Category Archives: Interview

In which I am interviewed by Louise Rule

Today I was interviewed by Louise Rule for The Review, a blog which also has a Facebook group. The interview can be found at…

The topics covered a lot of ground but interestingly we talked a fair bit about the similarities and differences between my fiction writing and the academic thesis which came out first.

The interview opens with…

Q. You have an obvious passion for the ancient Middle East. Could you tell our readers what drew you to that time, what was it that captivated you?

A. Originally I got intrigued by the chronology of the ancient world, and looked into both mainstream views and some of the more alternative ones. But as I started to read actual ancient sources, initially in translation and then more directly, I abandoned chronology in favour of literature, especially poetry and its various forms. It is so much more fascinating! Plus, of course, it gives much more direct insight into the minds of people in the ancient world, rather than just modern ideas of how best to create an exact timeline…

Then we got into matters like whether researching a novel was the same as researching a thesis, the development of character and structure, ancient writing and its forms – even the Northern Line got a mention!

The Review banner image

Books on the Underground

I have previously posted about this scheme, in which authors contribute books which are marked with a distinctive sticker and then placed for public consumption on the London Underground. Loads of people read something on the Tube, if only the free Metro newspaper, so the scheme is a great idea. Check out the website for more details. Anyway, there have been two sightings of In a Milk and Honeyed Land in the last few days – at Earls Court on Monday, and Notting Hill Gate today. Let’s hope someone is enjoying the read…

Other news from the Orangeberry book tour –

  • An extract (first chapter) and brief description at The Book Connoisseur
  • An author interview and some blurb at The Reading Cat – the interview has some stuff about the forthcoming Scenes from a Life as well as more general things.

There’s more to come over the next few weeks… which should keep me quiet in between proof-reading and such like.

Orangeberry blog tour progress

Well, the Orangeberry tour is a few days in and so far there has been a variety of posts and the like. Before listing those, here’s a quick snap from the British Museum today (apologies for the slight glass reflection to be seen). This rather charming scene is of Nebamun’s anticipated garden in the afterlife, and as well as trees, fruit, birds etc features a goddess figure leaning out of one of the trees (top right) offering food and drink to Nebamun.

Nebamun garden scene

Anyway, the list of blog tour activities so far is as follows:

Full details of future items may be found at


Author interview – Marian Allen

Picture - Marian Allen You will no doubt remember that about a week ago I posted a review of Marian Allen’s Sage I – The Fall of Onagros. This is part of the August spotlight on Marian; see also the Readers meet Authors and Bloggers Spotlight group or for some details and a rafflecopter giveaway.

So for today’s post I asked Marian to be interviewed so we can get a bit more insight into her as a person and as a writer. Here we are…

So, Marian, when and how did you start to write for an audience?
I think I was in elementary school. I tried writing poetry, with my mother as my target audience. Everything I wrote, she said was “cute”. She said it with love, but I meant it to be deeply moving. I think that was when I began to think I should either add a touch of humor to my writing or, at least, PRETEND I was adding a touch of humor.

Tell us a bit about where you live now. Does the scenery feature in any of your books? After there any particular places you have loved or visited which have heavily influenced your writing?
I live in the woods, just outside a small town, not far from a city, so that pretty much covers all the bases. I set a lot of my stories in southern Indiana or in Kentucky because those are most of the folks I know.

Me: At this point I had to turn to the internet to get an idea what they look like – the only thing I could recall about Kentucky was that it has blue grass. But it seems that Indiana borders onto the Great Lakes and has lots of farmland, and Kentucky has lots of natural splendours that tourists might visit (as well as blue grass). They both have a lot of water and a relatively long and rather unsettled history, particularly during the early European settlement period and the American Civil war.

OK. Suppose that you are about to go on a long journey and can pack one book (not your own!). What would it be and why?
It would be Jerome K. Jerome’s THREE MEN IN A BOAT, TO SAY NOTHING OF THE DOG. That’s my #1 go-to book when I want a book to take me away from it all. It’s funny, it’s moving, it’s packed with history and travelogue. Wonderful Victorian book that was meant to be non-fiction, but Jerome couldn’t resist wandering off topic and making stuff up for fun.

Me: The first time I read this I was completely paralytic with laughter. It never had quite the same effect on subsequent reads but very nearly. When I was in school the ‘how do we open the tin’ passage was a routine part of the syllabus. Great stuff.

Tell us about one character from a book or film that you wish you had invented, or else would like to invite as a guest for a while.
I wish I had invented Steerpike from Mervyn Peake’s GORMENGHAST trilogy. I would most assuredly NOT want Steerpike as a guest, because he’s one of the worst people EVER! What a terrific character!

Me: I have never got around to reading Gormenghast but have been meaning to for ages.

You write in several genres (fantasy, science fiction and YA, I think), something that I would find really difficult. Do you have a favourite? Is it easy keeping them separate as you write about them? Is there one that you want to revisit in another book sometime?
It’s easy keeping genres separate, because I don’t really write in genres, unless I’m writing for a specific publication. For the most part, I write the story, and it is what it is.

Thinking specifically about Sage I: The Fall of Onagros now… did you imagine the world all at once or have you filled in details as you have gone along? Is there some part of the world that you want to write some more about one day? Who is your favourite character and why?
I imagined certain things about the world before I began writing, and “learned” more about it as I went along. I’d like to write about the lands outside Layounna, particularly Nishi, where Salali comes from. My favorite character … Tartarus was the most fun to write because he’s so awful, but Brady and Nerissa were fun, too, because they know who they are inside. And Florian of the Traveling Players, because he’s such an ACTOR.

Me: As I mentioned in my review, one of the many things I loved about the book was the breadth of imagination, and the way in which we are introduced to the world through many different people’s perspectives.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress?
I’m currently in edits on a YA paranormal, A DEAD GUY AT THE SUMMERHOUSE. An orphan approaching his 18th birthday is happy to be hired as companion/dogkeeper by a sweet little old lady until he meets her family. The last young man she hired ended up dead, and at least one person seems to think he’s carrying the dead man’s spirit around inside him.

Cover image - Sage I: The Fall of Onagros Sounds great – and very different to the Sage trilogy, or the other books of yours that I have come across. Thanks Marian, for the interview, and I hope things go well for you in the future.

To buy Sage I: The Fall of Onagros, check out (kindle edition) or (print edition).

For a rafflecopter giveaway navigate over to the Readers meet Authors and Bloggers Spotlight group or