Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from novelists around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the talented writer, Faith D. Lee, author of the fantasy novels, “The Fairy’s Tale” and “The Academy.”
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in London with my cats and my husband – it’s a constant state of flux which of them has top priority, to be honest. Who I am kidding? It’s the cats!
I write fantasy novels in the Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde vein, but I struggle to think of the exact genre, which makes marketing a lot of ‘fun’. My series, The Pathways Tree, is an ongoing story about the sinister world behind fairy tales and myths. Think the old, pre-Disney blood-and-bones type fairy tales with a dash of dystopian politics and a sprinkle of Gothic and you’ll be there! A reviewer once described my first novel, The Fairy’s Tale, as “Cinderella meets 1984” and I think that’s pretty accurate.
I’ve also just finished a PhD looking at the importance of storytelling and why literature needs multiple voices and representations. I looked specifically at Self-publishing, of which I am a huge advocate, and how this new publishing method is breaking down the gates and allow more varied literature to reach readers.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Not much! I write a lot, usually about a thousand words a day, so that takes up a lot of my spare time. I am a geek, and in a number of fandoms, so that also keeps me busy, I love the theatre and go as often as I can afford to. And reading, of course – SF and fantasy are my go-to genres, but I’ll happily read most things if I think the characters are interesting. I’m a reader (and a writer, I suspect) who really focuses on character; I don’t mind if they’re good or bad, as long as they seem real.
3. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
A little bit of both. With all my novels, I always know what the overall arc is going to be, and where the main beats are. I then spend time working on my characters, developing character sheets and so on, before I start writing. At that point, I just write! I think it’s important to get the first draft done and not to worry too much if it isn’t perfect – that’s what draft two is for. I tend to have three or four drafts of a novel before I decide it’s finished.
4. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Blimey, yes! Tonnes! Like most bookish people, I read voraciously as a teenager. But Terry Pratchett is absolutely my favourite author – I have read and re-read all of Discworld novels and most of his non-DW books. I think the thing that makes Terry so wonderful is how layered and clever his writing is; the fact you can pick up something new every time you read one of his books is a testament to his genius. He also wrote about very real people facing very real problems, albeit they’re witches, dwarves, trolls or wizards (or a wizzard!) I think you can see his influence in my writing and also in the way I look at and think about the world. I was also lucky enough to meet him on a few occasions at signings, and he was a wonderful, friendly man. In fact, I met one of my dearest friends in a queue at a Terry signing, so not only did he gift me with hundreds if not thousands of hours of happiness with his books, but he also gave me one of my best friends.
5. Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
To be honest, it’s a mixture of the both. Writing fantasy, of course, a lot of my world and its lore is created by my imagination. However, in terms of the emotional experiences of the novel and the journeys the characters take, I always draw on my own feels and experiences. I’m sometimes asked if my characters are based on anyone, or if any one specific character is me, but the truth is that they’re all me – or aspects of me, anyway. Bit worrying thing to consider when I think about some of the villains I’ve written! But then, I think a good villain, like any good character, needs to come from somewhere real. I’m probably aided in this as I trained many years ago in the theatre, so I draw a lot on the techniques I learned to get into each character’s mindset. However, this does backfire sometimes! I’ve one long-running villain, Julia, who I find it very uncomfortable writing scenes for as being inside her head is such a nasty, cold, calculating place to be. My husband always knows when I’ve done a Julia scene as I tend to dance around the house trying to shake her off once it’s finished!
6. What project are you working on now?
I’m just redrafting “The Princess and The Orrery,” the third novel in my Pathways Series books. I’ve enjoyed writing this one a lot as a couple of characters I’m very fond of take centre stage in this book, and it also sees the return of someone we’ve not seen in a while. I’m also writing the first draft of a new novel, “Rez-Q Me,” which is a mystery/detective novel that follows a superhero trying to make a living from saving people in a world were all heroes are rated on an app, and the more stars you get, the better ‘rescues’ you can apply for. A draft of the first chapter is up on my website (https://www.fdlee.co.uk/rezq-me) if anyone would like to check it out! Last but not least, I’m also working on a long-standing SF novel, “In The Slip.” This has taken a bit longer to get right, but I’d prefer to take a while and publish something I’m happy with than rush it out.
7. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write! It’s such old advice, but that’s because it’s true. Get that first draft written – don’t worry about every line being perfect or every plot-point lining up. You can fix all that in the redrafts. But if you don’t get that first draft written, you’ll never have anything to fix.
8. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Yes! Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and for taking Bea and the gang into your hearts! Writing can be a very lonely, very nerve-wracking experience, and I hope that my readers know just how much it means to hear from them. I’m very lucky in that my readers are a really friendly, supportive bunch – it motivates me to keep writing even on days when I want to pull my hair out or am having a massive imposter syndrome moment. So a huge, huge thank you to each and every one! You all make it worthwhile xx
Please join me in thanking Faith for her insightful peek into her life as an author and for sharing some of her experiences. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Faith via the following links.
Please show your appreciation by checking out Faith’s work:
Readers can pick up a complete, unabridged copy of The Fairy’s Tale for free if they choose to sign up to my newsletter at http://www.fdlee.co.uk
However, if they prefer to purchase a copy, here are the links!
The Fairy’s Tale (Amazon): https://amzn.to/2LgNrwF
The Fairy’s Tale (Kobo): https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-fairy-s-tale-2
The Academy (Amazon): https://amzn.to/2JnKAAb
The Academy (Kobo): https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-academy-39
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