BY FOX MEADOWS
blurb of Solace and Grief
Solace Morgan was born a vampire. Raised in foster care, she has always tried to keep her abilities secret, until an eerie encounter with a faceless man prompts her to run away. Finding others with similar gifts, Solace soon becomes caught up in a strange, more vibrant world than she ever knew existed. But when the mysterious Professor Lukin takes an interest in her friends, Solace is forced to start asking questions of her own. What happened to her parents? Who is Sharpsoft? And since when has there been a medieval dungeon under Hyde Park?
What is Solace and Grief all about? Can you tell us a little more about its genre?
Solace and Grief is the first book of Rare, a YA urban fantasy trilogy. The main character, Solace Morgan, is a seventeen-year-old girl raised in foster care; she’s also a vampire, something she’s so far managed to keep secret. When an eerie encounter with a faceless man prompts her to run away, Solace finds herself living with a new group of friends, all of whom are something slightly more than human. But her new life has its own dangers, too – and some of them have to do with Solace’s parents.
What gave you the incentive to write this book?
I grew up reading epic fantasy, and so didn’t really discover urban fantasy until university. The idea for Solace’s story came when I was working as a legal secretary. I’d been watching a lot of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and thought it would be interesting to try and create my own vampire mythology: one where being a vampire wasn’t enough to make you evil, but where serious villainy could still occur as a result of being a vampire. In Solace’s world, what makes vampires mad and bad is human blood, which is powerfully addictive. Drink it for too long, and not only does it become steadily impossible to feed on anything else, but you start to go crazy, too.
Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
Vampires, shenanigans and sarcasm in an alternate Sydney filled with magic doors, mind-altering nepenthe, secrecy and danger.
What makes this difference from other Vampire stories?
Here are the two most obvious points: it’s not a romance, and it’s not set at school. Also, there’s more magic in the mix than just vampires.
Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
Some characters do remind me of various friends, but that wasn’t a deliberate decision – often, I’ve only noticed afterwards. The one exception is a feline character who is directly based on one of my cats. I didn’t plan for her to be part of the story, but when I was stuck, she just strolled into the scene and refused to leave – much after the fashion of her real-life counterpart!
What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
I won’t quote verbatim, because the dialogue would be spoilery, but there’s a scene on top of the Sydney Opera House of which I’m rather fond; and I do enjoy dream sequences.
Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
I don’t have an agent, though that was less a deliberate decision on my part than a consequence of how things worked out. At the time I submitted Solace and Grief
to Ford Street, I was also looking up agencies, too – it just happened that I ended up with a publisher first.
Tell us a little about your publisher, Ford Street. How did you find them? How helpful have they been?
I found Ford Street online, and recognised the name of the founder, Paul Collins, as the editor of one of my favourite fantasy anthologies as a teenager. They’ve been tremendously helpful in terms of providing promotional opportunities, and because they publish only children’s and young adult novels, there’s a real sense of care for and awareness of the intended market.
What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
Signings, writing articles, interviews and reviews, and blogging, though I’ve been doing the latter independently for a while now. Having an online presence is really important for any new author, I think – not only because it makes it easier for readers to find out more about your work, but because it’s a great way to get in contact with other writers in your community. Twitter is especially useful.
How long does it take you to write a book?
The first draft of Solace and Grief
– which, bear in mind, was about 20,000 words shorter than the finished product – took me three or four months, with another seven or more of editing and revision after that, plus further back-and-forth with Ford Street and my editor. The sequel, The Key to Starveldt,
has taken a lot longer, mostly because I went through about four rejected drafts before I finally handed it in; polishing and responding to feedback is still to come. But then, when I was overseas recently and a Lady of Leisure, I managed to write a full draft for an adult fantasy novel in exactly one month, which I’ve been editing in odd moments ever since – so I guess it depends on the story!
How far have you into writing your next novel, The Key to Starveldt? Is it a follow on to Solace and Grief?
The Key to Starveldt
is the second volume in the Rare,
and a direct follow-on from the events of Solace and Grief.
Right now, I’m in the process of editing and updating the manuscript in response to my editor’s comments – the book itself is currently scheduled for release in 2011. The third and final volume of the series, Falling Into Midnight
, is planned out, but still being written.
Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Characters, usually. I’m very much a name nerd, so if I hear a name I like, I start to think about what sort of character it might belong to, who they are and what they do, and – when I have some answers to those questions – what sort of world they inhabit. Then I start to populate and plot the story.
How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
I’ve always written, and always wanted to write. I decided when I was twelve or so that my goal in life was to become a published author – I dreamed of other careers at various times, but always in the knowledge that no matter what, writing would still be part of my life.
What mistakes do you see new writers make?
Being a new writer myself, I’m not really in a position to comment on the foibles of others, but something I’ve learned as part of my own initiation into authorness is the importance of relaxing. It’s very easy to live in a state of constant anxiety about your first book – how it’s selling, whether people like it, if you made any mistakes in the plot, if you should’ve written a different story altogether, if you won’t be able to do as well next time – but while those are all important things to think about, it puts too much emphasis on the first book as the only book. I’d be very disappointed if Solace and Grief
turned out to be the best thing I ever wrote. I’m new at this. There’s a lot of room left for development, and really, that’s how it should be. So rather than fret about what mistakes I might’ve made and how they might hurt Book One, the best thing to do is breathe deep, take the self-criticism on board and apply it to whatever I’m writing next.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Starting a story is easy. Finishing a novel is harder. Pitching a book is like masochism. There is no magical editor-fairy scanning the hard-drives of aspiring writers, looking for stories to take back to their publisher-master. Persevere, and when it gets tough, trust the words, and trust your characters. They’re what matters. But always submit. And keep a sense of humour!
Foz Meadows is a bipedal mammal with delusions of immortality. She likes cheese, geekery, writing, webcomics and general weirdness. Dislikes include Hollywood rom-coms, liquorice and the Republican party. Her blog, Shattersnipe, is updated with occasional regularity. Foz currently lives in Melbourne with not enough books, two insolent cats and her very own philosopher. Surprisingly, this is a good thing.
Foz Meadows debut novel, Solace and Grief, YA urban fantasy was released in March 2010 by a small Australian publisher, Ford Street, and she has recently signed a contract with them for the second book, The Key to Starveldt.