Author Interview

February 20, 2021 maddoctorartist 0 Comments

Author Interview

Want to know about the author behind the Chronicles of Azarai series? Then you've come to the right place! Feel free to ask any additional questions, but for now enjoy my interview...I gave a modified version of this to author A.F.E Smith- check the link to find out more about her books!

First of all, let’s learn a little more about you. Which three words would you use to describe yourself? Which three words would other people use to describe you?
Oh God I feel like I’m on an online dating site…let’s see. I’d say Intelligent, Creative and Introverted. Other people would probably go along the lines of Dependable, Reserved and Talented.

What’s your favourite genre/subgenre to read? To write? Why?

I like reading fantasy (well duh!) but more middle/ light fantasy as opposed to ye olde sword ‘n sorcery fare. I find high fantasy extremely stagnant as a genre and most people try to clone the big writers like J.R.R. Tolkein or George R.R. Martin rather than push things forward.

Writing-wise I prefer YA fantasy, but I am working on a dystopian collaboration with a friend, and I have some other fantasy ideas outside of YA I'd like to try as well.

THE GODDESS'S BINDING features an ancient curse that causes people to fall in love with each other, whether they want to or not. What was your inspiration for that idea?
The original idea for The Goddess's Binding came when I was taking some blood samples to the lab during my first hospital job. I just had a scene emerge in my mind—a girl sitting alone in a forest, because she wanted to protect her heart. I can probably say the game Kingdom Hearts might have had an influence on this (as the name suggests there’s lot of stuff about ‘heart’ in it). The game itself also isn’t told chronologically, which is also how I’ve planned the Azaria series to read (Eliza’s time is the third ‘era’ of four I plan to explore).

A more cynical part of me says that this is also my retaliation to every romance book ever where the two characters fall in love instantly on first sight; turning it into a curse just made it more obvious how silly I find that premise!

Tell us a bit more about Eliza, the main character in THE GODDESS'S BINDING. Do you think you would get on with her if the two of you were to meet?
Eliza is the youngest daughter of a village healer, an otherwise ordinary teenager. Given her father's status, she's picked up a lot of medical knowledge for her age, and is his unofficial apprentice. She was planning to go to Begara, Azaria's most esteemed university, to study the subject formally, however her plans were disrupted due to an accident involving her elder sister, Fiona, and the Binding.

Due to these experiences, Eliza is somewhat cynical, but remains a massive daydreamer, constantly thinking over things and over-analysing situations. As such, she's also quite a worrier. She can also be pretty selfish and isn’t really intuitive about other people’s feelings.

Eliza and I share quite a bit in common (being medically trained and prone to over-analysis of everything) so I reckon we’d hit it off pretty well if we met!

You’re thrown into your own fantasy world, Azaria. What do you do first?

Well, it would depend which era I’d be thrown into! Since I haven’t covered the other three however we’ll stick with Eliza’s time period. I think the first thing I would do is find a way to get to the market city Dhjerba and shop til I dropped (since that’s what I love doing most when not doctoring!).

You’re a doctor as well as an author. Do you find that your medical knowledge comes through into your writing? Do you get frustrated when you read about improbably fast healing times or characters continuing to function with wounds that should have debilitated them for weeks?
My medical knowledge has definitely influenced my writing and in fact forms one of the core themes of the Azaria series, though it may not be obvious.

While I do roll my eyes at heroes walking with broken legs or nasty lacerations that heal in days and not months (not to mention major blood loss never causing anaemia...), the main thing that annoys me about medicine in fantasy is the stagnation of treatments available.

Nobody seems to want to innovate in healing and everyone loves to write about ‘herbs’ or play it safe with magic healing without exploring the consequences. This was one of the reasons that led me to create the ‘iasometer’ device in The Goddess's Binding (this measures the vital signs of pulse, blood pressure and temperature), and why I made the effects of magic toxic (again another key theme for the Azaria series). People forget that medicine has come very far in a very short amount of time (with a long way to go admittedly) but are more than happy to let their medieval settings sit in a time rut of blood-letting and evil spirit warding!

Can you tell us a bit more about your art? How long have you been creating digital illustrations? Can you share an image you’re particularly proud of?
I’ve always loved drawing since I was young. The first drawings I ever did were of Sonic the Hedgehog (a franchise I am still a big fan of!). At school however I was always frustrated in Art because I had to draw inanimate objects and never got taught the proper fundamentals, so I dropped the subject at 15 and have been entirely self-taught through online tutorials and my own experimentation. From pen and paper I’ve gradually migrated to a graphics tablet, and I do my illustrations on Photoshop. Recently however I have gone back to traditional media and I really love drawing in ink.

This barn owl is probably the picture I'm most proud of that I drew recently:

(follow me on instragram @maddoctorartist to see more!)

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?
I’d love to be Connie Lionheart from Julia Golding’s Companions Quartet. In that universe there are people called 'Companions' who can communicate and bond with a single species of mythical creature (like dragons, pegasi, gorgons, sirens etc). Connie however is a ‘Universal’- someone who can bond and communicate with all mythical creatures, and that would be cool.

OK, now the quick-fire round … favourite snack?

Favourite superhero?
Does a video game count? It’d have to be Lightning Farron from Final Fantasy 13.

Favourite season?
Autumn, my birthday falls on the first day!

Weapon of choice in a fantasy world?

Maybe a bow? Doubt I'd have the arm strength to use it though!

Favourite game (board, computer or otherwise)?
The classic Sonic the Hedgehog series (video game)

Scrabble (board game)

Favourite movie?
Miss Congeniality

Best day of your life so far?
Graduating from medical school and gaining my ‘Dr’ title.

When did you first start writing?
I have been writing since my early teens, though it's been hard to maintain consistency since I graduated medical school and completed my full medical training! The first story I ever wrote was when I was 13. It was a short story about how two time travelling boys helped Edward Jenner accidentally invent the vaccine (as you can see my inclination to medicine began early). From there I then drifted to fanfiction, until I was finally inspired to write with my own characters!

I go into more detail here:

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love being able to flex my imagination! I have noticed I'm quite fussy when it comes to stories I like in media, so it's great that I can write the sort of stuff that I like to read. My favourite part is creating intricate plots, and worlds to get lost in. I have however also warmed up to characters too, as I like seeing how they react to the various situations I drop them in!

What's the story behind your latest book?
My lastest book is the third volume of my first Chronicles of Azaria trilogy- this concludes Eliza and Ryan's story, which is the Goddess Saga. While the first two books came out close together, this one took longer, for numerous reasons. The most pertinent was that I was going through my medical training, which meant lots of exams and work based place assessments to complete!

I also seemed to lose my enthusiasm for writing, as it began to feel more of a chore than a fun pastime. Thus I decided to go on a break and release myself from imposed deadlines. I went back to fanfiction and just had fun for a few months, and thankfully reclaimed my love of the craft. Thus now I am delighted to finally be able to release The Goddess's Blessing!

So that wraps up my interview! Let me know if there's anything else you'd like to ask about my writing!