I recently connected with fantasy author R.J. Madigan and am thrilled to feature her on The Raven’s Quill. She has chosen a fascinating and unique route to shake up the fantasy scene and I can’t wait to see what comes of it!
So we’ll start with the … I’d say easiest question, but it’s not always. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I live in London with my husband and our rescue cat. My hobbies include sea kayaking, all kinds of cookery and volunteering for an incredible organisation called ‘Riding for the Disabled,’ which provides therapeutic horse riding for disabled children and adults living in the local community. I love all animals but my favourite in the world are elephants which I was lucky enough to see in the wild last year when I went on safari to South Africa.
Doing good works and living the dream? Sounds like a pretty great way to stay busy! When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
As a child I lived in books devouring the works of C.S Lewis, Roald Dahl, J.M Barry and Tolkien. Libraries were always a place I could escape to and truly be myself. I was lucky enough to have two incredible English teachers, one in primary school and the other in high school who both noticed and encouraged my talent for writing. Having always suffered with low confidence it wasn’t till after university when I joined a local creative writing group that I began to think seriously about being a writer.
Teachers really do make all the difference that that age. I’m glad you had someone in your life to encourage you. But you didn’t stop at writing, did you? You’ve opted for a very unique form of publication for The Sword of Air. Tell us a bit about the book.
The Sword of Air is an epic fantasy story. It follows sixteen year old Niamh who is forced to flee her home after her adopted grandmother is brutally murdered by the Raven Queen’s army of Fomors. Hunted by The Raven Queen, she must search desperately for the forgotten Fae people to help her. With only her best friend Rauri and an old storyteller for protection she must find allies and the strength within herself if she is to survive against the dark powers of the Raven Queen.
[Before you go any further, take a moment to watch the stunning book trailer that was done for this book]
Apple’s iBook format allows me to stand out from the crowd and do something that is next generation. By incorporating photos, video and sound I am able to create something that is not quite a book or a movie but something in-between. The iBook allows me to communicate my vision of the characters and the world they inhabit, making it a living experience for the reader.
I love this concept. What first gave you the idea to break the publishing mould and try something so innovative?
Apple have given everyone the iBooks author software for free because they have a very forward thinking strategy towards their users. This software enabled me to take my story and illustrate it in a way that isn’t possible in a normal book. It’s given me lots of world building creative options like music, video, 3D modelling and photography to colour my world so the reader has a much more visceral experience.
I was inspired by the Pharrell Williams quote ‘Kids today need a visual.’ Young people have so many distractions with TV, iPad’s, computer games, the internet and social media. When I was growing up it was nothing to sit for hours with a print book, but now kids need something more to engage them.
I was also inspired by the fiction of Issac Asimov and Neil Stephenson where books are more than just print. They come alive and talk to you, react and interact with you. The iPad really is science fiction made real. Decades ago people were writing about books you interact with and no one’s really taken advantage of this. I wanted to use it for my storytelling and the iPad makes this possible.
It won’t be long before kids will laugh at a book that doesn’t change or talk to them. Printed books will become a niche hobby like vinyl is today. It’s 15th century technology in a 21st century world.
I hope you’re not entirely correct in that regard 😉 But it’s great to create that middle ground option. How did you put it all together?
First of all I wrote the manuscript for The Sword of Air without any media input. Then I consulted ‘The Producer,’ to service suitable imagery and music for my story. We wanted to find music that matched the epic tone of the story. It was an iterative process, particularly to create the end chapter movies. I wanted to make sure they reflected the feel of the story at that point. We used iBooks author, iPhoto and iMovie to pull all the underlying constituent parts together into the final iBooks author manuscript.
Considering you have so many different media elements in your work, what does your writing process look like?
I always start with the characters, drawing up a character sketch for each one so that I learn how they would react in different situations. I read a lot of Irish mythology to help with the world building for The Sword of Air. Then I developed a skeletal outline for each chapter and went from there. I don’t plan everything like some writers do. The most exciting part of the writing process for me is when my characters start telling the story themselves. When the manuscript was complete I moved onto the editorial stage. ‘The Producer’ carried out an edit of the entire manuscript for me. Then we both sat down together and did the final edit on the iPad itself rather than on paper as this is how readers would experience The Sword of Air for themselves.
What’s next on the docket? Are you going to stick with the multi-media projects or try something different?
I am currently working on Book 2 of The Sword of Air so I will definitely be sticking with the multi-media projects for a while!
Now for a few fun questions: What is your worst form of procrastination while writing?
Daydreaming. I think all writers are daydreamers of some sort. I spend far too much time thinking about writing – walking through scenes in my head rather than actually putting them down on paper.
What is your favourite snack food while writing?
I love baking. It’s my meditation after a days writing so anything home baked like my chocolate and raspberry muffins or a slice of my blueberry cake with cream cheese frosting.
Excuse me while I wipe the drool from my chin. I don’t suppose you could ship some of that blueberry cake in the mail? No? Fine. So since we can’t come to you in your kitchen, where can people find you around the inter webs?
The Sword of Air is now available from the iBooks store
You can download the first three chapters of this book as a free sample to see if it is the kind of book you would enjoy reading.
I have a brand new website and blog at www.swordofair.net.
I also have an author page on Goodreads
Thank you for hosting an author Q & A with me on your amazing blog Krista!
Big thanks to R.J. Madigan for stopping by!