled down for Caitlin and Edward. They maintain a facade of normalcy, but a family being watched over by the fae’s Rogue Court is far from ordinary. Still, it seems the perfect time to go on their long-awaited honeymoon, so they head to New Orleans.
Little do they know, New Orleans is at the center of a territory their Rogue Court guardians hold no sway in, so the Court sends in Wraith, a teenage spell slinger, to watch over them. It’s not long before they discover an otherworldly force is overtaking the city, raising the dead, and they’re drawn into a web of dark magic. At the same time, a secret government agency tasked with protecting the mortal world against the supernatural begins their own investigation of the case. But the culprit may not be the villain everyone expects. Can Wraith, Caitlin, and Edward stop whoever is bringing the vengeful dead back to life before another massacre, and before an innocent is punished for crimes beyond her control?
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(Paperback release to come!)
Bishop O’Connell is the author of the American Faerie Tale series, a consultant, writer, blogger, and lover of kilts and beer, as well as a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Born in Naples Italy while his father was stationed in Sardinia, Bishop grew up in San Diego, California where he fell in love with the ocean and fish tacos. After wandering the country for work and school (absolutely not because he was in hiding from mind controlling bunnies), he settled Richmond VA, where he writes, collects swords, revels in his immortality as a critically acclaimed “visionary” of the urban fantasy genre, and is regularly chastised for making up things for his bio. He can also be found online at A Quiet Pint, where he muses philosophical on life, the universe, and everything, as well as various aspects of writing and the road to getting published.