Explorations: my author blog

Judging a book by its cover-

I'd like you to take a look at this cover. Without knowing anything about the author or the story, what would you say it was about? And who would be the ideal reader?

aunt maria

We had this book in the teen room when I started my job, with this (IMHO rather dreadful) cover on it. What teenager would take this out? It looks like a book for young children, about a little girl whose mean aunt won't let her keep a dog. Doesn't it?

At any rate, the book did not go out. Which is a pity, because, like everything Diane Wynne Jones writes, it's quite chilling and well- written. Here is another cover image for the same book.


That's rather better, isn't it? You still have young girl, mean aunt, and canine, but the canine is more obviously a wolf, the girl a young teen rather than  a little child, and the aunt is more menacing - clearly both powerful and magical. I do think both covers represent the story pretty well, at least based on what I've read so far. But the second would be more appealing to  young teenagers. 

And - my first guest blogger!

I'm very pleased to host an excellent new writer, Amanda McCrina. Amanda is the author of "His Own Good Sword" and is now working on the sequel, as well as a standalone novel called "Aquae". I was fascinated by her worldbuilding and how it shaped her characters, so that's what I asked her about. Thanks, Amanda, for agreeing to blog for me and giving me such full and thoughtful answers! You can read excerpts from Amanda's books, and purchase her novel, at her website; there's a link on the sidebar.

1. Your historical fantasy is set in a world that's a lot like Roman Britain. Were you always interested in the Roman empire? do you remember how and why you got interested? And do you think this setting is particularly relevant today?

I've had a vague interest in Rome since middle school, when I first read Rosemary Sutcliff; her Roman-Britain novels remain some of my favorites. But really it's only been in the last couple years that this has turned into a full-blown academic passion. I spent a semester in Rome in 2009--an unbelievable experience for a history major; there's nothing quite like the feeling you get when you round a corner on a modern city street and see the Pantheon right in front of you! So that semester was definitely a formative experience, not only for me as an amateur historian but as a writer (it didn't hurt that these were Hemingway's old stomping grounds, either). Reading Ursula le Guin's Lavinia soon afterward sealed the deal; I've never read another novel that captures the Italian ethos, ancient and modern, as fully and beautifully as hers does. I have many other historical areas of interest that I'd love to explore in writing, but none of them mean quite as much to me as Rome.